Family Community Literacy: Winter Break Reading

woman and child reading together

The Gist

The more students read, the better they get at it. Winter break is a chance for your children to access many district library books.

The Whole Story

One thing research has show – the amount of reading your student does over the course of their time in kindergarten through high school has an effect on how well they comprehend complex ideas, vocabulary, new concepts.  St. Vrain Valley Schools are working hard to make sure our students have access to quality books no matter where they may be.

You kids have three specific ways to access books through the District.

  1. MyOn – For elementary and middle school students, the myon library has a wide selection of digital books students can read on their own or listen and read along with. Many schools in SVVSD run challenges trying to get their students to read as many minutes in MyOn books as possible during the school year.
  2. Physical Libraries – Every SVVSD school library has a wide selection of physical books your children can check out over break. During the last week before break, consider challenging your kids to check out new books to read as a family over break.
  3. The SVVSD District Digital Library – If you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone in your home, you have a device on which you and your students can access and read books from our district digital library. Everyone from our youngest readers to adults can find a high-interest book in the library.

BONUS: Your local public library will be ready, willing, and excited to welcome you and your children to browse and check out physical and digital books over winter break.

Suggested Activity

Take on a family winter reading challenge. Visit your local public library or your children’s school library and set a reading goal for winter break. Maybe it’s a family goal for the whole house. Maybe it’s a per person goal. Maybe it’s a competition to see who can read the most pages. Either way, set a goal and track progress. The refrigerator is a great way to keep track of reading progress.

Does your family have any special reading routines? Share them in the comments below!

 

Family Community Literacy: Making the Most of Conferences

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The Gist:

With school conferences in progress, families across the school district are getting a chance to meet their children’s teachers face-to-face. Asking questions about what you can do to help your kids prepare for the learning that will be happening between now and the next few months is a great way to find out how to build connections between home and school.

The Whole Story

It’s easy to sit down at a parent teacher conference and be drawn in by grades and progress reports. And those are certainly important pieces for understanding how your child is progressing in their classes. If you leave the room only with an understanding of grades and how they got that way, you’re leaving some important information out. To get more out of parent teacher conferences, consider shifting your thinking from that of a meeting between a service provider and a client to that of a team meeting. When you think about it, other than your child, their teachers and you – their family – are the key players in making sure learning is happening and supported across home and school.

So, other than questions about grades, missing assignments and attendance, how can you get the information you need to make the most of your parent teacher conference?

  • Ask about readingAsk your child’s teachers what is being read in class, what they’d recommend your kid reads at home, and what you might consider reading as a parent. Ask for specific titles, authors, and topic areas.
  • Ask what you should be asking. We know the trope of asking a student what they did at school only to hear, “Nothing” in response. A conference is a great place to get material for specific questions:
    • What are the names of some key characters they’re encountering in literature?
    • What are some key words I could use when asking them about school work, no matter the content area?
    • What’s something you’ve seen my student get very interested in that I should bring up to help them see school as a positive experience?
  • Ask how you can help pave the way. Parent conferences are often about the past. By asking what you can be doing, viewing, talking, and thinking about at home around the dinner table or during family time, you can make sure your child has experiences with key ideas, books, etc. so they feel on top of things when they come up in class.
  • Ask about drive time. Time in the car – heading home, to practices, to rehearsals, to dentist appointments – can be time spent making connections to what students are learning. Ask your child’s teacher if they have suggestions for conversation topics, skill practice games, podcasts to listen to or any other content you might bring up during car rides.

More Resources:

Collections Update: New Feedback Studio Interface Streamlines Your Experience

Key Things to Know

  • Turnitin is now known as Turnitin Feedback Studio.
  • Your default view has changed to the new Feedback Studio interface.
  • You may revert back to the “Turnitin Classic” view at any time.
  • Your data will remain intact when switching between interfaces.
  • Read our Feature Release Guide or watch this brief video for additional help.

Feature Release Guide ►


We are pleased to announce that Turnitin®, now known as Turnitin Feedback Studio, has a redesigned user interface within the myWriteSmart tool in Holt McDougal Online (my.hrw.com). The new Feedback Studio provides a more streamlined user experience and allows quicker access to key features, modes, and panels.

After logging in, you will receive a brief, guided tour of the new layout. Should you wish to access the old view, now known as “Turnitin Classic”, you may revert to it at any time by clicking “Return to Turnitin Classic” at the bottom of your Feedback Studio screen. To return to Feedback Studio, simply click on “Try the new Feedback Studio” at the top of the Turnitin Classic screen. Rest assured that your comments and class data remain intact and no work will be lost when switching between views.

To better assist you, our Feature Release Guide contains visual aids to show the differences between the two interfaces and how to switch between views. In addition, this brief, helpful video explains the key differences between Turnitin Classic and Feedback Studio, as well as how to navigate the new interface.

