• Teaching Habits That Will Help Struggling Readers Succeed in 2013

    Teaching Habits That Will Help Struggling Readers Succeed in 2013

    The New Year brings with it the opportunity to reflect back on the previous year and to look at what went well and what we hope to do differently in the coming year. For many of us, it is easy to get caught up in the negative thought pattern that things can’t really change. We may have experienced a hope for change and may have made efforts to change something only to have it not “stick.” While every effort for positive change is beneficial, we may have the best intentions but may not have the best resources for effective and lasting change.

    When I was teaching English to 8th graders, I remember the strong desire to call in sick on the day I had to teach concepts like adding inflectional suffixes or the pronunciations and spellings when using y as a vowel. There was no structure or systematic way to present the information. It felt like I was given a bucket of information that I just dumped in front of my students for them to sort through and pick and choose what they could understand and use.

    However, as I have learned and trained teachers in the Reading Horizons methodology, I have learned: ...

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    Dec 31 2012
  • 12 Best of 2012: Strategies for Teaching Reading to Beginning & Struggling Readers

    12 Best of 2012: Strategies for Teaching Reading to Beginning & Struggling Readers

    There are two types of people in the world: those that make New Year’s resolutions and those that don’t. 

    (And yes, that was an adaptation of this quote from What About Bob?: “There are two types of people in the world: those that like Neil Diamond and those that don’t. My ex-wife loves him.”)

    I myself have been both types of people (I don’t even know how to make that sentence grammatically correct – do enlighten me!). There are years where there is such an obvious resolution to make and years where I’m overwhelmed just maintaining what I am doing that the last thing I’m going to do is expend any mental energy to make a resolution I feel no resolve (or energy) to keep.

    But, in light of the cultural pressure to at least acknowledge the concept of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve thought a lot about change and goals lately. I’ve thought about times when I succeeded at making a change and times when I failed. I have memories of changes that I made almost instantaneously and naturally. I have memories of changes that occurred over the course of my entire life.

    My conclusion: ...

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    Dec 27 2012
  • How is the Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary Going to Change the Classroom?

    How is the Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary Going to Change the Classroom?

    I am not going to lie. It is hard to regularly contribute to a blog (well, I am supposed to contribute regularly). Thinking is the hardest part of writing for me so I usually keep a list of possible topics with the hope that something on the list will spur thought. As I looked over my list of possible topics I realized that I cannot ‘think’ seriously about any of the items on that list. I have spent too much time thinking about what has happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school and the things on my list seem highly insignificant in comparison. In keeping with my propensity for lists, here is a ‘list’ of some of the thoughts that have been running through my head since Friday’s tragedy. ...

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    Dec 19 2012
  • How to Get Started When Teaching Struggling Readers

    How to Get Started When Teaching Struggling Readers

    Because struggling readers have a history of struggling, they can be very closed off and resistant to working on their reading skills. Not because they don’t want to succeed, but because they don’t believe they will succeed. As a result of this, it is very important when working with a struggling reader that you are very confident in the effectiveness of your approach. You should always do your best to use research-based best practices that are explicit, systematic, and multi-sensory. If you can’t deliver quality reading instruction that is simple for a struggling reader to understand, you can leave the student feeling even more resistant and closed off to working on their reading skills in the future.

    Once you are confident you have an effective approach for teaching struggling readers, here are some additional tips from Reading Horizons Director of Teacher Training, Shantell Berrett, about how to get started with working with a struggling reader. ...

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    Dec 05 2012
  • Survival Tips for First Year Teachers

    Survival Tips for First Year Teachers

    By Guest Author, Tessa Hardiman

    I know how you feel. I was shaking in my boots the first day I began teaching, too. However, I’m here to tell you that it is not going to be as difficult as you think it is. Let me share two lessons that I learned with you. When I started my first job, I had the opportunity to work in the school for a full week before the students started. This was a huge blessing to me because I had the time to question and pester my fellow teachers with lingering questions I had. They gave me tons of ideas and things to think about. I was so excited and busting at the seams with activities I would do with my little darlings. I planned writing activities, read alouds, higher order thinking activities, and slide show presentations. I was set to make a quick impact on those kids. This was when I learned my first lesson. ...

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    Nov 26 2012
  • Discovering What Motivates Each Individual Student

    Discovering What Motivates Each Individual Student

    We are all motivated by different things - different activities, different interests, different approaches, etc... Motivation is formed by our personalities and is connected to our temperament. It is not shocking that we are not motivated to do activities or tasks that we struggle with and are difficult for us. For example, students with processing disorders such as dyslexia are often unmotivated to work on reading and writing tasks because it is such a struggle.

    So, how do we as educators and parents help? ...

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    Nov 20 2012
  • The Role of Vocabulary in Teaching Students to Read

    The Role of Vocabulary in Teaching Students to Read

    The Common Core State Standards have returned our attention to multiple areas of literacy and language instruction. While at the annual conference for the International Dyslexia Association I attended a symposium titled Reconciling the Common Core Standards with Reading Research. As part of the symposium Dr. Marilyn Adams reminded us of the importance that vocabulary instruction plays in learning to read, and in reading to learn.

    What part does vocabulary play in learning to read? ...

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    Nov 08 2012
  • Is "No Child Left Behind" to Blame for Low Standardized Test Scores?

    Is "No Child Left Behind" to Blame for Low Standardized Test Scores?

    By Guest Writer, Angela Morgan

    Is it any wonder to know that less than half of high school seniors are prepared to go on to college and be successful young professionals? Harsh, no? That is what the most recent test results of the standardized college entrance exams, the SAT’s and ACT’s, are showing according to reports released by the College Board.

    Declines in test scores are apparent across the board in every ethnic group, and in every income margin, although there is a significant difference in the results of students who have been raised by parents who have more than a high school diploma. What can we do to turn this downward spiral around? ...

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    Nov 06 2012
  • The Big Picture: Challenges of Literacy in High School

    The Big Picture: Challenges of Literacy in High School

    By Guest Writer, Angelita Williams

    Last year, the scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college-entrance exams dropped to record lows. Some are pointing to a more diverse student population as the culprit while others are blaming lax reading curriculums. Regardless of the demographics – or even the public school systems – the facts are clear: America's students are falling behind in literacy.

    The Impact of ESL Students and National Scores

    According to a Huffington Post article, the record lows in reading scores have bottomed out at a time in which 27 percent of the 1.65 million students who sat for the exam had a native tongue other than English. Some are pointing to an expanding Latino population as a factor in the decrease in scores.

    Regardless of the impact ESL students may have on national reading scores, teachers across America are discussing the unique challenges that ESL students and teachers face, especially when standardized tests are issued. Even at an elementary level teachers are expressing frustrations with the amount of testing that leeches quality classroom time away from students. ...

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    Oct 29 2012
  • Four Children's Books to Read to Elementary Students' During the Holidays

    Four Children's Books to Read to Elementary Students' During the Holidays

    Guest Post by Patricia Garza

    Are you looking for some new, interesting children's books to read to your students during the holidays? Aren't we all? I'm a fan of beloved classics like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Polar Express," but there are so many other great books out there that teachers miss out on every holiday season.

    During my years as a teacher, I'd read a list of unique book titles to my students as a means of getting them excited about the holidays, teaching them about different holiday traditions, and introducing them to the joys of reading. Over the next few months, teachers should make a consorted effort to make their class readings more engaging and diversified. It's unfair to focus on mainstream holidays like Christmas when there are a whole host of other celebrations taking place. Read further to discover four great children's books you can read to your students. ...

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    Oct 22 2012

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