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 1 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. There are many ways to create activities for practicing CVC words and writing beginning, middle, and endings of each word.

CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing. S-T-R-E-T-C-H the Words like Bubblegum


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. Using CVC boards, students use the provided letters and create the word on the card by ordering the letters. This activity can be accompanied by the Stoplight Writing technique.

CVC Mats

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

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.

WORD FAMILIES

CVC Building helps students build a bridge to reading and writing.I love word families. Students can get a lot of bang out of understanding word families. Once they know about the word "cat" they can know any other words in the family starting with changing the beginning letter. Creating word unknown words from known words is a great way to create a larger written vocabulary. Eventually, students can use word families to help spell longer words.

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.

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4 Non-Negotiables for Emergent Readers

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

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

I am a control freak when it comes to many different things, but I am REALLY a control freak when it comes to teaching reading to emergent readers.  I have a passion for emergent readers and writers and truly believe this foundation is more important than ever.  I would be willing to say it to any parent, any administrator and anyone making education decisions that resources and routines in the foundational levels have become the most important time in the life of a child. That being said, there are a couple of non-negotiables in teaching reading to our earliest readers.

EVERY DAY

That’s what I mean…EVERY day!  Students not only need lots of exposure to lots of text, but they need it consistently.  My hour of guided reading and literacy centers is not only a given, but it is a guarantee.  The centers are set up to create independent learners, so that my guided reading groups are pulled every day.  I prefer 3, twenty minute groups every day. Starting with predictable texts in Level A, students are forming good reading behaviors from the beginning. After a full day field trip to the zoo, we were back in the classroom to figure out buses and parents and signing students out correctly with ten minutes before the afternoon announcements and a student came to me and asked when centers were going to start. I giggled and said, "Not today, sweetie. We're getting on the bus soon." She was not happy, "But Mrs. Collier, we do centers and reading every day!"

Fix-it Strategies

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 the school-wide fix-it strategies to the right. Students used their toolkit to read. At my current school, we adopted fix-it strategies used throughout the building. 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.  Teachers have the posters on their wall and they were sent home on bookmarks for the parents. We also 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.  Students can also use Fix-it Bookmarks for independent self-correcting. We introduce each strategy and practice how to use that strategy. When students come to a roadblock I can simply point to the strategy silently, while they use the strategy to decode the word and keep reading. 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. Regardless, this is valuable.  However, I do not believe in using silly fix-it strategy titles like "using Fishy Lips" or "Eagle Eyes." I think these strategies can be cute, but can also be confusing. I prefer using strategies that instruct students to "Get Their Mouth Ready" or "Look at the Picture." If you'd like to read that blog post, Decoding Fix-It Strategies and Why I Don't Use Fishy Lips.

Read the Whole Text

4 Non-Negotiables for Reading with Emergent Readers will guarantee all students have the best instruction.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 and the many problems it creates for readers are clearly avoidable.  Reading the entire text is important for fluency, comprehension, and practice with reading strategies.  Using the diagram to the right, I would ask students 1 and 2 to start reading the text by reading the cover and title page. As they finish those pages and continue to read the story, I ask students 3 and 4 to begin. Finally, when they are through with the cover and title page, students 5 and 6 will start. Quite honestly, I typically have my two slowest readers start. 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.

Practice Reading


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.  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.  Kindergartners 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).

There you have it, must haves, gotta do it, won't change my mind, non-negotiables to teaching reading to emergent readers.

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Old Books Still Hold Value

Books are books. It doesn't matter how old, the value is clear. Look at these family heirlooms I recently got from my dad.
Treasures from the Past

My dad gave me two books recently.  He found them in some boxes in the attic.  They were books given to he and his younger brother, Randall, in 1946 for Christmas.  My father had three brothers and four sisters and came from humble beginnings, to put it mildly. However, the value of reading is clear...as the books are still in great shape 68 years later.  They are amazing little books. The illustrations and themes have survived the test of time and I want to share my treasures with you.  In 1946, Daddy would have been 6 and Uncle Randall would have been 4.

