How Large is that Apple?

To my fellow teachers:

Sillybooks has offered to add a forum for teachers to its site in an effort to foster literacy. As we move through this school year looking for ideas or wishing we could share our thoughts with others, we will have the means at our fingertips. I know how often I’ve turned off the lights of my school room and gone home hoping for inspiration. Now, with the help of the editors of Sillybooks, we’ll be able to find answers or offer them. We’ll be able to bring creativity and purpose to children and to each other. It’s certainly something to celebrate. I hope you’ll join me in that celebration.

I found Sillybooks when one of my former students wrote a story that Sillybooks used on their literacy website for other children to read. Her story was animated and narrated. As a music teacher with a masters degree in reading, I appreciated how the animation and the highlighted text truly supported the storyline and that the reader who needed to re-read could do just that. The narration was slow enough to encourage reading along but fast enough to keep a reader’s interest. I began to read stories by other students and enjoyed the variety of topics and reading levels they represented. As I explored Sillybooks, I soon realized that this site is devoted to more than the printed word. It’s devoted to our readers and to us as teachers.
Sillybooks seems to have a tapestry of talented people weaving threads of literacy. Students and teachers are offered stories, books, songs, and other materials. I appreciate the use of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition in those materials (e.g., “Test Trouble” and “The Time Machine”). They are important keys for our students. These children want to “peek through the door” that letters, sounds, and words can represent. They want to explore the other side. Too often, though, the key’s been jammed in the lock or was somehow broken during the process of trying the door!

I wish I’d known a lot earlier that using as many senses as possible while learning a concept is a powerful learning tool. Knowing how helpful that strategy can be made me appreciate the value of using reading materials that unite repetition with low readability and high interest. Song lyrics, cumulative books, and poetry do that. The use of accompanying music in any capacity drives learning deeper. The combined process of reading while singing or listening to a recording of the story or lyrics, examining illustrations, and/or doing movement or playing simple rhythm instruments for dramatic effect can help a student. Learning moves from short term memory to long term.

Does anyone have a favorite idea or suggestion they’d like to pass on? Thanks, Sillybooks, for giving us this opportunity.




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