Martha Speaks Reading Buddies Newsletter
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Get an in-depth look at the MARTHA SPEAKS Web site, featuring an interview with Christine Zanchi, Executive Producer of the site, recommended activities for an interactive whiteboard, and other stupendous resources. In this issue you will find:

In the Spotlight: The MARTHA SPEAKS Web Site
Classroom Tips: Interactive Whiteboard Activities
Pup Tales: Interview with Christine Zanchi
More Fun with Martha: Virtually Martha and MARTHA SPEAKS Lip Synch
Links & Books: Useful Web Sites and Recommended Reading

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Helen on the Computer


The MARTHA SPEAKS Web site is a hub of resources, learning, and fun! Choose from stupendous games, amazing videos, and unique activities that support vocabulary learning, as well as rich materials and information for parents/caregivers and teachers.

On the MARTHA SPEAKS Web site, kids learn by playing. They hear new words, and then have to understand and use these words to play the games. The goal is to teach oral vocabulary (hearing and speaking words), rather than reading or writing words, so kids can play the games and use the site independently, whether or not they know how to read. Non-readers can also play with more proficient readers, such as their Big Buddies, cultivating a cross-age learning community and providing excellent modeling.

Use online games like Catch in your classroom to reinforce vocabulary learning. Kids win a disc to throw for Skits when they choose the correct answer to a question about the meaning of words like healthy, glad, or lumpy. Enhance your lessons with video clips where Martha and her friends explain challenging words like perspective or risky. Together, Reading Buddies can play games like Skits’s Tricks to practice using special words from the program.

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Interactive Whiteboard Applications

MARTHA SPEAKS has a great collection of interactive whiteboard games for educators to use in their classrooms. Students will enjoy participating in these collaborative, fun, and engaging experiences that encourage whole class participation and conversation, get students moving, and, of course, reinforce vocabulary learning. As always, the games listed below are age-appropriate and vetted by educators.

Truman’s Word Play features 11 focus words and shows each word in three different contexts. Kids actively learn new vocabulary as they mimic a dance, make a bowl of soup vanish, and balance a sombrero by catapulting pineapples!

Scrub a Pup, the most popular game on the MARTHA SPEAKS Web site, can also be used as a fun, vocabulary building whiteboard activity. Kids turn the muckiest dogs in town to the cutest hounds around as they spray, shower, and spritz their pups.

Read these descriptions of the online games to see which ones might work best in your classroom. You can also visit for more whiteboard activity suggestions from MARTHA SPEAKS and other PBS KIDS shows.


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An Interview with Christine Zanchi, Executive  Producer of the MARTHA SPEAKS Web Site

Executive Producer of Children's Media, Christine Zanchi, knows a thing or two about creating online content that is both educational and fun. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former teacher, Christine creates innovative Web sites and interactive experiences that reach millions of kids every month. She is also the mother of toddler twins.

How did you get started working on Web sites?
As an undergraduate, I studied broadcast media and its influence on adolescents. When I became a teacher, I harnessed this power to capture kids’ attention and spark discussion. I realized that I wanted to be part of creating media that educates and inspires, so I went to graduate school to put it all together. I became passionate about the potential interactive media like games, web sites, and apps had for education.

What are the best Web features for teachers to use in their classrooms?
There are so many great resources that teachers can choose from. Martha’s Scrapbook, which helps reinforce word meanings by having kids match words with pictures, is an excellent game for pairs, and would be perfect for Reading Buddies to do together. The online video gallery provides short clips highlighting particular words, as well as live-action music videos that kids can relate to and sing along with.

What are the benefits to using the Web site?
The MARTHA SPEAKS Web site has the highest average time-on-site of all PBS KIDS sites. This means that kids find the site very appealing and they stay and play longer on the site. By playing games, watching videos, and doing activities again and again, they are repeatedly exposed to new words, and we know that this is an effective strategy for teaching new vocabulary.

Can teachers find activities related to a particular topic or vocabulary theme on the site?

Yes, the best way to do this is to look at the Episode Descriptions. All MARTHA SPEAKS episodes are all listed on one page so a teacher can search ('command+f' for Macs, 'ctrl+f' for PCs) for a particular word or theme they are hoping to link to and find a related episode. Teachers can also search the Site Tour page to find a related game or activity.

What other resources are available on the Parents and Teachers section of the site?
We have a number of rich resources available. The Experts Speak, which features short videos of renowned literacy experts discussing effective vocabulary teaching strategies, explains the value and educational mission of MARTHA SPEAKS and can be helpful for teachers and educational administrators. The Read-Aloud Book Club is a great program for librarians and, of course, the Reading Buddies Program is very successful. The Parents and Teachers section of the site also has more activity suggestions that teachers can recommend to parents or caregivers, or try out in their classroom.

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Sit. Stay. Watch!

Introduce students to new technology vocabulary by watching the episode, Virtually Martha, which features words such as email, computer, and laptop.

Watch an extra special version of the MARTHA SPEAKS theme song as performed by a few creative kids.

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Recommended Links

Podcast: Apps, iPhones and Young Kids
Listen to this podcast interview with co-researcher Carly Schuler, whose new report, Learning: Is There an App For That?, looks carefully at the educational value of new technology for young children.

Technology Tips
Find tips on how to help children, from preschool age to teens, form healthy habits related to video games, computers, television, and more.

Recommended Reading

Arthur’s Computer Disaster by Marc Brown. Little, Brown Books 1999.
Arthur loves playing games on his mother's computer, but when he uses it without permission, things go terribly wrong.

Teaching With and About Technology. The New York Times, November 29, 2010.
Peruse this collection of technology resources, multimedia, articles, and useful outside links compiled by The New York Times.

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Corporate funding for MARTHA SPEAKS is provided by Chuck E. Cheese's® and Kiddie Academy® Child Care Learning Centers. Additional funding provided by Jennifer and Steven Walske and by public television viewers. Additional series funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Grant. ©2010 & 2011 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. "Martha" and all characters and underlying materials (including artwork) from the "Martha" books are trademarks and copyrights of Susan Meddaugh and used under license. All other characters and underlying materials are trademarks of and copyrights of WGBH. All third party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Used with permission.

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