Good Holiday Presents for Teachers

Many kids ask their parents if they can give small holiday presents to their teachers. Here are some gift ideas that are always appreciated:

A card with a heartfelt message

Christmas tree ornaments—your child should sign first and last name and date them (Josie Jones, 2016) so teachers can reminisce when decorating every year.

Gift card for a local learning/teaching store

Gift card to a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target

Supplies for the class: sanitizer, pencils, white board cleaner, Kleenex, etc.

A personalized gift (I love my Miss Green apron!)

Flowers or a small potted plant

Amazon gift card

Blank note cards—teachers write a lot of notes. (You can buy nice blank cards at stores like Ross and Marshalls for about $5 or less)

iTunes gift card

A recommendation letter, typed and signed, recommending the teacher. The teacher can hold this in her file and use it for applying for another job, make a copy and give it to the principal for her personnel file, etc. It can go a long, long way.

Handmade gifts: bags, decorative items, etc.

Two gifts I personally appreciate are chocolates or candy I can share with the class (Dum Dums, Jolly Ranchers, etc.)

Remember, your child’s classroom teacher is not the only important adult at school. You might want to send in cards to a specials teacher, librarian, bus driver, instructional aide, school nurse, or the custodian who always greets your child. Classroom teachers often receive many presents at holiday time, but these school workers are often overlooked. Something as simple as a holiday card with a personalized note would be much appreciated.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 11, 2017

 

Halloween tip for parents of kids who can’t eat candy: buy it back!

Halloween can be a rough time for kids who can’t eat candy.  (Possible reasons: food allergies, diabetes, etc.)  Trick-or-treating is just so tempting, and it’s a bummer to go through the activity but not be able to eat the spoils.  Missing out on trick-or-treating to avoid the temptation sounds even worse.  Here’s one way to handle it: do a candy buyback.

Remember how fun it was to come home from trick-or-treating and show off the plunder? Well, a candy-free kid may not be able to eat it, but he could still have a good time.  Parents can arrange a set price per piece of candy, or make it a math lesson by assigning different values to different types.  The child could spend Halloween night counting his riches.  The next day, he could spend the candy money on something fun.

I overheard this one day at a crosswalk in Washington, DC.   I must admit that I followed the two conversationalists (dads) until I heard the whole tip.  It’s a good one, and I hope it helps someone this year.

The tip is so quick and simple.  I thought the post could use a little more.  Here is History.com’s Bet You Didn’t Know: Halloween.  It’s a well-produced short about the history of the holiday.  I believe it is totally school-appropriate.  Enjoy!

You might enjoy these other Halloween posts at ClassAntics:

New Orleans Halloween: teach a Fall Festival lesson about the culture of New Orleans.  Includes a FREE powerpoint of New Orleans cultural symbols and landmarks, book recommendations, and music tips.

A good way to organize a Halloween Party: learn how to create a party for your whole grade level by setting up a rotation.  Each teacher need only prepare one activity.

Do any of your students opt out of celebrating Halloween or other holidays?  Read how to accommodate that student in a pleasant way in the post Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays.

Make it a theme day with Halloween Math Worksheets.

Write spooky Halloween stories using a sensory word bank

Posted in Food,Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Nov 6, 2017

 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Four—Practical tips and suggestions

MixedUpFilesYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Think about your purse or bag. Some museums won’t let you carry a large bag.  A diaper bag or Mom backpack won’t cut it.  Think about how you’ll carry your wallet and keys.  Maybe you want a small purse that’s easy to carry.  Also, bring some quarters for the locker.  Many museums’ lockers are free these days, but not all.  It’s good to be prepared.
  2. Remember that children have short attention spans.  A teacher’s rule of thumb: a child can focus intently for the same number of minutes as his age in years.  Of course, if you can truly engage the child, he will focus for much longer.  Just keep this in mind for those times when you want to linger over an exhibit, but your child is done quickly.  That’s how kids are.
  3. Hydrate!   Bathroom!  These two go hand-in-hand.  When you feel your energy lag at the museum, it’s time to hydrate.  A nice big glass (or bottle) of water will restore you pretty quickly.  Then hit the bathrooms—or plan to go soon—because you don’t want bathroom emergencies.  I recommend you locate the bathrooms when you first enter the museum so you’re ready for a crisis.
  4. Eat something. Hungry kids are cranky kids.  Eat something filling before you go, and find a snack while you’re there.  Musuem cafes often have tasty offerings.  Some cafes are on the expensive side, but they often have reasonably priced offerings for kids.  If the café isn’t in your budget, bring a snack from home.  Good Old Raisins and Peanuts (GORP) is an easy snack to bring.  Add some M&M’s if you’re feeling generous.  That plus water from the water fountain will get you pretty far.
  5. Take breaks.  Many museums have beautiful grounds or a nice patio.  Take breaks every so often and let the kids run around.  Grab a snack from the café or head to the car to enjoy a brown-bag snack.  In a pinch, get kids away from the exhibits and do a few yoga stretches or simple exercises.
  6. When all else fails, play I Spy. A game of I Spy can keep a child going even if she is not particularly interested in the exhibits.  Alternatively, I Spy might help your child focus on the details.  Sit on the bench in the middle of the gallery.  Ahhh…that feels good!  Now, play I Spy.  Challenge your child (or students) to find the green this or that, an unexpected symbol, an artifact, etc.

 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Three—Learn all you can

NightAtTheMuseum2Yes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Connect the past to the present.  Ask thought-provoking questions.  How do the activities in the painting/exhibit remind you of modern life?  How do the artifacts, tools, and daily-life objects compare to now?  Compare and contrast.  Think about whether the people in the paintings look like someone you know.  You might see some familiar faces!
  2. Start a collection.  Give your child a purpose in attending the museum: adding to a collection.  The collection could be postcards with pictures or reprints of art, magnets, scrapbook pages, facts, whatever.  Kids love to collect, and they love to learn more about their collections.
  3. Make a museum-movie connection.  Watch movies with fun museum scenes or a connection to the historical location.  Some of my favorites are Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features iconic scenes from The Art Institute of Chicago.  Your older kids will love it.  Heist movies are fun, too.  Edgy parents might let their kids think about how a heist might go down at the museum—or how they could prevent one.  Historical fiction movies pair well with historical visits.  For example, watch Felicity – An American Girl Adventure if you’re visiting Colonial Williamsburg.  Parts of the movie were filmed there, and the plot takes place in Williamsburg.
  4. Make a museum-book connection.  Before or after your visit, hit the library, Internet, bookstore, whatever!  Look for books set in museums, like From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or the delightful  Katie’s Picture Showand other picture books about Katie, a girl who can step into paintings. Another idea: read books set in the time of paintings or exhibits you saw.  Your child might develop an interest in a certain location or time period.  Encourage that!
  5. Build a frame of reference.  Many people say, “I know what I like,” but the truth is that we like what we know.  Often kids don’t like museums because they don’t have a clue what they’re seeing.  No clue, no appreciation. Many museum and historical exhibits go over a child’s head unless you build a frame of reference. Here’s a fun, easy technique that educators call K-W-L. (Knows, Wonders or Wants to know, Learned)
      • Find out what your child already knows about the location or topic.  You might be surprised at what your child already knows—or you might uncover misconceptions.
      • Make a list (or just discuss) what your child wonders about the topic.  What does she want to learn?  You can offer some knowledge here, but don’t spill everything, because…
      • After the visit, you will list (or discuss) what your child learned.  Bonus points if you can turn a discussion on what you learned into a discussion about what you now wonder.  After all, learning makes us realize how much there is to know, and how much we don’t know.  Ideally, you can entice your child (or students) to do some research (or just visit the museum website) after the visit.

 


