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Tara Rodriquez

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Congratulations to This Year's Teacher Leader Scholarship Recipient!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 22, 2017 4:34:23 PM

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We at Hameray Publishing are pleased to announce the recipient of this year's Hameray Publishing Group/Yuen Family Foundation Reading Recovery Teacher Leader Training Scholarship: Erin Nock of Farmington Public Schools. Erin will be attending the University of Connecticut, where she will study how to best help young struggling readers. Her scholarship includes $15,000, plus $1,000 worth of books to be used as tools with her students.

From the Reading Recovery Council of North America:

Erin brings 17 years of teaching experience to her training, with 11 in Reading Recovery. She is an active advocate for Reading Recovery and plans to be an accessible teacher leader who will train new teachers and support and expand the program. Farmington Public Schools has implemented Reading Recovery for 24 years. In 2017-18, 2,874 students were enrolled in K-8, with 440 students qualifying for free and reduced lunch.

The Reading Recovery Council of North America (RRCNA) is a not-for-profit association of Reading Recovery professionals and partners. The Council provides a network of professional development opportunities and is an advocate for Reading Recovery in the United States and Canada.

More than 2.3 million struggling first-grade readers and writers in North America have benefitted from the one-to-one teaching expertise of Reading Recovery professionals. The intervention, introduced to North America in 1984 by educators at The Ohio State University, has more research proving its effectiveness than any other beginning reading program.

From 2009 to 2017, the Hameray/Yuen Family Foundation has donated $245,000 in scholarships funds and $18,000 for recipients to purchase learning materials for the training of 18 Teacher Leaders, of which Erin is only the latest. Since their training, the preceding 17 Teacher Leaders have trained over 1,750 teachers (Reading Recovery, Literacy Coaches, and classroom teachers), and, together with the teachers they have trained, they have impacted over 18,330 students.

Three of these Teacher Leaders are also involved with Dual Language Learners programs. One teaches in a major Reading Recovery district in Canada. Four are no longer involved in Reading Recovery but have moved on to be reading interventionists or occupy similar positions where they are still of great help to teachers and students.

Want to learn more about Reading Recovery? Visit the website for the Reading Recovery Council of North America!

If you wish to apply for the 2018/2019 Teacher Leader Scholarship, you can send us an e-mail at info@hameraypublishing.com, and we will put you on a list to send information when next year's scholarships are announced.

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Topics: Yuen Family Foundation Scholarship

Dr. Richard Gentry Explains Why Students Can't Write

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 16, 2017 4:29:43 PM


Dr. Richard Gentry, "America's Spelling Guru" and one of the authors of the new professional book Kid Writing in the 21st Century, shared a blog post on Psychology Today yesterday explaining why students can't write, what to do about it, and how to use this great new tool to accomplish more in the classrom than you may have imagined possible. Here's an excerpt from his post:

Kid_Writing_Book_250.jpgSo what do educators need?

We need to be child-centered in the context of meeting kids where they are functioning—when they enter kindergarten. We need to motivate children as writers. It’s crucial to teach basic skills like spelling and handwriting explicitly. Children need a dictionary of academic words in their brains that they can retrieve for writing. Children have to listen to or read poetry as well as good fiction and nonfiction literature to feed their brains as writers. Writers have to have academic vocabularies and deep knowledge for thinking. And vocabulary and background knowledge have to be taught—especially for children in low-income neighborhoods and for English Language Learners who don’t grow up in an English language-rich environment.

To accomplish these curricular objectives teachers need proven, evidence-based practices that have grown from both progressive education and basic skills movements.

The not-so-new wakeup call exposes an important education policy problem on which all educators see eye to eye: “The root of the problem, educators agree, is that teachers have little training in how to teach writing and are often weak or unconfident writers themselves.” (Goldstein, p. 8) The problem—lack of preparation for teaching writing at their grade levels and lack of “knowing how to get started”—is evidence-based and reported by educators in both approaches' camps, with multiple studies showing that (1) how to teach writing isn’t taught in teacher preparation programs and (2) teachers in both camps report lack of confidence.

The Goldsteinaug article poses the question: “Could there be a better, less soul-crushing way to enforce the basics?” For kindergarten and first grade teachers or anyone working with beginning literacy, the answer is “Yes, there is a way.”

Want to know more? You can read the rest of Dr. Gentry's Psychology Today post by clicking here.




