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Vocabulary

Picture books on the decline?

A recent New York Times article reveals that picture books are no longer as popular as they once were; that sales are down, that parents are often looking to chapter books to propel their children forward educationally, perhaps for what is considered more sophisticated literary or educational experiences.

Stuff and nonsense.

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.

Exhilarating, exciting, electrifying - online or print?

Once there were word webs to explore synonyms with children.

Now there is a neat website called Visuwords, an online thesaurus and dictionary. It's fun to see words bounce and connect. There's even color coding to identify the parts of speech. (Thanks to a Reading Rockets colleague for the link!)

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.

Do more than read...talk!

Teaching by Listening, a study from the July 2009 journal Pediatrics, is all about the contribution of adult-child conversations to a child's language development. This piece, along with other research, documents the effect of language in the home on a child's vocabulary. Without question, kids who hear more words spoken at home learn more words and enter school with better vocabularies.

What's good for ELLs is good for all

If you follow us on Twitter, you know that I was in Chicago at a conference sponsored by the Center for Development and Learning. I've got lots to share from the conference; there were several great speakers and exhibitors. Many attendees came by the Reading Rockets booth to tell me that they use the site all the time, especially our Parent Tips.

Knock, knock. Who's there? Jokes and riddles.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana.
Banana who?
Banana in my cereal.

Yep. That's our six year old at the dinner table. She so desperately wants to make up her own side-splitting knock knock jokes, but she's not quite there yet. She loves jokes and all things silly, but she's just not at the point of being able to come up with her own word play to make up a (really) funny one.

Mindful of Words

I recently reviewed Mindful of Words, Spelling and Vocabulary Explorations 4-8 by Kathy Ganske.

The book is a great resource for teachers and tutors who work with upper-level spellers. Based in developmental spelling research and vocabulary learning, the book helps teachers understand how to assess students' word knowledge and how to teach in a way that encourages a love of words.

Teaching vocabulary

A few weeks ago I blogged about a kindergarten lesson where the students were confused by the word pause, thinking the teacher meant applause or paws. I promised that teacher I'd send her some materials about vocabulary development with second language learners. I thought I'd share some of the resources I like.

Pause for applause and paws

I was lucky enough to spend a morning last week at an elementary school in New York City. I was there watching a choreographer prepare two classes of kindergartners for a field trip. The classes were going to watch an interpretive dance, and this artist was helping the students understand how dancers use their bodies to convey meaning.

The lesson moved along just as you might envision: some giggles, lots of bumping into each other, more giggles, and a few students unwilling to 'walk with their knees.'

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb