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Unleash the Power of Summer Literacy Engagement Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Education, DePaul University President-elect, Illinois.

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Presentation on theme: "Unleash the Power of Summer Literacy Engagement Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Education, DePaul University President-elect, Illinois."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unleash the Power of Summer Literacy Engagement Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Education, DePaul University President-elect, Illinois Reading Council

2 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens What would happen if.. An athlete stopped training during June, July, and August? Would she be ready to run a marathon in September? A musician stopped practicing during June, July, and August? Would he be ready to play a concert in September?

3 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Well….. Probably not. Yet, we expect kids to be able to “take a break” during the summer, and jump right back in the saddle in September. Which leads us to the issue of how we can provide a break from the rigors of school and some needed relaxation time, without suffering “brain drain or summer slide.”

4 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Access vs. Engagement There are many studies that address the importance of reading and learning during the summer. Not surprisingly, children who read during the summer tend to suffer less skill loss than students who do not read during the summer. However, while access to books is very important, it is not enough. Participation in projects and programs leads to higher levels of engagement and less skill loss, particularly among lower-income students.

5 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Tried and True Ideas Participating in summer programs at your local library Attending events (such as author visits) at your local book store Visiting and reading about local landmarks Keeping a travel journal/scrapbook if you are going on a vacation Visiting local museums and cultural institutions

6 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens What else can you do? Basically, you want to remember that Literacy involves 4 inter-related processes: Listening Speaking Reading Writing So in thinking about how to support your child’s Literacy Development over the summer, think about how to engage your child in activities that encourage him to listen, speak, read, and write throughout the summer. Written language builds from oral language. Reading development is connected to oral and written language development.

7 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens In this packet, you’ll find 5 LITERACY ENGAGEMENTS Some require no preparation, some require rather intense preparation. Some might be great for your child, some might hold no interest. You know your child better than anyone, but sometimes kids surprise us with what they are interested in. Don’t hesitate to share something that interests YOU as well. Often enthusiasm is contagious.

8 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Next, you’ll find Lists of WEBSITES with good ideas for projects, activities, and other literacy engagements. There are hundreds, probably thousands of websites dedicated to literacy. I’ve selected some of my favorites to include here.

9 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Finally, you’ll find A list of RECOMMENDED BOOKS. Again, there are hundreds of websites that make book recommendations for children of various age groups. I’ve included some of my favorites here, as well as a list of books that are popular with children.

10 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement 1. CREATE YOUR OWN LIBRARY OF BOOKS Take your child and your camera to the zoo (or a sketchpad and crayons), go home and create an “Our Trip to the Zoo” Book. (Or “Our Trip to the Park” or to grandma’s, or to the museum, My Book About My Brother, An Alphabet Book About the Fire Station …) Try writing a book with your child about something he is really interested in. Take a walk around the neighborhood and write down all the signs you see. Arrange the words and phrases into a poem. Do this throughout the summer whenever you venture out to a new neighborhood or new destination. By the end of the summer, you’ll have a great collection of Found Poems. A variation of this is to sit in a location for a period of time and record the sounds you hear (birds chirping, horns honking.) Add descriptive words and write in the form of a poem to create Sound Poems. Also record taste and touch experiences throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, you’ll have a record of your travels through senses and words.

11 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #1 Continued  Write a Family Memoir Book. If during the summer you will see relatives you don’t often see (or even if you see relatives every day), take the opportunity to have your child interview the relatives. Ask about favorite childhood memories, favorite stories about other relatives, fondest family memory, favorite recipes, family traditions, biggest surprise in their life, most cherished possession, and advice to the next generation. Create a book from the stories.

12 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #1 Continued Create a book about Local Heroes. Interview people in your neighborhood that are heroic for one reason or another (community service personnel, veteran, community volunteer, community leader, person who triumphed over difficult circumstances…) Compile stories into a book.

13 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #1 Continued ABCs of Illinois On the Illinois Reading Council website, Follow the link to “ABCs of Illinois” on the ICARE page. Students in classrooms across Illinois created ABC books about their communities. You can download the book and read about the various places in Illinois. If you’re really motivated you can --visit one of the towns and find the places that are highlighted in the book --create an alphabet book about your own community or neighborhood. This is a great activity to integrate history, art, and technology into (draw pictures of landmarks in your town, research the history of your town, take digital photos…)

14 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens # 1 Continued Look for opportunities to suggest your child write about specific things in a journal--“Why I’m mad at mommy” or “why we need a dog” essays, favorite things lists, gift wish lists, Things I REALLY want to do this summer… Provide your child with fun writing paper, a nice notebook, interesting writing and drawing materials. Let your child see you writing every day. Grocery lists, s, paying bills. Encourage your child to read and write about what he knows and has experienced. What is he an expert in? Build on what he knows.

15 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #1 continued Use a Language Experience Approach in which you take dictation from the child. This often helps the child get past the stumbling block of physically writing or typing. It allows their thoughts to flow more freely. Can be done using pen or computer. If done on computer, use large font so child can see the words as you say/type them. Use Poetry: Explain that all poetry does not have to rhyme (though it can). Read your child many forms of poems and then have him try his hand at one. Acrostic poems, Diamantes, and Phoetry (writing a poem about an interesting photo) are all fun formats to try. (This can be especially good to try with children who are resistant to writing—it can seem more fun and less intimidating than writing a whole paragraph.) There are several websites that provide helpful forms for writing poetry. Print these out and compile them into a book. To construct the book, use a photo album, a scrapbook, construction paper and yarn, or go to for other ideas.www.makingbooks.com

16 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens ROADBLOCK for #1 My child HATES to write. What can I do? Begin by trying to figure out what aspect of writing is causing him difficulty and frustration. Is it the actual physical act of writing? Is it a lack of confidence in his abilities? Is he a perfectionist and can’t stand the thought of having mistakes on his paper? Does he see writing as a chore with no real purpose? Just can’t ever think of anything to write about? Possible solutions to some of these roadblocks: fine motor development activities, special (fun) writing tools, a special writing place, positive feedback to even small attempts, tapping into interests (write about what he knows), making writing meaningful and purposeful, LEA, connections to TV shows and books…

17 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement 2. START A BOOK CLUB Book Clubs are popular because they emphasize the social nature of reading and learning. There are all kinds of ways to engage kids in book clubs. Several local bookstores and libraries offer book clubs so you may want to check into joining those (e.g., Anderson’s has a mom/daughter book club ). If you choose to form your own book club, it doesn’t need to be a ton of work. Decide on what will work best for you. It can be as simple as having a group of kids meet once in a while to talk about a book they read, or as complicated as a formal program involving field trips and art projects. Who will your participants include? Neighborhood kids? Kids from your child’s class? A book club of siblings of kids who are all in baseball practice together who otherwise are just standing around waiting? Will there be parents and kids together in the same club? Only boys? Only girls? The possibilities are endless. If distance is an issue, consider forming an online book club…)

18 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #2 Continued The group needs to Agree on a book (can use book recommendation websites, recommendation from local librarian or bookseller, suggestions from within group) May want to consider focusing on a particular author or a particular genre (mysteries, science fiction, graphic novels…) May want to consider books available in paperback or at the library to keep the cost down May want to consider reading something by an author who will be speaking in your area (for instance, at a local bookstore) May want to share your old favorites from when you were young— have the parents read a book that is a current favorite of the kids; have the kids read a favorite of the parents…

19 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #2 Continued Or consider a theme. For instance, kids could read Fair Weather by Richard Peck; adults could read Devil in the White City. Both take place during the Chicago World’s Fair. Then the group could go to the Chicago History Museum to see their exhibit on the World’s Fair. Or, everyone reads a biography. Or, everyone reads a book about a hero/heroine. Or Consider Fiction/NonFiction Pairings: Read Al Capone Does My Shirts (Historical Fiction) and then read Children of Alcatraz (Nonfiction); Or Shackleton’s Stowaway (Historical Fiction) and Shipwreck of the Endurance (Nonfiction)

20 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #2 Continued Agree on timeline for completing the book Agree on meeting schedule. Understand that everyone will not be able to attend every meeting Agree on meeting locations (rotate? Same place? Someone’s house? The Park?) If communicating via for an online book club, agree on how often the group will contact each other via (every other day? Once a week?) Use prompts that encourage participation such as “This part of the book made me wish that…realize that…decide that…wonder about…believe that… feel that….and hope that…” Encourage participants to make connections between what they are reading and their own life experiences, things they’ve read about in other books, and things going on in the world.

