MAT Blog

5 More Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 13, 2015 2:01:17 PM

It’s been a while since we put together a list of our favorite spooky, but not so spooky read-alouds for children. As always, it’s hard to narrow down our list to five, but here they are in no particular order!

5 More Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

read_alouds_for_children_1Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Witch and her cat are flying around on their magic broomstick when a sudden gust of wind snags witch’s hat…then her bow…then her wand. Thankfully, three animals come to the rescue and help her find the lost items. All they want in exchange for their services is a ride on the broom. What follows is a rhythmically, romping ride for both reader and witch alike. Try saying that ten times fast!

bunnicula-1Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

We’ve recommended this book before, but it’s just so good that we have to talk about it some more.

Just when you thought that the vampire theme had been completely exhausted, Deborah and James Howe came up with this “spooktastic” read-aloud. In Bunnicula, we meet the Toby Monroe and his family, who decide to head to the theatre to see their favorite movie, Dracula. When Toby takes his seat, he accidentally plops himself down on top of a rabbit who is bundled up in the seat.

The Monroes love animals as much as they love horror movies, so what do they do? Why, they adopt the bunny and name him Bunnicula, of course!

But the family pets, Chester and Harold, quickly notice that something is amiss: Why does Bunnicula have pointy fangs, wear a cape, and have nocturnal habits? What happened to the once-red tomato in the kitchen? This read-aloud is as funny and “falltastic” as it is fast-paced. Enjoy!

read_alouds_for_children_3-1The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson certainly owes a great debt to Maurice Sendak's well-loved and well-read book, Where the Wild Things Are. Regardless of whether or not Donaldson is intentionally channeling Sendak, our students have never turned up their noses at The Gruffalo. In fact, it has become one of their all-time favorite Halloween read-alouds. So what’s it about? Here’s the skinny:

Mouse is walking through the woods when he encounters a fox…then an owl…then a snake. Knowing that he would make a tasty treat for these animals, he uses his imagination to create the gruffalo, a monster with “terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”

The three animals never actually see the gruffalo (because he doesn’t exist of course!), but mouse’s description of his imaginary friend is enough to scare these pesky predators away!

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Reread_alouds_for_children_4-1x

If your students enjoy Goodnight Moon, they are certainly going to love the Halloween spin Michael Rex puts on that classic with Goodnight Goon!

The story takes place “in a cold gray tomb there was a gravestone and a black lagoon and a picture of Martians taking over the moon.” Werewolf is just settling down for bed, but will Goon and his antics keep him awake all night?

read_alouds_for_children_5-2Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

Like candy, tacos and dragons are year-round treats—but we always like breaking out Adam Rubin’s and Daniel Salmieri’s Dragons Love Tacos in October.

How do we begin to describe this little book? Basically, it’s a hilarious and kooky story about what can go wrong when you decide to throw a taco party for dragons. We guarantee that this read-aloud will have your students rolling on the floor.

 

Spooky Story Starters Guide

 

Tags: read alouds, halloween read alouds

5 of the Best Thanksgiving Read Alouds for Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 11, 2014 1:43:00 PM

All of the signs point to the fact that Fall is here—and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In our neck of the woods, the trees are shedding the last of their leaves, our furnaces are humming, and everything from coffee and candy to Pop Tarts and Pringles are infused with pumpkin flavor.

We could probably do without the pumpkin flavored chips, but we look forward to this time of the year for a variety of reasons—one being that we finally have an excuse to break out our favorite Thanksgiving read-alouds.

5 of the Best Thanksgiving Read Alouds for Teachers

read_alouds_1One Is a Feast for a Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale
Thanksgiving is over for humans, but it’s just getting started for Mouse, who creeps out of his hiding place and spies first a green pea, then a cranberry, then some mashed potatoes and even turkey! Spotting the leftovers is one thing, but getting past Cat is something else altogether.

