Category Archives: Nonfiction reading

Increase Reading Capabilities

So I have been asked by many teachers, how can we help increase the reading capabilities of our students. This is a tough one since no two readers are the same.  I have tried several promotions in the library, but more often than not only die hard readers are acting on them.  It is difficult to get those who are struggling on a daily basis to not only read what is required of them, but to read another book for enjoyment.

I started to search through magazines and professional resources to see what the experts and other teachers are doing. And after reading through The Mailbox April/May 2014 issue I found two great ideas that I feel I should share.

Both ideas come from Njeri Jones Legrand, of Sharon Elementary in Charlotte NC.
TISC (This is So Cool): reading with accuracy to support comprehension
Getting students to interact with their reading material by using text-message shorthand as reading codes.  Begin by brainstorming with students abbreviations that match specific reading strategies you teach. Then create a mini poster showing each abbreviation, review and discuss the meaning.  Next, provide sticky note flag. Have each student track his/her thinking as they read by flagging specific points and coding the flag with the matching text abbreviation. When the student finishes reading, have them use the sticky notes to respond to the selection, summarize it, answer questions about it, or discuss it.
Here are the Abbreviations this teacher used:
QQ (Quick Question): Use this if the text is confusing or makes you think of a question
RUS (Are your serious?): Use this to flag information that makes you think WOW!
WOTD (Word of the Day): Use this to flag important words in the text
IDK (I don’t know): Use this to flag text that is really confusing and if you can’t figure out what’s going on.
411(Information): Use this to flag text that is important information
TSIA (This says it all): Use this to flag text that is the main idea

Ready, Set, Read!
Energize students to build their reading stamina with a daily challenge. Begin by assembling a read-o-meter (example shown at the bottom of this entry).  Next, display the meter and challenge every reader in class to read, focusing only one his/her reading material, for a set amount of time. As soon as students begin to lose focus, end the session and move the read-0-meter’s arrow to show students how long they read independently.  Begin each reading session by displaying the meter and challenging your readers to read productively longer than they did the previous day.














thank you to The Mailbox magazine and especially Njeri Jones Legrand for your amazing contributions to the reading community.


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Filed under Books, Creativity, education, Language Arts, Nonfiction reading, Reading

Summer Reading

August is coming up fast which means that we only have 31 days left to improve reading skills.  I have touched on this subject before but I wanted to give you a few more helpful sites that are proven to enhance your child’s reading capabilities.

Stone Soup

Little Write Brain



Storyline Online

It’s a Mad Libs World

Grolier Online

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Filed under ebooks, Language Arts, Nonfiction reading, Reading, Technology

Websites to Help With (and Create) Summer Reading

As a librarian my first love is to books and reading. So I want to share more ways to help keep those young readers on track during these summer months.  I know it can be hard to get them to read a book, but these are websites!!!  Yes, sometimes even reading works on the web.  For more helpful technology related sites that support reading and other core skills see some my earlier post series Apps for Summer Learning. But for now allow me to share with you some websites:

1. Stone Soup  The classic literary magazine that is written by kids for kids.  This offers a great way to kids to connect with others by reviewing books, or submitting their own imaginative work.

2. Little Write Brain Let your little ones create their own characters, choose a template, and create their own stories that can be saved as free e-books.  A great site for those creative minds out there.

3. National Geographic Young Explorers Increase nonfiction reading habits with the famous magazine where the highlighted text is read aloud by a narrator and the interactive links and games allow for further exploration.

4. Storyline Online  Classic stories read by famous actors? Sign me up!

5. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge  The famous challenge is back and it allows kids to track their reading minutes, and compete against other readers around the world.  Parents you can monitor your child’s progress and find helpful book lists, and activity ideas.

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Filed under Books, ebooks, Nonfiction reading, Reading, Technology

Apps for Summer Learning (Part 2.)

The clock is ticking…but the learning doesn’t have to stop for the summer. Here are some great apps to keep kids motivated during the summer. We will look at apps concerning social studies this post.

url Learn the World  for iOs $1.99
Take a trip around the world without ever boarding a plane. This app allows users to expand their knowledge of world geography through animated activities.  Young learners and even the most curious adult will learn world geography, country names, country capitals, country currency, country presidents,  national facts and nation history.  The multiple-choice quizzes  will allow the user to earn points to collect country flags. There five interactive activities proven to enhance your geographic knowledge are. This is great app to explore and learn about the world.


Geo DriveGeography Drive USA  for iOS, Nook and Kindle $3.99
Jump in the driver’s seat and cruise across the country in fact-packed game turning standard textbook geography into the ultimate road trip. Learn about the 50 states by answering questions in a highly addictive game to unlock gas stations, earn bonus money to upgrade your ride, and jump on airplanes, all to score trophies and move around the country.  Learn about national parks, rivers, state shapes, capitals and nicknames, the meaning behind the state flags, and important landmarks and key historical facts. The more you know, the further you’ll go in the all-out, cross-country adventure game designed to fuel your drive to learn.

urlMyCongress  for iOS  Free
MyCongress is a portal to detailed information about your elected U.S. Congressional officials. Track their news, video and Twitter feeds. Look up their official Open Congress profile or contact them directly. MyCongress helps you get in touch with your government.


urlDisney American Presidents for iOS $3.99
Users are invited to look through “The Unofficial Oval Office Scrapbook” with each spread devoted to a president and features a portrait, their birth (and in some in cases death) dates, a signature and awards received. Also included are some little-known facts about each president; as well as videos, pop-up fact bubbles, and sidebar information like  presidential number, term(s) served, corresponding historical era, party, vice president(s), and birth state.


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Filed under apps, News Sites, Nonfiction reading, Technology

Extra Extra! Read All About It!

We as educators are looking for ways to integrate more nonfiction reading into core subjects. Our trickiest part though, is making sure that the selections also entertain.  That is where the site is the perfect introduction to nonfiction reading.  It is a news site that is written with kids in mind, since some of the articles are by kids.  The DOGO sites were developed to empower kids to engage with digital media in a safe manner that is also fun.  It is also provides up-to-date topics of study with reports and newspaper style writing.   DOGO itself means young or small in Swahili, but this is site is anything but small.  With the focus on current events, some articles are written not by adults but by the kids themselves who will be reading and using the articles for school.

Created in 2009, as a safe place for grade school level students to find current event articles.  As the word spread the thousands of teachers and students are using the DOGO media sites both in and outside of the classroom.             

There are three major DOGO media sites, DOGOnews, DOGObooks, DOGOmovies. Each of these sites is focuses on creating engaging content for students to actively participate in.  This a great site to educators of all areas who are looking to promote nonfiction reading.


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Filed under News Sites, Nonfiction reading