Thursday, February 24, 2011

California Readers

I will be attending the 15th Annual California Readers "We Love California Authors  & Artists Luncheon" Saturday in Burbank. Below is a link to my interview posted on their site. This organization is a great way to connect with local writers and illustrators. Susan Patron will be keynoting and the Leo Politi Golden Author is Jerry Stanley. I went last year for the first time and really enjoyed meeting up with other authors and lots of library and school personnel.

Click on this link to find out how I got the ideas to write these books.  
Click here to view larger image
Click here to read this book.

 Click here to view larger image
Read this book inspired by my daughter, Laura

Click here to read a book written and illustrated by Mrs. Keeler's 2nd graders!  


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keep Reading on Track with Fun Pointers

 I received a little package in the mail containing a collection of fun reading pointers. It was from my friend, Luella Connelly, who just happens to be the founder of Creative Teaching Press. Not one to really retire, she is currently volunteering at an elementary school. She is working on reading with six children. They have trouble tracking, so in addition to using their fingers, she made them some cute pointers. Some are tied to the themes of the books they are reading. Pointers are easy to make. Just start with craft sticks, any size, and glue on buttons, wiggly eyes ("Keep your little eye on the words!"), puffy stickers and other fun stuff.

Why is tracking important?
When beginning and remedial readers track words, it helps engrain necessary left-to-right processing, helps them keep their place, and notice all the sounds.
" Poor readers have frequent tracking errors where they improperly process letters out of order. They often exhibit erratic eye movement as they look around for 'whole words' or jump around searching for familiar chunks or word families. These incorrect tracking strategies contribute to reading difficulty."
---M. Gagen     
Also, by tracking as they read, beginning readers are connecting spoken words to written words. Many books they read on this level have repeated text that children easily memorize. Sometimes children finish "reading" the book but they still have some pages  leftover! By tracking with their fingers or fun pointers, their attention is focused on the text.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Great Books for February!

Here are two of my favorite books for Valentines' Day. 
  Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
This is a great read-aloud for any age.
Summary: An anonymous valentine changes the life of the unsociable Mr. Hatch, turning him into a laughing friend who helps and appreciates all his neighbors.

This is a book all pre-readers as well as beginner readers can read and enjoy on their own
Every bird loves a tree,
Every flower loves a bee,
Every lock loves a key,
And I love you! 

This book provides a perfect model for the creation of an "instant" class book your students will enjoy reading over and over again. For directions and free downloadables go to this link:  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Notebooks--Big Gains in Reading Fluency


Here is an idea you can use with your beginner readers either in the classroom or at home. It came from my friend--classroom teacher and educational editor-- Barbara Maio. I quote her:
"This is one idea that, in all my years as a first grade teacher, has proven to be THE BEST activity to help my students become fluent readers."   

Here's the HOW TO:
  • Give each student a small notebook, any kind.  Label each notebook with the student's name and title, "Star Reader."
  • During independent reading time, the student chooses a book from his/her book box (previously introduced books). The child reads and rereads the book until she/he can read it perfectly. They can take it home to practice too. 
  • Then when the child can read it perfectly and fluently, he/she reads it to a parent volunteer or the teacher.
  • If the reading is perfect, the students writes the title in the Reading Star notebook.
  • For every 10 books read, the student gets a star or sticker, and then gets to pick a prize from the goodie box. 

That's it! Remember:
Rereading builds fluency.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Connect school to home in the Kindergarten classroom with take-home bags..

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Are you looking for meaningful, hands-on homework for your kindergarten kids? Do you want your students to practice and extend the learning they are doing in the classroom? Do you want your students to be excited about homework? Several of my teacher friends, (special thanks to Kim Jordano!) create lots of take-home bags tied directly to classroom skills. They have enough bags so that every child can take one home for the night and bring it back the next day.

Want to read this book? Click on the cover!

Here is a take-home bag I put together for my book Monkey in the Story Tree.
I found the bag last year in the dollar bins at Target. But you can use simple tote bags. Recycle the tote bags you get at conferences by turning them inside out and labeling them with fabric markers or puffy paint. I attached the book and the letter to parents to the bag with ribbon. I also included a list of sight words the kids are working on. I also included:
  • a small dry-erase magnet board and marker
  • magnet sight words
  • a bag of magnet letters
  • a class journal
The letter to the parents explains what to do with the materials. You can download a copy of the letter here. And click on the book to read the story. I think take-home bags are the perfect homework for Kindergarten Kids! Take-home bags create active learning activities, are easily understood by parents, and reinforce learning going on in the classroom. Hint! Take-home bags make great learning center activities too.