What happened on this date years ago? Does every day mark a holiday or historical event? From the founding of Rome to the first use of forensic evidence, take a look at this list of holidays, history, and events—for the week of April 21-25!

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How does stress manifest itself in our brains? What is the difference between a stressed brain, a happy brain, and a MindUP brain?

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April Is Poetry Month!

4/6/2014 3:44 PM

Rhyme and rhythm are in the air! Why? Because it's poetry month!

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Autism Awareness

4/6/2014 12:37 PM

Positivity can be an invaluable tool when speaking with colleagues, parents, and students on the spectrum.

Here are four ways to incorporate positive language into your daily practice!

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Posted in News By Barbara Boroson

Why Rest?

Young children need a lot of sleep. Often, they don’t get enough at night. They may go to bed late or be awoken by bad dreams, street noise, the crying of a younger sibling, or any number of things. Whatever the reason, children should nap during the day. Just as we give children a good breakfast because food ensures they will function well, we must apply the same thinking to their need for sleep. Tired children simply cannot perform effectively in the classroom.

Over-stimulation is another reason young children need sleep. Being around twenty or more other children in a small space all day can be exhausting. Children’s senses are bombarded with sounds, sights, smells, and so on. Resolving conflicts, learning to play together, responding to the demands of adults who also must consider the needs of the whole group—it’s all hard work. During the day, children crave a “time out” that isn’t punitive, a chance to be alone with their thoughts. Even if they don’t fall asleep, rest period frees them from the all-consuming demands of structured activity and social interaction.

Not all children need to sleep, however, and some are totally unfazed by social demands. These children’s needs must also be considered. Constantly trying to keep active children still and quiet can make you and them feel anything but relaxed! Here are some suggestions to help make rest productive for everyone.

Teacher Tip: Get a Jump on Rest
Before the school year begins, during a home visit or an orientation, discuss the importance of rest period with parents. If you can’t have a face-to-face meeting with them, send home a note that explains when rest period occurs, what children lie on, and what objects they should send in with their children to help them feel more secure—small blankets, stuffed animals, and so forth. If possible, ask parents about their child’s sleeping habits. This kind of initial assessment will help you identify the children who may have difficulty napping or resting peacefully.


The ABCs of Catching Some ZZZs

There aren’t many children who can fall asleep anytime or anywhere. At the beginning of the year, encourage children to bring a soft toy and small blanket from home, to help them feel secure. Most children will choose to leave a security object at school. Some, however, may choose to shuttle their very favorite object between home and school. That’s okay, as long as they are reminded to bring it in each day.

Storing Security Toys and Blankets

Where you store these objects is important. Many state and local health departments require teachers to store children’s blankets separately. If children have individual cubbies, use them as safe, hygienic spots for blankets and toys. But if they don’t, or if they share one cubby, you’ll need to store their security objects elsewhere. Small, drawstring bags are a good option. If you sew, you can create them from fabrics such as denim or heavy cotton. Just attach a label with the child’s name to the drawstring. These bags can be washed and used year after year. If you don’t sew, use paper shopping bags or more durable string shopping bags.

Preparing for Rest

Finding enough space for children to lie down may be a problem, too, especially if you have a small room. But if they clean up well after morning work time, you can use the block and meeting areas for rest.

You may want to assign rest spots. That way, children who have difficulty relaxing during rest can be kept apart from the others. If you allow children to choose their own spot, however, make it clear that you will move them if they bother the children around them.

Children can set up for rest, as long as they have adult supervision. Let the day’s “mat helpers” assist you in laying out and putting away the mats. (For more information on class jobs, see Chapter 2.) If rest is scheduled just after lunch, have mat helpers set up at the start of lunch, so they have plenty of time to eat as well. When lunch is over, all the children can get their blankets and toys, and move to their mats.

But if your children eat early, as many kindergartners must, you’ll need to choose a different pre-rest activity. You may want children to gather in the meeting area for a story, while another adult assists the mat helpers. Mats for those resting in the meeting area can be set up after the story, when children leave to collect their toys and blankets.

Teacher Tip: Use All-Purpose Mats
Asking children to rest at their desks is neither practical nor comfortable. To really relax, they need to lie down. We prefer giving them mats over an unpadded rug or clunky cots. Try to buy durable, thick ones, enough for each child. Storing them can be a challenge. Closets, shelves, empty room corners—leave no space unturned in your quest for the perfect solution.


Setting the Mood

Lower the shades, turn off the lights in stages, put soothing music on your tape or CD player, and ask children to use their “quiet” voices as they settle down. Don’t expect children to stop talking right away; give them time to slide gradually into the silence of rest. Say things such as, “In five minutes, it will be time to stop talking” or “In two more minutes, I’m going to turn off the last light, and then it will be time to stop talking.”