This Thanksgiving read aloud is certainly cute, but it’s also an excellent starting point for a discussion about appreciation and excess.




thanksgiving_read_aloud_2I
Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie

Think you have a bad habit of overeating on Thanksgiving? Think again. In this book, the old lady begins her feast by eating a Thanksgiving pie that’s just too dry. So what does she do? She polishes off a jug of cider to wash it down. But it’s Thanksgiving—and what would Thanksgiving be without a roll, salad, turkey, and an entire squash?

As the old lady continues to eat, her belly continues to grow. I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie is a silly, strange and wacky, but definitely one of our most popular Thanksgiving read-alouds.

read_alouds_2-1Fried Feathers for Thanksgiving

Halloween has come and gone, and boy is it a terrible let down for grumpy witches Dolores and Lavinia. So what do they do? They decide to ruin Thanksgiving for Emma, and all of her friends. Unfortunately, Emma is a kinder and much wiser witch than the two grumps she lives with.


read_alouds_4Ankle Soup
It’s Thanksgiving day and Carlos, a French bulldog, just can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. Carlos’ journey begins amidst the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, giving young readers a mostly-ankle view of the Big Apple’s most famous icons: Grand Central Station, the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, Coney Island, F.A.O Schwartz, and many more.

read aloudsBalloons Over Broadway
We can’t speak for you, but we’ve always felt that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is as integral to the holiday as pumpkin pie. This book, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is the story of Tony Sarg and how he developed the huge balloon puppets that have delighted parade viewers since 1928.


The Thankful Turkey_Marygrove_MAT


Tags: Thanksgiving Lesson Plan Ideas, reading teachers, read alouds

5 Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 15, 2014 9:35:06 AM

Last week, we put together a list of our favorite “falltastic” read-alouds, but looking back on it, our list just doesn’t seem complete without these five spooky, but not-SO-spooky read-alouds. As always, it was challenging to narrow down the list to five, but here they are in no particular order!

5 Spooky, But Not-SO-Spooky Halloween Read Alouds for Children

read_alouds_for_children_5Shake Dem Halloween Bones
We’re willing to bet the farm that your students won’t be able to keep “dem” tailbones in “dem” seats once you start reading Shake Dem Halloween Bones.

It’s Halloween night. But as the lights go down in the city, the music goes up at the Hip-Hop Halloween Ball! Students will enjoy seeing their favorite fairy tale characters—Little Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and others—come together to sing their favorite refrain: "Shake dem Halloween bones!"

read aloudsBunnicula
Just when you thought that the vampire theme had been completely exhausted, Deborah and James Howe came up with this “spooktastic” read-aloud. In Bunnicula, we meet the Toby Monroe and his family, who decide to head to the theatre to see their favorite movie, Dracula. When Toby takes his seat, he accidentally plops himself down on top of a rabbit who is bundled up in the seat.

The Monroes love animals as much as they love horror movies, so what do they do? Why, they adopt the bunny and name him Bunnicula, of course!

But the family pets, Chester and Harold, quickly notice that something is amiss: Why does Bunnicula have pointy fangs, wear a cape, and have nocturnal habits? What happened to the once-red tomato in the kitchen? This read-aloud is as funny and “falltastic” as it is fast-paced. Enjoy!

read_alouds_for_children_2Skeleton Hiccups
Who knew that skeletons could get the hiccups? Apparently they can, and this bony protagonist can’t seem to shake them. Taking the advice of his best friend, Ghost, Skeleton does everything in the book to get rid of his hiccups: He holds his breath, drinks water upside down, eats sugar, but nothing works…until Ghost holds up a mirror!

 

read_alouds_for_children_3Boris and Bella
Boris Kleanitoff is terrifyingly tidy and his neighbor Bella Lagrossi is monstrously messy, so it’s no surprise that these two don’t get along—that is, until a Halloween dance brings them together.

 

This is one of our favorite read-alouds and if you’re a fan of Tim Burton tales like the Nightmare Before Christmas and the Corpse Bride, you’ll surely love this one.

