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: Summer Is for Reading, Learning, Doing

It's July, and there are still lots of long summer days for kids to pack in reading, exploring, and finding creative ways to get involved with their communities. Dip into our mid-summer resources!

A Beach Bag Full of Summer Learning Resources

Learning shouldn't stop just because school is out. Here are some ideas to keep students reading, writing and thinking all summer long. Armchair travels, virtual museums, geocaching, ideas for reluctant readers and more.
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Use Easy Nonfiction to Build Background Knowledge

A Texas librarian shares his strategy of using nonfiction picture books to introduce new concepts to struggling adolescent readers and to build their background knowledge. Once kids have been exposed to academic content in easy reading material, they are more confident in making the transition to textbooks.
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How to Increase Higher Order Thinking

Parents can do a lot to encourage higher order thinking (HOT) — thinking on a level beyond just memorizing facts or re-telling something exactly the way it was told to you. Here are some strategies to encourage complex thinking, including seven different ways to answer kids' questions in a way that promotes HOT. You can do this during family trips, around the campfire, at the baseball game … anywhere!
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Tips on Starting a Community Service Project

What are the most pressing needs facing your local community? How can teens get involved and really make a difference? A successful community service project is the result of clear objectives, thoughtful planning and coordination, savvy use of resources, and follow-through. Share these tips with kids, youth groups and community leaders to see how to get a successful project off the ground.
See tips >

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Books & Authors

Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan Video icon

Since the 1990s, Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan have been researching and writing books about art and artists for young readers — filling the "hole in the bookshelf." They have published books about painters, potters, installation artists, architects, sculptors, dancers and musicians. Their celebrated book, Ballet for Martha, explores the collaboration between artist and designer Isamu Noguchi, choreographer Martha Graham, and composer Aaron Copland Listen to the authors describe how they seek to represent the artists and help readers understand the inspiration and context of their creative work.
Watch interview >

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Real Stories

Biographies are on lots of school booklists, but they can also be popular summertime reading choices for teens. They often feature real-life characters who have overcome adversity— a theme that teens are drawn to again and again. This list features biographies of the famous, infamous, and not-so-famous!
See Biographies booklist >

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Baseball Books

With the World Cup winding down, summer is all about baseball. Browse this selection of books about America's pastime — a biography of one of today's top players, a history of the women's pro league, an anthology of great baseball writing, a fictionalized journal of a Negro Baseball League player, and lots of good teen fiction with baseball featured in the subplots.
See booklist >

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Exploring Story Narratives with Audiobooks

Learn more about how audiobooks can support reluctant and struggling readers. Experiencing a narrative across various media and formats can strengthen student engagement as well as comprehension.

"With the wide acceptance of accommodations mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the need for addressing diverse learning styles, and the expanding role of technology in our students' lifestyle, alternatives to text-only learning are the norm in most classrooms. I'm especially happy to see that research has expanded to databases with audio, video, and graphic material, allowing students easy access to authoritative multimedia"

Mary Burkey, librarian at Olentangy Liberty Middle School in Powell, OH and author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature.

See article >

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Related story:
Teachers embrace audiobooks for students with dyslexia >

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Teaching & Learning

Featured Strategy: Mnemonics

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. Every Good Boy Does Fine. There's a "pal" in every "Principal." These are all examples of mnemonic devices. Can you name a few more?

A mnemonic is an instructional strategy designed to help students memorize information. The technique connects new learning to prior knowledge through the use of visual and/or auditory cues. The basic types of mnemonic devices rely on the use of key words, rhymes, or acronyms. Next time you and your family are on a road trip or in line at the store, have some summer fun by coming up with your own mnemonics and memory tricks!
See strategy >

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4 Great iPad Apps for Middle School Reading and Writing

Here are a few good apps that can help kids review concepts stressed by the Common Core, learn sight words more readily, and build reading speed while improving retention — plus an app that provides free access to more than 20,000 classic pieces of literature.
See apps >

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Online Summer Digital Arts Courses for Youth (and They're Free!)

The Connected Learning Alliance is hosting two free online courses for teens:

Scratch is a programming language and online community developed as a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab as an easy way for young people to learn to code. Youth around the world have shared more than 4 million projects in more than 50 languages on the Scratch website, with several new projects added every minute. (Begins July 21)

Phonar Nation teaches kids how to tell stories through photographs. (Begins July 28)

Learn more >

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News, Research and Reports

Study Assesses Effectiveness of Flipped Classroom Approach

As flipped learning becomes an increasingly popular instructional strategy, many are wondering whether it's effective enough to justify the hype. The Flipped Learning Network (FLN), Pearson and researchers at George Mason University conducted case studies to answer that important question.
Learn about the study >

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See full report (PDF) >

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Writing Centers Seek to Unlock Youths' Creativity

The idea of going to an after-school tutoring center is undoubtedly groan-inducing for most students. But what if they could enter the workspace through a secret door? And what if that secret door were located in the back of a store that sold supplies for superheroes — capes, truth serum, photon shooters, and invisibility-detection goggles? A nonprofit organization called 826 National, co-founded by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, now has eight such tutoring centers in urban areas around the country, each with a unique retail storefront that supports the free programming and is designed to fire up students' imaginations. The centers — all focused on creative writing — offer workshops, one-on-one homework help, field trips, in-school support for teachers, and summer sessions.
See article from Education Week >

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Don't Call Them Dropouts Video icon

In the largest nationwide study of its kind to date, young adults who left high school without graduating spoke at length about their experiences and the reasons they did not complete high school on time. As the nation reaches the all-time high of an 80 percent on-time high school graduation rate, this report listens deeply to what the remaining 20 percent say is happening in their lives, and what they need to stay in school. Their answers defy some common beliefs about why they do not graduate on time, while giving deeper meaning to others. The researchers began with in-depth interviews with more than 200 young people who had not graduated from high school, and then conducted a quantitative survey of more than 2,000 young adults ages 18-25 who did not complete high school on time. In addition, 1,000 students who graduated on time were surveyed.
See report from America's Promise Alliance >

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