Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guided Reading: The Emergent Reading Lesson


Welcome to another Summer Blog Party.  This week, it's Groovy Guided Reading.

Guided Reading has a ebb and flow.  When reading with Emergent Students, we need to make sure the 20 minute Guided Reading lesson moves at a steady pace and covers many skills.

This is how I get it all in.
3 minute Brain Book Time - This is a familiar read.  When they are called to the table, they know to pull out a familiar read and "get our brain going."  Rereading familiar books helps with student comprehension and fluency.  It also allows for automaticity in decoding and word recall.

3 minute Vocabulary Introduction - Remind students of word wall or sight word they may encounter and introduce 1 or 2 words that may cause stumbling blocks.  Do not introduce every new word.  If the new word is heavily picture and context support, let them practice using their fix-it strategies to determine new words on their own.  Use the 5 finger rule for vocabulary:  If there are 5 or more words you have to pre-teach, don't teach it at all.

3 minute Book Introduction - Give a basic overview of the book without retelling or "pretelling" the story.  Sometimes I do a picture walk.  It depends on the topic.  At Level C and above I rarely let them preview the last page. I always ask at least one question to prompt thinking.  I also make sure to discuss any names.

5 minute Independent Reading Time - Don't miss this step.  Let all students have the experience of reading the entire text.  As you start independent reading time, you stagger the start time for each child and listen to the students individually for a sentence or two, making sure they are self-correcting and using background knowledge and fix-it strategies.  I usually have the reading fix-it strategies on my table, then can give a physical cue (pointing to it) instead of a verbal cue.


3 minute Reflection - Always take time at the end of the lesson to give a high 5 to someone at the table who used a reading strategy, decoded an unknown word, and read with inflection or fluency.

Finally, 3 minute Word Work.  For purposes of this lesson, I'll focus on "using known to find unknown."  This is a critical skill for reading.  Monday, I will introduce the skill by picking out the word "van" and relate it to the sight word can.  I  have magnet letters c, a, n, in their guided reading bucket.  I ask the students to take the letters c, a, and n out of the bucket and spell a sight word.  Most will recognize the letters make the word "can."  I ask for a sentence with the word can.  Tuesday, I add the letter "v" to the bucket.  I ask students to make the word "can" again, but to think about how they could change the word to make a new word. I demonstrate replacing the beginning letter is the only possible scenario with these letters.  It can't possibly be "cvn" because there would be no vowel and it can't be "cav" because if we only have one vowel it is USUALLY a short vowel and that doesn't make sense.  Wednesday, I have put a picture card of a "can" and a picture card of a "van" in their guided reading bucket.  I ask them to take out the two pictures and write (using their dry erase markers) the word can beside the picture of the can.  Then we change the pictures and need to fix the word.  We discuss changing the "c" to a "v" to make "can" into "van." Thursday, I put a picture of a "can," a "van," and a "man" in their bucket.  I ask the students to take out their pictures and write the words.  We discuss changing the beginning of the word to make new words.  Finally, Friday they will do a "word changer" quick activity.  I have made some of these up to use known to make unknown.

There you go: 20 minutes.  (PS I always have a timer at my guided reading table.)

If you'd like a FREEBIE sample, CLICK HERE.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

6 Things the Reading Specialist Wants Teachers to Know

This is another one in the series of Tell All's.  OK...that's kinda funny.  I will be honest, this turned into an Affirmation of Thoughts.

Reading Time Can't be Compromised

Nothing takes the place of reading.  I know other areas are important, but reading is the backbone to all other necessities in school.  Reading level can determine success in other content areas.  If reading time is negotiable, the routines won't be firm, the practice won't be consistent, and reading strategies won't be permanent.  Daily attention to reading skills and strategies will benefit all areas in the end.

Integrate Reading into EVERYTHING

Reading Strategies aren't just for the small group area.  Reading Strategies aren't just for reading books.  Reading Strategies aren't just for one hour a day.  Using reading strategies during the day not only creates "buy in" from the student, but allows for students to practice these strategies throughout the day.  Showing students how to use reading strategies in science or social studies or math, gives a purpose to small group lessons.

