Monday, February 9, 2015

Tips for Creating a Literacy Rich Classroom!



Exposing students to the written word is a key component to promoting literacy at a young age. 

Unfortunately, many children are not introduced to a widely varied vocabulary at home in either verbal or written format.  Therefore, it is incredibly important that teachers make use of every opportunity to introduce children to words in a variety of fashions.   

A great place to start is by creating an engaging print-rich classroom.

 


What are some ways to create a literacy rich classroom?


PROVIDE A CLASSROOM LIBRARY

Create an accessible library in your classroom. Remind students that a library can be a valuable tool for learning and it can be fun!

Include an assortment of text types. Include reference materials, non-fiction resources as well as a variety of high interest fiction books. Have books available for several reading levels. You don't want your struggling readers to get frustrated and give up, nor do you want your advanced readers to become easily bored.



CREATE A COMFORTABLE PLACE TO READ

You can go all out creating themed reading areas or you can keep it simple.  Either way, let's be real, who can get comfortable reading in a hard little plastic straight backed chair?  That's right, nobody.  If you want your students to want to read, give them an inviting area in which to do it.  If you're on a budget start off with a colorful area rug to define the reading space.  Add some mats, floor pillows or bean bag chairs and you are off to a great start.


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Process-Clip-Chart-Giant-Pencil-Theme-941522
ENSURE AN ENGAGING PLACE TO WRITE

Help your writers to feel inspired by their surroundings.  Bare white walls are not very inspiring!  Set up a useful writing center. Include signage reminders of the writing process.  Clip charts to track their progress can be helpful for younger writers (find the example shown in my TPT store).  Have your writing center stocked with creative writing stationery, graphic organizers, writing utensils and numerous ideas for prompts and story starters.

Some ideas to get the creative writing process started:
  • Set up a mini "crime scene" with toys/dolls and tell students to infer what took place. Write a short story with lots of details.
  • Display pictures that are unusual or interesting looking and ask students to describe what is going on in them.
  • Provide a selection of brochures to destinations like Disney World, Museum of Science and Industry, Aquariums, etc. Students' task is to write a persuasive letter to parents convincing them why they should be taken there.
  • Provide an assortment of writing prompt task cards on many topics. Allow students to pick one that interests them.
  • Use Roll-a-Story cards to set up the characters, setting and conflict in a short story and let your students' creative minds fill in the details (see example).

USE ANCHOR CHARTS

Use anchor charts instead of writing all sorts of new material that you are presenting on a white board, where it will soon be erased.  An anchor chart is simply a large piece of display paper where you provide information.  For example, when teaching about idioms, create an anchor chart giving specific examples of idioms commonly used. If you are creative, draw in some pictures to accompany the examples.  The most important thing is to leave the anchor charts posted so that students can refer back to them at a later date for reinforcement.   


INCORPORATE WORD WALLS 

Your word walls can include vocabulary that students are expected to know at grade level, test prep words, words specific to a unit of study or just new words encountered when reading.  The important thing is for students not to just read a word once, define it and forget it.  Repeat exposure is key. Read the word, discuss it, display it and remember it!


Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Free Non-Fiction Text Resources Online




Kid friendly articles covering current events organized in categories like science, social studies, sports, entertainment, etc.  Set up great for teachers. Click on an article.  Then, underneath the title click on the CCSS button.  There it gives lesson plan suggestions to accompany the article broken down into different grade spans.  Also, potentially difficult words in the article are clickable. If the reader doesn’t know the definition they click on the word and a dictionary entry pops right up. Helpful!


A wide assortment of non-fiction articles in the areas of war & peace, science, kids, money, law, health, arts and sports.  What I really like about this site is the ability to adjust the reading levels for the articles on demand.  For example, an article may be offered with an option of four different Lexile levels making it very convenient to differentiate the content for your unique learners.   There are also brief quizzes available for each article but you have to be a registered user to submit those.


Daily news and current events for kids.  Wide variety of current topics ranging from a measles outbreak at Disneyland to kids reporting on major sporting events.


Articles with great photos of animals and the environment.  They also have educational videos covering many people and places.


Broken down by grade ranges.   Many topics covered under areas such as government, science, history and more.  Set up well to help teachers with extensive lessons plans provided in many areas.  There are videos available to help with concepts that can be challenging for kids like how a bill becomes a law.   Online games are also available to reinforce many topics.


Under the ‘Read it’ section you will find non-fiction text under the ‘articles’ button.  They try to make the reading interesting mixing in unique topics like, “Parrots That Eat Dirt”. There is also an audio option to play the text which can be a very helpful modification for English Language Learners.


Focused on science topics.  Broken down into categories such as animals, space, current events, etc.  It does cost money for full access to their site via a subscription but the Science Scoops are free. Those are various shorter science passages.


Stop the guess work! 

Looking for a unique way to bring non-fiction texts into your classroom?  Through my store you will find a series of monthly Text Detective editions.  Each edition has 10 original non-fiction passages with questions. Kids must refer back to the text to underline the proof before writing their answers in complete sentences. No more taking lucky (or not so lucky) guesses. Kids must prove where they found their answers.  As they complete the passages they can keep track of the progress on fun hanging detective badges.


Happy Teaching!