Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Books for Boys By Pam Allyn

I strive each day in my classroom to create life long readers and learners by giving children time to read, providing reading choice, and allowing for discussions where my young students can grow and thrive.  Recently, I was contacted to review Pam Allyn’s newest book.

Here Are My Top 3 Reasons To Read
Best Books for Boys K-8 
How To Engage Boys In Reading In Ways That Will Change Their Lives 

Find the Perfect Book for Your Most Reluctant Reader(s) 
The bulk of this book includes a reference guide of “boy recommended” book titles. Sorted into 21 different categories of reading interests, this annotated list is further coded with the levels of emerging, developing, and maturing. Numerous book titles and summaries are included in addition to listed recommendations {If you like this book, check out these book…}.  I found myself reading the book lists and browsing Amazon and my school library catalog simultaneously to check out possible book additions for my classroom library.  As Ms. Allyn reminds us, boys {and girls} are looking for books that have “weird covers”, “definitely dragons”, and “some kind of great art on the cover”.  Here are just a few of the recommended titles for emerging readers listed in this section of the book.  Archie and the Pirates by Marc Rosenthal, Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod, The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola, Ish by Peter Reynolds, Watch Me Throw The Ball:  An Elephant and Piggie Book by Mo Williams, and Orangutan Tongs:  Poems to Tangle Your Tongue by Jon Agee.  This annotated list is a great resource for parents, teachers, and anyone who read with children.  Be sure to check out the full book list for more boy-approved titles!    

Enhance the Reading Experience in Your Classroom or At Home
The Question and Answer Section in Part 2 of this book will invite you to reflect on the reading environments provided in the classroom and/or at home.   Here are few key points to take away from this section:  Read aloud from a variety of genres of various lengths and levels (Ms. Allyn reminds the reader to “choose authors and characters with whom boys identify”.), encourage and celebrate all forms of valuable reading (Do not discount the reading of websites, blogs, text messages, instructional manuals, video games, comic books, sport pages, etc all of which help develop literacy.), encourage social reading and interaction, design take home reading bags to include leveled books and books for browsing, support quick reads, build reading stamina, and create the time and space to let boys {and girls} read.   In addition, Pam Allyn writes about the importance of “creating ways for boys to see men reading”.  Ideas further explored include “all-boy” book clubs, reading role models, and ways to making reading a part of an active lifestyle.  Ms. Allyn offers excellent tips for getting boys to read books, yet she clearly states that these ideas work for both girls and boys.

Further Your Understanding of The READ Model to create Life Long Readers
Pam Allyn provides the reader the information necessary to begin implementing the READ model in the classroom and/or at home.  The goal of this model is “to set the stage for a life long love of reading”.  READ stands for ritual, environment, access, and dialogue.  The choices we make to include read-alouds, rereadings, comfort, lighting, soft music, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and book discussions influence the reading experiences for all of our students.  Ms. Allyn also includes many statistics in her book that illustrate why she chose to focus on the reading habits of boys.  

If you are looking for a great resource and a good book that is a quick summer read, be sure to check out Best Books for Boys K-8 by Pam Allyn.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Guess The Story

Summer vacation has finally started and I am looking forward to reading Jan Richardson’s book, The Next Step In Guided Reading, from cover to cover.    

I am passionate about guided reading instruction and I’ve had this book for months now, but I’ve only had time to skim it.  It is on my summer reading list and…I didn’t get very far when I had to stop reading and design a new literacy station!  Many of you may already have this station in your classroom, but if not, I wanted to share with you one of Jan’s suggestions for an oral retelling station. 

To organize an oral retelling station, simply place your read aloud books in the center for students to retell.   To make this activity fun, Jan suggests to copy and to laminate the book covers and put them in the workstation. Then you will teach the children to play “Guess the Story”.

To play “Guess The Story”, one child will choose a familiar book cover from the box and retell the story with a beginning, middle, and end.  The other children in the group will guess the title of story.  Children take turns retelling different stories.  Model how to play “Guess the Story”.    (That’s the key!  Model this station beginning on the second day of school ~ use your read-aloud(s) from the first day of school.)  Do this each day for two or three minutes, allowing students to model how to use this station and after a week you can add it to the task board.  Here’s the best part, by the third week of school, you will have a station full of ten or more familiar books ready for oral retelling!

I decided to make the featured book cards small enough so that when one child chooses a book cover the other children in the group will not see it!  If you’re interested in a few of my featured September books, you can grab the cards here!

Simple, Easy, and Teacher Friendly!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Animal Groups and Animal Characteristics

My students love animals!  

So, to keep a sense of routine during these last few weeks of school, our morning have been filled with reading and writing activities for Animal Groups.  My students worked in small groups and with partners to read, write, and share all about animals and animal characteristics!

Students used graphic organizers and post-it notes to record their learning.  Then they worked with partners to write reports.

Here's a look at our reports.

"Facts About Mammals" featured a student designed cut and paste of their favorite mammal.

"Learning About Birds" featured a paper plate bird art project.

"Reptiles" featured an alligator or turtle shaped writing book with student generated facts.

Here's a look at an alligator shaped book.

Fun With Fish
 Students used a teacher prepared writing booklet to write on the topics of characteristics of fish, fish habitats, fish food, fish babies, and interesting fish facts.  (The student work in unedited in all of these photos.)

Here's a look at a few of the fish designed paper plate projects.

We read, studied, and wrote about Insects!  Here's a look at a report!

We also covered amphibians, but I guess I did not take a photo of those projects!  It's been a busy week!

We finish school on June 21!

Hope you are having a great month!