Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Environmental Print

There are many ways to incorporate Environmental Print into the Elementary Classroom. It's a great place for younger kids to start really digging into letters and sounds. It also presents opportunities to explore visual literacy.

For older kids, why not actually READ some of the writing that is found on food boxes, maps, and attraction brochures. Have students explore information found on familiar products.

The most important thing to remember is that YOUR environmental print is probably NOT the same as your students. This is especially true if you are teaching in a school with students from lower SES groups. It's not wrong. It's different. Have kids start collecting words, pictures, and logos from THEIR environment.

You can sort them. Make books using logos. Have students make word families using letters/words they find. Help them make the connection between the logo and the print form of a word. Have students make an Alphabet Book of environmental print.
Above all, don't forget to ASK THEM what they'd like to do with the print. Their ideas are often the best and will take them deeper in their literacy acquisition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From the Files

While cleaning out some old files today, I found this little gem:

Has Anybody Seen My Brain?
(Sung to the tune of 5'2" Eyes of Blue)

Kill and drill, Empty skill
Dittoes, please I've had my fill
Has anybody seen my brain?

Row by row, I can't grow
Boy, this day is movin' slow
Has anybody seen my brain?

I want to spread my wings
Try new things
Use all seven smarts
Save this Earth, prove my worth
Come on teacher, have a heart!

Look at me, set me free
Teach my brain compatibly
I really want to find my---
Has anybody seen my---
Please teacher let me find my BRAIN!!

(Note: My notes indicate this is written by "Jean Spanko". I don't know who Jean is, but she sure had it right!)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A GREAT Simile Lesson!

Loreen Leedy's book "Crazy Like a Fox" is a GREAT way to really help kids understand similes. The entire story is told in similes.

If you're looking for a fun way to help students understand this writing craft, check it out!

1. Read the book Crazy Like a Fox. Students can predict how some of the similes will end since they begin on one page and end when you turn the page.

2. Pause occasionally to let students try out their own similes using Leedy's work as a frame. Ask them what words they would use, for example, if the simile was "He ran as fast as a __________."

3. Use Leedy's note page at the end to talk about this craft that writers use. Practice some more in small groups of two or three. Let students share their thinking.

4. Have writers get out their writing notebooks and find a piece they can revise using similes.

5. Circulate the room and look for those places where writers have successfully "hit the target" for using similes.

6. When they hit the target, put a colored marker dot on their paper to mark the spot. We call these "Did It dots". Then, let them ring the target bell to signal to all writers that another writer has "hit the target".

7 This is a fun way to encourage revision, use of similes, and writing for a target all at once!