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Monday, October 24, 2016

Reading, Math, and Freebies

This is me.  A lot of the time.  
Do most of us feel this way?
We want to always do what's best for our students.

I mean let's face it, we have a pretty awesome job.

Our students are always on our minds.

So it has to be natural that we always wonder if we are doing enough, 
could we do more, is what we're doing the right thing...
But, in reality, we are sometimes the only caring adult in that child's life.
For me, personally, so many of the students I work with need much more
than just what's on my lesson plans.  Sometimes my plans change right at last minute--
to incorporate something a child said, or to build on something that will spark their interest.
Yes, I still teach reading and math in there too--but I have students 
who struggle in more ways than one.  

So when it comes time for the reading and the math, 
I always wonder how my students are performing.
I know the kids I see are struggling learners.
But every little bit of growth I see makes me happy.

So when these behaviors are all taken into consideration, 
I have to pull other tricks up my sleeve.

For example, here is how I taught some of my boys to use the number line.

We used green dots as our go number.
So many of them were struggling with wanting to count  the starting number.
Making it into a stop and go with monster trucks was a hit--
even if they look bored in the pic.  I promise it worked! ;)

With my reading groups, some are still working on decoding.
This little pack is helping them--and me.  
I get to hear if they can blend their sounds, and sometimes I give them the word 
and see if they can segment the word for me.  
You can view this by clicking the image above.

All groups are working on various Fry Words as well.
Fun Phonics

Of course, we are still using and LOVING the Fluency Reads 
These are also great for my kiddos who are having trouble with decoding.

We have been discussing our Decoding Strategies.
I teach my kiddos that they all work together to help us be better readers.
See, Lips the Fish, is a difficult one for some of my students as they don't 
necessarily know letter sounds. They struggle producing the sound if they have trouble with their phonics.

I don't know if it's necessarily the right way to teach it, but I know that it is working for my learners.

I do Eagle Eye because I want them to draw from picture clues.
You can see a lesson about that HERE.
Then I tell teach them Lips the Fish, and he works with Eagle Eye because they are good friends.

I chose a Halloween story to model for my students.
Granted, it was a harder story, but I wanted something fun to read that we could discuss
and still use our decoding strategies.
**NOTE-- Keep in mind that I have a small group at the table with me at at time.
They were all able to see our story content.
If this had been a mini-lesson with a whole group, I would have used a big book.
I read the story aloud, and we paused to get our mouth ready, and used the Eagle Eye to help us with our unknown words as we read through the sentence. 
 (How's that for pulling in Skippy Frog too?--
See they all go together for all my readers--Skippy is easier for some due to decoding.)
They did really well with the mini-lesson. 
 (I even covered the word pointy in the story as well.) 

Again---not sure if this is the best lesson for all learners,
 but keeping the needs of mine in mind, it went over well.

After we read the story, I gave them a picture mat. 
I had copied this back to back and had the same pictures on both sides, but used different beginning sounds.
I simply slid it into a sheet protector to use at a later time for other groups.

This prompted a good discussion among groups, and provided challenges for some as they wanted to  just guess the word.  After reminding them to get their mouth ready, they caught on to the idea behind this activity and did very well. (Refrigerator and husk were hard words, but the r for rest, brought up vocabulary like recline, rocking, relaxation.  I was PRETTY IMPRESSED!) 

After we did these pages, we practiced using Lips and Eagle Eye in sentences of our own to read.
Again, they did very well with this lesson.
Bruise was difficult--they said boo-boo.  
Hey, they got their mouth ready--
but then we talked about
Does it look right?

I gave them a copy of lips to color.
While they were coloring, I asked them what they could tell me about  Lips the Fish.  
They could all tell me what he does to help us become good readers when we come to an unknown word. 

They made sure to tell me to put him onto our decoding chart.

 *I wish our laminator was wide enough to stick my chart paper through, but it is not.
The velcro dots make it easy for me to go back and tear off strategies, or place strategies on the chart depending on what I'm working with for each group. 
 This makes it easier for me to manage with 6 back to back reading groups. 

