The Chalk Blog

Literacy Enrichment - National Poetry Month Ideas

Welcome, awe-inspiring April!  You are my favorite month and here’s why: 

  1. Despite severe winter fatigue this year, we keep the faith that spring will appear!
  2. Your showers bring May flowers.  
  3.  You are National Poetry Month.

You don’t have to be a poetry super-fan like me or teach language arts to engage poetry in your classroom instruction. Poetry has the power to connect all of us - students and teachers alike - quickly and deeply. In celebration of April, surviving winter to welcoming spring, please allow me to offer some of National Poetry Month’s highlights from former 6th graders and me. 

How to enjoy National Poetry Month: 

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Topics: Literacy

Spring Break Reading List & Tips

The feeling of relief that comes with spring break is high on the list of teacher “perks,” don’t you agree? Surviving winter with report cards and parent-conferences requires professional superpowers. And looming standardized testing dates strain most teachers with anxiety and apprehension. If it weren’t for a precious little spring break slotted right in between these two teacher stress-points, we might all just go hide in a cave and hibernate. But never fear, spring break is near!   

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Topics: Literacy

Reading Fluency - Taking Time to Practice

 

Reading is a complex skill - this truth is visible and audible. Consider the critical path from phonemic awareness to phonics & word study to decoding to fluency to vocabulary - all the way to comprehension, everyone’s desired destination. Now consider the roadblocks that cause readers to stall or stumble on the road to reading proficiency.   

According the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Literacy (July 22, 2017), if solid reading skills aren’t formed during a child’s early years, the odds of dropping out down the road increase significantly. Kids who aren’t successfully reading at grade level by the third grade are four times less likely to finish high school. Think about this statistic - it’s staggering.  

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Topics: Literacy

Reading Connections: Getting to the Heart of Reading

Books that Changed Us - Our Curriculum & Instruction Team Shares Some Reading Love 

I’ve been recently inspired by a trending professional book called, "Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters," by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. It presents how to better support all readers in developing lifelong reading habits and promotes reading values beyond the skills. Using a simple framework and “disrupting thinking,” it challenges teachers to guide students deeper into reading connections by considering the following: 

  • What you noticed in the text (Teachers typically do this - skill-based strategies.) 
  • What happened in you, your thinking, as you read the text (Do you ever ask this?) 
  • What you took to heart, what touched you or made you look at yourself or your world in a new way (How about this one?  It goes deep!)  

I love how this launches readers’ thinking over and above the search for “right answers,” and inward to their own minds and hearts. Wow - this resonates with me!  As an avid reader, I began to consider these thinking cues and recognized them as the prompts that keep me coming back for more and more books. I get to the heart of reading and I can see and feel how the reading changes me - or doesn’t.   

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Topics: Literacy

New Course: Phonics Instruction

 

Teachers - ever heard of the Reading Wars?  In writing a new course on phonics instruction, I was enlightened by brushing up on the history of reading instruction. In my undergraduate and even graduate level education courses, I never studied the background of teaching beginning reading. But now I know, educators and researchers have wrestled with best practices for reading instruction, specifically framed in an ongoing “war” between the methods of “phonics” and “whole language.”  I reflect upon my own early reading development and recognize that I was “supported” with a mixture of instructional methods.  And for this I am grateful! 

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Topics: Literacy

Victorious Vocabulary Instruction for Remarkable Reading

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Ever heard these words of “wisdom?” Do you agree? 

Not me, no way!  I’m 100% certain that words make all the difference. In a world of tweets, Facebook, SnapChats, Instagram, and so many more instant social media platforms - words are flying everywhere!  

“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble,” says Yehuda Berg, international speaker and author.  I agree wholeheartedly - words have power. As an educator, I recognize the importance of supporting students in building a vocabulary that helps them understand and actively engage in this world of powerful words. 

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Topics: Literacy

Reading List Recommendations from our Team

All Learners Edge courses are written by the Curriculum and Instruction Team. We are former educators who believe in personal and professional development. Each team member enjoys creating content and writing. As you can imagine, our team members are also voracious readers which is good because one of the perks of our job is that we get to read A LOT! We all love to learn and sometimes even read for FUN! 

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Topics: Literacy

Dyslexia Awareness Month

Actors, chefs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, musicians, professional athletes, politicians…dyslexia doesn’t discriminate. Thankfully, dyslexia doesn’t limit success either. Just ask Whoopi GoldbergCherChanning Tatumand Jamie Oliver about their experiences with dyslexia.  

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Topics: Literacy

Reading Comprehension: as easy as B-I-N-G-O!

There are thousand of reading comprehension activities out there today, but a big key to improving reading comprehension is parent involvement.  After completing Learners Edge Course 760: Building Comprehension in the Primary Grades, teacher Melissa Orozco created an amazing family reading bingo board to provide an interactive activity that involves students, parents and reading at home.  Check out her activity below.

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Topics: Literacy

Reduce Back to School Jitters with Guided Writing

For many people here in Minnesota, the State Fair, held over a 10-day span through Labor Day, is one of the most anticipated events of the year: hot dish on a stick, deep-fried candy bars, the Miracle of Birth Center (baby farm animals), people watching…what’s not to love?!  Add the final gasps of summer weather, changing leaves, evening bonfires, and apple orchards, and it’s a beautiful parade of all things autumn. However, for many years, I have greeted that season with anxious feelings surrounding my summer vacation coming to an end and returning to school.  

Even after 14 years of teaching, I still experienced the “back to school jitters” every fall. I recall those feelings (a combination of nerves and excitement) as a child, an adolescent, and as a college student, even though I loved school I’m not alone. When I Googled ‘back to school jitters’, there were 16 million hits! Many children, teens, parents, and teachers feel anxious about the unknowns of another school year. Thankfully for most, those jitters dissipate once we get back into the swing of things.   

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Literacy

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