Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Driving Into Word Study

Posted by Marcy Godesa on Nov 15, 2016 3:51:00 PM

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This is a guest blog post by Marcy Godesa, a first-grade teacher from Oregon who blogs over at Searching for Teacher Balance. If you like what you read here, be sure to check back here for more of her guest blog posts! 

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Word Study is one of my favorite times of the day. It is that beautiful point in the day when I get to watch my students learn new words right in front of my eyes. My kiddos are excellent at using their good reading habits to work through new words, but explicit teaching of new vocabulary, on my part, is still extremely important.

I love taking my kiddos' leveled readers and pulling specific vocabulary to not only support that current book, but to support their development of background knowledge. Hameray Publishing came to the rescue yet again with their amazing books. Big Wheels at Work has been the perfect addition to my readers' book bags. 

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During our sneak peek of the book, we explored the tricky words. Throughout our small group, kiddos matched the "stretched out sounds" (word attack strategy) of each word to the correct spelling of the word. They placed the cards in the different parking spots as they matched them up. This activity allowed my students to use the visual representation of the sounds to practice each word.

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Students then drove their monster trucks into the parking spots of each tricky word found throughout the book. They loved being able to "drive" into each word, thus practicing each word again.  

You can grab this parking lot and sound matching cards here.  

As you can see, I love working on words with my kiddos. Do you love working on words with your students? What is your favorite time of day teaching your students?

 ~~~

Click the image below to read about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which includes Big Wheels At Work.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Vocabulary, Marcy Godesa

Using Letter Buddies to Build Vocabulary

Posted by Kathy Crane on Jul 7, 2015 2:05:00 PM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our occasional guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog.

Crane-Letter-BuddiesAbout a year ago, I told you about my two-year-old grandson who quickly learned all of his alphabet letters and sounds using the Letter Buddies books. Now let me tell you about his little sister: G. has taken to these fun readers just as eagerly as her big brother. While her big brother learned all of his letters early from the books, she took a different trajectory.

The Letter Buddies books have taught her to love books and, by eighteen months, she was quietly sitting, book in hand, making up stories. Because both children love the books so much and have learned from them in uniquely different ways, I was curious to see what else I could do with these little wonders.

While I was spending a few days with the kiddos, I was thinking about how these books could be used to teach vocabulary. I picked up a book and began pointing at each picture one by one, and, to my surprise, G. could name each picture in every single volume. Not only had she learned to love books and learn some letters, she had gleaned the vocabulary from each book. Although I believe the books alone are great, don’t forget the companion app. It is a great educational substitute for busy moms. You can check it out on YouTube here!

 ~~~

Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk
~~~
For additional information on the Letter Buddies books shown in this post, click here to visit our website, or click the image below to download a series highlights sheet with key features. 
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Topics: Letter Buddies, Vocabulary, Kathy Crane

Using Mirrors to Build Vocabulary—with FREE Download!

Posted by Laureen on Dec 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by blogger Laureen. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Teach with Laughter, for more of her writing.

Hi again, it’s Laureen from Teach With Laughter.  I am so excited to be using the Story World Real World books in my classroom that I’m here to share another activity with you that you can use with The Greedy Dog and the Very Big Bone theme set.

As mentioned in my last post, the traditional story of The Greedy Dog and the Very Big Bone comes with three related informational texts.  The activity I’m sharing with you today can be used with the narrative book Mirror Magic.

One of the activities my students enjoy during literacy centers is using mirrors to read backward words.  Not only does it build vocabulary, but it also helps with fine motor skills and it’s FUN!

At the bottom of this page, I've included a packet of mirror activities for vocabulary that your students will find engaging and fun!

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I picked up a few mirrors at our local dollar store and students use them to read the twelve word cards.  I have included a student instruction card to keep students on task and a recording page to check for understanding.

You can download the worksheet below, and be sure to check out the Story World Real World series—you won’t be disappointed!

