Thursday, December 27, 2012

Writer's Gum

If you are like me, then one of the most dreaded things you can hear during Writer's Workshop is "How do you spell _____________?"  What is the answer to "How do you spell _____?" at your grade level? Really. You have to know the answer to that and you have to teach it to your students. Do you want them to sound out what they hear? YES! That is always step one in spelling. As time progresses there may be other things you teach (using the word wall, spelling dictionaries, circling words you know you sounded out to get help with later in the editing process, thinking about how words look in books etc.), but in the beginning I hope it is sound it out and write what you hear. 

When you see the anchor chart, you can see what time of year this is- Chocolate, Halloween, Excited?! October!  It is the time of year that my kids need to sound out and stretch things just a little bit more than they have been.  We are ready to hear sounds in the middle of words too.  In my Leach's Literacy Trainings I have a video to show this lesson being done WITH REAL LIVE KIDS, but alas, I will try and explain it to you instead. 

The key to making this work is to give kids time to chew their gum. (IMAGINARY GUM people) They have to chew it, and blow bubbles with it, and pop the bubbles, and then pull it out of their mouth and put it back in etc. Once they have played, they are ready to use it for writing.

Begin teaching now...

"Boys and girls, I want to teach you how writers use their writer's gum! It's a tool that writers use when they are writing and they get to a hard word that they don't know how to spell. They might stop writing, but then they remember they have Writer's Gum. And Writer's Gum you can stretch out of your mouth as you say the word- and it helps you to hear all the sounds."  

"Let me show you what I mean." 

So I demonstrate. I stretch my gum out just a little and I hear a "Ch" so I write it on the chart. Then I stretch more and I hear an "O" and I write it... followed by the other sounds until I have chocolate written the best I can with the use of my gum.  Students help me use my gum and they practice using theirs with me in the mini-lesson for the other words: Halloween and excited

Is it "right?" No. Is it right with Writer's Gum? Yes! And THAT is good enough. 

Ta-Da. Writer's Gum. I can refer to this later in the year, I can have Writing Partners work on it together. I can speak it in a conference, I can remind a kid about it from across the room by just pulling my gum out of my mouth as a non-verbal cue!

I think it is pretty brilliant! I even thought this was my original idea until a few years ago when I was thumbing through THIS book! The book has become one of my favorites and is full of other great ideas like this one. 

Come to find out she wrote a counterpart for grades 4-6 too! 

I've loved using Writer's Gum in my classroom and maybe you will too.
Photobucket

Thumbs Up Thursday


It's the day after Christmas and I had fun at all the day after sales! I realize I've committed myself to a Thumbs Up Thursday, so I'm trying to think of something I could give a thumbs up about.

What about this... I've been wanting to post about it for a while. I wish I would have started it my first year of teaching.  But I only got the idea when I was at Christ Episcopal School in Louisiana a few months ago.

What great memories would that bring every time you sit down to do your teaching at the carpet every day?   The teacher said that kids ALWAYS find a place to squeeze their name on! I just love it. When I go back in the classroom, I will start this!

What do you think? What do you do to remember all the little lives you touch and who touch you in a given school year?



Photobucket

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

If you haven't heard... Sandy Hook Elementary's PTA is collecting student made snowflakes. They are creating an inviting Winter Wonderland theme to welcome back their students after the winter break. They will collect them through January 12th. 


They can be mailed to:
Connecticut PTSA 
60 Connolly ParkwayBuilding 12, Suit 103Hamden, CT. 06514

Photobucket

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My First Thumbs Up Thursday



While searching the web the other day, I came upon the BEST site. I know not everyone (Texas and VA) has adopted the Common Core State Standards, but the majority of the country has! This post is for the rest of you.  I happened upon The Curriculum Corner. This website needs to be added to your list of favorites. 

I am just in awe of the resources they are providing teachers! They describe the site,
"The development of www.thecurriculumcorner.com stems from our dream to create a site where busy teachers can go to find current, relevant, meaningful and ready to go lessons and activities that fit their classroom structure and meet these common core standards." 

