Wednesday, January 30, 2013

100 Follower Giveaway Right Here!!! 45 products!

Hi Everyone! I am so excited to have finally hit 100 followers! 
( Scroll down for the 45 product giveaway!)
This journey over the last 10  months has been so rewarding. I didn't really agressively promote my blog, I found it really difficult to post at the beginning of school and keeping up with a blog is so much harder than it seems; I never seem to take pictures of what I need and finding the time to dedicate to a quality post is sometimes impossible. However, I have learned so much from all the other teachers that share themselves on their own blogs and blogging has made me even more reflective than ever.  I am so glad I started this little blog!

I appreciate all of you who read my posts and I hope I can share more and more in the future with you! But today, you'll have to settle for a giveaway!!

I really want to say thank you to Katie King ( Queen of the First Grade Jungle), Reagan Tunstall(Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits), Lisa Mattes ( Growing Firsties), Molly ( Shining and Sparkling in First Grade) and Dana Lester ( Fun in 1st Grade)who graciously donated their products to the giveaway. Please check these items out!

I also want to thank all the teachers on TPT who donated items! I was overwhelmed by the response!
There are over 45 items that will be given away. I created three different giveaways so there'd be more winners!!!
Giveaway 1- 15 Thematic Packs
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway 2- 20 Literacy Packs

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway 3 - 10 Math Packs
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter now! The giveaway will run until Monday!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I've leveled my students. What next?

Have you ever leveled your students, progress monitored or looked at your DIBELS scores and thought, "Okay, what now?"

A few years ago, I really began to think about how I teach reading and what assessments I could use to better inform my instruction. I used Running Records to level my students but I didn't have a strong gasp on where to go next instructionally. I needed something that would measure what skills my students were applying when reading decodable texts. I wanted to know what skills I needed to explicitly reinforce. It's hard to tell that from a leveled text. I soon developed these Phonics Reading Assessments. ( I'm not sure if that's a good name for them or not. I don't think it gives a good idea of what they are. Any suggestions?)

These tests have transformed the way I teach reading. Now I can make sure my instruction matches needs and I can pull texts that reinforce the skills the students need. I see great growth in a short time. Out of 28 students this year, I had over 10 who couldn't even read short vowel words in August. Now I have 25 who are at grade level or above. I really think the growth is from providing the right instruction at the right time. These assessments not only help you plan for your strugglers but challenge your high reader as well.

There are 4 assessments and the best part is that each assessment breaks down the phonetic components so you can see the areas to work on next.  The students just read the sentences on a student copy while you follow along just like a Running Record. After the student is finished, you can tally errors and begin to really analyze the student's mistakes. Here are the assessments:

The short vowel assessment is more basic because it tests the 5 short vowels and 3-4 phoneme words. This assessment will show you if a student is missing a particular vowel sound, not blending properly or unable to blend more than 3 phonemes.

Once students can read short vowels fluently, you can give the short vowel blends assessment. This test includes every beginning and ending blend, beginning digraphs and 4- 5 phoneme words. This assessment gives so much information! You will also be able to analyze short vowel errors because many times I've seen students who begin making short vowel errors once they start decoding 5 phoneme words.

The third assessment focuses on long vowels,  r- controlled vowels and common dipthongs.  Due to an increase in text complexity at this level, students are also assessed on their ability to decode words with inflectional endings, compound words and multisyllabic words.

The last assessment looks at a student's ability to apply more advanced phonetic skills. Less commonly used dipthongs, digraphs, long vowel patterns, soft "c" and "g" and inflectional endings are among the skills tested.

If you're interested in these assessments, click here. I think they could really help;especially if you find yourself asking, "what next?"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Building Comprehension with Mental Images- Free Unit!

Hi Friends!
 I wanted to share a mental image unit we worked on this week that is based on the book Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller. If you've never read this book, you must! It's full of ideas and books that will help your students think and write after reading to build comprehension. This unit was developed using ideas and texts from this book.
 I have the unit plans, poems and printables for you. I haven't "cutesified" these yet but they do the job. Keep reading to find them!

Lesson 1- Our Mental Images are Different!
We start the unit by listening to a few poems. We try to figure out what they are about using the mental images created in our mind from the words in the text.

