Post Tagged with: "learning aids"
Here’s a terrific, fast-reading book that aims to get young people writing.
Walter Dean Myers has written more than 100 books, including the best-selling Monster.
He is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in New York.
His books tend to be about the young, urban black experience in America. And he knows whereof he writes.
Being able to write lifted Myers out of his sometimes difficult home life. It gave him possibilities. It saved him.
He wants young people to be able to make the journey that was so important for him.
Just Write: Here’s How! is a book I picked up at the library because I was stuck. Having a been a journalist for more than 25 years–and writing nearly every day that I can remember–I was stuck. I had several looming book-related deadlines and I needed something to help me get unstuck, and fast. I’m delighted to say that Myers’s book has done just that.
I didn’t have time for boring, introduction-heavy tomes that were written from atop some author’s high horse. And kids don’t either.
Just Write doesn’t beat around the bush. It tells you how to start, how to plan, how to plot and how to revise. It’s practical and specific. “Here are the tools; it’s not easy, but you can do it.”
For instance, Myers plans his novels using a “six-box model.”
The boxes are:
1) Character and problem
2) Obvious solutions
3) Insight and inner conflict
4) Growth and change
5) Taking action
The writer fills in each box to create a plan. Later, each box is fleshed out to create an outline.
Myers also advises writers to pin photographs of their characters on a wall near where they’re writing. It’s a good idea.
Although it was great for me, Just Write is aimed at young people. Myers recounts his collaboration with a young writer who happened to send him an email. (I’m not sure how he got Myers’s email address, by the way, because I’ve been scouring the Internet for it and can’t find it anywhere–so right off the bat, this must have been an exceptional kid.)
The two–experienced writer and absolute beginner–began planning their book and then writing it, a chapter at a time, until they had something that could be published. Their book, Kick, was published by Harperteen (Harper Collins) last year.
Myers does a lot of work with kids in correctional institutions. He figures that without writing, that’s likely where he’d have wound up. He knows that there are kids in there who have something to say; he wants to help them get a chance to say it.
I love that although I’m not black, I’m not male, I’m not young, I’m not in crisis, I’m not a new writer and (I hope) I’m not headed for jail… this book helped me to write. If you know a kid who is even one of those things, I’m sure it will help them, too.
This is a book that will help kids get–and keep on–writing.
In Must Pop Words, letters – inside bouncy balls – fall down and accumulate at the bottom of the page.
You have to type words using the letters. Every word you type erases those letters. If the letters pile up to the top of the page (which they will inevitably do) you lose.
Little tasks like, “create a word ending with e” or “create a six-letter word” let you earn extra points.
The balls bouncing around and the cute penguin who sticks his head in every once in awhile make this a signature Bart Bonte game – one of a series of elegant, fun games you can find on his website. (In my opinion, Bonte is the best casual game designer on the Internet.) Enjoy!
Play Must Pop Words here.
She would scatter letters around the room. Each letter had a price on it.
“Easier” letters like E might be worth a penny or five cents, whereas “harder” letters like Q or Z might be worth a quarter.
(Are you seeing where this is going?)
The kids would run around the room, collecting the letters; they would then put them together into words or phrases.
Then they’d add up the “money” they’d earned and… cash them in, using their parents as the bankers.
My niece said the game succeeded in making her friend much more interested in words and in reading.
And, presumably, in banking.
Here’s another case in which a mom successfully bribed her daughter into reading.
I’m excited! The illustrations are by Jan Dolby and it’s published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
I’ll be doing some readings in schools, book stores and at Word On The Street to publicize the book.
I sewed and stuffed some fabric letters to use during the readings. It occurred to me that letters like this are also great for new readers, since they can hold them and make words out of them. Making letters and words tactile for kids is a terrific way to get them reading.
There are lots of ways you can do this without making your own fabric letters (trust me, it’s a lot of work). You can use Scrabble tiles, foam letters from the dollar store, letter dice from a game like Jr. Boggle or Alphabet Scoop, or you can cut out letters or words from magazines.
Studies show that kids who read during the summer jump back into school with a head-start.
Kids who take the summer off (reading, that is), often tend to find September a bit of a struggle.
So for all kinds of reasons, it’s good to keep your kid reading during the summer.
Some of my best memories are of going to the tiny library near our cottage and loading up with a week’s worth of books.
But what if your kid isn’t a super-voracious reader?
Here are some tips:
* See if your library has a summer reading program. Here’s an example. They typically bundle reading incentives into the program – it works! And if you live in Canada, here’s a link to TD’s summer reading club.
* Plan on a quick trip to the library at least once a week. Even if your kid takes out one book, it’s worth it.
* Use books on CD (or MP3) to replace TV time.
