30 June 2016

Blog Launch MEGA Giveaway!

To really help kick off the start of my blog I wanted to get out of the gate with a real BANG! (Cause it's the 4th of July soon.... and fireworks.... get it? Right.) I figured what better way to do this than to have a mega, super, fantastic, crazy-good giveaway?? (Did I mention the winner is gonna be SUPER LUCKY to win all of this? So jealous that I can't.)

I created a little picture for social media to find some fellow TpTers to help,  and I have to say the response was absolutely UNREAL. If you ever need help with anything TpT related you should go no where else but the #TeacherpreneurTribe Group on Facebook. It's a closed group, but you can join very easily. Everyone there is the bee's knees. FO REAL.

Now, onto the giveaway that is going to end all other giveaways (well, maybe not, but it's dang good. What can I say? I'm a little partial to it.)

Not to stereotype, but, pretty much every teacher likes Target (hi, Target Teachers! I love their Instagram account.) Just check out my latest visit to the Dollar Spot.

Plus, who doesn't love to get stuff from fellow teachers on TpT for FREE???
I'll tell you. The answer is no one. 

That's why this giveaway is bananas. So, let's break it down. The winner will receive:
  • a $50 TpT gift card (!!!)
  • a $50 Target gift card (!!!)
  • and a whooooole bunch of TpT resources from some awesome sponsors (see the list below)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is hosted by Rafflecopter and the winner is randomly chosen from it. I will have no control who wins the giveaway. It begins on 7/1/16 and will run until 7/8/16. The winner will be announced here on my blog as well as my Instagram by 7/10/16.

29 June 2016

8 Ways Parents Can Help a Struggling Reader

My number one question that I get from parents as a reading specialist is, "How can I help my son/daughter at home?" I always have a few good ideas lined up in my brain when talking with parents to answer this one, and to be honest, there are tons of things, but I've tried my best to neatly organize everything into a handy-dandy infographic below. A printable handout for parents is available in my TPT store as well (FOR FREE!)

L- Locate the child's strengths and weaknesses

Knowing where a child is strong in reading and where he/she is weak is the first step in addressing the "problem" at hand. There is no sense in spending time working on things that she does well. The best way to do this is to have a teacher/reading specialist at his/her school test them if possible. Contact the classroom teacher to see if this is available in your district. If not, try reaching out to a tutoring company such as Huntington Learning Centers or Sylvan. I would be slightly hesitant with these though as they are for-profit businesses. Research yours and find out if it's the best place for your child. Another choice may also be to reach out to any nearby universities. Sometimes training teachers that are still in college may be able to help. 

The main thing to keep in mind when testing reading is that there are five major components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Worthwhile, quality reading diagnostic tests should be addressing these components.

I- Interests... use them!

Remember a time that you weren't interested in something. Maybe at a work meeting people were talking about things that didn't hold your interests or your significant other wanted to see a movie that you'd rather not. What was your reaction? Probably not a positive one. I don't want to read about the stock market or car mechanics, but some people do. I'd rather pick up a fictional mystery book or something about dogs. No one wants to read something that doesn't interest them. 

Children are exactly the same! They are always going to be more receptive to reading if it's about a topic that holds their attention. Let them choose what they read as often as possible. Of course, at school this isn't always an option, but they need to see that reading can be enjoyable. That is much more likely to happen if it's something that entertains them. Find a joke book or a book about farts. Kids like some really weird stuff sometimes.

T- Time to Read

Give children time to read at home... but it doesn't have to take up their whole day! Many parents think that it needs to be long periods of time. That's not true at all! A good rule of thumb is to start out at about 5-10 minutes for a Kindergartener and add about 2-3 minutes per grade. This means that a sixth grader should be reading for about 17-28 minutes a day at home. You'll be surprised that a lot of the time children will actually want to read for longer than what is expected, especially once they start to get better at it, and the only way that happens is by READING!

I'd also like to point out that reading time at home should be seen as a positive thing not a punishment. Remember, the overall goal is to show that reading is a positive, enjoyable activity, not something that should be avoided. Give them a snack while they read and don't be exact and strict on the time that was spent reading. Some days they are probably going to read a little less than others. It's all about balance and making it into a daily habit. That's why I suggest working it into a schedule. Maybe it is something that can be done before bed, right after school, or in the car between sports practices. It's whatever works for your family.

