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Classroom strategies

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?

Sophisticated words in the classroom

The vocabulary section of the Reading Rockets site contains lots of great resources and information about vocabulary instruction. Thanks to good research, it's now clear that teachers can grow kids' vocabularies through (1) a careful selection of words to teach, and (2) instructional routines that provide practice with new words in multiple settings.

Read all about it! We're writing a newspaper

My kids are home from school, again! We've had strange winter weather here in Virginia, with a huge snow fall in December (27 inches!), flash flooding that closed the schools in early January, and then another 9 inches of snow late last week. The kids have been home. A lot! And they're getting bored.

Yesterday they came up with the idea to write their own newspaper. Always willing to take on a literacy related project with neighborhood kids, we brainstormed various "news stories" to include.

Pages

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx