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More Random Tidbits About Our Language Reading Teachers Should Know

I'm sharing more ideas that I learned from my LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) workshop from a couple of weeks ago. 

More Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know:  How many of these facts might change your teaching of reading?


The instructor, Carol Tolman, was brilliant and inspiring!  She really knows her stuff! See the previous post HERE. Here are more of the things I learned from her:

1. First Grade Instruction:

First grade Reading/ Literacy Instruction should be 40% Word Work. The other 60% should be Guided Reading, Writing, Oral Vocabulary, Oral Comprehension, and Handwriting. The word work percentage goes down slightly through the grades as the children get older.

2. Handwriting:

Handwriting is 85% linguistics and 15% fine motor skills.


3. Phonological awareness

Fifty-two studies have proved that phonological awareness is essential for reading success.  Quite often we need to back struggling readers up to this point.  (Phonological awareness is the skills that we could do "in the dark", before we start matching sounds to letters.  This refers to "Which word has the same sound as a in hat?" or "Which word rhymes with log?"

4. Words ending in S

Rarely do word ends in a single s unless it's plural. That's why words like horse and house have the silent e.  If house were spelled hous, it would mean "more than one hou". I honestly can't think of any exceptions to this!

5. Words ending in J or V

Words rarely end in Jor V  either. That explains the spellings of words like have and huge. Final e has several purposes, besides making a vowel long.

6. Words with tch

The spelling tch typically occurs after a short vowel, with ch coming after a long vowel or "vowel team". There are a few exceptions like such and much, but most words follow this pattern. I never knew this, and I had a tch in my maiden name! (After a short vowel, of course!)

7. When to teach phonics

Phonics should be taught through 6th grade (or later, if needed). After 3rd grade, kids respond better when it's called Advanced Word Study or Linguistics, but it needs to be taught daily.

8. "Air writing"

When "air writing", have children start with their shoulders, not arm or hand.  This makes a bigger neuron trace in the brain.

Well there you go! 
How many of these did you know?
What "reading facts" can you add to this list?

More Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know:  How many of these facts might change your teaching of reading?



Random Tidbits About Our Language Reading Teachers Should Know

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a 4-day LETRS training session.  LETRS stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling.  
Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know: These facts should be useful for teachers of reading!

The recent 4-day session was the second of three sessions. It's exhausting and overwhelming stuff, but it's amazing and quite valuable to know as a teacher of reading. Here are some interesting pieces of information I learned from some of the training.

1. Vowels are open, unconstricted sounds.  

The English Language has 18 vowel sounds: 5 short vowel sounds; 5 long vowel sounds; 3 r controlled vowels /er/ (spelled er, ir, or ur), /ar/, and /or/; diphthongs /oi/, /ow/; and the vowel teams /aw/, /oo/ (as in book) and /oo/ as in (as in pool).  This doesn't include the schwa sound, which takes on a short u or a short i sound in unaccented syllables.

2. Consonant sounds

The English Language has 25 consonant sounds:  /p/,/b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /m/, /n/, /ng/, /f/, /v/, /th/ (unvoiced, as in three), /th/ (voiced, as in those), /s/, /z/, /sh/, /zh/ (as in pleasure), /ch/, /j/, /y/, /wh/, /w/, /h/, /l/, and /r/.

3. Short vowel sounds

Fifty percent of words have short vowel sounds.

4. Predictable

The English language isn't as unpredictable as people think:
  • 50% of words are predictable by rule
  • 36% of words are predictable by rule with 1 error, usually a vowel
  • 10% of words will be predictable with morphology and word origin taken into account
  • Fewer than 4% of words are true oddities.

This is just the beginning of what I've learned from this training. 

See also THIS POST.

Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know: These facts should be useful for teachers of reading!


Twelve Strategies to Get From Working Memory to Long Term Memory

I had a delightful group of teachers at my after school workshop today on Using Brain Research in the Classroom. We shared lots of ideas and there was lots of enthusiasm on the topic of the brain. 
Twelve Strategies to Get from Working Memory to Long Term Memory: tricks to help students make learning stick!

I had several key points I wanted to make, which I think came through successfully. You can see these main points on this post: Seven Brain Based Learning Principles.

Although I got through most of these points, (we really didn't get to the last two, after all, it's only an hour workshop!) But the one that's stuck in my mind is the third one:

The working memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time, usually in about 4 - 8 minutes. After that, the brain needs time to process, reflect and review in order for those chunks to move to the long term memory.


In a world where we're given large amounts of information to dish out to the kids in a short day, it's tough to give out just 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time, then allow the time to process that information so it can go into the long term memory. Here are some suggestions for this enormous task of taking information from the working memory to the long term memory:


Twelve Strategies to Get from Working Memory to Long Term Memory: tricks to help students make learning stick!
1. Get them moving! I like to make movement and physical action part of the learning experience by using gestures and having the children mirror what I do.


2. Give time to review. I find the use of whiteboards work well for review. They are easy to use, very forgiving, and the kids love them.  They are easy for a teacher to check for quick assessments.


