To engage struggling readers, we need to provide interesting content written at their level. Unfortunately, most articles in the mainstream news don’t meet these criteria. Does this mean struggling readers won’t be able to read about current events? Not anymore.
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles
Launched this past June, Newsela is a website that rewrites major news articles at five different levels of text complexity, allowing readers of various abilities to understand and enjoy the content. The Newsela team selects two articles per day, usually one feature story and one breaking news article, and rewrites them in different ways for students in grades 3 – 12.
Teachers are pleased at how well Newsela aligns with Common Core standards for literacy. As the creators assert, “Newsela develops nonfiction fluency and critical-thinking skills necessary to master the Common Core standards for informational text.” Articles include a quiz designed to promote text analysis, and the website platform allows teachers to track student progress over time.
Check out the Newsela website for more information, articles, and details on how to register your classroom. We’d love to hear how you intend to use this great resource.
Do you know of other resources that align well with the Common Core standards for literacy? Leave a comment below, or send an email to email@example.com to let us know your favorites.
Happy Holidays, RN Bookmark readers! We work with the very best educators around. Thank you for your continued partnership throughout the years. Whatever you celebrate, we hope you are able to relax and enjoy this wonderful time of year with your loved ones.
RN Bookmark will return in the New Year.
Also, please note that our office will be closed December 24 – January 1. We will resume normal business hours on Thursday, January 2.
I am lucky to participate in Minnesota’s Early Childhood Family Education program with my two children. At the beginning of our weekly class, each parent shares a joy. The purpose of this ritual is to build a culture of gratitude, even on days when our job feels thankless. After recovering from the stomach bug, we’re thankful for health. When it’s brutally cold outside, we’re thankful for a warm place to gather. Our kids keep us up all night, but we’re thankful for their smiles.
This simple exercise is more meaningful than it may seem. Scholars assert that if we learn to foster gratitude instead of cynicism, our whole culture can change. Think of the ways in which this idea could transform your school. Teachers and administrators who feel appreciated will in turn be more appreciative. A student who is thanked is more inclined to participate. Gratitude grows within the school walls and extends beyond as children learn the value of being thankful. It’s completely achievable—and surprisingly easy.
A recent Edutopia newsletter contained a series of articles on promoting gratitude in our schools. This article offers many ideas for incorporating gratitude into your day. This one is about how gratitude builds character and health. And this article discusses gratitude as an antidote to the cynicism you may experience from those around you.
As individuals, we may underestimate our ability to change the culture. Let’s start with gratitude and see what happens. We at Read Naturally are certainly grateful for you and the important work you do. In case you don’t hear it enough: Thank you!
I regularly read the Barnes & Noble book blog, often as one of many sources of book recommendations to add to my Good Reads reading lists. Last month, this blog had a post entitled, “Shocking Poll Results That Might Make Book Nerds Everywhere Cry.” And I was shocked by some of the numbers, maybe because reading is one my very favorite activities, or maybe because I happen to be surrounded by people who love reading as much as I do.
Many of you who work with struggling readers will probably be less shocked by these numbers. For instance, of the 1,000 Americans polled, “28% of respondents admitted to not reading a book of any kind in the past year.” Not even one book! The full results of the YouGov/Huffington Post survey can be found here.
Now, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but a sense of apathy toward reading will have dire consequences for the country. A lack of literacy skills can negatively impact a life in many, many ways. In fact, the Washington Post printed an article explaining that, “U.S. adults lag most countries in literacy, math, and computer skills.” The article discusses a survey of 5,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 16 and 65.
Are you shocked by either of these polls? How do you encourage your students to find a lifelong love of reading? How can we promote literacy in a way that keeps our country competitive with other nations?
Congratulations to Star Student Isaac E. from Springdale, AR! Isaac is a seventh-grade student at J.O. Kelly Middle School. Isaac’s teacher, Nicole Breaux, had this to say about him:
In my opinion, Isaac should be chosen as a Read Naturally Star of the Month for his dedication to improving his reading skills, his ability to overcome learning obstacles, and for his new-found passion for reading. Isaac has been in my reading class for two years now. He is constantly reading and has worked hard to improve his reading ability. He has overcome obstacles to develop his reading skills. Isaac offers assistance to classmates without being asked. He is truly developing life-long reading skills and a love of reading.
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.
Photo courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stockimages.
What are the most effective ways to teach words and word learning? This edutopia article offers 11 strategies for teaching vocabulary effectively and in accordance with the Common Core State Standards. We were pleased to see that many of the suggestions in the article are incorporated into our popular Take Aim at Vocabulary program. Years of extensive research, carefully developed content, and thorough field-testing went into making Take Aim the highly successful tool it is. We believe Take Aim is the best product on the market for developing vocabulary in the critical middle grades, and Take Aim users agree. Here’s why:
- Take Aim presents word-learning strategies, such as using context clues, analyzing word parts, and connecting words to personal experience, in a focused lesson design. These concepts are taught in engaging ways and are continually reinforced, allowing students to internalize the skills and strategies necessary for independently learning unknown words.
- Each level of Take Aim teaches hundreds of carefully researched target words. These high-quality words are academic words as well as words students will encounter with frequency as texts increase in difficulty.
- Each target word is explicitly taught in the context of a high-interest, nonfiction story. Students are eager to learn the words as they engage with the content. To provide reinforcement and additional context, target words also appear in stories in which they’re not explicitly taught.
- Research-based activities provide repeated exposure to target words and develop students’ ability to independently determine word meanings.
- Take Aim develops word consciousness: the awareness of and interest in words and their meanings. Developing word consciousness helps students gain greater awareness of vocabulary and language (so they begin to “own” the words) and increases their motivation, interest, and enjoyment of reading.
- Take Aim is easily adapted for use with different populations: students meeting grade-level standards, students struggling with reading comprehension, and students who are below benchmark in vocabulary.
- Take Aim is available for use with individual students (students work mostly independently) as well as in a group format in which the teacher offers instruction to a small group of students before they complete tasks independently.
- Words and strategies taught in Take Aim align with the Common Core State Standards’ recommendations for teaching vocabulary.
- And much more!
A robust vocabulary and strong vocabulary-building skills are critical to reading achievement and academic success. Give your students the greatest chance to succeed by using a research-based program that’s proven to deliver remarkable results. Learn more about Take Aim here, or contact our office at 800-788-4085 to discuss your needs.
As we enter the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States, we take time to reflect on our relationship with educators. We are thankful that you continue to experience success using our programs with your students. We hope you have a joyous holiday with your loved ones.