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June 2014 Newsletter
In Focus: Summer is for reading, talking, exploring, writing
Books & Authors: Video interview with Robert Neubecker | See the Sea booklist | The Stuff of Summer booklist | Children's books about Brazil
Ideas for Educators: Using Context Clues to Understand Word Meanings | Classroom Strategy: Word Hunts | 8 apps for digital portfolios | Ending the year on a high note | Top 10 lessons from chapter books
Ideas for Parents: Building reading stamina | Summer reading programs and kids with LD | Reading adventure pack: bees | Nature Rocks! Let's Go Explore
Research & News: What Types of E-Books Are Best for Young Readers?| Reading Experience May Change the Brains of Dyslexic Students | Expanding Learning, Enriching Learning: Portraits of Five Programs
In Focus: Read. Talk. Explore. Write … All Summer Long
Parents and summer program staff: looking for ways to bring more science into your summer learning activities? We've got some cool ideas for warm summer days. Browse our science-themed activity packs that combine great books with easy hands-on activities — plus recommendations for kid-friendly websites and awesome apps to extend the learning. Ready to print and go! See activities >
Help your child learn to think like a scientist while reading, exploring and engaging in simple hands-on activities. We've created 18 tip sheets (in English and Spanish) to inspire scientific exploration! Learn more >
Summer is for exploring, reading, listening and … writing. Give kids a chance to exercise different writing muscles — from poetry to nature journals persuasive writing. Here are four kid-tested writing activities perfect for at home or as a group activity with friends and neighbors. See activities >
Summer is a great time to practice fluency skills — while having fun. Try "buddy" reading with your child, or round up some neighborhood kids and stage a Reader's Theater event. And don't forget the audio books — a great way to expose kids to beautifully fluent reading. We even have a few ideas for how to create your own audio books. Fluent kids >
As a partner in the Grade-Level Reading initiative, Reading Rockets recognizes the importance of summer learning in boosting children's reading proficiency. How is your community getting involved? Take the pledge! Learn more >
Robert Neubecker's picture books have zip — they burst with color, energy, and fun. Neubecker can really capture the world through a kid's eyes, whether it's a first trip to the big city (Wow! City!), or real and imaginary treasures below the sea (Wow! Ocean!) or the trials and tribulations of being the big sister when the new baby arrives (Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth). Watch interview >
Explore the ocean ecosystem, the magical qualities of water, and the fantastic variety of sea creatures in the pages of these picture books. Dip into stories about sea monsters, a family day at the beach, creatures that call the ocean "home" and more. See booklist >
Gardens grow; ants visit picnics (and gardens); thunder rolls and lightning flashes (a pourquoi tale tells why), there is indoor and outdoor water play, and more. So find a cool place, pick up a book, and discover the stuff of summer! See booklist >
Before you settle in to watch "The Beautiful Game" together, dive into some fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about the host country Brazil. Journey to the Amazon rainforest and the beach, learn about the art of capoeira, and get to know soccer legend Pelé through his own words. See booklist >
To decipher the meaning of a new word, it's often useful to look at what comes before and after that word. Learn more about the six common types of context clues, how to use them in the classroom and the role of embedded supports in digital text. See article >
Word Hunts are fun — and a great way to help your students focus on spelling patterns and root words. Using texts they've previously read, students search for other words that follow the same spelling features studied during their word or picture sort. See strategy >
Digital portfolios allow students and teachers to collect student work in a variety of media: text, photos, slideshows, audio and video. One great benefit: it's easy to add comments and share the work through the school year with peers and parents. Are you interested in the idea, but don't know where to start? Take a look at these recommended apps and website services (all are free or low-cost). Browse apps >
From the Teaching Channel, teacher-blogger Lily Jones shares four wonderful ideas for honoring your classroom community and all the memories you've made (plus give the kids one more chance to practice writing and oral communication skills). See blog post >
You might be surprised to find out how much kids learn from reading chapter books together. Here's a pretty profound list from Suzanne Buhner, a fourth grade teacher-blogger at the Nerdy Bookclub. "They wanted to let others know how very much they learn from good literature, learnings that cannot be measured on a test or found within a story summary," says Buhner. Two of our favorites:
Swords are not necessary! A good grasp of vocabulary is!
A poem in the pocket is worth keeping because you never know when it will come in handy.
Reading stamina is a child's ability to focus and read independently for long-ish periods of time without being distracted or without distracting others. As your child moves into higher grades, having reading stamina will help her navigate longer texts and assignments. Discover four tips that can help your child develop reading stamina. (From our Growing Readers series, in English and Spanish) See parent tips >
While reading in school may be a source of anxiety and pressure for students with learning disabilities, summer reading programs are designed to help kids enjoy books and discover the joy of reading. A good program is relaxed and motivating — and kids get to pick the books that interest them most. Excited to get your child involved in a summer reading program, but not sure how to make it work with your child's special needs? These tips from librarian Alex Smith will help. Learn more >
Did you know that June 16-22 is National Pollinator Week? It's part of a larger international movement that celebrates the critical role that bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles and other pollinators play in supporting healthy ecosystems. Pollinator Week resources and activities >
This family-friendly site will help you find all sorts of nature activities, plus tips and tools to help guide and plan your adventures. With the nifty "Find Nature" tool, just type in your zip code, select your favorite activities (zoo, nature centers, hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, and much more), and how far you want to travel — and up pops a list and an annotated map, filled with ideas. You can also start a community of nature explorers (a "Flock") and get outside with friends, neighbors, family, or school groups — a free guide that shows you how. Go to website >
Could e-books actually get in the way of reading? That was the question explored in research presented last week at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association The students' reading comprehension, the researchers found, was higher when they read conventional books. In a second study looking at students' use of e-books created with Apple's iBooks Author software, the Schugars discovered that the young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books' interactive visual features. See blog post from KQED Mindshift >
Among the many challenges faced by children with dyslexia (and by their parents and teachers) is the nagging fear that their difficulties with reading are entirely hard-wired: predetermined by their genes and impossible to change. Recent research offers a balm for that fear. It suggests that experience plays a big role in dyslexia, both in exacerbating reading problems and, potentially, in easing them. Guinevere Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center, contends that dyslexia is not a problem of seeing, but a problem of processing language, of assembling individual sounds into words. Eden says that we should not be focusing on the visual system as we diagnose or treat dyslexia. See article from The New York Times >
These "stories from the field" describe five programs working to expand learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children, so they can benefit from the types of opportunities their wealthier counterparts have access to, from homework help to swimming classes. The report details each program's approach, successes and challenges, offering a well-rounded picture of the effort nationally to expand learning opportunities for low-income children — and the work that remains. See report from the Wallace Foundation >
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.
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