Sunday, January 18, 2015

CVC Building ~ The Bridge to Reading and Writing

CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing.

The Bridge to Everywhere!

The majority of early learners need very specific things:  a foundation of letters and sounds and their clear connections, a bank of known words, and exposure to lots and lots of words.  If I could have 2 literacy center to bond all those skills together, I’d take CVC practice.  (Well, I’d sneak in lots of writing ~ both scripted and unscripted.)

Back to my CVC centers.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H the Words like Bubblegum

CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing.
I introduce CVC words in the late fall.  First, during calendar time when we review critical skills daily…1 word a day.  Helping student stretch those sounds.  We call it “bubblegum.”  We put it in our mouth, chew it while we think of the word and then do what their mom won’t let them…pull their pretend gum out as far as they want while we hear all the sounds.  This silly habit is a fun way to associate stretching words.

Starting in December, I put the CVC words in the ABC Center.  I have 5 ziploc bags with answer sheets and letter tiles #1-#5.  Students choose the bag they would like to complete, but everyone has to have a different card.  The vowels are written in pencil so the students need to match the vowels, with the concentration on the beginning and ending sounds.  Each card can be adapted for students who are higher or lower than the average.  The higher students can have empty sheets and need to find the beginning, middle and ending sounds.  The needier students can be given vowels and endings, so the focus is on hearing the beginning sounds and matching the letters in the middle and the end.

As the months move on, a different theme is added to the basket.  Student’s expectations are accelerated.  When the center becomes a rote exercise, students can choose a complimentary assignment – choosing a word to use as a topic sentence, choosing a word to write rhyming words, or choosing a word to make new words with new endings.
CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing.

I have found the simple activity of creating, writing and reading these words can help students build their word base and develop their reading skills.
CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing.
If you’d like a free sample of the February CVC Word Cards, CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to look at all the sets or the combination pack, click here to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers.

(Thanks to Krista Wallden for the cute bubblegum girl!  Krista's TPT Store.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers

4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.
Take 2

In November I was asked to guest post for Adventures in Literacy Land.  I was so excited to guest blog...and now I am so excited to be a part of their blog.  I wanted to re-post the blog, in case some of you didn't follow this link.

I admit it...I'm a Control Freak

I am also kinda a control freak when it comes to teaching reading to kindergartners.  I have a passion for emergent readers and writers and truly believe kindergarten is more important than ever.  I would be willing to say it to any parent, any administrator and anyone making education decisions that kindergarten has become the most important year in the life of a child. That being said, there are a couple of non-negotiables in teaching reading to our earliest readers.
That’s what I mean…EVERY day!  Students not only need lots of exposure to lots of text, but they need it consistently.  The hour of guided reading and literacy centers is a given.  The centers are set up to create independent learners, so that my guided reading groups are pulled every day.  Starting with predictable texts in Level A, students are forming good reading behaviors from the beginning.

4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.
When I was teaching at a previous school we adopted school-wide fix-it strategies.  This is valuable.  Every student in the school hears the same words for the same skill.  When they leave kindergarten the first grade teacher doesn’t have to reinvent the “fix-it” wheel…they can expand on what they already know.  An area reading specialist created the Reading Toolbox of fix-it strategies.  I love this.  I had a toolbox with physical things to represent the strategies. (see picture #1) My school adopted more specific fix-it strategies…not themed.  Teachers have the posters on their wall and they were sent home on bookmarks for the parents.
4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.
I made desktop fix-it strategies that are taped to my reading table.  As the students get stuck on a word, I can point to the strategy to remind them how they can fix it.  It is far more powerful for students to learn to fix the interruption in their reading rather than rely on a teacher or parent to help them.
After instruction and a book walk, students must be afforded the opportunity to read the entire text in an uninterrupted format.  This is not Round Robin reading.  Round Robin has its own special soap box in my mind.  Reading the entire text is important for fluency, comprehension, and practice with reading strategies.  I ask the student to my immediate right to begin reading.  When student #1 finishes the cover and title page, I direct student #2 to begin.  When student #2 finished the cover and title page, I direct student #3 to begin, and so on.  The routine in my classroom is to read the book over and over until I tell them to stop.  This is typically when the last child reads the book 2 times.  The students read in a soft tone a bit higher than a whisper.  As the students read at their own pace, they are reading for understanding.  I listen to each child read a page or two before moving to the next student.  The predictable text makes it easy to hear mistakes (even if you are not focused on that student).  You can quickly turn your attention to that child and help the child make corrections for the mistake.  (The perfect opportunity to use the desk mats for fix-it strategies.)  If you would like the Fix-It Mats FREE, CLICK HERE.

