MAT Blog

Best of the Week: Volume 6

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on May 2, 2014 12:17:00 PM

Best of the WeekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
Learning Up to the Very Last Moment: 15 teacher-recommended ideas will help channel spring fever into learning excitement

Reading and Language Arts
Beat the Bard! Shakespeare's characters fight it out in our interactive game
Literature-Map - the Tourist Map of Literature
It’s OK for adults to read from the Young Adults section of the bookstore (quilty!!!)
Book Crossing: It's easy to find books, share books, and meet fellow book lovers
Books Should Be Free: Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBooks
Rare Book Room

STEM-Related
The Scale of the Universe
FaceDementia (an interactive app to help students experience the effects of dementia)
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (a must read!)

History and Social Studies
Decisive Moments in the Battle of Gettysburg (an interactive map)
The Story of Money (an infographic)

Random Links and Useful Apps
5 Ways for Students to Showcase Their Best Work
The Amazing Earth Clock
Appear.In (conduct video conversations with up to 8 people for free)
Good News from Discovery Education
Coggle (a free mind-mapping app)
How Can We Help Students (And Ourselves) Stay Organized? (a free podcast)
1,341 Quotes About Leadership
7 Tips for Overcoming Teacher Burnout
Holley Portraits (an excellent end-of-the-year project for students)
Full Documentaries (stream hundreds of free documentary films)

 

 

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Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, classroom technology, Best of the Week Best of the week

The Best of the Week Volume 5

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 28, 2014 10:55:00 AM

best of the weekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
-Kindness Seeds: Student Shout-Outs

Reading and Language Arts
-Go On a Blind Date…With a Book
-Free books: 100 legal sites to download literature

-50 Questions that will Free Your Mind
(these could be useful writing prompts for students)
-50 of the Best Books for Teachers
(an infographic)

STEM-Related
-Planet Size-Comparison App
-How Many People Are in Space Right Now?
-Space Junk Facts (an infographic)
-17 Things You Should Know About DNA (an infographic)
-Experience the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing
-What Happens to a Wet Washcloth in Space?

History and Social Studies

-Theban Mapping Project
-Old Maps Online
-Where in the World is Your Food From?
-The D-Day (a WWII infographic)
-Old World Radio: Listen to some of the most famous speeches and broadcasts of the yesteryear
-History in an Hour: History for busy people
-How Well Do You Know Your World? (an online geography game)
-12 Historical Speeches No One Heard

Random Links
-Needs Improvement: Student evaluations of professors aren’t just biased and absurd—they don’t even work

-80 Mind-Blowing Facts That Sound Stranger Than Fiction But Are Completely True

-Nobody Tells This to People Who are Beginners

-Critical Thinkers Through History
(an infographic)

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, classroom technology, Best of the Week Best of the week

The Best of the Week: Volume 4

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 17, 2014 3:42:00 PM

Best of the WeekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
The Difference Between Praise and Feedback
More Than Half of Students 'Engaged' in School, Says Poll

Reading and Language Arts
74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games
Planet E-Book: 80+ free classics for download

STEM-Related
22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life
Reactions: a YouTube channel that uncovers the chemistry in everyday life
Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
Universe Sandbox: an interactive space simulator
Bright Idea: Creating a School-Wide Recycle Center
A virtual tour of Space Shuttle Discovery

History and Social Studies
Unlikely simultaneous historical events
Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (timelapse map)
10 Bold Battlefield Deceptions That Actually Worked
Eye-Opening Photos Juxtapose Images of Present-Day and WWI-Era Europe
American Officer Writes a Letter to His Son on Hitler's Personal Stationery

Random Links
Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth consider that…
39 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong But Totally Genius At The Same Time
Does the Universe Have a Purpose?
Is It a Mistake to Try to Teach Financial Literacy in High School?