3. Use hands-on activities. Math manipulatives and science demonstrations work well to get the students interested and involved.


4. Minimize directions. Break larger lessons into smaller parts, making connections between parts.


5. Use a timer. After about 4 - 8 minutes, stop for a brain break, then return for a few more minutes, then another brain break.


6. Pause after a few pieces of information and give the students time to reflect and/ or ask questions.


7. Allow the students to draw pictures of what they're learning.  I'm a firm believer that drawing internalizes information. (I use it a lot for vocabulary.)


Twelve Strategies to Get from Working Memory to Long Term Memory: tricks to help students make learning stick!
8. Use graphic organizers to arrange ideas so they can be revisited and understood.


9. Use "think pair, share" type activities where the students talk about what they just learned.


10. Use music. Putting important information to a simple tune that the children already know really helps them remember the information.  Some simple tunes that everyone knows:  Twinkle Twinkle, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, or This Old Man.


11. Have a gimmick. Do something clever or unique to get their attention. Tell a joke or hook them in with something clever.


12. Get their emotions involved. Emotions are very  much tied to memory. (I'll bet you remember those very emotional events in your life:  like your wedding or giving birth!) For some, getting up in front of the class will get the right amount of emotions going. For others, a game will do the trick.

Do you have any ideas to help those chunks of information get into the long term memory?  Please include your ideas in the comments section below!


Twelve Strategies to Get from Working Memory to Long Term Memory: tricks to help students make learning stick!







Seven Brain Based Learning Principles

I've been fascinated by Brain Based Learning. 

I've made a point to learn a lot about how the brain works. Here are some of the important points:

Seven Brain Based Learning Principles: Here are seven of the important points I've learned about the brain, and how we can help brains learn!


1.  The brain needs to make patterns and associations in order for new material to make sense.



2.  Humor decreases stress and  increases learning speed.



3.  The working memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time, usually in about 4 - 8 minutes.  After that, the brain needs time to process, reflect and review in order for those chunks to move to the long term memory.


Seven Brain Based Learning Principles: Here are seven of the important points I've learned about the brain, and how we can help brains learn!
4.  Music boosts brain organization and ability.  It affects our moods and emotions.  Music goes hand in hand with math.



5.  The brain is a parallel processor.  It needs to activate more than one process at a time. This is why lecture-type teaching doesn't work.  Try combinations, such as listening and moving or watching and listening.


Seven Brain Based Learning Principles: Here are seven of the important points I've learned about the brain, and how we can help brains learn!
6.  Practice does NOT make "perfect".  Practice with appropriate feedback makes "better".  Feedback should be honest and immediate, if possible.



7. If children are engaged cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially, learning will happen.



The more I learn about how the brain works, the more fascinated I am!



Want some resources?


Seven Brain Based Learning Principles: Here are seven of the important points I've learned about the brain, and how we can help brains learn!
Click the blue "learn more" button for a link to a previous post on Brain Based Learning Strategies.





Click the orange button for a link to Eric Jensen's blog.



Click the Pinterest logo to see my Pinterest board on Brain Research.


Enjoy your reading about Brain Based Learning!

Seven Brain Based Learning Principles: Here are seven of the important points I've learned about the brain, and how we can help brains learn!

A Fun Way to Present Research!

There are so many types of ABC books! 

 
A Fun Way to Present Research! It's fun for children to show off what they learned by making an ABC book of their knowledge! This blog post has suggestions, examples, and a resource to help the children share their learning!



The ABC theme can be tied to content areas. For example, a student could make an ABC book showing what they've learned about plants through an ABC book. Another could write about the government with an ABC book. The possibilities are endless!

A Fun Way to Present Research! It's fun for children to show off what they learned by making an ABC book of their knowledge! This blog post has suggestions, examples, and a resource to help the children share their learning!


Here's an ABC book that's ready to go! If you run off the pages back to back, then fold, the pages will be in alphabetical order for you. Then the children just have to fill in the information. Just see the image or HERE to download your ABC book template!

There are so many wonderful published ABC books to use as examples, just read a couple, then let the kids do their own! Here are some examples:

                  

What other ABC books would your students write?


A Fun Way to Present Research! It's fun for children to show off what they learned by making an ABC book of their knowledge! This blog post has suggestions, examples, and a resource to help the children share their learning!


An Easter Warning and an Easter Tradition

Wow, it's almost Easter already! 


An Easter Warning and an Easter Tradition - here are a couple of fun Easter stories - one you won't want to do, and one  you might!

Nowadays I don't do as much as we did when we were kids, but we still do eggs, Easter dinner with family, and the Easter Bunny still gives my daughter a basket. Yes, she's an adult and probably thinks it's dorky, but I love that the Easter Bunny still visits!

I have an Easter story from my past I'd like to share that comes with a warning: Count your eggs before they are hidden!

