Teaching Tip: Organizing Your Classroom Library for Young Readers

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I, like many educators, cannot believe how quickly summer passes! Nevertheless, back-to-school time is here, and many teachers are putting the final touches on their classrooms for this year. I thought it might be helpful to answer a question we received on Facebook a few weeks back about classroom library and book organization.

Corey asked,

Classroom libraries for independent reading: sort by genre or grade level?

In this Teaching Tip video, I talk about my tactics for book organization and getting students excited about reading new texts. If you have questions or topics you would like to hear about in the future, let us know on Facebook!

Happy Teaching!

Michèle

Getting Ready for ILA 2018 in Austin!

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Jan Richardson and I are putting the final touches on our interactive session at ILA 2018—What to Do When Kids Just Don’t Get it: Prompting for Deeper Understanding during Guided Reading. A few days ago, Jan and I synced up on video chat and decided to share a bit about our session with you. Watch our video to hear more!

I’d love to hear if you are planning on learning with us on July 21 in Austin, TX! Tweet me @MicheleDufresne and Jan @DrJanRichardson to let us know!

Happy reading!

Michèle

Unboxing the Literacy Footprints Fourth Grade Kit with Co-author, Jan Richardson

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Earlier this week, I talked on Zoom with my collaborator, Jan Richardson and showed off the new books and tools from our Literacy Footprints Fourth Grade Kit. This kit has been a blast to work on together, and we are so excited to share it with teachers. Check out this video where Jan and I chat about this powerful new resource for literacy learning!

Pre-ordered kits started to ship out last week! To learn more about our complete system to support guided reading, visit the Literacy Footprints website.

Happy Teaching,

Michèle

Summer Reading — It Matters!

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We don’t need tons of research to tell us that some of our students lose ground over the summer because they aren’t reading. We see it in classrooms at the start of each new school year. Students from low-income families often experience the most summer slide because they often lack access to books during nonschool times (Allington et al., 2010). This can contribute to a large achievement gap after several years.

How can we make sure that all of our kids have access to books over the summer? Here are a few ideas for you to ponder:

1. Create a lending library. Put together packs of books for students to take home over the summer. You might be concerned that you won’t get the books back, but I haven’t experienced this. Record the titles, put them into a study bag, and they will come back, maybe even a bit worn from being read! If possible, have students help choose their books, but guide them toward picking texts they will be able to read nearly independently.

library drop box

2. Take a field trip to the library with your students, and see if you can get parents to join you. Once there, help students learn where to find books they can read and enjoy. During my first few years of teaching, I was lucky to be in walking distance of the library. I took my students there often and found that they learned to love borrowing books and became avid library users.

3. Create a book giveaway program. Many schools have gotten creative and worked with their local community and state to provide books for students to keep. Book ownership is very powerful and can make an impact beyond your students since reads often get passed to younger siblings and other family members.  Research has shown that book distribution programs can improve attitudes toward reading (Lindsay, 2010). This, in turn, increases the volume of reading.

4. Have a book fair. Students love selecting their own books. Take care of students who don’t have funds by arranging for donations to ensure everyone gets to purchase some books. However, make sure each student’s selection is only reading materials. I am always sad when a student uses their limited funds to buy a poster or other nonbook item.

5. Have a book swap. Get students to bring in old books they no longer want and encourage trading.

6. Make free BookBuilder Online stories at bookbuilderonline.com. This Pioneer Valley Books site lets you create personalized books for students that you can print and send home. The variety of leveled texts meets the needs of many early readers.

beach book bag

7. Send a letter home to parents with tips on how to encourage their children to read over the summer. I like suggesting that they keep baskets of books in the car, in the bathroom, and next to their child’s bed.

8. Call or send a postcard to students later in the summer. Tell them about what you are reading and ask how they are enjoying their books!

Most of all, encourage your students to have fun reading! Just like many of us often look forward to an entertaining beach read, our students need reading to be a pleasurable and easy experience that keeps them coming back to books!

Happy summer!

Michèle

 

Sources:

Allington, R.L., McGill-Franzen, A., Camilli, G., Williams, L., Graff, J., Zeig, J., Zmach, C., & Nowak, R. (2010). Addressing summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students. Reading Psychology, 31(5), 411–427.

Lindsay, J. (2010). Children’s access to print material and education-related outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates.

Teaching Tip Video and Handout: Top Tips for Teaching Making Words During Word Study

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In my latest video blog, I’m diving deeper into the Word Study part of a guided reading lesson and sharing some tips about using Making Words. I’ve also created this helpful handout. It includes sample Making Words lessons for levels A through G.

Want to see Making Words in the classroom? Check out this terrific free video on literacyfootprints.com to see literacy expert Jan Richardson working with a group of emergent readers. You can find all of the magnetic trays and letters we used on the Teaching Tools page of the Pioneer Valley Books website.

Video: What is Literacy Footprints?

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Created by teachers for teachers, Literacy Footprints is a complete guided reading system cocreated by myself and fellow literacy expert, Jan Richardson. Hear directly from Jan and I as we detail the program’s components and successes. If you are interested in getting a sample of Literacy Footprints, please visit the Literacy Footprints website.

Video Teaching Tip: Using Sound Boxes During Guided Writing

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Sound boxes can be powerful tools for helping students learn how to hear and record sounds in words. Using them can lead to greater independence in writing and improve students’ ability to use phonics and decoding strategies when reading. In this Teaching Tip Video, I discuss using sound boxes during guided writing. You can also download this handout with sample word study lessons to use in your own guided writing activities.

You can find the Sound Box Card, Plastic Write-On Sleeve, and Literacy Footprints Kindergarten Journal used in the video at the Pioneer Valley Books website. To watch my last Teaching Tip Video about using sound boxes during word study, click here! Follow Pioneer Valley Books on Facebook to be the first to see my next Teaching Tip Video!

Video Teaching Tip: Helping Students Who Have Trouble Tracking

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Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed my last video tip about when to encourage students to use their reading finger and when to have them stop. In this next Video Teaching Tip, I’m sharing my thoughts about students who have difficulty tracking and the best ways to support them.

Eagle-eyed viewers may wish to follow along with my video in The Ugly Duckling; you can view the book for free via the “Read Online” tab. You can also find the Reader Windows on Pioneer Valley Books’ website.