Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reading Is Magical! Especially with VSRA

Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.

This past weekend was the 48th Annual VSRA Reading Conference in Richmond, Virginia.  It was such a fantastic event.  Tiffany Brocious was the 2015 Conference Chair and she did a terrific job.  It is such a big job, but it went off without a hitch.  I attended so many great sessions and talked to so many wonderful professionals, I know I'm going to offend someone when I forget to post something.

General Sessions

VSRA offers 3 General Sessions.  These sessions offer top-of-the-line speakers who are known in the literacy community.  They were real, inspiring, and entertaining.  They provided good information about literacy in presentations that made us laugh and think, all at the same time.  Dick Allington had been a speaker at VSRA previously, but spoke this time about the Summer Slide.  Every teacher knows it and every teacher fears it.  His research clearly connects the number of books available to students and the degree of Summer Slide.  Mary Howard was wonderful about inspiring teachers to be GREAT by reading, reading, and more reading.  She also shared that "when we integrate reading and writing we multiply outcome!  Here's another good one..."A teacher on her feet is worth a million in their seat."  Get up and get involved with the student learning.  Finally, we were about to hear the inspirational words of Valerie Ellery.  This is the best quote of the day:

"It's not how smart you are, but how you are smart."

Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.

Featured Speaker

I was very happy to present for VSRA.  This year I had the pleasure of meeting so many teachers who were excited about teaching and learning and doing the BEST they can.  It is why I LOVE teacher training.  I hope they were able to take at least one thing back to their classrooms this week.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.

My first session was a writing session.  If you know me at all, you know this is my favorite thing.  I could talk writing all day...but I only had 2 hours.  I'm pretty sure I fit 3 hours of information in that 2 hours.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.
My second session was Using Jan Richardson's Pre-A Guided Reading methods to give our most struggling readers to best advantage.  This Pre-A level is proven to be the difference between early success and complete struggling.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.
My final session was Saturday morning.  I was so scared no one would come.  It had been such a fun and busy conference, it would have been very easy to stay in bed.  BUT they showed up. Probably 75 people showed up on a Saturday morning to talk about Vocabulary.  Vocabulary is one of the KEY contributions to early success.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.
Finally, there were so many great sessions.  I attended sessions by old friends and new friends.  I was able to preside over my friend and co-author, Beth Estill to hear her talk about writing.  (Have I told you it's my favorite thing?)  I got to be in 2 sessions with good friends who were presenting their very first conference session.  I'm sure they have the presenting bug now.  Such great sessions to strengthen my teaching and my coaching.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.
I cannot stress enough the value of going to conferences.  Just being with other teachers who are eager to learn and grow is inspiring!  AND so much more.

Make plans now for Norfolk.  I'll see you there.
Virginia State Reading Association is a professional organization that promotes the love of literacy in the state and beyond. Their reading conference is not comparable. The prefect professional development weekend.
Click the link if you'd like some FREEBIE from my session.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Is there a better series than Magic Tree House?

The Magic Tree House is the best series for sharing as a read aloud, in my opinion. Mummies in the Morning is another adventure for Jack and Annie.
I don’t think so!

I LOVE Magic Tree House books. I have read these books every year to my kindergartners. They love them! It’s all about preparation and explanation, but they love them. As you know, I have taught full day and half-day kindergarten. Regardless, there is ALWAYS time for the Magic Tree House.

VA is for Teacher Bloggers is hosting a blog hop all about our favorite books.  It has to be the Magic Tree House Series.

The Rules

I have a few rules to sharing Magic Tree House books.
  1. Always start from the beginning. Go in order for the first 4 books in the series before you stray from the order.  Students get a good grasp on the characters and some details about the tree house.  After the first 4 you can skip around if you want, but I try not to skip so much.

  2. Preview the book and introduce vocabulary. Don’t let vocabulary ruin the flow of the story.  There’s nothing worse than having to stop the excitement to explain a word…it’s a buzz kill.

