Teach With INFOhio

Simple Strategies to Supplement Family Literacy with Quality Text from INFOhio

Author // Emily Rozmus Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Supplementing Instructional Materials with INFOhio

Instructional materials matter. While securing a coherent curriculum and professional development for teachers is the first step in ensuring equity in Ohio’s classrooms, identifying high-quality supplemental materials at grade level for all learners can be helpful in increasing student engagement, meeting diverse needs, and filling instructional gaps.

When paired with a high-quality curriculum, INFOhio's quality eBooks, videos, lesson plans, instructional web tools, and training and support materials can provide engaging and innovative supplements to scaffold student growth and learning.

Education doctoral candidate Waneta Hebert recently teamed up with INFOhio's vendor partner Infobase. In her blog post Leveraging Supplemental Resources for K-12 Schools & Districts, Hebert plans for four outcomes when using supplemental materials in teaching and learning:

  • Engage students with the power of choice.
  • Empower students to explore their interests.
  • Elevate student learning with additional support.
  • Extend student learning to new heights.

Using these "four Es," this blog series will explore how educators on teacher-based teams and curriculum adoption committees can use INFOhio's quality digital content and web tools to supplement teaching and support learning for diverse classrooms. 

Support Family Literacy During the Holidays

Family literacy can look very different from one household to another. There is no “right” way for families to embrace literacy practices such as reading, writing, speaking, singing, and listening. Family literacy has moved beyond filling out reading logs and setting the timer for 20 minutes. Instead, practicing the principles of literacy can include:

  • Playing a word game like Scrabble
  • Listening to a favorite musical artist and singing along
  • Visiting a museum and talking about the best parts of the exhibit
  • Telling favorite family memories while others listen

Honoring how families engage in literacy is empowering for them, and important for student growth. Engage, empower, elevate, and extend student literacy with INFOhio. INFOhio licenses quality digital content to supplement comprehensive curriculums and engage, empower, elevate, and extend student learning. The quality eBooks, videos, articles, and printables are available at no cost to Ohio’s schools and families. This holiday season, share the gift of literacy with your elementary students and their families with 12 ways to read through the holidays using INFOhio’s resources.

Engage

As any teacher or parent knows, children can be especially hard to engage during the holiday season. With family, school, and religious events filling the calendar, it can be difficult to set aside time for family literacy. The good news is that literacy is more than reading a print book. Literacy includes talking, listening, and even singing. What's even better news is that these practices can happen in the car, at dinner, or at a family event. Many parents feel overwhelmed trying to fit in reading for 20 minutes a day or finishing a book in one sitting. But engaging children in literacy is much simpler than that. Here are three ways to engage your children in family literacy this holiday season.

Give Options for the Whole Family

Choice boards are a great way to engage children, providing multiple options for literacy. Share 12 Ways to Read Through the Holidays with your students and their families. The choice board features 12 options for practicing literacy with a mixture of suggestions from this blog and other activities that promote reading, talking, listening, singing, and writing. 

Choiceboard3

Circle Stories

Whether commuting to and from school and extracurricular events or visiting loved ones, families spend a lot of time in the car. Turn that ride into a literacy opportunity that engages the whole family. Circle stories are an easy way to talk, listen, and usually laugh. One person starts the story, by sharing a sentence or phrase. The next person provides the next line, and so on until the story is over or everyone is laughing. Check out these Favorite First Sentences from Explora for Grades PreK-5 as story starters that will entertain all ages. 

Don't Read the Whole Book!

It can be frustrating to try and read a whole book—no matter the length—to busy or squirmy kids. Whether you finish the book or not may not matter in the long run when compared to the positive, warm experience children associate with reading. In fact, what is most important about read alouds is the connection children feel to the loved one they are with. This holiday season, don't worry about finishing the book. Instead, focus on the experience. Make reading together special with cocoa or cookies. Or, try talking about a favorite book and let each family member share a favorite part, character, or line.  

Empower

Empowering readers is one way to ensure a strong literacy foundation. How can you empower students and their families over the holidays? It's all about voice and choice. Students can excel in many areas of the literacy spectrum, from reading and writing to talking and listening. Some may even find their strength in singing. Whatever their preference, empower them to shine with these simple activities.