~~~

Laureen is a first-grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching kindergarten and grade one for more than twenty years. Laureen loves to make learning fun and you can find her at her blog, Teach With Laughter. You can also visit her TPT page here.

~~~

To learn more about Story World Real World, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download information sheets with key features. To get today's free activity download, click the image to the right below!

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Story World, Real World, Vocabulary, Laureen

Classic Post: Building Vocabulary with Informational Texts

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Aug 7, 2014 8:16:00 AM

describe the imageThis guest post by Susan Bennett-Armistead, author of our My World informational texts, is part of an ongoing series in which she discusses informational text and its benefits and uses. It was originally published in September 2013. To see the other posts in her series, click here!

When I work with teachers who are hoping to boost their children’s exposure to informational text, sometimes they are concerned about the vocabulary in informational text being too challenging for their children. They are wise to anticipate that some children might not be familiar with some of the words used in some texts. At the same time, I encourage teachers to keep in mind that for some children it’s actually the vocabulary that draws them to informational text.

For example, almost all of us have worked with the child who loves dinosaurs enough to learn (and use correctly!) all those complicated names like diplodocus, pachycephalosaurus, and trachodon, and loves to tell you that pterodactyls aren’t actually dinosaurs but are flying reptiles! Those big words coming out of little mouths can be charming and entertaining but they should also reinforce for us that little children enjoy the power over those big scientific words. They love to show grown-ups what they know, and a rich vocabulary is one way to do it. Here are some ways to build children’s vocabularies and a love of words at the same time:

Use good quality informational text that doesn’t shy away from rich vocabulary.

When you select texts to reinforce classroom themes, make sure you select texts that have good, accurate language in them. If you were studying dinosaurs and the only terms were “meat eaters” and “plant eaters,” you’d miss out on some great learning with your children. The strategy of linking accurate language to bridging language such as “meat eaters, or carnivores” can help children understand new terms like “carnivores” or “herbivores.”

Embrace the new words yourself.

Create a classroom climate that loves words by talking about new words, praising children who ask “what does that mean” and excitedly sharing new words and their meanings with children. It’s also great to model not knowing a meaning and having to look it up—just be sure you do!

Look for ways for create categories so children start to sort the information.

When talking about dinosaurs, herbivores and carnivores are logical groups that you can start to sort other vocabulary into:

“Here is an Apatosaurus. He has a little head and small, rounded teeth. Do you think he’s a carnivore or an herbivore?”

“How about a velociraptor? Check out his sharp claws and teeth. What does that make you think about?”

Try using visual prompts so you use the vocabulary more yourself.

Try making a list of the words that you want to be sure children are picking up. If you’re talking about different kinds of trees, for example, your list might include conifer, deciduous, cone, flower, seed, leaf, trunk, and photosynthesis. Print out a sheet with those words on it, in a large enough font to see across the area, and post them around the room. When you see the words, you’re more likely to use them yourself. Additionally, the text adds to your print rich environment and children may start to interact with text as well.

Use graphic organizers to help children make connections and categories.

Venn Diagram Sharks and Whales

This photo demonstrates a Venn diagram activity done to sort similarities and differences between sharks and whales after a unit on "Under the Sea" that allowed children to learn about a variety of sea animals. Not only does this strategy give children a chance to make sense of the vocabulary, but becoming familiar with graphic organizers in the early years can assist them in using them in later grades and subject areas such as math and social studies.

Vocabulary games can be a blast.

Like using a Venn diagram, just sorting words into categories can be fun. Have a list of words from two different units you might have studied such as "Under the Sea" and "Trees." Give each child a word. Then have two pictures on the board, one of the sea and one of the forest. The children need to sort themselves into the groups based on their words. Where does “fish” go? Where does “conifer” go? If the child isn’t sure, he or she can ask a friend. Everyone’s vocabulary knowledge is strengthened by interacting around these words. To make it silly, put the words face down on the floor and have everyone pick one. How fast can they sort themselves? This is a great outside or gym game as well! You can also try games like twenty questions or I-Spy to have children guess your vocabulary words.

Word learning has gotten a bad rap but the learning of the words and the concepts that go with them can be easily incorporated into a play-based environment with just a little thought. Most importantly, by giving children access to a rich vocabulary, we give them the keys to much better comprehension, now and in years to come. The more words they know, the fewer times they’ll encounter words they don’t know…and when they do encounter an unknown word, they’ll have the confidence and strategies to make it their own.

