Saturday, May 30, 2015

5 Reasons for Putting a Book in their hands EVERYDAY!

Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!
Teachers know books are the key.  

They are quick to incorporate Read Alouds, both fiction and non-fiction, into lessons for reading skills, math, science and social studies.  The provide students with books in guided reading small group sessions…and then they take it back.  WHAT?
Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!

...STOP…WHAT?  

Yep, they take it back.  "What if they lose a book?"  "What if they get mixed up with someone else's books?"  It is unbelievable to me, but ONE exposure to a book cannot be considered valuable or “best practice"...ever!

Here are 5 reasons they NEED the books at their disposal EVERY DAY.

Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!
If you want a child to be better at piano, you make them practice.  If you want a child to be better at soccer, you make them practice.  If you want to child to be better at dance, you make them practice.  If you want a child to be better at reading, you make them practice.  You would not give them a piece to play on the piano ONCE.  You would not have them kick a soccer ball ONCE.  WHY would you expect a student to become a successful reader with one glance at a book?  Students need to have the books from small group at their disposal to develop comprehension, fluency and expression.  They need practice every day...with new books every day!  They need LOTS and LOTS of exposure to text on their level!  Practice makes permanent.
Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!

Word wall words or sight words CANNOT be learned in isolation.  Well, they can be…but, why would you?  When students are just beginning to connect letters to sounds and sounds to words every connection made clear makes an impact on their learning.  Early readers, levels A – C, are sight word heavy.  Typically a word or two is repeated in predictable text can not only provide further practice with fluency, students are practicing sight words on every page.  As they become more and more familiar with these books the sight words become easily recognized and ingrained.  
Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!
Responsibility is another key skill for early learners.  Giving them the responsibility of their book baggie allows them to have a part in their learning.  They need to bring the book baggie to the small group table.  They need to make sure their book baggie is put in the proper place.  They need to make sure their books are kept in the baggie.  If you allow them to have the books, you are saying they are worthy of the books.  Let that be the message they understand.  
Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!

Independence is one of the most important skills students can acquire through books.  After a small group lesson students keep the book in their book baggie (a Ziploc® bag with their name).  These bags are kept in a specific place in the room.  When students are finished with their work, they can get their book baggie and sit in the classroom library to read.  They know how, when, and where to read their books and it’s up to them to do it.  
Give them books! Here are 5 reasons for putting a book in their hands everyday!

Finally, putting books in their hands EVERYDAY creates a routine of reading.  When the routine is created, a love of reading can grow.  Students who know they will read every day and they will be successful every day will LOVE to read.  Success feels good…so reading will feel good, too. AND THEN...love will grow!

Give them the books.  Don't be afraid!  It will make all the difference!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Be a Reading Detective...Investigate their Miscues


Who uses MSV?  If you don't, you're missing out on a great planning and instructional tool.


I was talking with a colleague today about analyzing the benchmark running record.  "I don't think I need to.  It doesn't help me."  I'm sad about that.

When you can analyze a miscue, you can determine WHY the student made the mistake.

During a refresher training for back to school, I told the teachers we were going to look at MSV and, I swear, you could hear the "dun, dun, dun" ominous soundtrack in the background.  Honestly, I know they can be tricky, but like everything else, the more you use it, the easier it is.

3 Possible Miscues

Meaning (or Semantic) Errors - Does it make sense?
Structure (or Syntactic) Errors - Does it sound right?
Visual (or Graphophonemic) Errors - Does it look right?

Meaning Errors

Meaning errors are errors that do not effect the story.  The meaning is intact, even when the word is incorrect.  Meaning errors are based in understanding of prior knowledge, story sense, text, or the illustrations.  THIS is a common misconception.  Illustrations are "visual" because they are on the page, but when a student makes an error based on the illustration, they have made the error using the meaning they are drawing from the picture.  That being said, meaning errors make sense.  
When you can analyze the miscue, you can determine WHY they student made the mistake.  Then, you can make a plan for helping them correct it.
In the first error, the student used the text for meaning and "in the park" and "at the park" don't interrupt meaning.  The second error, when the student read "chicken" for "hen."  The student could probably see the illustration and may have only known that animal as a chicken.  They were not using visual cues or letters, but only the illustration.  The third error may be a problem with prior knowledge.  The story may be about a playground and they may only know a "teeter totter" as a "seesaw."  The final example of meaning cues is using story sense to keep the meaning.  Exchanging the word "forest" for "woods" does not interrupt the story.

