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

Posted on

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!

Posted on

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

Posted on

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?

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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.

Video Teaching Tip: Improving Reading Through One-to-One Matching

Posted on

This month, I’m sharing tips via video! How can you get students to use one-to-one matching? Check out the video below for concrete advice about helping readers at levels A, B, C, and beyond. I also discuss when students should use their reading finger and when they should put it away.

Interested in getting a closer look at the books in the video? You can preview I Can Do It (level A/1), Vehicles (B/2), Come Here, Puppy (C/3), or The Three Little Pigs (C/4) online for free. Just click on the “Read Online” tab on each book’s page.

Best wishes to you and your students on your reading journey!

Teaching Tip: Guided Reading with Deliberate Practice

Posted on

Do you have students in your classroom who are not easily discouraged and pick themselves up and try again even when something is hard? It’s great working with these students. But what about the other kind of students, the ones that can’t seem to stick with anything and are easily discouraged? I recently finished reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. It made me think that it’s possible to help these easily discouraged students gain what Angela terms grit. How do we teach kids that their own efforts can improve their future?

I found many takeaways in Angela’s book, but one is how guided reading is a perfect opportunity to provide what the author calls deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is something that successful people use to improve performance in all aspects of life.

Here are the basic requirements:

1. A clearly defined stretch goal

In guided reading, each part of the lesson should be planned to provide a stretch goal. The book choice needs to be not too easy or too hard. That means that students will need some help from you to read it but not a ton of assistance. Yes, this is tricky, something that’s easier done in a Reading Recovery lesson when you are matching a book to one reader instead of a group. But you can do this! Start by carefully assessing the book you plan to use. Look for all the places it might be too hard and consider your book introduction as a way to reduce confusion and prepare students for these challenges.

2. Full concentration and effort

Students need to be fully engaged in and concentrate on their reading. Note that this does not happen during round-robin reading when a student may only pay attention to the page they are going to read. In guided reading, everyone reads the book. All of it!

3. Immediate and informative feedback

You play a critical role. As students read, you will provide that immediate and informative feedback to individuals. Prompt students to notice things they overlook and praise them for good processing. This is crucial—the guided part of guided reading! Take a look at this video from a guided reading lesson with The Gingerbread Boy, a Level C book. Notice the level of scaffolding I provided to this group of emergent readers, especially the first boy. I gave more and more support as he needed it.

4. Repetition with reflection and refinement

As you listen to and support each student while they read, take notes on what further instruction is necessary. Provide opportunities for students to read the book, gain fluency, and practice what they learned now that it is easier. Use the information you gathered to so some teaching after the reading and plan future guided reading lessons.

You can help your students gain grit and tenacity that is so important for success in life. Angela’s research found that we can help students understand that if you try, you can learn to embrace challenges rather than fear them. We can increase our students’ grit!

New Springtime BookBuilder Stories

Posted on

Students love seeing their own names in print, and that’s one reason that I love creating stories for BookBuilder Online. It’s simple to add names, print out the book, and assemble the story for classroom or home use. To celebrate the beginning of spring (even if it’s still winter where you are), here are two great FREE seasonal tales:

The Lost Chick (E/7)

TheLostChick-SocialMediaImg

Is It Spring? (G/11)

IsItSpring-BBO-SocialMediaImg

You can find these stories and many more at bookbuilderonline.com. If you’re interested in even more BookBuilder options, check out these 12-month subscriptions, which offer unlimited access to more than 80 stories featuring Pioneer Valley Books’ fan favorites Bella and Rosie, Little Elf, Spaceboy, and Little Dinosaur.

 

Happy reading!