Thursday, December 9, 2010

Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

You are going to love this Website:  Carol Hurst's Children's Literature.  Teachers in grades K-12 will find useful literacy information.
This is a collection of reviews of great books for kids, ideas of ways to use them in the classroom and collections of books and activities about particular subjects, curriculum areas, themes and professional topics.  Here, you can search the complete table of contents for specific topics. 
For example, I searched for read alouds to use in social studies.  The headings I found: U.S. History, World History, Geography, Cultures, Social Skills, Transportation, and Other.  Under each heading were book lists with grade levels and brief descriptions.  Here is a link to fiction and non-fiction books on World War II. 
We can match the books to our S.C. social studies standards, and add them to our reading lessons.  The only thing left to do is check with the media specialist and see what we have in the library!  Remember, at the elementary level, the books may be in the leveled bookroom!
You can sign up for the newsletter and stay informed!  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Math Resources

Math Links

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Read Aloud Resources

I have the wonderful privilege of working with literacy leaders and coaches as a part of LiteracySC.  One of my colleagues asked about finding books to match reading strategies.  I want to share a few ideas.  You can comment and add your ideas to the list.
I purchased the Interactive Read-Aloud Bundle by Linda Hoyt.  This has been a real favorite with teachers.  They almost fight over them!  The set covers grades K-5.  You can use these lists to find books that will teach the strategies you are focusing on. 

Here is the list for grade 1.
Here is the list for grades 2 and 3.
Here is the list for grades 4 and 5. 

You will love the Website created by FCRTA.  Simply click on the skill and find a list of books.

Effective Teaching Solutions has a simple list.

Here is another list focusing on visualization, questioning, inferring, determining importance, synthesizing, and schema.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Social Studies and Literacy

We need more time during the day to teach reading!  I hear this almost weekly.  One way to find more time is to embed Social Studies into your literacy routines.  You can choose non-fiction, content books from the leveled bookroom.  Your small group instruction can be about fluency and social studies! 
Here is a great resource with 7 Ideas for Embedding Social Studies Into Literacy Routines.  I especially like the ideas for studying biographies from Biography Projects from Mrs. Renz.

All of this is found on "The Cornerstone, " a collection of interrelated print and online resources that make your teaching life more effective, efficient, and enjoyable."  The creator is Angela Watson.  Wonderful!

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Footnotes" for History Buffs

Here is a great Website for finding actual artifacts to use with your lessons.  Footnote helps you find and share historical documents.  The Footnote Blog gives you practical ideas of how to use the Site.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recipes and Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving!  I thought you would enjoy these cute scarecrows.  They look like my parents who created them.   "Mimi and Pa" are standing guard over the pecans.

What a wonderful time to focus on friends and family and be thankful for our blessings.  I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
I used the Bon Appetit recipe without the sour cream topping.  So, you could use the first recipe listed and just make it with a gingersnap crust.  Serve it with whipped cream, caramel sauce drizzle and gingersnap crumbs on top!
Cranberry Sauce
The first 4 ingredients are a must, but the spices are up to you. 
Pumpkin Bread
This is an easy recipe that always turns out nicely.  Just don't over mix the batter.  Makes 2 loaves.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Adventure

Book Adventure ( is a free resource for children, parents, and teachers sponsored by the Sylvan Learning Foundation. Users can create book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, access multiple choice quizzes, even earn prizes. 
I was looking for books to use in a unit on Tall Tales.  I went to the Book List and chose books by grade level and category.  It will make my trip to the library or Scholastic Bookroom easier. 
The Teacher's Lounge is filled with tips and links that will make planning literacy lessons much easier.  I know that you will enjoy this Website.  Barnes and Noble also sponsors a Website that offers a discount and ideas for the books listed in Book Adventure. 
It takes a few minutes to register. Be sure to uncheck the offers and emails if you don't want them in your in-box.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Engaging Young Readers

I have been thinking about our young readers and how we can encourage them to enjoy books.  Finding just right books for younger readers (DRA levels 4-16) can be difficult.  The following books are about toys and will appeal to boys and girls.  You can use the links to promote the books and get ideas for using them in your classroom. 
Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett, is about a little girl and her toy monkey.  The author reads the book aloud here.

