Friday, June 24, 2011

Creating a Great Student Reference Library.

Creating a Great Student Reference Library.

Hi Stephanie,
A very important step in preparing a great home or school learning experience is a student reference library. Reference books are used daily, and my students and I would be lost without them, these books are the foundation of my classroom reference library.

Student Reference Books

Reading and Language Arts Reference Books:

Writer's Express: A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers & Learners: Language Arts Reference Book Intermediate
Grade 4-6-This guide for aspiring writers is similar to, although written for a somewhat younger audience than, Patrick Sebranek's Write Source (Write Source, 1987), a popular textbook for middle-school language-arts classes. Kemper covers the writing process, its various forms, tools and study skills, and spelling and punctuation, and includes a nearly 50-page appendix of tables and lists, including maps, a timeline, the sign-language alphabet, the planets, and more. The volume is illustrated with colorful cartoon graphics, and bold headings make it easier for readers to locate information. A useful addition for classroom or home use, this title is less appropriate for library purchase as it serves better as a textbook or personal handbook.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Reader's Handbook Gr 3, 4, or 5: All are great Reading Reference Books
Reader's Handbook covers everything third graders need to become competent, active readers across all subject areas. Student-friendly and comprehensive, the Reader's Handbook can be used in a variety of ways to supplement your reading program.
Introduce key reading skills, strategies, and concepts including notetaking, summarizing, paraphrasing, and graphic organizers
Reinforce lessons from your reading textbook
Review the Before, During and After reading process
Support students as they read different kinds of text throughout the day

The Giggly Guide to Grammar: Just a fun way to learn grammar.
It's Shel Silverstein meets Strunk and White and the results are both hilarious and instructive. With over 120 illustrations and gobs of delightfully goofy examples and exercises, this book provides a lighthearted and ludicrous guide to the essential elements of language and grammar...not to mention a few writing tips thrown into the mix.

Grammar has often been taught as joyless process of memorizing rules and diagramming phony sentences, but most writers will tell you that grammar actually promotes a love of language. Not only can the study of grammar be fun and joyful, this unique primer can also be used by adults everywhere who simply need a single volume at the ready to keep them on the straight and narrow...and laughing all the way!

But How Do You Teach Writing?: A Simple Guide for All Teachers: Teaching writing is a pleasure using Barry Lanes ideas.
Through anecdote, classroom vignette, and his own experience as a writer and teacher, Barry encourages teachers of any grade level to start a writing program tomorrow and not wait until they have attained perfect understanding. Barry's motto: Let's learn along the way! For use with Grades K-12.

Good General Math Reference Books  

Everyday Mathematics: Student Reference Guide

Math Practice, Grades 1 - 2 (Singapore Math) Use the level that fits Brady best!
Singapore Math––the leading math program in the world! This workbook features math practice and activities for third grade students based on the Singapore Math method. An introduction at the front of the book explains Singapore Math and its common problem types. Each unit has learning objects, which clearly define the skills to be learned in that section, and an answer key with step-by-step worked out solutions that help students see how to work the problems. This book is perfect for students familiar with Singapore Math and for those who just need extra math practice

The World Book Encyclopedia: All kids need access to great encyclopedias.

A Little More to Come!
I love your blog! I'm writing to ask for your opinion if it wouldn't be too much of an imposition. My son is very bright and has mild Aspergers. He is reading above grade level but struggles with pragmatics (if it isn't specifically stated in the text he has trouble drawing inferences). I am homeschooling him for 2nd grade because we were unable to find a program that seemed like a good fit. He is labeled "twice exceptional" and has an amazing, wonderful, fascinating brain. I kept hearing the words "he can't" when he clearly can do anything he sets his mind to. He was starting to feel like a problem child and hate learning, when he has always been curious, interested, and happy to read anything interesting that I provided. So, we decided to take advantage of the large homeschooling community in our area and will be giving it a try, but I'd like some guidance from a professional that has high standards and understands learning differences. I've seen your comments on Huffington Post and read your blog and you seem to be an incredible teacher with a great understanding of kids and reading. I would really appreciate any suggestions you would be willing to share.

I am having trouble finding a good Language Arts curriculum that will challenge and interest him and we start homeschooling in 2 weeks. For 1st grade his school used Scott Foresman Reading which seemed to be almost an entire grade level above what our Virginia public schools are using. I would just skip to a 3rd grade LA curriculum but I think he needs more practice due to his issues with pragmatics which negatively impacts his reading comprehension (he remembers what he has read, but might not understand it thoroughly due to difficulty drawing conclusions). He is very good at spelling, has the vocabulary of a much older child, and is very interested in science and technology. My plan for the summer is to help him develop an ear for the English Language through reading poetry together, listening to songs and analyzing the various methods used by song writers to make lyrics interesting (double meanings, alliteration, rhyming, patterns, etc.), reading well written literature that has stood the test of time, and reading news for kids to understand writing for different purposes. He already knows what homophones, nouns, proper nouns, and antonyms are and has fun discussing them as we read so I would like to continue with grammar but it will not be our main focus. We will be using Mad Libs to continue learning parts of speech in addition to any curriculum.

I am looking for ways of determining his reading level. His teacher was unable to provide much information, but when I asked if 3rd grade books would be too advanced, she said no. I would guess that he reads at a 4th grade level. I am looking for a good reading list (chapter books, websites, magazines, and poetry).

More Information:
Writing is a struggle for him. Keeping an idea in his head and remembering all of the rules and how to form lower case letters at the same time is very challenging, so I am looking for a Language Arts curriculum that inspires him to want to write.Handwriting is a struggle, but he has asked that we begin learning cursive, so I will give it a try without pushing too hard. I'm trying to decide if narration, dictation, and copy work would be good tools for us to use until he is more developmentally ready to write down his thoughts independently and he will be using software to learn to type to see if that helps him put his thoughts down on paper more easily.
He scores 99th percentile on standardized tests (ERB).

Brady will turn 7 on July first, so he was always the youngest in his class. That is one of the reasons I was willing to take the chance on a year long homeschooling experiment; if I had it to do all over again I would have waited a year to put him in school. We didn't know he was on the Autism Spectrum until he was 5 and he was so bright that I put him in preschool at 3. His teachers said holding him back a year would be a mistake because he was already so bored, and he does very well when worked with one on one, so hopefully I am not damaging him for life!

Is there a standardized test that is a better indicator of understanding and knowledge than the school system typically uses? In Virginia we are required to test each year as proof of progress when homeschooling, but it seems many standardized tests these days are more about the teacher than the student.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, any recommendations at all would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Stephanie

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sean - awesome suggestions and I really appreciate all you have emailed as well! I will definitely be adding quite a few of those to my library. I am posting a link to your blog on my new blog

    Hopefully it will drive some traffic your way once I am getting more traffic. Oddly, I already have 3 readers in Malaysia, 4 in Canada, 1 each in Germany and the UK, and about 160 in the US! I'm adding you to my blog roll, if you like what you see can you add me as well? Thanks, Stephanie


Thank you!