Structure Errors

The key to structure errors are how does the story SOUND?  A story with structure errors will be displeasing to the ear.  Structure errors are errors with grammatical patterns and language structures (a verb for a verb), errors with natural language, and errors with a basic knowledge of English.  One of my students has a terrible habit of exchanging "his" for "him."  "Did you see him shirt?" She tends to have many structure errors in reading.
When you can analyze the miscue, you can determine WHY they student made the mistake.  Then, you can make a plan for helping them correct it.
The first structure errors illustrated above is about natural language.  Exchanging "goed" for "went" shows the student knows the event was in the past, but in their effort to make it make sense, they disrupt the structure of the story.  The second error is about grammatical errors.  These errors exchange a noun for a noun or a verb for a verb.  Finally, a student with limited understanding of English, can make structure errors.  In the sentence above "The cat was sleeping quietly by the window" SOUNDS correct, just like, "The cat was sitting quietly by the window."

Visual Errors

Visual errors are those errors that disrupt how the word looks.  Is there anything visible that could have caused the error?  Visual errors are errors with sounds and symbols (letters), print conventions, and analogies.
When you can analyze the miscue, you can determine WHY they student made the mistake.  Then, you can make a plan for helping them correct it.
In the examples above, the sounds and symbols are used in making the error "quickly" for "quietly" but the meaning is disrupted and the it is not pleasing to the listener.  The second error shows "smell" for "small."  Visual cues are used but small is an adjective and smell is not.  Finally, a fox can be "sly" and "sneaky" but using only the beginning letter causes the error.

MSV Teacher Deskplate

I keep a deskplate taped onto my teacher table.  I use it every time I score a running record, just to check.  I have attached this deskplate to bottom on this post.
When you can analyze the miscue, you can determine WHY they student made the mistake.  Then, you can make a plan for helping them correct it.

You can analyze using MSV, now what?

Use what they give you.  Using their errors to guide your instruction takes the guess work or the heavy thinking out of lesson planning.  They are telling you what they need when they make errors.

Mini Lessons for Meaning Errors:
  • Picture Focus
  • Sequence Activities
  • What can it be? Games with predictions, drawing conclusions, and inferences.
  • Bubble Map (to build prior knowledge)
  • Semantic Gradients (to understand the difference between cold, chilly, and icy)
  • Context Cues (using the other words in the sentence to help determine unknown word)
  • Make Connections
 Mini Lessons for Structure Errors:
  • Does this sound right? (give them examples and non-examples so they can learn to distinguish)
  • Sequencing Activities
  • Grammar lessons
  • Synonym Activities
  • Text signals - punctuation
  • Sentence Fragments (determining whole and parts)
Mini Lessons for Visual Errors:
  • Frame it (one finger on each side of the word to form a frame)
  • What would you expect to hear at the beginning, in the middle, at the end?
  • Can you find the word with the same beginning sound as ...?
  • Flip the vowel
  • Chucking (If you know, then you know)
  • Confused words (saw/was - of/off - for/from - were/where)
  • Syllables (talk about vowel relationships to syllables)
  • Rhymes or word families.

Save this...

I know the year is over (or almost for some), but you'll need to save this post for the beginning of the year.  

Here is the FREEBIE MSV Deskplate.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

End of the Year Assessments: DSA

Like it or not, this is an assessment time of year.  The teachers in my school are expected to complete the PALS Test (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening), Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark, and the DSA (Developmental Spelling Assessment)...and that's just what they turn in to me.  There are also English EOY Tests, Math EOY Tests, SRI for second grade, and more.  (I thrilled we are a K-2 school and don't have to administer the VA Standards of Learning Test.)

Each spring it's overwhelming for teachers and students.  I try to help the teachers in any way I can.   

This week we are administering the DSA and I have had lots of questions about scoring and recording the results.  Here is a peak at my notes for the teachers.

DSA Evaluation Procedures and Grouping Practices

How do I score the test? 

Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Each word is worth 2 points.

The first point  is a PERFECT point.  I put the check on the number on the left to indicate it is correct.  Did they spell the word perfectly?  Count up the checks on the
left and that is your STAGE SCORE.

The second point is a feature score.  I put a check on the feature letter on the right. Did they get the FEATURE right regardless of the rest of the word?  All features are underlined in the Word Journeys book.  Tally these checks in the FEATURE boxes.

