High Interest Science for Struggling Readers

May 27, 2009

It’s been a busy spring for everyone and I know the lOllie On Coverast thing you have time for is answering calls from pesky salespeople. So I like to use this blog as a way to highlight materials and programs that have drawn a lot of interest in my area. It’s a great way to give you the information you need at a time that’s convenient for you.

One of these is the new Hot Topics programs from Evan-Moor, publisher of the very popular Daily Practice Series that teachers have been using for years.

To keep this short I’ll focus on Hot Topics Science, since science is, well a hot subject right now. You’ve probably noticed that there’s very little good nonfiction science supplemental materials available. Which is particularly exasperating because so many students are struggling with science on 5th grade OAT.

We’ve been representing Evan-Moor since early this year and I must say I am very impressed with everything they do. Our customers who have seen the Hot Topics series, particularly Hot Topics Science have been impressed as well.

Hot Topics is high-interest reading for struggling readers grades 4+. As you know proficient readers use a variety or comprehension strategies that struggling readers lack. Hot Topics Science helps them to become more active readers by using direct instruction of strategies and using very engaging and motivating texts.

Grade-Level Readability is 2.5-3.5, Lexile Score 400-600 and the Guided Leading levels are J-P. As you would expect all selections are nonfiction.

I looked through all of the selections and found them quite engaging. The topics are very appropriate for this age level with photography and graphics that not only support the text but generate interest. I am very impressed that Evan-Moor has provided online samples of all selections for you to review. Here’s a link to view Ollie On!, one of the selections in Hot Topics Science. Check it out, their online book viewer is very cool.

The beauty of the program is it’s simplicity and flexibility. Each selection teaches a different reading strategy through a specific science topic. Teachers have the option to choose selections 1) based upon the reading strategies students need most, 2) based upon selections aligned with their science curriculum, 3) move through the selections sequentially beginning with the lowest to monitor progress or 4) allow students to choose selections that appeal to them.

The teacher’s guide provides a handy Overview of Selections and Strategies to guide their planning. It also include a list of opportunities to teach additional strategies.

Evan Moor Hot Topics science TESelection overview

The teacher’s edition is very clean and simple to use but also quite thorough. It provides a nice walk through at the beginning to familiarize the user with the format. The format of each lesson is consistent throughout for every selection.

The three-part lessons are titled Before You Read, While You read and After You Read. All reproducible student materials are right there at the point-of-use so there’s no flipping back and forth to find things.

The lessons themselves are well thought out in a clear step-by-step format. Here’s an online sample teacher’s edition to see for yourself. For more detailed samples and information about Hot Topics and other Evan-Moor materials visit our Resources page and scroll down to the Evan-Moor section. We have included links to many downloadable samples, catalogs, price sheets and white papers for your convenience.

Hot Topics Science StuffEach Classroom Kit includes 6 copies of 20 reading selections, Teacher’s Guide with units for each selection, a 2-disc audio CD with license to make additional copies and a very nice storage box with 20 tabbed dividers.

Evan-Moor has a lot of experience dealing directly with classroom teachers and it really shows with the managability of the materials. They really know how to make a teacher’s life easier.

You can buy any of the Hot Topics programs three different ways. The Classroom Kit which includes the items listed above is $229.99. You can also buy just a Starter Kit which contains all of the items above with only 1 copy of each selection for $74.99. There’s also an Add-On Pack with 1 copy of each of the 20 reading selections.

As always if you would like more detailed information or hard-copy samples please don’t hesitate to call me at (440) 230-9810 or drop me an e-mail anytime.


Social Studies is Boring…NOT!

May 5, 2009

“SocialIMG 4328-Edit studies is boring”; how many times have you heard this? Not so. That’s because social studies is essentially about people and people are anything but boring. Witness the ratings of reality television. And look at the popularity of HBO’s John Adams, Rome and the fictional Sopranos.

I thought for sure John Adams was going to be a yawner, but I was dead wrong. It had me hooked from the beginning, because it focused on the people while history went on around them. Stories about people, whether real or imagined, past or present are always compelling when well told.

Put Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Martin Luther and Sojourner Truth together on a desert island and you’ve got a winner. Think of the stores they would tell as they struggle to make and break alliances. Students will know everything about them in a matter of weeks. Maybe I have something here.

As you’ve no doubt seen there’s a real dearth of good nonfiction leveled books in the content areas for grades 4 and beyond. Look around, there’s not much out there. That’s why I was so impressed by two different content literacy programs from National Geographic School Publishers, Content Literacy Theme Sets and Reading Expeditions.

NGSP’s Content Literacy Theme Sets are quite unique. The program is designed to provide differentiated instruction to develop literacy while reading and writing nonfiction. I started this talking about social studies, but this program also includes sets in science. There are 12 different themes for each social studies and science. Each theme contains 8 copies of four leveled titles.

Theme Set SS




Each of the four books in a theme is written at a different reading level. However all students (from struggling to fluent readers) work with the same key concepts, key vocabulary and literacy skills at the same time at their own reading level. As the books progress their vocabulary, text load and complexity increase.

The books themselves are stunning. Not surprising for National Geographic they’re full of really cool images that tie directly to the text. But then I’m also a photographer so I’m a sucker for great photos.

Don’t believe me, here’s a link to a short video demonstration on National Geographic’s web site. See for yourself. If you want to see some of these books just drop me an e-mail at bob@edpubohio.com, tell me which subject area you want to see and I’ll have sample copies shipped to you right away.

I’m about out of time for now. I’ll give you details about National Geographic’s Reading Expeditions, nonfiction readers for grades 4 through 8+, in my next post.