Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Joy Cowley Introduces Her Newest Characters in Pt. 4 of Her Interview

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Interview Joy Cowley Part4

 

"A little surprise at the end of the book...is like having dessert after vegetables."

- Joy Cowley

 

For the past few weeks, Mrs. Wishy-Washy author Joy Cowley has been answering readers' questions through video interviews. In this week's installment, Joy tells us all about her three newest characters: Miniboy, Mr. Tang, and Computer.

 

JC5 US MINI MiniboysTravels Cov T     JC5 US MrT MrTangsTaxiAtSea Int T     JC5 US SB CC ComputerIsBack Cov T

 

 

To watch the earlier videos, click here! To learn more about the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books, visit our website or click the images below to download information sheets on the Joy Cowley Collection and her lower-level series Joy Cowley Early Birds.

 

New Call-to-Action  New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Videos, Interview, Joy Cowley Interview

Joy Cowley Divulges the Secret of the Pig in Part 3 of Her Interview!

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

Interview Joy Cowley Part3

For the past few weeks, Mrs. Wishy-Washy author Joy Cowley has been answering readers' questions through video interviews. In this week's installment, she answers the question of whether it's true that the pig in the story of Mrs. Wishy-Washy did not start out as a pig! Find out what the secret of the pig is by watching the video!

 

To watch the earlier videos, click here! To learn more about the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books, visit our website or click the images below to download information sheets on the Joy Cowley Collection and her lower-level series Joy Cowley Early Birds.

New Call-to-Action  New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Videos, Interview, Joy Cowley Interview

What Inspired Joy Cowley to Write Mrs. Wishy-Washy? Find Out!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Aug 2, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Mrs. Wishy-Washy is a perennial favorite of students and teachers alike. Author Joy Cowley has been educating and entertaining with stories featuring this character since the early 1980s. When we asked our readers what questions they would ask in an interview with Joy, some of you wanted to know what inspired her to create the character. Check out her answer in the video below!



We have Mrs. Wishy-Washy books in two series: Joy Cowley Early Birds is intended for beginning readers, with books spanning guided reading levels C–G, while the Joy Cowley Collection picks up where that series leaves off, featuring 60 books at guided reading levels G–M.

In case you happened to miss the segment of the same interview that we put out in our newsletter, it's been reposted below. In this snippet, Joy explains how she came to be a children's author.


Check back frequently for more author interviews, including the rest of this session with Joy Cowley! If you're interested in learning more about her books you can click here to visit our website or click the images below to download series highlights for her books.

- Tara Rodriquez

Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Joy Cowley, Joy Cowley Early Birds, Videos, Interview, Joy Cowley Interview

Q & A with Denise Nott, Winner of Our Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 5, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Last month, we held a giveaway contest where one lucky classroom received ninety books written by Joy Cowley, creator of Mrs. Wishy-Washy. The books included the entire Joy Cowley Collection and Joy Cowley Early Birds. They also received three audiobook CDs and a set of Mrs. Wishy-Washy finger puppets. The winning teacher's name is Denise Nott, of Marion Cook School in Lagrange, Maine. We asked her some questions about the contest, her students, and her feelings about teaching in general. In today's post, you can read her answers and see the students enjoying their prizes!

017 250Did you know that someone nominated you to our Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway?

Yes, our guidance counselor, BJ Bowden. She nominates the teachers in both of her schools for many different things. She is the best!

 

What do your students love about Mrs. Wishy-Washy?

They love the animals! They also love the continuation of characters from book to book. They look for the animals in each book.

 

describe the imageWe heard that the class was just beside themselves when they learned they won. How did your students react?

It was amazing! I told the class that Ms. BJ had nominated me for this contest. I told them about the prizes, and of course they were excited! I told them that Joy Cowley herself had made a video to announce the winner. I acted like I had no idea that I won. I have an ENO board in my classroom so the video was nice and large. It started to play, and when the students heard Ms. Cowley say my name and the school and town name, their mouths literally dropped open! They looked at the video, then looked at me, then back to the video! It was amazing. It is a moment I will remember forever. Also, the two other teachers showed their classes as well so I was congratulated all day.