  3. Before you start the new chapter…do a quick review. Honestly, I scan the pictures from the chapters and put it in a smart board application.  Then, everyone can see the picture and they concentrate on the words, not trying to see the one picture for each chapter.  This also makes for a quick review.

  4. Before you leave the chapter…you need a prediction. At the end of each chapter, I read the title of the next chapter and need a prediction about what will happen in the next chapter the next day.  Students must use the sentence starter “I predict” and MUST include a reason for their prediction.  I predict…because…”

The Plan

It takes about 12 days to read a Magic Tree House book.  Day 1 is an vocabulary introduction day.  I allow students to tell me what they know about the main topic of the book.  Some students will already know about a mummy, but they may not know about a sarcophagus.  By the way, we talk about the “ph” in sarcophagus sounding like an “f” and we cough when we say it.  The next 10 days are 1 chapter a day.  I’ve found this schedule is doable, no matter your day includes.  The twelfth day is a celebration day. Here are 2 methods for incorporating Magic Tree House into your day.

Full-Day Option

The Magic Tree House is the best series for sharing as a read aloud, in my opinion. Mummies in the Morning is another adventure for Jack and Annie.
While teaching full-day kindergarten, we were required to have 3 Read Alouds a day.  Typically, 1 had a phonic connection, 1 had a math, science, or social studies connection and 1 was Magic Tree House.  We devoted 20 (sometimes 30 minutes) a day to our read aloud.  Read Alouds are so, so important to building comprehension skills and thinking skills.  Adding the lovable Jack and Annie to the mix just makes it fun.  There is nothing like getting to the wish is chapter 1 and the students are already with you as the tree house spins faster and faster.  As you read, “Suddenly everything was still.” the students join in with “Absolutely still.”  Once we read the chapter and give our prediction, we move to our table quickly to fill in our summary.  (See Mummies in the Morning Student Book)  It’s a quick review 4-6 sentences and fill in word wall words and familiar words.  Each day we read the book from the beginning, so they are reviewing the story again.  Students can add an illustration.  Of course, I’m a control freak when it comes to illustrations.  Illustrations should be drawn with a pencil to give good details, then colored with crayons.  I also think drawing can cause stress for kindergartners, so showing them step-by-step how to connect circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles to make a shape takes away any stress or apprehension.  At the end of the book, we invited visitors (maybe parents or another class) to come visit.  I pair my students with the guest class and we read our story to the other class.  I LOVE inviting a second grade class into our room for Mummies in the Morning, because in Virginia the current second grade curriculum includes Ancient Egypt.

Half-Day Option

Let’s talk half-day.  My school system has ½ day kindergarten for non-Title 1 students.  Half-day in my system is 3 hours.  8-11 and 11-2ish.  That includes a full curriculum of reading, math, science, and social studies.  It also includes library once a week, computer once a week, and guidance every other week.  So time is limited to say the least.  BUT, there’s always room for Magic Tree House.  The last 10 minutes of the day is always “Chapter Time.”  (Here’s a secret, if you’ve ever had students who took FOR-EV-ER to pack up tell them the Chapter Time starts when everyone is packed and ready to go.  Problem solved.)  Regardless, Chapter Time starts with a review of the vocabulary and the story so far.  Using those pictures on the smart board makes this very quick.  I reread the chapter title and ask someone to tell me a prediction from the day before, then we begin.  At the end of the chapter, sadly we don’t have time to write about it. We still do a prediction, but I add a “Somebody Wanted But So And” Summary.  Students are shown a poster with the key words “Somebody Wanted But So And.”  After our chapter I ask a few students to tell me a summary of the chapter.  I’m always surprised at the summaries they can come up with for the exact same chapter.  Here are some examples.
The Magic Tree House is the best series for sharing as a read aloud, in my opinion. Mummies in the Morning is another adventure for Jack and Annie.

