Monday, September 21, 2015

Guided Reading, Disorganization, and Feeling like it's utter chaos

Yes, guided reading, disorganization and I don't know which way I'm going---BUT, I WILL get there! :)

For those of you who didn't know, I started teaching Title I Reading last year for K-2.  Then it became Title Reading and Math for 1-2, 3rd grade reading, and Kindergarten reading.  Then I was told to stop Kinder reading.  So, this year when school started, I had no clue what I was doing! :)  (And a month in---I still don't, but I just grin and smile and pretend I know what's going on!)

Currently, I'm a 1-2 Reading teacher. I work with 8 teachers, and two groups per teacher.  That means my classes are back to back with 20 minutes each group.  By the time we transition from their room to my room, it is roughly 15 minutes (17 if we walk quickly). Last year my groups were about an hour, so I am trying to find the best way to make their time meaningful with me during that short time frame.  I'm getting there.  I mean I did it within 15-20 minutes as a classroom teacher.  Surely I can figure it out now too.  I do think that you have an advantage as a classroom teacher and running your guided groups because you know the skills/deficits that they are also lacking in the room or on assignments.  I just feel that with the groups I'm working with there are so many deficits that I'm struggling with finding a starting place.  

I will get there, I just needed to get that off my chest that there are's always hard to start new groups and have changes.    Perhaps part of my problem is I'm having a hard time with transitioning from group to group.  You see, I'm a bit of a neat freak.  *Though this isn't completely neat right now.  Everything has a place, and moving from group to group (going back and forth from 1st to 2nd grade)  is throwing my room into chaos.  

Here's my room---all organized.  See those baskets.  I used those last year to house the work my kiddos were working on for the week. 

  They are empty as of now.  
And you see this messy table?
This pile drives me crazy, but I can pull from it when my groups switch.
I use some of the same lessons with groups.  

So what does a gal do to make the most of it?
I asked a few people on the FACEBOOK (yes, the facebook is how it is referred) ;)
and they too feel the pain in needing more time to meet with groups. 

For now, here is what we've been up to.
I work 1on 1 with a few students during these group times.
One little guy was struggling to remember his sight words.
It was recommended to begin him on EdMark, but the kit hasn't arrived yet. 
Friends, this little guy is a struggling reader on an IEP.  
I don't feel that I've had the training on how best to teach him in a Tier III setting, but let me tell you...
He is 13 words shy of learning his pre-primer sight words!  He knew just a few when groups started!
I call that success for him!  I am SOOOOO proud of him.
Honestly, I think the 1-1 has benefited him
We have worked on sight word stories that I've created for him like the ones in the 
Super Reader sets and the one you see below.
You can click HERE to see this freebie on my last blog post. 
He has also enjoyed reading the fluency stories from the binder
 We have used Wikki Sticks to ring words, glass beads to cover words, and repeated readings.
He enjoys reading these stories and is so proud of himself when he reads to me! :)
You can find those stories by clicking the image below.
Fluency Reads

One of my other kiddos I work 1-on-1 with is also working on pre-primer words.
He chose 5 words he wanted to work on.
We used the words in sentences.  
The sentences he used I made come to life in a story for him
(Thanks to all my wonderful clipart friends)
He was so proud of himself reading this story to me today.  
I was proud of the sentences he was writing!  WOOT WOOT! :)

Some of my groups are working on cvc words.  We use the Making Words lessons, and due to limited time, I use our Wilsons Fundations magnetic boards for make and breaks with the directions from my making words activities. I am also pulling from some of the packs I have made on TpT.  One group is working on sentences and fragments, and one on nonsense words.  This pack has come in perfect for that! 
Bushels of Fun-First Grade and Fabulous

 Finally, a few of my 1st grade groups are struggling with tracking print.
Last year I did the lesson with letters, words, sentences. 
You can see it HERE 
For tracking print, here is what is working for us.
I used foam counters.  
You could also use color coded stickers, or use the shapes and fill them in on your computer. 
I stuck with using various colors of circles because some of my students don't know all of their shapes.
I placed them on a piece of paper with a dot below them.
Students were to tell me green circle (And touch the dot), red circle (touch the dot as they said it) and so on.
 Then I wanted them to get exposure with letters (knowing that letters are going to make up the words when we are reading).  Students were to place their finger on the dot and just say the name of the letter.
 We then transitioned into seeing words put together to make sentences.  Again, we followed the same format.  Touch the dot and read (echo read) the word.
Will this work with all of my groups?  Probably not. 
Is it the correct way to teach them?  I don't know.
Is it working? Yes. 