 

describe the imageHow did you learn of Mrs. Wishy-Washy or any other Joy Cowley titles? 

I heard about, and was exposed to, the Joy Cowley books when I was training for Reading Recovery. I also have an extensive collection in my classroom. With the new books, I have let the students put them in their reading boxes so they can read them during “read to self” and “read to partner.” They love to read these and when they are changing out their book boxes, they look for Joy Cowley books.

 

Please tell us a little more about the path that led you to teach. Were there any great "light bulb moments" that you will always remember? describe the imageWhat do you absolutely love about being a teacher?

I had wanted to be a teacher since I was in the 4th grade. Once I graduated high school, I attended community college, but I did not give it my all. I had just moved out and was living with my future husband and planning my wedding and married life. I had to work to pay bills, so I ended up leaving college. When I turned 29, I decided that if I ever wanted to be a teacher, I had better get the ball rolling! I enrolled in Eastern Maine Community College and received my associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2002. I then enrolled at the University of Maine and received my Bachelors Degree in 2006. I started teaching in 2007.

The thing I love the best about teaching is seeing how far the children come describe the imageover the course of a year. I teach K/1 so I actually get to see the progress over two years! It is amazing to see these young 5-year-olds walk in on day one scared and unsure of themselves and then two years later, they leave me a completely confident child ready to take on second grade! I guess I love seeing the independence and self-reliance they gain.

 

Do you do anything in summer to prepare for the next school year, and if so, how close to the new school year do your preparations ramp up?

