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)

 

 

New Call-to-Action

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

Booktrack Classroom Creates an Immersive Reading Experience

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 22, 2014 9:56:00 AM

BooktrackOver the weekend, we came across Booktrack, a free web application that syncs digital books to audio, resulting in an immersive reading experience.

Students can choose from books or essays in the Booktrack library or write their own story and add an accompanying soundtrack by choosing from over 20,000 professional-quality audio files.

booktrack classroom

Here’s how it works: Say, for example that you choose to read Romeo and Juliet. As you read, you’ll notice a descending marker in the right-hand margin of the page. This marker moves down the page as you read so that your reading speed accompanies the soundtrack. If the marker moves too fast, use the plus and minus icons at the bottom of the page to increase or decrease the speed.

Using Booktrack Classroom
Booktrack can be used in a variety of ways to engage with students. Here are just a few examples:

  • Narrative Writing – Students add music and audio to their original stories.
  • Informative and Explanatory Writing – Students compose essays and articles selecting suitable audio to accompany their text.
  • Literature Study – Students gain insight and increased understanding of the text by creating their own soundtracks for novels, stories, and plays they are reading in class.
  • Read-Alouds – Teacher and student led read-alouds are enhanced through the addition of sound and music to the chapter or act being presented.

In addition to this, Booktrack has assembled a variety of free lesson plans for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels, covering a variety of subjects and learning outcomes. All lesson plans have been created by professional teachers and conform to CORE standards and best practice.

Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, collaborative learning

Teach Beginning Readers Genre With This Free, Interactive Map

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 21, 2014 3:28:00 PM

One of the best ways to help beginning readers discover books they’ll love is by teaching them about genre. Thanks to the folks over at Book Country, your students can learn all about different genres—mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, thriller, and other subgenres—by clicking their way around an interactive map.

The map covers over 60 categories and also connects users to popular books in each genre. Click here or on the image below to try it out.

beginning readers



New Call-to-Action

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers, collaborative learning

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

5 Ways to Help Struggling Readers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 17, 2014 9:22:00 AM

struggling readers

Use the Web to find texts they want to read

In the past, finding books that piqued our struggling readers’ interest was challenging, but with the help of websites like Bookwink, Whichbook, Shelfari, Your Next Read and BookLamp.org, finding good books has never been easier. Use these sites, and show your students how to use them, too.  

Pair struggling readers with younger readers

Even when we give our students their choice of reading materials, many struggling readers continue to choose books that are too difficult for them. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Most sixth grade students don’t want to be caught with the Magic Tree House books when their friends are reading the Divergent series.

Pairing these students with younger readers is a simple solution to this. The “indignities” associated with “babyish” books are no longer an issue when we pair our struggling readers with younger readers and have them read aloud to them.

Find creative ways to create independent reading time

If you timed it out, we bet you’d be surprised by how much of the day is squandered on interruptions—you know, special deliveries, messages, forgotten lunches, notes, or quick questions from other teachers. Train your students to always have a book out on their desk. When an interruption occurs—and they will occur—students should immediately begin reading.

Here’s another idea: When students finish their work early, skip the extra dittos and busy work; instead, allow them to read silently until their peers are all finished.

Take Phonics instruction beyond “sounding it out”
Encountering big words can be daunting for the struggling reader. Relying solely on teaching readers to “sound out” letters can prevent growth and lead to frustration, especially when encountering words with many syllables or words that don’t follow the standard rules. Teach readers to break words down into chunks – called “chunking” or “reading by analogy.”

Handle struggling readers with care

We have best intentions when we say, “Stop and reread this sentence,” or “Can you read a little bit faster?” but we should really avoid this type of coaching. To learn how to handle your struggling readers with care, check out a video by Amy Mascott called, “What Not to Say to Emerging Readers.”

 

 

 

download click and clunk

 

 

 

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

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

Click and Clunk: A 5-Step Reading Strategy for Students

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 19, 2014 11:53:00 AM

If you’re looking to equip your struggling upper-elementary and middle school readers with a simple reading strategy that will teach them to monitor and take charge of their own understanding, check out our newest infographic, Click and Clunk: A 5-Step Reading Strategy for Students.

To download our infographic, click here or on the image below.

reading comprehension



Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers, click and clunk

BookLamp Connects Students to Books They’ll Love

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM

reading comprehensionThere are lots of useful book recommendation websites, but out of all of them, BookLamp.org takes the cake.  

Using a computer-based analysis of written DNA, BookLamp helps connect readers to books they’ll love.

I could try to explain the specifics of how the site works, but I think BookLamp does it better than I can:

To start, BookLamp does not categorize or label books, as you would expect in genre or BISAC codes, nor do so through human or community tagging.  Instead we do the exact opposite: We ignore genre and super-classifications and instead only pay attention to the page-by-page components that the author combined to make up the book.  We don’t look at what category the book is in, but instead the DNA elements that are in the book, and how that makes one book similar to another regardless of what shelf it sits on in the library or bookstore.

Unlike, say, Amazon.com or YourNextRead, BookLamp's engine isn't influenced by advertising or popularity bias. New and niche authors are not ignored, and revered authors are not promoted simply based upon their popularity. To put it simply, BookLamp has no agenda other than connecting readers to texts that they’ll love!

Just to see how BookLamp works, I searched for an old favorite, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Here’s what BookLamp came up with:

reading comprehension 2

 

 

 

Guide to Reading Comprehension

 


Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

How to Encourage Reluctant and Struggling Readers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 11, 2014 2:14:00 PM

struggling readersDecades later, I can still remember things my teachers said, how they said them, even the intonation of their phrases, and how their words made me feel.

In the scheme of life, it’s hard to say how these fleeting moments of encouragement—or derision—shaped my life, but I do know that words are a powerful tool, one we can use to either build up our students or tear them down.

Since we’re well into National Reading Month, I’d like to share a few tips for talking to your reluctant and struggling readers.

“If you keep this up, you’ll be reading at X level by next month!”
This seems like something we should say to struggling readers, doesn’t it? Not so fast. While you should be realistic about your students’ abilities, avoid hampering their progress by setting an unrealistic—or too-easily attainable—benchmark.

Instead, simply let your students know that you believe in them and that you are certain their hard work will pay off. 

“Read faster!”
Why are we always in such a hurry? Slow down and allow your reluctant readers to set their own pace, even if it means they “fall behind.” They may be slower than their peers, but one thing is sure: pushing them to read faster isn’t going to help build their confidence, their comprehension, or their enthusiasm for reading.  

"I understand that you don’t like the book—but that's the assignment."
Sometimes a little tough love is a good thing, but before you take off the kid gloves, ask the student why he or she isn’t enjoying the book.

Asking your students this question may provide insight into their interests and reading abilities. You may, for example, discover that the vocabulary is too challenging in one book, or that some students prefer non-fiction over fiction books. Armed with this information, you can make accommodations and help students select more suitable texts.

If this doesn’t work, show the student this video:


"Everyone else is reading silently—please stop talking.”

It can be frustrating and distracting when students talk during silent or quiet reading time, but instead of immediately scolding students, make sure that you know why they are talking. I’ve often found that the talkers are actually chatting to each other about the books they are reading. That’s a good thing!

If this becomes a distraction, you might allow students to use a stress ball or fidget—or give them the option of listening to an audiobook.

“Stop! Reread that line, please.”
As a general rule, we avoid stopping students if the mistake doesn’t interfere with the meaning of the text. For example, if a student mistakenly swaps out "a" for "an" or "fine" for "fun, we let it go, especially if this is the first time a student is reading the text.

 

Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

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