4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.

Students must be given the time to practice reading.  We wouldn’t expect to become a prima ballerina, professional athlete or concert violinist without practice, so we cannot expect students to become prolific readers without practice.  Having the time scheduled is just the start.  Students need to be encouraged to read when they finish early.  Students in my class have a bag of books that are leveled texts.  These books are given at the guided reading table and they have gotten instruction on these books.  They also have 2 areas in my classroom for self-selected books.  The first area is the leveled library in the room.  These books were collected over the years and have single copies of books.  Students know their reading level and they are allowed to take any book from that level or the levels before it.
4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.
The second area is the classroom library.  They can choose from themed books.  Most can’t be read independently, but can be discovered and investigated independently.  These books are not put in their bag, but in their individual boxes.  Let them read to a “buddy” (stuffed animal) or a friend.  Teach good routines for reading to a friend.  Set norms for taking turns and providing feedback.  Kindergarteners can do anything when expectations are demonstrated and allowed to be practiced.  Sending home guided reading books is another debate.  Some schools allow it, some don’t.  Regardless, make sure you don’t do running records on a book that has been practiced for days and taken home for homework (but that’s a post for another day).

STAY TUNED...I have Non-Negotiables for Word Study coming soon.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Martin Luther King's Legacy for Kindergartners

A Lesson in Life

This was first posted for a blog hop...and now I'm linking with Comprehension Connection for a Thematic Thursday!  I was so excited she decided her Thematic Thursday would be about Martin Luther King, Jr.  In Virginia, Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the famous people kindergarten students need to know about.  Unfortunately, it's a hard subject to teach kindergartners.  I hope this Thematic Thursday post makes it a little easier.

Dr. King’s LegacyDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a perfect example of a great American. He is also part of the Virginia's Standards of Learning. Here are a few ideas for sharing this American with our earliest learners.

This is one of the hardest lessons to teach kindergarten students.  You see, kids don’t see color.  There are many examples of this, as each teacher can attest, but kids see people.  They know who is nice and who isn’t, but they don’t categorize by color.  As part of the Kindergarten Social Studies curriculum in Virginia, this lesson poses a hard decision.  You have to teach about color to then teach why we shouldn't look at color.

I typically start by telling students about a terrible time in the United States, a time when people looked only at the color of your skin.  I explain it didn't matter how nice you were or how much you helped people or how nice you treated other people…it was a sad, sad, time when everyone was judged on the color of their skin.  Then, I tell about a man named Martin Luther King, who decided these laws that segregated or separated people by their skin weren't fair.  It is also important for students to understand Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to change the laws by peaceful means.  We've even had our own Peace March.  The kindergarten students in our school made posters about peace and love and fairness and walked quietly in a line throughout the halls and around the cafeteria silently.  It sounds so simple and so easy, but it turned out to be a little moving.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a perfect example of a great American. He is also part of the Virginia's Standards of Learning. Here are a few ideas for sharing this American with our earliest learners.
There are many wonderful stories about Martin Luther King.  Most are artfully written so that the text can be discussed on many levels. One of my favorites has always been Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo.  The illustrations are beautiful and unique to kindergartners.   I wrote a little poem years ago to try and make this BIG person and event in history understandable to our smallest learners.  The poem is introduced as the shared reading and is in the Art Center, Poetry Center, and Pocket Chart Center in following weeks.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a perfect example of a great American. He is also part of the Virginia's Standards of Learning. Here are a few ideas for sharing this American with our earliest learners.

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, I have created a pack about Martin Luther King and his legacy.  I am including a FREEBIE for this hop (9 pages).  If you'd like the FREEBIE, CLICK HERE.
If you would like the full packet (37 pages), please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store, CLICK HERE.

