Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guided Reading: Chapter 2

Welcome to week 2 of our Freebielicious book study! This week we are digging in deeper to Chapter 2 in the Next Step to Guided Reading by Jan Richarson which is all about assessments! Our favorite ;)
Initial Assessments
The first week of school it is usually easy to assess whether the students can write their first/last name and their capital/lower case letters. I actually give them a page for their memory books that says 'This is how I write my name.'  This page is a perfect page to keep for memories and also for me to see who is capable. Going into the second week of school I begin to test their letter names and sounds knowledge and I give them a very simple list of sight words to read (if they know majority of their letters/sounds). About a month into school I FAIR test. This is a Florida assessment that is done three times throughout the year and it tests vocabulary, phonemic awareness, letters/sounds, listening/reading comprehension, etc.
I also take an informal writing assessment the second week of school. Most of my students are usually not writing at all, but some will surprise me and be able to sound out an entire sentence!  Like Jan Richardson says, a writing sample can show you a child's phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and concepts of print. You can look at the writing samples and ask yourself- Did the child create a story? Did the student record sounds in sequence? Did they spell any words correctly? Can they hear digraphs and blends? Did they write left to right?

Using These Assessments to Form Reading Groups
After I am finished with their initial assessments (usually the end of the second week of school) I can place them into a reading group. I make my groups; however, I don't officially start an actual reading group! We are still practicing rotating and I am still teaching them their literacy centers as discussed in week one of the book study. I like my groups to be no larger than 5 students; however, there are times where I am at 6 due to increasing class sizes! I am very flexible with my groups. One student that only knows half of their letter names and sounds may get placed in a middle level group. But, that same student may progress surprisingly fast and have to move up a group. They may even trade places with a student who knows almost all of their letters and sounds, but is not catching on to phonemic awareness. So these groups have the capability to constantly change.

Some Questions Teachers Ask About Assessment
Should I introduce the text used for an assessment?/
Should the student read the text silently first? No, a text that you are using for an assessment should not be one that the child has ever seen before. If the text has pictures, you can allow the child to do a picture walk. However, our FAIR test does not have pictures and the students will not be able to see the text at all prior to reading it. This is because you want to be able to see and note all of their initial mistakes.
What if the student asks for help? You try to remain as neutral as possible. Ask them to 'try again' or 'continue reading'. In our FAIR testing after a certain amount of time I can tell them the word that they are having trouble with, but I also mark it as a miscue. 
How do I assess comprehension? After my students read a book I ask them to close their books and tell me everything they remember. I listen to see if they remember the characters names, things the characters said, etc. I also ask them questions informally. Our FAIR test will test their comprehension more formally than I would in a reading group.
How are texts leveled? We use a reading series, Journeys. This will be my first year with it (we are switching from Treasures). The reading series comes with leveled readers-beyond, on-level, and approaching. 
How do I know when to move a student to a higher-level reading group? In my opinion, you just know! You can tell that a student is progressing faster than his/her group. They are reading their text fluently, accurately, AND they understand it. This means they need a more challenging group.

It's A Blog Hop!
Mary from Sharing Kindergarten is hosting this week. You can hop over there to read how other teachers assess their students or you can link up your own post! 

Next Week
I am so excited to be one of the hostesses next week! Come back and join me to discuss Guided Reading Instruction for Pre-A and Emergent Readers.

I wanted to let you all know that I have redone a couple of my old units! Make sure to re-download them if you have already purchased them! You can see them by clicking on the images below :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guided Reading: Chapter 1