After turning off the last light, circulate around the room. Offer to cover children with their blankets. Remind anxious children that they don’t have to fall asleep, but they must rest quietly. You may want to confer with parents about methods they use to calm their children at home. For example, one little girl, Sandra, had been especially restless. During the initial weeks of school, she chatted, squirmed, and prevented others from falling asleep. After a brief conversation with Sandra’s mother, the teacher learned that rubbing Sandra’s back was part of her bedtime routine. So the teacher tried it. She began rest time by sitting on the floor next to Sandra and gently massaging her back. From that point on, Sandra would fall asleep within minutes.

You might also try reading chapter books to the non-sleepers, since hearing your soft, familiar voice may help them relax. Explain that during rest time you read stories quietly and without showing the pictures. Encourage children to create pictures in their minds as you read. And be sure to find books you love because if you enjoy reading them, chances are the children will enjoy hearing them.

After you’ve read for twenty to twenty-five minutes, walk around the room and give any remaining children who are awake picture books or magazines to look at on their own. You might also consider giving them small puzzles or buckets containing Legos, table blocks, or connecting cubes. Just be sure to tell them to play quietly because other children are still sleeping.

Once the class has settled down, it may be tempting to do paperwork or talk with your colleagues, but don’t. Rest happens when children are confident that you are paying attention to them.

Teacher Tip: Try These Great Read-Aloud Books at Rest Time
Series books such as
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel and Little Bear by Else Minerak are perfect read-alouds for rest time. As children become familiar with the characters and authors’ styles, following the plots becomes easier. By the middle of the year, my four- and five-year olds loved hearing Ruth Gannett’s My Father’s Dragon series. They also enjoyed the Catwings series by Ursula LeGuin. Some teachers we know also read the earliest books in Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona” series.

Ending Rest

Some children may still be fast asleep at the end of rest. You’ll have to decide whether it’s in their best interest to wake them or to let them sleep on. The conversation with parents about the child’s home sleeping habits should help you here, as will your own observations about the child’s behavior, mood and energy that day. If you do let a child continue sleeping, move his mat to an out-of-the-way spot in the classroom. If he is a heavy sleeper, the movement shouldn’t wake him. Even noise from the woodworking bench shouldn’t!

Children who are ready to rise will need assistance in putting things away. Mat helpers should be called first, so they can help you or your assistant store the mats. Then ask the rest of the children to put away their security objects. Calling on only a few at a time prevents traffic jams.

Once they’ve put their things away, children need to know what to do or where to go. If work time follows rest, you may want them to gather on the rug for a brief meeting to discuss which centers they’d like to work in. Or ask them to come and tell you where they want to work. Once you’ve approved each child’s choice, have him indicate it on the choice board and get to work.

If rest is followed by a whole-group activity such as music, gym, or story time, children who rise quickly will need something to do, while their classmates reorient themselves. Since this is a transition time, don’t offer choices that require extensive clean up. Looking at books, drawing pictures, writing with friends are all good options. When everyone is up, have the quick-risers put away their materials quickly and move on.

Posted in News By Scholastic Teaching Resources

The Wonder of Book Choice

3/31/2014 3:48 PM

Jacob, a second grader who can read, has gone from nearly no interest in reading to concern that he won't get to read every book in his classroom over the course of the year. How did his teacher foster this change in attitude? By empowering him with Book Choice!

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March Into March!

3/1/2014 5:25 PM

Whether it came in like a lion or a lamb, we are FINALLY in the month that starts as winter...but ends as spring!

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Joan Lazar, co-author with Christine Vogel of NOW I GET IT! Teaching Struggling Readers to Make Sense of What They Read, shares six truths about reading, designed to put readers on the road to higher comprehension!

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The ABC’s of Life

2/23/2014 4:27 PM

The ABC’s of Life is a collection of words of wisdom—from A to Z—meant to teach and inspire you to live life to the fullest.

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On this day in history... Would you believe that almost every day marks at least one fascinating historical event? Well, it’s true! Just take a look at what has happened in history for the week of February 17!

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Reading Unbound

2/10/2014 3:15 PM

Help your students fall in love with books with the latest from Jeff Wilhelm and Michael Smith. Wilhelm and Smith studied the out-of-school reading lives of 14 eighth graders to explore the nature and variety of reading for pleasure. Wilhelm and Smith’s research shows that pleasure is essential to reading. The pleasure each participant received from reading what they wanted supports the intense and high-level engagement with texts that schools hope to foster. Each of the participants were remarkably articulate in identifying why they chose to read what they did. Wilhelm and Smith have identified 4 types of pleasure gained from reading what you want to read.

