Monday, February 11, 2013

Blog forward: Literacy, families and learning: Why Older Readers Should Read Picture Books

I've always felt that children get steered away from reading picture books far too early; that's one reason I still have them on my shelves at home, even though my own children are teens.  Here's one blogger who states the need for picture books in more detail:

Literacy, families and learning: Why Older Readers Should Read Picture Books: I have often observed how keen some parents and teachers can be to move their children's reading on from picture books to chapter books. M...

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Wordle, crocheting, and struggling readers

Wordle: More Books Than TimeWhat fun!  I created a Wordle today by just putting in the URL to this blog.  I like the way "book" and "reading" are the largest words.  I've done Wordles in the past, but it's been awhile since I played with words using this website.  It's a great way to highlight key ideas from your reading, or even to practice spelling words.

I have to admit, I did not read as much as I would have liked this weekend--unless reading a crocheting pattern counts.  Crochet patterns have a language all their own--sc for single crochet, dc for double crochet, ch for chain, cl for cluster...I remember how it felt when I was first learning to crochet, trying to figure out the abbreviations and constantly looking back at my beginning crochet books for reminders of the stitches.  I still struggle with patterns at the intermediate level, and haven't even attempted those at the experienced level.

My difficulty with complicated crochet patterns reminds me of the difficulties struggling readers have with text.  English is a hard language to read:  sh makes a totally different sound than s and h by themselves, vowels sound differently depending on their neighbors, words can have different meanings depending on the context.  There's not always a cheat sheet to fall back on like my crochet manuals; we're just expected to remember all these complicated sounds and rules and language.  Seen through this lens, reading is truly a magnificent skill to master; is it any wonder that some students struggle in their pursuit to find meaning in marks on a page?

My school has invested a lot of time and money in training teachers to help students learn to read.  I've got a lot of tools at my disposal; now I just need to remember the persistence, and patience I've allowed myself in learning to crochet, and have that same persistent patience with my own students.  With crocheting, I've opened the door to wonderful patterns, gifts, and a soothing, relaxing hobby.  With reading, I hope my students gain mastery of the patterns in words and language, discover the gifts in stories and books, and realize that decoding text can become soothing and fun, not just lessons in my classroom.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Writing from my classroom!

This Is Not My HatWe are in writing mode at this moment in my classroom, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to do my writing as well!  We have settled back into our routines after our winter break; that means reading and read-aloud time with my students.  This week, we were very excited to find out that one of our favorite books, This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, won the Caldecott Award!  The Caldecott is given for the best illustrations in a children's book, and we agree that this book deserved the award.  If you haven't read this book yet, or Klassen's first solo book, Where Is My Hat?, then run to your library or bookstore and check them out!

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo WillemsThe Three Ninja PigsOther books that my students are really enjoying are The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat, and Mo Willem's Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.  We are continuing to read Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King as a read-aloud; that will take us quite awhile to get through.  At home, I am finishing up Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and getting ready to read several more books (that I can't list right now, because they're sitting at home, part of my Mt. Everest of to-read books!).  My goal for this weekend is to sit and read at least an hour a day...which is hard for me to do, when household chores, activities with my family, and crocheting projects are in need of my time.  But I'm going to do my best to get some reading done; let me know if you are able to do the same this weekend!  Happy reading!