Be sure to check out the "I Cans" of the Common Core for each grade level.  Thank you  to Jill and Kathy for making a site like this! THUMBS UP from Leach's Literacy Training! 
Photobucket

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FREE Spelling Menu


Have you ever used a menu in your classroom for center work or to differentiate learning for students? I first learned about them on this site...Dare to Differentiate. This site alone is worthy of a BLOG post.  Be sure to check it out.

So how does a teacher use a menu in the classroom? They can be used for a lot of subjects/centers. They help teachers get to happy hour on Friday nights rather than having to stay at work making new centers! Every teacher loves that right? Menus (just like in a restaurant) don't change often, but there is enough variety that students have plenty of choices for how to do their work. The choices/menu items can be differentiated by difficulty (or calorie count- ha).

The example I am sharing with you is of a Spelling Menu. The words change each week, but the ways for students to practice them can be set up menu style- and therefore last a month! Happy Hour anyone?

You can get this free in my NEW Teachers Pay Teachers store. Yes, I finally did it! I want someday to make really cute stuff that is worth a buck or two, but until then, I will be giving things away for FREE! Under one condition- you have to "follow" my store if you get the download? Deal? What are you waiting for... go to my TpT store!
Photobucket

FREE Math Center


If any of you have ever been to a training with me that was more than one day in length, we may have played Penny Yahtzee- and we had SO much fun doing it, right? It is one of my favorite things to watch teachers do! Rolling and dropping and getting so excited! I just giggle. 

Recently a teacher emailed me asking for me to send her the directions. I didn't know what to do because I didn't have them written down. She said she was having a math night at her school and wanted to let kids and families play it. 

Well that got me thinking. This could easily be a math center for students. So, I opened up a Word Document and started creating. I can just see kids playing it and loving it and practicing math skills without even knowing it.  Directions are attached! Playing cards are attached! This can easily be manipulated with different math operations. It can be simplified, it can be extended. A teacher can have all kinds of fun changing up the cards and challenging kids to work on math that is at their grade level.  

I went ahead and started a Teachers Pay Teachers store. It is just easier to upload things there. Keep in mind however, this is FREE! If you download it, will you please FOLLOW my TpT store?  I plan to have lots of free goodies in the future too.

What do you think?

Photobucket

Writing Partners

Writer's Workshop consists of a Mini-Lesson, time for kids to WRITE (the best part of it all) and a chance for writers to come back together and share.  I'll be honest, sharing was the hardest part for me to fit in!  (see last post about the Writing Brag Board) I'd look at the clock, realize we were late, and tell everyone to hurry up and get cleaned up and lined up for lunch! I also realized that there was only one of me to go around and kids were valuable resources for other kids. It hit me one day when while having a conference with a student I heard another group of kids having their own conference with one another. I decided to capitalize on that! 

And voila-  the idea for WRITING PARTNERS!

Writing partners begins as a very simple concept and over the course of the year, grows to be so much more! This picture below is of course pre-pinterest, when things did not have to be cute and covered in scrapbook paper. It is simply chart paper- although I did use two different colored markers- and I have partnered up LIKE ABILITY writers.  That is now their writing partner and probably will be for the duration of the year unless abilities shift around dramatically. 

So what do these partners do together? In the beginning, they meet during Writer's Workshop to share their writing with each other. You know the kids that finish early every day? Now they have something else productive (and focused on writing) to do. They walk with their writing partner to a spot in the room and sit next to each other to show off their work/writing. It's as simple as that... to start. Teach the procedures of where you can sit. How loud you can be when you share with each other and any other management items you'll feel necessary, and let the partnerships begin. 
What I found is that the more I teach writing (which is every day in a mini-lesson) the more my students internalize the teaching and begin to use the words/lessons with each other in meetings with their Writing Partners. Some students begin to have peer conferences naturally with each other, but once working with partners has been established, I teach them how to do deeper work with one another. 

Possible Mini-Lessons:
Writing Partners can check each other's work with Word Wall Words
Writing Partners can help their partner add details to the pictures.
Writing Partners can think of questions to ask after hearing their partners story.
Writing Partners can help the writer think of more things to draw/write. 

