MAT Blog

It's National Reading Month & We've got 5 Reading Strategies

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Mar 5, 2013 9:39:00 AM

Reading StrategiesIt’s March and we can think of at least two reasons to be happy about it: First, we’re a mere 15 days away from spring. Second, March is National Reading Month!

To help you supplement your reading curriculum, we decided to look back over the last few months and pull out five of our most popular reading-related blogs. Here they are in no particular order:

Burying the Book Report: 5 More Book Report Alternatives
Let’s face it, there are only so many book reports a teacher can read in a lifetime; here are five alternatives.

I read it, but I don't understand it: 4 reading strategies that work
Learn about a collaborative reading strategy we gleaned from Janette Klingner, Sharon Vaughn, Alison Boardman and Elizabeth Swanson called “Click and Clunk.”

Teaching Reading Means Teaching Students to LOVE Reading
Most of us excel at something when we truly love it. Raw talent, natural inclination and drive help, but passion is an inextricable part of success. What if we applied this principal to teaching reading?

5 Tips for Creating an Effective Classroom Library
Early Literacy Education scholars suggest that the classroom library should literally be “the backbone of classroom activity.” Here are five strategies to consider as you design (or redesign) your classroom library.

Creating Avid Readers: 5 Reading Strategies for Parents & Teachers
There is a lot teachers can do to nurture a love of reading in their students, but we certainly can’t do it all. Here are five simple reading strategies for teachers and parents.

Happy National Reading Month!


Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading strategy, reluctant readers, National Reading Month

It’s still National Reading Month, so keep reading in your classrooms!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Mar 20, 2012 5:15:00 PM

It's National Reading Month, so keep on reading to your students...every day!National Reading Month is winding down. Have you all been reading vigorously with your students?  Editing this blog is really great, but in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I have not read aloud to my own children one single time this month. I feel pretty guilty about not practicing what our wonderful Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching program preaches. 

The truth is, the last time I tried to read aloud to my children, who are 18 and 12 years of age, they both got up and walked out of the room. It was so much easier when they were a younger, more captive audience— either trapped in a baby seat or tucked snugly in their beds!

My favorites were “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein and “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown. Then it was “Blueberries for Sal,” by Robert McCloskey (a great one for K-2 math literacy, by the way) and White’s “Charlotte’s Web.” We read Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books out loud, too—but by that time, their attention levels were hit or miss…the kids were older and less compelled to listen to me, about anything. But I kept going…sometimes reading to myself, or even reading so loud and with such drama that they had to hear me. I still annoy them.

So you see, I am passionate, and even a little nutty about reading. My mother read to us all the time, too. It sticks with you. But don’t ask me about any “best-sellers” lists or what is “hot” right now in popular fiction. I read whatever I want—mostly things that interest me and not what someone else says I should read. I’m a little nutty that way, too.

About a year ago, I realized that I was mostly reading children’s books or non-fiction and not enough adult fiction, so I joined a book club that my brilliant neighbor-friend started. Her tastes are similar to mine, and she always has a little stash of interesting titles to offer. We gather once a month and it is lots of fun. I recommend it for anyone who feels their reading mojo is a little off kilter. Selfishly, I knew that if I was forced to read more, I would become a better writer, too. We all know these two go hand-in-hand.

On the second Tuesday of each month, I race off to a local coffee joint or restaurant after work to talk about books, and hope that by example, my children are seeing that reading should be a priority. I hope it will sink in on some level, just as the things my mother did sunk in for me. The fact that they have to fend for themselves for dinner, well let’s hope they understand that, too.

Actually, two teachers stand out for me who nurtured my love for reading. Miss Bryant in first grade, who had a sweet, almost heavenly voice that I could listen to all day. And Miss Penix in high school—who was very influential in instilling in me a keen interest for women’s literature. My club is reading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” this month, a play I read in her class at the impressionable age of 16, and I salute her.

So teachers, I confess. As a parent, I have not read aloud to my older, more indifferent children lately. But thank you for reminding us that it is important. I will do my best to promote reading in one way or another. And I know that you will, too.

P.S. We are looking forward to seeing “The Hunger Games” movie this weekend…what an amazing book for older kids and adults alike.

Need some ideas on how to encourage a love for reading in your busy classroom?  Our comprehension guide has lots of strategies and tips that are worth checking out!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B





Tags: reading comprehension, download, National Reading Month, book clubs

The Virtues of the “Whisper Phone” for Independent Reading

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Mar 6, 2012 5:39:00 AM

struggling and emerging readers can benefit from the whisper phone!Happy Reading Month! Today we would like to take a look at the “whisper phone” as an important tool for early and struggling readers. If you haven’t seen one yet, you should check out the simple instructions below, for making your own.