Note:  The Stage Score and the Feature Score DOES NOT have to match.  It might, but it does not have to match.



How Do I order the students on the DSA Class Record Sheet?

Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
  1. Start with the highest test given.  Let’s assume you gave the Letter Name and Within Word tests.  Start with the Within Word. 
  2. Think of each test as a 5 digit number...and put them in order highest to lowest.
  3. Now they are ordered by the FEATURE.
  4. Write the name of the child who had the highest feature scores on the first line and fill in the Within Word columns.
  5. Continue with the whole list; writing the names and filling in the Within Word columns.
  6. Go back to the Letter Name test and fill in the scores beside the names on the list.
Here is a completed form:
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)

How do I group the students?

Looking at the DSA Class Record Sheet, circle in pencil any feature next to a 5 (look at the picture above).  For the students who mastered (22-25 stage score) the previous level, look at the highest test level.  This is a starting point.  A 4, once considered “good enough,” is now looked at more critically.  What word did the student miss?  Have you seen this feature in writing?  Does this student use this feature consistently?  I was told, “A 4 is a foot in the door, but we want more.”  If they do use it consistently, look at the next feature.  If not, consider instruction in the Feature, possibly a few weeks of sorts as a review.  

First Group:  These students will start instruction in Feature G at a moderate pace, before moving to Feature H.  Although Austin had a 5 in Feature G, the review will not hurt him.  (Historically, our school has been weak in r-controlled words, so this time is not wasted).
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Section 1 on the Score Sheet
Looking at the list again, from Ellen to Rita, students showed mastery of Letter Name with varied weaknesses in Feature F.  Taking into consideration the individual student and what they have shown in reading, writing AND trying to keep a group at a manageable size, I would split the group in half.

Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Section 2 of the Score Sheet
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Section 3 of the Score Sheet













The second group, Ellen to Katie, can be instructed at a faster pace in Feature F.  They have some knowledge of the CVCe feature, but still show confusions.  The third group, Lisa to Rita, will be instructed at a slower pace in Feature F.  They need instruction from the ground up. 

Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Section 4 of the Score Sheet
Finally, 3 students remain.   These students are ending first graders, so I would hope they were further along than Feature C; therefore, I have to look more closely at their tests, not just their scores.
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Sheryl is an anomaly.  Sheryl’s reading level is above grade level and her classroom work supports a higher word study group.  While looking at her responses, she has a specific short vowel confusion.  She confused a short i with a short e in three of the four words she missed (“rep” for “rip,” “chen” for “chin,” and “creb” for “crib”).  The fourth error was “tumb” for “tub” and can’t be explained.  With a few intervening sorts, Sheryl will probably be able to overcome this confusion.  She was given the Within Word test.  She could be put in the F2 group, with monitoring for future assessments for adjustments.
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Tom had errors in two main areas.  He had errors with vowels and ending blends.  I would suggest he should stay in Letter Name using Feature E.  The vowels can be discussed while using ending blends.
Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Ursula had 4 errors, 3 with beginning and ending blends, 1 with vowels.  I would suggest she should stay in Letter Name using Feature E, as well.

The Class

Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) is done in classrooms around the country in the fall and spring.  This post makes scoring, ordering, and understanding the results easy!  Pictures and real student data included (although the names have changed, of course.)
Class with Highlighted Groups

Pink – Feature G
Austin
Bill
Cathy
David

Orange – Feature F1 (moderate pace)
Ellen
Frank
Grant
Helen
Isabella
Jake
Katie

Green – Feature F2 (slower pace)
Lisa
Marjorie
Noah
Oscar
Peyton
Rita
Sheryl

Blue – Feature E (moderate pace for review)
Tom
Ursula

Now they are ready for instruction...but that's another post.  

I hope this helps!  

I am enclosing FREEBIE posters for organizing your groups.  They can be printed and laminated. Write student names with a dry erase and as the groups change you can make adjustments.  You can even make a rotation chart with colors labels.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What a CRAZY Week!

I'm not sure there is another way to describe this week.

Crazy Good

May 2014 IRA Conference - New Orleans
I had the most amazing news official delivered Monday morning.  I have been elected to the Board of Directors for the International Literacy Association.  It was a complete honor to be nominated.  Then, it was a thrill to be vetted and put on the ballot.  THEN, it happened!  I was elected.
I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. THIS.  I am so honored and humbled and excited and scared and anxious and thrilled to begin this journey. I will be installed at this year's conference in St. Louis in July.