 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Two–Structure your visit

NightAtTheMuseumYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Bring supplies so kids can draw what they see.  (Bonus points if you convince a child to take notes!)  Even preschool children will enjoy sitting down right in the middle of a gallery to draw what they see.  This technique works especially well at art museums, but also enhances visits to historical museums and locations.  Once, at a museum, I chatted with a mom who was calmly enjoying the gallery while her preschool-age children sat silently on the floor and sketched the artwork.  She told me that she created a special bag of art supplies—that the kids are ONLY allowed to use at museums.  She gave each of her preschool-age children their own box of crayons.  (VERY important!)  Each child had her own sketchbook.  You can create a kit like this for less than five dollars, using basic crayons and a spiral notebook.
  2. Take a docent-led tour.  Docents work long and hard to learn about the collection, and they love to share.  Join a docent tour.  Most docents will tailor the tour to the guests, so a tour with well-behaved children will feature highlights that appeal to them.  Docents give fascinating talks, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much your child enjoys the experience.  Encourage your children to behave, perhaps by arranging to take a break right afterward.
  3. Take the audio tour.  Many museums have audio tours.  Some museums provide their own audio equipment; others provide info you can access through your phone.  Some museums offer special kids audio tours, curated for kids’ tastes.  Imagine your child, silently absorbed in an audio tour.  Ahhh, museum bliss!
  4. Encourage children to read the exhibit descriptions.  I’m talking about the plaques and cards many museums use to describe pieces.  Older children can read these on their own. Younger children will enjoy highlights.  Reading the exhibit descriptors GREATLY enhances the educational value of any exhibit.
  5. Use the museum’s resources.  Many museums have special website sections for kids, coloring pages, kids’ tours, activity rooms, orientation films, kids’ audio tours, and kid-friendly plaques describing exhibits.  Take advantage of these resources!
  6. Don’t miss the gift shop.  Museum gift shops have cool merchandise you can’t find elsewhere.  They can be pricey, but there are also bargains.  Postcards of famous artwork are some of the cheapest souvenirs.  Make a big deal out of letting each kid pick 4 or 5 (a dollar’s worth.)  They’ll have fun evaluating the choices and deciding on their favorites.

 


 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part One–Lay the Groundwork

Katie'sPictureShowYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch kids enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Go when it’s free.  Many museums have free times.  Some museums are always free, like the Smithsonian, but others are free for the last hour of the day, or Wednesdays after 3:00 pm, or something.  Also, power companies and major corporations often sponsor free days.  Another option: talk to your school and the local library.  They sometimes have free tickets and passes to local attractions.
  2. Plan your visit.  Begin the planning at home by using the website or at the museum by visiting the information booth.  Ask staff at the information booth for advice on kid-friendly exhibits.  Staff members love to see kids enjoy museums, and they will be happy to help.  Study the museum map and make decisions.  While you’re at it, teach some map-reading skills.  Kids only mildly interested in the actual museum might be very interested in planning your visit and reading the map.  The map and orientation materials might pique your child’s interest in the exhibits—that’s what those materials are designed to do.
  3. Dress for the occasion. I recommend nice clothes and comfortable shoes.  When you and your kids dress for the museum, you convey that the visit is a special occasion.  Well-dressed kids tend to be well-behaved kids—children really will step it up if they’re all decked out.  Kids who love to dress up will be thrilled to have a chance to wear their favorite duds.  Seriously, though, stick to comfortable shoes.  They’re essential!
  4. Talk to your child’s teacher.  You might score some extra credit, a fun project to do during or after the museum visit—who knows?  The teacher might ask your child to tell the class about the visit afterwards, just to raise the museum’s profile and entice other students to learn more.  Your child’s teacher might want to arrange a field trip and will ask for your opinion of the museum.  A side benefit: your child’s teacher will know that you do cultural activities with your family.  Can’t hurt.
  5. Reward and bribe.  Whatever works!  Set standards and goals for good behavior, and reward your child for reaching them.  This doesn’t have to be a setup wherein your child associates museum visits with drudgery.  Set a goal to learn ten things, draw ten things (nicely), take notes, teach someone about what you learned, help a siblings behave and learn—whatever you value.  The reward could be a snack, a souvenir, you name it.

 


 

Beat Summer Math Slide: Rounding Numbers

We all know that visits to the library are an easy way to combat summer reading slide.  Keeping math skills from sliding requires a little more effort.  I’ve taught many grades, and I can say that one skill most students haven’t mastered is ROUNDING!

Every grade I’ve taught has tackled rounding early in the school year.  I think it’s supposed to be quick-and-easy review.  Well, it isn’t.  It’s a math grade killer.

If a National Board Certified Teacher is constantly surprised that kids struggle with rounding, how is a parent supposed to know?  I really don’t see how you would, so this blog post serves as a public service announcement for Rounding Awareness.

Even now, having developed many ways to teach this skill, I still don’t understand what’s so hard about rounding.  I mean, take 53.  Is it closer to 50 or 60?  Closer to 50.  How hard is that?  Very, for most students.  Don’t get them started on rounding 50,453 to the nearest tens place.  They just fall apart.