21 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #2 Continued Decide who will lead the discussions. Will facilitators rotate? Will facilitators be expected to bring questions to kick off the discussion? Many books have websites that include suggested discussion questions Are there any field trips you could take (e.g., are any local places mentioned in the book…) Check out the author’s website. Many of them have suggested follow up activities that relate to their books

22 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #2 Continued Consider celebrating by gathering to complete a culminating project such as Dress up as one of the characters for the last meeting Have a dinner party and serve food from the book time period Write the first paragraph to the sequel Act out scenes from the book Make a scrapbook for one of the characters If the author is still alive, write a group letter to him/her Select and use as background music songs that remind you of the book, or that were from the era the book is set Compare this book with another book you’ve read Make a group mural Design an advertising poster for the book, or a new book jacket Write a poem about the characters

23 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Roadblock #2 My child does not like to read. How can I convince her to participate in a Book Club? Emphasize the social nature of getting together with friends. Read with your child rather than expecting him to read on his own. The key is finding the right book. What is he interested in? Spin off of those interests. Or…Kids enjoy laughing, so consider starting off with a book of funny poems (e.g., Jack Prelutsky or Brod Bagert), or try a graphic novel that has less text than a regular novel. I’m always the person who organizes stuff in my neighborhood, and this sounds fun, but I don’t want to end up doing all the work. Set out expectations clearly at the beginning. State what you’re willing to do (set up the group, get copies of the books, distribute a schedule) and what someone else will need to do (host the meetings, provide snacks, provide supplies.)

24 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement #3. DESTINATION READING READING AND RIDING (but not at the same time) Hop on your bikes and ride to the local park or forest preserve. Find a nice spot to eat and read. Make this a regular habit. Listen to books on CD/tape while riding in the car. Stop the tape and have each person tell what they think will happen next. After the book is finished, have each person tell what they think should happen in the sequel.Talk about characters that reminded you of people you know. Select who should star as that character in the movie. Two Words: Car Games! Find objects in alphabetical order along the road, find something that starts with a, b, c, etc.—take poetic license with x; write down words from road signs and billboards. Arrange into a poem. Or make up a story related to the billboard. Drive past an interesting town name? Make up stories about how the town got its name. Listen to music and write the next verse of the song.

25 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #3 continued: BEACH FUN Check out a book from the library on building sand castles and head to the beach to see what you can create. Collect seashells, take them home, wash them, and glue them onto paper to create characters and scenes. Write a story to accompany.

26 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement # 4: LEARNING LINKS Immerse yourself and your child in the study of something you’re both really interested in. Love baseball? How about reading some biographies of players? Or historical fiction that involves baseball? Or the new book Ballparks: The Story of America’s Baseball Fields. Or the Baseball Historical Fiction Mystery Series Barnstormers? So, read a variety of genre around the topic of interest. Interested in Science? Try some of the activities at such as the revoltin’ recipes and icky experiments. Check out biographies of famous and not so famous scientists from the library or bookstore about. Read about women inventors. Read about unusual inventions.

27 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #4 Continued Check out the local museum websites (some are included on the website page, or just do an internet search). Find out what the exhibits will be this summer and read up on the topic before visiting the museum. Get a jump start on topics in the curriculum for next year. Will your child be studying the Constitution or issues around Freedom next year? Consider a visit to the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in downtown Chicago.

28 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #4 Continued If a particular book is part of the curriculum next year, visit the AUTHOR’S WEBSITE and find out the background info on the book to share with your child. Sometimes knowing information about the author and where the author got an idea for writing a book can motivate a child to read it.

29 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement #5: USE MULTIMEDIA TO ACTIVATE INTEREST IN TOPICS Use Videoclips and audioclips (from websites) and Archival Photos (from the Library of Congress and to activate a child’s interest in a topic. Often, once a child SEES videos and photos or HEARS interesting recordings that capture him, he wants to know more about the topic.