If the Lips the Fish activity looks like something you can do with your learners, 
feel free to click the image below to grab your copy from Google Drive.
Lips the Fish

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fry Words----Games and some Freebies

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I swear by the Fluency Reads in helping my students gain their sight word knowledge.  They have become a favorite for my struggling readers to read, and we use them often as our daily warm up. 
 I have them choose their favorite to read to me.  THEN, they get to pick one for a friend at the table to read.  They try to find the hardest one they can, the one with the most words, and just giggle when they hand it to their friend to read aloud to me.   They really do enjoy these little stories and feel successful when they read them.  They have even begged to take them home.  Who am I to argue?  Of course you can have a copy to take home with you to practice!  WINNER WINNER! :)

If you are interested in these for your classroom, you can check them out by clicking one of the images below.  I have them available in Fry, Dolch, and a Bundled Set of the two.  The stories do NOT overlap within each other, even when both the Fry and Dolch words are the same.  I wanted added practice for my students, so even though we have adopted Fry Words this year, I can use both the Dolch that I used previously, and the Fry Word Set.  

Fry Fluency ReadsDolch Fluency ReadsHigh Frequency Words Fluency Reads

We do other things with our sight words to throughout the week.  
One game that they have really enjoyed throughout this month is "Eye Spy." 
It's a Freebie that I've shared over on TpT.
You can find it by clicking on the image below.
Eye Spy--A Sight Word Freebie
While you're there, maybe you would like to click the "Follow Me" 
so you don't miss out on sales and freebies that I post in the store! :)

My groups really have some reading deficits, and their ability to stay focused  is not for a long period of time.
I try to find different ways, and strategies to help keep them engaged, entertained, and learning.  
Sometimes, that is a very difficult task.  
Luckily for me, games have helped keep them motivated.

These Roll and Read Games are a must have.
Roll and Read Games
They are also a great warm up for my groups.
I simply copied them back to back.
I flipped them so that one side was "upside down" when flipped.  
This helped when putting them into binders.  Then when the page was flipped in the binder, the fluency reads all remained the same way and the binder doesn't have to be twisted 100 different times.

While taking about games and motivations, last week I posted my take on the Eagle Eye Strategy.
Oh how I wished this would have been an evaluation lesson that my principal would have watched
 as I feel it went REALLY well.   The kids were still talking about it throughout the week.  You can read the lesson and grab the lesson freebies by clicking the image below. 
Eagle Eye Strategy

I'm going to leave you with one more game freebie.  
My kiddos, as I said, have some various needs.
I am always looking for ways to keep up motivation, comprehension, reading, etc.
Honestly, friends, I struggle many times.
I think it's because even though I'm a Title teacher (bubble kiddos) I am 
truly a Special Ed teacher in my building.  It's okay.  I love it....but I really don't have the background knowledge for it.  So if some of my lessons, or resources, seem low for the "normal" first or second grader, that is why.  I work with what I have and take them as far as I can.  I couldn't be more proud of the growth they make each year! :)

SOO--with that said, allow me to introduce you to my Bingo CLOZE game.

*Note, I have not used this in my own classroom YET--
but it is on my Monday's agenda with my first graders (and maybe a 2nd grade group).
It uses the first 10 Fry words, in a cloze sentence format.
Here's how to play:
Students will choose a game board.
There are a total of 6 different ones.
They will cover their free space.
A reader will be selected to go first.
Rock, paper, scissors?  Closest Birthday?  Oldest?  Dice Roll?
However you choose is fine. ;)
Then, on that readers turn, they will select a card from the face down pile.
*There are 10 cards--one for each Fry word in the set.
The reader will read the card aloud to the group, select the word that completes the sentence, and give the answer aloud to the group.  You can always pull in "does that sound right" and a thumbs up/thumbs down to assess the rest of the group.  Then, students will cover the sight word on their board if they have it.  
First one to get 3 in a row, wins! :)

I have included this Freebie in both color and black/white.
I would love to know if you can use it with your groups, and if you use it, how it works for you! 

You can grab it by clicking the image below! :)
Cloze Bingo

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Picture Walks and Eagle Eye Strategy

Our students had a 4 day weekend. 
 I thought, hey, let me just wing it this week and get back on track next.  

