Dr. Connie Hebert helps kids, parents, and teachers by helping them become experts at catching "the teachable minute" anytime, anywhere! My Teachable Minute Blog offers quick tips on how to engage with younger and older kids. Comments, questions, and reflections are always welcome . . . let's catch a million teachable minutes together!

Archive for October, 2012

How Do We Help Kids Who Can’t Think of Something to Write?

“Ideas are merely twinkling stars in the brain, waiting to be noticed.” C. Hebert

Scaffolding ideas is an art and teachers who know how to do it can help falling writers enormously. The best way to help children who are ‘stuck’ on an idea is to have an oral conversation with them before they write, individually. Here is how one scenario might go:

“How’s is going, Jonathan?”
“Good.”
“Tell me a little about baseball before you start writing in your journal.”
“It’s fun.”
“Let me ask you this, Jonathan. If a kid from another country came to the U.S. and never heard of baseball before, what would you tell him about it?”
“It’s where you hit a ball and run the bases.”
“What else would you tell him so that he really understands how we play it.”
“Well, you have to go to all 3 bases and then to home base in order to score a point.”
“Does everyone get to go to home base just for hitting a ball?”
“No! You can get people out by touching them with the ball.”
“So what do we call that?”
“An out!”
“Can you tell me that in a whole sentence, Jonathan?” “Start with “When someone hits the ball…”
“When someone hits the ball they run to the bases and try not to get out.”
“Excellent! Now, tell me again; what are 3 things that someone would need to know about baseball if they knew NOTHING about it?”
Whatever Jonathan says, at this point, is what you will encourage him to write in his journal. This meaningful conversation served as a springboard for the topic because it took the student away from focusing on the ‘act of writing’ and into the ‘act of thinking’ by scaffolding ideas. Remember that writing is just thinking, brought down to the pen. By engaging in meaningful discussions while using prompts that scaffold one’s thinking, we can help falling writers move forward in productive, creative ways. The art of scaffolding is not easy; it takes practice. It is, however, essential to the process of helping struggling writers write better!

Lap Books…for home and school

Check out these beautiful lap books for reading with your young learners! They are among the best I’ve seen anywhere. I have voluntarily endorsed ‘There Was A Mouse’ because it is perfect for use with my mouse puppet, Max. In fact, I shot a picture of Max looking at the book and sent it to Richard Owen Publishers because it was adorable. They loved it and asked if they could use it to promote the book! Max always did want to be a star!
Here’s the link: http://www.rcowen.com/BYL-BigBooks.htm
I hope you read my suggestions on how to use lap books to build comprehension…and consider ‘big books’ for holiday and birthday gifts for young kids. They are wonderful and kids can learn much from them! Go, MAX…

What They Can Write, They Can Read!

Want to help kids read better? Teach them to write! That simple, that powerful.

Why? Because writing requires physical action that taps into the brain to recall words that are automatic (sight words), to write words that require hearing and applying sounds, common chunks and endings, to apply correct grammatical sentence structure, and to make sense (must be meaningful)!

So…have kids write commonly used words (sight words) FAST on a white board, DAILY, until they become automatic. This will free the brain up to attend to harder words, meaning, and grammar. Have kids read back what they write in order to check for TWO THINGS:

DOES IT MAKE SENSE?

DOES IT LOOK RIGHT?

With daily opportunities to write, kids will READ BETTER and be more motivated to write often! Remember, kids who can write the word, AND, can also read the word AND. But  there are lots of kids who can read the word, AND, and cannot write the word AND. This means that what we write, we can read. Want to help kids read better and faster? Teach them to write. Voila!

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