~~~

Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, is an associate professor of literacy education, the Correll Professor of Early Literacy, and the coordinator of literacy doctoral study at the University of Maine. Prior to doctoral study, Dr. Bennett-Armistead was a preschool teacher and administrator for 14 years in a variety of settings, including a brief but delightful stint in the Alaskan bush.

~~~

For more information on the My World series by this author, you can click here to visit the series page on our website or click the image below to download an information sheet.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Informational Text, Susan Bennett-Armistead, World Knowledge, Vocabulary

The Importance of Vocabulary Development

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Apr 4, 2014 8:00:00 AM

haggardThis is part two of a three-part series on tutoring by guest blogger Geraldine Haggard, author of our Kaleidoscope Series books Helpers, Four Seasons, Seeds, and What Is a Friend? To see her other posts, click here!

A study of research based on vocabulary development indicates that great value is placed on vocabulary development from an early age.

Very young children, who are not yet readers, use their vocabularies as they begin to speak and communicate with others, but vocabulary is greater than this. The American Heritage Dictionary defines 'vocabulary' as "the sum of words used by and understood by, or at the command of a particular person or group." This blog will be concerned with developing the vocabulary of students of all ages.

The youngest students begin to acquire reading and writing skills. Many who enter the school setting still have limited receptive vocabularies. The acquisition of decoding skills allows the student to 'transcode' speech into print. Many young children have meaning vocabularies that are larger than their literate vocabularies. Older students and adults often have larger literate vocabularies than their meaning vocabularies.

VOCABULARIES OF YOUNG STUDENTS


story_time_7036363_Monkey_Business_Images-250Young children develop vocabulary as they listen and speak. The vocabulary of a book read to children becomes part of their speaking vocabularies. I remember my three-year-old grandchild who ran back and forth in an airport waiting room chanting, "Catch me if you can. I'm the Gingerbread Man." I now have two great-granddaughters. These two are three and five years old. The five-year-old began some time ago to 'read' or use 'book talk' as she reads to her younger sister.

It is obvious that children and adults who have large speaking vocabularies tend to have larger listening, reading, and writing vocabularies. Teachers of all ages and levels are finding that integrating reading and writing into the content areas can enhance the development of reading and writing vocabularies. Multiple exposures to special concept words can begin with hearing and seeing the concept word. Reading and writing the word can follow.

I spend Thursday mornings in my daughter's first-grade classroom, and I see this happening as an integrated approach to the content areas and language arts is used. Books on a special topic being studied are read to the children. Guided-reading time is based on leveled books that use the special vocabulary. Children write about their new knowledge in writing journals that are used during content-area time, including math. In the years during which children are becoming readers and writers, there is a close relationship among all four aspects: vocabulary listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The wise teacher helps the children transfer vocabulary skills from one form to another.

VOCBULARY NEEDS OF OLDER STUDENTS

story_mother_child_15159721_Monkey_Business_Images-250Research indicates that many children who read at grade level in the third grade will not automatically become efficient readers in the following grades. This lack of later achievement is likely due to weaknesses in language development and background knowledge. Research tells us that the weakness is not a result of decoding problems or inability to comprehend narrative texts. The culprit is the children's lack of ability to comprehend informative texts. (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (2003). www.pirls.org).

An analysis of standards from various states for vocabulary instruction reveals the following common vocabulary needs of students of all ages:

  • Direct instruction in the meaning of clusters of words and individual words
  • Help in using meanings of affixes
  • Linking spelling instruction to vocabulary development
  • Guidance in use of dictionary and thesauruses
  • Teaching and modeling of word meaning strategies, including context clues
  • Promotion of massive amounts of reading by all students
  • Creating an awareness of and a deep interest in language and words

HINTS FOR TEACHERS

child_writing_ED4A1110_Aga_Jones-250The following suggestions for teachers can facilitate planning, delivering, and assessing vocabulary activities:

  1. The teacher's familiarity with a text can help her/him select vocabulary for which students will need instruction.
  2. Listening to students as they discuss a topic can help the instructor realize what vocabulary is not being used by students.
  3. Helping students use the glossary, sub-topics, and other vocabulary aids in the textbooks can promote independence on the part of the student.
  4. The students' use of a reading journal can provide the opportunity to list words not understood. Asking the students to share some of these words can be the basis for some mini-instructional sessions to help the students.

The use of vocabulary in writing was provided for parents of my daughter's first grade students. Open House was in March. She had collected writing for each child for each month that the children had been in school. On the night of Open House, the children sat with their parents and shared their writing progress over the school year. The teachers had had writing conferences with each and shared what she saw in their writing. The students talked about their writing and how they thought they had grown. The writing vocabulary is based on listening, speaking, and reading. The parents got to experience their children's excitement about what they had learned and about the joys of being an author.

Yes, vocabulary development is important. It is important for reading and writing development and greatly influences school success.