A few mini-lessons to explain the process and steps of working together in beneficial ways is all it takes.  I have shared this with teachers across the country, and I am hopeful it is happening in many classrooms.  Here however, is a note from a teacher "In the Trenches". She started her writing partners this week!  This email from her is what urged me to put Writing Partners on my list of things to blog about. 

"I decided this week to introduce writing partners. They LOVED it and so did I! They talked about writing, wrote, talked some more, wrote, and shared ideas! They really enjoyed themselves. Although I'm pretty sure one student felt uncomfortable to whisper to someone during writing time. He kept looking over his shoulder nervously at me like he was about to get in trouble. Thanks for the idea."

So what are you waiting for, get your markers, make your chart, and get Writing Partners started in your classroom too! 

Photobucket

Friday, December 7, 2012

Writing Brag Board

Managing a Writer's Workshop is NOT an easy task! So many writers! So many ability levels! And only one teacher! Writer's Workshop begins with a mini-lesson, followed by time for students to write, and finally a sharing time. I found that sharing time was often hardest to fit in. Before I knew it we would all be busy writing and already be late for lunch! Uh oh! No sharing today. Time to line up.  I also found that I needed to give kids a lot of feedback in the beginning of the year in order to establish a strong Writer's Workshop. 

So I started a Writer's Brag Board. It is NOT fancy! It is also not cute (Thanks Pinterest for upping the "CUTE" factor for us all). The Brag Board allows me to "share" good things I saw happening while kids are cleaning up from Writer's Workshop. As kids are shuffling around the room and putting away folders etc. Over the noise and movement you can hear my voice, "Boys and girls, today during writing time, I saw Jessica add details to her pictures." Jessica comes up to write her name on the board. "Boys and girls, today while you were writing I saw Cole write and check the word wall to spell the word can!" Cole comes up and adds his name etc. 


I can also use this to praise behaviors I want repeated for a successful workshop. "Ethan! Ethan is going to put his name on the Brag Board today! Ethan stayed in his seat the entire time we were writing today!"  or "Boys and girls, it was so quiet in our room today! I saw Hope whispering as she reread her writing! Hope come add your name."  If kids are doing it right- tell them! Too often we are always focused on what needs fixing. The Brag Board keeps us looking for the positives! What if you Brag on the same student more than once? They get to put a star by their name. 

Here's a Writing Brag Board from the "teaching trenches".   I taught it to a teacher and then saw it in her classroom when I went for a visit. Keep it going! Will this be in your "teaching trenches" next?  Let me know!
  

Photobucket

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Invented Spelling

FAQ: "Is it OK for student's to use invented/phonetic spelling? What if we hang it in the hallway or send it home to parents? They can't read it!"

Invented spelling, temporary spelling, and developmental spelling are terms typically used to describe young children's spelling efforts before their spelling becomes conventional.  However, letting students spell "wrong" has bothered many people- not usually teachers however!

The fact of the matter is, invented spelling is based on knowledge of phonics.  Common sense tells us that five, six, and seven year-olds should not be expected to accurately spell all words on their first attempt. And research tells us that once students have learned more phonics and done more reading that it will of course have an impact on their spelling.  Think back- didn't your mom keep things from your childhood that had invented spelling? Wasn't it cute? Wasn't it developmentally appropriate? And guess what? You can spell now! You wrote that way then, but you can spell now.  In response to parents being able to read things that are sent home, I ask this question: "Who are you teaching? Students or parents? Who do you most want to be able to reread their writing?" My answer is students. I teach and will always be teaching students.

We have to take into account also how it feels for a student when a teacher (who is only trying to help) marks on their paper with conventional spelling. "If you write on my paper, it is no longer my paper". Children do not learn to spell by having you pour your spelling knowledge onto their work. They learn to spell by developing and extending their knowledge about letters and sounds.  They use what they know and take risks to learn more.  The place for kids to have this daily risk taking while still feeling safe to do so is Writer's Workshop.  When we write over or under student approximations at spelling, we run the risk that students will stop writing what they want to and stick to writing what they can spell.

