Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Share (3rd Grade Guided Group)

Since life has been so busy, I thought I'd try to get back into the swing of blogging with a Sunday Share.  It has been a month or so since I've shared a freebie, so hopefully you're in for a treat! :)

First, if you don't use Reading A-Z, it is well worth the investment for several reasons.
One, if you're new to  guided groups/small group reading, it provides you with a guided reading lesson.  I know starting out as a teacher, I was never taught how to do guided reading in my college classes.  And though I feel during my student teaching (16 years ago--EEK), my cooperating teacher did to an extent, well things have changed and so have our expectations.  Having those plans are helpful.  Another reason Reading A-Z is so grand, my kiddos get a book IN THEIR HANDS.  This is a book that they have to keep at home to read again.  So many students don't have that unfortunately.
Ohh, and the amount of books, the variety of levels, the skills you can incorporate and the great variety of non-fiction/fiction...well that makes it pretty super too.  It's no secret that I'm hooked 
(and no, this isn't a paid's just pure honest me!)

With my third grade group, they are pretty good readers when just reading.  Very little phonetic errors, self corrections as they read, fluent even..BUT the problem lies in what was read.
They have a hard time comprehending.  I've found this has been a problem with many students.

Here's what I'm doing to try to make it meaningful.

First, we are working on non-fiction.  That seems to be the biggest job to tackle, and with state testing, the area that needs the most reinforcement.   I choose stories that are a bit below their reading range, in hopes of boosting comprehension.  This past week we worked on the story
We began with a K-W-L Chart.
Click image to grab a copy.
They seemed a bit confused when I gave them one.  They hadn't used one for a while.
I explained graphic organizers, and the purpose of them.
I told them that I wanted them to think of three things that they would like to know.

I also realized that vocabulary is difficult for them to comprehend.
I know that they enjoyed the Read and Write the Room activity from Christmas, 
so we worked on one again with vocab from this story. (You're never too old for a little read and write.)  We did this as a review after we had discussed the glossary, and meanings of the words.  
I also told them to USE the glossary to find their answers.  I want to teach them to go back and find their evidence, their answers, the definitions.  This is taking quite a bit of coaching for them to do.
*Click on the image to grab a copy*
Freebie from First Grade and Fabulous
Freebie from  First Grade and Fabulous

We also spent time discussing each section of the story.  Reviewing main idea and details.
I used a close-type activity in hopes of getting them to find their evidence. 
There are two pages per sheet as I made it into a booklet. 

The questions asked from the page above helped us to determine main idea and details of a chapter.
They were realizing that they remembered previous information and filling out the graphic organizer was becoming easier for them.
Reading Freebie

We then compared/contrasted.
Reading Freebie

All of these pages went into a little booklet with a cover sheet (just for added cuteness!)
(Plus it gives them something else to do during inside recess--they still like to color!)
Reading Freebie

Comprehension and monitoring for comprehension as they read are improving.

Another thing that we've used to help is Hot Dots.
That's right-they have a variety of skills.
 These are the ones I'm using right now.

I was lucky enough to be funded through Donor's Choose.  We have been working on the  main idea paragraphs from these.  This was a great intro lesson/review lesson to main idea and details.
The great thing about Hot Dots is they are self checking.  If a student made an incorrect response, we worked it out together.  Everyone was able to weigh in with their response and why it was a better choice.  They learn best when talking with each other too. 

I do want to add to my Hot Dots stash.

This is for a pack of 6--making them less than at the store.
Here are a few more I'm hoping to add to my list.


I hope you can use the freebies.  Thanks for following me! :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Teacher

I sat down to blog this morning, something I've not done in over a month.  Something I've not done as regularly as I once often did.  It's not that I'm out of ideas.  I have tons that I want to share with you, and even though I don't always post pictures of what we're doing in class, I've made quite a few new things.  But as I sat down to blog, I quickly got back up and went to clean the kitchen.  Then I thought I needed to clean out the refrigerator.  Doing that made me realize that I needed to tidy up the living room, do the laundry...well, you get the idea.  It's like if you give a mom a cookbook. Yeah, that book is published in my head and is my daily life.  You go to the kitchen to make supper and realize all this other stuff needs done too.  OH for the love of Pete, why don't I remember it being like this when I was little? :)

Being a mom is by far my most important job role.  With two kids involved in activities, 4-H, karate, soccer, softball...then volunteer activities when we can.  Life gets busy, and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm SO thankful that I was blessed to be a mom...that I had that opportunity...regardless of how chaotic my life may become.

Moving on to school:  This year has been a roller coaster year.  It has been filled with ups and downs and a bundle of confused feelings.  First, I love my job.  I always wanted to retire from education as a reading teacher.   I'm finally in the position that I have patiently awaited.  I do love what I do...working with students who I feel I can and will make a difference with.  But this job also comes with a feeling of sadness.  It's a lonely job.  It's not that I don't work with a wonderful group of people because I do.  I just don't see anyone other than my little kiddos.  Sure, we meet and have TBTs, but there's no time to talk or catch up.  I am kind of on my own in my own little world.  No one to collaborate with (I'm the only primary reading teacher), no one to bounce ideas off of.  Even when we meet in our TBTs, I'm there to only listen and assist as needed for what is happening in the grade level.  I feel that the teachers are getting a tad stressed because we do have a lot of meetings.  And though those meetings can SOMETIMES be beneficial, our minds are constantly wandering.  We view it as lost time and think about how our time would be better suited in prepping for our next lesson.  I'm guilty of it.  So then I'm now realizing that those TBTs could seriously be MORE beneficial if I just turned the teacher mind off.   Easier said than done right?