What are They? Whisper phones are modeled after a telephone receiver, usually constructed out of simple piping materials, that help young students hear themselves read during independent reading. Students can speak quietly, and the whisper phones work by amplifying their voices and directing the sounds to their ears. They are able to use the phones to listen to themselves read without disturbing other students.

Why are “Whisper Phones” a Good Literacy Tool?

  1. The whisper phone supports the acquisition of phonemic awareness by allowing the student to hear her own voice while reading. Students are also able to focus on blending, proper sound use, and fluency in the text. 
  2. Whisper phones, by presence and function, help improve both the student’s focus and attention.  The voice funneling and the simple presence of an additional tool for reading will help redirect a distracted reader.
  3. Students are encouraged to whisper while reading, contributing to a reduction in classroom noise.  If a student speaks in a normal volume it will be incredibly loud since the phone works to funnel the sound.
  4. Students love these phones!  They offer variety in a normal independent reading session, and students often like to hear themselves read. They even help the shy “read aloud” reader gain confidence by becoming accustomed to hearing his or her own voice. The phones are successful for a variety of ability levels, and help to support emerging readers' sound blending and more advanced readers' fluency. 

Where Can You Purchase Them? There are many commercial vendors that sell “whisper phones” either online or in educational stores.  A quick Google search found hundreds of shopping search results in a variety of prices. The more affordable phones start at about two dollars per phone and more expensive designs−many of which are hands free− are approximately $10 dollars. Most vendors offer a discount if you buy in bulk.

How to Make Your Own “Whisper Phone!” 
Another virtue of the whisper phone design is that you are able to make the phones on your own fairly easily and for much less than a manufacturer would charge.  Since the basic design can be as simple as a PVC pipe tube, you can pick up the materials you need at your local home improvement store.   

For each phone you'll need a piece of straight PVC pipe and two elbows the same diameter. First, cut the straight pipe to the desired length (usually 3" to 5") and then position a 90-degree elbow on each end and push together.  You can also use PVC glue to permanently attach the elbows to the main pipe.  

To boost reading comprehension for your students this month, download our FREE K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide! We know you’ll find a new tip or two to energize your instruction!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: download, struggling readers, National Reading Month, whisper phones

Pre-reading encourages active reading across content areas.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Feb 23, 2012 5:34:00 AM

Marygrove MAT emphasizes reading in the content areas in honor of National Reading Month!In celebration of  National Reading Month, I encourage teachers to pull out all the stops to get students reading! My alma mater, Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Program, helped me to understand that as a content area teacher I have a professional responsibility to teach reading, too. Literacy instruction is not the sole responsibility of language arts teachers!

In my sixth grade social studies class, I routinely ask my students to work with expository text, whether it is to identify the main idea of a paragraph, extrapolate information for a report, or synthesize information while working in a small group. Each of these tasks demands that students have strategies and tools to help them read the text for meaning and comprehension. 

I found that the Marygrove MAT program offers a very thorough approach to reading in the content areas.  The courses are grounded in current research on literacy instruction, and feature presentations and readings by well-known and respected leaders in the field of literacy. Each section of a course focuses on a specific skill that is related to building literacy, and includes descriptions of several strategies for teaching and reinforcing this focus skill.

One key strategy that I learned is the use of pre-reading activities. These “reading exercises” serve to give purpose for reading, arouse students' curiosity, and motivate them to read.  Pre-reading activities also help students to access background information on a topic.  Pre-reading prepares students to practice active, rather than passive, reading behaviors.  Active reading is an important component of achieving comprehension. 

One simple, yet powerful, pre-reading activity that works well is the introduction of core vocabulary words.  I began to recognize how my students would become “stuck” whenever they encountered an unknown, content-specific vocabulary word in the course of their reading. Through my coursework, I learned how to develop and incorporate a useful pre-reading activity to introduce vocabulary words and definitions.

The results were tremendous! I discovered this is a proactive way to help my students become more successful readers. I also found that my students exhibited more enthusiasm for a lesson when I introduced core vocabulary because the words gave them an idea about the topic.  

Pre-reading activities like core vocabulary practice are so helpful in the content areas. Whether you are a math, social studies, or science teacher— taking the time to introduce vocabulary will contribute to more engaged reading, smarter researching and ultimately better writing: essential skills that will serve students throughout their academic careers and beyond. 

For more tips and suggestions for greater literacy in the classroom, download our K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide today. Make National Reading Month a celebration of reading for your students!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Melissa Dugan, Marygrove MAT 2003, has been in the classroom since September 1996, after her graduation from Douglass College, Rutgers University. She currently teaches sixth grade social studies at Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey.  Her favorite part of teaching is the satisfaction that comes from discovering and trying new strategies to improve instruction and student achievement.  Melissa has served as a mentor to novice teachers, and has presented at the annual conference of the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies.  She is dedicated to working with other teachers to improve and perfect the craft of teaching.     

Tags: reading comprehension, download, reading strategies, reading motivation, National Reading Month

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