 

 

read_alouds_for_children_4Pumpkin Soup
This is one of the “unspookiest” books on our list, but we had to include it.


In an old cabin in the woods (where else?), three friends make their famous pumpkin soup—just like they do every single day. As usual, Squirrel stirs, Cat cuts the pumpkin and Duck drop in the salt. But Duck is tired of dropping the salt and wants to stir. What ensues is a hilarious and heart-warming story—or soup!—for the soul.

Spooky Story Starters Guide

Tags: reading teachers, read alouds, halloween read alouds

5 “Falltacular” Read-Alouds for Children!

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 8, 2014 9:35:00 AM

Fall is here! In our neck of the woods, the trees are ablaze with vibrant leaves, our furnaces are humming again, and we’re making plans to tip back some cider at the local cider mill. We look forward to this time of the year for a variety of reasons—one being that we finally have an excuse to break out our favorite seasonal read-alouds!

Narrowing down our favorite books to a list of five was difficult, but here they are in no particular order.

5 “Falltacular” Read-Alouds for Children!

read aloudsLeaf Man
For those of you unfamiliar with Lois Ehlert, she is an author and artist who works in collage-style, using found objects to tell her stories. Ehlert continues this tradition in this “falltacular” children’s book, using real leaves to tell the story of—you guessed it—the Leaf Man.

As the refrain suggests, "A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows,” so readers should expect to follow this leafy protagonist on his wind-blown romp through the beautiful, changing countryside.

If you fall in love with Ehlert like we did, check out another of her seasonal read-alouds called Nuts to You!


read alouds
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
When the leaves turn color and begin to fall from his favorite tree, Fletcher worries that something terrible has happened.

In spite of his mother’s reassurance that the tree is simply changing with the seasons, Fletcher does his best to “save” his tree from losing its leaves. Cute, cute, cute…and students always love the surprise Fletcher finds once winter arrives.

read aloudsHow Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?
Most of us have seen really big pumpkins, but you probably haven’t seen any as big as those that award-winning artist Wendell Minor shows us in How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?

If you’ve ever wondered what American landmarks like the Capitol dome, Mount Rushmore, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Grand Canyon would look like if they were bedecked in pumpkins, Wendell Minor will show you!

read aloudsFall Mixed Up
In Fall Mixed Up, we meet one very confused young man. For some reason, he thinks September is “Septober” and October is “Octember.” Not only is he confused, so are the seasons! Apples turn orange. Pumpkins turn red. Squirrels even fly south! Students will love getting wild and wacky with this read-aloud.




read aloudsPick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes
This book not only scratches your seasonal itch, but teaches students about shapes at the same time!

Take a family trip to the pumpkin patch. Jump on a hayride, pick a pumpkin, and name all of the shapes you find in the fall scenery.







Spooky Story Starters Guide


Tags: reading motivation, reading instruction, reading teachers, read alouds

5 of Our Favorite Read-Alouds for the First Day of School

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jul 31, 2014 3:36:07 PM

We’ve always believed that first impressions have a way of setting the tone and giving shape to our classroom culture. While there are always a million things to do on the first day of school, we like to ease students into the year by starting with one of our favorite icebreakers: read alouds. Narrowing down our favorite books to a list of five was difficult, but here they are in no particular order.

5 of Our Favorite Read-Alouds for the First Day of School

untitled-1Miss Rumphius is the story of Alice Rumphius, who vowed as a young child to do three things in her life: travel to faraway lands, live by the sea, and make the world a more beautiful place. To fulfill her third vow, Alice scatters lupine seeds wherever she goes so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of these flowers long after she is gone.

Miss Rumphius is an ideal read for both the first and last days of school. The illustrations are beautiful and the message challenges students to consider what they can do to make the world a better place. To remind students of this challenge, we like sending them off with a packet of lupine seeds.

indexFirst Day Jitters
Regardless of whether you’re a first-year or veteran teacher, you probably experience that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach the night before your first day of the school.