Please note that the new Feedback Studio interface will become the standard display in the summer of 2017. As a valued Collections customer, we are providing you with advance access so you may familiarize yourself with the layout and functionality over the next year.

Our Technical Support Group will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have regarding the new Turnitin Feedback Studio. Please do not hesitate to contact them at techsupport@hmhco.com, 800.323.9239, (+1) 973.368.0392, or through our online service request system.

Thank you for choosing Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as your partner in education.

Sincerely,

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Digital Customer Experience

Family Word Walls

Math Word Wall

This post is part of a series to support SVVS families as they help their children grow as readers, writers, listeners, and speakers. 

The Gist:

Establishing a word wall in your home using your child’s school vocabulary words and others can be an easy way to help support their growth as readers and writers.

Whole Story:

As you’ve visited your child’s classroom, you’ve probably noticed a wall or a section of a wall covered in large words, maybe hand-written and pasted on pieces of construction paper. These are word walls, and they’ve become a foundational practice for teachers working to help students get as many opportunities to interact with language as possible. All of this aligns with the National Council of Teachers of English’s 1997 Resolution on the Importance of a Print-Rich Classroom Environment.

Building a home word wall can be a helpful way to support your child’s reading and learning. Here are some simple steps, along with some suggested activities for making it useful:

  1. Start collecting words from the vocabulary your child’s classes at school. This could be suggested vocabulary sent home in newsletters by teachers or by collecting the bolded or unfamiliar words encountered in school reading. Add to these words by keeping an eye out for interesting and new vocabulary you encounter during family reading or out in the world.
  2. Select a space in your home where you can post and keep your collected words. This could be a blank wall, the refrigerator door, or any other shared space. While it may make sense to put the word wall in your child’s bedroom, choosing a shared space sends a signal that reading and writing are family activities.
  3. Either handwrite or type and print your words to be posted to your word wall. Be careful to make sure your words can be read from afar, so you don’t need to move too close before you have a conversation about what they mean.
  4. Talk about and use the words on your wall in regular conversation or using some of the applications recommended below.

Application (E=Elementary, M=Middle, H=High, A=All)

  • Visiting Word. After you have worked on a word wall for a substantial period of time, add a “visiting” word. This encourages your child to do a review of the word wall as they hunt for the new word. Present the visiting word as the new word for the day. (E, M)
  • Word Pictures. Divide the family into teams. Each team select one of the words from the word wall and illustrate it on a piece of paper. The opposing team gets a point for a correct guess and illustrates another word. (A)
  • Categories. Work as a family to create categories and group the words from the word wall to fit those categories. Set the number of words that are allowed in a “miscellaneous” category and create a maximum and minimum number of categories that can be used. This activity could be done individually first; then share and compare your categories. Each family member can share their groups of words with the family who guess the principle behind the sorting. (M, H, A)
  • Word of the Day. Choose a “Word of the Day.” Have everyone in the family use the “Word of the Day” meaningfully throughout their days. When you are back together in the car, at the dinner table, before bed, take turns talking about where you used your word throughout your days. (A)
  • Unfolding Five Words in a Story. Family members are given a word wall word every two-minutes for ten minutes (five words in total) to incorporate into a story they are writing on a topic of their choice. When a new word is given, everyone works that word into their story immediately. Encourage everyone to write continuously and quickly during the ten minutes. Family members share their stories. For new writers in the family, consider paring them with more mature writers. (A)

Other Resources:

Looking to Improve Your Instructional Practice in Reading?

Tools

Space is limited in this professional learning course taught by Sherri Platt and Michelle Pulley, so sign up now. An especially good fit for secondary teachers of all subjects, this course provides participants time to look at reading monitoring tools, reading strategies and the district’s digital library. Read the description below, and sign up here.

Savvy Tools for Savvy Readers Fall 2016
Target Group: Licensed teachers, grades 5-12. iPads recommended but not necessary. This class is designed for all content areas at the upper elementary through high school level. Participants will gain knowledge of book level, content level, and text complexity through an exploration of novels and/or non-fiction text. The class is a 8-week online class. There will not be any face-to-face meetings. Participants will be required to check in weekly for discussions and assignment submissions. Using the District Digital Library will be part of the class. iPad access is not required but is highly recommended. Requirements for the course:

  • Read 3 novels or 9 non-fiction quick reads or combination (3 non-fiction = 1 novel) that are content and age appropriate for your class
  • Complete text complexity rubric for each
  • Create a tool to monitor student independent reading
  • Develop a “Recommended Reading List” for your class from books that are in the District Digital Library or that can be found in your school’s library
  • Engage in the weekly discussion questions with a minimum of an initial response and at least one reply to another participant
  • Final course assignment