This year will be different for me, since our school is restructuring, and I will be moving to a new school. I will be teaching a straight first grade. I am very excited to have one grade level! The biggest thing I am planning to do, besides set up an entirely new classroom, is to plan lessons and map out my curriculum aligned to the Common Core. I think mapping out what I will teach for the whole year will be a big help. I will work in my room the first two weeks of August, but I will work on the mapping for the whole summer.

~~~

To read more about the books included in the giveaway and see what had the students so excited, you can visit our website or click on the images below to read key features of both of the book series by Joy Cowley!

- Tara Rodriquez

New Call-to-Action  New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Joy Cowley, K-2 Literacy, Interview, Giveaway

Text Variety Helps Inspire Striving Readers: Alan Trussell-Cullen Pt. 2

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 13, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Exposing students to a wide variety of texts will both prepare them for life outside the describe the imageclassroom and also increase the chances that even the most reluctant readers will stumble upon a topic that will capture their interest and nurture a love of reading. In the second installation of our series of interviews with Alan Trussell-Cullen, teacher educator and author of our new Story World-Real World series, he shares some of his experiences in the classroom that illustrate just how important this variety can be.

Can you explain why it’s important for children to read an array of different types of text?

Firstly, it’s a matter of survival. In order to survive in the world today, we are confronted by so many different kinds of text, from road signs and billboards to manuals and recipe books, from poetry and literature to advertising slogans and TV graphics, from romance and mysteries to weather reports and timetables, and from blogs and tweets to “How-to” guides and “Who-done-it” mysteries. To live a so-called “normal” life in our modern world, one has to be able to read, understand, respond to, and create all kinds of text.

Secondly, it’s a matter of knowing what is out there in order to exercise our right to choose. When it comes to reading, we all have our fads and favorites. Adults do, and children, too. That’s not a bad thing—when Harry Potter appeared on the scene, millions of children suddenly began to read in a way they had never read before!

But children can also get stuck on a particular kind of book. Sometimes they lack the confidence to branch out and try something new. That’s where the good teacher can do a great job building reader confidence and coaxing them to try something new.

Often, it is a matter of finding some kind of personal link or connection. I can remember a nine-year-old boy in a class I was teaching. His name was Steve, and Steve was adamant that he didn’t like reading. Every day after the lunch break, the children in my class came back into the classroom and did about ten minutes of SSR. (Everyone probably knows that SSR stands for “Sustained Silent Reading,” but one six-year-old recently told me SSR stood for Super Silent Reading!)

Anyway, Steve hated SSR. While everyone else read their chosen library book or a book from the Class Bookshelf, or a book or story written by one of the children in the class (the kids would tell you: “We are all writers in this class!”), Steve would sit and fidget or stare into space. All my attempts to find something of interest for him didn’t seem to work.

And then one day a miracle happened. He told the class about his big brother. His big brother had a motorbike. His big brother loved his motor bike. So did Steve. He loved to help his brother take it apart and clean it and tune it. Now I knew next to nothing about motorbikes, so I asked Steve how he and his big brother knew what to do when they worked on the bike.

“He’s got these manual things,” said Steve. “He lets me read them, too.”motorcycles

 “Hey,” I said. “Do you think your brother would let you bring his motorbike manuals to school? You could read it at SSR time!”

Steve’s eyes lit up.

“Could I?” he asked.

The next day when the kids settled in for SSR, there was Steve with a rather tattered and suitably oil-stained volume which was obviously his brother’s motorbike manual! It was very technical, with diagrams and photographs, but Steve seemed to be reading it. I usually finished SSR with a few minutes of sharing, so on this day I asked Steve to tell us about his book. He began shyly, pointing out what he and his brother did the other night. He showed the class the page and explained the diagram. The class was enthralled—and not just the boys!

I had a special list on the wall headed “Our Class Experts.” Whenever someone showed they had special knowledge about something, we put their name up there. Then the other kids knew who to go to when they needed information or help on that subject. One of the kids put a hand up and said: “I think Steve should be up there as our class expert on motorbikes!”

Everyone agreed.

By now Steve was obviously floating on cloud nine!

He brought more stuff on motorbikes the next day. He wasn’t just looking at pictures—he was really reading. Other kids began to ask him questions. In art he drew motorbikes. Each day we had a writing time. Steve began to write about motorbikes. At first he wrote about the things he did with his brother. Then he began to write a book on motorbikes. The other kids loved it. One girl took it home. She said she wanted to show it to her brother, but I knew she didn’t have a brother! The whole class began to write manuals. Steve then began to make up stories about motorbikes. From motorbikes he moved to racing cars, and then big trucks. Then it was action stories and action heroes...

And what did I, as a teacher, learn from that? Reading shouldn’t just be about reading what the teacher thinks the children need to read. It isn’t just about reading books. And it isn’t about doing lots of “reading practice.” It’s about doing real reading, about helping kids connect their school experience with what they know and enjoy and love doing in their own lives. It’s about bringing the real world into their classroom and into their imagination.

Should parents and teachers approach how they use informational texts differently than narrative reading materials when reading with children? Why or why not?

