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N is for No Letter of the Week

We can all agree that classrooms are busy places, with little time to spare. As teachers, we have to get the most we can out of every instructional minute. Doing so enables us to structure the day with time for more exploration, discovery, invention, and dare we say play?

There are few things that sap more instructional time than teaching a Letter of the Week (LOTW). I'm sorry to my preschool and kindergarten teacher friends who use these programs, but it's the truth. Teaching a letter of the week is too slow. Too isolated. Too painful to watch.

Dramatic science, and a calendar too!

There's always good stuff going on behind the scenes here at Reading Rockets. For example, right now we're working on a series of new Ed Extras.

The value of mixed practice in teaching reading

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits is a timely reminder about a few techniques that can reliably improve how much a student learns from studying. Techniques include alternating study environments, spacing study sessions, self testing, and mixing content.

Summer suggestions

Everywhere I look these days, I see another book list of recommended books for summer reading. Some like them, others wish they would go away. Other sites include calendars, craft ideas, and more to keep kids busy this summer. Here's a handful from the blogosphere that stood out for me.

Summer slide

When I first heard the term "summer slide" I thought of equipment on a playground. But as I'm sure you're aware, there's another meaning entirely. This slide refers to summer learning loss.

There's lots of research about it. Children tend to lose reading (and math) skills over the summer when they're not used.

There are many activities that enhance reading and will slow or stop that slide — talking, singing, reading aloud, keeping a journal or photo album of summer activities, and lots more.

Goodbye poetry month

What fun we had with poetry month this year! At home we resurrected our copy of Joyful Noise and had fun sharing poems about insects. Anna loved the Grasshoppers one the best, mostly because we had a long talk about autumn-laid eggs and the interesting words and images within the poem, including grasshoppers 'vaulting from leaf to leaf and stem to stem' and being grass bounders and grass soarers. I doubt she'll ever look at a grasshopper the same way again!

Madness in the air - books and basketball!

My son's frantic search for the reported scores so that he could fill in his brackets reminded me that it's March and there's basketball madness in the air.

I'm on spring break this week; good thing there was no class yesterday or today. With the gorgeous weather we've been having, there was bound to be major case of spring fever going around.

What do basketball and spring fever have in common? Maybe it's that they both come around at the same time of year.

Snow day sanity... not!

Here in Virginia, we're being absolutely pummeled by winter weather. Our area got 20 inches over the weekend, Tuesday night brought another 5, and today brings wind gusts of 30 miles per hour. The kids have missed 9 of the last 13 days of school, and we're all starting to lose it a little bit.

Literacy Lava 3 is here!

The latest edition of Literacy Lava, a newsletter for parents and caregivers, is available in PDF form here.

Children, start your letter writing

It is the time of year when many children sit down to write an important letter addressed to the North Pole. Other children pen thank you notes and party invitations during this busy time of the year. Some say letter writing is a lost art, but it doesn't have to be!

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan