Search form

Language Arts: Ideas in the Classroom

Here are some Fun Ideas to Improve Language Arts Skills!

Write It; Live It: Six Steps to Help Kids Write Their Own Lives
The most effective way to help students discover their own passion is by having them write their own life stories -- ahead of time.

An Inspiring Teacher Draws Inspiration from Students
Finding ways to put students at the center of their own learning and helping them find their passions are just some of the reasons Sarah Brown Wessling was named the 2010 National Teacher of the Year.

Three Big Ideas for Addressing Preschool Language and Literacy Learning
Focusing on oral language, reading aloud, and language play, instead of on structured sit-down lessons, flashcard drills, and worksheets, keeps young children on the right track to literacy.

O.R.E.: Mining Foundational Treasures in the Early Grades
Oral language, reading aloud, and language play provide students with a strong foundation for their reading experiences, allowing them to enter the world of reading as active, enthusiastic participants. Theres no greater gift you can give your students.

The Book Whisperer Inspires Kids to Read
Donalyn Miller earned the nickname The Book Whisperer because of her almost mystical success getting kids to read -- a lot. Allowing children to choose books, and providing reading role models and time to read are among her strategies.

Hands-On Reform Leads to Big Student Gains
When principal Stephen King decided that struggling readers needed earlier and better intervention, he plunged in with his staff to revamp instruction, assessment, and the curriculum. Test scores rose and the number of special education students declined.

Couplets, Coffee, and Community
Students at one Cleveland school display their writing talents at an annual Coffee House-Poetry Night. It is an opportunity to present their work to an authentic audience of peers, teachers, parents, and community members. And the writing efforts have boosted test scores too.

Tying Read Alouds to Standards
This list of suggested activities and strategies will help you make every read aloud count, and assure your principal that you are focused on meeting standards.

Glimpses Into Read-Aloud Classrooms
Merely inviting students to contribute verbally when you read aloud to them isnt enough. Take it to a higher level with analytical talk.

A Shared Experience: The Key to Effective Read Alouds
Id like to suggest that teachers create a read-aloud environment thats a combination of enticing entertainment, skillful modeling of comprehension and thinking strategies, and just plan fun.

Male Teachers Show That Real Men Read
A library media specialist thought posters showing real men reading and men talking about the benefits of reading could be just the thing to encourage more boys to pick up books. The Real Men Read program is so successful that it has spread to other schools.

Mr. Cover's Class Reviews: A "Real World" Application for Reading
In response to his students' lack of enthusiasm for and skill with nonfiction, reading teacher Millard Cover introduced "Mr. Cover's Class Reviews," a project in which students become product testers and reviewers and publish their findings online.

Building on the Power of Incidental Vocabulary Learning
Incidental learning plays a critical role in vocabulary acquisition. Researchers Nagy and Scott point to three characteristics of word knowledge critical to understanding incidental learning and vocabulary instruction in general. They are

Cathy Puett Miller: The Wonderful World of Words
Incidental vocabulary learning requires support every day of the school year, even when you intentionally teach selected new words as well. The surest way to include incidental learning is to plan for it.

Cathy Puett Miller: The Hidden Side of Strategic Vocabulary Instruction
Using only direct instruction to teach vocabulary can overwhelm you as a teacher and be too shallow an approach for students.

Cathy Puett Miller: Using Micro-Text to Teach Writing
In education, micro-texts refer to small, targeted bits of a book, essay, poem, newspaper, online publication, or other text. A micro-text can be a single phrase, sentence, or paragraph. Its selection for teaching writing depends not only on brevity, but also on its content.

Cathy Puett Miller: Integrating Reading and Writing Instruction into Content-Area Classrooms
The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that less than one third of U.S. high school students read or write at grade level. What can local schools do?

Cathy Puett Miller: Conferencing with Young Writers: Time, Content and Purpose:
Conferencing with young or inexperienced writers can be challenging. For them to become writers, it must become personal. How can we help students discover that writer within through our conferencing time with them?

Cathy Puett Miller: Strategies for Teaching Editing
What we must keep in mind at all times, as author and editor Arthur Plotnik reminds us, is We write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others whats burning inside. We edit to let the fire show through the smoke.

Cathy Puett Miller: Understanding and Teaching Revision
Revision is the second most important part of writing (after the idea). Revising denotes stepping back and looking at contentremoving a perfectly good sentence because it doesnt belong, adding details or clarification, tightening language.

Total Reader: How Cool is That?
How cool is your reading assessment program? And does it merely assess your students current reading performance or, like Total Reader, does it improve their reading performance as well?

Cathy Puett Miller: Strategies
For Teaching Pre-Writing

Good writing doesnt start with formulas and formats. Thinking, defining what the writer wants to say, planning, and exploring -- that is where it begins. Use these strategies to help students realize they have powerful, important things to say. Includes pre-writing tips for preparing for the SAT essay.

Cathy Puett Miller: Teaching Writing as a Process
There are, in the real world, many ways to edit, revise, and organize writing. We help students develop strong writing skills when we not only teach them the steps in the process, but also guide them while they take risks and explore.

Cathy Puett Miller: Discovering the Writers Within
Skill-based instruction is important, but we also must include the essential element of motivation. Convince students that writing is worthwhile and that their oral vocabulary and reading experiences give them tools to express themselves. Their skills will grow.