On and On and On

I LOVE Magic Tree House books and I could go on and on and on about how to use these in your class and how to connect their learning to the chapter books.  Oh, and did I tell you they get a special sticker if they use one of the Magic Tree House vocabulary words in their writing?

If you’d like a FREEBIE sample pack of the Mummies in the Morning pack, CLICK HERE or click on the picture.

Thanks and ENJOY!

n6udaco

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Can, Man, Pan, Fan, Ran, Van, Tan...

Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.
I love word families.

They’re so much fun to teach and so valuable to students. Students start with rhymes and phonological awareness. Moving to the written word with word families is logical. 25 years ago I taught students with learning disabilities, and I used Merrill Linguistic Reading Program.  It was based on word families and sight words. I loved it.  Then, 10 years later I went to a workshop with FOUNTAS AND PINNELL!!!  Not about Fountas and Pinnell, but with Fountas and Pinnell. Yes, I was freaking out then…and it’s still a rush now. They were premiering their Phonics Lessons sets. They were the first to tell me about “If you know, then you know…” It was kinda genius. Following their lead, my students built the word family one picture at a time. “If you know can, then you know man. If you know can, then you know fan. If you know can, then you know van. If you know can, then you know pan. If you know can, then you know ran.” Students can see the words and the pictures. This was the start of my Word Family love affair.
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Here are some activities for word families.

Calendar Time is Word Family Time

During Calendar time we have a Smart Board activity.  The first word family slide contains the family and 5 cvc words.  I use stoplight writing to help the students hear the sounds.  This procedure has a green line for the beginning sound, a yellow line for the middle or vowel sound, and a red line for the final sound.  (If you’d like a full explanation of Stoplight Writing, click the link HERE.)  The second slide contains a "FIRST GRADE" word.  Students love figuring out the "FIRST GRADE" word.  These words typically have a blend or digraph at the beginning. These words are practiced daily.  Monday, the teacher emphasizes the sounds and does all the writing.  Tuesday – Friday, the students take control.  The students quickly complete the activity during the calendar time, taking turns filling in chunks or individual letters.
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Calendar Time becomes Center Time

The following week, the word family moves to a center.  This can be an ABC center or a specific word family center.  During this week, students are given colored papers with a word family picture on each.  Students choose a card, color a corresponding paper, and write the word family word.  Then students choose one word to write in a sentence. I found this original activity at www.mrsleeskinderkids.blogspot.com and I love it!
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Word Family Color Cards

Students can take a color strip and

  1. write stories using the word family words.

  2. put the words in ABC order.

  3. write and illustrate the words.

  4. write the words using red and black letters for vowels and consonants.
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Crossing Puzzles

I have also seen this activity called "Magic Squares." This activity can be done on a sheet or with letter tiles and pictures.  The worksheet is straight forward.  However, using the letter tiles in conjunction with the paper can allow students a hands-on activity to create the cross and the accountability of the written paper.  Students take word family pictures and letter tiles to make a puzzle.  The words cross with the vowels.  Students can also have S-T-R-E-T-C-H words that include blends and digraphs.  When students have created the puzzles, they can record their words on the sheet.
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Word Family Cube - Roll, Write, Illustrate

Students LOVE rolling dice.  Why not add a word family to the dice.  Students can roll, write, and illustrate.  For a variation, students can have a graph with the 6 word family words.  When they roll the dice, they write the word on the graph.  Students roll until one of the graphs reaches the top, making a word family winner.  Students can then write sentences with the winning word.
Using word families to help emergent readers make connections is the perfect match. Here are a variety of word families activities.

Word Families - The Perfect Connection

Just like Fountas & Pinnell said all those years ago, the "If you know, it helps you know..." is the perfect connection for emergent readers.

If you would like a FREEBIE CLICK HERE.

If you would like a Word Family Activity Set, CLICK HERE to visit my TPT Store.

Enjoy!