Welcome to the summer book study! I am so excited to start this study of The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richarson. Each week a few of the Freebielicious members will rotate hosting the book study, but each week you can link up with us and share your experiences or thoughts! If you don't have a blog, that is fine! Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment!
Establishing Routines and Procedures
The first two weeks of school I literally follow the exact routine that Chapter 1 discusses. I have 4 main tables in my classroom where students sit. After my lesson I send the children back to their tables. I put 4 different bins at each table. They usually consist of play-doh, puzzles, manipulatives, and white boards (or something I know the students can do independently). After 10 minutes I ring the bell. I say, 'Simon says clean up' followed by 'Simon says push your chair in' and 'Simon says point to your next center'. I quickly look around to make sure all of the students are pointing to the correct table, if they aren't I help them. Then I say, 'Simon says switch!' and they are switch to the next center or bin. 
The second week of school I will do the same thing; however, with only 3 bins. The 4th center is now the 'teacher' center where I will be introducing a literacy center to them: listening to reading, something from word work, something from work on writing, etc.
The only difference between what I do and the book says, it that I have each group go to each center everyday. In the book, they will go to each center at one point during the week. This way I can teach more centers in a shorter amount of time. If your class is not ready to move this fast, then it would be a better idea to follow the schedule in the book.
The third week of school I have 2 independent bins out, one center that they already know, and the fourth center is with me, learning something new. This continues on until I feel comfortable enough knowing that my students can work independently at all four rotations.

Independent Literacy Activities
I combine my own literacy centers with the Daily 5 and I LOVE it! You can read more about the way my centers are set up here.

Reading: My students each have their own book bins. In their bins they have books that can be used for buddy reading or read to self. Some of my students will even work on readers theater. All my students also keep their poetry books in their book bins. Their poems are a wonderful way to practice reading fluency and they LOVE to read them!
Work on Writing: I introduce different writing activities one at a time, but eventually I can leave all of the options out for students to choose from! As they learn the writing activity I add it into the organizer seen below: 
Students that go to this center are given the choice of what they would like to work on for writing. All of my writing activities can be found HERE and HERE. Once these are taught, they are totally independent! 

Word Work: My word work center is full of different activities! Sometimes I let the students choose what they want to do and other times I assign them a specific activity. Most of my word work center activities are from my thematic packs that I sell on TPT, but other go-to word work centers that my students love can be seen by clicking on the images below.
 ABC books (great for the beginning of the year)
 Play-doh word work
Great for white boards or writing with magnetic letters, play-doh, etc.
Working on beginning sounds, CVC words, etc. with magnetic letters at the word work center.
Listen to Reading: I use this center for a couple different things. My students can listen to a book on c.d., on the computer, OR on or iPad.  We also have a great reading program we use called iStation, so this is where they would complete their online work as well.
Star Table: Now this is the center I have that is different than a center you would find in the D5, but it is where you would include the centers that Jan Richardson discusses such as; social students and science. The star table is a designated table in the classroom where I usually have a parent volunteer assisting students!

Minimizing Interruptions and Making Sure Students are on task
Both of these are ALL about practice, practice, practice and model, model, model!! The better you teach each center and activity (take your time!), the better the students will be at that center. You have to have high expectations and remind them DAILY of those! Before each center I tell them what I am looking for! My students always want to impress me! I also am always using my clip chart. When I see a student doing really well at read to self, or two students reading to each other wonderfully, I ask them to move their name up! This alerts all students to be on their best behavior.

It's a blog hop!
Make sure to click on one of the blogs below to read more about the first chapter of Guided Reading. There are so many great ideas!


Next week...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Tips

My first year teaching I was so excited and nervous at the same time! I remember having so many thoughts run through my mind that I couldn't sleep the night before school! It was like I was a kid again...starting the school year...having the first day jitters!! 
If I had to give advice to a new teacher, here are some things I would share with them...

1. Over plan and be flexible! For the first week of school you are still going to be figuring out your kids and your schedule. Plan a lot of activities, but don't worry if you don't get to them all! It is much more important to establish routines and procedures then it is to stick to your daily schedule.

2. After reading above, there are certain things in your schedule that you must stick to (lunch, specials, etc). These things have specific times where you have to drop your kids off and when you have to pick your kids up. TRUST ME...the day goes by so fast and you barely have time to look at the clock. Have your schedule posted.  You don't need times next to everything in your schedule, because if you don't get to it or if you go over the time, that is fine. However, have times posted next to the lunch and specials and other important events. I use these schedule cards which come with little clocks. I only printed the clocks for certain events. The other parts of my schedule are flexible!
I hang my schedule on my white board which is right in front of the class. It is easy to see and glance at whenever I need it (which I actually need all year haha I rely on this!)