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Topics: Kindergarten, Teaching Writing, First Grade, Kid Writing, J. Richard Gentry

5 Research-Based Practices for Kindergarten and First Grade

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 5, 2017 3:35:57 PM

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Kid Writing in the 21st Century authors Richard Gentry, Eileen Feldgus, and Isabell Cardonick have been featured in a guest post over on the Psychology Today blog. The post details some of the research-based, classroom-tested practices and strategies that have been shown to help kids learn to write. Here's an excerpt from the post:

1.  Use invented spelling. We found invented spelling to be joyful, motivational for our students, and wonderful in terms of providing opportunities for scaffolding and systematically teaching almost all important aspects of the kindergarten literacy curriculum including phonics, phonemic awareness, knowledge of the alphabet, writing conventions, and vocabulary development. But perhaps the most amazing discovery throughout our journey was that kids had remarkable capacities to make meaning if we supported them in the process and allowed their creative juices to flow.

2. Abandon teaching letter of the week. Teaching one letter per week was standard practice in kindergarten when we began teaching. We tried our best to jazz up our teaching of the alphabetic principle because we knew it was essential to breaking the code and reading.

3.  Use a developmental writing scale to monitor progress. Even before we published the first book on Kid Writing, we were collaborating with Richard Gentry on how to use a developmental spelling/writing assessment along with a developmental rubric to show how young children’s progression through five phases of developmental spelling revealed—among other things—the individual child’s understanding of phonics and his or her invented spellings as evidence of what the child knew or did not know.

4.  Let go of worksheets! We found that teaching and learning in our classrooms improved when we abandoned worksheets.

5. Teach children to stretch though a word with a moving target. Our stretching through technique helped kids move from l for lady in Phase 2 to lad in Phase 3 to ladee in syllable chunks in Phase 4, on the way to conventional lady. The stretching through technique met kids where they were and supported them in moving to higher levels of spelling sophistication from phase to phase.

(read more)

The book Kid Writing in the 21st Century explains in great detail how to most effectively implement these practices and strategies. It includes reproducibles and a strategy guide to make adopting this process in your classroom quite simple.


For more information on the book, click the image below to view or download a brochure.

Kid Writing in the 21st Century Brochure


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Topics: Kindergarten, First Grade, Kid Writing, J. Richard Gentry, Eileen Feldgus, Isabell Cardonick

Joy Cowley Contest Winner!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Mar 1, 2017 3:15:00 PM


We have our contest winner! Is it you? Click here to find out who won the grand prize!


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Topics: Contests

Introducing NEW Activity Videos!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jan 4, 2017 4:34:41 PM

We have something brand new for you here at the Hameray Literacy Blog! We've made follow-along videos for the classroom activities in some of our most popular blog posts. We're posting just a taste-testing today so you can see what they are like, but there will be more to come.

Gingerbread Kids Writing Activity

 See the whole blog post by Laureen and get the free download featured in the post by clicking the link below:

Using Gingerbread Cookies to Teach Writing—with FREE Download!


Color Words Worksheet Activity

See the whole blog post by Laureen and get the free download featured in the post by clicking the link below:

A Color Words Activity—with FREE Download!

Do you have a favorite activity from our blog that you'd like turned into a classroom-friendly video? Weigh in below and let us know! Want to see the newest videos as soon as they come out? Subscribe to this blog in the sidebar, or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Topics: Videos

Classic Post: A Thanksgiving Lesson on Where Food Comes From—with FREE download

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Nov 22, 2016 3:34:00 PM

Thanksgiving, our biggest food holiday of the year, provides the perfect opportunity to do a short unit on food and how it gets to the table. As a harvest celebration, Thanksgiving naturally lends itself to discussions about farms and what a harvest is, as well as the various other steps in the food production process from farm to table.

thanksgiving dinner 250The foods traditionally eaten on Thanksgiving are generally minimally processed foods that are easily traced back to their farm origins. Try introducing your class to some food-related fictional literature, such as Thanksgiving Dinner (which lists traditional Thanksgiving foods in a playful rhyme), The Little Red Hen (which traces the bread-making process from seed to table), or your favorite Thanksgiving story or food/farm story.

Then bolster the ideas from those fictional stories with informational texts that teach children about farms, harvests, and where food comes from. In the Story World Real World series, the Little Red Hen theme set comes with the storybook and three food-related informational texts: Different Kinds of Bread (which explores different breads from around the world), Who Made Our Breakfast? (which uses real photography and facts to explain the seed-to-table process of breadmaking introduced in the story book), and Great Grains (which discusses how grains are used for food).