Cathy Puett Miller: Summertime Reading Encourage parents to include reading in their summer plans, and help them keep their kids reading by making summertime reading different than that stuff I do at school.

Teachers, Parents, Kids Bond Over Books
Inviting parents to participate in a book discussion group with teachers has led to better relationships between teachers and parents and a deeper understanding of current education and child-rearing issues. Included: Tips for starting a group at your school.

Cathy Puett Miller: Exploring Writing Through Childrens Books
This article explores how to teach paragraph structure and use of details to support topic through the picture book, When Jesse Came Across the Sea, by Amy Hest.

Cathy Puett Miller: Fluency is More Than Just Speed
These classroom-ready tips focus on the most neglected area of fluency -- expressiveness. Improve your students fluency b providing opportunities for them to practice phrasing, expression, emphasis, and volume.

Cathy Puett Miller: Targeting Standards with Picture Books
Childrens picture books can be used effectively to teach many of the core standards. Learn which picture books you can use to teach about story elements, literature genres, and writing.

Helping Students Make Independent Connections
Do your students use specific strategies during times set side for strategy instruction but fail to use those same strategies in independent reading? Help kids make the connection between instructional strategies and independent reading with Tools Of The Trade.

The Incredible Animal Race
King Lawrence and Queen Lavinia have chosen two animal teams to compete in the Animal Kingdoms annual race. To many, the outcome for the contest seems obvious. But a surprising twist brings an amazing finish!

Hooking Kids on Reading
Despite schools focus on reading, many students still are not reading independently or for pleasure. A program developed by a college professor stresses hooking students on reading by introducing them to challenging subject matter that interests them.

Cathy Puett Miller: Making the Most of Guided Reading
Three tips for making the most of guided reading.

Cathy Puett Miller: Discovering the Writer in Every Student
Are you tired of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation?" Do you want to move your students beyond weak, formulaic writing? Cathy Puett Miller tells you how.

Cathy Puett Miller: Getting Parents Involved
Highlight the power of reading at home with your parents and students by setting up your own "Is Your Home Reader Friendly?" program.

"Write" on Target
In its weekly "Teacher Feature," Education World highlights neat activities and classroom practices from educators in all locations and at all levels. Recently, three educators who have enjoyed the spotlight in this feature shared some writing-based activities that they and their students love. From hall graffiti to a winter memoir, these activities will have your students, too, penning with pleasure.

Cathy Puett Miller: Getting Parents Involved
Highlight the power of reading at home with your parents and students by setting up your own "Is Your Home Reader Friendly?" program.

Cathy Puett Miller: Creating A Reading Community
Make it your goal this year to transform your classroom into one that has positive assessments, and strong and engaged learners -- by declaring reading an empowering, engaging, life-enhancing experience.

Beyond the Spelling List
So, the end of the year is almost here and you're still fretting over your students' spelling! Try one -- or more -- of the tips below to add another element to their spelling practice and to help students connect spelling to the rest of the curriculum.

Let's Party!
Encourage independent reading by turning reading time into party time.

Scrabble Clubs Spell Learning, Fun
Many schools are luring students away from TV and video games with the chance to out-spell classmates in after-school Scrabble club competitions. Educators say playing Scrabble improves language and social skills. Included: Scrabble as a teaching tool.

Our Favorite Books
Encourage students to reflect on their reading with these "favorite books" activities.

Reading in "Real" Life
Help your students see reading not as just another school subject, but as a valuable -- and enjoyable -- part of their daily lives.

Creating Active Readers
Reading comprehension, like phonemic awareness, decoding, and fluency, can be taught. Here are some ideas for keeping students involved in what they are reading, helping them improve their concentration and reading comprehension.

Sustained Silent Reading in the Classroom
Independent silent reading has been viewed as a time-honored educational tool. Yet today, many teachers sacrifice it for direct instruction, arguing that there are more effective ways to spend the time. What do the experts say?

When to Read Aloud
Read aloud daily to your students, the experts urge. Reading increases students' knowledge of the world, their vocabulary, their familiarity with written language, and their interest in reading. Sounds terrific -- but when will you find the time?

Improving Fluency in Struggling Readers
There is much more to fluency than speed. Fluency is critically connected with how readers deal with print and gain meaning from it. We need to look at teaching and assessing fluency as a triangle with three important sides...

How to Read Aloud
Teachers who read aloud in class model fluent reading, improve students' fluency, and increase students' ability to understand written text. Eight tips for getting the maximum benefit from reading aloud.

Virtual Workshop: The Four Blocks Literacy Model
The Four Blocks Literacy Model, a balanced-literacy* framework for teaching language arts, is based on the premise that all children don't learn in the same way. The program integrates four components of reading instruction -- guided reading, self-selected reading, writing, and working with words.

Start the Year Off "Write"
Research indicates that writing, by engaging students in creating and discovering meaning, improves reading comprehension. Start this year off "write" by encouraging your students to read and write.  

The Reading Ready Classroom
If you want to instill in your students an awareness of the importance of reading, your classroom must provide an environment in which reading is clearly valued.

Strategies that Work: Teaching with Games
In the classroom, games can be used to review learned skills and to teach new ones. Games help build students academic confidence, improve their problem-solving skills, and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships.