3. Have your behavior management system set up prior to the first day of school. Starting day one you will go over this system with the kids and use it! They will start learning their expectations and they will want to 'please' you! In kindergarten it is important to keep routines/procedures consistent and this is a great way to start!
You can read more about my behavior management system here.

4. Lessons for the first week of school. What do you teach? What should I do? I start off the year teaching rules and I use my Monsters Back to School Activity Pack. It includes lots of letter activities, a book to help start your discussion on classroom rules, a craftivity to help you get to know your students, and more.
But, you can also gather materials like these to use on your own if you can't purchase anything. I think one of the most important things to have ready (to keep your sanity in the mornings) is a coloring sheet out on the tables each day. This way as students come in they can start coloring while you put supplies away, put name tags on, try to get parents to leave, etc.

5. When all is said and done, the most important thing that first week of school is keeping the children safe! My number one concern is making sure I know how they get home from school! At our 'meet and greet' I give each PARENT a clip with their child's name on it. I make THEM clip it to the 'How We Go Home' chart. 
I tell the parents over and over again, this is how they will get home the first day of school! Then after that, they must write a note to change their child's dismissal. At our school I will have kids that are bus riders, but the first 2 days the parents want to pick them up, etc. That is why I only concentrate on one day at a time. I don't worry about what their dismissal will be down the road....only the first day of school! Then if I receive a note in the morning from one of the students, I will just change their clip and I am good to go!! You can find the dismissal chart here

I honestly think I could go on and on with ideas and tips!! If you do have any questions please leave a comment and I will definitely answer them for you!! 
Don't forget to link up below and share your New Teacher Tips!! Even as a 7th year teacher (and I am sure those of you that have been teaching for a lot longer) I can still learn some new tips from ya'll! I can't wait to 'hop' around and read your ideas! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

End of the Year Ideas

This year at our end of the year party we had 4 centers: cookie decorating, making jewelry, perler beads (a HUGE hit but very time consuming), and decorating frames. 
When we were finished with our centers, we had our big AWARD show!! I had been discussing the 'awards' for days prior to the party and the students were all SO excited to find out what award they were going to get. I overheard discussions that went like this...

"I wonder who is going to get the tardy award"
"Oh, definitely Neil!"
"I wonder who is going to get the farting the most award?"
"Oh, that's Eric for sure!!"
"I don't know what award I'm going to get?  Probably the 'I'm good at everything award!'"

I'm not going to lie, I kind of, just a teeny bit, let those discussions continue because they were just too funny (and cute!). But, no worries, I wasn't giving any awards for farting or being tardy!!

We rolled out the super star carpet and set up a row of chairs on each side. I stood at the front to announce and the parents that were volunteering sat at the end of the carpet. I called one award up at a time and it was sooo cute!! The kids had to walk the carpet, turn around and pose with their award, then walk back down the carpet. The kids all started sticking their hands out to high five the winner!! They felt so famous!
I got the awards from Mel D. over at Seusstastic. You can check out the awards by clicking on the image below.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shopping: Oriental Trading

I LOVE getting packages in the mail!! But then again, I'm not sure who doesn't?! I was lucky enough to receive a $50 gift card to Oriental Trading and I spent every dollar...and a little more too!
Everything I ordered was in preparation for next year. 

I ordered erasers so I could finally make the cute eraser gum ball machine I found on Pinterest
HERE is the gum ball machine I ordered :)

I also ordered new crayon cases for my little ones. We share crayons for the first half of the year, but in January I give each student their own crayons. This gets them ready for first grade and also makes them more responsible of their materials! They actually LOVE it! I think these cute cases from Oriental Trading will fit much nicer in my desk organizers too!
I got more clips--which we all use ALL the time!!
Then I decided to order more foam dice. I have 2 right now, but I have a bunch of regular dice in my classroom. I use these ALL the time at the beginning of the year (lots of dice games) and my kids all like the foam dice much better! I do too--look at the fun colors!! 
and lastly, I ordered more hot glue for all of my fun summer 'crafty' projects!
LOVE everything I received from Oriental Trading! The site is very easy to navigate and I received my materials SUPER fast! I will definitely be shopping there again soon!!
This review is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company or PR agency and I provided my honest opinion. No other type of compensation was received for this review.