Posts Tagged 'reading blog'

Inspiring Guys to Read!

When I was working as a product manager for FreeReading, one of the questions I consistently heard from educators and researchers at literacy conferences and in the classroom is, “Where can I find books that appeal to teenage boys, especially books for striving teenage male readers?” Having just discovered Guys Read a couple of days ago, I wish I could go back and revisit those old conversations and point the people I spoke with to the Guys Read Virtual Vault of Good Books.

As the Guys Read website points out:

Research shows that boys are having trouble reading, and that boys are getting worse at reading. No one is quite sure why. Some of the reasons are biological.  Some of the reasons are sociological. But the good news is that research also shows that boys will read — if they are given reading that interests them… This is the place to come if you’re looking for something to get a guy reading. We’ve collected recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.  These are the books that guys have said they like.

Finally! The site we’ve all been asking for!

When you visit Guys Read, make sure to check out:

If I had to give one recommendation to Guys Read, I would request longer book reviews and a section of the site devoted to notes from guys in the field including book reviews and summaries written by male readers so that guys (and gals) would have a better sense of what each recommended read is about.

Regardless, this is a fabulous resource that is a must-bookmark for guys and literacy enthusiasts alike! Thanks to author and Brooklyn resident Jon Scieszka for starting Guys Read. This site is most certainly filling a huge need!

From a former Brooklynite who now lives in Dubai,

Anna

@bon_education

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Ideas for Before/During/After Reading!

I Love to Read“I Love to Read” Image by Carlos Porto

I recently came across a fabulous article by Jim Burke on Reading Rockets titled, “103 Things to Do Before/During/After Reading“. Given that I am about to lead several workshops on reading and digital literacy for parents at the Magrudy’s Education Resource Center, Jim’s article will surely be on my recommended reading list for moms and dads.

Upon clicking the above link, you will notice Jim’s article was originally written in 1998. While that might seem like ions ago to some, rest assured, the recommendations are still 100% relevant. That said, I thought it would be useful to create a supplement to Jim’s article that includes a few ideas on how recent software and web applications can be used to get kids excited and thinking about what they read Before/During/After a book!

Take a look at the ideas below and feel free to add your own in the comments section of this post!

Postcard: Write to a friend, the author, or to a character about this book.”

  • Select one student to be a character in the book you are reading and to write a blog post from that character’s point of view. Other students can then submit questions and ideas to the character via the comments section of the post. To learn how to set up a blog for this project, click here.

Mapmaker: Draw a map of the book’s setting.”

  • Have students create a Google Lit Trip–using Google Earth to document and map the settings within the book at hand. To learn how to use this tool, click here.

Trailer: Movie previews always offer a quick sequence of the best moments that make us want to watch it – storyboard or narrate the scenes for your trailer. Focus on verbs.”

  • Create a movie trailer in the form of a digital story using tools like VoiceThread or iMovie. For tips on how to get started, click here.

Collage: Create an individual or class collage around themes or characters in the book.”

  • Use Wordle to create a digital word collage around key themes, characters or vocabulary in the book.

Draw! Translate chapters into storyboards and cartoons; draw the most important scene in the chapter and explain its importance and action.”

Dear Diary: Keep a diary as if you were a character in the story. Write down events that happen during the story and reflect on how they affected the character and why.”

  • Have students create delightfully illustrated diary entries using the online collaborative storytelling tool Storybird.

Haiku/Limerick: Create one about a character.”

  • Use Twitter to share poems with parents and classmates.

Notes and Quotes: Draw a line down the middle of the page. On one side write down important quotes, on the other comment on and analyze the quotes.”

  • Create a collaborative “wiki-style” notes and quotes page using Google’s collaborative document tools. Feel free to host online book discussions using the live chat functions within the collaborative document applications.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a good ol’ fashion book review assignment, but why not share the reviews with other kids around the world? Check out the Spaghetti Book Club: Book Reviews By Kids For Kids.

Happy Reading!

Anna

Twitter: @bon_education

Website: Bon Education

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Widgets for the Literacy Enthusiasts

Reading Rockets had a number of very interesting reading widgets for parents and literacy enthusiasts! Check them out here.

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Audiobooks on the Go…

My Travel Gear by Jon Rawlinson

Over the last month and a half I’ve been to Dubai, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Amsterdam, San Juan PR, San Germán PR, Charlotte NC, NY NY, Washington DC and Fairfax County VA logging dozens of hours in planes, cars and buses, not to mention several back issues of Wired Magazine, Julie and Julia, bits of Over Promise and Over Deliver, Match Me If You Can (audio) and the beginning of The Pillars of the Earth (audio). If it weren’t for my trusted iPod and large purse (which fits my laptop plus a book), my travels to and from schools to universities to family would have been very LOOOONG!