~~~

Dr. Geraldine Haggard is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent thirty-seven years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

~~~

To learn more about the Kaleidoscope Collection series of books, which includes four titles written by Geraldine Haggard, click here to visit the Kaleidoscope page of our website, or click the image below to download an information sheet with highlights of the series.

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Topics: Teaching Writing, Vocabulary, Geraldine Haggard

Strategies for Teaching Reading: The Helping Hand—with FREE Download!

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Jan 17, 2014 8:06:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

Strategies for Teaching Reading: The Helping Hand

Teaching students how to read is what I love most about being a kindergarten teacher. So many people are intimidated by something that has become such a large part of my teaching style. The moment when they read a full sentence and then look up at you like “Did I just READ!?!” is why I do what I do. They are so proud of themselves, and it is so rewarding to get to experience that with them. When I first started teaching, I have to admit that I didn’t really understand balanced literacy, shared reading, “thin” and “thick” questions, and so many other important strategies. That is why having a mentor teacher and being a mentor teacher is vital that first year and even your second year. I had an amazing mentor teacher that gave me brilliant resources.

That first year teaching, I read a book called Growing Readers by Kathy Collins, and it helped me understand how the process of reading really works. It was the perfect mentor text to read before getting started with my twenty-five little kindergarteners. I can’t stress how important it is to send “just right” books home with your students. I’m not talking about those printable paper books either. Yes, the books will get lost and worn down. They might get a juice or coffee knocked over on it, but kids need to feel the book between their little fingers. There is also something to be said about sharing stories they read at school with their families. If you don’t do anything else, send books home with your students!

child reading smiling 4190245 Jarenwicklund 300That first year teaching, my mentor teacher gave me a tool to use with my students called “The Helping Hand for Reading." When I meet with students during guided reading, they pull their helping hand out with their books. I have one enlarged and on my board behind me. I also keep on in their bags they use for Reader’s Workshop. The five parts of the “Helping Hand” are as follows:

1. Say the first sound

2. Check the picture

3. Skip it

4. Re-read

5. Does it look right, sound right and make sense?

Students use this hand when they come to a word in a text they don’t know. I teach one strategy a day at the beginning of the year. My students come to my knowing most of their letters and sounds. They are eager to read. You might just be at this point with your students so you can start introducing these strategies to your beginning readers. I model with a book they are familiar with. Then, I model some more. I also teach parents how to use it in a quick e-mail or note home. Each strategy is pretty self-explanatory. The only strategy that my reading specialist and I changed and moved was “skip-it.” Typically, students can figure out a word based on the context of the sentence if the first two strategies don’t work.

The week after I teach each strategy, I let the students practice with each other. They sit on the carpet with their bag of books. While one student reads a book, the other student holds the helping hand. If the reader gets stuck on a word, then the reading partner walks them through the steps on the helping hand. Again, there is a lot of modeling that takes place before I have the kids do it themselves. We are constantly reviewing the strategies and learning how to build our “strategy suitcase” as I like to call it.

Happy Reading!

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

~~~

To download Elizabeth's "Helping Hand" cutout, click the image below.

Helping Hand Cutout

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Reading Activities, Kindergarten, Vocabulary, Elizabeth Hall

The World of Words: Building Vocabulary with Informational Texts

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Sep 11, 2013 8:00:00 AM

describe the imageThis guest post by Susan Bennett-Armistead, author of our My World informational texts, is part of an ongoing series in which she discusses informational text and its benefits and uses. Check back regularly to catch her next post!

