Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And the winners are ...

Congratulations to Janna, the winner of Stellaluna, and Ruby, the winner of Corduroy!!! Stay tuned for October's giveaway - it is very hands-on!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September's Free Book Giveaway

I will be drawing for the Free Book Giveaway on September 30th. There will be two winners - one for Corduroy and one for Stellaluna (both are hardcover). Email me your name and email address if you would like to be included in the drawing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jenny's Suprise Summer Lapbook

We spent the last 2 weeks doing Before Five in Row's "Jenny's Suprise Summer" lapbook. This was a great book and a perfect preschool lapbook!!! It is out of print so if your library doesn't have it you can request it through an interlibrary loan. I bought mine off of Ebay. It was not originally in my September plans but several weeks ago my mom and I both went searching for kittens at the local humane societies. Eli, Max, and I choose a classic orange tabby and named him Baxter after much debate. We also considered the names Garfield, Marmalade, Tigger, and Pumpkin. He is a considered a classic because he has bullseyes on both of his sides as part of his striping. You can see a slideshow of him here - http://wordoftruthboysacademy.blogspot.com/2008/09/introducing-our-new-kitty-baxter.html . With that context, it made perfect sense to scratch my original plans to do "My Blue Boat" and go with this instead. Most of the lapbook components were taken from homeschoolshare.com and I added a few more which are now also on the homeschoolshare website. You can find a direct link to all the components here - http://www.homeschoolshare.com/b4_resources_jenny.php. I like to use the boys' art work for my cover and back page. I used Eli's cat for the front and Max's cat for the back. These were two additional art project we did to go along with the lapbook. As luck would have it, I also found the book "Cats and Kittens", an Usborne First Pets book, for five cents at a local thrift shop. It went perfect with the unit and had a great idea to make homemade kitten toys out of felt and catnip. The boys had fun with this and so did our kitty! We also used Scholastic's First Discovery Book "Cats". This was a fun lapbook and so relevant to our lives! I am so glad I didn't rigidly stick to my schedule!!!

Jenny's Suprise Summer Lapbook

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prompts to Support the Use of Strategies

Below I have given you the major teaching prompts that can be used with a student to promote the use of strategies in a child's reading. The prompts come from Fountas and Pinnell's book "Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children" which as you already know I highly recommend. This gives the teacher the language to use with a student based on the strategy needing to be emphasized. It is an excellent resource! After taking a running record or several running records with a student and having analyzed it/them, it will be apparent what strategies and cue sources the child is neglecting. The prompts can then be used to lead the child to using the strategy they are neglecting. For example, say that a child consistently sounds words out making miscues that don't make sense with the story but are very visually similar to the actual word. Rather than focusing on the visual (sounding out) aspect, it might be helpful to point out to the child, "Does that make sense? Check your picture and think about what would make sense." With a simple glance at the picture and thinking about what would make sense, the word may pop right out of his mouth. This promotes the use of the visual cues (sounding the word out) along with the meaning of the story. Remember the goal of reading is to comprehend so we don't want to have children so focused on sounding words out that they lose sight of the real purpose of reading. I have experienced many great "sounder outers" who read flawlessly but have very poor comprehension. If your child is struggling in reading, I would highly recommend that you learn how to take running records (which I have numerous posts about) and consider reading Fountas and Pinnell's book.

Prompts to Support the Use of Strategies

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Books for Reluctant Boy Readers!

I recently heard about a four year old boy who doesn't like to read neither having books read to him nor looking at books. The mom was asking what she could do to encourage him toward reading. It got me thinking!!! First of all, the Lord convicted me about my grumpy attitude lately. My boys love books and have the tendency to empty the shelves as they "read" on a regular basis. They are not very good at putting the books back so guess who gets to do so- MOM!!! Well, I guess I shouldn't complain about this "problem"!!! I have found in my teaching career and with my sons that boys love non-fiction books. We have almost all of the Scholastic First Discovery books and my boys read them on a daily basis. There are topics such as Bears, Bees, Boats, Butterflies, Cars and Trucks, Castles, Cats, Colors, Construction, Eggs, Endangered Animals, Fish, Flowers, Human Body, Lions, Musical Instruments, Night Creatures, Rain Forest, Tools, Trains, Turtles and Snails, Weather and Whales (and much more). These were also a hit when my Sophmore in college was their age. Although we frequent the library weekly, I think it is important for there to be a large variety of books in the home that can be revisited again and again. I find many books inexpensively at local thrift shops. Another source of books that I absolutely love is paperbackswap.com. I have acquired many of my First Discovery Books on that site. With paperbackswap, you post books on the site that you would like to trade. When someone chooses your book, you mail it at your expense using the media mail rate. It usually ends up being about $2.30. When they recieve the book, you earn a credit and can then choose any book on the site. It will be mailed to you for free. I can't say enough good things about this site!!! I have acquired some very expensive books from this site!!! The key is to interest boys with a wide variety of books, especially non-ficiton, and offer many opportunities for enjoying the books. I have children's books in just about every room in the house!!!