As a parent, it really helps if you’re mindful of teaching rounding in daily life.

Examples:

  1. This gum costs 63 cents.  Is that closer to 60 or 70 cents?
  2. I want to buy 5 drinks at the fast food restaurant.  They’re each $1.19.  Is $1.19 closer to $1 or $2?  About how much will I spend?
  3. This recipe calls for 1 2/3 cup of flour.  Is that closer to one cup or two?
  4. Look, this movie made $83 million at the box office over the weekend.  What a blockbuster!  Is 83 closer to 80 or 90?
  5. This meal costs $5.85.  Is $5.85 closer to $5 or $6?

A few rounding worksheets would be really helpful.  I recommend you print them from the rounding section on Dad’s Worksheets and/or Math-aids.com.  The worksheets help with something incidental real-world rounding doesn’t address: taking the same number and rounding it to the nearest tens, hundreds or thousands place.  For that skill, it really helps kids to see the number in black and white.

Your child can practice rounding on computer games.  Click here for a site with some fun games.  They are all good; my students love Rounding Sharks.

A visual technique for teaching rounding: The Rounding Hill.  As an example of rounding to the nearest 10,  this diagram shows why you round up when the ones digit is 5 or more.  Many kids think that 5 could go either way because they mistakenly believe 5 is exactly in the middle.  The Rounding Hill shows that there is no middle number, as there are 5 numbers on either side of the hill.  The Rounding Hill really helps most students, and I often see them drawing this diagram on their math tests to serve as a reference point.

Posted in Math,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 24, 2017

 

The New Colossus: Teaching Notes and Vocabulary

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Emma Lazarus’s inspiring poem is engraved on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty.  Many people only know the famous ending, but reading the whole sonnet gives a much deeper meaning.

“The New Colossus” makes a wonderful memorization challenge.  Your students can handle it—my third graders sure did!

The title refers to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Colossus of Rhodes was a huge statue of the titan Helios, constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over Cyprus.

America’s Statue of Liberty is “The New Colossus,” symbolizing welcome, freedom and hope.

I hope you and your students will enjoy my teaching notes and vocabulary handout.  It gives background information and lays the poem and relevant vocabulary words side-by-side.  Having all this information on one sheet will help your students understand and memorize the poem.

Memorization tips:

  1. Give a deadline:  Students will work harder if they have a deadline.  Memorize the poem alongside your students.  Offer a reasonable deadline—I chose two weeks—but you can tell students that if they don’t have it learned by then, they’ll get an extension.
  2. Offer a reward.  My class’s reward was an ice cream sundae.  I expected about five students to take the time to memorize, but 35 students qualified! (Tip: when you’re making that many sundaes, save yourself the trouble of scooping and buy the little ice cream cups.)
  3. Study and analyze the poem:  Students learn and memorize more effectively if they understand the material.  Work as a class to find examples of metaphor and symbolism.
  4. Memorize in sections.  Begin with the most famous lines, “Give me your tired…”  Then, go back to the beginning and memorize in sections.  Practice each section over and over.  Don’t move on until you know that section cold.
  5. Don’t worry about the lines.  Sometimes one thought continues onto another line.  Focus on meaning, not form.
  6. Memorize with your students.  When you undertake to memorize this yourself, you’ll come across tips and tricks to help your students.
  7. Finally, appreciate the poem’s beauty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

You can read about “The New Colossus” at Wikipedia.  Be sure to click and read about the Colossus of Rhodes.  Visit the Statue of Liberty’s official site, as well.

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ May 13, 2017

 

Tips for a Smooth Valentine’s Day Party

Valentine penguinValentine’s Day is a fun, low-key holiday.  The most important thing is the Valentine Cards!  Let your class enjoy handing out Valentines, reading them, and munching on a limited amount of treats.

  1. Buy extra boxes of Valentines for kids who don’t have any.  Sometimes it’s a matter of money, or just a too-busy family life; other times an English Language Learner doesn’t have valentine cards because his parents don’t know about this elementary school tradition.  Parents, an extra set of valentines makes a nice donation to your child’s class.  Teachers, buy extra Valentines at the Dollar Store.  I also buy Valentines at 75% off after the holiday for next year’s supply.
  2. Decorate Valentines bags: Let your students color designs on plain white paper lunch bags.  This is a good way to channel Valentine excitement on the morning of the party.
  3. Learn about Saint Valentine: Why not bring a little history to the day?  Report highlights from Saint Valentine on Wikipedia to your class.  Or read aloud from a book:   Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda is a good choice. (AR Reading Level 5.4; 0.5 points)  With beautiful illustrations and simple text, this is a good Read Aloud for elementary school.
  4. Watch a movie: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown is sure to be a hit!  With all the Chimpunks mania of late, let your class go old-school and watch the animated show, Alvin & the Chipmunks: A Chipmunk Valentine.
  5. Limit the treats: I recommend just one treat–and make it good, like a cupcake.  This way, the focus is on cards and classmates–and nobody gets sugar high.  I ask parents to send in Valentine’s sale treats after the holiday for our Emergency Party Supply.

Teachers: Keep a hefty supply of thank you notes!   I keep them on hand so I am always ready to write a thank you note immmediately.

Posted in Classroom Management,Holidays,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 6, 2017

 

Fun Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s School Days

Students love to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., but his achievements seem inaccessible to them. For kids, Dr. King was a fully-formed civil rights leader who always knew just what to do.

You can inspire children by teaching them about Dr. King’s school days. Then they will understand that he had to face obstacles, study, and learn. Kids feel so powerless sometimes—it’s good to show them that famous people were once children, and that everyone was a beginner at some point.

You and your class would enjoy taking Valerie Strauss’s MLK Quiz: His unorthodox education. Here are some no-context tidbits to get kids interested:

Did you know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …

> Was kicked out of school? (Okay, so it was kindergarten, and it was only because he was too young. Got your attention, though!)

> Was called an underachiever by his college professors?

> skipped two grades?

> thought about studying law or medicine?

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Jan 23, 2017

 

Five tips for summer library “shopping”

Going to the library is like shopping without the buyer’s remorse. Wait, scratch that. The library can still offer buyer’s remorse if you check out too many books, the wrong books, or just plain lose books.

Here are my tips on organizing your library haul.

  1. Keep a dedicated library basket (or bag) in the car and at home. The basket at home is so you don’t lose books. When you’re not reading the book, it goes in the basket. When you’re checking out dozens of books at a time, this becomes important. Keep a basket in the car for already-read books so you can drop them off whenever you’re nearby. If you wait for a scheduled trip to the library, you might end up with overdue books.
  2. Teach your child how to select books. Librarians and teachers try, but it might mean more coming from you. Kids pick the strangest books. My third graders will show me their latest library picks and I’ll say things like,“Have you read the first five books in this series that is two grade levels above yours? No? So why did you pick this?” “This book is about the Russian Revolution. Do you have any interest in that? Then why did you pick it?”“This is a tender coming-of-age story about a girl and her horse. You like Transformers and anything about war. Why did you pick it?”Teach your child to really think about whether there is anything he can relate to—the cover, the title, the author, or the first page. If not, pass. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s for you.
  3. Use the five-finger method. At school, books are labeled with their AR levels. Not true at most public libraries. You can check on ARBookfind.com, or you can just use the five finger method. Encourage your child to read the first page aloud and hold up a finger for each word that’s too hard. If your child finds five too-hard words on the first page, the book is too hard. Put it down.
  4. Ask the librarian for advice. Librarians read more than anyone and they know what kids like. You can trust them to help you choose. Just make sure your child understands that while he doesn’t have to read everything the librarian recommends, he has to read enough so as not to annoy her and make her not want to help him next time.
  5. Feel free to take and check out the display books. Librarians set books out on display, like at a bookstore. You’re allowed to borrow these books. The librarian can always find something new to set out. (Hint: for picture books, sometimes it’s random. I’ve found some cool books by reading the random picture books librarians set out.)
Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 18, 2016

 

Offer a choice of two

I learned the “offer a choice of two” tip from a mom volunteer, who smoothly distributed about 5 flavors of popsicles with all students feeling like they had a choice in the treat they were given.  I realized that offering a choice of 2 has many classroom management applications:

— It speeds up questioning that’s intended to keep the lesson going, not spark deep thought.  “Should we put the apostrophe before or after the s?” instead of “Where should we put the apostrophe?”