Find Your Literacy Power

Many of the digital resources available from INFOhio give families the opportunity to read, write, talk, listen, and sing. BookFlix includes all of these in one. Paired fiction and nonfiction eBooks have read-aloud features that can be turned on or off. Readers can listen and read along. In addition, fiction eBooks are videos with words on the bottom of the screen and music. Encourage writing by playing the Puzzlers for the pairs, and requiring family members to write their answers on paper before they play the game online. To keep family literacy time festive, consider these pairs:

Focus on Family Traditions

All families have their own traditions and it is important to honor these during family literacy time. It is also a good time to learn more about other traditions other families might have. Ask family members to write down their favorite family tradition on a slip of paper and then collect them in a hat or basket. Read each response aloud, and take turns guessing who that favorite tradition belongs to. Then, check out these titles from BookFlix to learn more about how other families spend their holidays.

Media Variety

Literacy extends beyond the page. It is important to think about how we watch and listen too. Empower families by sharing a variety of media on a topic—eBook, print, audio, video. INFOhio resources provide families with literacy experiences the whole family can enjoy. Here are resources to support all media types and family preferences.


Elevate

Early readers need support and help from family can be instrumental in providing structured literacy and the phonemic awareness that is essential for decoding and learning to read. Not only can family members model literacy, but they can also make phonemes and phonics part of the reading experience and help provide the explicit instruction needed for student growth. Try these simple tips to help your early reader elevate foundational reading skills. 

Sound it Out!

The days of instructing students to guess what a word is based on images or the rest of the sentence are gone. To be successful readers, it is important for students to sound out words, relying on their phonemic awareness and grasp of each component in structured literacy. Help families practice this important reading approach by gifting them with the Colorado Department of Education's Rescue Words from the Guessing Goblin bookmarks

Print Everywhere

No matter where you go, print is there. Whether we are at the grocery or out to eat or settling down to read quietly, supporting children's awareness of print and its purpose is an important part of reading. Share these videos with easy ways to practice literacy wherever you are with families. 

Read Aloud to Elevate

With digital text, early readers can use the resource's read-aloud feature and read the words on the screen to grow as readers. Bimodal text, or text on a screen that is read aloud, can help scaffold readers, helping them to develop the reading stamina they need to tackle harder, grade-level texts. Help families understand the benefits of bimodal text, and share INFOhio resources like PebbleGo Next or Highlights Library to entertain during the holidays.

Extend

Challenging strong readers is a great way to help them advance to higher-level texts. When students have sufficient background knowledge on a topic, encourage them to read books and other texts that are above grade level. Let families know that their students can be challenged, and provide resources to support literacy that is fun for all ages. The following approaches can help families extend their readers, pushing them to new heights.

Family Readers Theater

Readers theater is a fun way to include multiple readers in a literacy event and build comprehension and fluency. Send home a sample script for families to read together. Encourage different characters to have their own voices and wear costumes. Remind families to record their readers theater and host a screening event when students return from the holidays. Challenge students to write their own script on a book they have read or a topic they are interested in.

Learn More about a Topic—Holiday Style

Scaffold readers using multiple texts on a topic to help them learn more about the topic. Share a challenging text with families, like Stunning Snowflakes from Science News. The Lexile level for this article is a little high, but reading other texts like Snowflake Bentley or watching a video such as Snowflake Photographer can help strong readers read the challenging text and learn more about this cool topic!

Read Aloud to Extend

Strong literacy practices are supported by honoring the cultures and traditions of families. English language learners (ELL) may be able to read fluently in their own language but are challenged when reading in English. Engage them and their families in holiday reading by sharing resources that provide opportunities to grow in both their native language and English, such as Explora for Grades PreK-5. Not only does this resource provide translation for languages worldwide, it also reads the text aloud in English. Families can read the text on the screen in their language while listening to it in English. Suggest families use the PDF and listen to the read aloud a second time to reinforce vocabulary.

readaloud1

Every Ohio student deserves the opportunity to learn from high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society (Each Child, Our Future). Using INFOhio's quality resources and web tools to supplement learning can engage, empower, elevate, and extend students for success. Share these 12 ways to read through the holidays with your students and their families!

About the Author

Posted by: Emily Rozmus

Emily Rozmus is a Senior Instructional Specialist at INFOhio. She has worked in education for over 25 years, first as a secondary English teacher and district librarian before starting at INFOhio in 2013. Emily has developed district growth plans, integrated technology, created instruction for information literacy, fostered teacher development, and worked on teams to implement curriculum. At INFOhio, she focuses on training educators to use INFOhio resources to improve early learning. She also works to share research and best practices for helping students be better readers of INFOhio's digital text. 

Emily Rozmus
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