When I work with teachers who are hoping to boost their children’s exposure to informational text, sometimes they are concerned about the vocabulary in informational text being too challenging for their children. They are wise to anticipate that some children might not be familiar with some of the words used in some texts. At the same time, I encourage teachers to keep in mind that for some children it’s actually the vocabulary that draws them to informational text.

For example, almost all of us have worked with the child who loves dinosaurs enough to learn (and use correctly!) all those complicated names like diplodocus, pachycephalosaurus, and trachodon, and loves to tell you that pterodactyls aren’t actually dinosaurs but are flying reptiles! Those big words coming out of little mouths can be charming and entertaining but they should also reinforce for us that little children enjoy the power over those big scientific words. They love to show grown-ups what they know, and a rich vocabulary is one way to do it. Here are some ways to build children’s vocabularies and a love of words at the same time:

Use good quality informational text that doesn’t shy away from rich vocabulary.

When you select texts to reinforce classroom themes, make sure you select texts that have good, accurate language in them. If you were studying dinosaurs and the only terms were “meat eaters” and “plant eaters,” you’d miss out on some great learning with your children. The strategy of linking accurate language to bridging language such as “meat eaters, or carnivores” can help children understand new terms like “carnivores” or “herbivores.”

Embrace the new words yourself.

Create a classroom climate that loves words by talking about new words, praising children who ask “what does that mean” and excitedly sharing new words and their meanings with children. It’s also great to model not knowing a meaning and having to look it up—just be sure you do!

Look for ways for create categories so children start to sort the information.

When talking about dinosaurs, herbivores and carnivores are logical groups that you can start to sort other vocabulary into:

“Here is an Apatosaurus. He has a little head and small, rounded teeth. Do you think he’s a carnivore or an herbivore?”

“How about a velociraptor? Check out his sharp claws and teeth. What does that make you think about?”

Try using visual prompts so you use the vocabulary more yourself.

Try making a list of the words that you want to be sure children are picking up. If you’re talking about different kinds of trees, for example, your list might include conifer, deciduous, cone, flower, seed, leaf, trunk, and photosynthesis. Print out a sheet with those words on it, in a large enough font to see across the area, and post them around the room. When you see the words, you’re more likely to use them yourself. Additionally, the text adds to your print rich environment and children may start to interact with text as well.

Use graphic organizers to help children make connections and categories.

Venn Diagram Sharks and Whales

This photo demonstrates a Venn diagram activity done to sort similarities and differences between sharks and whales after a unit on "Under the Sea" that allowed children to learn about a variety of sea animals. Not only does this strategy give children a chance to make sense of the vocabulary, but becoming familiar with graphic organizers in the early years can assist them in using them in later grades and subject areas such as math and social studies.

Vocabulary games can be a blast.

Like using a Venn diagram, just sorting words into categories can be fun. Have a list of words from two different units you might have studied such as "Under the Sea" and "Trees." Give each child a word. Then have two pictures on the board, one of the sea and one of the forest. The children need to sort themselves into the groups based on their words. Where does “fish” go? Where does “conifer” go? If the child isn’t sure, he or she can ask a friend. Everyone’s vocabulary knowledge is strengthened by interacting around these words. To make it silly, put the words face down on the floor and have everyone pick one. How fast can they sort themselves? This is a great outside or gym game as well! You can also try games like twenty questions or I-Spy to have children guess your vocabulary words.

Word learning has gotten a bad rap but the learning of the words and the concepts that go with them can be easily incorporated into a play-based environment with just a little thought. Most importantly, by giving children access to a rich vocabulary, we give them the keys to much better comprehension, now and in years to come. The more words they know, the fewer times they’ll encounter words they don’t know…and when they do encounter an unknown word, they’ll have the confidence and strategies to make it their own.

~~~

Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, is an associate professor of literacy education, the Correll Professor of Early Literacy, and the coordinator of literacy doctoral study at the University of Maine. Prior to doctoral study, Dr. Bennett-Armistead was a preschool teacher and administrator for 14 years in a variety of settings, including a brief but delightful stint in the Alaskan bush.

~~~

For more information on the My World series by this author, you can click here to visit the series page on our website or click the image below to download an information sheet.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Informational Text, Susan Bennett-Armistead, World Knowledge, Vocabulary

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