Archive for November, 2012

I am a big fan of “Do-it-yourself” (DIY) media as a crucial tool in my work as a professor. Although it’s a bit of work to create my own tools such as YouTube videos, I find it to be highly worthwhile. Click here to see my YouTube channel.

Although, I do draw on ready-made videos that are available via YouTube and elsewhere, I often find myself making my own videos to share with online teaching and also face-to-face teaching in work as a teacher educator. I make my own for these reasons:

1. I believe it enhances credibility when I can draw on my own professional wisdom, experiences from my former classroom teaching and work as a specialist and overall knowledge to share what I know, in addition to the research base I draw on to share teaching ideas. For instance, as a former bilingual teacher, I can keep these learners in mind as I share ideas for literacy instruction.

2. I think it personalizes learning to have the presenter in the video match the instructor of the course. This doesn’t always have to be the case, but it helps to have a personal connection to a mentor. If I know someone personally, they can be more of a mentor to me, so I would imagine the same to be true with online learning–it helps to have the personalized connection.

3. I agree most with my own thoughts! This sounds like a tautology, but when I view others’ videos, I don’t always agree with what they say or believe and so there are little to no “caveats” when I create my own media.

4. D.I.Y. Media can be created as “just in time” learning to best meet the needs of students. A video can be created to clarify a concept, etc.

5. It helps to model use of technology to teachers.

Teaching-by-video, while not entirely “new” is still an emergent technology, given that they can be so easily and readily created. It also creates a curiosity for me, as to what might be the best use of teaching by video, videoconferencing, and other instances where the teaching medium goes beyond text-and-email. I am a technophile, of course, not for it’s own sake, but for the advantages and potential learning opportunities it can provide for me and my students.

Someone recently mentioned to me the concept of teaching by hologram. That would potentially be a whole new facet of online/virtual teaching to explore, when the cost wouldn’t be a burden!


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Dr. Semingson’s Favorite Materials for Elementary Literacy Learning!

*These are based on my eight years of teaching in public schools. I was also a bilingual/ESL teacher for years and a bilingual reading specialist! I taught mainly upper-grades, but the list includes books for all ages as I worked with students in K-6th grade as a reading specialist.

Favorite Authors for Read-Aloud in Primary-Grades (fiction): Mem Fox, Kevin Henkes, Cynthia Rylant, Carmen Lomas Garza, Bill Martin/Eric Carle, Doreen Cronin, Mo Willems, David Shannon, James Marshall, Margaret Wise Brown, Jane Yolen, Joseph Bruchac, Denise Fleming, Don & Audrey Wood, Leo Lionni, William Steig, Paul Galdone, David Wiesner (wordless books), Alma Flor Ada, Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, Anthony Browne.
Favorite stories for read-aloud and/or writing instruction:

Quick as a Cricket by Don and Audrey Wood (teaching simile/figurative language)

Hailstones and Halibut Bones (poetry)

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (memoir, personal narrative)

In My Family/En Mi Familia by Carmen Lomas Garza (memoir, vignette writing, author/illustrator, diversity)

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (personal narrative)

Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson (personal narrative)

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson

Wilma, Unlimited by Kathleen Krull

Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The Wall by Eve Bunting

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

It Looked Like Spilt Book (emergent readers)

What! Cried Granny by Kate Lum and Adrian Johnson

The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (writing with detail; poetry)

Black Cat by Christopher Myers


Favorite Non-fiction authors and series (all elementary grades)

authors: Seymour Simon, Gail Gibbons, Doug Florian

Brothers in Hope The Story of The Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Dear America series

Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka


Favorite Books for Upper-Grade Readers

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Maniac Mageeby Jerry Spinelli

Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson  by Bette Bao Lord


Graphic Novels for Independent Reading: Captain Underpants series, Babymouse series


Good Literacy-Related Websites for Teachers:


American Library Association (good booklists)

Mem Fox’s website


Reading Rockets


Donors Choose




Writing Fix

International Reading Association

Children’s Choices (IRA)


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