Luckily Audible and iTunes have a wonderful selection of audiobooks that can be downloaded from just about any country or airport savvy enough to grace its customers with free wifi (I know, if I had an iPhone I wouldn’t always be on a desperate hunt for hotspots! One gadget at a time!). Regardless, if you dine on audiobooks at the rate I do, you are likely to put on a few pound in the credit department!

Fortunately, Lit2Go might be just be the audiobook lovers version of Weight Watchers–Dine on what you want, but in portions that you won’t regret later. Who could pass up a delightfully free and high quality The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn audio/text? Or, a gratis afternoon of Jane Eyre?!

The site states:

Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. You can:

  • Download the files to your Mp3 player and listen on the go,
  • Listen to the Mp3 files on your computer,
  • View the text on a webpage and read along as you listen,
  • Print out the stories and poems to make your own book.

Happy audiobook searching by author, title, keyword or reading level!

Anna

PS Thanks to Jim Moulton for point out this resources and many others in his Edutopia article, “How to Become More Tech Savvy This Summer“. The photo above was taken by Jon Rawlinson.

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How to make a Classroom Blog on WordPress

Tomorrow I will deliver a professional development session on technology tools for the classroom to Fujairah teachers. One of the topics we will cover is classroom blogging.

Classroom blogs are an excellent tool for motivating students to read, write and share their ideas. To learn more about classroom blogging and to view sample classroom blogs, make sure to review my previous post, “Helpful Resources for Finding and Creating Classroom Blogs“.

To learn how to set up your own classroom blog on WordPress, watch this slideshow:

Happy Classroom Blogging!

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Will your lessons stand the test of time? … How to make your teaching stick!

Made to Stick

What is a pomelo?

(Please pause and think.)

Chip and Dan: Explanation 1: A pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. The rind is very think but soft and easy to peel away. The resulting fruit has a light yellow to coral pink flesh and can vary from juicy to slightly dry and from seductively spicy-sweet to tangy and tart.

Question: If you mixed pomelo juice half and half with orange juice, would it taste good?

Anna: Not sure? How about now?

Chip and Dan: Explanation 2. A pomelo is basically a supersized grapefruit with a very thick and soft rind.

Anna: Now, let’s revisit: If you mixed pomelo juice half and half with orange juice, would it taste good?

This summer while perusing the shelves of Borders, Barnes and Noble and Kinokuniya, make sure to keep an eye out for Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck.

Chip and Dan will show you how to teach complex concepts in easy to grasp terms. In a nutshell, you will learn WHAT STICKS!

Anna

P.S. Preview: Sticky ideas are a S.U.C.C.E.S.—Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories.

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Shmoop will make you a better lover…

Love

of literature, history, poetry and life (or so the website claims)…

Shmoop is what I like to call CliffsNotes with panache!

Take a stroll through the literature section of the site and you’ll find countless study guides and resources to help you and your students discover and explore classics like Beowulf, the Pearl and Brave New World.

Click on Shmoops guide to The Great Gatsby and you will find an intro, summary, themes, quotes, plot analysis, study questions, characters, literary devices, trivia and more…

What I love about Shmoop, is its emphasis on the “Why should I care?” of literature. For example, why should a student of the 21st century take time out of his/her busy schedule of family, friends, Facebook, text messaging, sports, music, etc. to give Fitzgerald’s work the time of day? Shmoop writes:

The Great Gatsby is a delightful concoction of MTV Cribs, VH1’s The Fabulous Life Of…, and HBO’s Sopranos. Shake over ice, add a twist of jazz, a spritz of adultery, and the little pink umbrella that completes this long island iced tea and you’ve got yourself a 5 o’clock beverage that, given the 1920’s setting, you wouldn’t be allowed to drink.

The one thing all these shows and Gatsby have in common is the notion of the American Dream. The Dream has seen its ups and downs. But from immigration (certainly not a modern concern, right?) to the Depression (stock market crashing? We wouldn’t know anything about that), the American Dream has always meant the same thing: it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

Yet Gatsby reminds us that the dollars aren’t always enough…

I’m skippin’ MTV today. Pass the F. Scott Fitzgerald please!

Anna

P.S. Don’t have a copy of The Great Gatsby on hand? Here is a free e-book. Thanks Shmoop!

