Thursday, August 25, 2016

Love Your Listening Center...Again!

What didn't work...

Listening Center used to be the bane of my existence...
finding a new book every week…
making sure it wasn’t too long…
making sure the tape worked…
making sure I had multiple copies…
making sure the headphones worked...
making sure I had an activity for each book...ugh.  

Then, I finally figured it out.  Listening Center is another center that once the process is taught…you’re golden.  Listening Center is a beginning center.  That is, the students who are going to the Listening Center go there at the beginning of center time.
Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.

By making sure they started at listening center, everyone heard it together...and then moved on.  A small group of heterogeneously grouped students listened to the tape - WITHOUT headphones.  The volume was low, but everyone else in the room could hear the tape.  During this time, I did running records for the day.  I don't pull any groups until after the story, so that no one misses the story.

What does work...I promise!

Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.
Now, I use listening center as another way to practice comprehension.  I choose one book PER MONTH!  That’s right…just 1.  Students also have all the materials they need in one place. The students have 4 opportunities to hear the book, while the product for each week is different.
Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.

Setting the Weekly Goal

Students are asked on Week 1 to enjoy the book.  They listen to the book for it's entertainment value. After listening to the story, they get a folded piece of 12 x 18 manila paper and write the title and the author on the cover of their booklet. At the beginning of the year, I write the title and author on sentence strips for the students to reference at the table.  Once I got a SmartBoard, I wrote the title and author on the SmartBoard for student reference.  Towards the middle of the year, I teach them to write the title using the books.  They also illustrate the book.
Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.
Students listen to the story again, but this week the goal is to listen for characters.  Students will write the main character names and either illustrate the characters or glue provided pictures from the story.  At the beginning of the year, we decide who the main characters are as a group and I write the names on sentence strips. As the year progresses, they write the character names independently.  You can provide post-it note flags so they can flag the character names.
Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.
Students listen to the story again.  This week's goal is all about the setting. Students will write about the setting in the story and write a phrase.  At the beginning of the year, we decide what the main setting is as a group and I write it on a sentence strips.  They can get a "bonus sticker" if they can tell two different settings.
Love Your Listening Center...Again!  Instead of going crazy finding weekly books and activities, follow these easy steps for a MONTHLY book.  You'll love the listening center again.
Students listen to the story a final time and write a response to the story.  At the beginning of the year, I provide the sentence starter, “I like it when…”  We can also use starters: I do not like it when ..., My favorite part is..., The funny part is..., you get the idea.

Changing my listening center from a weekly book to a monthly book helped my students with reading comprehension.  My students could have book talks about the characters, setting, and events easily. It also helped with my sanity.


Monday, August 22, 2016

6 Reasons to PRE-READ Your Read Alouds

Read Alouds are by definition "read aloud" to your students, but it isn't just about reading the book.  It's about showing students how they can be entertained by books AND learn from books.  Reading aloud can contain lessons on story elements, story comprehension, author discussions, vocabulary and everything else in reading.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
It can be the highlight of the day, if you take a few minutes to plan and pre-read your Read Aloud.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
Books can be read for entertainment, but if you are reading for a purpose make a plan.  If you are pre-reading, make a plan.  Using post-it notes is an easy way to leave notes for yourself.  Jotting down key words on the post it notes or listing a question for your students at each place in the book, can create a calm read. Stellaluna is a great way to each Compare and Contrast.  Stellaluna is different from her bird "brothers and sisters," but they had some things in common, as well.  Knowing you are going to teach Cause and Effect the read aloud helps you engage your students in the book and make connections.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
Most of you know my love of the Magic Tree House books.  I could probably teach any skill using these books...but they are great for vocabulary.  We read a Magic Tree House book in 11 days.  The first day is all about vocabulary, then it's a chapter a day with summaries and predicting and fun.  During the introduction day, we discuss any vocabulary they may need to fully understand the book.  In the book, The Knight at Dawn, we discuss the difference between night and knight, the words relating to castles (Great Hall, dungeon, Armory, and more) and the word "precipice."  We define it, model it, and own it before we read the book, then when we are reading the vocabulary doesn't stop comprehension.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
Some books need practice.  The Three Ninja Pigs is a great retelling of The Three Little Pigs.  It is fun and the students love the story.  However, the entire book is written in limerick.  You need to practice the rhythm of the book, so students will be able to enjoy the rhythm and the story.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
Flossie and the Fox is one of my favorite books.  It is another retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but is set in the south and is written using an old south dialect.  There are examples of non-standard English, so the reader needs to understand the story language, so it doesn't effect the comprehension or entertainment of the story.  