Pin for Later:

January CVC...Important Practice for Early Readers

Let’s start 2015 off with a bang.  What else could be more of a bang than making sure our earliest readers and writers are using what they know and what they hear to write cvc words correctly.  I typically teach students to write cvc words using a stoplight.  For a complete explanation of Stoplight Writing, CLICK HERE!  It is imperative that students are using these skills consistently and correctly.

As a Center

This January CVC center is perfect for an ABC Center or a Writing Center.  I originally created the center to be used as a center that was printed in color and laminated.  Students get a board and the letters appropriate for that board.  Each student gets a different board to ensure students are doing their own work.  Each student uses the cards to spell the words and a dry erase marker to write the words.  The students work is checked before they clean up the center.  This center can be used for 5 weeks, as each week the students choose a different board. 

If dry erase markers and reusable letter tiles aren’t for you, you can use this center as a cut and glue.  Each week the sheets are copied and put in the center for students to complete and turn in for checking.
CVC words can be very important to early learners. The better students can read and write CVC words, they easier reading will be.

As an Assessment

If you need an assessment for report card data, using this as a cut and glue assessment is an easy way for the students to demonstrate understanding.

If you would like the January cvc FREEBIE, CLICK HERE!

If you would like to look at the full Spotlight Writing Set on Teachers Pay Teachers, CLICK HERE!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015...Can you believe it?

What does 2015 have in store?

2015 shows a lot of promise...and it's only 2 days in.  Let's see...what can happen?

My Baby Graduates

Yes, my baby is about to graduate from high school.  I tease that Austin is the king of 1 syllable (yeh, huh?, hmmm?, K), the occasional 2 syllables (ok, u-huh, maybe) and the shoulder shrug.  I guess he isn't much different from most 17-year-old boys.  I am more than proud to say he has fantastic grades and got an 800 on his Math SATs.  (For those who aren't familiar with SATs, an 800 is a perfect score.)  Yep, it's all from his dad.  As I have mentioned before we are a soccer family, so like his brother, he would like to play soccer in college.  We're waiting to see where that will be.

Adventures in Literacy Land

I am so excited to say I've been asked to be a contributor to the blog Adventures in Literacy Land.  I did a guest blog in November on my 4 Non-Negotiables for Reading.  They might not know what they are in for...this blogging thing is still new and I'm muddling my way through it.  You should hop on over and check out all the great ladies there.  I'm being "introduced as a contributor" on the 5th.

...and My First Blog Hop

I'm going to be doing my first blog hop with Adventures in Literacy Land...if the other ladies can teach this old dog new tricks.  Look for the hop early next's the official announcement graphic...

Getting Published

To steal a quote from my friend,'s a goal, not a resolution - I'd like to publish an article on my own.  I had the privilege to publish an article on Concept of Word with Beth Estill, a colleague from Virginia Beach, but I'd like to do it on my own.

Finally...a FREEBIE.

Here's my first FREEBIE of the school year.  I'm including a Winter ABCs.  I know, I know, I love ABC Charts.  You can use them for so many things.

  1. Sort by SYLLABLE.

  2. Sort by PART OF SPEECH.

  3. Write words by distinguishing between CONSONANTS AND VOWELS.


  5. Choose 10 NOUNS and add an ADJECTIVE.

  6. Write SENTENCES using Christmas words.

  7. Use Christmas words to show POSITION WORDS.

  8.  Make a few copies and post them on your writing board or put them in a WRITING CENTER as TOPICS.

  9. Ask students to use as many words in a STORY as they can.

  10. Allow students to use the Word List to fill a blank 4-SQUARE to plan for a story.

  11. 11.Use it to sort for COMPOUND WORDS.

  12. Use it to sort for LONG AND SHORT VOWELS.

  13. Choose 2 words and write a MATH WORD PROBLEM.

  14. Choose 2 words and make a CAUSE AND EFFECT statement.

  15. Use the list to DICTIONARY SKILLS and find the guide words for words on the list.

If you'd like the Winter ABCs FREEBIE, CLICK HERE!

Here's to a great 2015!