To me, if I see gains in my students day to day/weekly, that is what means the world to me.
We are working so hard in class.  
It is such a struggle for them when they are academically below in their classroom.
So while I may not have a clue what I'm doing---they know they are loved, and together we will find what makes THEM successful! :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Life of a MOMCHER--and a freebie or two! :)

Yes---the life of a momcher!  So many of us are momchers and as rewarding as it is, it poses so many challenges.  What is a momcher you ask?  A Teacher Mom--but I'm coining this newfound portmanteau word! :)  A momcher is one who goes to work, comes home cleans/does laundry/washes dishes/loads dishwasher/fixes supper/dusts/sweeps/mops/clean bathrooms/plans lessons/goes to karate or soccer/fixes lunches--well, you get the idea.  Basically momchers rock--and KUDOS to single momchers!

Moving on.....

So here I am working hard to get 1st and 2nd grade assessing completed so we could start groups next week...and what happens?  My son gets sick.  Really?  We haven't been in school long enough to get sick, have we?  Well, he proved that wrong!  He's better now though and went back to school today!  But seriously, one day throws you off, doesn't it?  It throws off your planning or schedule at school and it throws you off at home.

At home, we try to do a load of laundry every night, keep the house tidy, keep dishes clean, bathrooms clean--and then just dust/sweep over the weekend.  Sounds great right?  Well, what was I to do when I'm home?    I usually bake, but since we're dieting (or at least watching) I didn't want to go and get all carried away in the kitchen.  (Mind you, it's clean per our weekly routine!)  I can't watch TV because he was resting on the couch---and I had to have something to do (and let's face it--the treadmill once a day is MORE than enough--BLARG!) 

--- I thought, and I thought about how my students were performing based off of their AIMSweb and Running records.  I remembered that the words look and see were being switched by so many of the kiddos.  I decided we needed a story to review those words.  I wanted something that worked on short a and had a few pre-primer words.  I wanted something that provided word work with the story, but I could also use for comprehension.  I wanted a story that would help increase their fluency. Here's what we have:

Five words to introduce and/or review from the Dolch Pre-Primer list.
This also helps with the fold in method of five new words. 

 A word work activity that reviews the five new words.

The story The Little Cat.  
The story uses repetition to help increase their fluency. 

Another thing I noted when assessing students is that they have a hard time copying/writing/forming sentences.  This would be a good starting place for the struggling kiddos and it comes from the story.

If you would like your own copy of this story set, click the image below. 
The Little Cat: A freebie--First Grade and Fabulous

I would love to create more sight word stories like this following the same pattern--using Dolch words.
Let me know what you think!
If you are interested in just working on a sight word a day, check out the Super Reader packs.
Super Readers-First grade and Fabulous
Super Readers-First Grade and Fabulous
Super Readers-First Grade and Fabulous
Super Readers-First Grade and Fabulous

I found success with these with students over the past few years.

Last year, I created fluency reads using preprimer words.  I found my students enjoyed them and their fluency increased.  These work great in a spiral binder, just place inside sheet protectors.  You can also work one-on-one with students and have them highlight, circle, find the given sight word you are practicing.  You can click the image below to see it on TPT.
Fluency Reads for Beginners-First Grade and Fabulous

Last year, I also worked with 2nd and 3rd graders.  I noticed that non-fiction is a weaker area.  I wanted a way to work on comprehension and fluency with them this year.  I am LOVING this new set. They are differentiated as well!  Check them out and download a sample to try in your classroom.  See the image below to check it out. 
Rainforest Reads-First Grade and Fabulous

How do you work on fluency and/or sight words in your classroom?

Monday, September 7, 2015

An Easy Station Idea--in an EDITABLE format!