Like Sarah Jane Hartwell, the character from First Day Jitters, many of our students feel anxious about beginning a new school year, too. With the encouragement of Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane conjures up the courage to go to school where things turn out not to be nearly as bad as she thought they would be—quite the opposite, actually!

read_aloudsOh, the Places You’ll Go takes the form of a graduation speech, so it’s the perfect companion for the end of the school year. Like Miss Rumphius, though, Oh, the Places You’ll Go can pull double-duty and work just as well for the first day of school.

In typical Dr. Suess fashion, students will rhyme their way through a series of playful, yet empowering pages reminding them that are the masters of their ship; they have the “brains, the shoes and the feet” to take them where they want to go this year.

read_alouds_2The Kissing Hand
Like Chester Raccoon, many of our younger students struggle with separation anxiety. To quell his first-day-of-school blues, Chester’s mother shares “the Kissing Hand,” a family secret that gives him a bit of reassurance he can tap into any time the world gets a little scary.

 

 

read_alouds_3The Teacher From the Black Lagoon is the hilarious tale that takes readers into the mind of Hubie, a student who lets his imagination about his new teacher get the best of him. Surprise, surprise! when Hubie finally gets to school, things turn out a lot different than he imagined they would.







15 Ways to Kick Start the First Day of School

Tags: first day of school, read alouds

4 of Our Favorite Read-Aloud Activities for the Last Day of School

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 5, 2014 9:34:00 AM

Our students love when we read aloud to them and while we do this often, we always like to save a few of our favorite books for the last day of school. Before you part with your students for the summer, send them off with one of these read-aloud activities.

read aloud activitiesMiss Rumphius is the story of Alice Rumphius, who vowed as a young child to do three things in her life: travel to faraway lands, live by the sea, and make the world a more beautiful place. To fulfill her third vow, Alice scatters lupine seeds wherever she goes so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of these flowers long after she is gone.

Miss Rumphius is one of our favorite end-of-the-year read alouds. The illustrations are beautiful and the message challenges students to consider what they can do to make the world a better place. To remind students of this challenge, we like sending them off with a packet of lupine seeds.

read_aloud_activitiesCity Dog, Country Frog is the story of an unlikely friendship between City Dog and Country Frog. In the spring, City Dog roams the countryside for the first time in his life and discovers Country Frog, a strange creature perched on a rock. It’s an unlikely match, but from here we follow the progression of a rich, but unlikely friendship that spans each season.

After reading this book, we like to play memory games with our students to reflect on the friends we’ve made, the special times we had, and key moments we shared during the school year.

 

 

read aloud activitiesDuring the school year, we read dozens of books to our students. On the last day of school, we like to take all of these books, spread them out on the tray of our whiteboard, and play the “connection game.”

The teacher begins the game by grabbing any two books and making some sort of connection between them. Next, a student picks a book and makes another connection to one of these two books. Repeat these steps until you’ve successfully connected all of the books together in some way. This is a fun way to revisit favorite books, but it’s also a useful way to reinforce text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.

Photo credit: sweetjessie / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

read aloud activitiesThe Important Book is, as one critic has suggested, is a “deceptively simple exercise” in taking familiar objects (a spoon, a daisy, or rain) and forcing us to look at them in unfamiliar ways. It may be true that daisies are yellow in the middle and that they have long white petals—but why does the author suggest that the “most important” thing about daisies is that they are white? Students often disagree with the author’s conclusions, but that is precisely what makes The Important Book such a great read!

As an accompanying activity, have each student take out a piece of paper and write “The Important Thing About (student’s name goes here).

Now, have students go around the room and write down something important about each person. You can set any ground rules you like, but we ask students to be as specific as possible and avoid saying things about other students’ appearances.






End of the Year Advice Book

Tags: read alouds

5 Non-negotiables for Reading Teachers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on May 13, 2014 2:49:10 PM

Reading TeachersFew of us doubt the importance of teaching reading. Parents want their children to read and teachers have resorted to practically begging their students to read. But how do we make it happen?

