Friday 27 September 2013

What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

"Research has demonstrated that the most effective read-alouds are those where children are actively involved asking and answering questions and making predictions, rather than passively listening. " (Lea M. McGee and Judith Schickedanz )

I recently attended a workshop that promoted this idea of interactive read-alouds and at the end of it I was wondering how different was this from what we already do in our classrooms? There are so many 'new approaches' today that most times we get frightened into misunderstanding what they are all about. Most times we realize that it's a new label for an old approach. Well needless to say  I could not see any differences really and I simply went away with new terminology.

To me an interactive read-aloud is actually reading to my students and getting them to understand the content while I do so. They can ask questions, make predictions, give ideas all during the reading process rather than waiting till the end. In this way I'm making pretty sure that they understand the content thoroughly enough through meaningful interactions during the reading. Is this idea 'new' to you?

For further information check the links below:
Reading Rockets
Read Works
Interactive Read-Alouds in Six Steps

Sunday 15 September 2013

Syllabication Rules!

There are more than twenty rules that kids must remember when they attempt to syllabicate words. Most times it is very hard to remember all of them so the next best thing is to get lots and lots of practice! Let them listen to words and try to figure out how many syllables there are. Engage them in activities which call for looking closely at words to look for patterns as well. The more they listen to the sounds of words and the more they look at the words that they say the more likely they are to discover the rules of syllabication naturally!

If you are interested in a syllabication literacy center for kindergarten kids click the picture below.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Retention or Promotion? What is Best for Your Child?

Photo Courtesy
I am yet to find the perfect argument either for or against the issue of retention of students. From my 21 years of teaching experience there has been many successes and failures when it comes to keeping kids down rather than promoting them with their peers. One of the successes that I have seen with retention was an increase in the performance rate of some struggling students. Although these students were left behind by at least two years they were able to 'catch up', well enough to move on successfully to a higher level of education. On the other hand, in many cases increases in behavior problems were associated with retained students. Some children who are kept down become so disruptive at times and of course their influence among the younger students seem to be far greater than the teacher's ability to cope.

Reasons For Retention

Experts in this arena say that retention must be for specific reasons. According to Colleen Stump, former Chairperson of the Special Education Department at San Francisco State University, retention may be considered when a child:
  • Has significant struggles making progress in reading, writing or math
  • Fails to reach performance levels expected for promotion to the next grade
  • Appears to be "immature" and "young" for her age
I have seen cases where an attempt was made to keep back children for social reasons external to them which I think is outrageous! The child in question scored high when assessed and had no presenting problems, except that his feuding parents would keep him away from school for days on end. I dealt with that swiftly, needless to say! It is rather unfortunate that our children can be affected negatively through no fault of theirs.

Factors To Consider 

The experts say that we need to think before we decide the future of our children. According to Stump, there are certain criteria which hold important when we want to consider whether to promote or demote students.
The following factors are what teachers and parents should look at (Parents replace the word 'student' with 'child'):

Colleen Stump

Only after you go through these considerations  would you be able to make a better decision as to whether you promote or demote a child.

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