Play Pleasure: Play pleasure is found in readers’ giving themselves over completely to the story world and the experience of that world. The essential characteristic of play pleasure is that it is a sensory experience.

Inner Work Pleasure: Inner work pleasure is the pleasure one takes from using text as a tool to accomplish something.

Intellectual Pleasure: Intellectual pleasure is the pleasure one receives from figuring something out regardless of whether one immediately going to employ that knowledge.

Social Pleasure: Social pleasure uses reading to connect to others.

Wilhelm and Smith conclude by suggesting methods for teachers to make "reading for pleasure" an enhanced role in their classrooms.They also discuss the implications for reading instruction in the age of the Common Core State Standards. .



Posted in News By Scholastic Teaching Resources

February is the time to celebrate the incredible contributions African-Americans have made in the United States!

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner...

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February is “National Children’s Dental Month,” a time to celebrate teeth and good oral hygiene.

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Links and a free download to help you track winter weather with your class!

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100th Day of School Activities!

1/13/2014 12:38 AM

98, 99, 100! Enhance your upcoming 100th Day celebration with exciting activities, and more!

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On This Day in History

1/13/2014 12:01 AM

On this day in history... Would you believe that almost every day marks at least one fascinating historical event? Well, it’s true! Just take a look at what has happened in January throughout history:

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Test Prep

12/19/2013 8:43 PM

With the stakes for standardized test performance ratcheting up each year and the new Common Core State Standards Assessments on the horizon, it’s no wonder teachers are concerned with how to best prepare their students for the tests. This article ••• and informational podcast ••• will help you prepare for the new assessments!

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Instructional Strategies for Nonfiction Reading Time

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Posted in News By Barbara Pinto

Onset/Rime Makes It Easy

12/15/2013 4:45 PM

How many ways are there to teach phonics? Educators have been studying and arguing about this issue for hundreds of years!

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Posted in News By Sharon Zinke

Wishing for ways to make your lessons more fun, more engaging, and more interactive? Look no further than this collection of lessons you can create in a snap!

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A quick look at what the Writing Workshop should—and shouldn't—be in first grade!

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Posted in News By Judy Lynch

While it’s hard to miss the major holidays that occur in December, there are also many other events going on. Here a look at many (but certainly not all) special days and weeks of this holiday season!

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We often tell our students that effective writing “paints pictures in the mind.” Because today’s students are such sophisticated connoisseurs of visual media, we might expect them to be experts at this kind of word painting. But in fact, the opposite may be true. Because kids are bombarded with images everywhere they turn, they may actually have less ability to conjure images in their heads—via their imagination—than kids in previous generations.

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Posted in News By David Lee Finkle

Want to implement or expand teaching the traits of writing in your primary classroom? Why not go right to the source, Ruth Culham, Ed.D., one of the original pioneers of this model?

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Questions and Answers from fluency expert Tim Rasinski!

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Posted in News By Tim Rasinski

October 29 is Internet Day

10/17/2013 11:25 PM

ARPANET was launched on this day in 1969. It wasn’t until 1982 that the name “Internet” surfaced.

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October is National Book Month!

10/5/2013 12:56 PM

Use this month to help get students excited about reading! Read More
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Outstanding Weeks in October

9/23/2013 1:29 PM

Halloween and Columbus Day are just the beginning of the events that occur throughout the month of October.

This handy list will keep your class busy from week to week in October:

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Practice makes perfect!

Building a classroom environment that includes reading comprehension and writing centers provides a structure that allows much time for student practice, in small groups, partners, and individually.

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Brainteasers are a wonderful way to not only challenge young minds but to help them build those all important strategic, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Best of all, they are fun and students love them!

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Parent-Teacher Conferences

9/5/2013 5:09 PM

The parent-teacher conference is recommended by expert elementary teachers as a critically important way to communicate with parents. Parents of grade-school children report that they want regular conferences with their children’s teachers.

Part accountant, part diplomat, part psychologist, part friend - but totally a professional. These are the roles you play when you meet with your student parents. Your challenge is to make parents feel comfortable, show them how to get involved with their child’s learning, and establish a working partnership.

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Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!

Back-to-school Tip #5: Break the ice with fun activities to help students get acquainted.

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Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!

Back-to-school Tip #4: Make a positive first impression on your class.

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Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!


Back-to-school Tip #3: On the first day of school, keep displays to a minimum.


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Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!

Back-to-school Tip #1: Create a classroom library that is a special place for your students.