Other books that introduce children to farming include the following:

1) General: Where Does It Come From?; On the Farm

2) Animals: the books in the Farm habitat in the Zoozoo Animal World series

3) Plants: the books in the Growing Things theme of the My World series

Pretty much any books that help children make the connection between their food and its source will be helpful for this lesson.

One way to really tie the concept to the holiday is to ask your students to bring a Thanksgiving recipe from home, then trace each of the ingredients in the recipe back to its source. You can let the children or parents choose the recipe, or you can brainstorm a list of foods as a class, then divide the class into groups of assigned recipes. This also allows children who might not have traditionally American customs to suggest a special holiday dish from their own culture and share the information with the class.

You can download a free worksheet at the bottom of this page to use in this lesson! It spaces for recipe ingredients, whether the ingredient source is a plant or an animal, and a space for children to try to draw the ingredient (either in natural or processed form) or cut and past an image of it.


To download your free reproducible worksheet, click the worksheet image below. To learn more about the series mentioned in this article, visit our website by clicking the book and series links embedded in the text.

Thanksgiving Recipe Worksheet

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Holiday, Lesson Plan, Kaleidoscope Collection, Zoozoo Animal World, My World

Teaching the Alphabet through Connections

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jul 1, 2016 10:01:16 AM

Teaching the Alphabet through Connections - Kathy Crane

One of our frequent guest bloggers, Kathy Crane over at Kindergarten Kiosk, wrote this neat post on teaching the alphabet through connections. She uses lots of strategies: animal buddies, letter books, anchor charts, and an object tub, among other things. Here is an excerpt from her post:

One of the most important skills that young children need to conquer quickly, is to crack the code of the alphabetic principle! This is not an easy task for most children. In fact, the skill is most easily acquired if it is taught in a strategic manner that is purposeful, and makes sense. 

This group of animal friends allows for such strategic teaching! As I introduce a letter a day for the first 26 or so days of school using multisensory cues, I have found that most students learn the majority of letters and sounds in a very short time.

Click here to read the rest of her post, and if you're interested in the Letter Buddies Letter Books she uses in her approach, there are a few ways you can get a better look at them:

New Call-to-Action

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Topics: Letter Buddies, Letter Learning, Kathy Crane

Helping Striving Readers in the Upper Grades: Q & A with Dr. Adria Klein (Part 1 of 2) [Classic Post]

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 21, 2016 3:30:00 PM

This video series first appeared in 2013 and has helped many striving readers since then! To get literacy posts delivered into your inbox, make sure to follow this blog by subscribing in the right sidebar. 

Welcome to our first installation of videos in which professor emerita and literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein answers questions about struggling and striving readers in the upper grades and how to best help them take an interest in and achieve proficiency in reading. You can see the second post here.

Click on the videos to watch. Transcripts, if preferred, are available below each of the videos.

Q: What kinds of difficulties do struggling readers have in the upper grades?

A: Struggling readers in the upper grades have most of the difficulties around areas of comprehension and vocabulary. They often have trouble with fluency tied to their decoding needs.

Often times they struggle with concepts like word phrases and at times they are working through strategies and tend to rely on only one or two as they read, rather than multiple uses of strategies to support their reading and understanding.


Q: How can a teacher help striving older readers?

A: Lots of independent reading is one of the research bases for understanding a struggling older reader. Dick Allington talks about the fact that kids have to read, read, read, and read some more. That involves them being interested in reading, willing to read, wanting to read, and having the right books to support them.

Materials like the Download series from Hameray are critical to providing topics of interest to kids,a layout and a book that looks sophisticated, but provides the right level of support and entry for the reading that they are going to do in those texts.

We’ve got to find books that look sophisticated, are on topics that they are interested in, deal with characters they care about, and have some kind of support for their reading needs. But not by providing books that are too low-level.


Q: What kinds of material would be useful to support teachers and striving readers?

A: As we talked about the idea of older readers needing books appropriate for them, one good idea is to consider having recurring characters. The Extraordinary Files are a series of mysteries that have two characters that reoccur, but the kids they interact with in the story are the age of the reader that we intend to reach.

So thinking about the older reader, thinking about the recurring characters, they identify like they would with a series, in another book or in television or in movies and kids tend to like to follow a character.

Something else that hooks the reluctant reader at the upper grade-level is to see pictures in the book that look like the characters they would envision they would like to be if they put themselves in the book.