P.P.S. Thanks zenera for creating the picture above!

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How do you make a teacher great? (Gates on Education)

The new TED talks are live which means my commutes to and from schools are now filled with podcasts by some of the most influential minds of our generation including, Eva Zeisel (Ceramics), Sugata Mitra (Education and how kids teach themselves), Philip Rosedale (Second Life)… This morning I watched Bill Gates discuss two challenging questions his foundation is trying to understand and tackle:

  • How do we stop a deadly disease that is spread by mosquitoes?
  • How do you make a teacher great?

Take a moment to watch the following video and engage with Gates as he elaborates on:

  • Where are great teachers being made?
  • What schools send the majority of children to four year colleges?
  • What classrooms truly engage their students?
  • What tools and data do teachers need to further their professional development and pedagogy skills?

If you are interested in learning more about TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), click here. This is by far one of the most educational websites/initiatives I’ve run across in a long time!

Cheers,

Anna

P.S. Given that it is already the first of March, summer is right around the corner! As you make plans for May, June, and July, many of you may be interested in submitting early literacy curricula to Curriki‘s Summer of Content initiative. Select teachers will receive a stipend for submitting curricula and will have the opportunity to share and have their work promoted to teachers and institutions across the globe. To learn more and apply, click here.

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It’s a Small World

Recently I visited a number of nursery schools, so I have all things Pre-K on my mind! This post is for nursery teachers around the globe!

Guess the country origin of the following nursery rhyme excerpts:

Excerpt 1:

En la casa de Pinocho
todos cuentan hasta ocho:
Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis , siete, ocho.

Excerpt 2:

satu satu aku sayang ibu
dua dua juga sayang bapak
tiga tiga sayang adik kakak
|satu dua tiga sayang semuanya

Excerpt 3:

Tinga layo!
Come me little donkey, come
Tingalay-o
Come me little donkey, come

If you guessed the answers Spain, Indonesia and Jamaica give yourself a big sticker! Interested in learning more nursery rhymes from across the globe? Check out It’s a Small World. The site’s homepage states:

Here you will find preschool rhymes from around the world for something a little different to the usual mother goose kids rhymes! Imagine life without world music or ethnic food – that’s what a child’s reading life would be like without international kid’s books and poems – so spice up their literary diet and enjoy some armchair travelling for babies, toddlers and the young at heart!

It’s a Small World also encourages users to share their own poems, nursery rhymes and country facts and traditions! So, take a rhyme, leave a rhyme and pass a rhyme along! Thanks to Danielle for sharing this wonderful resource on LIP!

Anna

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Speakaboos!

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is go through my delicious bookmarks and review the education sites that various people have recommended to me. Today I explored a real gem called Speakaboos! The site’s about section explains:

Speakaboos brings classic children’s entertainment into a digital world. Beloved characters and treasured stories are given new life through amazing celebrity performances, beautiful illustrations, and original music. At Speakaboos, children develop literacy skills while learning about technology in a safe and fun environment.

Take a look at these Speakaboo video story favorites, fables, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, folk tales and lullabies. Each animated story is read by celebrities such as Kevin Bacon and Jeff Donovan and contains illustrations by these fabulous artists. In addition, the text of each tale is displayed on the screen as the story is read making this a great site to keep on hand for computer time and/or center time during your K-1 literacy block.

Curious? Check out this video of Jack and the Beanstalk! In addition to the animated story, the site provides accompanying spelling, illustration and word search activities for young readers and a story guide for teachers and parents including comprehension, discussion and extension questions, as well as research activities and notes on this particular adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk.

In addition to providing dozens of stories, take a look at these literacy activities. Pretty soon the site will enable readers to record and share their own tales! Hopefully the site will add more social bookmarking and sharing tools soon as well!

Bravo Speakaboos! What a great site!

Anna

PS Thanks to my husband and mother-in-law (an ESL curricula and teaching specialist) for introducing me to Speakaboos!

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Happy New Year!

Wishing you a very happy holidays and new year from Literacy is Priceless!

Ring in 2009 with these great New Year’s lessons and printables from Teacher Vision! I am particularly fond of the printables that explain how the new year is celebrated in Korea, China, India and more!

Sincerely,

Anna

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Resolution Time: Literacy and Health in the New Year!

Given that the new year is right around the corner, I suspect many of you will be making resolutions to exercise more, eat healthily and sleep a full 8 hours each night (is that even possible on a teacher’s schedule?!).

