Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reading and Writing Strategies

I decided to expand on last week’s Read Across America column by featuring a few more resources from Reading Rockets. The Reading Rockets project is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship PBS television and radio station in Washington, DC. The project is comprised of PBS television programs, available on videotape and DVD; online services, including the Websites and; and professional development opportunities.

Elkonin Boxes
Subjects: Reading, Spelling
Grade: K-3

A few years ago, I was convinced that my kindergartner was a genius when I saw him sounding out words and drawing squares around each syllable of words he had written. How innovative! Well, while perhaps not a genius (he’s still pretty smart), I now know that he was practicing a strategy he’d learned in school. Elkonin boxes are squares drawn on paper or a chalkboard, with one box for each syllable of a word. Elkonin boxes help teach phonemic awareness by having kids listen for individual sounds in a word, and then marking where they hear each sound in its respective box. Each box, therefore, contains one specific sound, or phoneme. This classroom strategy explains how to create an Elkonin box, as well as providing blank templates and a list of suggested children’s books for students to use with their boxes. Additional ideas and adaptations are also provided for Spanish-speaking and other ELL students.

Writing Contest: The Exquisite Prompt
Subjects: Reading, Writing
Grade: K-12

The Exquisite Prompt is a series of monthly writing challenges designed as a classroom activity for K-12 students. Each month, writing prompts are presented by two famous authors for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The prompts can be used exclusively in the classroom, or students can submit their writing for a chance to win prizes. Kids (and teachers!) can also view The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, an ongoing serial written and illustrated by notable authors and artists. As of this writing, 12 chapters have been published, with contributions from authors such as Lemony Snicket, Kate DiCamillo, Jon Scieszka, and others. I love the creativity of this resource – and the fun of tagging along on a rollicking adventure story as it unfolds.

Author Study Toolkit
Subjects: English, Language Arts
Grade: K-12

This toolkit offers a series of resources to help students critically examine an author’s life and published writing. The kit provides tips on how to conduct an author study, research authors, ideas for supporting projects, and more. One of the things that I like about this resource is that it provides a comprehensive plan for a complete author study, from how teachers can create author study centers in their classrooms, to print and online bibliographies for additional research help. I also like that the toolkit truly is appropriate for the entire K-12 range, with suggested activities and projects aimed at different age groups. The ability to evaluate and discuss an author’s characters, themes, and writing style is not only essential preparation for higher levels of education, but is also an important component to appreciating – and loving – good literature at all levels.

~Joann's Picks~

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