— It gives students options without overwhelming them with choices: “Would you like to use markers or crayons?” instead of “What would you like to color with?”

— It offers students a pseudo-choice: “Would you like to calm down and do the activity with us, or refocus in another classroom?” instead of “Shape up or ship out.”  (also a choice of 2, actually)

— It teaches kids to make a decision, then stick with it.  Most decisions in life are not worth over-thinking.  Your mom’s birthday card will look good whether you use red paper or pink.  Just pick one!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 18, 2016

 

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary! D.E.A.R.

bookWhat do Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Otis Spofford, Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse have in common?  They’re celebrating Beverly Cleary’s birthday on April 12th.

April 12th also is National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day.  D.E.A.R. is a reading celebration that encourages families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority.

Beverly Cleary’s beloved character, Ramona Quimby, is the program’s official spokesperson. Ramona is responsible for spreading the word and the love of reading.  All this came about because Beverly Cleary received many letters from readers who participated in D.E.A.R. at their schools, so she gave the same experience to Ramona in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (link to amazon, book and movie).

The goal of National D.E.A.R. Day is to show families how to make time to drop everything and read.  It’s easy to set up and host your own celebration.   The D.E.A.R. website features information and tools to promote your celebration. There’s also a list of Favorite Read-Aloud Titles for Families of D.E.A.R. Readers

Students get really excited about D.E.A.R. in the classroom: have them read any and all books by Beverly Cleary.  My parents read her books when they were in elementary school, and now Beverly Cleary’s books are published in twenty countries in fourteen languages.  Beverly Cleary’s autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet
, fueled my dreams of writing children’s books.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!  Now, I’m off to read!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR) by Corey Green @ Apr 11, 2016

 

How AR levels are determined

argenrechallengeMany schools use the Accelerated Reader Program (AR) to guide students’ independent reading.  In essence, children read books and take a computer based AR quiz to earn points.  Points are based on the reading level of the book and the word length.  Points are awarded based on the quiz score.  A student must earn a passing score to receive points for a quiz.

Your child’s AR level is determined by a test called Star Reading.  This test is part of Renaissance Learning’s suite of programs designed to work in conjunction with AR.  Star Reading is a multiple choice test with a fill in the blank format.   Students read a sentence and choose the word that best fits the blank.  The test is self-adjusting because question difficulty varies based on whether students answer correctly.

In essence, Star Reading is a test of vocabulary.  This is appropriate because vocabulary is an excellent predictor of reading ability.  I have found the Star Reading test to be quite accurate for my students.

Observations and Comments:

  1. Most children do not read at grade level.  This makes sense, because grade level is basically a median.  Half the students are above, half the students are below.  The child’s AR level is usually determined by a statistic called independent reading level, which is the level of books a child can comfortably read on his own.
  2. Sometimes parents want their child to read above the assigned AR level, but this can be a mistake.  Children improve by reading books that are fairly easy for them.  If the child is struggling to read the words, he can’t understand the story.  The child will not improve reading comprehension by practicing like this.
  3. The way to move up in AR levels is to read, read, read!  Encourage your child to read everything available at his or her level.  By doing this, your child will pick up new vocabulary words.  The Star Reading score will rise, as will the AR level.

Connection:  You can also help your child build vocabulary by reading aloud.  Choose books that are above your child’s AR level.  Children can listen at a much higher level than they can read themselves.  Your child will naturally absorb new vocabulary.

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR) by Corey Green @ Mar 7, 2016

 

Teaching Kids to Access Memorized Information

Accessing information you’ve already memorized is
as easy as Z-Y-X!

That’s a catchy way to introduce this tip: teach kids to access memorized information by showing them where to look for it, so to speak. All you need is a backwards alphabet and a buddy!

Here are the Z-Y-X steps:

Z: Ask the child to stand right in front of you and recite the alphabet—backwards.

Y: Watch the child’s eyes as he attempts this task. Note where the child looks.

X: Tell the student that when attempting the task, he looked to his top left (or top right, or whatever you noticed.)

For THIS STUDENT, that is where to look when trying to access memorized information. Everyone is different, so you will need to help each student individually or buddy kids up so the buddy can identify where the partner should look for answers.

Got a test coming up? Try it yourself and you’ll know where to find all the answers!

It’s much more effective than staring into space.

Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 4, 2016