Books Introductions: Take 2

Book Introductions are so important. Here is another way of introducing a book for small group instruction combining reading, vocabulary, and a little word study, too.
 I've talked about book introductions in past blog posts.  My first post was 4 Book Introductions You Don't Want to Miss gave 4 ideas for introducing a book. Too often we skip the introduction and jump into vocabulary and reading, but the introduction sets the stage.

Here's another book introduction that combines the introduction with the vocabulary (and adds in a little bit of word study for good measure).
Book Introductions are so important. Here is another way of introducing a book for small group instruction combining reading, vocabulary, and a little word study, too.
You've "met" Mallory before. She was my model for the CVC practice in action "I Don't Know This Word...Now What?" She is such a hard worker and I love working with her. She is just starting a Level D reader. She struggles with reading accuracy and sight word recognition and automaticity, but her comprehension is wonderful.

Step 1: I found four short i words and four short o words from the text.
Step 2: I gave her a sort sheet (I have a stack of these scrap card stock papers, so I use them a lot.)
Step 3: I said a word. She had to decide if it had a short i or short o, then write the word.
Step 4: I gave her an very short introduction and asked her to use the other words to predict what would happen in the story.

Here's a video of the introduction. I know, I know I held the phone the wrong way...ugh!

Of course, this introduction isn't for every book. It just depends on the book, but I loved it and she did, too.

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Kindergarten Fact and Fiction: An Article Review

Kindergarten: Fact and Fiction. Using an article by Mesmer and Invernizzi, one can make the argument for the importance of Kindergarten.
So last weekend I was going through my Twitter feed waiting for a session to start at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference, when I noticed an article tweeted by a friend, Laurie Elish-Piper. It was about kindergarten, so I was skeptical to say the least.

I truly believe kindergarten is the most important grade. "People" in education talk about how important a solid foundation is, but don't draw the same lines about kindergarten. The days of sand tables and nap times are gone and putting an emphasis on early learning is imperative. I have the highest respect for Heidi Anne Mesmer and Marcia Invernizzi, but I wasn't so sure about what they would call the "Myths" of kindergarten.

I am so excited to say: It is spot on!

MYTH 1: Kindergarten literacy instruction is teaching reading or pushing down the first-grade curriculum.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction is responsively teaching young children the many facets that support their literacy development in many areas."

They do a great job of breaking down all the skills we teach in kindergarten that truly lay the foundation for learning. They also explain the not so subtle difference between the terms "literacy" and "reading." Students are exposed to "listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as motivation, comprehension and vocabulary."

MYTH 2: Kindergarten literacy instruction is developmentally inappropriate. 

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: ""High-quality literacy instruction in kindergarten is developmentally appropriate and backed by decades of solid research."

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have said a million times with my arms stretched out wide "developmentally appropriate" is THIS range. What is development for one child is not for another. Should we always cater to the lowest common denominator? I don't think so. Do we have to differentiate? Absolutely. If a child is developmentally ready to pull up on the side of the couch BEFORE the baby book says he should, should we push him down? No. If a young child sits at a piano and starts to play earlier than his peers, should we tell him to stop? No. Likewise, if a child is ready, why should we stop. I think the biggest problem in the "developmental" argument is far too many people making decisions about what is and is not developmentally appropriate, have no idea what they are talking about.

MYTH 3: There is no time for play, fun, or socio-emotional development.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction should be FUN and engaging.

Kindergarten should be engaging and exciting and fun. It should include repetition and practice. Students should be allowed to talk, interact, and problem solve in real situations. I won't talk about the utter ridiculousness of half-day kindergarten and the lack of time for conversation and problem solving. Here's a great quote, "Literacy itself is inherently social; it is sharing information, stories, and ideas."

MYTH 4: One size fits all.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Kindergarten literacy instruction cannot be the same for everyone."

The story of two kindergartners: One student needs actual instruction with letters and sounds to gain understanding and clear letter/sound associations. One student has been reading for a while and is reading chapter books. The only thing inappropriate about these kindergarten students is that someone deemed a one size fits all curriculum. We should honor their time and their abilities and give them what they need.

MYTH 5: More testing OR no testing.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "High-quality literacy instruction is driven by certain types of literacy tests."

Tests, tests, and more tests. All tests are not created equal. Should we have tests, of course. Should we test EVERYTHING. No. Should we test with running records and benchmark tests to know exactly what the student knows and what they need. The first criteria for determining if a test is necessary should be this: What will be done with the results? If the results are not used for understanding the student and forming instruction, don't give it.

