The Latest Issue of Word Up!

The Word Up newsletter is chock-full of great resources for parents and educators. Browse the current issue below, or dig into the newsletter archive.

In Focus: Back to School

While summer is winding down, anticipation of the new school year is revving up. We've gathered some of our best articles and tips to help you have the best year yet.

Just for Teachers: Top 10 Resources on Back to School

Get ready for a great school year! Discover establishing an effective 90-minute reading block, building parent engagement, and more.
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Back to School: Tips for Special Education Teachers

Along with new smiling faces, a new school year brings special education teachers new IEPs, new co-teaching arrangements, new assessments to give, and more. In order to help you be as effective as you can with your new students, we've put together our Top 10 list of back-to-school tips that we hope will make managing your special education program a little easier.
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Building Strong Parent-Educator Relationships

Let's face it: You can't go it alone. Teachers need parents, and parents need teachers. Learn how to reach out in a way that creates a productive environment for all. Included are specific suggestions on ways to reach out to Hispanic students and families and a guide for parents that outlines who's who at your child's school.
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Reading (and Scaffolding) Expository Texts

As your new students come into your classroom this fall, you may find they require extra support when reading expository texts. Their unique structure and style differs from other sorts of reading, so teaching students about signal words and organization can help. This article provides several suggestions for doing both!
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Books & Authors

Rimshots: Our Video Interview with Charles R. Smith, Jr.

As a child, Charles R. Smith, Jr. spent a lot of time reading books and poetry and playing basketball; but during his stint on the high school yearbook committee, he fell in love with photography and decided that he wanted to be a professional photographer. Today Smith combines his experiences in these three areas — writing, photography, and sports — in his work with children's books. Of the distinctive niche he fills with his books, Smith notes, "I want to show students, particularly boys, that there are many ways to pursue their interests, no matter what they may be."
Watch interview >

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Short Stories

These short stories have plenty of intrigue to keep students engaged, and teachers can use them to teach literary devices including plot, characterization, foreshadowing, and irony. In addition, these stories have content that will provide for rich discussion about society, morals, ethics, and values.
See Biographies booklist >

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Books and Beyond

From a teacher blog about young adult literature, to a Spotify playlist featuring the favorite tunes of a young adult fiction writer, to a graphic novel that began life as classic literature, to a Tumblr campaign promoting diverse books, educators, publishers, authors, and illustrators are all tuning into teen readers. The efforts come at an important time. A recent survey by Common Sense Media shows that — particularly for teens — pleasure reading is on a steady decline. But survey results also show that when children and teens are engaged in reading for pleasure early on, they remain strong readers well into their teens and beyond. Here's how you can bring back the joy of reading.
See article from NEA Today >

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Teaching & Learning

Featured Strategy: Semantic Feature Analysis

This strategy engages students in reading assignments by asking them to relate selected vocabulary to key features of the text. A matrix helps students discover how one set of things is related to one another. Teachers can adapt this strategy to create an ice-breaker activity for those first few awkward days of school!
See strategy >

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CommonLit: Engaging Texts, Timeless Themes

CommonLit is a new collection of thematically organized, leveled texts for middle school students. CommonLit offers hundreds of short texts to supplement what you already teach. Texts are categorized into 14 timeless themes that offer rich opportunities for close reading and discussion — themes like identity, power and greed, resilience, and prejudice and discrimination.
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Related article
Building a Reading Resource >

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8 Apps for Digital Portfolios

Digital portfolios allow students and teachers to collect student work in a variety of media: text, photos, slideshows, audio and video. One great benefit: it's easy to add comments and share the work through the school year with peers and parents. Are you interested in the idea, but don't know where to start? Take a look at these recommended apps and website services (all are free or low-cost).
Browse apps >

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News, Research and Reports

Adolescent Literacy Fact Sheet

The majority of students are leaving high school without the reading and writing skills needed to succeed in college and a career. Many of the more than 700,000 students who leave U.S. high schools each year without a diploma have low literacy skills.(Alliance for Excellent Education, June 2014)
Download fact sheet >

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What a Common Core Lesson Sounds Like in a 10th-Grade English Class

Today, English teacher, Nicole Matassa, is working on this Common Core Standard — analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters and advance the plot or develop the theme. She's holding a reusable grocery bag filled with random stuff from her apartment — a stapler, a bottle of sunscreen, old-school headphones her students barely recognize. The students are about halfway through reading the play "A Raisin In The Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. Matassa makes her way around the room, and someone from each group reaches into the bag. Student Sara Berrocal pulls out a box of crayons, perfume and a bottle of hot pink nail polish. The girls in her group quickly match each object with a character. Mama Younger is nail polish. Ruth is the perfume.
Listen to story from NPR >

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Building a Better Online Reader

When Ziming Liu, a professor at San Jose State University whose research centers on digital reading and the use of e-books, conducted a review of studies that compared print and digital reading experiences, supplementing their conclusions with his own research, he found that several things had changed. On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.
See article >

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