Archive for June, 2008

Reading is FUNdamental

Now that summer is in full swing, I know that we are all looking for ways to keep reading alive during the long summer months. The state of Michigan has a great program, Project Great Start, to help you do just that. Since many children can lose some of the skills they have learned during the school year, Project Great Start has come up with Family Fundamentals Learning Activities to keep children on the right track. Choose from Literacy Activities for Pre Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade, or Second Grade. Make sure to also check out their links on the bottom of the page to other great learning resources on the web. – Melissa

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Raising Readers: Literacy Activities for Parents and Children

PBS KIDS Raising Readers is a great resource to share with parents of preschoolers and rising kindergarteners. The site states:

Kids love to learn. And with your help, they’ll learn to love reading with resources from PBS KIDS programs Between the Lions, Sesame Street, SUPER WHY, and WordWorld.

With PBS KIDS Island, children ages 2-5 can play reading games, earn tickets, and collect prizes. Then, track your child’s progress and get activities, lesson plans and tips just for parents, caregivers and teachers with PBS KIDS Raising Readers.

We’re adding new features often, including a Word of the Day and games for children 6-8. Come back soon to see what’s new!

I spent some time scoping out the site this morning and was pleased with its contents. For example:

1) I like that the site has extension activities based on characters from popular children’s shows and stories. Of course this is to be expected from a site created by PBS, but having children think and talk about character they love and relate to goes a long way when it comes to motivating them to read! Take a look at Fairytale Memory. This is a terrific game to play after doing an at-home “unit” on fairytales! For a list of stories to start with, click here.

2) I’m a big fan of WordWorld, so when I saw the Build a WordThing Activity on Raising Readers, I had to give it a shout out! This activity is a nice way to begin exposing children to the alphabetic principle.

3) I absolutely love the online read alouds! Take a look at Night in the Country and Spicy Hot Colors.
4) Practicing literacy related activities every day is important, but it can be tough to think of new ideas day in and day out. With these suggestions from the PBS KIDS Reading Activity Calendar, parents will be inspired to try all sorts of new and interesting literacy activities. For example, during the month of July make sure to do literacy-related activities in celebration of Independence Day, Read an Almanac Month and Chocolate Day!
Another nice thing about PBS KIDS Raising Readers, is that the site comes in Spanish.
May your month be filled with many interesting literacy activities!

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Podcasts for Teachers

Anna posted one of her recent presentations at the Midwest Tech Forum as a podcast, and I couldn’t help but think….what a great idea. I did a quick search for other free professional development podcasts and I found A product of Mark Gura and Dr. Kathy King, who are both teachers, ed tech experts, professors, and authors, they include this warning on their website:


Note that this is not your usual podcast, nor PD experience. Instead it includes fun, abundant resources and crisp insight from the perspective of what you can use today and tomorrow.


You’ll find everything from insight into Classroom 2.0 to podcast contests. Enjoy.


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I am excited to announce that FreeReading now has over 250 new and FREE K-3 vocabulary, comprehension and morphology activities and printables! In addition, we just added 60 new illustrated beginning readers that focus on advanced phonics (compound words, word families, etc.), fluency and comprehension skills!

Vocabulary lessons target tier 2 vocabulary words from ~150 popular children’s stories including books like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Fancy Nancy. To see all of the Vocabulary graphic organizers and build mastery activities click here. You can also find vocabulary activities by common themes such as family and friends and my world here.

Comprehension lessons focus on important skills and strategies such as identifying a purpose for reading, story elements, prediction and more. For links to all of the comprehension printables click here.

Morphology lessons include activities for the most popular prefixes and suffixes K-3 student encounter in texts and everyday conversations. For links to all of the morphology printables click here.

Finally, you can find links to 60 new illustrated FreeReading beginning readers here. I particularly like A Firefighter’s Thanksgiving and Transportation.

Check the new FreeReading resources out and tell your friends about FreeReading by sending them a link to FreeReading here.



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I always visit the chatboards at for innovative ideas from my colleagues. Even though I’ve been to this website a million times, it was not until this morning that I took a look at the Gazette. It is definitely worth checking out. It is a monthly newsletter with a variety of relevant topics for educators and parents. The June issues has articles that range from “Atrocious Advice from Supernanny” to “A Great Model of Differentiation”. I highly recommend reading this worthwhile newsletter. -Melissa

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Summer Tutoring

Since summer holiday is right around the corner, I suspect that many of you are getting questions from parents about summer tutoring and/or resources that students can use at home to keep up their literacy skills. Today while browsing through my Google alerts, I learned about GlobalScholar. Quoting the site’s about page: offers a unique online tutoring platform, where parents and students can safely connect with trusted educators who provide one-on-one tutoring, homework help or self-paced learning. The GlobalScholar platform also can be used by schools and school districts to enable teachers and administrators to more efficiently and effectively create, manage and align content, assessments, curriculum, standards and supplemental learning to drive educational performance.

Having come from a school system in Japan where online tutoring was quite popular, I am always interested to see how companies and school districts in the States and abroad develop online learning courses and modules for children that want to study from home. GlobalScholar certainly seems to be creating a lot of buzz!

To learn more background about the development of GlobalScholar, check out this brief article in TechCruch. You can also watch a brief video tutorial about GlobalScholar here. One nice thing about GlobalScholar is that all tutors have 4 year college degrees and teaching experience. In addition, I was pleased to see that the company does background checks for all of its tutor employees (Education World, May 2008.)

While exploring the site, also take a look at GlobalScholar’s SchoolFinder (a site that enables users to search for general information, test scores and user discussions about elementary and secondary schools around the country) and CollegeFinder (the college-focused equivalent of SchoolFinder).

Enjoy browsing through GlobalScholar!


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