36 Brain Breaks for Students

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, Best of the Week, classroom technology

The Best of the Week: Volume 3

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 11, 2014 11:59:00 AM

best of the weekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management

Reading and Language Arts

Technology in the Classroom

STEM-Related

History and Social Studies

Random Links

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, classroom technology, Best of the Week Best of the week

The Best of the Week: Volume 1

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 7, 2014 9:46:00 AM

best of the weekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management


Reading and Language Arts


Technology in the Classroom


Random Links

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, apps for educators, classroom procedures, reading strategies, reading instruction, apps for teachers, Classroom Reading Strategies, Best of the Week, classroom technology, classroom organization

Three Reading Strategies for New K-6 Teachers, Part I

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 23, 2011 4:24:00 PM

Marygrove MAT reading strategies for the new teachersNo matter what grade level or subject area you teach, reading is an essential component that crosses all disciplines.  Preparing a student properly is a big responsibility. Students must be armed with a strong reading repertoire–which includes a variety of reading comprehension strategies– to serve them well in middle school, all the way through higher education. Here are some key reading strategies for new teachers to use, in particular. However, these will serve as helpful refreshers for veteran teachers, too.

1) Direct word analysis instruction: Students need explicit instruction to build their word knowledge and expand their skills and strategies for word analysis, which includes phonemic awareness, structural analysis, and context clues.  Students can obtain these skills and strategies through word walls, word sorts, songs, rhymes, and more. Consider subject areas and age levels when selecting strategies for your students. Marygrove College offers an excellent guide on explicit word analysis instruction for teachers.

2) Literacy rich environment: In order for students to start developing and then further grow their comprehension strategies, they must be exposed to a wide variety of literature on a regular basis. Give your students exposure to many different types of books, magazines, newspapers and web resources. Provide reading opportunities during structured and non-structured times.

Teachers can get inexpensive books at garage sales, church book sales, second-hand bookseller clearance tables, and a really great resource we heard about called Paperback Swap. Also, you can appeal to your student’s families for donating age-appropriate books for your class.

It helps, too, if you can sort your classroom books into levels for multiple intelligences. Fountas and Pinnell is a good resource. But if you need some good, free lists, these will get you started. You can keep your leveled books organized by color with color-coded stickers on the book spines, then sorted into sturdy dishpans of the same color. Presto! A leveled library for students to help themselves!

The best way we know to preserve a classroom library is to buy hardbacks whenever possible (check out those garage sales!), and cover paperbacks in clear contact paper. Stamp your name on each book, or place a bookplate inside each one. 

3) Integration: Reading is an essential component of all subject areas. No matter what you teach, reading will play a prominent role in the curriculum. For elementary teachers who cover a wide variety of subjects, consider how you will incorporate reading across your curriculum. Integration methods can include, but are not limited to, thematic units, peer conferencing, research projects, and author's chair. 

Give students the opportunity to use knowledge from content areas, such as social studies and science, in relation to specific comprehension strategies or reading skills. Literature Circles in content areas are an effective way to do this. In our Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT)Teacher as Hero course, we champion Harvey “Smokey” Daniels’ peer-led book discussion groups. Laura Candler is a helpful resource on setting up literature circles in your classroom.

For more ways to boost your students’ reading comprehension levels, download our Free K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide.

 

 Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

 

 

Tags: reading strategies, Classroom Reading Strategies, reading across disciplines, comprehension strategies, new teachers

Accelerate Learning with Kinesthetic Vocabulary Activities.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Sep 8, 2011 5:20:00 AM

kinesthetic vocabulary activities 200x133One of the most challenging types of learners to address in the classroom is the kinesthetic learner.  Kinesthetic learners learn best by moving their bodies, activating their large or small muscles as they learn. These are the "hands-on learners" or the "doers" who actually concentrate better when movement is involved. These children are apt to move about in their seat or around the classroom.

Kinesthetic learners often struggle with retention of vocabulary because vocabulary is often taught in a way best suited to the auditory or visual learner–such as the recitation of lists, reading while in their seat or by direct oral instruction by the teacher.  However, there are a number of comprehension strategies that will benefit not only the kinesthetic learner, but will raise the comprehension level of all students, as well.

Comprehension strategies for kinesthetic learners involve moving their bodies in a way that maximizes the understanding and retention of a word, phrase or concept.  When asked to recall vocabulary in speaking, reading or writing, they will recall what action they were performing when introduced to that particular word. 