"All due respect, Miz Cat, but both y'all got sharp claws and yellow
eyes.  So...that don't prove nothing, cep'n both y'all be cats."
~Patricia McKissack

I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Patricia McKissack several years ago and she was a fantastic speaker and it made me love her books even more.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
This is special to me...because I made the classic mistake of NOT pre-reading this book before I read it in front of my students.  I had ordered the book from Scholastic years ago and was so excited to read it when I got it, I didn't pre-read the book.  This is truly one of my favorite books, but by the end of the story, I was crying.  Yep.  Crying.  My emotions were slowly building with the friendship of the 3 main characters, story of Mr. Kodinski's shop and his back story, the disappointment on Miss Eula's face and how the children decide to help Mr. Kodinski when they didn't have to.  But at the end, when it says, 

"Winston, Stuart, and I are all grown up now.  We lost Miss Eula some time back, 
but every year we take some chicken soup up to Mountain 
View Cemetery and do just what she asked." 

Oh, goodness.  I'm tearing up just typing that.  So trust me, pre-read so you don't start the "snurping cry" in front of your students.
Make sure you pre-read your read aloud so you can get the most out of your reading time.  Here are 6 reasons for pre-reading those read alouds every time.
Finally, this is one of my favorite reasons to pre-read the book.  This book was in our leveled library and a teacher came to me frantic one day to take the book OUT of the book room.  She had not pre-read the book and she had shared it with her group of second graders.   The book is a standard retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but it's a little "real."  The huntsman "slices" the belly of the wolf with his axe to help Grandma and Little Red out of his belly.  Grandma is a little rattled by the close quarters of the wolf belly, so she has a glass of wine (the wine and bottle are in the illustration).  The huntsman takes home the pelt of the wolf to hang on his wall.  Yep, pre-reading is important.  
***Note:  I didn't take it out of the literacy library, I put a "warning" label on the cover.  

I hope I have inspired you to pre-read your Read Aloud.  Making the  most of the story, can capitalize on your instruction and showcase quality writing.  

I just found a website about reading aloud and I love it.  It is www.readaloud.org.  There are lots of downloads and explanations about how and why to read aloud to your child 15 minutes everyday. Check it out!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cold Read? Warm Read? Hot Read? What does it all mean?

I have been asked more than once about this.  What does it all mean? These readings for students are VERY different.  Each type of reading has a specific reason for doing them, what information we get from them, and when we do them.  Each reading has a value and a place in instruction. I'm hoping this will provide clear answers (and maybe a reference for the future).
Cold Read? Warm Read? Hot Read? Using each type of reading can help teachers create strong, independent readers through lessons, practice, and refinement.

Cold Read

In the world of psychics, a cold read is what the psychic can tell you about your future without having any information from you.  It's the same in the world of reading. What can I glean from what they can do independently?  What do they know?  The introduction is usually scripted and limited to a sentence or two.  We are asked to observe what they can do independently...without instruction.  Are they using strategies?  Is this level a comfortable level for reading; therefore, opening the door for instruction.

A cold read is done infrequently...usually three times a year (beginning, middle, and end of the year).  It is also usually done using a specific Benchmarking system (Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, Rigby, Reading A to Z, Next Step Guided Reading Assessment, Independent Reading Assessment and many more).  Our school uses the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, but I have used others in the past.  The books provided are unpracticed, that is, students are given a book they have never seen before to read and discuss. The accuracy, fluency, and comprehension point to an instructional level. 
Cold Read? Warm Read? Hot Read? Using each type of reading can help teachers create strong, independent readers through lessons, practice, and refinement.

Warm Read

A warm read is the reading assessment used most frequently with students.  These assessments can be called running records.  Students at levels A-M or DRA levels 1-28 should expect a running record anywhere from one time a week (below level readers) to one time a month (above level readers). This is an oral assessment of a previously taught and practiced book or a portion of a previously read book.  The running record is typically the day after the book is given.  Students have gotten an introduction, a vocabulary lesson, and practice reading the book in small group instruction.  The students practice independently when they have time (after work is completed or during independent reading time).  I don't believe the books should be sent home for practice before a running record.  The running record is used to determine how well the students understood the lessons from the day before, how they use their decoding and comprehension strategies.  Teachers can take note of progress on a particular strategy.