Traction Man is Here, by Mini Grey, is a rowdy ride for young readers.  Traction Man is an action figure who takes readers on an adventure within a little boy's imagination.
Traction Man Is Here! (Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (Awards))
Cool Cars and Trucks, by Sean Kenny, is a hands-on book for young children who like to build with LEGO’s.  The author talks about the book here.   He has another book, Cool Robots.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Update

A summary of notes from the ELA meeting:

Teachers must continue to teach writing standards at all grade levels, not those that are tested (5th and 8th)).  Multiple choice items are tied to the extended response rubric.  Teaching formulaic writing negatively affects Extended Response scores and provides limited compositional experience, which negatively affects multiple choice scores.

So what do you do? Here are some ideas/links I hope will help you!

*Teach writing through reading-examine sentence structure, explore
  author’s craft, paraphrase text
*Encourage authentic writing (some links disabled) 
*Base minilessons on student writing
*Have students do plenty of responding to texts
*Voice is a statewide weakness, so encourage sentence complexity  
*Show students how multiple choice items relate to the 4 domains
*Do a Read Aloud daily, pull passages from the text and have students determine the author based on sentence type, word choice, etc.
*Students need to work on writing conclusions 
*Sentence combining is still difficult for students
*Students are using inappropriate transitions-need to use logical transitions
Other links:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reading Strategies

Strategy, a word that is military in origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.  What is the goal for your students this year in reading?  Do you have a plan to help all of them become good readers?     

Strategies for You!
Reading Rockets has a classroom strategy section designed to share with teachers what research suggests are the most effective ways to build fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills. 
Each strategy in the library includes:
  • Instructions on how to use the strategy
  • Downloadable templates
  • Examples
  • Recommended children's books to use with the strategy
  • Differentiation for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners
  • Supporting research
Strategies for Students!
We need to understand the strategies used by good readers.  Here, you will find a list of comprehension strategies to share with your students.  Mini-lessons could be built around the concepts listed, with the teacher modeling the process.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Was that a Duck....or a Rabbit?

You are going to love this book and the activties online!  I am so happy to share it with you.  Time Magazine included it in the Top Ten Children's Books of 2009.  School Library Journal stated,  "With a strong, well-executed concept, this book provides an excellent starting point for discussing how points of view can differ and still be right." 
Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have created a book for all ages.  You will find activities to use in your classroom at Chronicle Books: Duck! Rabbit!  You can find Amy's blog at and Tom's Web page at

Monday, October 18, 2010


I found out about Glogs today!  They are online posters that can be used by students to create reports or do assignments.  I found a teacher that is using them with her students in fifth grade.  Here is a link to her Glog!  I love the avatars that each student must create.  The New York Zoo and Aquarium allows you to "Build Your Wild Self".  There is no need to use actual pictures of students, when his/her identity can become animated to maintain privacy.
Managing this technology in public education via the Internet is a great challenge for districts.  I hope that we can figure out how to promote these new and exciting ideas, while protecting students.  Blogs and Glogs, etc., need to be adapted to meet the security needs of school districts.  Classrooms need to change to meet the demands of technology, and students need the opportunity to express themselves in this way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading Survey

Now would be a great time to give a reading survey to your students.  It will make them think about what they like to read, while giving you valuable information.  In addition to measuring students' knowledge, reasoning, and performance, you also need to gauge students' attitudes, feelings, and interests.  Here are two surveys that you can use:  Denice Hildebrandt's Reading Interest Survey and these.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Math Connections