Why do I even think I can wing it?
I  now have TEN--TEN groups to plan for during my week.
I am doing more planning as a Title teacher than I was as a classroom teacher.  
It's a bit cumbersome, and I do get a bit overwhelmed.
It's not like I'm truly winging it--
I have a purpose for my lessons.
 However, I will admit that I sometimes go off from one topic to another.
and then I just hope that whatever little mini-lesson 
I just gave is interpreted by my group.
But in all seriousness, today's lesson was on the Eagle Eye Strategy.
I will be honest and say that I used this lesson for both my first and second grade groups.
It is a valuable strategy, and it is one that my second grade friends quit using and needed to review,
 and one that my first grade friends are being introduced.  I may have tweaked a few things here and there between the groups, but I know my students can now tell me how to use this strategy.

The lesson:

I always ask my kiddos to do a picture walk through the story. 
 Often, it is a guided picture walk as I like to "feed" some background vocabulary to them.
Today, I just asked them to do a picture walk for me, and I observed and took mental notes.
This was just a random book that I pulled off the shelf. 
I hadn't read this particular story with any of the groups.

I watched how several of them flipped through the pages, then looking up at the ceiling, around the room.
Some didn't even look at the pictures, they just tried to start reading the book.

I, then, asked them:
When you go to the library, how do you choose your books?

I was hoping that many of them would say they look at the pictures to see if they are interested in it. 
Most did--THOUGH--interesting fact: 
My first graders said that during their library special, they aren't to open the book
 until they get it checked out.  I was really surprised.

I collected the books, and I did a model of looking at pictures through this story.
First I looked quickly through the images, and flipped through the book.
They laughed and said that I didn't do a very good job.
I said, do you think that maybe some of you did the same thing?
It got quiet quick! ;)
 I did a second model of the book, taking my time, stating what I saw happening aloud and talking about the pictures with the kids.  We did this for a few pages until I knew they were understanding
what I meant about picture walks. 
I will say that I knew that this story had interesting images and it would help prove my point
that it's important to look at the details in images as well. 

I then explained that I like to look at the pictures for a reason.
1) It helps me understand what the book is about--that I can use it to make predictions.
2) The pictures can help me read the story---like in D5 when then are reading the pictures, OR when I come to a word that I can't read.
I gave my students all a paper that looked like this and asked them to read it.

They tried their best.  Then you hear the "I can't read this"

I told them...Okay, just turn it over and read the other side.

Some kiddos said, "But there is nothing to read."

I just said, "Okay--what do you see?"
*Note I had the above images in a sheet protector back to back. 
One sheet protector for each student in my group. 

At this point, some students were beginning to catch on and tried to turn the paper over--
but I collected them and presented a mini lesson with this book.
I had gone through this story, and covered over the words that I thought 
would be the best use of the eagle eye strategy, and maybe pull in some lips the fish.

 I read the story aloud and then they students were trying to help me figure out the word.
Some said blanket (word was sheet) so I was unable to uncover the word and I snuck in some lips the fish.
 Here they wanted to say "I am a ghost" as that is how the story started.
I reminded them to look at the picture.  He is no longer in a white sheet.  
Look at the mask.  So they ended up saying monster.
They were excited that their answer was right. :)
This page was good for lips the fish as well.
The missing word was boots.
They enjoyed the story--but even more exciting for me...
After we finished this story, I passed out this page.
It was in a separate sheet protector.
We looked at each picture before we read.
Then they READ the sentences.
Oh they were so excited.
I explained to them that pictures and words go hand in hand with many of the books 
they are reading right now.  The pictures help us with our unknown words.
We talked about an eagle, and how he flies down and swoops up his prey that he spots from way high in the air.  I told them that if a person has an eagle eye, they see everything...just like teachers! :)  
That we, as readers, also need to see and pay attention to all details in the pictures because it helps us 
with those words we don't always recognize.  My students could explain this strategy today.
And just for fun, they got to color their own eagle eye strategy page
 We will also be putting a colored image of this strategy on our reading strategy anchor chart.
Pictures to come in another blog post or on FB.

If my mini-lesson looks like something you can use, click the eagle below to grab your copy. :)

Eagle Eye


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Psalm 61:2

Interesting blog title, right?  

It is a great scripture.  Have you heard it?

Overwhelmed.  How many of us feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the year?
How many of us feel overwhelmed throughout the year?
How many of us feel that we just can't get it all done?