Donald Graves (a teacher of writing teachers) stresses that children need to be able to write freely without interruption to their thoughts. Allowing children to attempt spelling enables them to use the vocabulary of their oral language in their written language. Spelling is functional- it enables the writer to express meaning. It is, therefore, a tool for writing, not a barrier to the process.  There are lots of mini-lessons for teaching "spelling" during a Writer's Workshop... those will be coming soon in another BLOG post.
Photobucket

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"We Already Read That"




** This post is in honor of Thanksgiving... and all the recipes we are all reading today as we cook. Happy Thanksgiving from my recipes to yours!**

So one reason (there are many) that we use Shared Reading in our classrooms (K-12) is to do to a deeper level of reading. Amie Buckner in her book Notebook Connections, speaks of first draft, second draft, third draft writing. We know all about that, it's not knew. But Amie stretches us to apply that concept to first draft, second draft, third draft READING.  Each reading giving kids more time and opportunity with the text.  So in Shared Reading, we will read the same text (passages, paragraphs of text) multiple times. Naturally, you'll have a child that says, "We already read that!" Refrain from saying anything sarcastic, and be ready ahead of time with this lesson! 

Let the teaching begin...
"Boys and girls, I want to show you how readers read things more than once. The other night, I was on a website (Pinterest of course) looking for something that I could cook for dinner at my house. I found a recipe for soup that looked really yummy! I read through it and it seemed easy enough to make and the ingredients sounded good together, so I printed it. SO NOW I'VE READ IT ONCE.

"A few nights later I remembered that recipe and I went to get it from the printer. I was going to the grocery store after work and I wanted to make sure I had all the ingredients. I read it and wrote down things I would need to buy at the store."
SO NOW I'VE READ IT TWICE.

"Then it was the night I wanted to make the soup. I had read it twice already, but I couldn't remember how to make it exactly. Were you supposed to mix the meat with the sauce? How much flour was it again? When I'm making the recipe I have to read it a few times. First I read it and got all my ingredients out of the fridge and the pantry. Then I read it again and measured things out."
NOW I'VE READ IT THREE TIMES. And I may read it FOUR or FIVE times even before the making of this recipe is over. 


"Reader's may read things more than once like when cooking. However, each time I read that recipe, I had a different purpose. We will read things again and again like that in Shared Reading, because that's what good readers do, and every time we will have a different purpose in mind." 

Photobucket

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tiny Tidbits

So today I'm thinking of some Tidy Tidbits to share with y'all.

Let's start with Writer's Workshop.
With the requirements of the Common Core and in Texas the new STAAR assessment, stop referring to student writing as stories. We need to get kids writing in many genres, therefore a simple switch from story, to writing can be one tiny way to start. So now instead of, "What is your story about?" or "Read me your story." Let's start to say, "What did you write today?" or "Read me your writing."  And if we want to get really fancy, call it what it really is. "Read me your personal narrative."

We continue this trend in Shared Reading and Independent Reading as well by referring to the text whenever possible. Another small but mighty tip for you in Shared Reading comes from the work of Reading Recovery (at least a Reading Recovery Teacher shared it with me).   When pointing to words in your big book or when pointing to words at any time for students, point to the first letter. Many of us tend to point at the middle of the word, and then that is where students place their eyes. Kids who know better, are reading with you, and therefore looking at the first letter, the kids who can't yet, are looking where your finger is pointing. Let's think about those kids that can't yet when we are pointing and always point to the first letter in a word.

Finally, at the Guided Reading Table, I want to share an idea for keeping up with the madness. What do I mean? Well, students are all reading at the same time (that's right- it's NOT round robin nor is it choral reading) it is the teacher teaching, then handing the book to students and saying "Start reading." I like to teach my students to use those red and yellow math counters. They start with the yellow side showing and when they get to a hard part (I have lessons teaching that readers DON'T know all the words first or they will never flip them over) they flip it to red. That is a tiny thing that has helped me keep up with who needs me and when.  But, here is the key, kids determine that their reading became challenging, and they may have a minute or so to be sitting there waiting for me to get to them and help, and the first thing I say to them is, "You found a hard part? What's the hard part? and What have you tried?"  

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Next week in honor off all the cooking we will have done, I'll be sharing how I teach a reading mini-lesson using a recipe.
Photobucket

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Catch on Fire

A teacher from Texas reminded me this week of one of my favorite quotes.

"Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn." 