While I am typically good on points one and two, I don’t remember the last time I slept a full 8 hours between spending time with family, working, exercising, reading, etc. Alas, perhaps in 2009 I will get better at setting aside enough time for sufficient “Zzzzz!” Resolutions aside, most people agree that the habits we establish during our childhood are heard to break. So, why not help our students pick up a few healthy habits in the new year, while developing their literacy skills to boot?!

This week I discovered an excellent health education site titled, “KidsHealth in the Classroom.” The site’s about page states:

KidsHealth is pleased to offer teachers, school nurses, coaches, and guidance counselors a new online resource: KidsHealth in the Classroom. The KidsHealth in the Classroom website offers free health curriculum materials for teachers of all grades and subject areas. Each teacher’s guide includes discussion questions, activities, and reproducible handouts and quizzes – all aligned to national health education standards.

But that’s not all. KidsHealth in the Classroom will also offer tips from teachers, information about common childhood health problems, health-related news, and resources to help you improve the health of your students and your school – and even your own health.

I am a big fan of the Healthy Habits for Life Resource Kit on the site. The kit’s “Get Moving” guide is filled with loads of songs, dance activities and games that not only teach young children healthy habits, but key health vocabulary words as well (for a Spanish version of the guide, click here). For example, if you play the Sesame Super Stretch Game, your children will learn words like wiggle, bend and reach! I also like the Energy Dance game where children learn what foods give them energy (i.e., great vocabulary words like whole grain rice, lowfat yogurt, and broccoli) while dancing at various tempos (this is a great activity to incorporate into your day right after lunch when your kids need to burn off some steam!).

Wishing you and your children a happy healthy new year!

Anna

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Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2008

fish

2009 is quickly approaching, along with the holiday shopping season… So, before hitting the bookstore to stock up on gifts for your family, friends, classroom and perhaps self, take a look at the
New York Times‘ Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2008 slide show.

I absolutely adore the illustrations in Wave (by Suzy Lee) given that I currently reside in the middle of a very hot desert! The watercolors in Pale Male (by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Meilo Alfred) are breathtaking as well!

If you are looking for free readers to send home with your students over the holidays, make sure to check out the printable illustrated reading passages on FreeReading. For example, the illustration above comes from the story Fish (by Lisa Webber, illustrated by Cheryl Johnson)–a FreeReading reader that can be used to practice contractions, author’s purpose and identifying details.

To inspiring illustrations and holiday gift ideas!

Anna

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Mad Libs!

1) Think of a noun: __________

2) Think of an adjective: __________

3) Think of a person’s name: __________

4) Think of a verb: __________

5) Now, fill in the blanks with your answers above…

My favorite book is titled, (noun). I adore this book because the main character (person’s name) is extremely (adjective). For example, in chapter three while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, he/she decides to (verb) while the turkey is cooking….

Does this exercise bring back any memories?!

One of my favorite elementary school pass times during long car trips to visit family members was playing Mad Libs with my sister and parents while driving on 495. So, when I came across Mad Libs Junior on FunBrain Reading, I had to play a few rounds!

Given that the holiday season means that inevitably your students will be spending time at home playing online games in between family gatherings, why not recommend that they play a few rounds of Mad Libs with family and friends? The game is perfect for practicing parts of speech and reading comprehension!

Happy (insert holiday)!

Anna

PS Thanks to the Literacy Web at UConn for pointing out this resource and many others on the page, “Literacy Websites for Students in Grades 5-6.”

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Hats off to Jen Robinson’s Book Page!

There is one person out in the blogosphere that continues to inspire me with her informative posts and beautiful displays of children’s literature and that person is… Jen Robinson! As her blog states in the tag line, Jen Robinson’s Book Page is all about “promoting the love of books by children, and the continued reading of children’s books by adults.”

If you are looking for new titles for your classroom or just want to keep current with the ever expanding world of children’s lit, Jen’s blog is a must read!

For a sample of the types of book reviews Jen writes, check out her recent review of Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. Jen writes:

Like it’s predecessor, Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris features a brave, clever eleven-year-old heroine, an intriguing, atmospheric setting, interesting historical and archeological tidbits, and a plot that will keep kids turning the pages. Despite the fact that the title character is a girl, I think that this book will absolutely appeal to middle grade boys, too. (Think reanimated mummies walking the night streets of early 20th Century London, should you have any doubts.)…

Moving beyond book reviews… Stay abreast of the latest children’s literacy trends, news and research, by taking a look at Jen’s Children’s Literacy Round-Ups (click here for a sample).

Bravo Jen! Your blog is pure inspiration!

Anna

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