Sunday, September 14, 2008

Analyzing Running Records

There are three main cue sources that good readers use to help them read – meaning, structure, and visual cues. Meaning deals with the information gained by looking at the picture and thinking about the story. Structure is a reader’s knowledge of the English language. Visual cues are the information gained from the letters and their corresponding sounds (typically thought of as phonics). A good reader integrates these three cue sources to read successfully. Oftentimes children are only prompted to use the visual information. When examining the errors that a child has made on their running record, it is very useful to see which cue sources the child might be neglecting. This can help the teacher prompt the student to consider the cues they are neglecting. When a student makes a prediction on an unknown word, there are three questions they should be asking themselves. Meaning – Does it make sense? Structure – Does it sound right? (Can I say it that way in the English language?) Visual – Does it look right? To analyze the errors on a running record, you need to have the book and the running record. On the running record form, are columns for MSV (Meaning, Structure, and Visual) which you will use for the analysis. Write MSV in the MSV column on the corresponding line of the error/s. For each error, you will determine which cues the child used to make the error and circle the letter. For example, if the child used meaning, circle M. To do the analysis, read the text up until the error and ask yourself, is there evidence for this error that the child used meaning for his prediction, then structure, and last visual. For each cue used, circle it. For self-corrections, analyze the error before the child corrected himself. Then put MSV in the column next to the error column (the self-correction column) and determine which cue MSV was used for the self-correction. This will generally be one cue source. When the analysis is finished, there will be a good picture of what cues the child is using and which cues are being neglected. For example, the child might use the picture clues and make it sound right grammatically, but completely ignore the visual information. If this pattern, then the teacher knows to prompt the child to attend to the visual information. This will make a lot more sense if you can see examples. This website does an excellent job of providing examples -http://www.eworkshop.on.ca/edu/core.cfm?p=main&modColour=1&modID=2&m=121&L=1. Click on "Show Me", choose a grade level and then go through the different steps. It even has practice that you can check for accuracy. If you take a running record on your child and analysis it, I would be glad to check it for you. My next blog will give you teaching prompts you can use to facilitate your child’s use of all three cue sources. Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children is an excellent resource that teaches about reading instruction and using running records.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cypress Gardens $5.00 Fridays in September

Cypress Gardens in Central Florida is having a special for the month of September - $5.00 admission plus you can upgrade your tickets for a season pass through December for only $10. Wow! The admission is generally $39.95 so this was a steal of a deal and we had an awesome time. They have a ton of rides and when we went (yesterday) there were basically no lines. The boys had so much fun riding on all the different kiddie rides and they even tried out the roller coaster. Eli said "It made my tummy hurt!" He was not inclined to go on it again. I rode on the wooden rollercoaster 6 X in a row without departing so that tells you how it busy it was. We had so much fun in the ride area that we ran out of time to see the gardens, ski show, butterfly house, aviary, plus quite a few rides. I would highly recommend homeschoolers taking advantage of this deal!!!

Cypress Gardens with friends

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Announcing September's Free Book Giveaway!


This month I am giving away two books for September's free book giveaway - "Corduroy" and "Stellaluna". Both titles are hard cover versions. "Corduroy" is a Before Five in A Row title and you can find a lapbook to go with it on the website -http://www.homeschoolshare.com/b4_resources_corduroy.php. "Stellaluna" is a homeschoolshare.com title and also has a lapbook on the homeschoolshare website - http://www.homeschoolshare.com/stellaluna.php. To enter click "Contact Me" on the right side of my blog and be sure to give your name and email address. The drawing will be held on September 30th. I love books and have a wealth of thrift shops in my area to shop for them. I hope this is a blessing to others!!! :) Robin