E- Encourage!

Encouragement is probably the biggest component when it comes to working with struggling readers. I do it daily. We chart the students' successes. It's a major intrinsic reward. Students start to see that they can do it and that begins to snowball into more progress and more success.

The more a child is struggling with reading the more encouragement that is needed. Be specific about what you're praising him/her for also. For example, if he figures out a harder word independently instead of just saying "Good job" say something like, "I like the way you used clues to figure out that word" or "I like that you sounded out that word".

Also, try to limit material rewards as much as possible. Don't bribe your child for reading. If they reach a major milestone or do something completely amazing, try celebrating by buying them a book that they would like or something related to reading.

R- Resources...  Where? What?

Knowing what, where, and who when it comes to resources at home is often the biggest problem that parents have. 

An obvious resource is the local library. Know where yours is located and visit often. Allow your child to get their own membership if possible. Again, let them choose their own books. If needed, guide them towards certain books that might be good for them. A good rule to remember when choosing a "Just Right" book is the 5 Finger Rule. Have them read a random page in the book. If they can read all the words or they only miss 1, it's probably a book that is too easy. If they miss 2-3 it's probably a book that would work for them. If they miss 4 or more, it's probably too hard. Use your judgment. They should never been at the point of frustration.

The Internet is probably my favorite invention ever. It's endless. If you want to know something and the Internet can't help you... it doesn't exist. You can Google pretty much anything. Like I said, if you can't find your answer on Google, it probably can not be answered. Here is just a short list of some links that are great places to start when working at home on literacy.

Raz-Kids (It is a paid site, but I highly recommend it.)

PBS Kids (Great for littler guys/gals)

Teach Your Monster to Read (I love this one. Many levels. Again, better for younger to mid-elementary)

Teachers Pay Teachers (I LOVE this website. It's a place where teachers make materials and sell/give away their resources to others. Many things are available for free and are easy to just print out and do as activities, worksheets, etc. Even most items that are sold are anywhere from $1 to $10, while some can be a bit more.) Here is a link to my personal store on the site

A- Act it Out

There are many different ways to learn something and everyone does not learn the same way. Some people learn better by seeing, hearing, doing something, etc. Many children have trouble understanding the books that they read, but can get it much better if they can see it in a movie or in real life. That is why it's a good idea to act out the book as it is being read. It's fun for the kids as well. Pick out a certain chapter or section of a book. Pretend to do the things that the characters are doing. If the child puts themselves in the shoes of the character, it is easier to understand their emotions and helps everything to make more sense. 

C- Communication is KEY!

Communication with your child as well as your child's teacher is one of the utmost important things. Be aware of what is going on in the classroom, as far as skills that are being covered, when tests will take place, how much progress is being made, etc. I find that sending emails works great for most teachers. We're happy to keep parents updated, and email is a great way for us to stay in touch. 

Probably even more important than that is communication with your child. Explain to them WHY reading is important and WHY it is needed. When something holds a certain value it will be taken more seriously. Help them see that it's not just a school subject, but a lifelong skill that is imperative to success in life. 

Also, I'd like to go in a different direction with communication. Read a book together and talk about it. Do something called a "think-aloud". It's a teacher strategy that allows a student to "see" how we're thinking. Perhaps in a book a character does something unexpected. Say something like, "I'm wondering why that character chose to do something like that. I know that if I were him, I wouldn't have. Let's read on and see if he regrets his choice later on." Explain your thinking as you're reading. This shows that as a successful reader you are not just reading the words, but you are actually "reading". Students need to understand that a real reader is thinking while reading the words not just going through the motions.

Y- YOU!  

As the saying goes, "With great power comes great responsibility". As a parent, you are your child's number one role model. As much as you may not realize it, your child looks to you to show them how to live life. (Just ask any parent who had a child repeat some choice words from home. It happens.) You are your number one child's teacher. They will follow your lead. If you don't SHOW that reading is important, they won't think it is. 

I capitalized SHOW for a reason. Just saying "Reading is important" doesn't mean much. Remember, actions speak louder than words. They need to see YOU reading. Let them see you reading the newspaper, or something online, or a magazine. Point out how you were able to make a delicious dessert because you could read and follow steps to a recipe.