Then we make a mental image of our dream birthday cake. I pass out a post-it note to each child and they draw their mental image. We make this anchor chart for the unit. It was made quickly, don't judge. :)
 I refer back to this chart throughout the unit to explain that since we all have different mental images, authors must use very specific words to help the reader create their mental image.

Lesson 2-
 I read the book the Quiet Place without showing the pictures and have students use text clues to create mental images. They then try to infer the setting of each page.
The Best Part of this lesson: The last quiet place in the book is the place you find when you read books and create mental images to take you to far away places. Love it!!!

Lesson 3-Using Text to Support your Mental Image
 I read Miss Nelson is Back without showing the kids the Viola Swamp illustrations.We discuss clues from the text that can help us draw our image. I then have them draw their mental image of the mean substitute before showing them the picture.  The suspense drives them crazy!

Lesson 4- Mental Image Can Change While Reading

I use the Napping House to show students that your mental image can change as you read and gain more information from the text. I read the whole book without showing the illustrations and stop 4 times to let the students draw their mental image each time.

Lesson 5- Talking with Others Can Change Your Thinking
I also read the Salamander Room without showing the illustrations. I have students try to add as many details of the room as they can based on the text they hear. I stop between each page so they have time to draw. After their first drawing, we talk about how adults use Book Clubs to share with each other and the conversations can lead to a better understanding of the book. I then ask the students to confer with a partner to see if there were any details they forgot to add to their mental image. If they missed a few details, they draw them in the box on the right side of the paper.

Lesson 6- Reading Text and Drawing a Mental Image
For this lesson, I help the students read 5 different poems. The students then choose the poem that gave them the best mental image and they draw their image. 

Click Here if you would like to download the unit for free. If you can use it, let me know!!!

*** Disclaimer**Although the Common Core doesn't explicitly address mental images, we need to teach children to identify sensory language in text( 1.RL.4). These lessons give my students the experience listening to words with great language and description before we begin to really dig deep into text to identify and write with sensory language. It also is so important to teach children this skill as they prepare to read chapter books that do not include picture supports.

I linked up with Friday Flashback since this was my comprehension focus this past week. Go check out the other bloggers' weeks!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Magical Product Swap

Hi Everyone! It's time for the Magical Product Swap again! I was partnered with Molly from Sparkling and Shining in 1st Grade.

Shining and Sparking in First GradeWhen I looked through her store I was so excited to see some word work centers. I actually just posted about how I have moved to differentiated word study and I have been hunting for more skill based word work activities for my students. I decided to get her Digraph and Blends Literacy Bundle. She put her store on sale through Sunday so hurry and grab it!

I have not had a chance to make these centers since I have literally been sick for three weeks. I had the horrible influenza cold that's going around and then it moved into a sinus infection. Anyway, I can still show you the wonderful contents inside the pack.

I love the rainbow colors of the digraph pack! I also love that there are pictures and words to match to the digraph.

         Here are the r and l blends packs.

Both of these packs have great pictures and all the
cards look very nicely done.

I also love that all the centers have direction pages. Whenever I make centers, I always put the direction pages on a large manila envelope, laminate and put the center contents inside.

If you are looking for more word work activities, please be sure to check out Molly's packs on TPT or her blog Shining and Sparkling in 1st Grade. Don't forget to follow her wonderful blog while you're there!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Differentiated Word Study

Hi, Friends!
My post today is all about Differentiated Word Study.  It's long but if you have been thinking about starting this in your classroom and are stumped as how to begin, I hope this post will help you get started.
I had been wanting to begin differentiating spelling for a few years now because I was tired of the same results every week on the spelling tests. My low students failed, my middle students missed a couple and my high students or visual learners scored a 100 percent.There was never any transfer either. They had it one week but it was gone the next. However, I never knew where to start differentiating word study, how to manage it, or how to communicate with parents.

Even though I had no clue what I was doing, I decided to just jump in with both feet this year. I like doing that for some reason.. creating more stress for myself. I think I have some issues...

Anyway, I had given the Words Their Way Inventory at the beginning of the year and most of my students all needed the same skills. I started the year focusing on the same short vowel word families whole group and then moved into CVCe families after that. I used word sorts frequently but everyone always had the same words. Once the students had this base instruction and I could see some students were stalling and some were taking off, I gave the Words Their Way Spelling Inventory again in November.

