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Friday, October 9, 2015

Reading Rockets Newsletter: October 2015


October 2015 Newsletter

In Focus | Books & Authors | Ideas for Parents & Teachers | Research & News

In Focus: Writing

How can we build kids' writing skills, beginning in pre-K? What does the research tell us about effective strategies for teaching writing? And how can parents support their children's development as writers? Dip into these resources below to learn more. For examples of real student writing (pre-K to grade 3) — and advice on next-step instruction — check out our Looking at Writing resource. To see all of our writing resources, including the video library, visit Topics A-Z: Writing.


Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers

This practice guide, authored by national writing expert Steve Graham, provides four recommendations for improving elementary students' writing. Each recommendation includes implementation steps and solutions for common roadblocks. Watch video interviews with Graham and other writing experts here.



In the Classroom: A Room of Writers

Go inside Shana Sterkin's third grade class as she engages her students in writer's workshop. Everyone shares their writing, including Miss Sterkin. Watch as she helps the kids learn to identify "vivid verbs" and think about how they might use their own examples while writing their original fairytales.



Writing Strategies

Framed paragraphs — skeleton formats containing information about the main ideas and transition words — guide students in choosing and organizing supportive details.
The RAFT strategy helps students understand their roles as writers, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic they'll be writing about.
See all writing strategies >



For Parents: Demystifying the Common Core Writing Standards

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.



Writing and Spelling at Home

When engaging in writing, young children often mirror what they see around them: adults and older children writing lists, letters, text messaging. They are observing the way writing is used in our everyday lives. Here are some simple suggestions (in English and Spanish) to encourage writing.


Children's Books & Authors

Babymouse and Squish:
Our Interview with Jennifer Holm

With her brother, Matt, Jennifer Holm has created two funny, popular graphic novel series — one featuring a very pink mouse (Babymouse) and another starring a very green amoeba (Squish). Family stories inspired Holm to write historical fiction novels for middle grade readers, including the Newbery Honor book, Our Only May Amelia.


New Booklist! Wild and Wonderful Animals

Peek into the lives of emus, octopuses, orangutans, osprey, wolves, woodpeckers, and other fascinating animals in this lively collection of nonfiction picture books. Beautiful illustration, alliteration and onomatopoeia, and poetry help bring the animal kingdom to life.


Nonfiction for Kids

Children are naturally fascinated by the lives of real people and the world around them. And building background knowledge is key to children's academic success. Our resources can help you find great nonfiction picture books and offer tips on how to get the most out of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction can sometimes turn a reluctant reader into an enthusiastic one!



Ideas for Parents & Teachers

For Parents

Children and Media: Tips for Parents

In a world where children are "growing up digital," it's important to help them learn healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Parents play an important role in teaching these skills. Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help parents manage the digital landscape they're exploring with their children.

For Teachers

Of Carts and Horses: Where Fluency Instruction Fits In

Should teachers focus only on fluency and accuracy before comprehension and vocabulary? What's the right answer about sequence of instruction in a literacy curriculum? Here's what literacy expert Tim Shanahan believes.

For Parents

11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read

From literacy expert Tim Shanahan, get these commonsense and effective ideas to help launch a young reader. These are things that all parents can do. Two examples: Tip #3: Talk to  your kids (a lot) and Tip #5: Have them tell you a story.

For Teachers

The Walking Classroom: Walk. Listen. Learn.

Here's how this innovative program works: Students take brisk 20-minute walks as a class, while listening to the same kid-friendly podcasts. Podcast topics focus on science, social studies, and English language arts. The program also provides teachers and out-of-school time staff with a new way meet the needs of their students with alternative learning styles such as ADHD, dyslexia, and/or autism.

For Parents

DIY Science Camp: Archaeology

Uncover some great fiction and nonfiction books, apps, and a set of get-your-hands-dirty activities. Try your own archaeological dig, learn about ancient writing systems of the Egyptians and Native Americans, create your own family time capsule, and more.

For Teachers

Family Stories

Children can learn about family heritage at the same time they are improving their literacy skills. Using family-based writing projects, you can build a connection with parents, and help children see the value in their own heritage and in the diversity around them.

Inviting Personal Narratives Into the Classroom


Research & News

Dinnertime Storytelling Can Help Make Kids Better Readers
Time | September 22, 2015

Dyslexia and Spelling: The Chicken or the Egg?
International Literacy Association Daily | September 29, 2015

Long-Term Study Finds Tennessee Pre-K Effects Fade By 3rd Grade
Education Week | September 28, 2015

Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?
The New York Times | October 3, 2015

Screen Time and Kids: Pediatricians Work on a New Prescription
Huffington Post | October 1, 2015

"The first draft is a skeleton .… just bare bones. The rest of the story comes later with revising."

Judy Blume


About Reading Rockets

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.

Send your questions, comments, or suggestions to readingrockets@weta.org. Our mailing address is WETA/Reading Rockets, 2775 S. Quincy St., Arlington, VA 22206. We look forward to hearing from you!

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