Crazy Bad

Thanksgiving
By 1:00 Monday my day had shifted.  I met my sister at the hospital emergency room as we went back to see my mom and dad.  Dad had been brought to the Emergency Room with symptoms of a stroke.  A "mini" stroke...but nothing seemed "mini" at that moment.  After we saw him, I felt better.  No paralysis. No slurred speech.  No muscle weakness.  Just waiting.  Then, we waited for 3 days.

Crazy Busy


We're in our second week of PALS testing.  All our K-2 students are tested and I've tried to run around and help where I could. Our school district uses this as a universal screener and I spend most of my day and year focusing on PALS interventions.  This test is important in my world.

Crazy Proud.


My youngest, Austin, had his Soccer Senior Night.  Seniors are introduced with their parents and the boys are honored.  Too bad it rained on us during the introductions, but the rain stopped in time for the game.  Then, lightning in the distance caused the game to be called early with a tie.





Crazy Good


March 2014 at their 50th Wedding Anniversary Party

Wednesday, he came home.  He is doing great and there are no side effects and the neurologist determined there was no permanent damage.

Crazy Excited

I booked presentations for 2 different school systems this summer!  I can't wait to work with teachers!

Crazy Deals


Went shopping today for a gift and found a few great bargains for me.  I found a dress for graduation and a pair of shorts for our summer trip.  AND I got the gift.

Crazy Lucky!


I have a great husband who has supported through this weeks ups and downs...and always does.

I am a LUCKY girl.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Who Loves a Book Fair?

I do.

This week has been Book Fair Week.  We sponsor a Scholastic Book Fair at our school twice a year.  It might be my favorite week.  Who wouldn't want a bookstore to come to you?

I spent my lunchtime AND assembly time (I didn't have to be in the assembly) today in the library reading books.  Here are my Spring 2015 purchases.  Some of these books I bought for teachers to borrow and some are just for me.

1. How to Read a Story

As you can imagine, this book was definitely one my teachers can share.  What an absolutely fun way to teach independent reading.  Yes, this one was a hard back...couldn't help myself.  Wonder who will borrow it first?

2. Please, Mr. Panda

Our school chose 3 rules this year.  I am respectful.  I am responsible.  I am safe.  I LOVE these rules. Each rule can look differently at each grade level, but the rules are consistent across the school.  This is the perfect book for "I am respectful."  It is such a simple text...rich in respect.  And who doesn't LOVE doughnuts?  This one was also a hard back.

3. Baby Bear Sees Blue

This is just a great color book for kindergarten.  It is this precious little bear asking his mom about colors.  BUT...don't dismiss it if you aren't a kindergarten teacher.  It can be a great mentor text for questions and answers.  It can also be a drawing conclusions lesson or a making inferences lesson.  More picture books should be used throughout grade levels, not just in primary grades.

4. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog!

I debated this one.  I have a confession...I don't like the "There Was An Old Lady..." books.  Call it silly, but I just don't like it when she is always throwing up stuff.  That being said, my librarian made me read it.  Ok...it's as gross as they all are.  And (spoiler) she does throw up, but it is great for your plant unit.  She swallows a frog first.  Then, she swallows everything to make a garden:  dirt, seeds, rain, sunshine, gardening gloves, and finally a rake.  Then the frog has a place to live.  Cute.

5. Looking at Lincoln

This is something different for me.  Virginia Standards are changing for History and rumor has it we won't teach Abraham Lincoln in kindergarten.  That makes me sad.  This book is a wonderful book that can be taught at all different levels.  Details can be given to upper grades that aren't given in lower grades.  However, one of my favorite things about this book is the vocabulary.  New words are highlighted in the sentence and the definition is beautifully written in context.


6. Going Places

This is really  a book for teachers.  Teachers need to read this book.  Read it.  Comprehend it.  Understand it.  It's about individuality and what each child brings to the table.  You might give each child the exact same lesson, just like the kids in the book get the exact same kit to build a car.  But how they use it isn't the same.  Because regardless of the well planned lesson, children are not the same.  Can you read it to kids?  Absolutely.  Kids need to know there is more than one way to get an answer.  BUT...teachers NEED to read it.