And so both the Download series and Extraordinary Files have an appropriate amount of picture support as well as high-interest characters and the age range appropriate to reach our students.


The book series mentioned in this interview, Download series and The Extraordinary Files, are part of Hameray's High Interest / Low Vocabulary genre, intended to encourage struggling readers to read through presenting compelling topics that they want to read about. Download offers facts about the exciting world of extreme sports and hot contemporary subjects such as technology and natural disasters. The Extraordinary Files is a mystery-fiction series that follows the adventures of two sleuths as they work to solve cases, often of a supernatural bent.

Flip through a couple of samples of books from these series to see how they appeal to readers who have trouble taking an interest in reading.


To see a wider variety of titles from these series, take a look at our catalog. We have a large selection of books from these two series and other series that will appeal to the same age-group and reading level. To see the second post in this series, click here! To access our catalog or download series highlight sheets with key features, click the images below!

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request Extraordinary Files Sales sheet Download Series Highlights

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Teaching Fairy Tales: A Cinderella Lesson Plan for Common Core

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 9, 2016 5:19:03 PM



The Common Core places a lot of emphasis on text types, with traditional tales being one of the main types of literature mentioned in the ELA standards. We created the Story World Real World series to meet a need for paired texts and traditional tales, and coming soon is a Common Core-correlated teacher's guide to assist you with making these lessons easy! Here's a sample of a lesson based on Cinderella!

Features of the Text:

  • Traditional story.
  • Aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). See CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10.
  • Punctuation: speech punctuation, exclamation marks, questions marks.
  • Opportunities to develop reading for inference skills.
  • Dialogue between characters.
  • Vocabulary development (e.g., mean, work, ugly, magic, sparkling, slipper, midnight, charmed, hurts).
  • Words and phrases that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses (CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #3).
  • The characters’ actions and feelings (CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #4).

Before Reading:

  • Tell the children you are going to read a story that people have loved so much they have been telling it for hundreds of years.
  • Examine the cover and the title.
    • What do you think this story is going to be about?
    • Why does it say “retold by”?
  • Make a connection with the children’s experience:
    • Do you know the story of Cinderella? It is probably one of the most well-known fairy tales. Let’s find out why.

During Reading:

  • Read the text with the children, encouraging them to join in with the reading when they think they know the words.
  • Before turning the page, encourage the children to predict what will happen next.

Cinderella_Inside_Final-16.jpgAfter Reading:

  • Discuss vocabulary, e.g., mean, work, ugly, magic, sparkling, slippers, midnight, charmed, hurts.
  • Discuss text features such as speech punctuation.
    • How do we know who is talking? How do we know where the talk starts and ends? (A: speech punctuation.)
  • Discuss the illustrations.
    • What do the illustrations tell us about the characters? For example, look at Cinderella’s clothes at the start of the story. What do you think they tell us about how she was treated?
    • Do the two sisters look ugly or beautiful to you?
    • Look at the illustration on page 13 showing the prince holding the glass slipper. What do you think he is thinking and feeling?
  • Reread pages 2–3:
    • Do you think Cinderella was treated fairly?
    • How do you think she felt when the ugly sisters made fun of her and made her do all the work?
    • Role play: If you were Cinderella, what would you like to say to your mean stepmother and your two unkind sisters?
  • Reread pages 4–5:
    • How do you think the sisters felt about the invitation to the ball? How do you think Cinderella felt?
    • Role play: If you were one of Cinderella’s sisters, what would you have said when you read the king’s invitation? What would you have said to Cinderella? If you were Cinderella, what would you have said when you saw the invitation? What would you have said to the sisters?
    • What do you think Cinderella felt when her sisters went off to the ball?
  • Reread pages 6–7:
    • What do you think Cinderella felt when she saw her fairy godmother appear?
    • Role play: If you were Cinderella and you suddenly found yourself wearing a beautiful ball gown and sparkling glass slippers, what do you think you would say to your fairy godmother? What would you tell her about how you felt?
    • Look at the illustrations. Is there anything in the picture that might help you predict what is going to happen next? (A: The pumpkin and the mice.)
  • Reread pages 8–9:
    • Look at the illustrations. How can you tell what the coach was made from? What about the “horses”?
    • Can you draw a clock and show where the hands would be at midnight?
    • What does the fairy godmother mean when she says about the clock “striking” twelve?
    • How do you think Cinderella was feeling as she rode off in the coach?
  • Cinderella_Inside_Final-6.jpgReread pages 10–11:
    • Look at the illustrations. What do you think each person looking at Cinderella was thinking or whispering to the people nearby?
    • Role play this as a “still frame.” Choose children to be the different people in the illustration. Get them to stand as if they are in a still photograph. Make sure each is facing the same way and has a similar expression as in the book illustration. Then let each person, one at a time, come alive and speak, expressing thoughts and feelings. How do some of the words used in the text help us understand what they are feeling? (“beautiful,” “wonderful,” “charmed,” etc.)
    • If you have a class dress-up box (assorted pieces of cloth, old drapes, etc., rather than actual costumes), help the students dress up a little for the still-frame role play. You might also like to practice this a little, then videotape the sequence. Play it back and talk about the characters and what they are feeling.
  • Reread pages 12–13:
    • Talk about how Cinderella must have been feeling as she danced. Remind the children about Cinderella’s life just a few hours before. Help the children make a list of words to describe how she was feeling.
    • Why do you think Cinderella had forgotten about the clock striking twelve? (A: She was having such a wonderful time.)
    • How do you think she felt when she heard the clock start to strike? Help the children write down the thoughts that were going through her head as she heard this. Use quotation marks to indicate Cinderella’s own words or thoughts. Talk about speech punctuation—the way we show our readers who is talking and what they say.
    • On page 13, what is the clock showing? What do you think the prince felt when Cinderella suddenly ran off? What do you think he thought and felt when he discovered her glass slipper?
  • Reread pages 14–15:
    • Why do you think so many people wanted to try on the glass slipper? (A: Perhaps they all wanted to marry the Prince!)
    • Do you think the prince would have liked to marry one of Cinderella’s sisters? Why not?
    • Look at the illustration closely—what do you think Cinderella is thinking and feeling?
  • Reread age 16:
    • The prince is “so happy” that the slipper fits. What does it feel like to be “so happy”?
    • What do you think Cinderella was feeling when the prince asked her to marry him?
    • Look at the stepmother’s face in the illustration. What do you think she is thinking and feeling? (A: Maybe she is thinking there is some advantage for her in this too!)
  • Shared writing activity:
    • Get the children to retell the events of the story (CCSS, Grade 1: #2), then help them turn this retelling into captions, e.g., “Cinderella is made to do all the work. Her ugly sisters do nothing.” What happens next? “The king’s invitation to the ball arrives.” What happens next? “Cinderella’s fairy godmother gets Cinderella ready for the ball.” What happens next? “Cinderella dances all night with the Prince.”
    • Write each caption for the children on large cards, then divide the children into groups.
    • Give each group a caption, a sheet of art paper each, and suitable art materials. Help them plan and complete their own illustration for each caption (CCSS, Grade 1: #7).
    • Mount their drawings on the wall with the captions in sequence to make a wall story. Prepare a “title page” too. “Cinderella retold by room 4 at Sunshine School. Illustrated by (the children’s names).” Read the story with the children.
    • You might like to share your Cinderella wall story with another class. Congratulations, you are published authors!

Check back frequently for more news of our upcoming teacher's guides—for this series and others!

For more information on Story World Real World, you can click the image to the left below to download a series information sheet with key features, or you can click here to visit our website. Click the image to the right below to download a brochure.

New Call-to-Action Story World Real World Brochure

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Lesson Plan, Alan Trussell-Cullen, Teacher's Guides

Muhammad Ali: Celebrate His Life and Greatness

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 7, 2016 3:13:30 PM



In honor of Muhammad Ali, we're offering his biography on sale for $5. It's a great summer read, and learning more about his life is a wonderful way to celebrate the accomplishments of this sports legend. The book has a free downloadable teacher's guide, in case you need some inspiration for your summer school lessons. You can download that at the bottom of the page. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BOOK ON OUR WEBSITE.

Heavyweight Champion of the World

A three-time World Heavyweight Champion, Muhammad Ali's popularity transcended the sport of boxing and made him an international icon. He made headlines for his refusal to enter the Vietnam draft, his conversion to Islam, and for being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Follow along, from his early years as Cassius Clay, to his emergence as Muhammad Ali - The Greatest of All Time. 

Written by Alan Trussell-Cullen
40 pages
Guided Reading Level: P


For more information on the other books in the Biography series, you can click the image to the left below to download a series information sheet with key features, or you can click here to visit our website. Click the image to the right below to download the Muhammad Ali Teacher's Guide.

Biography Series Highlights Bio TG Ali

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Topics: Biography Series, Special Offers, Sports

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