When we were kids, the Easter Bunny always hid eggs for us to find. This particular spring, my sister and I managed to find most of the eggs, leaving our little brother a few.  After much hunting, we were sure we'd found them all, so we went about our Easter business:  getting decked out in Easter clothes, church, comparing Easter baskets, dinner with the family, lots of Easter candy and general family enjoyment!

We'd long forgotten that spring morning the following November when the first snow came. We dug out last year's snow gear, and got ready for school. When we were leaving, my sister had trouble getting her boots on. She realized there was something in the boot.  Imagine our horror when she pulled out a very old Easter egg. No, not the plastic ones, but a colored, hard boiled egg!

Needless to say, we didn't open it, but we learned our lesson:  Always count the eggs!

I also want to share my family's Easter tradition. We call it the Polish tradition, since it came from my Dad, but we really have no idea where it came from. It all comes from the principle that when two eggs are clicked together, only one will crack! (I've never seen it fail, and I've been doing this for over 50 years!)

At the Easter dinner table, everyone chooses a hard boiled egg. Pairs click their eggs together, and the one who holds the uncracked egg moves on in the competition. Finally, a winner will emerge!

I am a lover of tradition. I don't think Easter would be Easter without the traditional egg cracking contest! Feel free to try this at your Easter dinner!

And don't forget to count your eggs!


An Easter Warning and an Easter Tradition - here are a couple of fun Easter stories - one you won't want to do, and one  you might!


Eight Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day is coming up! In some ways I'm glad. It's hard to pretend to be surprised every time one of my students tells me my shoe is untied or I have a spider on my head. But I'll be celebrating with my kids, since it's a day dedicated to laughing. Who couldn't use more of that?

8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Plus, it's a great way to make school fun without losing out on learning! 

I tell my kids about GOOD jokes and BAD jokes


GOOD jokes make people laugh.

BAD jokes make people mad or upset.  


Of course, only GOOD jokes are allowed in my classroom!


Here are some ideas to make the kids laugh:


8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Time for the joke books!  

I have quite a collection of them after over 30 years of teaching. They come out every April. The kids love them (even my little ones that don't actually "get" the humor!)

8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Pull out your favorite authors of funny books  

 Robert Munsch is spending some time in my classroom this week. I've been reading one every day!  (Stephanie's Ponytail is the one I read today - the kids couldn't get enough of it!) These are some of my favorite Robert Munsch books: (Images are affiliate links to Amazon.)
                 

8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Work silly things into every day work   

There are always opportunities to give examples of what is being learned. Throwing in something ridiculously silly just adds to the fun of learning. I do a lot of movement breaks in my classroom, so  you know the children will be walking like a winged kangaroo or something along those lines.



8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Do Math story problems with a very silly theme  

I find if I use the words "monkey" or "underwear", the children break into laughter. Make up an addition story about a money in striped underwear, and you're golden!


8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Check out some of the ideas on Pinterest for April Fool's Day. See THIS link! 


8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

I like to "spice things up" on April Fool's Day by rearranging the classroom 

 I turn a few posters upside down, turn a few desks around so that the kids can't reach their stuff. I'll find a kid with a good sense of humor and put his/ her desk completely in another part of the classroom, or even in the hallway.  (Some kids are just too sensitive for that stuff, but there's always one or two that could handle it and even enjoy it!)



8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Mix up the schedule  

Other than specials and lunch, rearrange all the other parts of the day. Just be careful... there are some children that really rely on their routine. Be sensitive and don't overdo it!

8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Replace their photographs with silly pictures 

If you have photographs of the children displayed in the classroom, put up a silly picture in its place. They'll giggle about this for days!



What are your ideas for April Fool's Day?


For more on April Fool's Day see:


8 Ways to Spice Up April Fool's Day! Here are 8 different ways for elementary children to have fun on April Fool's Day, but keep on learning as well!

Area or Perimeter?

Ever notice how kids have a hard time keeping track of which meaning goes with the word "area" and which meaning goes with the word "perimeter"?

Area or Perimeter? Ever notice how kids have a hard time keeping track of which meaning goes with the word "area" and which meaning goes with the word "perimeter"? Here are some brain compatible tips!

My kids used to, but then I made up a couple of tricks that helped the kids remember which one was which. Brain research tells us that making these connections in the brain help children remember!


Area is measuring squares.  Both words have the are in them, which I emphasize when I teach it.  I also make a hand motion that reminds the children that we're talking about a full surface.


Perimeter measure around the sides. I emphasize that r in both words, and make a hand motion moving around.


You know, I'm kind of obnoxious about the way I repeat it over and over, making the same hand movements, and emphasize the are for area and the r in perimeter.


But I've had former students tell me they remembered the difference between area and perimeter and they repeated the movements I used to make when they were in my class.


I also made up this activity for the children to practice the differences between the two. See the image or HERE: Area or Perimeter

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Area-or-Perimeter-225468?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=Area%20or%20Perimeter

When my students do this activity, they repeat my gestures every time!


Area or Perimeter? Ever notice how kids have a hard time keeping track of which meaning goes with the word "area" and which meaning goes with the word "perimeter"? Here are some brain compatible tips!

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