* An ebook by the dock? Why not? (Just don’t drop the Kindle in the water…)
* Outdoor time can be reading time. Check out this outdoor literacy suggestion for active kids.
* Alternative reading material counts! Comic books, magazines, ebooks, books on CD… all better than mind-numbing video games.
* Buy your child a book, wrap it up, and hide in in their bed as a bedtime surprise. It’s not a school night, so sure you can stay up and read for a while longer!
* If you’re really serious about breaking some rules for a good cause, include a flashlight with the book you give your child. They’ll figure out pretty quickly that it’s fun to “fool your parents” into thinking you’re sleeping, when you’re really reading in bed with a flashlight. (Of course, you’re one step ahead of them.)
They tend to ask the “big questions” like: Where did I come from? Why is this good and that’s bad? And, “Why can’t I have another piece of cake?”
What is philosophy?
The word “Philosophy” comes from the Greek words Philos (love) and Sophia (wisdom). In other words, philosophy is the love of wisdom. It’s the practice of asking very big questions, ones that often have more than one possible answer, or no clear answers at all.
Leask has written a series of books that help kids learn philosophy in a fun, simple and understandable way.
Her series of books covers: Metaphysics (“What is all this stuff?”); Aesthetics (“Gee, that’s pretty!”); Epistemology (“How do you know what you know?”) and other big-question topics. There’s also an introductory book to get you and your kids started.
Amy says it better than I ever could, so click on the video below to listen to her explain why kids should ”do philosophy” –
Check out the website for the books, which includes activities for kids.
Phrazzle Me! is essentially 200 blocks of wood with words imprinted on them.
The simplest way to play the game is to take seven blocks (each block has four words to choose from) and make a sentence. The next person builds on your sentence, going up and down or across. You get a point for every block you use.
If a phrase doesn’t make sense (“The table barked”) you lose a point.
But Phrazzle Me! (“phrase” + “puzzle”) can go beyond just game-play. If you’re teaching ESL, you can take the game in lots of different directions.
For one thing, the words are colour-coded. For instance, green is “to be” and gerunds “-ing words.” Red is “to have” and past participles.
Now, people who already speak English will probably stop right there. Because in North America, most people don’t know their gerund from their modal–that’s just not the way we normally like to learn languages.
But in most of the rest of the world, teachers and students are very familiar with past participles and auxiliary verbs, and are quite comfortable learning that way.
So for them especially, Phrazzle Me! can be a tremendous teaching tool.
For instance, the teacher can take just the question words, the auxiliary verbs and the subjects and then tell the students to make questions using this format:
Question + auxiliary + subject + verb.
“Where are they flying?” Boom, that’s a great question with every word in the right order.
You can easily change the rules. If you’re working on gerunds, make them worth double the points. If you’re working on past tense, make that key to the game. Let students take more or fewer blocks.
Phrazzle Me! is elegantly designed and sturdy. There’s no board; players set up the game on any flat surface. And it includes a draw-string bag that holds the pieces afterwards.
The game can be played without a moderator, but it works much better when a teacher is involved who decides if phrases are correct or not. It’s designed to provoke discussion and a long-term understanding of English.
We played Phrazzle Me! with our family and found that it can be quite challenging. It just goes to show how complex and difficult the English language is, even for native speakers.
$100 UPDATE: $79.99 a game (which includes shipping) it’s not in the same pricing ballpark as most just-for-fun games. But this is the kind of game an ESL teacher would buy and use throughout her career because it will last forever.
“Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says – he does!”
Thanks to Tina, via her FB page, for this.
• Fostering imagination
• Putting events in sequence
• Inspiration for writing a story
• Staving off boredom while you’re waiting at a restaurant
• General all-round silliness.
There are nine dice. Each one has six simple pictures. For instance, a happy face, a magic wand, a tree.
You use the nine images to build a story.
I was happy when I found a magical tree.
The magician used a tree to make his wand. It was a happiness wand.
I “wand-ered” over to a tree, where I stopped and smiled at my own pun.
The great thing is that there are no wrong answers. And all kinds of possibilities.
You can use as many or as few dice as you want. You can ignore some. You can make the images mean just what you want—even if that wouldn’t be someone else’s interpretation of the picture.
And you can get as silly as you want.
Rory’s Story Cubes are portable and stored in an elegant little magnetic-closure case. We bring them to restaurants and roll them while we’re waiting for the food to come.
If you’ve got a few kids in your group—even if they’re very diverse in terms of age or interests—it’s a great way to keep them occupied. And laughing.
There’s a great back-story to this game. Rory originally invented his cube game for companies to foster creativity and teamwork. He has since come up with a number of different versions, including a version with just “action” pictures (verbs), one that’s about voyages, and a smart phone app.
Rory’s story cubes sell for about $15 and they’re available at most toy stores or online at the Rory’s Story Cubes website.