Routines Create Independence

Your classroom should be a well-oiled machine.  Most students find strength in routine.  We all know children crave boundaries, but they also crave routine.  There is safety in routine.  There is power in routine.  There is peace in routine.  When students know the routine, they can put all their energy into the lesson.  One of my favorite stories about routine happened a few years ago on a field trip day.  We had combined morning and afternoon kindergarten to go on an all-day field trip to the zoo.  We had talked about the change to our routine BEFORE the day arrived.  Friday arrived and the morning was crazy.  We had double students, double parents, assigned field trip trips and moved to the buses.  During the trip, we had lots of chaos and good hot fun.  After returning to school tired, sweaty, and a little frazzled I took on the task of making sure everyone had a plan for getting home correctly.  I was checking notes, chasing down parents, and making a plan for walking to the bus ramp when a sweet little face came over and tugged my shirt.  "Mrs. Collier, is it time for centers?"  I was so surprised, "Oh no, Mia, we aren't doing centers or reading groups today."  "We aren't?" she gasped?  "But we do reading and centers every day."  I hugged her and promised we would be back on our routine Monday morning.  Sure enough, Monday morning she walked in and said, "We're doing reading and centers today, right?" she said anxiously.  "Right," I assured her.  All was right with the world.

Strategy Instruction Matters

Give everyone the rights and abilities to be successful.  Don't skip lessons.  Don't predetermine what kids can and can't do.  They need to know the words they read, but more importantly they need to know what to do with the words they read.  I also believe in the "academic language" of reading.  Let the students know when they visualize, they are putting a picture in their head.  When you are using the skill, the them to "visualize."  Empower them to use academic language...don't "dumb it down."  They can handle it.

Read Alouds Matter

Nothing beats being read to.  Children crave it...even when they think they don't.  It's such an intimate interaction.  Sharing your love of reading with someone should be one of the best times of they day.  BUT don't grab any book off the shelf.  Choose the book to best fit your lesson or focus.  Reading a book needs to be interactive, informative, and fun.  Make sure you are showing HOW you think as you read.  Also when you demonstrate reading strategies WHILE you read, the impact can be great.

Read, Read, Read

I've said it before.  If you want to get better at piano, practice piano.  If you want to get better a soccer, use a soccer ball.  If you want to be a better read, read.  Make sure there is time in every day for independent reading and discussion.  Independent reading doesn't have to be quiet, it needs to be meaningful. Let students sign up for peer discussion time during independent reading time.  Allowing students to have time to talk about their book, will help them know what they are reading and why.
I know I am preaching to the choir, but reading is too important.

CLICK HERE to get a set of quotes, FREE.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ten Reasons You Have to Be in Boston in 2016 with ILA


This past week I was in St. Louis for the Annual International Literacy Association Conference.  The ILA was formally known as IRA, but we have rebranded our organization to champion literacy around the world.

Next summer our conference is in Boston!  Mark your calendars now:  July 9-11.  Here are 10 Reasons why you have to be in Boston next summer.

10. Explore a Great City

St. Louis was fun.  We were able to walk around and see the fantastic St. Louis Arch.  No, I didn’t go to the top.  We saw the Cardinal’s Stadium and unexpectedly were able to go inside the Ram’s Stadium.  (The doors were open and there were no guardsso we went in and looked around.  Next year, Boston will be amazing! 

9. Have Fun with Literacy Educators

Here are just a few moments of our trip that were funand that’s just inside the conference.  We also tried a new drink by the Cardinal’s Stadium.

8.  Get Global!

ILA has members from 75 countries.  There were presentations from across the world.  

7.  Walk 12,000 steps in a day...with a SMILE!

So much fun to see all over the downtown area and even in the convention center.

6.  Calories Don't Count on Vacation, right?

Ate at Carmine's, Ruth's Chris, Sauce on the Side and more.  But, the real St. Louis treat is Gooey Butter Cake, oh my.  What will the tasty treasure be in Boston?

5.  See Literacy Super Stars

It’s very surreal.  Where to begin:  Bill Teale, Jerry Johns, Carrice Cummins, Doug Fisher, Diane Barone, P. David Pearson, Rita Beane, Jack Cassidy, Tim Rasinski, Laurie Oczkus, Valerie Elleryand so many, many more.  You also get up close and personal with authors all over the place.  

4. Get the Real Deal from Real Teachers

I love attending sessions with and given by teachers.  Everywhere you go the conversations are about teaching and learning.  Everyone shares everything and conversations can take place in the elevator, in the line for autographs or while racing to the next session.  I presented a session on Emergent Writing (you know it's my favorite) and I hope I inspired something new is classrooms across the country.  Isn't that an amazing thought?

3.  Get Inspired!

We had the best speakers at our General Sessions.  The opening general session introduced the world to Shiza Shahid, a co-founder and CEO of the Malala Fund.  The fund is integral in championing for women’s rights.  We also talked to Shaq.  Well, truth is, I talked to Shaq.  Let me take a momentAHHHH!  It was AWESOME!  He was the nicest guy and we talked about what literacy means to him.  He has a BS from LSU, a MBA and a Doctorate in Education from Barry University.  He has also written a new series for kids, Little Shaq. It’s coming soon.  He also said teachers should get 60% raises every year, tax-free.  The closing session had the inspirational Stephen Peters addressing the crowd.  He had a great message of education for all.  Finally, Octavia Spencer was interviewed by 2 great middle school kids from St. Louis.  She was a struggling reader and gave a message to never give up.

2.  Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Yepall of themall the time.  We tweeted and posted and uploaded all day! Using #ILA15, you can check out the great stream of fun on my Twitter and Instagram.  Check out the International Literacy Association Facebook page for information, as well.  Steven Layne told the story of a teacher of "considerable age" bragging to her colleagues how she had signed up for twitter in the last session and she had been "twitting" ever since.  Make sure you check out the posts from our conference...not just inspirational, but fun and informative.

1.  Change the World!

My first way to change the world was buying a shirt.  Check out this AMAZING t-shirt I purchased to support libraries in Guatemala.  It’s all hand sown and I am in love.  There were belts, bags, jewelry, shirts, and so many other things.  The money collected at this year’s ILA conference would be used to build 5 libraries in Guatemala.  That’s changing the world.

Then there's #800Mil2nil  There are 800,000 people in our world who are illiterate!  That is unacceptable.  We at ILA have a goal to bring that number to nil.  Join us using the #800mil2nil this year.  Help us celebrate International Literacy Day, September 8.  Join us for this amazing day of change by CLICKING HERE.

I hope I've convinced you...you need to make a plan NOW for next summer in Boston.  The weather will be great, the conference even better!  I am honored to have been elected as an ILA Board Member for the next 3 years.  It's amazing to be a part of this organization and I can't wait to see how I can serve in the name of literacy.

Stephen Peters, one of the most inspirational speakers of the week, said, "We are the best profession.  It starts with you. Do something.  You have been stamped with phenomenal."  Let's all be phenomenal and make a plan to be together in Boston.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Narrative Writing with Emergent Writers

Helping students see narrative writing as storytelling will help them write! Using cards to take away the pressures of spelling can allow their creativity to flow.
Hello, all.  Another Summer Blog Party.  This week we'll talk about my favorite thing:  writing.

I'm going to talk about teaching early learners to write personal narratives.

Write what you know.

The first rule of writing is helping students understand they can write about what they know.  At the earliest, students can write a story about their trip to the airport.  Some will write with pictures, some with write with a few letters, and some will write using word wall words.  Making the connection between using word wall words to tell what they know will empower students to write about what they know.

Give them the tools.

Helping students see narrative writing as storytelling will help them write! Using cards to take away the pressures of spelling can allow their creativity to flow.
Students can use a provided card to help their story.  The story can use word wall words and follow a pattern.  First, the student writes about where they went using the sentence starter, "I go to the ..."  

Second, the student can tell what they see at the airport with the sentence starter, "I see the ..."
Helping students see narrative writing as storytelling will help them write! Using cards to take away the pressures of spelling can allow their creativity to flow.
Finally, the student can tell what they can do at the airport with the sentence starter, "I can ..."
Helping students see narrative writing as storytelling will help them write! Using cards to take away the pressures of spelling can allow their creativity to flow.
Using this simple tool, students can write their first narrative with words.

Show them early success.

Success begets success.  If they see how easy it is to write a narrative, they will want to write more.  As the writing becomes routine, you can up the ante in writing conferences.  

FREEBIE

Click the link to have a FREEBIE Narrative Story Starter Set. I'd love to see your student's writing.  Send me pictures of their writing and I'll post it.  Success begets success...even for teachers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

5 Things "NEW" Teachers Want "OLD" Teachers to Know

I know, I know...I've offended every "old" teacher reading this.  Don't feel bad, I'm an old teacher, too.

BUT, I think NEW teachers can offer a lot to us OLD teachers.

1. I am excited.

 I don't want to offend all the "OLD" teachers (including myself), but we need to put a high value on the "NEW" teachers in our building.  They are bringing a lot to the table...and we need to listen.
NEW teachers are excited.  They are ready to change the lives of students in their class.  They will take lumps of clay and make beautiful works of art out of every single student in their class.  They will help educate the next President, CEO, and doctor.  They believe it can be done.  They haven't been jaded by "the system" or the outside influences in a child's life.  They know their value and they know they can do it.  Let's not break their spirit coming out of the gate.  Try desperately to resist the "we tried that ten years ago" or "that just doesn't work."  Trying it ten years ago is different than trying it today.  Trying it with these colleagues and this administration and these materials may make all the difference.  Let their excitement excite you.