Lapbook Samples

Monday, September 8, 2008

Using Lapbooks in Homeschooling

About a year ago I discovered lapbooks and fell in love! When I attended college in the early 90's for elementary education, using thematic units in the classroom was all the rage. Teaching with thematic units basically encompassed tying the different subject areas into a particular theme thus making learning interesting and relevant. Unfortunately, it has since fallen out of favor as states have become more test driven. Lapbooks are a new twist on thematic units. A lapbook is basically a collection of minit books demonstrating the learning that has taken place when studying a particular theme or book. The minit books are attached to a book made from file folders. The neat thing about lapbooks are that not only are they fun to make while learning but they beg to be revisited again and again. I have designed several lapbooks for preschoolers as Eli and Max are in that age range. They are housed at one of the best resources for homeschooling on the internet - http://homeschoolshare.com/ . This website has a multitude, and I mean multitude, of lapbooks and unit studies to print and use. The best part is that they are all FREE! I have the following lapbooks posted there - trains, "Feathers for Lunch", "Hello Ocean", "Mrs Wishy-Washy", and "Owl Babies" at this link http://www.homeschoolshare.com/level_1_lapbooks.php and alphabet notebook, "Human Body" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" at this linkhttp://www.homeschoolshare.com/level_2_lapbooks.php . There are a ton more at all levels - prek through middle school. Lapbooking is a wonderful way to make learning fun and interesting - I challenge to try at least one lapbook in the upcoming month. You will not regret it!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vintage records to develop listening skills!

I learned about this awesome website recently that has about 150 vintage records that your children can listen to online. Tonight Eli listened to "Goldielocks and the Three Bears", "The Gingerbread Boy", "Flick, the Little Red Fire Engine", and "Chug-Chug in Lollypop Land". The records are from the 40's and 50's and are really cute. It got me thinking about my childhood. My sisters and I listened to story records as youngsters. A lot of them were Disney records. I think there are some important skills that can be acquired from listening to a story without pictures - imagination, concentration, and listening skills to name a few. Our kids are so inundated with visual imagery these days which as a whole isn't necessarily a bad thing but I think it can stifle imagination and listening skills to some extent. So if you are interested, check it out - http://www.kiddierecords.com .

Friday, September 5, 2008

Running Records Online Workshop

I just found an awesome website that has an online workshop teaching running records. For those of you who are trying to learn it is awesome! It has a "tell me" component where it teaches about running records, a "show me" that allows you to see running records in action, and then a "let me try" section which allows you to practice and check your answers. Click on the title of this post - Running Record Online Workshop - to go to the site. This is an excellent resource!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Running Records - Scoring Part 2

Now that you have practiced running records for a few days, I am going to teach you how to score them. The first thing to determine is how many errors your child made while reading. This is determined by looking at your running record. The following are each counted as one error - substitution (black/blue), insertion (black/-), omission (-/black), and told (/black T). For each of these mistakes (miscues), you count an error. The following are not counted as errors - repetitions, self-corrections and appeals. However, if the child appeals and is then Told, that counts as an error. That is why it is important for the parent to use Tolds very sparingly. Running records are determining what your child can do independently which is also why the Tolds should not be given out very much. Count the number of words for the book or passage and divide that number by the number of errors. This will give you a ratio. For example, if the number of words is 56 and there were 2 errors made that would be 56/2 or 1:28 ratio. This chart http://www.lcmdoe.vic.edu.au/public/text/learnteach/readingrecovery/conversiontable.pdf can then be used to determine what level the text is for your child - easy, instructional, or to hard. Use the closest ratio available on the chart, so the 1:28 ratio would be equivalent to 96% accuracy for reading or easy text. It's your turn now. I encourage you to choose a book, take a running record while your child reads, and then determine what level the book is at for your child. Remember that the goal is to be instructing your child using instructional material - not to easy and not hard. One of my first blogs (Aug 2008) talked about leveled books and the importance of it. Running records are a great assessment tool and can be used for documentation of reading skills. My next post will teach you how to assess the strategies your child is using when reading and which strategies he/she might be neglecting. This will help you know what to focus on in your reading instruction that is tailored right to your child.

Monday, September 1, 2008





I have been without internet for the last few days so I have not been able to post the follow-up to running records. I will get to it in the next few days if not tonight. I have been busy making puppets that the boys have requested. I absolutely love Valerie Bendt's "Successful Puppet Making" book! Besides making them for my children, I was thinking that they would make really cute Christmas presents! You can easily make a puppet in an evening. I love to buy children's books at thrift shops. My idea would be to find a children's book that is new looking and make a puppet to go with it. For example, "The Little Red Hen" and make the hen puppet to go with the book. This would make for an inexpensive but cute and fun gift!!! I'm sorry the picture is sideways - I could not figure out why!!!