Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Into the Book" & Other Visual Resources

As I move into my newly expanded media center at Cedar Heights :), I'm trying to weed and organize my decorations and bulletin board items. I already discarded most of the "holiday" stuff several years ago. In the last few years, I have used my bulletin board and chart resources to create visual displays of information that students can read in the hallway while waiting in line for the drinking fountain or bathrooms. Our principals stress the need to make every minute count for learning and so this was my response to that directive. Students can keep their minds actively engaged while they view a display about animal classification that includes colorful posters of animals with a chart of selected vocabulary words (predator, prey, camouflage, etc.) and put the information to work by mentally filling in blanks on a Venn diagram. Or it might be a poster identifying the parts of a dictionary with a set of words to alphabetize on one side and practice with guide words on the other side.

One display that I have used for a few years offers some great posters on reading comprehension strategies with additional information on reading called Into the Book, a reading comprehension strategies program from Wisconsin. It is set up with separate sections for teachers and students in grades K-4 (although I think it could be used into 6th grade). Students will need to set up a login but teachers can access the majority of the site for free! Reading strategies focus on Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating, Synthesizing, and Using Other Strategies. The interactive site features video clips, downloads of strategy posters and songs, teaching tips, and more. Be sure to look in the "Other Resources" tab for pdf files on teacher guides, summaries, bibliographies, and more to print. I think this site is amazing with all of the information it offers!

Another site to check out for additional reading strategies is called Just Read Now It offers innovative and effective reading strategies in addition to lesson plans. The focused strategies can be applied across academic disciplines and learner levels and are grouped into four areas that include Discussion, Active Reading, Vocabulary, and Organization. Although this site does not feature posters, it contains additional links to resources for teacher background information as well as some pdf pages to print.

Another hallway display that I use features posters on genre that I found on the Troy, Michigan school district site by third grade teacher Beth Newingham. (Note: The genre titles featured in this site may or may not coordinate with the titles your textbooks or teachers use. For example, some of my teachers use the title "adventure" which is not used in this site.) Be sure to browse this site for other great ideas!

Currently I'm thinking/working on a display about poetry and elements of poetry, such as alliteration, hyperbole, etc. at the request of third grade teachers at one of my schools. (I consider that the ultimate compliment--a request for a display!) I found a good poster to start off and plan to feature an element with an example every so often. We're hoping this will act as a "word wall" to help students become more familiar with some of these fun, odd words (onomatopoeia!!) as well as to be able to identify their usage in poetry and other reading selections. Thus, I would really appreciate ideas or specific poems that would help us achieve this hallway learning goal!!

I guess the bottom line is that I believe that visual learning is very powerful and I hope these hallway displays create interest in learning as well as a "picture" to retain the information for future reference.

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