If you're anything like me, you are wide awake in bed at night trying to figure out how to make life easier.  Maybe it's home life, school life, or both!  This past week, I couldn't turn my brain off.  I haven't even been working with groups yet (as I'm still assessing our 1st and 2nd graders), but I kept thinking, how can I make my life easier when I begin taking on a possibility of 16 small groups?  Then, Thursday at my lunchtime, an idea that was brewing in my head all week, came to life.  I shared it with my coworkers and they are ready to add it to their D5 stations, I think.  We shall see how it goes.  Here's the rundown.

1) You need to gather three materials to create this station.  SIMPLE materials---think Dollar Tree and Recycling.  You may even have these items in your house now!  I promise you--Simple!!  
Here we go.  You need: 

1) An empty egg carton--one that holds a dozen.  It doesn't matter the material of the egg carton.
2) Color Coded Labeling Stickers (primary colors if you use my format)
3) A Cotton Ball or Craft Ball

After you gather these three basic ingredients, you use the color coded stickers 
on the inside of each egg holder in the carton.  You will use 3 of each color.
 (4 colors x 3 of each =12 different stickers on the inside of your egg carton)

Place the craft ball on the inside.   
Then students follow these directions.

Using an idea from me, or typing your own skill, choose the card that best suits your students' abilities.
Place the skill card, egg with cotton ball, and a recording sheet (or dry erase board) at a station for students. Here are some suggestions to get you started. 

Below is the what the editable station activity looks like. 
I have included it in both color and black/white.
 To create your own, simply add a text box in PowerPoint and write the skill you are wanting to use following the format from my suggestion cards.  
**I do think that using the color coded stickers over the circle images makes it POP more and keeps it consistent with colors.   I would post an image of the one I made, but one of my teacher friends wanted to borrow it to make it for her D5 rotations for her 3rd graders.  I hope you can use this activity! 

If you would like your own activity cards, click the image below.
Shake and Write--First Grade and Fabulous

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Word Family Workstation--A Sample Freebie!! :)

Happy Saturday!  I am so glad that I got to enjoy my bed just a little longer this morning.  I'm still a fairly early riser, but just lounging around without having to get everyone up, beds made, etc---was just a nice feeling!  There's something about that first week back (or two weeks)--I have a hard time getting into the swing of things until about mid September.  Then reality hits and I have to realize summer is officially over. 

That reminds me, one of my friends and I were talking about the life of a teacher.  People often give us a hard time because we get our summers off, but we start a new job every year!  It may still be the same grade level, or subject area, but the experiences aren't always the same.  Then we often forget what our classes really are like at the beginning of the year as we are still in that end of year brain mode.  It's difficult to get back to the swing of things.  

But, I'm here today in hopes of bringing you a couple activities that will help you get to it with ease!  Easy prep for you, fun for kids! :)

First, one of my favorite packs is this:
Back to School Stations-First Grade
This pack includes rhyming, counting/number recognition, base ten (11-19), beginning sounds bingo, making ten game, and uppercase/lowercase recognition.  It was a favorite of my firsties in the beginning of the year as well as using it with some Kinders at the end of the following year! :)  
You can click the image above to see it on TpT!

This summer, I made a set of non-fiction reads. 
Rainforest Reads--Fluency Reads
 I was hoping to use them with my Title kiddos to help boost their non-fiction reading scores.  
I notice that non-fiction is always an area that we are lacking. They were created as a fluency read, but they do have a comprehension piece to each read.  There is a sample freebie on TpT if you want to try it with your class...just click the image above to check it out. 

One more---and it is a 20+ page freebie! :)
Word Family Building-First Grade and Fabulous
 With this pack, I have included a game for up to 4 kiddos that you could use at guided groups
or in workstations.  It is for the -ap, -at, -an and -am families.  The game is a colored version.  
Then, I included an activity that could be used independently.  Think Daily 5--I think/hope---
I'm still new to the Daily 5 routine.  
The independent activity will have students building their own word family house, then reading, writing and stamping the words they built.  This activity is a black/white version.  It would look great on bright colored paper/cardstock!  I am excited to use it with my kiddos this year! :)
You can click on the image above to download---please be kind and leave feedback! :)
**If I know that other people can/will use them too---
there's always a chance for a short e version that could be next! :) So leave that feedback! :)
I hope you enjoy what's left of our weekend and have a GREAT week to follow! :)

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