According to Donalyn Miller, author of Reading in the Wild, teachers must build and depend on a “framework that exists every day throughout the school year.” This framework, or what Miller refers to as “non-negotiables,” should be the foundation against which teachers check their lesson planning, assessment, resources, classroom management, and virtually every aspect of their instructional design.

We’ve pulled five of Miller’s classroom “negotiables,” and listed them below.

5 Non-negotiables for Reading Teachers

Time to read; time to write
Miller’s students spend a significant amount of time reading in class—approximately one-third of every class period, in fact. During this daily independent reading time, she confers with several students about their reading and meets with small groups of students who need additional instruction and support. In addition to this, she encourages students to read at home and removes or reduces homework and busy-work activities in order to provide time for additional reading.

Students need to feel that they are a part of a community of readers and writers
To help students develop confidence and self-efficacy as readers, Miller places emphasis on ensuring students nurture relationships with other readers in reading communities. These communities include both their peers and teacher. Whether students read below grade level, meet grade-level goals, or surpass grade-level expectations, all of them fully participate in activities and conversations that value individual strengths and viewpoints.

Choice
Miller argues that students need to make their own choices about reading material and writing topics. So in her classroom, students self-select all books for independent reading. She encourages them to read widely, and helps them select books from a variety of genres and formats including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic novels. She also supports and challenges students through reading advisory—that is, guiding them toward books that match their interests and reading abilities.

Students need the opportunity to respond to books in natural ways
Miller stresses the importance of providing students with daily opportunities to respond to what they read. Students share book recommendations, write response entries, and post book reviews based on their independent reading. In addition to this, they talk about books daily with their peers and us through conferences and classroom discussions.

The workshops are built on structure and predictable ritual
In Miller’s classroom, reading workshops follow a consistent routine of lessons—and time for sharing and reflection. Regular conferences, reading response, and reader’s notebook records hold students accountable for their reading and provide information about their progress toward personal and academic reading goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about Donalyn Miller’s approach to reading instruction, check out one of our recent blogs, “5 Simple Ways to Increase Independent Reading Time.”

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Tags: reading assessment, effective reading comprehension strategies, reading ability, reading teachers, read alouds

Creating Avid Readers: 5 Reading Strategies for Parents & Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 17, 2012 6:00:00 AM

Reading StrategiesAvid readers rarely come out of the womb clutching A Tale of Two Cities. Nope, more often than not, they come from homes where their parents “did very specific things to nurture a love of reading in their children.” This is what reading specialist Mary Leonhardt argues in her book, 99 Ways to Get Kids to Love Reading. We think Leonhard’s reading strategies are worth talking about.

It’s a dramatic example, but it does seem rather unlikely that someone like Mozart would have realized his potential had circumstances been different. Sure, he had a natural, perhaps even genetic, predisposition towards music, but it didn’t hurt that he was privileged enough to have a keyboard in the house; it didn’t hurt that his father was an experienced teacher and semi-accomplished composer either. The point we’re getting at is that readers, like musicians, are made—they’re not born.

Teachers can do a lot to nurture a love of reading in their students, but we certainly can’t do it all. So while this article is for teachers, it’s also for parents. Here are 5 simple reading strategies Mary Leonhard’s suggests that parents (and teachers) use to transform their children into avid readers:

5 Reading Strategies for Parents and Teachers


Make a love of reading the primary educational goal
If children hate reading—or worse yet, can’t read—the caliber of the school and teacher matters very little. Poor readers fall behind; they get lost and discouraged. And when they struggle long enough, they begin to see education as a malevolent, rather than exhilarating experience. 

But as Leonhard argues, adroit readers have “a more complex sense of language. They speak better, write better, and deal better with complex ideas”—which means that they’re going to be more likely to succeed wherever they are, regardless of the school, regardless of the class, regardless of the teacher. 