I think Steve is the answer to this question. We don’t need to make a big difference between reading informational texts and reading fictional and imaginative material. It isn’t really a child reading smiling 6079588 Monkey Business Imagesdifferent kind of reading. If something is part of our lives, it can be part of our reading. Sometimes people think fiction is more emotional than nonfiction—but Steve really loved his motorbike manuals! And sometimes people think boys enjoy informational texts more than girls do. Well, maybe sometimes boys do, but we need to push children beyond received stereotypes. The girl who first took home Steve’s book on motorbikes wasn’t doing so to share it with her non-existent brother—she wanted to read it for herself!

Children need to read both informational texts and narrative reading material and they also need to write both and talk about both and feel free to choose both.

And incidentally, that is why I chose to write the Story World-Real World series for Hameray—it combines the world of imagination with the world of reality. We need both because one balances the other.

Can you tell us your best tip for teaching reading to beginning readers?

Don’t get too hung up about lots of standardized tests and reading levels. There are two wonderful instruments for assessing reading progress, and they are way better than any standardized test. And those are a good teacher’s ears and eyes!

The more we observe our children and listen to them, the more we will discover about them and the more we can help them become confident and engaged and unstoppable readers and writers.

...5054 Bears Cover FINAL

Story World-Real World, Alan's newest endeavor, features retellings of traditional tales that are coupled with informational texts to provide real-world background knowledge and support the elements of the story. For example, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which stands well on its own as an entertaining story, is available in this series bundled with books on bears, temperature, and breakfast. Each "theme" in the series works this way—by pulling elements out of the narrative text of the traditional story and giving children information about how those elements work in the real world. 

To learn more about the new series, you can download a page of key features below:

New Call-to-Action


We'll have more content from Alan Trussell-Cullen in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back regularly if you like his tips for helping children learn to love reading! Additionally, if there is a reluctant reader in your home or classroom who likes motorbikes, be sure to check out our Download series, with topics such as Motorcycles, Motocross, and BMX bikes!

- Tara Rodriquez

*Photo credit: Monkey Business Images

Read More

Topics: Making Learning Fun, Story World, Real World, Interview, Alan Trussell-Cullen, Download, Reluctant Readers

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

Read More

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

Read More

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

Word-Play to Working Author: An Interview with Alan Trussell-Cullen

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 25, 2013 5:00:00 AM

AlanTrussellCullenWhat inspires a child to grow up and become a writer? What influences can teachers, literature, and school experiences have on a student's future career path? Alan Trussell-Cullen, teacher educator and author of our new Story World-Real World series, has some insights—both from the perspective of the child and of the teacher. In the first installation of our series of interviews with him, he shared these perspectives.

What inspired you to become an author?  

When I was in what we used to call "standard three" in New Zealand schools in those days, I had a wonderful teacher called Mrs. Watson. Everyone, including my parents, called her "Wattie." Mrs. Watson loved stories and "using your imagination."

"Get those imaginations ticking over!" she used to say. She also taught us to love words. We collected words. We made lists of favorite words that just felt good to say. I can still remember some of mine—words like "splurge" and "filch" and "platypus" and "quadruple." We also playedstoryofcotton00curt 0001 lots of word games. We collected riddles. We made up knock-knock jokes. And we wrote lots of wonderful stories using our imaginations. Sometimes your third-grade teacher can help to decide your adult occupation!


What were some of your favorite books growing up in New Zealand? How did they help shape your wonderful imagination?


I had lots of favorites. Lewis Carroll was a major one! I used to wonder about the rabbit. I thought the rabbit had a story to tell but somehow Lewis Carroll never got round to telling us what it was. But I also liked nonfiction. One of my favorite books was The Story Of Cotton. I don't know why, but I must have read it dozens of times. It all came back to me when I was LewisCarrollSelfPhotowriting a biography of Mahatma Gandhi for the Hameray Biography Series. Why Gandhi and cotton? Well, that was, in part, another "story of cotton"—a very political story!

You have authored many different kinds of books for a range of age groups. Do you have a favorite genre or age to write for?

I don't really have favorites. I just like playing with words and ideas. As a teacher I tried to get kids to be open to all kinds of books and all kinds of writing and to try out whatever was their flavor of the month. We read and wrote poems—I still do!—plays, spooky stories, funny stories, far-fetched yarns, very short stories, autobiographies—including fictional ones!—and even comic books.

The best part was "publishing" our stories! We made wall displays, class big books, picture books, "a day in the life of me," window displays...one year we even published a class book by displaying it page-by-page along the school front fence! Writing was, is, and should be fun! And it was, is, and has to be!


Story World-Real World, Alan's newest endeavor, features retellings of traditional tales that are coupled with informational texts to provide real-world background knowledge and support the elements of the story. For example, Cinderella, which stands well on its own as an entertaining story, is available in this series bundled with books on dancing, telling time, and wearing shoes. Each "theme" in the series works this way—by pulling elements out of the narrative text of the traditional story and giving children information about how those elements work in the real world. Read more here.

 

Download the Story World Real World Brochure Now:

Story World Real World Brochure

 

See Samples from the series below:

Cinderella Cover Final 5160 Lets Dance Cover FINAL3 5146 Whats the Time Cover FINAL4 5153 Why Do We Wear Shoes Cover FINAL3

Read More

Topics: Story World, Real World, Interview, Biography Series, Alan Trussell-Cullen

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all

Follow Me