Literacy & Reading Tools – December Roundup

Literacy Reading News RoundupWelcome to the last Tools for Reading and Literacy roundup for 2010. This is a monthly “annex” to the Literacy and Reading News Roundup that Terry writes with Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson’s Book Page) and Carol Rasco (Rasco from RIF). In each issue you will find links to articles, websites, and online tools that facilitate the processes of reading and learning. Whether the information is recently published or a couple years old, it’s new to her and may be new to you. Enjoy!

Starting Off

After pondering a question about facts in fiction writing posed by Betsy Bird (aka A Fuse #8 Production), Monica Edinger (Educating Alice) put together a very thoughtful post AND created a chart to help illustrate the idea on a continuum. This is very helpful not only for folks who want to understand the contrasts between fiction and nonfiction, but also for people who are trying to move their child from a complete obsession of books at one end of the spectrum or the other. Want to broaden an “only fantasy” reader’s diet? Then maybe add in a realistic fiction book with similar plot elements.  Thanks Monica!!!

YouTube is launching a new discovery tool called Topics on its labs page TestTube. Topics will allow users to discover high-quality videos about topics of interest to them without requiring the user to enter detailed search queries. (from ReadWriteWeb via RSSOwl) is a search engine that lets you structure your searches. For example, you might want to limit returns by just blogs … which can be helful if you know you read something on a blog but can’t remember which one. As Susan Stephenson explains, Make Use Of (another good source!) explains Blekko’s specialty search engine very well. (via Susan Stephenson of The Book Chook)

Resources for Kids has more than 70 million (with an M) original, historical documents. Sure you can use it for research papers, but it’s a lot of fun just to browse, too. Search for documents written by General George Washington … or do some genealogy work to build your family tree.

Resources for Parents

Susan also sent along this link to the Reading Assessments page on the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project (Columbia University) website. The material is designed to help teachers assess a child’s reading ability, but there is a lot of content that is useful for parents … like how to ask questions to gauge comprehension and what to look for in the answers.

Along a similar line, Jen Farr has some very practical, easy-to-build on Reading Strategies for kids who are emerging readers through independent readers. Her ideas about what to do before you read, while you’re reading, and after your reading are just wonderful … and did I mention easy to do?

You’ll find some of the most diverse, practical ideas for building and strengthening literacy skills in Literacy Lava. Every quarter, Susan Stephenson taps some progressive, beyond-the-book, thinkers who share their personal stories about reading and literacy. This link will take you to the full collection. To read the just-released 7th Edition, click here.  Like what you’ve read? Then be sure to tell the Book Chook herself. Chooks like TLC, you know!

I have two new-to-me blogs to introduce, as well:

  • Sleepless Parent’s Blog is “designed to promote discussion and awareness of dyslexia, reading problems, and literacy.” Janet is that sleepless parent who worries about her 8-year-old’s inability to read.
  • Spectrum Mom created Autism Reads: Books for Children with Autism to fill a much-needed void. She was continually looking for book recommendations for kids on the spectrum. There was no place to get regular recommendations. Autism Reads is that place.

Resources for Educators

Left to Their Owned Devices – Schools are showing growing interest in using student-owned cellphones and netbooks to build 1-to-1 computing programs (Educatio nWeek – Digital Directions)

Pioneer Valley Books is a literacy-centric publisher of books and tools for “early literacy learners.” What caught my attention is how Kristen organizes the books by “character sets,” making it easy for you to find books that match your interests. The company also has a blog that takes a lot of the “science” and puts it in a context for everyday living.

In her report for Digital Directions, Katie Ash explains how GPS and GIS technologies are being used to help students (elementary to high school) tackle real-world problems in an interdisciplinary and engaging way. GPS units locate specific points based on a place’s latitude and longitude, while GIS makes it possible to map all the points and view them spatially. From Jim Kuhl, an earth sciences teacher: “I’ve always been interested in the cutting-edge technology, especially when the kids are interested in it, and you can use that interest to motivate them to learn about what you’re trying to teach.”

I discovered Joanne Kaminski’s Skype Reading Tutor blog after she started following @ReadingTub on Twitter.  [she is @SkypeReadTutor] What I love about Joanne’s blog is how she shares her experiences tutoring kids online. She offers some details about the books she’s reading, but also adds personal context of that particular session. Like the day she asked kids in Tennessee and Wisconsin about the weather. [How Perspective Changes Everything]

Joanne also introduced me to (via her blogroll) to The Brainwaves and At the Fireplace which may well become my  new go-to sites for 21st century ideas on engaging kids with books.  [Note to Susan Stephenson … you will LOVE (no ADORE) these sites!]

6 responses to “Literacy & Reading Tools – December Roundup

  1. How did you know Susan Stephenson would be reading this??? Crystal ball interpretation should definitely be on the Tub’s list of assets!

    You had me at 21st C ideas – am off to explore. I must say, I also really like the sound of organizing books by character sets, and Betsy and Monica’s idea. Anything that helps kids broaden their literacy horizons, and helps them make new connections has my vote for sure!

    Thanks Terry/Jen/Carol!
    Book Chook recently posted…Whats the Best Way to Say Merry ChristmasMy Profile

    1. Ha! I knew it would grab you … chooks are a wee bit predictable when it comes to 21st C ideas!! I thought Monica’s chart was absolutely fascinating … and so helpful. Looks like you’re getting great feedback on Literacy Lava 7. You’ve got some pretty cool ideas yourself. I am STILL thinking about the collage idea as a way to get past writer’s block. Love it love it love it!

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