Daddy's Book

Books are books. It doesn't matter how old, the value is clear. Look at these family heirlooms I recently got from my dad.
Daddy's book still has the cover.  It's made of a heavy cardstock with children (as you can see above). He has the story of "NO-GOOD, The Dancing Donkey."  It's a classic tale of someone (or something) that seemingly has no value, but proves to be valuable in the end. Daddy had donkeys on their farm, so this could have influenced the book selection. It's a sweet story. Although the copyright is 1944, the story could be read and appreciated today.

Uncle Randall's Book

Books are books. It doesn't matter how old, the value is clear. Look at these family heirlooms I recently got from my dad.
Uncle Randall's book doesn't have the cover.  It has two title pages...one with just the title.  On this page, someone, probably my grandmother, wrote "Randall Xmas 1946."  What an extra bonus to have a recording of her handwriting. This is the story of Noah's Ark.  My father's family was faithful and regularly attended Deep Creek United Methodist Church here in Chesapeake. It isn't surprising a tale of animals surrounding a bible story would be a book choice, as well. It's a rhyming book with the animals on the ark.  The illustrations are pencil sketches  and full color paintings.
Books are books. It doesn't matter how old, the value is clear. Look at these family heirlooms I recently got from my dad.

Keeping Books in the Family

Books are books. It doesn't matter how old, the value is clear. Look at these family heirlooms I recently got from my dad.
I'm the proud owner of the books now.  I think I'll frame them for my office.  Thanks for the books, Dad.
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Classroom Libraries ~ Check It Out!

Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Setting up a Classroom Library

The focal point of a classroom should be a classroom library.  Allowing students time for independent reading with self-selected book choice is essential in all classrooms today.  I have had classroom libraries set up in many ways over the years and I LOVE helping teachers create a reading area for their classroom.  There are books in "my classroom library." These books are kept separate because I know I'll use them for lessons, but after I share them, they can be placed in the library on a rotating basis.

First, find your buckets.

Using any coordinating dish pans from Wal-Mart or buckets from Dollar Tree organization relies on routine. As long as students know how to use your library, it doesn’t matter what container they are in. BUT, they have to understand the library. Labeled buckets with established routines will make clean-up easy. I have found students need a refresher on keeping the library straight about half-way through the year. 
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Second, sort your books.

Using the labels at the end of this blog or labels you’ve personally made, creating a variety of book choices is the key.  The labels are on 2x4 Avery 5163.  I printed the labels, put them on black construction paper 2 ½ x 4 ½ and laminated the labels.  I punched two holes in the label and attached the label to my basket.  Easy peasy lemon squeesy. I DO NOT believe in leveling a classroom library. Interest can't be leveled and keeping students away from books that aren't "their level" is just cruel. It could also turn an early and eager reader into a disgruntled reader. That being said, I kept a separate leveled library for student choice.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Third, find a place.

Depending on the size of your classroom, you will want to create a library that is inviting and welcoming.  One classroom didn’t allow for a full library to be available at all times, so I rotated the books according to the time of the year or the units we were studying.  There were reading buddies, beanbag chairs, and previously-read read alouds available. I also bought lounge cushions from our deck and the students were allowed to grab a "reading mat" and put them anywhere on the floor that didn't disturb other students. The whole idea of a library is provide lots of books with a comfortable space.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Fourth, teach your students how to USE the library.

If you have a filing system, make sure they use it.  If you have a check-out system, make sure they know it.  If you have book limit, make sure they count them.  They don’t KNOW how to take care of your library, if you don’t teach them.
Classroom libraries are an essential part of every learning environment.

Fifth, ask them what they want.

I’m always looking to add books to my library, but I want to add books they students want.  I know I’ve told you before…thrift stores are my favorite place for books, but also send a list of book subjects you are looking for in your class newsletter.  If parents know what you want, they may help you out.

I hope this helps you thinking about a classroom library.  If you'd like labels, CLICK HERE.

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