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Classroom strategies

Keep them learning until the end of the year

I'm puzzled by conversations and blog posts that start with phrases about how little time is left in the school year. Comments like "there's just six weeks left," "just 43 more days," and posts about the slide into summer. Late spring and warmer weather means more sports, more time outside, more yawning from sleepy kids, standardized tests, and more planning for end of the year activities like school carnivals and fun fairs….but even with all that, there is still LOTS of instructional time left this year. Teachers need to teach until the end.

Teaching and managing the kindergarten classroom

Suzanne, a friend and neighbor, just started her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom. She's a career switcher, having gone back to school after 15 years as a nurse and a Mom to 4 kids, including one with special needs. Student teaching is turning out to be a ton of work to juggle on top of being a Mom and a wife. Long days of teaching and long nights of homework and planning. Remember those early days of teaching?

Resources to be thankful for

This week in America, we reflect on the things we're thankful for. In my professional life, there are many blogs and website resources for which I give thanks:

A top-notch researcher and evidence-base hawk over at LD Blog. If you're looking for current, evidence-based research about kids and adults with LD, John's blog should be your starting point.

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.

7 posts to consider

It's Back to School time, which means more first-timers may be coming to this Sound it Out blog than before. Because of that, I decided to take on the 7 Link Challenge described by Problogger . By taking the challenge, I'm able to highlight some posts from my archives and revisit some of the resources I've gathered through blog posts. So, here goes! (Challenge category is in bold)

Teaching nonfiction text features

How much nonfiction do your students read? Probably not enough, according to Jay Mathews at the Washington Post. In a blog entry from February 2010, he uses the What Kids Are Reading report that describes what 4.6 million students in grades 1-12 read during 2008-2009 as evidence.

Word clouds as teaching tools

Summer months provide teachers an opportunity to reflect on the successes of the past year and to gather ideas for next year. One site to tuck away and pull out next year is Tagxedo, a word cloud creator. The possibilities for language arts lessons are endless!

Tagxedo creates "tag clouds with styles." As with other tag clouds, a user begins creating a tab cloud by entering text. Text can come from a webpage, a list of words, or pasted in text from a book.

Three ways to ruin a good book

Here are three ways to ruin a good book:

From page to stage

Books and drama go hand in glove — they're both about story, after all. Just look at the films that have drawn their inspiration from children's books.

On a smaller scale, Reader's Theater brings stories to life as I was reminded when reading a recent article by Elizabeth Poe. The educational — and social — benefits of second grade children sharing Eric Rohmann's A Kitten Tale (Knopf) with preschool children are clearly presented.

Teaching persuasive writing

Kids really know how to lobby for something they want. Teachers and parents can harness this talent and turn young kids into writers who can write to persuade.

The first step is to find something that is important to a child or a group. Is it recess? A dessert after dinner? A sleep over?

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943