Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

3 Ways to Get Boys Reading

Posted by Charity Preston on May 12, 2015 4:00:13 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

We know that many students, boys or girls, aren’t intrinsically motivated to read. This can be for a variety of reasons, including not feeling confident about their reading skills, it not being encouraged as a regular practice at home, or perhaps he or she just isn’t interested in the material at hand.

For many boys, in particular, reading choice selections can play a huge part in the buy-in process. How about three ideas for keeping them engaged and interested?

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

I would rather have students reading comic books than not reading at all. There is a lot of vocabulary involved on the pages of comic books and lots of themes involved as well. Plots of hero versus villain and right versus wrong might prevail, but so can smaller takeaways such as lessons of friendship. Graphic novels are a great way to keep boys clued in that all reading doesn’t have to be dry. Pick up a few for your classroom to see if it encourages your students to get reading. Sometimes multi-genre books contain sequences with comic-style drawings interspersed with exciting nonfiction topics, like the Download series does.

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Nonfiction Choices

Sports legends, snakes, and race cars are the stuff that nonfiction is made of. Use those key topics to your advantage. Nonfiction is full of text features you won’t find in your average chapter book. Filled with images and small, bite-sized chunks of information in captions and sidebars, nonfiction often captures boys' attention more. Plus, picking out topics of interest will not only increase vocabulary in those key subject areas, but it will keep students interested in learning more. You just might have to ask your boys to stop reading!

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Action Fiction Series

Many boys love a good action movie. Why not bring that movie to life in the books they read? For lots of students, it isn’t about quickly picking a book, but once he finds one in a series, he is suddenly hooked. Needing to read all the other adventures to find out what the main character is up to becomes an entire series of books. Perhaps an idea would be to do a “commercial” for several book series and use those to introduce the characters to your students. From that small teaser, your boys may be fighting over who gets the next chapter book!

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As adults, we typically don’t read too many items we aren’t particularly interested in - and your students are exactly the same! It is up to you to find varied materials with varied themes, characters, and formats. By providing a variety of literature, you are opening a whole world of language to your students and showing each that there is pleasure in reading just for fun!

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Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

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For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, Zoozoo Animal World, the Download series, or the Extraordinary Files, which were featured in this post, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights New Call-to-Action 

Download Series Highlights Extraordinary Files Sales sheet

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Zoozoo Animal World, Biography Series, Download, Extraordinary Files, Charity Preston

Creating a Living Classroom Museum with Biographies

Posted by Charity Preston on Apr 7, 2015 3:38:52 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

George_Washington_TG3-1-180What is more fun than hands-on learning? While subjects such as science and math allow for manipulatives or experiments to easily demonstrate the learning objectives, other subjects such as social studies are much harder. When you think of social studies or history, most tend to envision reading out loud from a textbook and hearing about people who are no longer living. Bringing to life the great individuals who have come before us is a wonderful way for students to be able to see, touch, and feel important historical figures today by creating a Living Classroom Museum.

Start by allowing each child to pick a historical figure and read a biography about that person. Then, ask students to dig a little deeper. What was the clothing like that his or her figure wore? How about hairstyles? Mannerisms? Speech patterns? Each student can become the person in the book.

Set up a “gallery” time at your school for another classroom, or for parents in the evening. Make sure all spectators know that the “displays” in the museum are not to be touched. As the guests enter the classroom, the students are spread out and each has a little pretend “activate” button. When a guest touches the button, the display comes to life. Students will take on the full role of their chosen historical figure—including costume, hair, and speech. Each actor can recite 3–5 facts about his or her life and then take a couple questions from the museum visitors before standing still again while waiting for the next person to come along and push the activate button.

This would be a wonderful parents’ night event—and one the students are sure to remember. Having at least two classes complete this project allows them to practice for each other the day before the evening event, and allows the students to be able to visit another room and get to learn about many historical figures, all while allowing the children to really bring history out of the textbooks and into the real world. In the end, that really is the best part of learning!

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Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

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For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Biography Series, Charity Preston

5 Ways to Differentiate with Wordless Books

Posted by Charity Preston on Mar 5, 2015 3:30:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

Wordless books are perfect for students of all ages and classrooms. They can be used in so many different options and can challenge even your most advanced reader! Here are five ways to use them in your curriculum:

1. Younger students can “read” an older student the story. So many times, it is kindergarten or first grade students who are sitting and listening to a book.  How fun will it be for each child to be able to turn the tables and do the reading to someone who already knows how to read? In particular, those with reading disabilities will love this option.

childreading_24366319_Zirui-2502. Have students draw out a retelling of the book. Perfect for centers, students can read the book independently and then use a blank paper to draw out a retelling.

3. Advanced readers can write an alternate ending.  Challenge your high performers to write out a different ending in complete sentences. It will really get those learners engaged and thinking at a higher level.

4. Pair up students and have the groups use a manipulative such as play-doh or stick puppets to put on a “play” for another group. Each group will love being able to perform their story for an audience. With each group having a different book, it will be a great way to showcase lots of different book themes.

5. Students can record audio or video of themselves “reading” the story. For your students who still struggle with completing sentences on paper, the differentiation strategy will help to build up that vocabulary and begin to put sentences together in a way that doesn’t involve the stress of knowing how to form the letters on paper.

Using wordless books as a part of your curriculum can make a huge difference in increasing student vocabulary, forming complete sentences, and adding information to their background knowledge. It encourages those students who struggle with phonics and word formation to be able to read independently as a transition to pre-primer books.  But they can also challenge even the best of readers by forcing them to think outside of the written words and really develop the theme of the book.

Two great wordless book options are the eight Zoozoo Into the Wild Wordless books (which pair with informational and narrative texts featuring the same animals) and also the My World series, which offers ten wordless books, in addition to forty other informational texts leveled A–F. See a wordless book set with all eighteen wordless books by clicking here.

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Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

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For more information on the Zoozoo Into the Wild and My World series, click the images below to download information sheets with series highlights and key features.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Wordless Books, Charity Preston, Differentiation

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