That's me.  I have a hard time staying afloat.  
I hate to admit it, but I think I get so consumed in feeling like I HAVE to do things, 
that all too often, I forget to do things that I enjoy.  
I believe that's important in life. 

I LOVE blogging and creating, so I'm trying to find a healthy balance.
I have to say though, I believe that it was much easier to blog
and create when I had a classroom.
Currently, as a Title teacher, I am working with 7 reading groups, 2 math groups, 
and another math group to begin in November.  I also am working with grades 1-3.  
It's a struggle to stay afloat some days.  
Let alone trying to plan lessons, create meaningful games/activities, or find time to go to the bathroom.  I jokingly put this, but we all know that in fact, that is sometimes reality.

You see....The past two weeks have been a whirlwind in my life.
I got my car back from a hit and run that I was not involved in--my car had been in the shop for 6 weeks!
We closed on our new house (We are building..a process that should be fun, but there are hangups)
My grandma passed away.  God blessed this woman and her 103.5 years of life! 
My kids lost one of their pet rabbits. (It was a hard loss on my son)
My kids are in sports--does baseball and softball ever end??!??
Some where among all of that, I still have to find gym time--I mean I have to take care of me!

Then--we worked on my son's Halloween costume.  
This was a pain in the patootie--but the things we do for our kids.
He won, he was happy..he was excited.  
It was a pretty cool costume!

So as I sit here and think about all the things
I THINK I have to do vs. What I Should/Need to do, 
it's no wonder blogging has been pushed to the side.
 I have to find time to take care of me. 
 I  have to take care of  family.
I'm amazed at those that can do it all:  cooking, cleaning, laundry, blog, create, teach, 
and still find time for family. 

So again, little by little, I'm going to find a way to bring back things that make me happy.
First and foremost, I have to go back to handling it all over to God.  He is my rock.
I found out that I have a hard time in just letting go and letting him...but praying about it sure has helped.  I have been a little calmer the past few days. As I put my trust in him, I have found little pockets of time to allow me to do things that I love to do (blogging now, for example).  I know it sounds so simple, but really, it is something hard to do--give it all over.  As much faith as I thought I had, I have struggled in allowing him to take care of it all for me.  

Now that I've poured myself out---let's talk school, shall we?

Since school has started, I've found myself feeling a bit "off" on planning.
So I went back to the tried and true Fluency Reads.
I have seen my students retaining their sight words.
Even more exciting, they LOVE reading them.
Fluency Reads
I posted this on FB earlier in the week:

Last year, I made these Fluency books to go with the Dolch sight words. I saw my kids soar, but I always wished I had started them sooner. This year, since we are using Fry words, I made new fluency readers AND I started most of my first grade kiddos on them. One little kiddo impressed me today. While waiting for the rest of the group, she started reading pages on her own...and did very well...she was reading pages that were past the pages we had been reading in class, but since they reads were designed to spiral previous reads, I witnessed her KNOWING her sight words we have been working on. I promise if these are used consistently, even as a warm up, your students will quickly gain confidence in reading, as well as, retain their sight words!
You can see more about the fluency reads by clicking the image above.
The kids have also loved our games from this Fall Packet:
Fall Activities
Click image to see on TpT
 Some of my groups still need help with CvC words, 
as well as one group needing review of finger tracking.  
Back to me saying feeling overwhelmed, I needed a product that was quick to prep, meaningful, and would be a good warm-up that would hold their attention. 
 (Mind you I also use the Fluency read for a warm up too)
Enter these CVC games.  I am so excited about these, and the students enjoy dice rolls.
I am simply putting the pages in a sheet protector and then into a binder/folder and leaving them at the table for a quick fluency activity. 
Read and Roll--Dice Games
Click image to read more about these games.

Two more activities that I have found meaningful to my groups are these.
Phoneme  Blending

Fun Phonics with Fry Words

You can click the cover pages above to read more about these products.

Finally, some days I just want to play and  have fun.
This is also a quick filler for a sub or aide for table time.  

It's a sight word game using the Fry First  Hundred.
It is also free.  Click below to check it out! :)
"Eye" Spy--A Sight Word Game
Thanks for listening to me ramble tonight.
Be sure to follow me on FB for giveaways and updates! :)

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