Just click the following link to download this list of homophones: List of Homophones
A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word or words, but has a different meaning and spelling. Homophones can really trip up our young readers and writers. It’s sometimes difficult for them to know for sure which spelling to use within their writing. Targeted instruction in the meaning of the different spellings of these words is needed. Activities involving homophones can actually be quite fun. The Homophone Pear Match activity makes for a great literacy activity or as an activity for your small group instruction. Students simply match each homophone pear and provides either a definition of the words and/or puts the words in a sentence. When you download this activity you’ll receive 72 homophone pears.
I’ve also included a label just in case you’d like to store the activity in a baggie or a container.
When I was a Speech/Language Pathologist I used to love to teach multiple word meanings. When students understand that a word can have a different meaning depending upon it’s use in oral or written language, their comprehension improves. There are a lot ways to help students learn multiple meaning words. The Ice Cream Scoops activity is a fun activity for expanding vocabulary by teaching multiple word meanings. When you download this activity you’ll receive 16 ice cream cones containing words with two or more definitions. Students match the definitions to the words. You’ll want to be sure to have the students use the words in sentence so that they can clearly demonstrate that they understand the word meaning.
Storing activities can also be a bit challenging. I’ve included a sticker for you just in case you’d like to store your activity in a baggie.
This is a post about helping children to become better readers- I promise. Before we talk about reading, however, I’d like to share with you a story about the love-hate relationship that I have with my guitar. Yep, that’s right- my guitar.
Fifteen years ago I was a stay-at-home mom. My children were just old enough to entertain themselves for brief periods of time so I thought I’d do something new. That “something” would be learning to play the guitar. At the time was I attending our contemporary mass at church and a new friend was one of two guitar players. I asked Lori if she wouldn’t mind teaching me to play. She agreed, so off I went to purchase a guitar. Lori taught me a few chords and within a short time I was playing a “real church song”. The song was “Come to the Water”. If I was to correlate this song to a reading level, I’d say it’s on par with “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See” (1.4 reading level).
I practiced this song over and over and over again. Lori and I met about once a week to practice- we chatted and played. We had so much fun! One evening Lori called and asked if I would play with her at mass. Tom (the lead guitar player) wasn’t able to attend that evening and she didn’t want to be alone. I agreed and was then under pressure to add “Praise the Lord My Soul” and “Lead Me Lord” to my repertoire. These songs were a bit more difficult. I’ll equate them to “Frog and Toad” (2.4 reading level). I thought helping my friend that evening was a one-night-thing, but I still play at our 5:30 mass to this day.
Here’s something else you should know about my guitar playing. You may be thinking with 15 years of playing guitar, I’m pretty good. The honest truth is is that I’m not very good at all. Despite taking lessons for 2 years and playing weekly at mass, I stalled out somewhere at Junie B. Jones (about a 3.1 grade level). There really is no mystery as to why I’m not very good. I simply don’t practice. My guitar teacher was really cool. I really enjoyed the lessons, but I didn’t practice during the week. He was fine with that. Although I had the music for the upcoming mass, I rarely practiced. Tom and Lori were so good, that if I skipped a chord, it didn’t matter. Sometimes I even played chords that were “close enough”. Sound like any struggling readers you might know?