30 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Literacy Engagement 5a. WRITE AND RECORD YOUR OWN OLD TIME RADIO SHOW Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men? The Shadow Knows: Old Time Radio for New Time Kids (project copyright Roxanne Owens) A creaking door, a sinister laugh, a thud followed by a scream in the night…these are the sounds of a good mystery. In that seemingly ancient time BTV (Before TV) families sat around the radio anxiously awaiting that night’s installment of Johnny Dollar and his action packed expense account, or to find out what evil lurked in the hearts of men that would have to be dealt with by The Shadow. Investigating cases with Ellery Queen or Nero Wolf kept listeners on the edge of the chair long after the sound effects and music had faded. While students today have access to books on tape, most have not been exposed to that uniquely fabulous world of Radio Show Mysteries. In this activity they will be introduced to the Mystery Genre by first listening to old radio shows and identifying themes and elements associated with the genre. Next they will read a variety of mysteries. Then, they will develop their own characters and write their own radio mystery script. Finally, they will record their scripts. (For an example of a radio show a group of junior high kids completed for this unit, go to ITunes University, DePaul Radio Station link.)

31 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #5a Continued Introduce students to Old-Time Radio Mysteries. Radio shows can be downloaded for free from or can be purchased from Boys in particular seemed to really enjoy Boston Blackie, The Shadow, Dragnet, Sam Spade, Johnny Dollar, and other detectives from the “hardboiled” category.www.radiolovers.comwww.radiospirits.com There are several easy to read children’s books that provide models of the mystery/detective genre, including “The Maltese Kitten: a Sam the Cat Mystery”, “Mystery at the Club Sandwich”, “Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective”, and The Web Files. The author of The Web Files, Margie Palatini has a terrific Reader’s Theatre Script that can be downloaded and performed.

32 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #5a Continued Next, familiarize the kids with the format of scripts. They can download free scripts from If children are motivated, have them write their own scripts complete with stage directions about sound effects and character voices. If they aren’t that motivated, or there isn’t time, consider recording one of the ready made scripts from above. (Margie Palatini in particular notes on her website that if kids do record her scripts, she would like to hear about how it went.) Recording the scripts can be as high tech or as low tech as your skills allow. A basic tape recorder and some homemade sound effects are sufficient. If you want to get fancy, computers can do all kinds of recording and sound effects nowadays. Visit the Museum of Broadcast History in Chicago when it reopens.

33 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens # 5b Example: Topic/Theme: Shackleton’s Journey to Antarctica/The Endurance/Heroes/Leadership “In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. When Endurance broke apart and sank, the expedition survived another five moths camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island.” (From Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World) Temperatures would sink to 100 degree BELOW Fahrenheit and food was scarce. Would they survive?

34 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens #5b Continued Videoclips, archival photos of Shackleton Expedition: DVD: Shacketon (The Movie--2002) starring Kenneth Branagh Shacketon’s Antarctic Adventure (IMAX, 2001) NonFiction: Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong South with Endurance by Frank Hurley South! By Ernest Shackleton Endurance: The True Story of Shackleton’s Voyage in the Antarctic (Audiobook) Tom Crean: Unsung Hero by Michael Smith Historical Fiction: Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKiernan Mrs. Chippy’s Last Expedition: The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton’s Polar Bound Cat

35 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Recommended Websites to Support Summer Learning Roxanne Owens, Ph.D., DePaul University Web-enhanced Family Literacy Initiative. Includes hotlinks for literacy websites; Video and Audio Podcasts for parents and teachers (PodCramUniversity™); downloadable activity and tip sheets for parents to use with their children. There are two video podcasts that provide details about stages of writing development as well as an explanation of the connections between the 4 literacy processes (listening, speaking, reading, writing). These podcasts also include Frequently Asked Questions parents submitted regarding children’s literacy development. (Supporting Your Young Writer, Part I and Part II)

36 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens General Info Websites Info about age groups, activities for families, Summer Learning Link Info and links for summer reading projects Arts, Crafts, and other summer activity suggestions Visual Literacy Activities for older kids Links to several good literacy resources