The running record is an integral part of small group instruction.  Each day a running record one student is given a running record at the beginning of the lesson.  When students come to my small group table, I ask one to read the book from the day before and the others can read from their bag of books (the previously 5 books), but not the book from the day before.  After the running record, I introduce the new book for the day.

After the group leaves, you must take the time to analyze the running record.  Analyzing their errors is the perfect way to determine what they need.  It will tell you what skills are weak and what lessons will make them stronger, but that's another post for another day.
Cold Read? Warm Read? Hot Read? Using each type of reading can help teachers create strong, independent readers through lessons, practice, and refinement.

Hot Read

I had a teacher tell me that running records were not useful.  Her students always made 100% and it didn't give her any useful information. My first thought was her students must be leveled incorrectly, but when I continued to question the teacher she explained she only did running records on Fridays.  I was confused.  I continued to question her.  Yep, on Friday she did all the running records from the week.  She had sent the books home for homework, she had required students to read the books to each other, and she had required the books to be read during daily independent reading time. Oh goodness. That's a hot read. She was right, there was no value in THOSE running records, because they weren't geared for instruction.

However, there is a value to a hot read, but it isn't instructional information for reading levels.  BUT, use hot reads for fluency practice.  Once students are familiar with the book, they can practice for expression, inflection, and intonation.

Go Forth and Assess

I hope this post gives you a clear explanation of these readings. Using cold reads, you can determine where instruction should begin.  Using warm reads, you determine student progress at that level.  Using hot reads, you can make the reading fluent.  Each reading has a purpose.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Decoding Strategies: Chop the Ending

As students progress in the use of decoding strategies, introducing "Chop the Ending" is added.  Students need to have an understanding of base words and endings BEFORE you attempt to teach this strategy.
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.
Recognizing a base word is a critical skill for readers. Having students "Look for Pieces They Know" can lead to discussions about word endings, like in the word "sees."  Students may be quick to find the piece they know ("see").  When you ask them to "Chop the Ending" they will cover the ending, say the word, then add the ending to read the word.  There are 3 steps to practicing this strategy.

1. Teach the Endings

The only way students can tell the difference between "Look for Pieces You Know" and "Chop the Ending" is to teach the endings.  I would never suggest teaching all the endings at once, but teaching them as they come across the word in their reading.  The headings students will typically see are on the chart below:
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.
I made header pictures to display on our small group reading board.  It can be a quick reference for using this strategy.
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.

2. Practice with Picture Support

I made two levels of practice cards to help students practice this strategy.  After teaching the endings, they would practice with small cards in small group.  The cards have an ax under the ending, to help students "see" the ending easier.  You can put 1 card in each guided reading basket, when they are finished with the card, they can pass it to their right and continue practicing with several cards.
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.

3. Practice without Picture Support

The next level of cards is just words, no picture cues.  Students practice this with the same procedure as before. 
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.
As with any skill or strategy, students must be able to tell you about the strategy in their own words.  Here's a quick video of "J" telling me about this skill.

video
Chop the Ending is a great strategy for continuing students on the path to independent decoding.  Knowing endings can also help them understand their readings, too.Make sure your students are practicing the strategy by pulling words from their reading to "Chop the Ending." They can even record the found words with endings in a journal.

Don't forget to add the icon to the Strategy Mat, when they are using the strategy.

If you'd like a FREE Sample, CLICK HERE or click the picture below.

If you'd like the full-set of "Chop the Ending" decoding strategy, CLICK HERE or click the picture below.
 

Friday, August 5, 2016

What is a Strategy Mat?


I had a group of kinders who needed some concrete help in using the early fix-it strategies.  So, we had a strategy mat...and you're gonna want them next year!

Creating independent readers is one of the most important steps in teaching reading.  Students can use Strategy Mats to become independent readers.  Adding picture cues to help them be independent is invaluable!