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Some of the most important work of teaching takes place before the first day of school. Each week, we'll be sharing fantastic tips to give you some great ideas for the school year ahead!

Back-to-school Tip #1: Make the Physical Layout of Your Classroom Reflect Your Teaching Style.

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Setting up the classroom entails the arrangement and organization of furniture, instructional materials, equipment, and supplies for safety and convenience. It also includes creating a warm, welcoming environment that will show students what an exciting and positive year they have ahead of them. Veteran teacher and author Bonnie Murray provides a list of tips to make a warm and welcoming classroom environment.

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With all the buzz about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the emphasis on complex text, many teachers are wondering how guided reading fits into this new landscape. It’s important to remember that the CCSS lays out the end goals we want our students to achieve; they do not specify how to get there. In our minds, guided reading is a powerful teaching context for scaffolding students to read and understand increasingly complex text. Here are five compelling reasons for using guided reading in a CCSS classroom:

1. During guided reading, the teacher can observe each child reading, noting the skills and strategies under control and those that need direct instruction.

The opportunity to regularly observe a child reading is unparalleled in helping the teacher plan focused instruction that will allow a child to tackle more complex texts. Information a teacher gains in this setting can be used throughout the day to effectively scaffold students’ acquisition of foundational skills, language skills, and self-monitoring and decoding strategies. For example, if the teacher notices that a child is having difficulty understand the meaning of the words in the text, she might try to emphasize vocabulary strategies during her read-alouds.

2. During guided reading, the teacher can coach the child in the moment.

As a teacher listens to a child read, she can coach the child to use decoding, self-monitoring, comprehension, and vocabulary strategies, effectively individualizing instruction. This one-on-one support fosters success and helps students become more skilled at independently processing text, increasing their engagement and motivation to read even more complex texts.

3. During guided reading, text-based comprehension is the goal.

Reading is a meaning-making activity, yet too many students believe it’s only about word-calling. As a group discusses a text they’re reading together, the teacher emphasizes the goal of understanding what the text says, encouraging rereading and close reading to clarify understandings and facilitate text-based discussions.

4. During guided reading, students have the opportunity to engage in collaborative discussions.

The small-group format is a safe, supportive environment for children to express their ideas and learn how to talk constructively with one another to explore the meaning of a text and voice their opinions. This experience is a valuable opportunity to practice skills necessary for meeting the speaking and listening standards as readers talk together to ask and answer questions about the text, discuss the author’s craft and text structure, and infer the theme or central message of the text.

5. During guided reading, the teacher can employ a variety of text genres and structures.

By introducing students to a variety of genres and text structures during guided reading, teachers help readers build a rich reading history so that they can use their knowledge of how different texts work to comprehend new texts they are reading independently. This is especially important given the wide variety of texts the Common Core expects students to read and understand.

The Common Core has set ambitious goals for our students, goals we want every child to achieve. To reach those goals, however, children must acquire the skills and strategies necessary to accomplish them. Guided Reading offers a supportive setting in which this learning can occur and should be an integral part of any reading program.

These essential resources include targeted assessments and ready-to-go lessons for helping students get the most from strategic guided reading instruction.



The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson


Next Step Guided Reading in Action: Grades K-2 by Jan Richardson
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What basic instructional strategies give you mileage during nonfiction reading workshop time? How do you start? How do you construct a meaningful reading time? Here are five tips to get you started, and keep you going!

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Dr. Jan Richardson, a former teacher and educational consultant, has travelled the United States training teachers and providing demonstrations on Guided Reading. She’s an outstanding presenter, passionate about motivating, engaging and accelerating all readers from emergent to fluent.

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Quite simply, the reason we advocate poetry, song lyrics, and rhymes for teaching phonics is that this genre of writing contains word families, which are the rhyming portions of words...

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Where would we be without words? It’s hard to imagine. Words are a basic building block of communication, and a strong vocabulary is an essential part of reading, writing, and speaking well.

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What Is Critical Literacy?

5/11/2012 8:40 AM

The Principles of Critical Literacy (McLaughlin & DeVoogd, 2004) include a number of essential understandings and beliefs about the power relationship that exists between the reader and the author. But what are the four essential principles?

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What's so fun about a shoe box? Everything! It's fun to peak inside a shoe box—especially if there is an intriguing learning center inside! Read More
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The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is at an all-time high, and more students on the spectrum are being placed in mainstream classrooms every year. Every student on the spectrum will enter your classroom bearing a backpack full of worries. If they can’t put those worries down on Day One, then toting that heavy load will become a way of life at school, a learned behavior.

