Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

This Sunday: #rrchat with Hameray Authors!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on May 19, 2017 10:34:00 AM

Do you know about #rrchat? The Reading Recovery National Council of America, which provides effective intervention for struggling readers in first grade, has developed an ongoing Twitter Chat series. Focusing on topics such as "Teaching Reading and Writing Vocabulary" and "Leveraging Deeper Professional Development," these forums allow you to discuss important literary issues with fellow educators... without having to leave your couch!

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This Sunday, May 21 at 7 pm EST, Adria Klein and Allison Briceno will be joining Reading Recovery's Twitter Chat as special guests and leaders of the discussion "Language and Literacy: Partners in Learning." Dr. Briceno is a co-author of Hameray's Oral Language Development Series, while Dr. Klein has participated in the Hameray Biography series and our Family Literacy Workshops book. Both authors have dozens of experience on literacy and language development, and we're so excited for them to be sharing their knowledge with you!
To participate in the discussion, all you need to do is follow @rrcna_org on your Twitter account, where Reading Recovery will post questions related to the topic. Make sure to use the hashtag #rrchat to contribute to the discussion.
Mark your calendar for this Sunday, May 21—don't miss this opportunity to speak with our Hameray authors!

To download information about the Oral Language Development Series, which Dr. Briceno co-authored, click the image below.

Oral Language Development Series Free Teachers Guide 

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Topics: Adria Klein, Reluctant Readers, Reading Recovery, Allison Briceno

Dr. Adria Klein Offers a Brief Insight on Oral Language

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jul 2, 2015 3:39:00 PM

Dr. Adria Klein, author of some of our Hameray Biography Series titles and key member of the editorial team for the Oral Language Development Series, gave a talk at the Comprehensive Intervention Model (CIM) Institute in Little Rock recently and sent us some video. Check out this little snippet where she shares insights with the CIM participants on the role of oral language in literacy development.

(This embedded video may not appear on devices such as iPhones, since it uses Flash. You can click here to view the video across platforms.)

For more information on the Oral Language Development Series, click here to read about it on our webpage or click the image to the left below to download an information sheet with series highlights. To learn more about CIM, check out our new professional book, Changing Minds, Changing Schools, Changing Systems: Comprehensive Literacy Design for School Improvement. You can download the brochure for that book by clicking the image to the right below.

New Call-to-Action  Changing Minds Brochure

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Topics: Videos, Oral Language Development, Adria Klein

Oral Language Development: Instructing English Learners, Pt. 1

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 9, 2013 8:15:00 AM

Yesterday's post covered a little bit of why focusing on oral language development is important for reaching the eventual goal of literacy. Today, we will explore that topic in greater detail, using the brand-new Oral Language Development Series as a guide.

Developed through a collaborative process between the New Teacher Center and Hameray Publishing Group and written by a team of reading specialists and teacher trainers (Barbara Allen, Allison Briceño, Adria Klein, Bee Medders, Deb Nemecek, Nicki Smith, and Susan Wray) the Oral Language Development Series filled a gap that existed in resources available to teachers and reading coaches.

As the authors describe, "the Oral Language Readers were born of a need to better serve English learners and their teachers. As mentors at the New Teacher Center, we often hear teachers say that they knew what the student’s language level was, based on a formal placement test, but didn’t know what to do to help develop the student’s language skills. They wondered what type of instruction to use, what they should focus on first, and how they could track progress." The language readers are the solution to this problem.

The way that the language readers are leveled is that each topic contains a wordless book to be used for assessment and then language structures that increase in complexity from 1 all the way up to a maximum of 7 in some topics. Here is a sample of a book from the My Family topic, leveled at Language Structure 6:

Today, we will focus on use of the wordless book from the same topic—how it is intended to be used in assessment, and a couple of other ideas for activities using the book as a focal point.

For assessment, you will want to focus on determining which language structures a child already possesses in his or her oral laListening to students talk is one of the most powerful formative assessments you can use. From the teacher's guide: "capturing and analyzing brief snippets of students’ oral language is a crucial component of supporting their language development. Teachers should listen to, record, and analyze student interactions in a variety of settings: whole group, small group, one-on-one, between peers or with a teacher...there are a variety of ways to capture student talk. In addition to using paper and pencil, teachers have been recording student talk with their phones, video cameras, iPad, iPod, digital recorders, and so on. The method used to capture talk is up to you."

The New Teacher Center has developed an app for iPad that is specially designed for this kind of assessment, but paper and pencil works just as well. The image below shows a screenshot from the app in use, and can give you an idea of how to structure your chart if you will be using paper or a spreadsheet.