Show rather than tell your kids that reading is valuable
Our kids are excellent and intuitive mimickers. If we told our kids to keep their room clean or wash their dirty dishes, but left our own dishes in the sink and our own room in shambles, we’d be awfully naïve to expect clean rooms and “dishless” sinks out of them.

This is one of the most basic reading strategies: Read. Reward them with books. Buy them. Order them for a penny on Amazon.com. Go to the library. Go to the book store. Stop telling them to read and read, read, read yourself!

“Low-brow” books are better than no books
“Educated” (notice the quotation marks?) readers tend to impose their high-brow tastes on certain books and genres. But just because it’s a “classic” doesn’t mean that your kids have to like it right now—or ever for that matter.

True, it’s easy to scoff at the Twilight series, but go easy on your kids: let them read what they want on their own time. When I was a kid, I voraciously devoured Choose Your Own Adventure and cheesy R.L. Stein horror books. They were rather unsophisticated by many standards, but I couldn’t get enough of them. I prized them and no one insulted my taste for it. As a result, I read every Choose Your Own Adventure and R.L. Stein book in the library and had to ask the librarian to order new ones from other local libraries. 

Don’t feel that you need to schedule time for your kids to read
Forcing your kids to read won’t make them love it. Kids claim that they “don’t have time” to take out the trash or clean their rooms, but when was the last time they didn’t have time to talk on the phone or play roller hockey with the neighborhood kids? Exactly.

Our kids will find time to read—especially when they see that reading is an indispensable part of your daily routine, not just theirs.

Find books that your kids will like
You know your kids pretty well, right?  You do a fine job of picking out Christmas and birthday gifts for them. And when you don’t know what to get them, you’re probably not going to have to twist any arms to get a long list of the things they want. If we want our kids to read, we need to get them the kinds of books they’ll like—not the kinds of books we like. Find out what interests them and surprise them with a variety of reading materials—comic books, fiction, non-fiction—relating to the subject.

 

ten common technology challenges for teachers

Tags: effective reading strategies, reading comprehension, reading motivation, struggling readers, read alouds

4 Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 23, 2012 12:38:00 PM

teacher led reading groupIt’s unfortunate, but we’ve seen struggling readers who have flown under the radar for years. But for students who try to avoid being noticed, sitting silently in the back becomes less possible when we design specific reading strategies that encourage them not only to make mistakes, but also reimagine the way they view them.

Most of us have used reading groups in our own classes—or at least experienced them as students: The class was divided into groups of four or five students (most often based on reading ability) and the teacher would make his or her rounds, working with each group on specific reading strategies custom-tailored to fit that group’s needs.

In our experience, strategic reading groups are effective, but can be exhausting for the teacher who not only has to plan specific reading strategies for each group, but has to simultaneously keep the rest of the class on task. That’s why we’d like to help you simplify the whole affair with a few of these simple group reading strategies for struggling readers:

4 Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers

1. Capitalize on students’ comfort with routine
Students benefit from having a set routine, particularly when they are engaging in challenging practices. If you are going to work with several groups during a class period, you want to spend your time reading—not on explaining the activity. Make sure that each student understands his or her role before the activity begins. In addition to this:

    • Remind students of the purpose of the activity and explain that they should expect the text to be challenging, so there’s no need to be discouraged when they “mess up”
    • Before you call each group, refresh the entire class on the reading strategies that might apply to this specific text
    • Once you call your group of 5 students, circulate between each student. Listen to each read until he or she miscues; then coach the student through the appropriate reading strategy
    • Make sure that you are only spending two minutes working with each student
    • Once the ten minutes are up, have your students close their books; then briefly reinforce the reading strategy with your students for five minutes
    • Call together the next group and repeat

    2. Student error (not laborious planning) should determine what will be taught
    Although you can probably foreshadow some of the missteps your students will make during each activity, you never really know…so be prepared to deviate from the script you’ve written in your head and roll with the punches. Being able to improvise is going to save you a lot of time and energy.