2. I am educated.

I don't want to offend all the "OLD" teachers (including myself), but we need to put a high value on the "NEW" teachers in our building.  They are bringing a lot to the table...and we need to listen.
NEW teachers only know now.  They only know what they were taught in college and what they experienced in their practicum and student teaching placements.  Colleges are working hard to prepare our teachers with 21st Century skills.  They are exposed to current research and best practices.  They have a lot to offer, if we listen to them.  Unfortunately, some of the OLD teachers in schools today want to teach what they taught 20 years ago...definitely not 21st century.  NEW teachers don't know "how it used to be" they only know how it is.

3. I am open.

I don't want to offend all the "OLD" teachers (including myself), but we need to put a high value on the "NEW" teachers in our building.  They are bringing a lot to the table...and we need to listen.
New teachers are open to new programs.  Let them be open.  Let them be open to push-in service instead of pull-out service for their special needs students in an effort to do what's best for the student.  Let them be open to new ways to group students.  Let them be open to having the sibling of the student who made your day long.  They don't know the sibling and might have a completely different experience with their student.  Don't taint their knowledge with your prejudices.  We all want to be valued on our own merit, not that of our siblings or colleagues or your reputation.

4. I am inspired by you.

I don't want to offend all the "OLD" teachers (including myself), but we need to put a high value on the "NEW" teachers in our building.  They are bringing a lot to the table...and we need to listen.
In my case, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I was inspired by my fourth grade teacher to learn how to draw a flower dissection.  I was inspired by my sixth grade teacher to think outside the box with lessons.  I was inspired by my English teacher to give students a rubric to let them know what is expected.  I was inspired by my chorus teacher to make my students believe I love them.  New teachers want to be inspired by you.  You have been doing it a long time and they hope they will love their job LIKE YOU.  Don't tarnish their inspiration with negativity.  Is teaching different?  Yes.  Do they know that? No.  Let them be inspired by the teacher you are:  someone who has seen changes and differences and you stuck with it.  

5. I am a teacher.

I don't want to offend all the "OLD" teachers (including myself), but we need to put a high value on the "NEW" teachers in our building.  They are bringing a lot to the table...and we need to listen.
I am your colleague, your equal, your partner, and you are my mentor.  I want to be like you.  Make sure you are who you want me to be.  Will I need your help? Yes.  I will need your untainted experience to help me put these best practices into practice.  I want to learn from you.

My FREEBIE today is the printable quote about teaching.  Print it and post it somewhere for you to see daily.  Know that you make a difference...and so do NEW teachers.
CLICK HERE for the FREEBIE Inspiration Poster.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Predicting Success with Reading Comprehension

Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.
Welcome back to Week 3 of the Summer Blog Party.

I blogged about Predicting back in April 2014, but I think it's worth talking about again.  (Click here to see the original post.)  When students can use predicting effortlessly, their comprehension can increase.  Predicting allows students to put pieces of the puzzle in front of them.

Anchor Charts
Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.

I'm a fanatic about the anchor charts.  I think allowing the children to participate in making the anchor chart gives them ownership.  That being said, our school has a specific anchor chart for all our reading comprehension strategies.  We HAVE to use the same clip art.  In the example below, the ready made anchor chart is used to make a student-made anchor chart.

Read Alouds
Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE using predicting in our Read Alouds.  As I've told you before, I always read Magic Tree House books as a read aloud in Kindergarten.  One chapter a day.  Each day, we review the vocabulary before we read.  After the chapter, students raise their hands to tell a SWBSA summary for the chapter.  Once students have completed their summaries, we read the chapter title for following day and students give me predictions.  They have to start with "I predict..." and they have to have a "because" in their prediction.  We have to know WHY you are predicting what you are.  It's fun when we read the chapter the next day and if a student made the correct prediction they are so excited.  This is such an easy way to let early readers experience predicting.

Small Group
Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.Predicting is a reading comprehension strategy all students can master.

Let's not forget small group instruction.  In our small groups, we make predictions before our picture walk.  When using the book, Best of Friends from Reading A to Z, while looking at the cover students can predict what the cats might do in the story.  After reading, go back and check their predictions.  One student said, "The title says they are best of friends, but they don't look like it, so I predict they will be friends at the end of the story."  Yes, she was a kindergartner.