OLR My Family

In the above assessment exercise, the instructor shows the student the indicated page from the book and prompts the student to describe what she sees. Below are the corresponding pages from the book (images and page order has changed slightly since the above screenshot was taken):

Hameray My Family LS Entry v2 7Hameray My Family LS Entry v2 4describe the image

describe the imagedescribe the image

Aside from simply asking the child what actions can be observed in the scene, a wordless book also makes a good prompt for vocabulary-building activities. Since each of the topics takes place in a simple and likely familiar setting (especially those topics that use photographs rather images, an instructor can ask the child how many objects in each scene the child can name.

Examples from the above images include the following:

Bedroom scene: bed, picture, items of clothing, door, floor, etc.

Yard scene: ball, fence, items of clothing, etc.

Kitchen scene: pot, cupboard, etc.

Garage scene: broom, trash can, door, etc.

Another way these books could be used is to ask the child what he or she thinks the people in the picture might say. For images with multiple people in them, this might be a conversation between the two people; in other topics where there is only person in an image, it might be a comment on whatever is happening in the scene.

Giving the child more than one type of prompt can give the instructor a better idea of what language structures the child is comfortable using. While the higher-leveled language structure books describe with increasing complexity only what is happening in the scene, the wordless Entry books allow great flexibility in how they are put to use to assess and encourage oral language development.

For more information on the Oral Language Development Series, click below to download a summary of key points about the books and to view the teacher's guide!

New Call-to-Action         Oral Language Development Series Free Teachers Guide

Check back tomorrow for more information on Oral Language Development!

- Tara Rodriquez

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Topics: Common Core, Oral Language Development, Adria Klein, New Teacher Center, ELL

Helping Striving Readers: Q & A with Dr. Adria Klein (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 7, 2013 6:00:00 AM

Welcome to our second 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. If you missed part one of the interview, you can read it here.

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

Q: Can technology be helpful for instruction with students that have reading difficulties?

A: Absolutely. Technology is essential. Students today know media often better than they know books. They need access to software, to interact with whiteboards to instructional techniques that are current and move at a pace and allow the student to interact in a way that interests them all the time.

When you think about older students in the secondary schools who are struggling readers, Paul Blum talks about the kinds of things that will capture their interest. And that is the opportunity to interact and responding to text. Software allows that to happen. It allows them to keep a record of their work and helps the teacher know how the students are progressing. It is also is helpful to have the technology where writing is an opportunity and not just the fact that we are playing a media game.

Q: How do you interest and motivate a striving reader to want to read?

A: All the ideas we’ve been talking about today have to do with reaching a striving reader. They have to want to try. They have to be interested in the books. And they have to be willing to put out their best effort. Stamina is a real issue with an older reader. They can't keep going as long as they need to keep reading in order to improve their comprehension and their vocabulary.

When we look at material with proper laying on the page, we have to think about picture support, we have to think about the size of the print, and we have to think about how many words they’re reading on a page. The idea that a text is too large a print size or has too few words on a page will put an older reader off.

Another factor would be the kinds of supports—are there side notes in the book, is there a glossary? Is there an opportunity for the student to find resources so they don’t have to stop and go get a dictionary?

Q: Are there other types of materials that support older struggling readers?

A: Another type of material that really supports comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency is the use of stories that are in play form. One of these materials, Superscripts is new from Hameray and gives the opportunity for students to read character parts as if they were talking. To do it like a play, and it supports how kids learn to read more fluently. That gives a wonderful opportunity for small group interaction in a highly supportive environment.

The characters are near the age of the readers that we are talking about, and the characters are of interest and in conflicts that upper grade, elementary, and junior high students would encounter in their own social and personal lives.

A lot of research has been done about what appeals to upper grade readers and play form, for scripts, for both independent reading and for small group reading is one of the most highly recognized forms of encouraging a struggling older reader.


The book series mentioned in this interview, SuperScripts, is 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. SuperScripts are action-packed, easy-to-follow plays in such genres as sci-fi, drama, and sports. They combine reading with social interaction, making it fun for even the most reluctant reader.

Flip through a sample book from this series to see how these books appeal to readers who have trouble taking an interest in reading.


To see a wider variety of titles from this series, take a look at our catalog. We have more of these books and other series that will appeal to the same age-group and reading level.

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request

We hope you have enjoyed this Q & A with reading expert Dr. Adria Klein! Take a look at Part 1 of 2 if you haven't already seen it.

- Tara Rodriquez

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Topics: Videos, Interview, Adria Klein, Struggling Readers, Striving Readers, SuperScripts, Upper Grades

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

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 6, 2013 6:00:00 AM

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!

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request

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Topics: Videos, Interview, Adria Klein, Struggling Readers, Striving Readers, Upper Grades, Download, Extraordinary Files

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