Tag Archives: literacy

5 Ways to Differentiate Assignments & Tasks: Part 2

Differentiated, or tiered, assignments provide students opportunities for individual understanding and growth in learning. Activities, projects, and tasks that educators create for their students can be used with flexible groups to address common learning needs. Continue reading

First Look, Second Look, Third Look: Close “Reading” with Book Art

I’ll admit it: I was looking for a Native American book by a Native American author to write about in light of Thanksgiving and National American Indian Heritage Month as many teachers do this time of year. Continue reading

A Visit With the Open Book Foundation

Guest blogger iconIllustrator Frané Lessac shares a recent school visit that she and her husband, author Mark Greenwood, did in Washington, D.C. with An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation

One of the highlights of our recent US tour was our visit to Washington, D.C. and our Open Book Foundation day, working with three second grade classes at Savoy Elementary.

The foundation’s mission is to promote literacy among disadvantaged children and teens in the greater Washington, D.C. area by giving books to students and providing access to authors and illustrators – and what a unanimously positive experience it is for all involved!

Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary
Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

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Teaching Cinderella Stories from Around the World

CINDERELLA world hands smallerWith the welcoming of ghoulish decoration displays and the buzz of Halloween costume ideas, the streets will soon be filled with candy-hungry witches, superheroes, and beloved fairy tale characters. Of all the many treasured fairy tale characters that come and go in popularity, none seems to be more resilient than Cinderella. But this Halloween, Cinderella doesn’t have to just mean the classic blue ballroom gown and glass slippers…

Whether you are planning your Cinderella unit this time of year or are brainstorming with young readers on Halloween costume ideas, Lee & Low Books is proud to present the Cinderella Around the World series. This collection of five diverse Cinderella stories from our Shen’s Books imprint features stories of Cinderella from several different cultural perspectives. Cinderella has been told for centuries across many distant lands and cultures from around the world. Readers will discover a range of settings, cultures, traditions, and characters as they explore Cinderella tales from Southeast Asia, India, and Mexico.

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How to Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in Kindergarten

Jill_Eisenberg

Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Over the past several weeks, I have demonstrated what compare and contrast can look like in second and third grade. Even as young as kindergarten, early readers can learn to compare and contrast successfully within and between texts. In doing so, teachers can assess students’ abilities at close reading, comprehension, and interpretation.

Below is a comparison of two books of similar topic and genre. I have created sample questions to teach towards and check mastery of each of the three Common Core categories. These are by no means the only questions to ask in each category, but these provide an overview of the progression in question complexity and mastery of the texts.

By creating a range of compare and contrast questions across the standards, we are able to differentiate for students within a class, provide extension opportunities for ready learners, or move the whole class from literal- to higher-level thinking over the course of several lessons.

Texts:

Meat Pies
Meat Pies

Meat Pies (Level: A)

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How to Compare and Contrast with the Common Core in the Third Grade

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

One of the critical skills on Common Core-aligned end of year assessments is compare and contrast. In order for students to compare and contrast successfully within or between texts, students must be proficient at the close reading, comprehension, and interpretation stages. There are many ways to approach teaching comparing and contrasting, including between characters, texts, genres, themes, or media.

Below is a comparison of two books of the same genre and similar topic. I have created sample questions to teach towards and check mastery of each of the big three common core standards categories. These are by no means the only questions to ask in each category, but these provide an overview of the progression in question complexity and mastery of the texts.

By creating a range of compare and contrast questions across the standards, we are able to differentiate for students within a class, provide extension opportunities for ready learners, or move the whole class from literal- to higher-level thinking over the course of several lessons.

Texts:

The Storyteller’s Candle (level: O)

Storyteller's Candle
Storyteller’s Candle

Richard Wright And The Library Card (level: N)

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Ten Ways Teachers Can Support Parents and Cultivate Student Success

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Parents are both the most important adults in a young child’s life and the biggest contributors to their future success. But some parents find it difficult to provide adequate care because of the stresses of poverty and other barriers,” says the latest report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Released November 4, “The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success” asserts how strategic interventions and support systems at the statewide and national level can protect, restore, and prevent students, particularly low-income students, from fragile foundations in health and education. Michael Alison Chandler of the Washington Post offers an informative summary.

This report is a powerful reminder of how important our work is and what is at stake. It details the challenges children confront in low-income households and how their environments and experiences have long-term consequences.

We must continue to ask ourselves: what role can teachers, librarians, and literacy groups play in supporting vulnerable and at-risk families beyond the classroom? We must engage our students’ families as literacy allies. According to the National Center for Families Learning, children spend 7,800 hours out of school each year compared to 900 hours in school. “The family unit—no matter the composition—is the one constant across the educational spectrum.”

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Integrating Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening in Grades K-1

Katherine AliGuest BloggerKatherine Ali is a dual-certified elementary and special education teacher. She recently graduated as a literacy specialist with a Masters in Science from Manhattanville College. She has experience teaching internationally in northern China and now teaches in the Bronx, NY.

As educators, we witness the transformations of students throughout elementary school.  First graders will one day become fifth graders, while fifth graders were once first graders.  So we must think, where did our students come from? and where are they going next? Our classroom must be structured to prepare our students for the future and help them build a skillset they can bring with them.  In order to be active participants in the literate world, students must be reading, writing, speaking, and listening at all ages.

Here on the LEE & LOW blog, I’ll illustrate what it looks like to integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening across several grade levels: K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. The natural interplay of language looks slightly different across grade levels, but the foundations and mission are the same.

Reading:  Text Complexity and the growth of comprehension

We want our students to ascend the staircase of text complexity and simultaneously sharpen their comprehension skills.  Students of all ages need to build stamina through independently reading more rigorous and complex texts.  Additionally, read-alouds allow students to access content and concepts they may not be able to decode themselves.

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What does close reading look like in Second Grade?

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

Before I start discussing close reading in the second grade classroom, I want to take a minute to acknowledge educators and students across the Northeast, who over the past two weeks have dealt with not just superstorm Sandy, but a Nor’easter!  Some schools sustained significant flooding and damage, or have classrooms without heat or power.  And in some areas, even though the children are back in the classrooms, after a long day teachers and students head home to clean and repair damage sustained to their own homes and communities.  And last week, they did that in the wind and snow.  If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.  My thoughts are with everyone who continues to be affected by this awful streak of weather.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll be modeling how to do a close reading at several different grade levels.  Last week, I wrote about close reading in first grade. Next up: Close Reading in Second Grade using the L level text  Under the Lemon Moon by  Edith Hope Fine and illustrated by Rene King Moreno.

In terms of student questioning, start general and move up Bloom’s Taxonomy by gradually increasing the rigor.  For example, say you want to focus your close reading of Under the Lemon Moon on author’s craft, specifically focusing on language and word choice in just the first six pages of the story  (2nd grade reading standard for literature, Craft and Structure, strand 4,  AND 2nd grade language standards, Vocabulary Acquisition and Use, strands 4-6 from the Common Core Standards).  Here are the questions I would ask:

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What does close reading look like in First Grade?

Jaclyn DeForge thumbnailJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be modeling how to do a close reading at several different grade levels.  Last week, I wrote about close reading in Kindergarten. Next up: Close Reading in First Grade using the H level text Pop Pop and Grandpa by Mary Dixon Lake and illustrated by Christiane Kromer.

Pop Pop and Grandpa

In terms of student questioning, start general and move up Bloom’s Taxonomy by gradually increasing the rigor.  For example, say you want to focus your close reading of Pop Pop and Grandpa on the setting and events of the story (1st grade Literature Standard, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, strand 7, from the Common Core Standards).  Here are the questions I would ask:

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