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June 2010 Newsletter

In focus

In Focus: Summer Learning

Summer has its own rhythm. It's the perfect time to try new activities, pique your child's curiosity about the world, and enrich literacy skills developed during the school year. And the longer days promise lots of extra time for pleasure reading. Here are 5 simple ways to stop the 'summer slide' and keep your kids actively learning through July and August.

1. Build Background Knowledge, Side by Side

Children are full of questions about the world around them. Tap into your child's interests and start a journey of discovery together.

Read article >

2. The Night Before the Museum: Get the Most Out of Field Trips

Whether you're going to the zoo, the museum, or a state park, there are a few "stops" to make before you get on your way.

Read article >

3. Rediscover Your Public Library

Here are 9 reasons to go visit your local library, where everything is free.

Read article >

Download the new Resources at Your Library flyer for parents (in Spanish) from our sister site, Colorín Colorado.

4. Open Up a Book Club

Family or community book clubs are social, low-key, and fun. You'll discover that you have lots to talk about as you dive into new books together. The active discussions are a great way to help strengthen comprehension skills, too.

Read blog >

Useful tips on starting a book club from our friends at PBS Parents.

5. Crickets, Books, and Bach: Start a Summer Listening Program

In addition to a summer reading list, consider putting together a summer listening list, too. With more and more kids plugged into iPods and other audio devices, the importance of learning to listen and listening to learn is greater than ever.

Read article >

Books & Authors

Books & Authors

Swimming with Pink Dolphins & Other Adventures:
Our interview with Sy Montgomery
 Video icon

Sy Montgomery — part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson — is a passionate conservationist, author, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator. Among her award-winning books are Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon, Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, and her "Scientists in the Field" series which takes young readers into the fascinating world of scientists whose laboratories are in the wild, often in some of the most remote corners of the world.

Watch interview >

Summer Science

Meet a noisy howler monkey or the tiny western pika, learn how the earth was formed, get the buzz on bees, or find out why hair doesn't hurt when it's cut. In this brand new list, you'll find a delightful set of 'guidebooks' for a season full of discovery and wonder.

Survey booklist >

Tales from South Africa

As all eyes look to South Africa for the World Cup, it's the perfect time to learn more about the nation's cultural heritage. From folktales to soccer to Nelson Mandela's childhood, these books offer a wonderful introduction to South Africa's people and natural environment. Several books also address the long struggle to overcome apartheid, gently opening the discussion for young readers with stories that are both realistic and hopeful.

See South Africa booklist >

Ideas for Teachers

Ideas for Educators

Last Chance for the Exquisite Prompt Writing Challenge!

Family recipes and family stories, sijo verse, adventure maps, diaries, and more! M.T. Anderson (Me All Alone at the End of the World) and Linda Sue Park (Bee-Bim Bop!) provide the inspiration for our final month of writing prompts. Give kids the chance to flex their writing muscles — and win fabulous prizes! If time is running out for this school year, pass this along to parents for a 'great transition to summer learning' activity.

Go to writing contest page >

Summer Rejuvenation Guide

From Edutopia, 10 tips to help you relax, reflect, and recharge for the coming school year. Septembers rolls around pretty fast, so take some time for yourself this summer.

Get the guide >

Classroom 2.0

Interested in integrating Web 2.0 technologies into your classroom? This free, community-supported network provides an online forum for discussions and an expanding menu of interest groups (e.g., digital storytelling, social media, RTI). If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might start by joining the Beginner's Group.

Go to website >

Ideas for Parents

Ideas for Parents

On the Go with Audiobooks

For many families, summer = road trips. Why not listen to stories together as you roll along? It's great for strengthening your child's listening skills and for encouraging lively family conversations. AudioFile magazine has put together a thoughtful, eclectic collection of family-friendly audiobooks, with themes like Other Times & Places, Classics, Fantastic Worlds, and Family & Community.

Go to website >

For more ideas, browse the 2010 Audies nominees including titles just for kids.

Pop Ups!

Turn your kitchen table into a paper engineering research lab this summer. Writer and illustrator Robert Sabuda, master of the pop-up book, shows you how — starting with a basic v-fold monster and moving on to the more complex woolly mammoth, medieval castle, and Star Wars characters. A perfect way to hone your child's skills in following instructions. Sabuda includes ideas for making celebration cards, too. For more on Robert Sabuda, watch our video interview.

Go to website >

Summer Reading for Parents of Special Ed Kids

How long has it been since you had a summer reading list? GreatSchools recommends 5 books to help you cope with some of the thornier issues you've dealt with during the hectic school year — like writing measurable IEP goals.

See booklist >

Research & News

Research & News

Summer School: From Remedial to Revolutionary

"Imagine, for example, a summer school program that would provide accelerated and engaging instruction in the morning, fresh local food for breakfast and lunch, and afternoon enrichment activities in which students could choose to canoe down the Mississippi River, create their own video games, or display self-made projects in local museums." In this Education Week commentary, Ron Fairchild and Jeff Smink paint a new picture of what summer school could be: replacing "remedial" with "revolutionary" and giving at-risk kids the opportunity they need to succeed.

Read article >

The Gold Standard?

The final set of common academic standards has been released by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators, and parents. Standards for English Language Arts include recommendations for reading, writing, speaking and listening, vocabulary and conventions, media literacy, and media technology across the content areas. States will begin to make decisions on adoption within the coming months.

See English Language Arts standards >

In daddy's arms I am tall
and close to the sun and warm
in daddy's arms

—Folami Abiade, from In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall by Javaka Steptoe,
who illustrated our Father's Day e-card.

Ed Extra

Summer Learning Day

PBS TeacherLine



All the best from
Reading Rockets

Noel Gunther
Executive Director

Christian Lindstrom
Director, Learning Media

Shalini Anand
Technical Web Manager

Tina Chovanec
Director, Reading Rockets

Kelly Deckert
Associate Manager,
Online Media

Ashley Gilleland

Joanne Meier, Ph.D.
Research Consultant

Laura Schreiber
Project Associate

Rachael Walker
Outreach Consultant

Newsletter editor:
Tina Chovanec

About Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets is a national educational service of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital. The goal of the project is to provide information on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. Learn about easy ways you can link to us to let others know about the many free resources available from Reading Rockets.

Reading Rockets is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Send your questions, comments, or suggestions to readingrockets@weta.org. Our mailing address is WETA/Reading Rockets, 2775 S. Quincy St., Arlington, VA 22206. We look forward to hearing from you!

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