Thursday, August 16, 2012

We're going on a blend hunt...

Here we are 'hunting' for consonant blends. A blend is when two consonants (any letter except a, e, i, o, u) are next to one another and their sounds are blended together. It is important to teach young readers this skill. It helps them "read through the word" which means it helps them look at more then just the first letter. Oftentimes children will look as the first letter and make a guess however, it is important to show them that sometimes we need to look at the first few letters.
     -frost (fr and st)
     -slim (sl)
     -grass (gr) see what I mean.
After reading a book together we use a large magnifying glass to help us 'see' blends better. You can also use a funky pair of glasses.

When we find a blend we copy it down in our notebook and then highlight where we see the blend. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to the different structures of words. While looking at our list we talked about things that we noticed. Some of the things we found were that blends can be in the beginning, at the end, or even at the beginning and at the end of a word!
When we have scavenged all the blends we can find...we read our list and feel proud!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Not all books are created equal!

Not all books are created equal. I am stealing this idea from a wonderful teacher and author Debbie Miller. In her book Reading With Meaning, she preaches 'quality not quantity'. But how can you tell the difference?
Here's some tips on how: 

1. Don’t judge a book by its cover—Have you heard that before? Probably. When books are published, publishing companies use cute, but sometimes deceitful, marketing tools to get us to buy their product. For example, books for young children are often labeled with a little number (1, 2, or 3) in the corner that lets you know that it is appropriate. Although these are great guides, you should also consider the story line or subject, the length of the sentences, the difficulty of the words, and whether or not you child is familiar with the subject or type of story. You should also know that a level 2 by one publishing company is not the same as a level 2 for another.
What to do: Look at books by the same publisher and see which ones are the most readable for your youngster. If you know that you child is reading a level 3 with that company chances are they can read other books published by the same company with the same number.
2. Don’t go over board—I have one client whose son loves football. In an effort to get him to reading more she bought him several books on Tim Tebow the player for the Jets. Although her intentions were good, the book choice was not. Tim Tebow is very religious and his biography has many biblical references in it. If you are unfamiliar with the way the Bible is set up this can be very confusing to understand, as it was for this young boy. Sometimes the content can be right (he loves football and Tim Tebow) but the context might not be (the book was too confusing). It is always a good idea to read through a few pages before purchasing books or explain to you child how the book 'work' so they do not have to do the figuring out themselves.
What to do: Before buying all of the books in a series or every and any book you can find on a superstar read one with you child and see if they enjoy reading them or if this is a book you want them reading. 

3.Take the path of least resistance—If your daughter enjoys reading books about Poppleton, by Cynthia Rylant (a funny pig and his animal friends that teach life lessons through their adventures together) chances are she will enjoy reading other books with funny animal characters doing funny things. 
What to do: Look for books that have a similar plots, storylines, types of characters, or set-up. You don't always have to  it doesn’t have to get the same series for the story line and plot to be similar or equally as enjoyable. The librarians and booksellers are very helpful when it comes to this!   
4. Do some research—Browse some of these websites that are kid tested and parent/teacher approved! They can help point you in the right direction.

There is a reason why some books are superior to others and deserve that special space on your bookshelf. These are the books that typically we remember, they stick with us, they create some emotional reaction from us and we want to share them! 

"All living things have a heart. And the heart of any living thing can be broken. "-Kate DiCamillo The Tale of Despereaux 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Exploding the Code!

WOW! I have finally learned to read....code that is. I wouldn't even say that I can read it but I did successfully change the font on my blog thanks to ! This website was such a big help.
Learning to embed the code of the font I wanted into my blog template and have it actually change the font put me into the shoes of some of my students. The students I am thinking about are those struggling to crack their own code...the code of reading. My emotions ranged from excited about learning something new, curious about what I can do with it, exhausted from failed attempts, frustrated from more failed attempts, and then back to excited when I finally did it! I imagine these are similar to those of young struggling readers. 
Lessons learned:
1. I need to be patient and trust that they are trying their best to make sense of what we are teaching them.
2. The power of multi-sensory instruction and how it should not be underestimated. (I watched several video tutorials, called a friend, and read several blogs before getting it.)
3. Repeated practice is so important
4. The sweet taste of success and how no success should go matter how big or how small!