Yes, you read that correctly!  Math!  Here are links that you will not want to do without!
Intervention Central
Here you will find a wealth of information, including the CBM Warehouse.  This page is your ‘one-stop’ destination for free Curriculum-Based Measurement resources on the Internet.
NCTM Illuminations
Provides Standards-based resources that improve the teaching and learning of mathematics for all students.
MathVIDS is an interactive website for teachers who are teaching mathematics to struggling learners made possible through funding by the Virginia Department of Education.
National Mathematics Advisory Council's final report.
The National Math Panel’s final report, issued on March 13, 2008, contains 45 findings and recommendations on curricular content, teachers and teacher education, instructional practices and materials, learning processes and assessments.

Learn and Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Improving Reading Comprehension

I am always looking for reading comprehension strategies that will help our students, especially those with autism.  Have you ever had a student that could decode beautifully, but lacked necessary comprehension skills?  Researchers, O’Conner and Klein studied 20 high-functioning students with autism and found that the effects of anaphoric cuing were statistically significant and medium in size. (O’Connor and Klein, 2004)
Anaphora is a linguistic unit, such as a pronoun, that refers back to another unit.  Students with poor reading comprehension and students with autism do not consistently relate pronouns to antecedent nouns.  Anaphoric cuing involves teaching the student to pause and refer back to the noun for understanding.  Check here for more information!
Using a graphic organizer to identify the pronoun might be helpful to the student.  A visual representation adds depth to learning.  The Frayer Model is a four-square model that prompts students to think about a word.   Examining the “he” in a story might be a worthwhile activity for students who characteristically read over the pronouns.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lane

Last week, I went to see my aunt in her new home.  After lunch, my mother and I sat with her and reminisced.  It was pure pleasure to remember the many times that the three sisters had taken me, my sister, and cousins on overnight trips and vacations.  I have wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.  If someone asked me to write about these memories, I would have trouble choosing which one I wanted to share!  Our students have memories that they can use to “find their voice” when writing.  We need to help students awake the memories that are sleeping quietly under the surface, and get their thoughts onto the page. 
Saturdays and Tea Cakes, by Lester L. Laminack, is a wonderful read-aloud that can help you awaken students’ memories.   This is the official Website of the author Lester Laminack.  He is an award-winning children’s author and educator.  Laminack’s, Cracking Open the Author's Craft, provides you with multiple tools that you can use to introduce your students to techniques and literary elements.  (I have a copy, if you would like to see it!)
The illustrator of Saturdays and Tea Cakes, Chris Soentpiet, offers lesson plans and background information on his Website.
Scholastic has wonderful resources to help you!  You will find an author study of Lester Laminack, and teacher resources for the study on memoir.
I hope that you enjoy these ideas and can use them in your classrooms.  For information on starting writing workshops visit Lucy Calkin's Units of Study here, or Katie Wood Ray information here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Using Video to Create Excitement

If you love Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, you will want to see the trailer for her new book, Pout-Pout in the Big-Big Dark.  Video clips are great tools that can be used to create interest and excitement.  You can watch the trailer for the book here.  This page also has pictures of the new book!  There are several clips for the book posted on YouTube.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Having Fun with Phonemic Awareness

There is considerable evidence that the primary difference among good and poor readers lies in the good reader's phonological processing ability.  Because it is so vital, we need to saturate early learners with a multitude of opportunities to learn phonological processing skills.
PBS Kids Raising Readers is a great resource.  Take a look at these read-alouds.  There are several stories that can be used to teach mini-lessons.  I especially like this one for teaching similes.
Check out WordWorld and Build a WordThing. Every grade-level can use these ideas to introduce vocabulary in mini-lessons.
Between the Lions is a must-have for K-3.  You can download to your computer and then to portable media.  Here is how!
Thinking about starting a book club or literacy circle? Here's all the information you need to run a Between the Lions book club for kids 3-5 or 5-7.  I know that your Media Specialist will be glad to work with you!