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Keyboarding skills online

From hanging around the computer lab at our school I've learned that my third grader is learning to use the home row when typing. No more hunt and peck for her! How times have changed. I learned the home row in high school, in business class, using an IBM Selectric.

Curl up with... a Kindle?

I got a Kindle for Christmas, and before too long it found its way into the hands of Molly (9) and Anna (7).

If you're unfamiliar with Amazon's eReader, the Kindle, or eReaders in general, they're portable electronic devices that allow you to download, store and read books wirelessly. Different from a laptop, most eReaders are not backlit, which means you can't view the screen in the dark but you can read in bright sunlight, something you can't do with a laptop. Most eReaders rely on something called eInk, which uses a low-power, high contrast "electronic paper."

Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour

There are lots of blogs about teaching, children's literature, and raising readers. This week there's a new way to see some of what is out there: a blog tour of practical, usable, everyday ideas for working with readers.

The Share a Story — Shape a Future blog tour event begins March 9, 2009 and lasts one week. There's a specific theme each day, and each day a group of bloggers will sharing ideas around that theme.

TV for tweens

It's hard for me to believe that Molly is really a tween, but sometimes she sure acts like one!

This is never more apparent than when it comes to her TV habits. Our girls have never been allowed to watch much TV — maybe 30 minutes a day during the week, and lots of days the one set we own never gets turned on.

Our Wired Home

This month's Wired Classroom theme on Reading Rockets got me thinking about our wired home, and how our kids use technology. I know I'm not alone in my conflicted feelings about the role of media in my kids' lives.

Here's a rundown of our Wired Home, what's yours like?

'Tis the season, again!

Was it really a year ago that I wrote this post about feeling frenzied and guilty about the lack of quality reading and writing time at our house? Because it's happening again! And once again I realize that my girls ARE engaged in reading and writing. It just looks different this time of year.

Here what we're doing, language arts style, to get ready for the holidays:

How running a reading program is like running a campaign

As I write this blog on Wednesday morning after our historic presidential election, I'm struck by an article I read on msnbc.com. Howard Fineman summarized what he saw as Obama's seven-prong approach to his campaign that served him well.

It was easy for me to see how well these same seven prongs could serve schools and districts well as they consider how they teach reading.

Below are the seven prongs as described by Fineman, with each prong's relationship to reading summarized. See what you think!

My 8-year-old wants an iPod

My husband loves music; there's always something on in our house. His enthusiasm is contagious, and Molly has announced that "her own iPod" is on the top of her Christmas list. Which she's started. In September.

I'll admit I'm not crazy about the idea. I envision her wearing her ear buds all the time, tuning us out. She's promised she won't do that, and that she'll still talk to us! Even at dinner time!

Helping students select online sources

Summer is a great time for planning big projects for next year's class. In today's climate, a teacher would be hard pressed to plan for a big project without considering having students research a topic online.

The problem is there are too many websites! A quick Google search on just about any topic returns hundreds (if not thousands) of results. Where's a student to begin?

Spelling made fun

Within Molly's first-grade class, there is a huge range of spelling and reading skills. Her teacher groups for reading and spelling; usually the kids who read together have the same word study words, but not always. There are four word study groups within the classroom.

Having four spelling groups is great in terms of differentiation, but tough to manage! I came across this fun site for spelling that just might be one answer for Molly's teacher.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio