This week I am turning my blog temporarily over to a guest blogger. Before I do, I want to remind everyone that writing is reading. The act of writing and revising requires reading and thinking. What a great way to grow your literacy! Blogging can be one way to allow kids to practice their literacy, and it is fun too! I have included a website that is helpful if you are going to blog with your child: http://www.blog-connection.com/blogs-kids.htm
So, with no further ado, here is my guest blogger.
I’m Laura’s daughter, Abby. I am 9 years old. I’m in third grade. I recommend you go to MY blog, crazycat101. The blog address is: http://catcrazy101.wordpress.com/
My blog is about cats and all the funny stuff they do. Leave a comment or follow me and tell me if your cat does anything funny or weird. Sometimes I will post about other stuff too so please check it out!
Just when you thought all the reasons to read were on the table, here come some more! The feast of reading includes acquiring grammar, vocabulary and strong writing skills. As a matter of fact, according to decades of research, we gain the majority of our vocabulary knowledge and grammar skills through the act of reading and not by worksheets, dictionaries or sentence creations with random vocabulary words. This is busy work that does not ‘stick’ and is soon lost after it is practiced.
Reading is biology, much like how we acquired our language skills. It is the act of immersing someone in another language when they begin to acquire it. The same is true for reading and literacy. Students who read a lot are typically better at grammar use, creative writing, have larger vocabularies and therefore can comprehend what they read in an easier fashion. Reading trumps worksheets and rote drill work any day. If you have school age children, k-12, make sure the teacher is giving your child the time to read EVERY DAY in class. This is critical in practicing their direct instruction from that day. It then goes without saying those same students should have the opportunity to read something of their choice at home EVERY NIGHT.
Consider a reading resolution for this year! I might suggest to you to make reading nonfiction to/with your children a priority. By nonfiction here I mean an informational text that might be on a specific topic such as dinosaurs, pets, Mexico (the list is endless).
Astro the Steller Sea Lion / Sylvan Dell Publishing on BeThereBedtimeStories.com
Chances are teachers in your child’s school have shifted to make sure your child is reading more nonfiction due to the fact that it is part of the Common Core State Standards to make students College and Career Ready. Think about it. How much literature do you read on your job or in college? On the other hand, how much informational text (nonfiction) is required of us in our jobs or in our college classrooms? While reading and reflecting on good literature is an important part of a reading diet, nonfiction has been neglected for too long, especially in our primary grades. So this year when you snuggle up with your child to share in a good book, pick a nonfiction text that may be of interest to your youngster!
Anyone get a fluency reading score coming home from school for their school-age child recently? You may have recently received a report that gives a single number which represents the number of words your child read in one minute. Anyone wondering why we are timing our students to see how many words they can read in one minute?
I have very mixed feelings about these fluency scores and the message they send to our students. After all, why would we want to teach our kids to read as fast as they can? This flies in the face of everything I know as a reading specialist. However, there are a two redeeming things about these fluency scores. The first is they are quick and easy to give. Schools are desperately looking for data these days to drive instruction, and when you are talking about giving assessments to hundreds of kids multiple times a year, it gets complicated. The second reason is that research shows that a fluency score is one (albeit ONLY one), indicator of future success as a reader.
I have sat and given hundreds of these assessments for the past couple years and here is one thing I know. There are students that have beautiful command of the text, with perfect tone and pace that sound much better than students who race through the text meaninglessly and end up with a higher fluency score. I just wish they wouldn’t call it a fluency score. Speed is only one small part of fluency and that message is unfortunately lost on many students who are simple being asked to read fast.
By the way, how do you improve your child’s fluency? Two simple things. Have them read often and make time to read aloud TO them to give them that model of fluency. Time for bedtime story!
Have you ever said anything remotely like this, “If you continue to do —–, then you will have to go read in your room.”
As a classroom teacher who wants to make learning an enjoyable experience, I pledged long ago to never put the words “have to” in front of “reading” or “writing”. Don’t create the illusion that they are punishments. Instead, put the words “get to” in front of ‘reading’ or ‘writing’. Consider promising a reward of reading such as “if you get ——-done now, we can go read together” or “I will read to you whatever you like”.
Ahhh, summer vacation is here and my good friend and neighbor suggested something brilliantly simple (which are my favorite kind of brilliant ideas). She is reading every morning during summer break with her daughter for 30 minutes. They each read what they like but they do it together. She calls it a reading club. She then invited my two daughters and me to join them periodically to briefly talk about what they are reading, report on if they are enjoying it and why. Then we just read together. Silently, but together.
This can help to accomplishes so many reading goals I can’t even name them all, but let me just mention two biggies.
First of all it gets kids to realize that reading can be a social activity. For many kids it puts an extra incentive to read because they look forward to discussing what they are reading with friends. Hmmm, this sounds remarkably how I came to be a reader myself in my mid twenties. Can you say ‘book club’? That is what drew me to reading. It was not sitting at a desk in a classroom filling out answer sheets about what I just read. That much I know is true.
The Second goal this little summer book club accomplishes is that it gets kids to begin thinking critically about what they read. I happen to know that this is a strand of the new Common Core Reading Standards that the majority of states in our nation are being asked to teach to. This particular strand begins in Kindergarten and goes up through High School. In a nutshell, the standard asks that students to “compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the name of the book and state an opinion or preference about the book.” Again, they begin this in kindergarten!
So there you have it. A simple, cheap, brilliantly social activity to do this summer with your children of any reading age!