A series of writing workshops for HISD educators is giving teachers new tools for showing students how to become better writers.
In the June 11 workshop, participants practiced the technique of selecting a “seed topic” to inspire students’ writing through personal memories and experiences.
“When something is meaningful and important to you, you can tell a better story,” said Thompson ES teacher Lenora Green. “Just a prompt can be anything and may not be meaningful to you, but…if it means something, you’ll do a great job at it.” Continue reading →
All year long, caring volunteers from across Houston have been helping HISD students read by simply going online. But on May 29, students at Paige Elementary School got to meet their mentors in the flesh.
TutorMate is a web tool that allows mentors to tutor students via the internet. It was incorporated into HISD’s Read Houston Read program as a part of its Literacy By 3 initiative, which aims to have every child reading well by the end of Grade 3.
Volunteers needed to read with first-graders for 30 to 60 minutes per week
It’s National Volunteer Week, and HISD would like to recognize and encourage the many people who volunteer their time with the district. Volunteers are an integral part of the HISD family who share the common goal of wanting to help students succeed.
“I heard about the volunteer program on TV and thought, ‘I can get out of the house and do something worthwhile,’” said Loretha Fore, a retired teacher who is now an HISD volunteer at Southmayd Elementary School. “We have so much to give, especially retired people. We’re going out to lunch and getting together with friends, but this is something we can all do to help students and give back to our communities. You are giving, but also receiving.”
Annually, nearly 31,000 community members apply to volunteer in HISD schools through Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS). With the launch of even more opportunities, including the district’s Read Houston Read volunteer program, that number is expected to grow.
Sometimes a little friendly competition can turn a task one has to do into an activity one wants to do. Such has certainly been the case with HISD’s annual Name That Book competition. It began almost 30 years ago at River Oaks Elementary School, and it became so popular that it eventually expanded districtwide and now serves students in grades K-12.
The basic structure of the contest has remained the same over the years: students are challenged to read 30 or more age-appropriate books from an approved list over a period of several months, then compete on teams to see who can correctly identify the largest number of titles, based on particular quotes read aloud. Teams with the highest number of correct titles are deemed the winners—but the truth is that every child benefits by participating.
“The great thing about Name That Book competitions is that they encourage students to do something we want them to do anyway: read for pleasure,” said HISD Director of Literacy Cindy Puryear. “Not only are they cultivating a life-long love of reading, they’re also building their comprehension and memory skills. After all, just scanning the words to get the gist of a book’s subject will not be enough. They have to understand and remember what they’ve read and figure out which book a line was pulled from based on context. Those are higher-level thinking skills, and they are exactly what we’re aiming to develop with Literacy By 3.”
Name That Book competitions are coordinated by HISD’s Department of Library Services. The 2015 finals have been underway since early March and will conclude on April 10 with the high-school-age contest. Be sure to check out the April 17 edition of eNews for a complete list of winners.
On-air personalities visit select HISD schools to show connection between reading and careers
Telemundo Houston weekend anchor Antonio Hernandez visits with students at Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy.
A popular Spanish-language television station is getting HISD students excited about reading in a whole new way.
Through Leyendo con Telemundo, five different on-air personalities—including newscaster Paulina Sodi and weekend anchor Antonio Hernandez—are visiting classes at select district schools once a month to talk about the importance of literacy.
The visits are part of an on-going partnership between Telemundo Houston and HISD, in support of the district’s Literacy By 3 movement.
Independent reading and reading aloud are important strategies of Literacy by 3.
Reading aloud, for 15 minutes a day, is critically important during a child’s earliest years of life, and the benefits of reading aloud through the elementary years has been shown to instill a love of reading. In a recent study, researchers found that not only does reading aloud throughout elementary school years expose children to more complex words or stories than when they read alone, but they are also more likely to read more books independently in later years.
In addition to reading a book with a child at bedtime, here are five tips parents can use “on the go” to ensure their children are reading aloud for 15 minutes a day. Continue reading →
Author Barney Saltzberg with Visual Art Specialist Rebecca Stewart
Whether you’re five, 15, or 55 years old, it can still be a thrilling experience to meet someone who actually created a book you enjoyed. If it makes a big enough impression, the experience can even make you a reader for life.
Barney Saltzberg was the latest writer/illustrator to bring inspiration and encouragement to students. He came to Memorial Elementary School on Feb. 13.
“His visit was awesome,” said Visual Art Specialist Rebecca Stewart. “He spoke about not being a very good student. He said he was terrible at spelling. No one—not even his parents—was very optimistic that he would ever do anything significant, because he had such a hard time in school. But he loved to draw, so he drew all the time. When he went to art school, he still didn’t think he was very good, but a teacher looked at his drawing one day and said, ‘You need to write a book with that character.’ So he did. And the little boy who had such a hard time at spelling is now a best-selling author with more than a million books in print.” Continue reading →
More than 800 pre-K through fifth-grade teachers attended HISD’s Elementary Literacy Summit on Saturday, Jan. 10 to participate in sessions on quality reading and writing instruction and hear presentations by national literacy experts. Continue reading →
Fleming Middle School recently hosted its annual Family Math Night for parents and students. This year’s event combined mathematics along with the district’s Literacy by 3 movement. The highlight of the evening was a mock wedding ceremony between “numeracy” and “literacy” in an effort to help parents and students understand how reading and math can be combined in the classroom to create academic success. Parents also got to actively participate in a variety of hands-on activities that reflected the daily work that their scholars are engaged in.