The first thing on a teacher's mind in the morning is school, and then when school lets out, you wonder did you do enough?  This has always been a worry of mine.  Am I doing enough?  If nothing else, I am THERE.  That says a lot that I'm a caring person in their life.  Some are always going to have academic struggles, emotional battles with home life, and even others may struggle with clothing and food--so I'm there and I care!  That, to me, is A LOT.  Testing, grades-sure it is important.  But even more so the fact that I care about these kids MORE than growth measures will ever show is what made me want to be a teacher in the first place.

So this year,as I tackled on a new job--the job I've wanted for years--I thought hey, MAYBE life can slow down. I can create new things as I get to it.  Oh no.  This is one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs I've had.  The teacher before me left me big shoes to fill.  She was AMAZING.  She is assuring me I'm doing a good job and was glad that it was me that was able to take over the position.  She says that so many people would just take a position and consider it a cake job.  It's not.  Teaching K-3 reading and planning for those grade levels, on top of 1-2 math makes for a busy woman.  I'm the teacher who feels I have to have a game, some engaging connection with each lesson.  So, it does wear me down just a bit.  Then, we transfer our students out at the end of the semester if they are "caught up" or if others need to come in.  Right when you feel you're making a difference....isn't that the way it goes? 

So there are many ideas, many resources, and many new things I've learned and want to share.  I guess I just don't know which grade level to post about as I'm all over the place with skills, subjects and grade levels. It has made blogging a tad hard this year..... I have learned one thing though---I've always been scared of 3rd grade---but it is becoming a fast favorite.  Yes, I still love first, and second---oh who am I kidding, I just love my job and all the little ones I'm encountering.

So if you've beared with me, please check back tomorrow.  I'm sharing an idea of how I do small group reading with my 3rd graders.  They are struggling with comprehension so we are working on close type readings using Reading A-Z books.  I will have some freebies for you then too!

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Days of Freebies Countdown

Welcome to Day 9 of the Christmas countdown.  I do hope you're able to use the things I've shared.
Today's countdown freebie comes from My Christmas with a Cat Unit. 
 It involves using this WONDERFUL book.

I just love the Splat Books, don't you?

I created a mini-unit for my sub to use last year at Christmas time.
My kiddos loved their Splat Craft that was with it.
I also enjoyed seeing them hanging in the hall when I returned.
They were cute!

I thought I'd share a little page from this unit for you.
It's a comprehension check.
Merry Christmas Splat Freebie-First Grade and Fabulous
 If you'd like to use this for your class, click the image above.

 If you'd like to check out the unit, you can click the image below. 
Christmas with a cat-First Grade and Fabulous

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kindergarten RTI lesson and a Christmas Freebie

I love my little group of kinders, but sometimes I wonder what the heck I'm doing.  Kindergarten is NEW territory for me and well, I want to make sure that I'm doing what's best for them and their needs.  Though we focus on letter recognition, and letter sounds daily, we've have also been talking  about words and letters within words.

Before I explain this activity above, please note that 
1) I'm a Title Teacher now (though I've taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades.)
2) Many of my kiddos are not exposed to nursery rhymes stories, fingerplays 
or fine motor activities before starting school.
3) Some have a language delay...
My list of things could go on with why my activities may seem simple to others.
But it is at the developmental needs of my students, 
and hey--they are making gains! :)

When we did the activity above it was a mini-lesson to gather what my students knew.
I only had TWO of my kiddos this day.  TWO!
So I "winged it".

I started with the word the.  I wrote it on a sentence strip and gave it to both students.
I said this is a word.  It has three letters. Count the letters.  They agreed that they saw three letters.
On a different color sentence strip, I wrote the word the again and cut it apart.  
I said these are the three letters that are in the word "the."
Build the word the.  And they did. 

We repeated this activity for the words cat, is, and black. 

I said each one of these green letter strips make a word.  
Each one of the pink words together form a sentence.
I wrote down the sentence on a separate colored paper strip.
We added a dot to each word and counted the words.  
Then they built the sentence.

They quickly saw that letters make words, and words come together to build a sentence.

I kinda liked this quick little activity.  It went over well with my lil kiddos too.
It's a hard concept for some to grasp.

You know what else is hard...ALPHABETICAL order.
But my kiddos LOVED this ativity.
Based off of their enthusiasm, I knew I had to share it with you.

I was originally going to make a Christmas pack of station activities and put them on FB,
but because I'm such a last minute Lucy, I thought maybe you could use it now.

How I played this little activity in my small group.
1) I placed the letter cards face down in a pile.  On their turn students chose one.
2) They had to name the letter for me.  
3) We wrote the letter down in the first light.  I always said the yellow light.

4) We used the alphabet chart as needed to help us complete our strip.
They had to write the next three letters in the sequence.

 **When we used the alphabet strip, I told them to tell me when to stop as I came to the letter.
This helped them skim and scan quickly as well.
My little group is very well behaved and always quiet, but this activity broke them out of their shell just a bit.  The excitement by the 2nd go on the alphabet strip was just to much.  They were shouting (happily) STOP when I got to our letter. They were rereading the letters on their strips.

The excitement, engagement and the learning process that took place on this activity was awesome.
You want a copy?
Check it out. 

There are two I Can posters depending on how you want to use it (With or without a recording sheet)

 9 Letter Cards (with a number on each in case you choose to use the recording sheet)
Light Strands--I laminated them and had the students write on top.
One of my sweeties said, Really--we can just write on top of them and that's okay? :)
Yep---it's like magic! :)

 And the recording sheet should you choose to use it.

If this looks like a station you can use, click the image below to download.
Kindergarten RTI freebie

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