The 3 students in the group were not using any strategies.  That is, except the "Stop and Stare at your Teacher" strategy.  UGH.  You've had those kids that truly believe YOUR role is to TELL them the words they need.  The scarier part is the teachers who let them believe that is actually a strategy.

Strategies From the Beginning

Creating independent readers is one of the most important steps in teaching reading.  Students can use Strategy Mats to become independent readers.  Adding picture cues to help them be independent is invaluable!
From the first moment we hand a student a book in our reading groups, we also have to hand them a strategy.  Any student can be an independent reader if they are taught to be independent from the beginning.  During the introduction of the book, we discuss pictures and even take a picture walk.  Make sure you are saying the words, "Look at the Picture."  I always ask the students  what they see in the picture and what we know from the picture.  

Make a Strategy Mat

Creating independent readers is one of the most important steps in teaching reading.  Students can use Strategy Mats to become independent readers.  Adding picture cues to help them be independent is invaluable!It's not hard...quite silly actually.  I cut a 12x18 construction paper into a 12x12 square just because 6 fit on the table better than a full size sheet of paper.  When I gave it to the students, I called it a Strategy Mat.  We discussed the meaning of a the word "strategy" and said it was a fancy word for a "plan."  We all need plan.  So we added the picture icon for "Look at the Picture."  A strategy that comes close on the heels of "Look at the Picture" is "Get Your Mouth Ready."  We quickly added this strategy because students can quickly understand to "Look at the Picture" and "Get Your Mouth Ready."  As you introduce strategies, they add the strategies to the mat.

They can keep the mat with them or you can make Strategy Bookmarks to keep in their Book Boxes, but regardless, please don't add the pictures until you've introduced it and practiced it.  Before every book I say, "What do we do if we come to a word we don't know?"  I want them to tell me each of the strategies they will use.  I also ask after they finish ready if they can tell me when they used a strategy.  I have lessons for introducing all of the strategies in my TPT store.  You are welcome to check them out.

I hope I have given you good reasons to have a Strategy Mat with your earliest readers.  It can make emergent readers independent from the beginning...and if they are you can take a bow.

If you would like a copy of the strategy icons below, CLICK HERE or click the picture below.
Creating independent readers is one of the most important steps in teaching reading. Students can use Strategy Mats to become independent readers. Adding picture cues to help them be independent is invaluable!
To read about all the strategies:
Decoding Strategies:  Look at the Picture
Decoding Strategies:  Get Your Mouth Ready
Decoding Strategies: Sound and Slide
Decoding Strategies:  Skip and Reread
Decoding Strategies:  Look for Pieces You Know
Decoding Strategies: Chop the Ending - Coming Soon...check back tomorrow.

I also have sets in my TPT store with all the decoding strategies.  If you'd like the link, click the title below.

Decoding Strategies:  Look at the Picture
Decoding Strategies:  Get Your Mouth Ready
Decoding Strategies: Sound and Slide
Decoding Strategies:  Skip and Reread
Decoding Strategies:  Look for Pieces You Know
Decoding Strategies: Chop the Ending
Decoding Strategy Bundle

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Creating independent readers is one of the most important steps in teaching reading. Students can use Strategy Mats to become independent readers. Adding picture cues to help them be independent is invaluable!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Decoding Strategies: Look for Pieces You Know

Another strategy relies on students to understand that they know a lot...and teach them how to use it.
Most people know this as "Look for Chunks" and they have a piece of cheese.  It never made sense to me.  I didn't know many kids who even knew that cheese came in chunks...they see either cheese slices for grilled cheese or shredded cheese on tacos.  If we are trying to teach kids to make connections, I had a hard time explaining this.  BUT, they know puzzles.

Make the Connection

Look for Pieces that You Know can help students make connections between words and what "pieces" of the word they know to help them read the words.  Practice this strategy to help readers become independent decoders.Using puzzles, students can easily see how all the pieces make a picture.  If a piece is missing, something in the picture is missing.  The same can be practiced with the strategy, "Look for the Pieces You Know."  When we use their strategy mat, we move down the strategies.  Look at the Pictures, Get Your Mouth Ready, Slide and Sound, Skip and Reread, then...Look for Pieces You Know.  Using the word "jam," I would ask the students, "What do you know?"  I want them to see the word "am" in the word.  I ask them to cover the "j" and to say the word "am."  Then, go back and Get Your Mouth Ready.

