Parent-teacher conferences. They’re as much a part of October as falling leaves, football games, and pumpkin-spiced treats. How will you prepare for this important autumn ritual? As you know, the better you prepare, the better the outcome.
The web is full of tools to help you organize. This edutopia article is a wonderful compilation of some of the best resources on this topic. Are you a new teacher conducting your first round of conferences? Do you need a tip sheet for Spanish-speaking parents? Are you a parent wondering which questions to ask? No matter what your situation, chances are you’ll find some helpful information in the article.
Strengthening the partnership between the school and the home has incredible benefits, especially for students. As you embark on your most productive conference season yet, please let us know if the Read Naturally team can assist you in any way. Get in touch at email@example.com or 800.788.4085.
Congratulations to Star Student Derek M. from Sparta, WI! Derek is a sixth-grade student at Meadowview Intermediate School. Derek’s teacher, Becky Veenstra, had this to say about him:
I have been using the Read Naturally program for over ten years. I would like to nominate Derek as a star student for his efforts on working on his reading over the summer. Derek used the Read Naturally SE program during most of his fourth grade year. This summer, Derek agreed to work on the One Minute Reader iPad app as a way to practice his reading over the summer. Each week Derek emailed his teacher two summaries from stories he completed. Derek is a kind, polite and hard-working student. He also enjoys his time outdoors, which made his dedication to his reading over the summer more remarkable. In addition, Derek is fortunate to have a dedicated mom who is always willing to go above and beyond for her kids. She monitored and motivated Derek to keep reading and meet his deadlines throughout the summer. Hard work and dedication like this are what makes teaching rewarding and motivates me to inspire and encourage other students like Derek.
The Read Naturally Star of the Month program is designed to celebrate students who work hard to improve their reading skills. Each month, we select one student to feature in our newsletter. The selected student will win a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card, and the school or teacher who nominated the student will receive a $200 gift certificate for Read Naturally materials.
If you entered the drawing and your student did not win this month, he or she will remain in the selection pool for future months!
To nominate your deserving student, visit the entry form.
The One Minute Reader iPad App has been out since January, and we’ve received fantastic feedback from parents, teachers, and students. The app has even been recognized as a Top App for 2013 by Creative Child Magazine.
A few months ago, we asked the good people at Mosaic Reviews, a dedicated group of home school educators, to evaluate the One Minute Reader app. Nineteen of their members offered to try it out and to share their experiences. Here are quotes from two of the reviewers:
“This program has definitely helped her read more fluently and built her confidence. It also has worked with her vocabulary and comprehension!”
–Jen from Home is Where They Send Us
“She had a lot of fun seeing her scored times and trying to beat them and, because she adores crosswords and is a vocab whiz, the end of each story was like a big reward for her. I have definitely seen improvement in her fluency since she started using the app and I look forward to continuing through all of the levels.”
–Jessica from That Odd Mom
Links to all 19 reviews are available here. We really appreciate the folks at Mosaic Reviews for taking the time to try the One Minute Reader iPad App and provide such thoughtful feedback.
If you haven’t tried it yet, please download the free app today!
Fall conference season is in full swing! We will be exhibiting at the Closing the Gap Conference in Minneapolis, MN from October 9 – 11, 2013. This organization brings together professionals and parents who use technology with persons with disabilities.
If you plan to attend, be sure to visit us at booth #607 to enter a raffle for free curriculum. We’d love to meet you!
Each school year, I volunteer as an eMentor through the in2Books program. For those unfamiliar with the program, I have a reading pen pal. We read the same book, and then write back and forth about what we learned, important themes, what we liked/didn’t like, etc. In addition to meeting a fun new student every year, I enjoy reading the books they select. The books from the Magic Tree House series are always popular, and I can understand why. Reading stories of adventure placed during real historical events brings history to life.
The folks at Magic Tree House just launched “Reading Buddies Week”, scheduled for October 12-19. The idea is to pair “a younger reader with an older, more experienced reader to meet on a regular basis … Magic Tree House Reading Buddies Week is a great time to kick of these partnerships, which are meant to run for an extended period of time and foster a love of reading.” Sounds like a good way to implement some additional teacher modeling, which we all know is an important part of improving reading fluency. The website offers tips on getting a program started, some activities that can be used with books in the Magic Tree House Series, and more.
Does your school have a reading mentor program in place? If so, how did you get started?
When I was in school, movies were used as a special treat or reward for good behavior. Occasionally, they were used to supplement a subject we were learning (think “Conjunction Junction” on School House Rock). But can film be used more regularly and in a truly meaningful way to help drive home a point or encourage discussion?
Last year, around the time of the Oscars, The New York Times published an article on their blog titled, “Teaching History with Film: ‘Lincoln’, ‘Argo’, and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’”. They suggested that films like these, “invite viewers to look at history, either through the lens of the distant past (as in the case of “Lincoln”) or through recent events (like “Zero Dark Thirty”), and to question the degree of truth and fiction at work in the retelling of these events.”
A more recent article published by Education Week discusses how film can be used to encourage critical thinking. The article, “Teachers Look to Film to Foster Critical Thinking”, includes many links to resources that give ideas on how to include film studies into your curriculum.
Edudemic, a group dedicated to connecting education and technology, has a list of “23 Great Sources for Free Educational Videos Online“.
Do you use film as a teaching mechanism in your classroom? If so, what are some of your favorites and how do you use them to encourage critical thinking?
An annual tradition since 1982, Banned Books Week celebrates the “Freedom to Read”. This year’s celebration will take place September 22 – 28, with celebrations in many states. Groups across the United States, “draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books …”
Since the launch in 1982, more than 11, 300 books have been challenged. The movement’s website has a list of the 10 most challenged titles of 2012, including:
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
One interesting resource on the site lists “Banned Books That Shaped America” that were displayed in an exhibit created by the Library of Congress. Most of those listed are now considered classics, including:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, 1884
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison, 1987
- Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, 1961
- Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936
If you are interested in discussing this movement with your students, the website has pages of resources you can use including a video page, ways to participate in a Virtual Read-Out, and more.