Reading Rockets News
To see the current issue of the Reading Rockets newsletter, click here.
- Writing in the Classroom: Digital tools | Author visit | Meet the writing experts | Writing strategies | Real student writing | Common Core writing standards for parents | Dysgraphia
- Books & Authors: Interview with Mo Willems | Writers on writing | Picture books about math | Best board books | Boo!
- Ideas for Parents: Archaeology reading pack | Apps for kids with special needs | LD awareness month | Family stories
- Research & News: Benefits of field trips | The key to smarter kids | PreK-3rd: getting literacy instruction right
Writing in the Classroom
Third grade teacher Shana Sterkin uses iPads as a writing tool to help her students organize their ideas and share their writing. In this clip from our show Growing Writers, Sterkin demonstrates how to use a simple, free writing app.
Watch clip >
Author Erica Perl (Dotty) visits Shana Sterkin's class to share her own writer's notebook and storyboards. Then, it's a lively afternoon of collaborative story writing — and a chance for the kids to act out the elements of their story.
Watch clip >
National experts Steve Graham, Karen Harris, Paul Rogers and Jane Hansen talk about what good writing instruction looks like, writing in the Common Core, the elements of effective professional development for teaching writing and how parents can support writing at home.
Watch videos >
Project Write >
Watch first grade teacher Ali Nava walk her students through a cooperative paragraph summarizing the beginning, middle and end of Burro's Tortillas, a southwestern adaptation of the classic folktale The Little Red Hen. Nava uses the exercise as an opportunity for her kids to practice writing skills — including spelling, punctuation and capitalization. This video module includes lesson plans and alignment to the Common Core. (From our bilingual sister site, Colorin Colorado)
See video module >
Classroom Strategies for Writing
Persuasive Writing: How to use mentor texts, brainstorming, "persuasive words" lists, fact-gathering research and organizing templates
Descriptive Writing: Examples of how to teach descriptive writing in language arts, social studies, science and math (yes, math!), a peek inside a second grade Writer's Workshop, and suggested children's books to use with this strategy.
Framed Paragraphs: Guide students by providing transitional phrases for sentences. Encourage kids to incorporate various sentence types (long and short, simple and complex).
Story Sequence: Beginning-middle-end story maps, timelines, sequence sticks, story chains, and learning how to recognize and use transition words all give students practice in ordering events within a story.
Writing is a process. Writing with kids can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be painstaking and frustrating, for the writer and for the adult. For most writers, it's somewhere in-between. In this interactive tool — featuring writing samples from real kids — you'll find advice about instruction, guidance on assessment, classroom strategies, video and more.
Go to interactive tool >
Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. Get to know the four "anchors" of the Common Core writing standards and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in all of these areas. From our Growing Readers newsletter, in English and Spanish.
See parent tips >
Eli has the learning disability dysgraphia, and for him writing is a tough daily challenge. Regina Richards, a well-known expert on dysgraphia (and Eli's mom), explains how to help children like Eli who struggle with writing.
Read article >
What Is Dysgraphia? >
Books & Authors
Caldecott winner (and former stand-up comedian) Mo Willems spent the first part of his career writing and animating for children's television, including Sesame Street and Nickleodeon. Then a pigeon-filled sketchbook jumpstarted his career as a best-selling children's writer and illustrator (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) Willems has created many other beloved characters — Elephant and Piggie, Knuffle Bunny and Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct.
Watch interview >
From writer Jane Yolen's thoughts on introducing kids to big, delicious words like "lavaliere" to poet Mary Ann Hoberman's love of word play to Christopher Paul Curtis' four rules for young writers, listen in as acclaimed children's authors talk about how to craft beautiful writing.
Watch video >
Discover what happens when a musk ox decides to create a counting book. Get a rousing lesson in perimeter, area and volume from a group of movie-making monsters. Or read the true-life story of Paul Erdos, a free-spirited boy who loved numbers and grew up to be a brilliant mathematician. The probability is high that you and your kids will find a book (or two or three) to love in this brand new list.
Browse booklist >
The best gift for a new mom? A bundle of board books! Our blogger Joanne Meier shares her favorite tried-an- true board titles including Jamberry (with that unforgettable rhyme: "One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry,"), Mrs. Wishy Washy and Goodnight Gorilla. Plus great board book round ups from the New York Times, Parents Magazine and School Library Journal. What are some of your favorites?
See blog post >
The wind howls and dry leaves skitter on a moonlit night. Creatures race from door to door asking for treats, threatening tricks. It's Halloween! Time for some spooky and not-so-spooky tales filled with jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, ghosts and monsters.
Browse booklist >
Ideas for Parents
Does your child like to dig in the dirt? Find things that have been lost? Put puzzle pieces together and figure out stories from clues? Learn about the past? These are all things archeologists do! In our newest Reading Adventure pack, you'll find recommendations for great fiction and nonfiction books and a set of get-your-hands-dirty activities. Draw your own petroglyphs, uncover artifacts in a kitchen table dig or create an Egyptian scroll with hieroglyphics (picture writing).
Download archaeology pack >
Detectives and Explorers > (from Start with a Book)
Search and browse for the perfect app using this comprehensive review guide from Friendship Circle of Michigan, a non-profit organization that provides programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs. Categories include apps for learning, speech and language, communication, scheduling, games and more. You can also subscribe to a weekly digest of what's new.
Find apps >
From Parents Choice, here come the latest winners in mobile apps, websites, video games and more!
See winners >
Does your child have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder or problems with executive function? You're not alone — LD.org represents a community of 60 million people. Share these resources from the National Center for Learning Disabilities with friends and loved ones whose children or students are struggling with LD or related issues.
- You Are Not Alone >
- Top 10 Myths About Learning Disabilities — Busted! >
- Interactive LD Checklist >
- LD Awareness Month resources from Reading Rockets >
For Family History Month, start a new tradition: sharing family stories with your kids. In this post from the blog Simple Kids, the author describes two kinds of family narratives: the "Today I" everyday experiences and the intergenerational stories that pass along a family's history. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.
Visit blog >
Family Stories >
Research & News
In recent years, cultural institutions have experienced sharp declines in the number of school tours. More than half of schools throughout the country eliminated field trips in 201011, according to an American Association of School Administrators survey. A new study shows that students who attend school field trips to art museums show improved critical thinking skills, display stronger historical empathy and become more tolerant. Benefits are particularly large for students from rural areas and from high-poverty schools.
Read more >
Related blog post
Why Field Trips Are Worth the Effort >
Decades of research reveals that parents, of all backgrounds, don't need to buy expensive educational toys or digital devices for their kids in order to give them an edge. They don't need to chauffeur their offspring to enrichment classes or test-prep courses. What they need to do with their children is much simpler: talk.
Read blog post >
This brief from the Foundation for Child Development outlines the elements of strong PreK-3rd literacy instruction including: what high-quality instruction looks like, what supports enable teachers to carry out strong literacy instruction, and what policies enable schools to carry out strong PreK-3rd reading instruction. High-quality, coordinated PreK-3rd literacy instruction expands children's cognitive capacities, develops language and vocabulary, and prepares them to read advanced texts.
See report from the Foundation for Child Development >
The Push for Universal Pre-K >
"Read, because that's the way you learn how the language works. That's the way you learn about emotion, on paper. That's where you find how stories are fastened — by reading and reading and reading."