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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Strengthening Literacy in All Content Areas

Once again my school was blessed enough to have Dr. Faber come for a Professional Development day!

Yesterday she spoke with the lower grades, K-2, and hosted a Parent Literacy Night for our parents. Today it was the upper grades' turn. All teachers, grades 3-5, were in the library to glean information from Dr. Faber as to how we can strengthen our literacy scores.

Once again, I'm not going to share everything, I'm just going to hit some helpful highlights!

** Parent Tips **
1. Talk to your student when he/ she gets home and ask questions. Ask students about any new academic vocabulary learned, and new concepts, not just, "Did you have a good day?"
2. During your child's tv time, ask questions about the show. Can they describe the characters? Can they tell you the lesson being learned (if there is one)? Can they tell you how the show made them feel? What about the commercials? Were they engaging and persuasive?
3. Have fun and play games. The best part of a school day is when we, as teachers, can hide a lesson during a "play time".
Need some game ideas? Here you go!

  • Play some games with a deck of cards!
  • Practice money skills with play money (like Monopoly money)
  • Have a Scrabble game? Let your child build their spelling words with the tiles!
  • Practice making letters with Play-Dough
  • Chores for pennies! Get a clean house for cheap!
  • Play math games with dominoes
 ** 5 Elements of Reading ** 
(Thank you to Ms. Roach and Ms. Chastain for agreeing to be pictured!)
Any teacher worth her (or his) salt already knows these elements. They were drummed into our brains in college. However, it's always good for a refresher course since we are noticing that quite a few of our students have not had proper training in these areas.

1. Phonemic Awareness- it's what you hear!
Students need to recognize the different sounds letters make before being able to grasp the next element of reading.

2. Phonics- connecting what you hear with the letters that match!

3. Vocabulary- words that make you sound smart!

 There are 4 kinds of vocabulary:
1. Listening- this vocabulary starts from the time you are born. This is also your largest vocabulary since you will hear more words than you will say.

2. Speaking- second largest group of vocabulary words. Students should begin to notice that there are different types of speaking vocabulary; school and home. Academic vocabulary is used in school and should be shared at home, but students also need to know that some terms are best left outside the school doors. :)

3. Reading- third largest group of vocabulary words. Just because you can say it doesn't mean you would recognize it in print. Teachers can help by having a very print-rich classroom. Parents, you can help by reading aloud with your student every day.

4. Writing- the smallest vocabulary bank. In a perfect world, students would be able to write every word as perfectly as they can speak them. This is not a perfect world. Students need to hear new words, be comfortable using them in a spoken conversation, and be able to recognize them in print before they can write them with confidence.

4. Fluency- Reading and decoding words at a nice pace.

 5. Comprehension- understanding what you're reading. If you're not understanding, you're not really reading.

To help our student with their reading, they are going to need some "Fix-Up" strategies. Knowing different strategies for reading words that are unfamiliar to them will help kids when they are away from their teacher; like when their teacher is in the middle of a small group reading time. We tell our students Try 3 Before Me! In other words, try 3 Fix-Up strategies before coming and interrupting the small group.

We made some bookmarks for our kids with some strategies on them. If you'd like a copy, click {HERE} for it in a Word document!
Prefer PDF format? Click {HERE}
 If you download the bookmarks, please leave a comment on what you think!

Last, but not least, yours truly created a song to go with the lesson of 5 Elements of Reading. Check it out!

What a great day! 
Thank you, Dr. Faber! Can't wait till next time!

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