WWW – RIF Reading Planet

Bookmark and Share

This week’s WWW: RIF Reading Planet

As summer vacation draws closer, teachers and parents begin to worry about the Summer Slide, which refers to the loss of skills kids suffer over the summer when they fail to engage in any learning activities. 

Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slip backwards.

One way to interest students in reading over the summer is to lure them in with fun, online reading activities.  Enter Reading Planet!

RIF Reading Planet


Kids can visit the Activity Lab, the Game Station, and the Book Zone for reading fun, and then click on Express Yourself to do a little writing.  There’s also a Summer Reading Fun page with great ideas for families to keep the reading going at home.

Kids do not have to register to use the site, but if they do join they get access to additional features like contests, an online reading log, and opinion polls.  Many of these activities work great on an Interactive Whiteboard, too, so you can use them in your classroom.  Happy reading!


Click here to visit the archive of all the WWW sites I’ve shared so far.

Book Alikes

Bookmark and Share

Background:  I am a huge fan of writing for real purpose.  In order to have students engaged in learning, they need to feel as though what they’re doing really matters in some way.  (Other than just earning a good grade!)  When it comes to writing, one of the ways we can create a real purpose is to provide an audience who will be reading what the students create, so I’m experimenting with having students write something for my Book Buzz blog. 

I began Book Buzz back in the fall to provide a forum where students could discuss the South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees.  I created a post for each of the 20 titles nominated for the award, and allowed students to leave (moderated) comments about the books they were reading.  Once the book award contest ended in March, I decided to keep Book Buzz going as a general book/author/illustrator blog for students to read and comment on.

One of my recent Book Buzz posts was on Book Alikes, and it occurred to me that my students could be a great source of information regarding books that were similar to one another and that their classmates might enjoy reading.  So two weeks ago I asked my 5th grade Library classes to come up with titles of books that have something in common, and then write a short description of how the books are alike and why other kids would enjoy reading them.  I explained that some of their suggestions would be shared online through Book Buzz for people all over the world to read.

So, how did that turn out?  You can see the some student-recommended Book Alikes here, here, here, here, and here, with more to come in the next couple of days.

Downside:  Students were asked to do this “cold” as they walked into the Library for their weekly Library class, so there was no time for them to think, plan, or polish.  Some claimed they just couldn’t think of two books that were alike.

Upside:  Many of the kids were very enthusiastic about the project, and some were so excited they wanted to read their comparisons to me right away and explain their choices further.  

I definitely plan to do this again next year, but I’ll introduce it early in the school year and make it an ongoing project for students.  Showing them the examples from this year’s students should spark more ideas, and allowing the students plenty of time to develop their ideas will no doubt improve the quality of the recommendations and the writing. 

I’m debating on whether I should try to interest some classroom teachers in using this as a formal writing activity, or whether being graded on it would take some of the enjoyment out of it for students.  Your thoughts?