Step 1: Assess and Group Students
After the second Words Their Way Inventory, I found that my students were falling into 3 groups.
4 still needed blends, 10 needed more practice with CVC vs. CVCe and my other 15 were ready to move on to long vowel teams.

Step 2: Begin to Develop an Implementation Plan
Even though I now had the data I needed, I still didn't know how I would even begin to manage this in my classroom. How would I organize materials? How would I assess? Could I keep up with it long term?  I began to scour the internet for information. I found blogposts from teachers who were using Words Their Way or differentiating word study. I found some great articles as well. Here are some you can check out if you're interested:
Mrs. T's Class
Reading Rockets Article that defines Word Study for parents
Reading Rockets-Word Study
Scholastic Post by Beth Newingham
Teaching Resource Center
After researching and thinking about my own classroom, I began to develop my own Differentiated Word Study Implementation plan.
Click here to download my implementation plan.

Step 3: Make Word Study Group Posters and Envelopes.
I made these black and white polka dot posters so students would know their groups. I named my groups: Stellar Spellers, Super Sorters and Word Wizards. I also circled pairs of students and these became their "Word Study Buddy".

I laminated 6 x 9 manila envelopes for students to keep their words in. I still find random words on the floor but it works pretty well.

Step 4: Train Students in Routines
When I first introduced the new routines stated in my implementation plan to my students, I started with a word sort that everyone could be successful with. I made my own word sort because I wanted to specifically focus on -ar word families and I wanted blank category cards. If you don't want to be making your own word sorts each week, Words Their Way has plenty of sorts and I have the book, All Sorts of Sorts, that I use all the time. It has actually fallen apart because my team and I have used it so much!

Here are my routines for the week:

On Mondays, for morning work, each student will get his or her word sort for the week in the small manila envelope which will be kept in book box. 
1    1.  He or she will color the back of their word sort 1 color in case a card is accidently dropped on the floor.
   2. He or she will cut the word sort apart.
   3.  He or she will try to figure out the word patterns he or she will practice for the week.  ( Blind Sort)
4   4. He or she will fill in the category cards.
5   5.  He or she will read all the words in his or her sort.

Tuesdays- Each student will re-sort and write the words in his or her word study notebook ( spiral notebooks cut in half) and read. You can turn this into a speed sort where students have to beat the timer. They love that and work so fast!

Wednesdays- Each student their word study buddy  a blind writing sort.  I call this "Be the Teacher" and my students love it! I love it too because it keeps them engaged for so long! They take it so seriously. See how they have put up dividers to keep their buddy from looking. Too cute!

Thursdays- Word Hunt in books or decodable passages for their word pattern, record and read. 

Friday- Students will create sentences using their word pattern words.

Step 5: Communicate with Parents
I sent an initial letter to parents explaining our new spelling. I included the article from Reading Rockets with it. No one has questioned me or seemed upset that their child does not have traditional spelling words. Now I just include what pattern or skill each group is working on in the homework.

Step 6: Assessment
I test each of my 3 groups separately. Rather than wasting 30 min on a spelling test each Friday, I take 15 minutes, anytime I want, to give a dictated sentence or an isolated word list to see if that group has mastered the skill we have been studying.

Is there anything I missed? Do you use Differentiated Word Study in your class? If so, what has worked for you? Please tell me!!! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

100 Follower Mega Giveaway at Fantastic First Grade Froggies!

I wanted to blog about an amazing 100 follower Mega givewaway happening right now over at Fantastic First Grade Froggies!

Fantastic First Grade Froggies

There are 5 prizes and each prize includes 8 donated TPT items! 
I donated my Teaching Poetry With the Arts unit. I haven't blogged about that one yet but will soon. It's a really great unit and will have your students actually writing descriptively and creatively. For all the second grade teachers, it specifically addresses rhyme, rhythm, repetition, similes and sensory language which is a Common Core standard.

If Blogger was letting me upload, I would put up some pictures if the unit. Sorry! I'll try again later.

In the meantime, go enter the Mega giveaway!!