Experiential activities are the key to developing successful comprehension strategies for the kinesthetic learner. These activities are excellent to use across the curriculum, and will engage multiple intelligences:

  • Teach the American Sign Language alphabet and have the class use it when practicing spelling words.
  • Play a game of Pictionary. Students can draw a vocabulary word or phrase and ask the group to guess the answer. This works well with the whole group or in small groups.
  • Students can make puppets and use them to demonstrate a vocabulary word or concept.
  • Construct a classroom collage based on vocabulary words by cutting images from a magazine or the Internet and pasting them on paper.
  • Students can perform plays or skits they write themselves in front of the class or a small group.
  • Ask students to design a game board based on a story and demonstrate the rules to the class.
  • Act out new vocabulary words by dividing the class into teams and playing a game of charades.
  • Use clap-tap-slap game-songs to teach longer words or even to memorize bigger chunks of text. Here are some videos that demonstrate game-songs:

 

 

 

For kinesthetic learners in particular, a few unorthodox approaches in the classroom can help:

  • Allow the student to perform jumping jacks or a particular dance while reciting new vocabulary.
  • Allow the kinesthetic learner to draw while you are giving direct instruction.
  • Allow kinesthetic students to walk around the classroom while reading aloud.

Learning and retaining vocabulary by using comprehension strategies best suited to the kinesthetic learner not only benefits them, but you’ll find your entire class will have fun and gain from the experience of learning while doing

For more comprehension strategies to share with your classroom, read our free guide, K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices.

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: Building Vocabulary, Classroom Reading Strategies, Kinesthetic learners

CAFE serves up the perfect mini-lesson for reading comprehension.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Aug 27, 2011 5:02:00 AM

I have a confession to make. I am a reading comprehension geek.  I love talking about it, teaching about it, and thinking about it. It is just amazing to me all of the things that good readers do without even thinking about it… everything from making inferences in a text to realizing that something doesn’t make sense and knowing to go back and re-read until it does!  I get so excited thinking about these things when I read and find myself doing them; not to mention how excited I get teaching about it to my students! It is one of my favorite parts of the school day.

In my classroom, I use the structure of The Daily Five to manage my language arts time.  My students participate in three, 20-minute rotations of authentic literacy activities in which they have a “controlled choice” of what to do. Prior to each rotation of independent time, I teach a brief 10 to 15-minute mini-lesson on phonics, reading comprehension, or grammar.

My favorite mini-lesson each day is the reading comprehension lesson. I use the framework of comprehension-accuracy-fluency-expand vocabulary (CAFE) to explicitly teach my students the skills they need to be strong readers. I have an area of my room set aside with our CAFE menu where strategies we have learned are posted under the appropriate column so that we can refer back to them. Students then have a visual reminder of the strategies they can choose from as readers. I write the strategy and together we come up with an appropriate visual representation for the strategy which a student then draws on the card. I love having the visual of the strategy menu and the reminder with the illustration. 

To teach the comprehension strategies, I get to read wonderful pieces of children’s literature to my students and model my own use of the strategies I am teaching. For someone, like me, who has a huge and always growing collection of children’s books, a list of books that are well-suited for each strategy is a must have! I love this list from the Reading Lady.

As the week goes on, students have many opportunities to practice the skills on their own… we use lots of body movements to show when we have used a strategy. For example, when we “make connections,” we use the thumb and first finger of each hand, linked together like a chain.  When I see students do that during my read alouds, I know they have made a connection to the text… but more importantly, I know that they recognize that they have a deeper understanding of what is being read.

One of my favorite resources for comprehension lessons is Into the Book. Into the Book has lessons and even videos to help you tighten up explicit comprehension instruction in your classroom!

The best part about using a very explicit approach to teaching reading comprehension is that having the “menu” in front of my students and using it frequently during my instruction means that I regularly hear them talking about comprehension using (and understanding!) the language skills I have taught them. There is something amazing to be said about hearing first and second graders talk to each other about the predictions they have made or how they need to remember to use the illustrations to help make inferences during a story!

CAFE Classroom Board Example*Each strategy is posted on the “wooden” portion below the appropriate heading.

*The white paper below each letter heading is where sticky notes with student names are placed. Through frequent conferring with students and talk about their strengths and weaknesses as readers, students declare their own strategy to focus on and post a sticky note under the heading where their strategy appears. When I meet with students for reading conferences, we are working on meeting their reading goals so they can choose a new strategy to work on!

 

Christina BainbridgeChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in Centreville, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.

