The typical response from students to this simple question is “NOTHING.” As principal of the school I want to assure you that teachers are not sitting in their classrooms all day with students teaching “nothing.” Each week teachers prepare lesson plans that teach grade level standards of skills students need to know to be successful in their grade level and to help build a strong educational foundation for subsequent grades
At our most recent staff development day, teachers collaborated to discuss ways that they can clearly let students know what the standards and objectives are for the lessons they teach in student friendly language so learning can be more meaningful for students. In sixth grade, instead of stating the sixth grade standard for math, Number Sense 1.4: Students will calculate given percentages of quantities and solve problems involving discounts at sales, interest earned, and tips; a teacher might tell students, “Today we are going to learn how to be smart money managers that can figure out a tip for the waiter and figure out how much money our savings can earn.”
Here are a few tips that may help you get past the barrier of students responding, “NOTHING,” every time you ask them what they did at school.
"Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word: someone has to show them the way."
1. READ WITH YOUR CHILDREN EVERY DAY:
2. READ FOR ENJOYMENT:
3. STOP READING WHEN YOUR CHILD LOSES INTEREST:
4. BE EXPRESSIVE:
5. GET TO KNOW THE BOOK:
6. GIVE PRAISE:
7. VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
8. BE A ROLE MODEL:
Research Shows Why Reading 20 Minutes Per Day Makes Sense
Research suggests that the more time students spend reading independently, the higher their gains will be in reading achievement. Research also indicates that having a strong vocabulary helps students succeed academically because it improves their ability to comprehend text they read and hear (Irvin 1998, 128). When students read a million words of text annually, about 1 in 20 of these words will be learned. This leads to the acquisition of between 750 and 1,500 words a year simply by reading (Nagy and Herman, 1987, 26). It has also been found from multiple, strictly controlled, long-term studies, that reading volume is directly connected to reading success for all students, regardless of ability (Cunningham and Stanovich 1988). The chart below, Variation in Amount of Independent Reading, shows the correlation among reading percentile, the amount of time spent reading per day, and the number of words read per year:
Variation in Amount of Independent Reading
(From Cunningham and Stanovich, adapted from Anderson, Wilson and Fielding 1988)
You can see that a child that reads for 21.1 minutes per day will read 1,823,000 (1.8 million) words each year and will be ranked in the 90th percentile for student achievement. Interestingly, if students were to read for a total of 65 minutes per day, the number of words read in a year greatly increases, but the rank only goes up 8 more percentage points to 98%. 20 minutes per night provides the most student gain with the least amount of effort (i.e. – it gives “the best bang for the buck”).
Research conducted in 1995 showed that a mere 100 words make up half (50%) of the total words in written text. This means that if your child can read these 100 words, then they can read almost half of every book that they pick up. The 100 most frequently used words in written language are often referred to in education as sight words. Sight words are words that are used so frequently, students should recognize them instantly and be able to read them on sight! Kids who can read sight words easily and automatically are better able to focus on new vocabulary that they see and generally comprehend more of what they are reading.
Give your kids the test at home. How many of the 100 words can your child read quickly and correctly (with out pause or hesitation)? Any words that your child has difficulty with can be written on index cards and practiced until they have mastered it.
Once your child has mastered the first 100 words, go print out the top 300 words that account for 65% of all written English text (see chart below). By working with your child to ensure that they can recognize and read these high frequency words quickly and fluently you will provide them with the foundation to be an independent reader!
Top 100 Word List is on the next page.
the of and a to in is you that he for was on are as wit,h his they at be this from have or by one had not but what all were when we there can an your which their said if do will each about how up out them she many some so these would other into has more her who like him see time could no make than first been its who now people my over did down only way find use may water long little very after words called just where most know
Don't stop here. Make flashcards of these words, play games, and get them memorized. The words should come out of your child's mouth as fast as "mother". They should be automatic. Then pull the next hundred words off of the internet... go for a thousand. The more words your child knows to automaticity, the more successful they will be.