Welcome Back to (School) Work

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Normally this would be a blog post about how we love this time of year. It’s Back to School and our biggest sale of the year.

But seriously. Summer is over, and we already miss it.

As a parent, it’s back to rushed mornings and early tempers.

As a student, it’s back to school.

As an educator, it’s back to work.

This blog is for educators who go beyond their classroom curriculum, looking for content and reading ideas to make their lessons more engaging and fun.

So if you’re an educator reading this post we just want to say, we’re sorry your summer vacation is over, but thank you so much for all that you will be doing this year to help your students read better.

To give you a little kick start, we’re offering a 20% discount on both our SNAP Learning products: Structured Guided Reading and Close Reading Portfolio for two whole weeks (August 18th to August 29th)!

To buy just click here and enter this coupon code: SNAP2SCHOOL to get your 20% off!

CLOSE READING PORTFOLIO

  • Over 105 portfolios written to a specific social studies topic or Next Generation Science Standard
  • Offers a variety of writing forms and genres including both fiction and nonfiction
  • 5-step Teacher Edition Lesson Plan for every Reading Portfolio
  • Reader Tasks and Quick Writes for after reading activities, fluency practice (grades 2-8)

Learn More >

STRUCTURE GUIDED READING

  • 130 books in K-8 content covering history, science, and language arts
  • Built-in fluency, comprehension, and multiple choice assessments
  • Touch and view glossary for complex words, voice over directions and trackable assessments
  • Works on iPads, Android tablets, interactive whiteboards, or the web!

Learn More >

Just click here and enter this coupon code: SNAP2SCHOOL to get your 20% off!

Wishing you and your students another great reading year!

Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

This Reading Mama lists 5 simple ways to improve reading comprehension and  her experience in using SNAP Learning to meet comprehension goals.

For children who struggle as readers (and even for those who don’t), comprehension is a big deal. And it starts from the very beginning. Before kids even open the book, we need to encourage them to think about what they are going to read. We can ask them to read the title or look at the cover, maybe even the Table of Contents. What is the topic? What do they already know about the topic? What do they think will happen in the story, based off what they know?

Using background knowledge is also vital as the child reads the text. What would I do in that situation? Has that happened to me before? I remember the time that… These thought patterns rely on what the child already knows to help them comprehend and make sense of the text.

Read the full post here

Why Technology Can Make all the Difference To Improving Reading

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Today I bought a simple learning device for a young learner (aged 4). He comes from a family background which does not speak English, much less read and write it. They support and encourage his learning, but are unable to instruct or correct him and are dependent on him paying attention to what is taught in the class. His grandmother spoke to me about listening to him read, so that I would be able to tell if he was reading right or not.

The device was a very simple digital book reader, which on touching various pictures on the screen would give the English word for the letter or word. In addition to the ABCs, the book had pages for animals, vegetables, fruits, common ABC words (Like A for Apple, B for Ball, etc.)  numbers, and counting. This was pretty much similar to the content that was being covered in his Kindergarten school.

For ESL teachers and students, technology can be a real boon to reading and writing. Here are some of the ways in which today’s devices, learning technologies and ebooks can help early readers:

LEARNING THROUGH IMITATION

Listening to the correct pronunciation is important when learning how to read. We learn languages by imitating how others speak. Students need to hear the correct pronunciation of a word, and usage of a phrase or sentence to be able to connect this puzzle within the broader context of language..

Phonetic Assistance: Technology today provides students with a wide range of tools that can help them listen to how a word or phrase is said. Technologies like audio references, such as read aloud books (that highlight the words being read), or audio dictionaries that enable students to look up words for meaning, pronunciation and usage help students get immediate feedback.

Reading Fluency: Constant reading practice is what makes readers fluent. In order to improve fluency, students need access to reading material and be able to read aloud without error or missteps. Additionally fluency is measured by correct pause and emphasis in the reading. This comes from listening to how experienced readers read long passages.

Read along digital books with the flexibility to replay text at the paragraph, sentence and word level, can help encourage self-learning amongst students who require frequent assistance. Another tool would be a digital recorder that allows a student to record their own reading practice for an adult or teacher to later listen and review.

LEARNING THROUGH FEEDBACK

While learning to read, the importance of immediate feedback is critical. Especially a teacher with a number of is unable to give enough focused attention on each and every student, technology can help support those learning moments in the following ways:

Comprehension: Embedded tools which enable a student to know and learn the meaning and usage of a word such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, etc., all help provide quick access at the time when the student is actively seeking information.

Usage: Exercises and activities which require the student to drag and drop words, match words with meaning, etc., can all serve to provide feedback to the student. Incorrect answers followed with correct answers and reference to reading material can all serve to reinforce learning and provide feedback to teachers on which aspects of reading require more attention.

LEARNING THROUGH GAMES

Vocabulary: A critical component to good literacy is a measure of the vocabulary a student has. This is defined by word lists. Assuming young learners have sets of word lists which they need to know to master the reading level, an excellent way to help them learn these words is through repetition. Repetition in the form of flash cards and gaming activities can help children familiarize themselves with words while competing for high scores or badges.

Word Recognition: Games like flashcards, crosswords, hangman can help a student recognize new words and reinforce meaning. When these games and interactive exercises are used in coordination with a digital reading program, they can help bring valuable attention to specific words from a grade level list.

Comprehension: Inference exercises, summaries and questions are all ways educators determine the comprehension levels of student. Interactive exercises such as fill-in-the-blanks, word maps, choosing the correct central idea in a para, etc., all serve as indicators of comprehension.

Report: Teachers Want More Time, Resources To Prepare for Common Core

Excerpt from David Nigel of THE Journal:

While more teachers today feel confident about their ability to teach Common Core State Standards, more than three-quarters of them reported they need more time to find teaching materials and develop lesson plans, according to a new survey of more than 20,000 teachers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Scholastic.

The report, Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, conducted by Harrison Group in July 2013 among 20,157 teachers nationwide, is generally favorable toward Common Core standards and other Gates Foundation priorities, such as teacher evaluations.
The report found that, despite an increased sense of preparedness from teachers (with 75 percent of teachers feeling “increasingly prepared to teach the Common Core” compared with 59 percent in 2011), 76 percent of teachers said they “require additional planning time, with a similar number pointing to a need for quality CCSS-based professional development (71 percent). Two in three (67 percent) teachers need guidance and ideas for teaching in an inquiry-based way and about six in 10 need CCSS-aligned curricula (63 percent) and more information on the content of the CCSS-aligned assessments that are being developed (59 percent),” according to the report.