7. Silly Doggy!

Finally, I LOVE this book.  It's one of my new favorites.  Don't let the students see the end papers of the book.  In the first few pages this cute little girl finds a dog.  She's always wanted a dog.  It's the best dog ever...except it's a bear.  Read it.  You will love it.  There are wonderful lessons for drawing conclusions, making inferences, predicting, and making connections all over this book.  Read it once for each separate lesson and I bet your class will want it for a Repeat Read Aloud during extra time.


$59.90.  That was my Book Fair haul.  We're there more books I wanted, but I think I would call it restraint.  Stopping at 7 books was restrained, right?

Enjoy the books!


Please answer this one question:  Why is it the students are more excited by the erasers and the posters?  Sigh.

Here's a quick FREEBIE Spring Bloom's Chart that can be used with every book here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Mom is the BEST Mom!

I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings...that's just the way it is.

She is such a great mom.

When I was a child, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. When I was in the sixth grade she started taking classes at our local community college.  She wanted to be a teacher.  Life got in the way before that, but she decided it was time.  She would take a class or two during the day when we were at school and be home by the time we were.  She soon became a teacher assistant in a classroom with special needs children.
1971,  1974,  1987,  1992
As a teenager, my mom wasn't my friend...and that's a good thing.  She supported us, cheered for us, helped us, and but always had high expectations for us.  I knew I could use her as a excuse if I didn't want to do something, "Oh, I can't.  My mom won't let me."  She also gave my my favorite gift ever! She wrote a diary of my senior year...without me knowing it.  On graduation night, it was sitting on my bed.  My whole year...chronicled by her.
Left:  Senior Picture Day 8/24/84     Center:  Diary Gift on Graduation Night     Right:  Graduation Night 6/13/85
As a college freshman, my mom jumped into the college pool feet first, as well.  She transferred into Old Dominion University as a junior to earn her degree in teaching.  Two years later, she began her dream job of teaching preschool students with disabilities.

As a new mom, she provided countless hours of guidance and support so I could be a mom like her.
Top:  1994   Bottom Left:  2014     Bottom Right:  2014.
AND...now she's the best grandmother EVER!

Thanks, MOM.

In honor of her, here's some FREEBIE Mother's Day things.  



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Who was your ALL-STAR Teacher?


This is Teacher Appreciation Week.  It isn't about gifts or treats, it's about appreciating your teachers.  As teachers, the most special recognition is the one given from the heart...a picture, a note, or a simple Dollar Tree memento given from a student.

Who was your ALL-STAR teacher?

I had 3.

Mrs. Stiff, 6th Grade

Mrs. Stiff was my sixth grade teacher and she was a real-life Mrs. Frizzle.  She would get us to do the craziest things:
  • We were allowed to tear pages out of old Almanacs and tape them to the windows in the classroom to trace maps of places in our curriculum.
  • We moved all the tables out for 3 days and covered the floor with plastic.  She gave us hunks of clay to design and create and she had a friend who fired the clay for us.
  • We went on a field trip every month...even went snow skiing. 
  • We would have done anything for her.  (I couldn't find a picture.)

Mr. Paige, High School English

What an amazing man!  He taught freshman English.  He was about 5 feet 3 inches tall and wore a suit every day.  He carried long pointer around the room and would put it in front of him like he was going to start tap dancing when he was walking around the room and teaching us.  He taught me how to write a proper paper and I follow his method to this day.  He would also write a rubric or errors on the top right corner of your paper, so you'd know exactly what you needed to fix for the next time.  He was amazing and we all loved him.  Some of us were even able to have him again as seniors.  He retired a few years ago and lives in Richmond near his son.  From what we hear, he is doing well.  His name always comes up at reunions.

Mrs. B, High School Chorus

Mrs. Buckley was my high school chorus teacher.  She was such a great lady.  I used to skip History about once a week to "help in the chorus room" because you just wanted to be around her...and she'd write my an excuse for the History the next day.  She was genuinely interested in our lives.  She listened to all our boy drama and our girlfriend fights.  She never judged, but gave opinions that were based in faith and our safety.  She was a confidante, a mentor, and a role model.  She passed away unexpectedly my freshman year in college, but I think of her so very often.  

They were my ALL-STARS.  Who are yours?


I am attaching a FREEBIE -AR Star Vowel Digraph Set as a thank you to my ALL-STAR Teachers.

If you CLICK HERE for the FREEBIE set, leave a comment below with your favorite teacher's name.  Let's honor them all!


Have a GREAT Teacher Appreciation Week.