Story Time: Making Read Alouds a Worthwhile Process

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Do you remember story time when you were little? I hope you have experienced story time at least at some point in your life. But even if you haven’t, it’s not too late to learn how to enrich the lives of children through this worthwhile process.

Yes…when you read aloud to a child, you change their aptitude for literacy for a lifetime. Do it with intention and purpose, and you almost guarantee it! Take a look at these quick steps to begin a read-aloud revolution at home or school:

1. Pick a Great Book: Be sure to choose an age-appropriate book. If you are reading to a child from the cradle to about the age of five or six, select a book with lustrous illustrations and only a little bit of text. For older children, choose books with fewer illustrations and more text.

2. Pick a Great Setting: Make read-aloud time special by setting up a comfy, cozy environment. Think about soft sofas, plush pillows, and dim but adequate lighting. Minimize the number of outside distractions (too many toys, too many eye-catchers…too much of anything that takes the focus away from the child and the story).

 

3. Pick a Great Time: Read aloud during a regularly scheduled time. Vary the times occasionally, but for the most part, stick to a routine. Make sure you and the child are alert enough to pay attention to a wonderful story about to unfold. Being sleepy for a just-about-bedtime story is okay, but for the most part, be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

 

4. Pick a Skill: Now, I am getting to the intentional part. When you read to a younger child, did you know that you can sneak in very important reading habits that will actually improve current and future literacy development? You can teach skills such as book sense, text-direction, and one-to-one correspondence with words, including the return sweep.

 

Book Sense: Be intentional about showing the correct position of the book. Demonstrate how the book looks when it is right-side up and when it is upside-down. Discuss the front cover and call it “front cover” out loud with the listener. Do the same with actively demonstrating how you turn the pages. In addition, as you discuss the right way to handle a book, point out specific details like the inside title page, the dedication page (if one exists), the author’s name, and any other books you may have already read by the same author.

Text-direction: As you start to read, use your index finger to draw an imaginary line under the text as you read it aloud. Don’t make a big deal about it, but do it. Your reading finger will draw the child’s eyes to the text. After several read-aloud events, young listeners’ brains start to generalize about text-direction—that we read from left to right.

One-to-One Correspondence: Though usually talked about in math, one-to-one correspondence matters in reading development, too. As you are lining out text with your finger, a child’s visual, auditory, and tactile abilities get a great work out and highlight the connection between each word read aloud and what the listener actually hears. Soon, even if at first it’s a struggle, kids notice that each word is like a tiny chunk of meaning that matches what they are hearing.

Return sweep: As you make it a practice to draw an imaginary line under the text with your finger, you always get to the end of a line (not necessarily the end of a sentence) once you reach the right-hand margin of the page. At that point, young readers can get lost because they don’t naturally know to return sweep, or to go to the beginning of the next line of text that lies under the completed line. If you took typing in school years ago, return sweep is what you do when you hit the return key at the end of a line. We do well when we purposely use our reading finger (the index finger) to show how and where to go once a line of text stops at the right margin but continues on to the next line below.

So, there you have it. Early reading habits can pave a successful road for your kids with just a little bit of awareness and intention.

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

The Prerequisite for Teaching Silent Final E

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If there’s one subject I enjoy teaching almost as much as English grammar, it’s phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling! I know it’s strange, but my linguistic brain has always identified with letters and the sounds they represent. When I began teaching phonemic awareness and phonics as an aid for spelling, letters began to take on a personality in my brain. It happened quite by accident, but I started noticing that certain letters could be grouped based upon their attributes of both position and function. So, without getting too deep into the linguistics, I would like to introduce you to four important reasons for the Silent Final E. And once kids understand the “why”, it will be easier for them to remember to include the silent e on words that require it. Below is Part 1, which will explain an important feature of vowel pairs. This is a prerequisite to lock down with kids before moving on to the first rule.

You will want to teach the following basic letter pattern concept:

Vowel + Silent Final E : Pattern (V + e)

-When you put a Vowel e just after any one of the other vowels, you make a Vowel Team.

-A Vowel Team is two vowels side by side that make one sound.

-When you put an e after any of the vowels, you will hear the first vowel say its long sound, and the e becomes a silent e.

Here’s a completed list of these vowel teams:

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Next time, I will officially introduce Rule 1 for Silent Final E: The Split-Vowel Spelling Rule. You won’t want to miss it!

 

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

How to help your students develop "voice" in their writing.

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In the 1960’s, a researcher by the name of Paul Diederich asked a group of language arts professionals a simple question:  “What makes writing effective?”  As the responses rolled in, Diederich was able to configure them into six distinct traits and coined them as the Traits of Effective Writing.  Amazingly, these six traits are still being used today as a framework for teaching and assessing all types of writing at every stage of writing development. 

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Voice

Teaching “voice” doesn’t have to be difficult!  The key is to establish clear goals and objectives to help students understand and apply the 3rd Trait of Effective Writing.  Today, I will provide you with some background information and give you a few tricks to help students effectively demonstrate voice

Let’s begin with the definition.  “Voice” is the individual way a writer expresses himself or herself; it’s that personal, unique style of using words and expressions to convey meaning in a way that jumps off the page and leaves the writer’s imprint on the reader.  The same words and expressions that tend to flow freely during conversation are often difficult for writers to express effectively.  One reason is because there are no set rules for “how” or “where” to include “voice” in a piece of writing. 

Teachers need to understand that words and expressions that convey voice do not always magically appear.  Students must be taught how to apply voice in their writing.  Good modeling is important.  As students’ knowledge, skill, and practice pertaining to the use of voice increases, their personalities are sure to shine through.   It’s up to you to nurture the development of voice and help students hone their skills by providing lots of practice!

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Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.