Introducing students to Using Predictions early can make a difference in their reading comprehension.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Obsessed with Paint Chips

I can't help it.  There is something about those multi-hues that is so appealing.  I used them when I taught a scrapbook class on colors.  AND I love the commercials from Sherman-Williams using animated paint chips.   Here are a few ideas for using them in your classroom.  I have blogged about the first two ideas in previous posts.
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
I love this idea.  It's a play on "Said is dead!"  If you want your students to stop using "generic" adjectives like cold, hot, small, and big, give them other ideas.  True text gradients, show words on a scale...icy is colder than cold, but arctic is colder than icy.  However, using smaller or shortened paint chips, even kindergarten can use it to describe "small" as tiny, little, or itty-bitty.  Vocabulary gradients can be alternative adjectives.  Students can also be given a mentor text to hunt for words on the gradient.  In the book "Shiver Me Letters:  A Pirate ABC," students can work in pairs in a word hunt to find words for said and write them on the paint chips.  They can find roared, cried, yelled, questioned, and moaned.) Later, when they are writing you can encourage them to make their writing "colorful."
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
Providing the students with word family words on a ring, this can become a fluency activity for independent reading.  You can even have students read these word family rings in partners.  One can read, while the other times the reader.  As the reader finishes, the other writes the time.  They should not race against each other, but instead race against themselves.
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
I would suggest laminating these cards and allowing students to use a dry erase marker.  Make sure they know they can't erase until someone checks their work.  You can even tell them to write it with dry erase first, then copy the strips to a piece of paper.  This could also be adapted for a math activity.
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
This is a newfangled (it's a word) paint chip is great for anything that needs to be constructed or deconstructed.  Again, laminate and use dry erase.  They set above is for compound words, but it could be used for prefixes, suffixes, contractions, and...who knows what else.
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
This activity combines three of my favorite things:  The Magic Tree House, SWBSA, and paint chips. Providing students with a bookmark for their summary is the perfect way to create a reading response activity.  If you'd like a full description of the summary strategy Somebody, Wanted, But, So, And, CLICK HERE..  These can also be laminated for extended use.
I'm sure my feelings for Paint Chips can be classified as an obsession. I am posting about 6 ways to use paint chips my classroom. Can you think of more ways...please tell me.
Finally, this is just a fun one.  I loved making these ornaments at our Winter Party.  

Be Fair

Don't clean out any paint supply section.  Get what you need here and there...and laminate when you can.  For those of you who don't have access to paint chips, I made a sample pack of things to do.  If you'd like the paint chips, CLICK HERE.

SO this is my mini-obsession.  Do you use these differently?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pete the Cat Helps Everyone Know: It's All Good

I love Pete the Cat.  I have a very, long strange love affair with Pete.  Several years ago, I saw Pete the Cat on a few blogs I followed and I didn't know who he was.  SOOO...when I saw a Pete the Cat book and CD on the Scholastic site...I bought it with points.  I was INSTANTLY in love.  I ordered several more for friends...so start the Pete Revolution in Chesapeake.

Can you speak at our conference?

Then, in 2012 I was the VSRA Conference Chair.  I decided to email and ask if Eric Litwin, the original author, could come.  He said, "YES!"  I couldn't believe it.  He was so easy to work with and generous with his time. 

The post is about why we love it in the classroom.  Kindergartners LOVE Pete.  I love it for them. The surface is a great sing-along with predictable text.  But let's look at the books.

Pete the Cat Rocking in my School Shoes

Who doesn't love Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat books.  They are great books containing songs, stories, and lessons about life.
I know this is officially the second book from Eric Litwin, but I introduce this book the very first week of school.  First, most students can make the instant connection with Pete, because they have new school shoes.  Throughout the first week, kindergarten classes take the obligatory tour of the school.  I just let Pete help us.  I place different colored shoes around the school and we tour to find Pete's shoes.  We sing the song as we look.

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Who doesn't love Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat books.  They are great books containing songs, stories, and lessons about life.
Predictions:  When the shoes are different colors, couldn't we predict what made the shoes each color. 

Writing:  The students can write their own page for Pete.  What color would his shoes be?  What did he step in.

BUT...I think the most wonderful thing about the story is the life lesson...if things go wrong, should we cry?  Goodness, NO!  Let's figure it out.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Who doesn't love Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat books.  They are great books containing songs, stories, and lessons about life.
I'm not a math person...I'm a reading person, so when a great character shares the space with math I'm all over it.  As you know, "If you sing it, they will learn."  It is the perfect introduction to subtraction AND using real buttons for manipulatives makes it extra special.

These books are definitely some favorites for my students. 

FREEBIE:
Who doesn't love Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat books.  They are great books containing songs, stories, and lessons about life.

What can we do with these?  
  • Match shoes to food
  • Write a predictable text:  "My shoes are ____.  I stepped in ____."
  • Using the shoe cards only:  Write the sentence above with the student deciding what caused that color.
  • Can you add to this list?  Comment below.
CLICK HERE to get the FREEBIE!

Enjoy!