Enhancing Student’s Listening Skills

School is out but we all know that if your students don’t “use it” they will “lose it” – their reading skills – that is.  As parents, we also are familiar with those “I don’t know what to do with myself” summer blues.  Listening to audio books may just be the answer.  If you student is looking for a relaxing way to spend some time this summer, have him or her check out www.audiobooksync.com.  This website holds a multitude of books  for students and families to listen to in audio mode.  This is great for the student who needs to enhance their vocabulary, English skills or who just want to build their background knowledge of classic books to better prepare themselves for College.  During the summer months from May 5th to August 17th, SYNC will be giving away 2 audiobook downloads a week based on weekly themes.  There is also a section for teachers with additional resources on the site.  This is a great way to help students enjoy reading, learn new vocabulary and keep those reading and comprehension skills razor sharp.

Interested in Learning More About How to Teach Reading?

Several people have asked me about where they can learn more about effective reading practices.  I highly recommend enrolling in the courses provided by my friends at TKL – Teach ‘N Kids Learn. TKL has courses open for everyone in every state however, it also has partnerships with several state school districts in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, California, New York and Ohio to name just a few.  To name just a few, you can find courses here such as:  Building Academic Vocabulary and Deep Comprehension, Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom, and Helping the Struggling reader to name just a few of the ELA courses offered here for a very reasonable fee.  You can also find high quality courses that will help you improve your skills in writing, math instruction, and creating classrooms that meet the needs of 21st Century learners.  To learn more go to:  http://teachnkidslearn.com/

Getting High School Students Interested in Reading

While most high school students can tell you all about the latest movies they have seen, most of our students cannot tell you about great books that they have read recently.  Since kids like to spend time on social networking sites, capitalize on this love by introducing your students to some online reading social networking sites.  One of these is www.goodreads.com.  At this site, readers can find out what their friends are reading and read reviews of popular books for adolescent readers.  At www.shelfari.com by Amazon, students can create a shelf of books to show what they are reading and what you have finished reading. You can also recommend books for other readers.  At www.bookcrossing.com, readers can track books when they leave them for strangers to pick up in cafes, train stations and parks.  As people find your book, you will get comments from the readers who have “found” your book as it travels all around the world.  Another site to check out  is www.bookmooch.com.  This site is a type of lending library where you can lend your own books and receive books in the mail from others who participate in the site.  The only cost is the postage to send your books on to someone who requests your book.  Sharing books with others is a great way to get adolescents interested in reading and sharing books with not only their friends but the world.

Teaching Listening

As we move into the application of the Common Core literacy listening standards, our students must be able to listen to oral presentations, take notes and and then use that information to construct logical informational and argumentative writing pieces. For example, on one of the Smarter Balanced listening assessment items, students are asked to listen to an oral presentation and then identify the “central idea” of the passage.  Many teachers have asked me how to find high quality videos and audios for supporting text-based units for their students.  Some great sources of high quality video and audio can be found on the following websites:



National Geographic

Gilder Lehman



If you know of other outstanding resources for locating high quality video and audio resources, please be sure to let us all know.

Text Complexity and Close Reading for Common Core

I recently did a guest webinar on text complexity and close reading that you may be interested in checking out for my friends at Teach N’Kids Learn, Inc. The webinar was recorded and can be accessed by clicking this link: Karen Tankersley on Text Complexity and Close Reading for Common Core. You will need to register to view the archived video but there is no charge to watch so I hope you will take advantage of this 30 minute video Presentation.