Kickball, Calisthenics, and Composition?: Writing Fits in with Phys Ed
Writing assignments are starting to turn up in all kinds of courses -- but in physical education classes? For sure! While kids get fit, their instructors are using writing to help them focus on the goal of overall fitness. See how students in your school can exercise their bodies and their writing skills in phys ed!

Encouraging Independent Reading in Summertime -- or Any Time
No matter what their ages, children benefit from independent reading. Join the Literacy Ambassador, Cathy Puett Miller, as she walks you through a practical, easy-to-implement strategy for sending students off into the world of independent reading with a goal and a plan. Included: A step-by-step 4-6 week independent reading plan for students in grades 1-12.

Building a Better Classroom Library
Build vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and research skills with a single tool -- an effective, engaging, irresistible classroom library. Cathy Puett Miller focuses on that often-neglected area of the classroom, as she explains how to give your classroom library new life and make it work for your curriculum and your content goals.

New Ways Use Read Alouds to Complement Content Learning
Whether teaching elementary, middle, or high school, read alouds connect students to content, peak student interest, and provide information. Hear how two experienced educators use read alouds to meet the challenges of differentiating instruction, expanding student learning, and addressing curriculum. Included: Read aloud tips from the Literacy Ambassador.

Strategies That Work: Literature Circles
A classroom literature circle is a small group of students who read, discuss, and then showcase a particular piece of literature. Learn how literature circles can offer your students a chance to apply and improve their literacy skills while generating in them an excitement about reading and the motivation to understand and learn from their reading.

A Call for Scientific Approaches to Reading Instruction
If U.S. children are going to learn to read more quickly and effectively, schools need to use methods that have demonstrated success and monitor what works for different children, according to Dr. G. Reid Lyon, a research psychologist.

Who's On Your Reading Team?
The new year is a time of reflection and a time to set new goals for your students and yourself. Think outside the box to identify resources that can make the difference between success and failure for struggling readers in your classroom.

How to Teach Handwriting
About three-quarters of elementary school teachers say they don't feel adequately prepared to teach handwriting. That figure isn't surprising when you consider that few teacher training programs in the United States today address handwriting instruction. Perhaps this article can help! Included: Handwriting lessons, free worksheets.

Strategies That Work: Teaching Handwriting
Few teacher education programs in the United States today teach handwriting instruction. As a result, the vast majority of our elementary school teachers don't consider themselves prepared to teach handwriting effectively. If you've been avoiding teaching handwriting because of a lack of knowledge or training, the following resources can help!

Not Your Mother's Grammar Lesson
If you find diagramming sentences an ordeal to learn and teach, you are not alone. English teacher Les Parsons in his book Grammarama offers new strategies for teaching grammar that are more engaging for everyone.

How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay
A new SAT, as well as the mandates of NCLB, make it more imperative than ever that teachers at all grade levels provide students with increased opportunities to practice and develop their writing skills. Provide that practice for your students with these step-by-step instructions for planning, outlining, and writing a five-paragraph essay.

Strategies That Work: Creating Student Writers
A new SAT, as well as the mandates of NCLB, make it more important than ever that teachers at all grade levels provide students with increased opportunities to practice and develop their writing skills. These articles and lessons will help you prepare students for high-stakes testing -- and a future career.

Connecting Reading to Life
Literacy Ambassador Cathy Puett Miller investigates the use of realia and small group discussions to help students connect reading content to their own experiences. Included: Plenty of practical, use-in-the-classroom-tomorrow ideas.

Strategies That Work: Motivating Reluctant Readers
The key to turning reluctant readers into enthusiastic readers, says Literacy Ambassador Cathy Puett Miller, is to make sure all students are active participants in their own learning, not just passive recipients of teacher instruction. These strategies do just that.

Motivating the Reluctant Reader
Explore the value of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in today's classroom. Cathy Puett Miller provides classroom-ready tips and ideas to turn all students into readers. Included: Resources for future reading.

Eek! Comics in the Classroom!
Are you looking for a way to motivate reluctant readers, engage urban youth, develop the comprehension skills of second-language learners, or teach visual literacy to elementary level students? Have you considered using comics and graphic novels?

Sites to See: General Literature
General literature sites offer a variety of online reading material from classic novels to short stories, from poems to picture books, as well as book reviews, discussion guides, book talks, and resources about authors and illustrators.

Children's Literature
Children's literature sites offer students, parents, and teachers instant access to materials geared toward helping children experience the enjoyment of reading. Included are online books, author interviews, book reviews, lesson plans, and more.

Speaking of Education: Getting Parents in the Literacy Loop
Create a unique system for student reading success using techniques developed and proven in real school environments. Independent literacy consultant, Cathy Puett Miller, offers practical steps to building such a system to use throughout the school year. You will begin a transformation at your school through the marriage of effective parent involvement techniques and the power of reading.

The Prop Box: Setting the Stage for Meaningful Play
Dramatic play is an essential mode of learning for young children, and "prop boxes," play materials grouped by theme, make this activity even more effective. Find out how you can use these educational tools to guide your students toward meaningful role-playing and creative exploration.

Reaching Out to Illiterate Teens
After third grade, reading is less of a subject and more of a tool, as students begin reading for content. But many students enter middle and high school without basic reading skills, dooming their academic careers.

Speaking of Education: The Read-Aloud Experience
Literacy consultant Cathy Puett Miller explores the importance of reading aloud to students. Sprinkled with the best read-aloud titles, her step-by-step reminders give teachers powerful tools for building comprehension, improving vocabulary, promoting active thinking, and connecting lessons to life.

From Beginning to End: Making Memories All Year Through
Experienced educators share how they enrich their classes with projects and activities that take students from the beginning of the school year to the end -- while creating memories that last a lifetime. Included: Ideas for time capsules, memory books, welcome letters, more.

Strategies That Work: Visualization (A Reading Comprehension Strategy)
Students are bombarded with the visual images on TV and video games. As a result, they often view reading as a passive activity. A simple technique -- visualization -- can help transform students from passive to active readers while improving their reading comprehension.

Opening the Door: Teaching Students to Use Visualization to Improve Comprehension
Visualizing text is a proven way to improve reading comprehension. It is a technique that can be taught using this simple, step-by-step strategy from literacy consultant Cathy Puett Miller. Included: Tips and resources for developing students' comprehension skills.

Strategies That Work: Family Reading Nights
Many schools, in an effort to improve test scores, are placing a renewed emphasis on reading. Planning a special night to showcase student reading and to get entire families involved is a sure way to boost reading excitement and achievement.

Strategies That Work: Poetry Slam
Blend poetry and theater to create a fun event that emphasizes creativity while developing students' thinking and presentation skills. Use a slam as a Poetry Month fundraiser or Parents Night event, or as an antidote to the winter blahs or end-of-year slump.

Strategies That Work: Creating ABC Books
Have you ever had your students write ABC books? Creating ABC books reinforces language skills and develops research skills. The activity also is a unique tool for turning students into teachers, as they share what they learn about a curriculum-related topic.

Strategies That Work: Reading Aloud
The landmark report Becoming a Nation of Readers concluded that reading aloud is "the single most important activity foreventual success in reading." Teachers agree, and they offer their thoughts on using read-alouds in classrooms across the grades.

Family Reading Nights Create Avid Readers
For administrators looking to increase student reading at school and at home and improve parent involvement, family reading nights have proven successful for many schools. Included: Practical suggestions for initiating a family reading night program.

Teacher Feature: Erin Farley
Erin Farley's Grammar Slammer activity allows students to teach one another, work independently, work in groups, or work one-on-one with a teacher -- all at the same time. The goal of is to allow students to master grammar at their own pace.

Teachers Say Word Walls Work!
Word walls are not just a tool for the primary grades. Teachers across the grades are using them throughout the curriculum. They find that word walls work -- if teachers work with them. Included: Teachers from grades pre-K to 8 share their word wall successes.

Reading Response Journals: Writing After Reading Is Revealing!
In an effort to encourage students to think and share more about what they read, some teachers have turned to reading response journals -- notebooks reserved for writing in response to literature -- and are gaining new insights. Included: Teacher tips.

Pop Fiction No Match For Classic Literature
Educator Kathleen Modenbach reflects on the growing trend of assigning pop fiction in place of the classics; many teachers do it to keep students happy. Modenbach suggests that teaching classic literature is worth the extra effort on students' and teachers' parts.

Strategies That Work: Journal Writing
Journal writing in the classroom can take many forms and serve many purposes. Whatever the intent or structure, however, for many teachers journal writing is an integral part of the curriculum. Included: Links to hundreds of journal-writing prompts.

Strategies That Work: Debates in the Classroom
There's no debate about it! Debates are a great tool for engaging students. They can help students develop skills in critical thinking, public speaking, organization, persuasion, research, teamwork and cooperation, and etiquette. And that's just the beginning!

Strategies That Work: Book Reports
Book reports are a classroom staple; they represent a valuable exercise in literacy development. That doesn't mean they have to be boring assignments, though. Discover 50 ideas for book report formats that engage students and motivate them to read more.

Shared Reading: Listening Leads to Fluency and Understanding
Many middle and high school teachers use shared-reading -- an approach to teaching reading that engages students and makes them better readers. Included: Reading expert Dr. Janet Allen and two teachers offer tips for a successful start to shared reading.

Voice of Experience: "Fabulous Friday" Sparks Creativity and Learning
Would this new lesson help teacher Susan Lovelace make the leap from the sage's stage? Or would it fall flat on its face? The learning and creativity Lovelace saw -- and the confidence boost it gave students -- made "Fabulous Friday" the ultimate literature lesson.

Spelling Strategies That Work
Are you and your students tired of the same old spelling lessons week in and week out? With just a few new strategies and activities, you can turn your spelling practices from dull to dynamic and your students' spelling skills from grating to great!

Reader's Theater: A Reason to Read Aloud
The Reader's Theater strategy blends students' desire to perform with their need for oral reading practice. RT offers an entertaining and engaging way to improve fluency and enhance comprehension. Included: RT tips from the experts!

Teacher Feature: Sue Flaherty
Sue Flaherty used the inspiring "Write Your Own Life" essay from Chicken Soup for the Soul to motivate her students to think and write openly and honestly about their futures. No one complained about having to write!

Wire Side Chat: Helping "Fake Readers" Become Proficient Life-Long Readers
Cris Tovani, author of the best-selling "I Read It, but I Don't Get It," chats with Education World about her checkered reading past and about her widely acclaimed work with students and teachers in the area of reading comprehension strategies.

This is SBNN Broadcasting Live...from F. H. Tuttle Middle School
Armed with newly acquired research and technical skills, 13 middle school students from South Burlington, Vermont, produce a weekly live news show that has become their school's "must-see TV." Video of an SBBN news broadcast!

Shaking Willy's Hand: A Collaborative Project Teaming Teens and 'Tweens
A teacher in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, recently completed a project in which Grade 4 and Grade 10 students collaborated to read, understand, and perform Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Learn how she did it and how you can do it too.

Lessons in Life: Connecting Kids and Soldiers
Many teachers are finding that both they and their students want to do something to help U.S. troops abroad. Education World has compiled a list of organizations that link classes with deployed servicemen and women.

Online Book Club Promotes Student Literacy
Are you looking for new ways to encourage students to read and write with greater effort and enthusiasm? Students in Kentucky have demonstrated both since the Literary Book Club -- an online forum that offers students a real audience and incentive -- was formed.

Voice of Experience: A Poetry Slam Cures the Midwinter Blahs
Educator Brenda Dyck reflects on how she uses a poetry-slam event to focus her students. She shares how they took this 1980s art form and turned it into an opportunity to connect with their peers and teachers. Included: Benchmarks for student presentations.

"Story Bits" Strategy Works
Last summer, principal Addie Gaines read about a strategy called Story Bits. This fall, that strategy is exciting students -- and their parents -- about reading and its improving reading comprehension. Included: Ideas for implementing Story Bits at your school!

Web Wizard: Fun with French
Catherine Murphy's Web site offers practical help for French teachers and students!

The Author's Picks: Must-Read Books For Young Adult Readers
In recognition of National Children's Book Week, the authors of some of today's best books for children and young adults share their favorite young adult books with you.

The Author's Picks: Must-Read Books For Elementary Students
Are you looking for the best books to read with your elementary school students during National Children's Book Week? This week, those in the know -- the authors of some of today's best-loved children's books -- share their personal favorites with you.

Student Books Capture Feelings About 9/11
Ongoing class discussions about the terrorist attacks on September 11 made teachers realize that students needed more outlets for their thoughts and feelings. Many educators turned to writing and art projects that culminated in published collections of students' work, providing the children and others with a permanent emotional record of 9/11 and the days that followed.

A Poem a Day ...
Are you teaching poetry in a way that makes your students think they have to "tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it"? Do you wonder why so many of your students profess to hate reading any kind of poetry? U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins says that now is the time to make a 180-degree turn in your approach to poetry in the classroom. Teachers who have followed Collins's advice say he's right!

Students Aim for World's Record With Giant Pop-up Book!
What's 8 feet tall, 14 feet wide, weighs more than 300 pounds, and can be found at an elementary school in Shakopee, Minnesota? No, it's not the world's scariest principal; what it is (according to art teacher Jane Smith), is potentially the world's biggest pop-up book.

Habla Espanol? Do You Speak Spanish?
Tracy Jackson's foreign language curriculum includes an hour and a half a week in the computer lab, and another hour or so a week in the classroom, integrating Spanish words and phrases into her regular cross-curricular units. The highlight of the Spanish curriculum for Jackson's students, however, is the bilingual book project, in which they learn Spanish words and phrases and write and illustrate books containing those words. The students publish the books (in house!) and post them online. So far, these first graders at Maine's Wiscasset Primary School have written three "best sellers" -- and a fourth is on the way!

A Good Poem Will Give You Goose Bumps! by Kenn Nesbitt
In this week's Wire Side Chat, Peeing in the Ool and Other Kids' Poems, Education World talks to popular poet Kenn Nesbitt about reading and writing children's poetry. In that interview, Nesbitt explains why poetry is important for children and how teachers and parents can inspire a love of poetry in kids. His ideas were so helpful -- and so inspiring -- that we decided to remove them from the interview and share them in their entirety with you. Read on to discover, in Kenn Nesbitt's own words, how you can engage kids with poetry.

Make Holiday Time Read-Aloud Time!
The U.S. Department of Education has launched its Home for the Holidays Reading Together initiative, encouraging parents and children to spend time reading together during the December break.

Get Carried Away ... With National Children's Book Week!
Get Carried Away ... READ! is the theme of the Children's Book Council's National Children's Book Week 2001. Teachers share their best ideas and activities to charge up students for a lifetime of reading!

Students Remember Connecticut Vietnam War Heroes
Through articles, anecdotes, and interviews, middle school students from Capt. Nathan Hale School in Coventry, Connecticut, are piecing together biographies of the 612 state residents killed in the Vietnam War. They want to publish the biographies so others will get to know the servicemen as well as they have.

Cause-and-Effect Writing Challenges Students
The cause-and-effect relationship is both a way of thinking and a format for writing. Teachers who emphasize cause-and-effect writing say that they are helping students learn to think critically as well as write cogently. Read what three experienced teachers have to say about this teaching approach, which can be used with students of all ages.

Make It Happen: Awesome Author and Illustrator Visits!
Don't squander a precious resource! Learn how to transform a school author or illustrator visit from an hour of entertainment into a life-long connection to reading and writing. Education World writer Leslie Bulion talked to Toni Buzzeo and Jane Kurtz, children's authors and co-authors of Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers, about how to help students get the most out of meeting the folks who write the books kids love to read.

Cinderella Goes to School
The traditional tale of Cinderella is receiving new attention both online and off-line, thanks to innovative activities designed by teachers. In classrooms from kindergarten to college, Cinderella projects, book clubs, and WebQuests take advantage of the story's broad appeal and varied cultural history. And no evil stepsisters, midnight deadlines, or lost slippers can get in the way! Should you open your classroom door to Cinderella too?

Study of Literary Characters 'Transforms' Student Writing
Teacher Jeanne Seiler-Phillips has created an activity that challenges students to think carefully about character traits in literature. The "character transformation" activity motivates students to think critically and write with a purpose as they develop characters in their writing.

New Paperback Spotlights Students' Best Writing!
The teachers of Greenwood School created Greenthumb Publishing Company to grow better writers. This year, Greenthumb Publishing has sprouted "TWIGS" (short for The Writers Inside Greenwood School), a 150-page compendium of the students' best work. With the help of School Success Press, Greenwood School families will soon have a bookstore-quality paperback of student writing to add to their home bookshelves!

Summer Reading Lists Abound on the Web!
Today, Education World surveys some of the best children's summer reading lists on the Web. Here, you'll find an overview of great lists that you or your school's staff might use to create your own summer reading program.

25 Activities to Make Every Day Read In! Day
Join your students at The Read In! as they chat online with some of the world's best authors of books for children and young adults. Then keep them reading all year long with a variety of reading-related activities from Education World.

GeoPals: Global Friends Help Kids Learn About Writing
When Barbara Soto discovered a listserv whose members are active, community-minded senior citizens, an idea occurred to her. Why not combine their knowledge and commitment with her students' need for the influence of mature adults? What started as an e-mail correspondence project has blossomed into a win-win outreach program called GeoPals!

The 'Jigsaw' Approach Brings Lessons to Life
Sixth-grade teacher Ellen Berg desperately wanted to show her students the true meaning of a fairy tale, but how could she organize an activity that would encourage them to develop their own definition of the term, willingly? A technique called the "jigsaw method" provided the backdrop for the dynamic and engaging lesson that her students still recall!

Reading Experts Cheyney and Cohen Sound 'Off' -- Not 'Out' -- About Phonics
Wendy Cheyney and Judith Cohen are reading experts who share their practical approach to teaching phonics with classroom teachers in presentations across the nation. In this Education World e-interview, they share their views on the role of phonics in reading instruction and what teachers want to know and should know about it. Included: The experts recommend current reading research that every teacher should read!

Understanding the Hype: Media Literacy (An Education World e-Interview With Catherine Gourley)
Every day, we are bombarded with messages when we watch television, go online, or read newspapers and magazines. What do those messages mean? What is their purpose? How should we process media messages? In a recent e-interview with Education World, noted author, educator, and media literacy expert Catherine Gourley shared her thoughts about media literacy and its role in education. Gourley's latest book, Media Wizards: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Media Manipulatives, introduces techniques to help students crack the codes of media messages.

BiblioCat Web Site Full of Resources, Feline Fun
The BiblioCat Web Page provides teachers, librarians, and parents with educational resources as well as tidbits about library cats. Site owner Sheryl Skufca says she wanted to start a Web page that offered practical, easy-to-find information. Included Teachers comment about the sites usefulness.

Student Essays Describe 'Perfect' School
Teachers who listen. Longer lunch hours. Less homework. Those are some of the predictable things that kids would like to see in a "perfect" school. Students in Sue Chanda's math class, however, envision a perfect school that has more technology, smaller teacher-student ratios, more electives, and a later starting time. Those kids have good reasons! Today, Education World shares the some of the thoughtful comments Chanda's seventh graders wrote in persuasive essays that answered the question What would the perfect school be like? Included: Chanda talks about how her assignment came about and how it helped strengthen the teacher-student bond!

Using Fairy Tales to Debate Ethics
What better way to spark a spirited classroom debate on ethics than by exploring the complex messages often found in fairy tales? In this Education World story, guest editor Elaine L. Lindy introduces three tales -- Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk, and a Tibetan tale, From the Elephant Pit -- that can be used for starters! Included: Tips for managing an ethics debate in the elementary or middle school classroom!

Everybody Wins! -- Lunch-Hour Reading Program Scores High With Kids and Volunteers
Teachers, kids, and volunteers agree: Everybody Wins!, a nonprofit foundation, is a success. Adult reading mentors from organizations and corporations help disadvantaged elementary school children during lunch hour. The bottom line, according to a U.S. Department of Education study, is that children with reading mentors improve academically. Their classroom behavior improves too! Included: Learn more about Everybody Wins! In 1991, Arthur Tannebaum, distressed that minority children don't receive what he considers an equitable education, started the reading program.

Use Children's Literature to Teach About Elections: Ten Books Get Our Vote!
The presidential elections are just around the corner, so teachers may want to check out this list of ten books to help students learn about elections and the election process. Included: Books for students of all ages!

'Paper Swap' Strategy Helps Students Learn
English teacher Suzanne L. Schmitt shares a win-win strategy that allows students a chance to turn in a paper, participate in a quick review, and then swap that paper with a revision that improves on the first -- and may even mean a higher grade!

Literature Circles Build Excitement for Books!
Literature circles are one of the hottest trends in language arts teaching. Two experts in the field offer insights and advice about using this instructional strategy. Included: Valuable resources for teachers who want to learn more about using literature circles in their classrooms.

Great Books Get School Off to a Great Start!
Reading aloud to students is an important activity on any school day -- but many teachers have books that they use to help make the first day of school a very special one. Read about some teachers' favorite first-day read-aloud books. Then share your own favorite on our message board! Included: Reading aloud on the first day isn't just for little kids!

Young Authors and Artists Collaborate on Humanitarian Project
Parents at a Washington state elementary school organized a Share a Story student enrichment project that promoted the literacy and humanitarian goals of the school. The students shipped more than 1,000 books to schools in the South Pacific. Among the books were 115 the students had written themselves! What they got in return was a lot of satisfaction --and a big surprise!

Teacher-Created Web Site Has 'Write' Stuff!
Are you tired of correcting the same stultifying stories and plodding reports? Let California teacher Michelle Bergey and her good friend Professor Pen help your students learn to write with skill and flair!

Talking Books Creates a Hook!
Media specialist Nancy Keane wants kids to read books they love so theyll love to read. Keane created a Web site called Booktalks Quick and Simple to help educators make books more appealing to students. Included: Learn how one teacher parlayed booktalks and basketball into a cool activity that inspires kids to read more! Also, booktalks tips from teachers and comments from kids!

Reading Aloud --- Is It Worth It?
Why do teachers read aloud to their students? Are the benefits of reading aloud worth the time? Many teachers believe reading aloud enhances classroom instruction and improves academic achievement --- and recent research supports their belief. Included: Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, talks to Education World about the value of reading aloud!

Competition Increases Student Reading
The Book Bowl makes a sport of reading! said Bill Derry, supervisor of library media services for public schools in New Haven, Connecticut. Find out how this competition sparks students to read more!

Murder in Virginia: A Creative Conspiracy
The year is 1830, and an old woman is reminiscing about a murderous event that occurred when she was a young girl living in colonial Virginia. Can you guess who done it? As the mystery unfolds, we slowly learn the truth. The story is actually being told by more than 26 authors -- and each author is a clever and cunning high school student! Investigate the mystery -- and delve into thirteen activities designed to connect the crime to the curriculum.

Give Your Students the Dickens!
Do you dread teaching the work of Charles Dickens? Do your students groan at the mere mention of his name? Explore some of the student-friendly Dickens Web sites we found and hear from some of the teachers and Dickens fans who created them. Included: Teacher-created ideas for extending the works of Dickens.

Book Adventure: An Online Reading Program Rewards Young Bookworms!
A new online reading incentive program is promoting reading for pleasure among students in a new way. Book Adventure has students selecting books they want to read based on their interests, reading the books, and wanting to take quizzes that measure their comprehension. Too good to be true? Not so! Immediate rewards and interactive games are just the enticement kids need to get them reading, and this program is putting them to work through the Internet.

Two Writing Contests for Teen Writers
Engage students in writing for a purpose. Take part in one of two recently announced fall writing contests --- a script writing contest for students in grades 7-9 and a short story writing contest for students age 13 and up. Spread the word! Details included!

Ten Tips for Young Writers
Elise Howard, editor in chief of Avon/Tempest Books for Teen Readers, offers ten tips for teen writers who would like to be published. Write regularly, write about what you know, imitate writers you admire, don't be afraid of rejection --- those tips and more from an experienced editor of fiction for young readers!

The MindsEye Monster Exchange Project: Monsters Made to Order!
"The dog is brown." Does this sound like your students' idea of a descriptive sentence? The MindsEye Monster Exchange Project is ready to change that! A unique activity that has students writing descriptive paragraphs, this project is fast becoming an integral part of the language arts curriculum of many classrooms. What is the best part? Students get to use their imaginations to design their very own monsters! Included: Comments from teachers across the grades who have seen the educational value in this well-thought-out online project.

Use the Web to Enhance the K-2 Reading Curriculum
Are you looking for a way to motivate your young readers, involve them in active learning, and help them build language skills --- all in the same lesson? Why not use the Web to enhance the reading process? In this Education World story, teacher Hazel Jobe points out some of the best Web sites to use in reading instruction!

Express Yourself (*Well*): Web Sites for Teaching Students About the English Language
Do you and your students speak the same language? In interviews, dating, and even social and classroom activities, there is no replacement for expressing oneself well. Clarity of expression comes with a good understanding of the English language. Many resources are designed to increase students' comprehension of English, whether it is their first or second language, in an enjoyable manner. Through the Internet, you can take advantage of the best of these in your own classroom!

Journal Writing Every Day: A Painless Way to Develop Skills
One of the best things about daily journal writing is that it can take so many forms. Teachers can use journal writing to meet specific goals, or the purpose can be wide open. Some teachers check journal writing and work on polishing skills; others use journals as the one "uncorrected" form of writing that students produce. Some teachers provide prompts to help students begin their writing. Others leave decisions about the direction and flow of student journals up to the students. This week, Education World talked with teachers who use daily journal writing in their classrooms. Included: Writing motivators that work from teachers who use them!