I’m hoping by this time, you can make the correlation between my learning to play the guitar and helping students become better readers. The bottom line is that, just like with learning to play an instrument, the only way to get better at something is to actually do it! So, how much time should you practice? Well, not sure if there’s been studies about playing guitar, but there have been studies looking at time spent reading and performance on achievement tests. Take a look at this:
You can download this chart by clicking the following link Why Reading Outside of School Is Important
It’s important to know that it’s not only about the time spent reading, it’s also about the quality of what is read. What if every day I only played “Come to the Water” and “Lead Me Lord”. I love those songs. I feel really good about myself as a musician when I play them, but will I actually improve? Probably not at a rate that’s acceptable. It’s not harmful. My fluency with the chords in those pieces would improve and it would help my muscle-memory, but is playing the songs I already know all I need to do to become a better player? To improve my guitar skills, I not only need to increase my practice time, but I need to systematically play songs that are more difficult. The songs can’t be too hard that I’m frustratrated and give up, and they can’t be too easy either. They need to be “just right”. Just challenging enough that I’m learning something new. In terms of reading, helping children choose “just right books” is critical. You can use the book leveling system (e.g. Acclereated Reader) or try this quick and easy way of teaching children if a book is a good fit:
You can download this poster by clicking the following link Finding the Right Fit Book
It’s kind of tricky balancing the “just right” books for students. Again, they can’t be too difficult. Studies have shown that reading at 98 percent or higher accuracy is essential for reading acceleration. Anything less slows the rate of improvement, and anything below 90 percent doesn’t improve reading ability at all (Allington, 2012; Ehir, Dreyer, Flugman & Gross, 2007). It’s so, so very important that we find the right books for our struggling readers. It’s pretty clear that consistently having students read at their frustration level does little good. Maybe this handy little chart can help:
You can download this file by clicking the following link Determining Reading Levels
We can’t have a discussion about about increasing time reading without talking about motivation. So, how do you motivate students read? More importantly, how do you motivate the struggling reader to read? Let’s digress to my guitar playing example. My all-time favorite Christmas song is “Child of the Poor”. When our choir sings this song–it’s beautiful. The melody is to “What Child is This” and the last verse we sing as a round. I really wanted to be able to play this song from beginning to end without skipping chords at Christmas mass. The song was a bit beyond my level (inching into the frustration level), but I practiced it diligently for weeks. That darn “B” chord gave me the most trouble, but with a lot of practice, I finally got it! It was a song that I was highly motivated to learn and I was willing to put in the time and practice to master it.
So, how do we motivate those struggling readers, here’s a few ideas:
I’m reading this really great book on increasing the amount and complexity of student reading. It’s a pretty easy read with great ideas for increasing reading time within the classroom. Feel free to check it out! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comment section.
I’ve been wanting to make this activity for quite some time. Kyle (fabulous artist) created these super cute cupcakes just for this activity designed for learning compound words. This activity contains 48 compound word cupcakes which are ideal for use either within your literacy centers or for small group instruction. Your students simply match the cupcake halves to create words. A recording sheet is included so that they can write their words. This activity is easily differentiated as you can choose which and how many cupcakes to use.
The Cupcake Matching Compound Words is available through my Teachers Pay Teachers online store.
Last week Kyle created these cute little acorns and I just couldn’t resist getting started on making a few fall-themed activities. We created 3 sets using the acorns- one for rhyming, one for beginning sounds and the other for vocabulary. When you download the rhyme activity you’ll receive 34 colorful acorns with rhyming matches.
I’m lovin’ the Acorn Beginning Sounds activity for working with learning letters and sounds. Of course, when you download this activity, you’ll receive 26 acorns with the letters of the alphabet and a corresponding picture.
One of my goals this school year is to create more activities for working with vocabulary. The Acorn Match- Go Together activity contains 35 acorns with pictures that go-together. This activity is especially helpful for students with language delays and students learning English.
Well, I have a few more fall-themed activities up my sleeve. Just can’t wait to get started!
After reading my earlier blog post on The Need for Explicit Vocabulary Instruction, my new friend, Erin, from the University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning sent me a link to Anita Archer and Charles Hughes’ website www.explicitinstruction.org. She thought I’d enjoy the vidoes on the website and she was absolutely right! Its one thing to read about an instructional strategy, but it’s another to see it in action–and demonstrated by a master teacher.
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may know that vocabulary instruction is one of my favorite topics. On the Explicit Instruction website there are are two videos of Dr. Archer demonstrating a vocabulary lesson (one for kindergarten and the other for second grade). They are both excellent. My favorite video, however, is the Active Participation video where she engages second grade students in a lesson.
The goal of the video is to demonstrate strategies to gain attention and engage students in learning. Earlier this week I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about instructional delivery and we talked about pacing. This video is an excellent example of how to deliver instruction at an appropriate pace which increases engagement and maximizes learning.
Just below the video is a written description outlining the purpose of the demonstration as well as the instructional strategies that were used during the lesson. For each strategy, a description of the strategy, when to use it and the exact procedures for implementing the strategy are provided.
The videos are super helpful. They aren’t too long– the active participation video is less that 7 minutes. So, take a few minutes and watch Dr. Archer’s lessons. The way in which we deliver our instruction has a direct impact on student learning.
I just ordered the book Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching. It’s was suppose to be on my summer reading list, but I just couldn’t wait. I’m already through chapter 2 and am looking forward to reading the chapter on vocabulary instruction. The book is pretty heavy with research (I love that!), but it also has tons of examples of the strategies in action.