37 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens ACTIVITIES for Parents to Adapt These are sites for teachers, but they have lesson plans that parents can adapt quite easily. Links to many summer reading lists and activities (Has fun border papers to print and writing prompts)

38 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Websites Highlights books, authors, and topics Literacy Activities for the summer Practical tips for building better readers

39 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens WEBSITES FOR CHILDREN TO USE Formats for creating various books Go to writing link Poetry website for children Educational activities Educational activities Bilingual site to support reading/writing development Writing activities and other learning opportunities for preschool through adult

40 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Websites Famous people read stories to children. There are links to writing activities. Need to register, but registration is free. Has literature and writing connection activities. Activities for kids under ten Accepts submission of student work for publication Accept submission of student poetry

41 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Websites Lots of info about insects, interactive games Museum of Science and Industry, link to education and online science for interesting activities Link to Education Adventures Art Institute of Chicago, Link to Education for online projects Chicago History Museum Follow the education link to Great Chicago Stories

42 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens WEBSITES with Book Recommendations St. Charles Public Library charles.lib.il.us/youth_services/yrl/ythread.htm charles.lib.il.us/youth_services/yrl/ythread.htm (Check out the “Read Alikes”—list of alternative suggestions for kids who like particular books) Morton Grove Webrary (provides specific books to match kid interests) Book Recommendations for boys:http://www.guysread.comhttp://www.guysread.com Book Recommendations by themes and curricular areas: The Children’s Literature Web Guide

43 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Websites with Book Recs The Children’s Book Council Book Recommendations by Topic Illinois Reading Council (look under Resources) General Book Recommendations

44 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Current Favorites for Intermediate/Middle Grade Readers Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. --Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick --Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick --The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman --Long Way Home by Richard Peck --A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck --Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech --Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan --Sahara Special by Esme Codell --Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo --Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo --Frindle by Andrew Clemens --Books by James Howe (Bunnicula, Howliday Inn)

45 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Current Favorites for Intermediate/Middle Grade Readers Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. --Joey Pigza Series by Jack Gantos --Holes / Flush by Carl Hiaasen --Zeke Armstrong Mystery Series by Daniel Hale and Matthew LaBrot --Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis --Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis --Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis --Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan --Speak by Laure Halse Anderson --Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman (also Unwind) --Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm

46 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Current Favorites for Intermediate/Middle Grade Readers Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. --Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee --Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee --So Totally Emily Embers by Lisa Yee --Remembering Raquel by Vivian VandeVelde --Back in Time Series by Dan Gutman --Spiderwick Chronicles --Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams --The Lightning Thief --The Mysterious Benedict Society --Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson --Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

47 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Chapter Books for Younger Readers/Series Books Roxanne Farwick Owens, Ph.D. --Clementine Series by Sara Pennypacker --Gooney Bird Greene Series by Lois Lowry --Ruby Lu Series by Lenore Look --Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney --Babymouse by Jennifer and Matthew Holm --Judy Moody Series --Stink Series --Magic Tree House --Ivy and Bean --Hank Zipzer --Time Warp Trio --Chet Gecko by Bruce Hale

48 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens Good Authors for Non-Fiction Books Russell Freedman Jennifer Armstrong Jim Murphy Raymond Bial Judith St. George Sally Walker Pam Munoz Ryan Richard Peck Jean Fritz Susan Bartoletti Campbell Laurie Lawlor Dennis and Judith Frazin

49 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens READREADREADREADREAD And finally, Read to your child. Read with your child. Read near your child. Talk to your child about what you’re reading. Talk to her about what she’s reading. Accept that your child may want to read a wide variety of materials, some of which you deem not challenging enough or just plain too easy for her. You can compromise. Your child may want to read newspapers, comic books, catalogs, magazines, blogs, as well as books. Reading should be relaxing, leisurely, and enjoyable. It should not be a chore. If it is a chore, then perhaps your child just hasn’t quite found the right material, the right book, or the right author yet to capture his attention. Keep trying. There is a book out there.

50 Summer Learning, copyright Roxanne Owens And most important of all… Have a HAPPY and RELAXING SUMMER enjoying literacy experiences together with your child


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