Small Group Practice

Look for Pieces that You Know can help students make connections between words and what "pieces" of the word they know to help them read the words.  Practice this strategy to help readers become independent decoders.Look for Pieces that You Know can help students make connections between words and what "pieces" of the word they know to help them read the words.  Practice this strategy to help readers become independent decoders.
As with all the strategies, we need to have students practice using the strategy in a controlled way first.  Using the cards with puzzles highlighting the smaller "known" word.  Students can practice 2 or 3 cards a day for a week.  Then, use the cards that ask the students to circle the known piece.  The important part of the task isn't decoding necessarily, it's finding the smaller "pieces" in words.

There is more than one piece in a puzzle.

Look for Pieces that You Know can help students make connections between words and what "pieces" of the word they know to help them read the words.  Practice this strategy to help readers become independent decoders.Just like the heading says, there can be more than one piece to look for in a puzzle.  Students must practice looking for pieces in words, but every word doesn't have a smaller word in it.  Some words can be connected to families (-ap, -ay, -ight, etc.) Some words can be connected with blends or digraphs in the beginning and ending place.  Some words have more than one piece they know. Words like "shout" are great examples of more than one piece having meaning.  The students can identify the "sh" and the "ou" has the sound in house.  

Practice Makes Permanent

Using cards to help students practice is a great start; however, students can also find words in their stories and books that have smaller pieces they know.  Having time during small group instruction can make this strategy invaluable.  When they are ready, make sure the icon is added to their Strategy Mat.

If you'd like a FREE sample of the strategy cards CLICK HERE or click the picture below.
If you'd like purchase the whole set for $2.00 CLICK HERE or the picture below.




Saturday, July 30, 2016

Decoding Strategies: Skip and Reread

Next, when students look at the picture. get their mouth ready, and try to sound and slide, but they still might have difficulties.  They next strategy we practice is Skip and Reread.
You can't just skip the word, you have to skip AND reread. Teaching this decoding strategy puts another tool in their toolbox!

What if?

We've tried everything we know. Let's pretend the book is about a pond.  The picture contains lots of animals that live at the pond.  The picture isn't helping.  I also know lots of words that it could be:  frog, fish, fly.  I'm not having luck doing a sound and slide.  What else can I do?  Well, skip it.  Of course, there are rules when we skip it.  If you skip it, you have to go back and fix it.  

You can't just skip it!

I was having a meeting with a teacher after our mid-year benchmarking and one particular student had an unusually low score.  When I questioned the teacher she said, "Well, she just skipped the word, so I marked it as an error."  I was bewildered.  "Does she know her fix-it strategies?" "I have it on the table."  She hadn't specifically taught her how to "skip and reread."
You can't just skip the word, you have to skip AND reread. Teaching this decoding strategy puts another tool in their toolbox!

Leave out the Words

When I was meeting with this teacher, I picked up a guided reading book and read it to her leaving out every fourth word. After reading 2 or 3 pages, I stopped and asked if she could figure out what the story was about?  This is an easy way to demonstrate to your students the value of  the "skip and reread" strategy.

It's ok to skip!

Please don't misunderstand me:  it's ok to skip, but that can't be the whole strategy.  They whole strategy needs to be skip and reread.  Students need to know they can't just skip the word, they have to read until the end of the sentence, then go back and see if they can figure it out.  The card below shows an easy way to teach those early learners how to skip and reread.
You can't just skip the word, you have to skip AND reread. Teaching this decoding strategy puts another tool in their toolbox!

How to Practice "Skip and Reread"

Give each student a card.  Ask the students to read up until the blank, get their mouth ready and pause.  The student would read, "I see the f" and then stop.  Both of the pictures would work...so, look at the picture and get  your mouth ready don't work.  Then they are asked to read the entire card, "I see the f-- hop."  The answer is clear.  Then, they reread the sentence correctly.

You can't just skip the word, you have to skip AND reread. Teaching this decoding strategy puts another tool in their toolbox! It's That Easy

Put a card or two in their guided reading basket each day, so they can practice the skip and reread.
 Once this is a habit, add this icon to their Strategy Mat.

If you'd like a FREEBIE sample, please CLICK HERE or click the picture below.

If you would like the full product for $2.00, CLICK HERE or click the picture below.