Volumes of Verse: Poetry Resources on the Internet
You have probably heard the Web compared to a virtual library. In the case of poetry, that statement couldn't be more true. Poets from William Blake to Walt Whitman now have virtual homes in cyberspace. The Internet offers a rich repertoire of verse -- if you know where to look! You and your students could be the beneficiaries of this fertile resource.

Organize a "Literature Day" (and Night!) at Your School
Teachers at Westwood Elementary School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, found the perfect reward for their students, who read 4,500 books last October! They organized a Literature Day. Then they did the whole thing over again at night -- so they could include families! Included: Activity ideas and tips for organizing your own literature event!

LitTips: 12 Practical Tips to Improve Literacy!
Literacy is Lorie Schaefer's number-one goal. To that end, Schaefer a reading specialist and confessed "idea hamster" -- is constantly looking for ways to put ideas in front of the teachers she works with. Among the tools she uses is a weekly literacy tip, published in her principal's school bulletin. Included: 12 of Schaefer's "LitTips" -- and an invitation for you to share a favorite of your own!

Take a Summer Cruise with Popular Authors!
It's not too early to plan your summer vacation! How does a cruise to Mexico and the Caribbean sound? How does a cruise with some of the world's most popular authors of children's literature sound? This summer, teachers, authors, and others interested in children's literature have a unique opportunity to combine the two!

Oh, My Words! Great Word Sites on the Net!
October 16 is Noah Webster's birthday! Use the day to launch your students on a pursuit of sparkling word games and useful dictionaries on the Internet.

Time for Open House? Try a Hinky-Pinky!
Stuck for ideas for creating quality work in the first weeks of school? Try hinky-pinkies. They help students feel comfortable in a new classroom. They're fun too! And they make a great display for Open House.

Reading Aloud -- Are Students Ever Too Old?
Do you read aloud to your students? Is there ever a time when students are too old to be read to? Many teachers are firm believers in reading aloud -- even at the high school and college levels!-

Invent Your Own Poetry Form: An End-of-the-Year Activity!
Attack poetry from a new angle! After students have tried their hands at writing traditional poetry, invite them to invent their own poetry forms. Included: Some results from my students!

Good Grief, It's Grammar Time!
Are grumbles all you hear when teaching grammar? Try a fresh approach -- a few new "hooks" your students will remember -- and check out a bunch of grammar sites on the Internet that will placate even the loudest grammar grumblers!

Get to Know Your Favorite Authors -- On the Internet!
From the bright cheer of picture-book-writer Eric Carle's home page to the direct approach of Aaron Shepard's, authors' pages teem with biographical information, bibliographies, information about specific books, and even, in many cases, activities geared to fun and learning.

Join The Read In! on April 24!
More that 200,000 students are expected to join this year's Fifth Annual Read In!, where they'll chat "live" with two dozen renowned authors and illustrators. Included: Information on how you can join in the fun!

Reading and Writing at Home Improves Skills!
A recent NCES study verifies what most teachers and parents know: Students who read and write more at home do better on tests of reading and writing ability. Included: Activities to get students reading and writing at home!

Dr. Seuss Inspires "Read to Kids Day" -- March 2!
The first-ever Read to Kids Day is set for March 2. Explore events scheduled in your area and Internet connections to loads of Dr. Seuss fun!
Included: Links to plenty of reading activity ideas!

Haiku, Chaiku, God Bless You: Teaching Japanese Poetry Writing
Writing haiku can be a way through which children can express their inner souls, a window through which one can see a child's world.

Creating A Classroom of Writers Using the "Meet the Author" Collection
Drive home the importance of each step of the writing process with real words from real authors!

"Sustained Silent Reading" Helps Develop Independent Readers (and Writers)
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) -- or DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), as some people call it -- can be one more tool for developing lifelong readers.

A Call to Teachers of Literature-Based Reading Programs: The Phonics Brigade Is Moving In! Marshall Your Forces!
Nationally recognized reading experts Regie Routman, Richard Allington, and P. David Pearson put out a warning call to teachers in keynotes last week at the New England Reading Association Annual Conference.

Whole Language and Phonics: Can They Work Together?
The debate still rages among educators, parents, and experts. Whole language? Or phonics? Which approach to teaching reading works best? Is the pendulum swinging?

A Teacher's Guide to Getting Students' Work Published by Glori Chaika
Glori Chaika, an English teacher, shares tips for getting student-writing published. Chaika's students at Slidell (Louisiana) Junior High School are among the most-published kids in the United States.

The Culminating Project: Students Put Together a Book of Their Best Writing by Glori Chaika
A year-long writing effort leads up to the culminating project---the creation of a volume of the year's best work. Glori Chaika's students put a lot of time and thought into this effort, and it shows!

Checkpoints in Reading
The Council for Educational Development and Research (CEDaR) has created a list of checkpoints in reading---for Kindergarten and grades 3, 6, 9, and 12---to help parents better understand their childs reading development.

Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) "Pays" Big Dividends!
Teacher William Marson shares his success in motivating sixth-graders to read using a program he calls Reading for Fun (RFF).