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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Am I on the Right Track?

Is that a question that we ask ourselves as teachers?  Are we on the right track?  Are we doing enough? Do we need to change instruction?  These questions run through my mind every year.

And I know that every year, we as teachers, are constantly collecting data to see if we are on the right track--you know data, assessing, assessing, data--REPEAT.
Sometimes to the degree that we are in COMPLETE overload.

This year, the same questions run through my mind even more so now that I'm in a different position.  This year takes on a new roll with teaching unfamiliar grades. 
I'm out of my comfort zone.  I'm okay with that--it just means that I'm learning and growing.

I had a heart to heart talk with myself.  
I tried to bounce my discussions off with my husband, and though he is a great listener, his only response is "I'm sure you are putting too much thought into this."  Maybe so--but I feel I HAVE to.
Some of my kiddos--no--MANY of my kiddos aren't receiving the support (academically or emotionally) at home.  It is MY job to see that they are! 

So as I spend time thinking about my children in my classes, I continue to wonder if I'm doing enough. I searched through some of my favorite bloggers to see what they are doing with their students...looking for ideas to help my kiddos.  Then I think, WOW!  I'm amazed at many of the things that other K-2s are doing.  Then, I get discouraged again--because my kids JUST.AREN'T. THERE.......YET!

I needed a way to make sure my kids are learning...making progress...heading in the right direction...whatever you want to call it.  I started collecting data on what we were working on in class.   For my Ks and First Graders, I'm collecting data from AIMSWeb.  With Kindergarten, we are working on letter naming and sound fluency. If you are not familiar with AIMSWeb, it' is a quick probe of naming letters and then saying the name of given letters (Students look at the letter and say the name/sound.)  Here's an example of my data for a student.  Two weeks ago, for letter naming with a minute probe, the student had 9/20 correct.  She went through 20 letters and was able to correctly identify 9.  That same day she knew zero sounds.  When assessed this past Friday (two weeks later), the same student named 19/27 letters and 6/13 sounds.  That gives you an idea of my students, their progress, and why sometimes I get discouraged--though I believe her growth is quite remarkable.  With this being Kindergarten, and having not taught K before, I wonder if I'm on the right track.
This data lets me see growth (and the group is similar).  What I feel is working for this group of kiddos---Playing POP!  and also the letter packs that we've been working on.
Click the image to grab your Freebie!
Click Above to see the Beginning Sound Packs on TpT!

This week though, due to my students having a hard time with beginning sounds, we worked on a riddle page.  They LOVED this.  It helped them hear the beginning sound of each word, and it was a way to increase their vocabulary/build on vocabulary.  Here's a picture of one of their pages.

Here's a sample of the riddle page.  Just click to download.

Riddle Me This-First Grade and Fabulous

 If you like this activity, there is a page for every letter in this pack.
Riddle Me This-Beginning Sound

First Grade will continue working on letter naming and sound fluency, but we are also doing sight words and I'm beginning running records.  Second graders are working on Sight Words, fluency, and I'm tracking their progress with Running Records as well. 

My First and Second Graders also work on a phonics skill of the week.
We take a Pretest on Monday, and a Post Test on Friday. 
They chart their growth and we keep it in our interactive folder/notebook.
 Here is a First Grade example.
 Our skill focus was sh.  We used it as the beginning and ending sound. 
The words one the assessments were the same and in the same order.
This data is important for me because I do see growth.  
But how did we get there? 
 Since this is my first year to try the interactive notebooks, I started one group with folders (using filler paper), and one with just regular spiral notebooks.  I do feel that the composition books are sturdier, but these are holding up just fine and give my students more room to work within their folders/notebooks.  I will note that I like the pockets in the folders though because they hold our graphs, and poetry pages so I can run them 2-sided.

We work on an interactive page.
The week this photo was taken, SH was our skill with first grade.
The pictures show sh and ch because I had reviewed those sounds with my 2nd graders the beginning of the year.  Kill two birds with one stone--- :)
If you like the looks of these, simply click on the images to grab you a copy.
Sh and Ch interactive pagesSH and CH interactive pages
 How I used these: 
We went over the spelling of each word together.  We stretched it out/tapped it out.
Students wrote the spelling beside each word.  Some words are harder to tap out than others, so I exposed them to those sounds.  Then, students cut out the pockets.   They glued them in their notebooks by going around the edges and bottom (Not the top).  The top was left opened.  Then students cut out the word strips and sorted by beginning and ending sound.  
They slid the slips into the correct pocket.

Of course, we enjoy playing games to help with those sounds as well.

This fall game is from my Happy Fall Game.

Differentiated Fall Literacy Stations
Here's a review page AFTER teaching both sh and ch.

Game sh ch

My 2nd Graders are also working on interactive pages.  
I will be posting a Freebie page and how we tie it into Reading A-Z for my reading groups.

So, all in all, if you made it through this post...
Data is important.  It isn't the be all, end all of my students. 
They enjoy seeing their data.  They know they are in competition with themselves.
They get excited when they have learned to spell new words.

I have faith in my students.  They are working hard.
They are making growth-----

My purpose in this post was in hopes that someone else was feeling what I was feeling--
but all in all



  1. Thank you for all of the freebies! I look forward to reading your posts!


First Grade and Fabulous

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