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Posted in News By Barbara Boroson

It’s that time of year again. Students are worried about what to wear on that all important first day. Parents want to make sure the school supply list is filled and their child/children have what’s needed to start the new school year the right way.

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Reading is Fundamental

7/13/2011 3:02 PM

There may be all sorts of debates by educators about how to teach reading. However there is no debate "‘that reading is the gateway to learning in all content areas and essential for achieving high standards’," as stated in the National Education Association's official reading policy”.

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It is important for students to learn sight words in order to help them become fluent readers. Sight words are words students are able to read upon “sight” without having to sound them out. They help facilitate reading comprehension giving students a better opportunity to understand other words in context as they read.

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A teacher and consultant with more than 40 years experience in the classroom, Laura Robb answers your questions on adolescent literacy.

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When it comes to note taking, do your students know the difference between "meaning" words and "connector" words?

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Posted in News By Deana Hippie

Establishing classroom routines and procedures is important for all teachers, and for kindergarten teachers, it’s crucial. Our youngest students rely on the comfort of routines to feel safe and secure, and we teachers need them to keep our days running smoothly. Here are five routines to teach your students during the first weeks of school!

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Posted in News By Jasmine Green

Reading comprehension is fundamentally a logic-driven activity, so it’s no wonder many of our students are sidelined when they attempt to “just read the words.” Rest assured, with some focused strategy instruction, struggling readers at every level can and do learn to “get” the deeper meaning from the texts they read.


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Posted in News By Joan Lazar and Christine Vogel

Many students are easily absorbed when reading and discussing novels, but their engagement plummets when they turn to textbooks and other nonfiction. By teaching powerful strategies—ones that enhance comprehension before, during, and after reading—you can greatly increase student interest and understanding.  Here’s a strategy that my students find beneficial.

Preview-Connect-Predict

What: Preview the material in the upcoming reading.  Connect these new ideas to students’ prior knowledge.  Predict what material may be presented in the upcoming unit, based on the preview and connection discussions.
Why: The more students already know about a topic, the better they’re able to comprehend new information about it.  This is because they can fit their new knowledge into already existing mental structures, or schemas. The more they’ve thought about the ideas that may be presented in the text (as they do during connection and prediction), the richer their schemas will be.
How: Organize students into pairs. Invite partners to work together to preview a textbook chapter’s main title and section titles, along with any boldfaced headings and words, captions, sidebars, charts, diagrams, and graphs. Next, ask them to remain with their partners as they read the introduction to the chapter. As they preview, encourage them to connect the ideas in the text to home, community, and world issues, as these eighth graders did while previewing Chapter 13 in Joy Hakim’s A History of US: All the People (Oxford, 1995):

Student 1: The title is “Linda Brown and Others.”  Here it says that in 1951 her father sued Topeka’s school board so they’d let her in a white school.
Student 2: That connects to what we learned about the Civil Rights movement during Black History Month.  It also connects to the caption that shows legal segregation.  Boy, there’s no way that room is equal to a white school.
Student 1: What a joke. “Running water” is actually a bucket of water. “Central heating” is a wood stove.  Racism is what this really is.
Student 2: It says it’s still going on. My dad told me that when he came here he could only live in certain parts of town.
Student 1: Here it explains what appealing a case means. I wonder if Linda Brown’s dad had to appeal his case.

     After partners preview and connect, have them synthesize information by predicting what they will learn in the chapter and writing down their ideas. These predictions become students’ purposes for reading, which they can use to monitor their understanding.

Read more about this and other effective instructional strategies in Laura Robb's Teaching Reading in Middle School and Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science, and Math.







Posted in News By Laura Robb

Is it possible to set the stage for positive, stress-free relationships with parents all year long? Absolutely! Here are a few pointers from teacher educator Kelly Bergman for getting off on the right foot.

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Posted in News By Kelly Bergman

Even though you won’t know what your new students are thinking, you can bet that they are forming an opinion of you and your class on the very first day. Here are ten things you can do to make a positive first impression!

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Posted in News By Bonnie Murray and Paula Naegle

Whether they paint a delicious visual image, tickle our funny bone, or make us wonder about big questions, great poems for kids make helpful teaching tools. Here are several ways your struggling readers in grades 1 to 3 will benefit from reading lessons focused on their favorite poets.

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Posted in News By Maria P. Walther and Carol J. Fuhler

Using Poetry to Teach Content

3/10/2010 5:31 PM

There are many ways to provide students with a memorable context for your content area of study. Reading aloud part of a diary entry, letters written by soldiers to family and friends, a short story, a historical novel, an essay, a newspaper article, or a poem can help students imagine and visualize the information to be learned.

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Posted in News By Laura Robb and J. Patrick Lewis