    3. Texts should be difficult—but not impenetrable
    Most of us are familiar with independent, instructional and frustration-level texts. Remember, you are trying to create recurring “teachable moments,” so choosing a text that is either too simple (independent) or one that is well beyond their reading level (frustration-level) won’t work. Instead, choose an instructional text, one that requires frequent teacher intervention, but is not so difficult that it is impenetrable.

      To keep students from feeling self-conscious or getting frustrated, you should remind them that that the purpose of this strategic reading group is for them to make mistakes. If you notice that a student is not struggling, it might be time for him or her to move to a different group.

      4. It’s OK if the text lacks an overt connection to other texts
      It might run counter to your instinct, but there’s really no need to spend your evenings or weekends searching for the perfect instructional text, one that connects to the rest of your reading curriculum. Most of the time, content is important, but in this case, “teachability” takes precedent over “entertainability.”

      Console yourself with the fact that there are plenty of times where you can offer the entire class books, magazine articles, or comic-based resources which are slightly below their average reading level, but “easy” texts have a time and place—this doesn’t happen to be one of them.


      Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

      Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, struggling readers, read alouds

      Effective Reading Strategies: 5 Dos and Don'ts

      Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 13, 2012 6:00:00 AM

      students reading booksIn an ideal world, upper elementary and secondary teachers would spend very little, if any, time teaching students to read. Alas…many of us encounter less than ideal circumstances on a daily basis, so regardless of what grade you teach, it never hurts to have a few reading comprehension strategies in your back pocket. By using a few of these successful reading strategies—and avoiding a few common misconceptions—your students will get the information they need using tools they connect with.

      Effective Reading Strategies: 5 Dos and Don'ts

      1. Do Give them Reading Time
        It’s unfortunate that older students are given less time to read for pleasure—especially when you consider that studies repeatedly suggest that the more time students spend reading, the more skilled they become at it. If your school doesn't honor Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), it might be time to become an activist and bring it back. Studies show that reading just 20-minutes a day not only helps create more enthusiastic readers, but also positively impacts reading test scores.

      2. Don't Always Pick the Materials For Them
        Dexterous readers with an instilled work ethic may not be deterred by the books you select for them, even if they aren’t necessarily books they would select for themselves. But for a struggling or unenthusiastic reader, having every book selected for them can stifle their interest in reading.

        Consider offering students a choice of books that offer a range of perspectives, but still relate to your current lesson plans. Here’s something to consider: Research from Guthrie and Humenick suggests that children who get to choose at least one thing to read per day are not only more engaged, but see an increase in reading comprehension skills.

      3. Do Let them Read at Their Reading Level. If you have a struggling reader, even the most helpful reading guides and group reading comprehension strategies, can make them feel insecure and uninspired to learn. Once in a while, offer the entire class books, magazine articles, or comic-based resources which are slightly below their average reading level. The information can still be interesting and informative for accelerated readers and will be inclusive of your lower-level readers. The assessments will more accurately reflect students' learning achievements because the materials were accessible to everyone.

      4. Don't Put Them on the Spot. If students are mentally/emotionally "checked out" during class reading time, putting them on the spot—"Jodi, can you please tell the class what just happened?"—isn't going to inspire them to pay attention. Instead, one of the best reading comprehension strategies is to converse with them interactively throughout the story. Interrupt the reading to say, "Hm, I wonder how Scout knew that X was going to happen?" and encourage them to look backwards for foreshadowing. Modeling  reading comprehension strategies can re-direct the mental wanderers without embarrassing them.

      5. Do Use Computer Programs Wisely. Computer programs which utilize reading comprehension strategies can be a nice touch. They help kinesthetic learners to physically engage with materials: Voice-overs may help focus auditory learners while graphics may help stimulate the visual learners. The downside is that students may tend to drift off, get lost when the computer can't help them with a problem, or bail on the assignment altogether. Make sure computer reading programs are carefully monitored and used sparingly for the best results.

      Remember, at the end of the day, the important thing is that students are engaged with the learning process. Good reading comprehension strategies will ensure they do just that.

      Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

      Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, read alouds

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