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Raise your hand if you've ever heard a child joyfully declare, "X is for Xylophone!"?

Welcome to the home stretch! For most schools across the nation, winter break is just a couple days away. We hope your students’ time at home will allow them to get lost in the pages of a book beneath a cozy blanket. Last week’s blog post offers several free activities and ideas to help your students boost their literacy skills at home. Before you send them on their way, we want to reiterate the importance of just one: Reading aloud.

Regardless of where kids are on their reading journey, there are countless ways to incorporate reading into cozy days at home this winter. Here are some easy ideas for kids to try at home or for teachers to incorporate into the classroom. The free printables in this post will also make a great packet to send home over winter break!

In the literacy education landscape, one-minute timings often find themselves at the center of discussion—and sometimes misconception.  

Critics argue that these timings only foster stress and promote speed reading. It’s true that one-minute timings, when introduced without proper framing, can indeed lead to stress or a misguided emphasis on speed. But that isn’t the whole truth. When used in an appropriate way, one-minute timings can be a highly useful tool. 

Claire Ihnot Hayes is an Educational Consultant for Read Naturally who meets with educators nationwide to train them in Read Naturally programs. One of the most frequent questions Claire receives from educators is, “How can I adapt Read Naturally programs to meet the various needs of my students?” Older students, younger students, and ELL students have different needs and thus require different adjustments. We recently sat down with Claire to document her favorite tips for adapting Read Naturally Live to optimize success for a diverse body of students. These tips work for Encore students as well.

We've arrived at the season of giving thanks--but shouldn't that be every season? Research shows that grateful people are happier and healthier. Here are 13 easy ways to cultivate gratitude in your classroom all year long. Click on the links to download free printables!

Last year, we asked you to share feedback about what makes parent-teacher conferences successful. Thank you to all the teachers and parents who responded! Here is a compilation of the advice we received--the list includes everything from how to provide parents flexibility in scheduling to why it's important to have a variety of jelly bean flavors. Please read and enjoy this timeless advice!

Every year around this time, we like to remind teachers of the importance of checking their students’ initial Read Naturally placement. After the student completes three to six stories, you have more specific data about how they are performing in both fluency and comprehension. This is the point at which you should check initial placement to see whether adjustments to the initial level and goal are needed. 

We recently rolled out one of our most exciting Read Live innovations to date: Independent Placement! This feature allows newly enrolled Read Live students to complete the placement process independently--saving teachers valuable time! Independent Placement uses speech recognition technology to analyze students' fluency as they read placement stories. Based on this data, the program assigns students an appropriate level and goal so they can begin working in Read Live as efficiently as possible. If you intend to take advantage of this amazing new feature, here are some tips:

Most parents of toddlers don’t understand how their children learn to read; when I sat and read to my children, I took for granted that they would someday magically be able to read on their own. It wasn’t until I began teaching struggling readers that I appreciated how complex and challenging learning to read is for many students. Many of my students got stuck reading individual words, and they became frustrated with reading. These students—and many students in our schools today—benefit from direct, explicit instruction in pairing letters and letter combinations with sounds, also known as phonics. Becoming automatic in reading individual words frees up the mental energy necessary for readers to make sense of texts. And, since 87% of English words are either completely decodable or have just one exception, teaching beginning readers to decode automatically gives them a large bank of known words.

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

pointer Submit a Star-of-the-Month entry

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