Young children are already masters of verbal persuasion! You can teach the art of persuasive writing using a few basic steps: look at models of good persuasive writing (pay close attention to word choice), identify an issue that is important to your students ("We need a longer recess!"), brainstorm at least three good reasons to support their case, gather facts to help build a logical argument, and write a cohesive summary. See persuasive writing strategy >
More writing strategies:
Framed Paragraphs guide students by providing the transitional phrases for sentences can incorporate various sentence types: long and short, simple and complex.
Transition Words help stories flow more smoothly by providing logical organization and improving the connections between thoughts.
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.
Keeping a science notebook encourages students to record and reflect on inquiry-based observations, activities, investigations, and experiments. Science notebooks are also an excellent way for students to communicate their understanding of science concepts, and for teachers to provide students with feedback. Read article >
Do some of your students missing class time because of family travel? Take advantage of this unique learning opportunity! Give your kids a chance to deepen and share their travel experiences through narrative writing, diagrams and illustrations, and the reading of all kinds of print (including maps, brochures and menus). Authentic reading and writing experiences help students connect what's happening in class to the real world outside. See article >
In this lesson, music is an inspirational prompt for writing. After listening to a piece of music, students write simple sentences describing the music and their reaction to it. Then, they use the sentence combining strategy to craft more interesting and complex sentences. Students can also publish their musical responses using the online Postcard Creator, and send to family or friends. See lesson plan >
Meet Ellen Prentiss, who was "was born with saltwater in her veins" and sailed the Flying Cloud schooner from New York to San Francisco in 1851, librarian Anne Carroll Moore who created the first children's room at the New York Public Library, our 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt — who dared to do "mighty things" — and more extraordinary people in the pages of these picture books. See new booklist >
Tanya Lee Stone writes a little bit of everything — science, history, biography, poetry, and fiction. She's written biographies about pioneering women in the NASA space program, Amelia Earhart, and Laura Ingalls Wilder; picture books about suffragettes and the artist Alexander Calder; and a series of books about animal camouflage. She throws herself into her research to provide context for the facts and to make her stories come alive. As Stone herself says, "A book isn't the end of information on a topic — a book is the beginning of a conversation." Watch interview >
Krosoczka has been passionate about storytelling through words and pictures since he was a young kid. Since the publication of his first picture book Good Night, Monkey Boy in 2001, Krosoczka has gone on to publish a shelf full of lively, colorful stories — from farm animals who rock (Punk Farm) to a purple elephant living in the city (Ollie the Purple Elephant) to the wildly popular and funny Lunch Lady graphic novel series (including the just-published Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Shuffle). Watch interview >
Our research director and blogger, Joanne Meier, describes two engaging strategies for expanding students' word knowledge: Vocabulary Paint Chips and Semantic Gradients. Both strategies encourage kids to think deeply about nuance in word meaning while having fun. Watch the video of Cathy Doyle's second grade classroom and join a lively discussion about words that describe the relative size of things. What's the difference between massive and gigantic, or tiny and microscopic? These kids know! Read blog post >
Most primary students have used "picture walks" to preview text, yet this effective practice is not as common when students read expository text and is often discarded as students move from reading picture books to chapter books. Find out how to introduce expository text feature walks in your class — and how to teach your kids the most common text features (table of contents, index, glossary, headings, bold words, sidebars, pictures and captions, and labeled diagrams) and their purpose. See article >
New education standards are turning kids into sleuths — every day in every subject. As the standards are rolled out in schools across the country, even very young children will be expected to provide evidence to demonstrate how they know what they know. In kindergarten, for example, students may "show evidence" by pointing to pictures in a book they're reading. In math, they may stack blocks to show that three plus three equals six. By the fourth grade, kids will be asked to write argument papers with multiple reasons for their opinion, each with concrete pieces of evidence. See article from Great Schools >
Common Core puts a new emphasis on close reading — analytical reading that considers not just what a text says, but how the text says it (craft and structure) and what it all means. National literacy expert Tim Shanahan suggests that beginning reading texts don't offer the kind of complexity that close reading digs into — what first grade should focus on instead is "close listening" with rich texts and teacher-guided activities. See blog post >
Most children find interactive e-books fun and engaging. But do they help develop important early literacy skills such as letter names and letter sounds or more complex skills such as comprehension? The e-book market is too young to have enough solid research on the topic, but researchers have spent lots of time watching families with young children engage with e-books. These observations suggest that it's easy for kids to get carried away with the digital nature of the e-book. Parents can help keep the focus on reading and the story by following three simple suggestions. (In English and Spanish) See parent tips >
Sharing wordless books is a terrific way to build important literacy skills, including listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension and an increased awareness of how stories are structured. (In English and Spanish) See parent tips >
On our companion site, Start with a Book, discover a rich collection of great fiction and nonfiction picture books about music and musicians, hands-on activities, apps and kid-approved websites. Music and Musicians >
"Get Ready to Read" is a free, research-based and easy-to-use online screening tool. It consists of 20 questions that parents and caregivers can ask a four-year-old to see if he or she is on track for learning how to read. See screening tool >
Toddling Towards Reading > Our 30-minute PBS show hosted by Reba McEntire explores what it takes to give our preschoolers the early literacy skills they need to become successful readers.
The more parents talk to their children, the faster those children's vocabularies grow and the better their intelligence develops. This observation has profound implications for policies about babies and their parents. It suggests that sending children to pre-school at the age of four comes too late to compensate for educational shortcomings at home. Researcher Anne Fernald of Stanford University has found that the vocabulary gap appears well before a child is three. Read article from The Economist >
A recent report from the California Partnership for Children & Youth indicates that a number of districts are relying on summer programs to introduce and reinforce the new Common Core standards. And a January report from the National Center for Time and Learning contends that expanded learning time, whether in summer or after-school, is essential to give teachers and students enough time to practice and master the new standards. See article from EdSource >
Despite the availability of DVDs and other media products claiming to help babies learn to read, these goods don't actually instill reading skills in infants, according to new research appearing in the Journal of Educational Psychology. The study, led by Susan Neuman, a professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, found no noticeable difference between those babies who had been exposed to the media-based learning tools and the control group on all but one of the 14 assessments conducted. The lone exception was the parent's belief that the children were learning new words, despite evidence to the contrary. See article >
Reading Rockets is a national educational service of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital. The goal of the project is to provide information on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. Learn about easy ways you can link to us to let others know about the many free resources available from Reading Rockets.
Reading Rockets is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
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