MYTH 6: Other countries are doing kindergarten more effectively than the United States.

Fact from Mesmer and Invernizzi: "Literacy instruction in the United States is challenging for a number of reasons."

There is no blanket answer for this one. The most important thing about comparisons is making sure we are comparing apples to apples. Other countries have other limitations on education, limiting who is educated, how they are educated and when they are educated. High success rates in these countries is based on the population they educate, not the whole population. We allow education for all and inherently we report all educational needs and results. Educators must look critically at results from these studies and make sure we are apples to apples.

In conclusion:

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this article. As I present to educators, administrators, professors, and people making education decisions...this article gives great basis for the "real" kindergarten. The kindergarten that is developmentally appropriate for ALL students. The kindergarten that is filled with quality in America. The kindergarten that uses assessments for real reasons and not just scores. The kindergarten that is filled with educational play and excitement. The kindergarten that has become the very foundation of all other learning. We can't dismiss it. We can't diminish it's value. We can't shrug it off. Mesmer and Invernizzi give all us "kindergarten enthusiasts" hope.

If you would like to read the entire article...and give it to everyone you know, here it is.

6 Myths About Kindergarten Literacy Instruction by Heidi Anne Mesmer and Marcia Invernizzi.

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Kindergarten: Fact and Fiction. Using an article by Mesmer and Invernizzi, one can make the argument for the importance of Kindergarten.


5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.
This is my favorite advice to parents. Create a LOVE of Reading and you'll never regret it. I am heartsick when I hear students say they don't like reading. I think they are just reading the wrong books and they are just one book away from finding a love in reading. We have to help them find that book. Here are 5 ideas to create a LOVE of Reading that will stand the test of time.

It's Simple Math

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.That's a reading joke (hehe). But, one of my favorite quotes is, "Readers are born on the laps of their parents." It's soooo, soooo true. When we snuggle and add reading, we share a love of reading. Children will associate reading books with that snuggling and love. We can share funny stories like "Pete the Cat" by Eric Litwin and let them giggle. We can share friendship stories like "Chicken Sunday" by Patricia Polacco and teach them the value of true friendship. We can share stories of sadness like "I"ll Always Love You" by Hans Wilhelm. We can even share nervousness like "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg to prepare them for life using books. It's a great way to share love.

Let them you read.

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Let them listen to you! Sometimes when our children start to gain reading skills we tend to make them read everything, but they need to hear you read. They need to understand things like voice (how should that dog sound when he's talking) and intonation (making your voice show the ups and downs of language that can be shown in just text). They need to hear you read breathlessly when you are reading about a race and they need to hear you whisper when they are reading about a quiet time. Their first reading experiences sound like robots, but when they hear you read with expression, they will, too. You will get a kick out of hearing them read with your expression, before it becomes their expression.

Let them "read" it preview and predict

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Before you read, have them look at the book. They can preview what will happen by looking at pictures. If you want to share the fun of a specific part of the book with them, let them look at the pages up until a certain point, then tell you what they think will happen. When you discuss the book before they know the answers, you are helping them predict and draw conclusions. You are their first teachers, so using words like "make a prediction" or "what do you think will happen" will give them such a head start on reading. 

Have Fun...when you read

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.Why not make a schedule for family book time.  Monday is the start of a new week, so start it with a new book. Tuesday can be "Where are we going to" day. Pick a destination and dive in. Read about the zoo, the ocean, or the mountains. Wednesday can be all about "when" did the book takes place. Choose a book about the morning or the night, or maybe a book about the summer or the winter, or maybe even something that happened long ago or maybe way in the future. It could be fun to explore the "when" of books. Thankful Thursday can build a capacity for caring in your child. What are we thankful for? Read books about food or houses or pets or families. Friday is such a relief. It's a good time to relax and choose a pre-read book to read again. It makes the reading easy and they can even help you. Being creative with books, makes reading fun.

Reading is a Reward

5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.
One of the WORST things I've ever heard is: "I have to read when I'm being punished in my room."


Say it isn't so. Don't make reading the punishment. Please, please, please make it a reward. Why would we ever want to associate reading with punishment? You have had a fantastic day, let's read a book before your bath AND after your bath.

I hope this gives you ideas about creating a love of reading. It could be one of the best gifts you give your child.

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5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading... one of the best gifts you can give your child.

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