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The VariQuest Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tools Blog contains resources on classroom ideas, lesson plans, industry news, events, and offers throughout education.

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Academic Subject: Reading

The Break Up With Reading: Why Reading for Fun is Important for Students

By: Carman Le
May 31st, 2018

When did kids fall out of love with reading? I’ve been lucky enough to teach an upper grade level, and when you have that experience you see the evolution of children in their learning. But in the last ten years or so, I’ve noticed a decline in reading for fun - and that's important to note, and concerning. Students would read a passage or text I gave them, but as far as finding a book to disappear in for leisure, the hobby is almost nonexistent. “It’s a chore,” they say. When did this happen? I remember the days of having to force kids to put books down! Here's what I have observed are contributors to the decline in reading, and how to solve the issues. And this is by no means data or research-driven. I’m sharing my own personal observations, coupled with what I have learned from speaking with my students...

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Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Lessons/Activities/Templates

Using Text Dependent Questions for Deeper Comprehension

By: Carman Le
April 26th, 2018

For many years, comprehension strategies centered on students making connections to their texts. These may have included: Text-to-Self, Text-to-Text, and Text-to-World. However, this continued strategy seemed to only produce readers who wanted to talk about themselves. Very few times were they connecting with other texts or with world situations. Hence, a deeper understanding of the text became elusive. Having the experience of desperately pulling deeper understanding of a text from my students, I was introduced to the strategy of "close reading." Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey wrote a fantastic article in The Reading Teacher titled Close Reading in Elementary Schools, where they outline how to incorporate this "text dependent question" approach into your literacy time. The basics are:

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How to Write a Grant eBook

How to Write a Grant eBook

This helpful guide includes an explanation of the grant process, including a checklist (with samples!), and useful links and resources to find funding!

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Academic Subject: Mathematics | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays

[Lesson Plan] Celebrate the Chinese New Year!

By: Carman Le
February 1st, 2018

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is one of the most important holidays widely celebrated in many Asian countries and territories including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand. Usually falling between January 21st and February 20th, this year's start of the Chinese New Year will occur on February 16th, and is the Year of the Dog. The celebration lasts for about 15 days. Gung Hay Fat Choy is a common Chinese New Year’s greeting in Chinese Cantonese, which means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” On Chinese New Year, the themes of happiness, wealth, longevity, luck and good fortune are celebrated. Some of the traditional celebrations include family gatherings, visiting friends and relatives (baai nin), exchanging “lucky money” contained in red envelopes (lai see), decorating homes with paper decorations and scrolls, lion dances, and fireworks. Chinese New Year is a special holiday to celebrate with your class while teaching them others’ cultures and comparing them to American traditions. I have put together a collection of fun, hands-on and Common Core-aligned lessons and activities, classroom decorations, and craft projects for you to explore and enjoy with your class, and I want to share them with you!

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Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Featured Topics: Common Core | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Picture Book Month: Reflections + Lesson Plans

By: Julia Cremin
December 2nd, 2014

I’ve been particularly drawn to picture books recently, and not just because it was just Picture Book Month. Children of all ages love listening to a story, which makes a read aloud an engaging way to introduce a new unit of study at any grade level. As a language arts teacher, I frequently use mentor texts as a springboard for discussion about a topic, or to model reading and writing strategies I want students to emulate. Continue reading to learn how I incorporate picture book read alouds in my 6th grade Reading and Language Arts class.

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | VariQuest Tools: Poster Maker 3600 | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Awesome Poster Alert! The Bones of a Good Essay

By: Margo Ensz
October 25th, 2014

This week We Are Teachers released this cool and seasonal poster--"The Bones of a Good Essay." Here's what they had to say:

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Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Featured Topics: Common Core | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities

Synonyms and Antonyms Apple Cutouts: Grades 1-5

By: Margo Ensz
October 22nd, 2014

Synonyms and antonyms are a vital part of a student's understanding of figurative language, and of words' relationships to each other. Learning the basics of synonyms and antonyms will give students the ability to express themselves more clearly, expand their vocabulary, and add emphasis to their speech and writing. 

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | VariQuest Tools: Poster Maker 3600 | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities

Creating Meaningful Context for The Scarlet Letter with Pinterest Boards

By: Margo Ensz
September 27th, 2014

When you teach Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, high school students aren't exactly sitting on the edge of their chairs. In fact, they can be downright bored and frustrated.

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Download Now! Reader's Workshop Launching Unit

By: Margo Ensz
August 5th, 2014

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Sneak Peek: Reader's Workshop Launching Unit

By: Margo Ensz
June 9th, 2014

 

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Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Featured Topics: Common Core | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

7 Anchor Charts for ELA Common Core Standards

By: Margo Ensz
June 4th, 2014

If you haven't noticed, visual learning is kind of our "thing." We scour Pinterest every day looking for unique, innovative, and quality visuals created by teachers. We believe in the power of anchor charts and how important these visuals are to students. 

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