 

For more interesting ways to engage readers in the classroom, download our Free k-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide, and boost reading comprehension for every student at every level!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: Building Vocabulary, reading comprehension, reading strategies, Classroom Reading Strategies, Christina Bainbridge

Three Classroom Strategies for Struggling Readers.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Aug 25, 2011 5:00:00 AM

explicit word analysis for struggling readers

Make Reading Fun for Struggling Students

There are many reading strategies for struggling readers that can pay huge dividends. The following three reading strategies for struggling readers can be easily adapted into what you are already doing in your classroom to reap great rewards.

Word Work...with a Twist. Although there are many ways to help a student learn and master the basic skills of word analysis; the practice of segmenting, blending, and decoding is often the most beneficial. However, if the approach is always the same, students may become disengaged with the activity, therefore not maximizing instructional time. A few simple changes can make this activity as fun as it is beneficial. Think about different materials you could use; letter cards, dry erase boards, sticky notes, chalkboards, anything that provides enough of a change to keep the child engaged in a routine activity. Many teachers have had students write with shaving cream, directly on their desks! The smell is generally pleasant, the shaving cream cleans the desks, and kids get a tactile experience.

An effective method for segmenting, blending and decoding can be found through Words Their Way. Here is a link you might find helpful http://www.literacyconnections.com/WordsTheirWay.php.

If you are focusing on a certain phonetic pattern or sound family, adding a simple "word search" through a teacher-selected text will reinforce basic word work skills. Students also like to monitor what they've learned and which skills they've mastered. Consider keeping a record of each word work skill the child has mastered on a spreadsheet and refer to it during each word work lesson to show growth and maintain excitement about the routine practice.

Readers Theater for All. Research has proven that Readers Theater, performed in groups, is beneficial to improving reading fluency due to practice, confidence and the focus on rate, expression, and phrasing. Sometimes struggling readers are left out of Readers Theater practice because teachers find that emerging or simple scripts are often hard to come by. We’ve found quite a few leveled, free Readers Theater scripts such as http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/index.html. By practicing and participating in Readers Theater, struggling readers will gain confidence in their reading abilities.

Add Words to Wordless Picture Books. There are many high quality wordless picture books that can be used to support reading strategies for struggling readers - the “Carl” the dog books by Alexandra Day are a great example. All of the books are mostly wordless, relying on the details of the illustrations to tell the stories. Give a struggling reader the chance to inspect and study the wordless book and discuss with the child how the story can be told using illustrations. After the student has a grasp of what the storyline may be, have her dictate the story to you, a parent, or an older “reading buddy.”If you use a computer to record the story, you can print out the dictation and cut it to match the book's illustrations. A few paper clips on the bottom of each page and you've turned a wordless picture book into a book a struggling reader can read! Here’s a great link for wordless picture books: http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/816.cfm.

For more interesting ways to engage readers in the classroom, download our Free Guide on Explicit Word Analysis, and boost reading comprehension for every student at every level!

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Tags: Explicit Word Analysis, Classroom Reading Strategies, Literacy

Author’s Chair Doesn’t Have to be a Hot Seat.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Jul 19, 2011 10:26:00 AM

authors chair reading comprehensionReciting a personal piece of writing in front of a group can be challenging for young authors…as well as a source of stress. While uncomfortable at first, subjecting our written works to the opinions of others can reveal flaws and imperfections, but the process almost always makes us better writers.

The Author’s Chair is a common strategy for grades 3-6 to improve writing as well as reading comprehension. It allows students the experience of having their work evaluated among peers at an early age, and can get them accustomed to handling constructive criticism gracefully. Group members take turns listening to each other’s work and provide positive feedback to the author. Teachers should model and guide positive audience responses. There is nothing to be gained by allowing an Author’s Chair activity to turn into a proverbial “hot seat” for beginner writers!

There are various ways to accomplish the Author’s Chair exercise, but regardless of the exact execution, the benefits are great. The simple practice of presenting one’s own written thoughts to a group can be gratifying to a young author, offering greater self confidence as its reward. In turn, the audience benefits from practicing active-listening skills during the presentation. Listeners also learn to simultaneously engage in critical thinking to provide coherent feedback to the author.

The Author’s Chair is just one of a dozen strategies offered in our K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide that you could be using in your classroom today.

Challenge your students to be better readers, thinkers and writers!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: K-6 Reading, reading comprehension, Classroom Reading Strategies

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