I've been working my new (very new) job in DC for a week. I don't know anyone and while they seem to be friendly people- no one is as friendly as people from Texas! I don't know anything about DCPS aside from what they have on their website and I don't know their district culture. I think what I am struggling most with right now, is that I don't know any teachers. Teachers are my work! Teaching the teachers is what I do.  I am a teacher to my very soul and right now I am a teacher without any students. 

I had a chance to make my first introductions to a group of MICs (Managers of Instructional Coaches) that are on the campuses of DCPS. I was so nervous! But I remembered who I am (thanks to my teacher friend). I am an individual who is on fire with enthusiasm. Not everyone embraces that. To be honest, some shy away from the heat, but nevertheless, that's me. I am passionate and enthusiastic about best practice instruction- becuase that is what every child in this country deserves.  

So even though I am new in this job, I have to stay true to my core. My job in DCPS is to get excited about Common Core State Standards, excited about new instructional units, excited about training teachers! I need to be so excited that teachers will come for miles. They might not become as enthusiastic, they might not even change what they are doing or try any new ideas I propose, but they wil come and watch. Right now, I am trying with all my heart to get the word out that there is a fire burning! 

Are you on fire with enthusiasm in your classroom? That's your job in every lesson you teach, isn't it?  Make your students come for miles to watch you burn! You never know... they too may join in the flames. 
Photobucket

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sound Off Saturdays

So Write About It Wednesdays are a thing of the past... we are moving to Sound Off Saturdays! Setting a DAY for it and putting it in my calendar has worked, but Wednesdays won't work any longer.

I just got home from work. Yep. I work a J-O-B. I regular J-O-B (I forgot how hard that is) and blogging on a Wednesday night is just NOT going to happen for me anymore! Being smart all day doesn't leave much "smart" left or much energy for that matter for blogging at night.

I know y'all understand.

So... I will stop the typing now because I have BIG plans tonight! It's called the couch... maybe some Pinterest Pinning (are you following my boards?)  and if I still have energy to run the water... a hot bath!

I'll talk to you on Saturday!
Photobucket

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cute Classrooms

One of my favorite things to do in my job is walk around a school when the teachers are at lunch! They leave and I begin to stalk their classrooms! Teachers are so fabulous and we can all get ideas from one another. Isn't that the best? I travel the country and get to snoop in teacher's classrooms and I am paid to do it.  So here is a classroom that made me so envious. I hope you can get some ideas from these pics...









Here was a door I could not HELP but want to enter! A party inside is RIGHT! This is only the beginning of her FUN room.





Then there is the classroom constitution. I love this. I love that it is written in kid language and that they have all signed it. And of course the fun change in FONT makes it CUTE! When I go back in the classroom, I want to be CUTE like this.



The first thing I noticed when I walked in were her TABLE POINTS on the board! This is so much cooler than Table 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. I'm so doing this some day!























Look how she organizes her intervention groups! The school (or maybe just this teacher) calls it Pow Wow time. Team Morales- you are such a clever gal!


















This is such a simple thing but I love it too. The year I left the classroom is the year that having standards posted became a requirement. I would do it similar to this if I were back in the classroom with a pocket chart underneath it...





This is how she has her magnetic letters organized.
I really thought this just happened in cute Pinterest classrooms, but here it is in living proof!
















More cuteness! Look at what a great CAFE display this is! WOW! My classroom is looking awful compared to this one.

















I'm not sure if you can tell in this photo all that is happening. The "people" are one per student and their shirts are decorated with things that are their story ideas. Never at a loss for something to write about in this classroom. Then below it... it says we are a caring family of thinkers... learners... writers... scientists.. mathematicians... etc.









Look her cute "What's a Kid to do?" Sign!














Here is my favorite way to teach kids expectations. This is her chart for Station Expectations. What it looks like, sounds like and feels like.






















I tried to save the BEST for last. All of my books are in my basement in plastic tubs, but this makes me want to dig them out and get a better display! There are books that are in the classroom library for students to have access too and those are in cute tubs, but what about OUR books? The ones we use certain months or for certain lessons? Doesn't this make you happy? Don't you want to do this for yourself?




Doesn't this just make you happy? When I go back in the classroom I will have a lot to live up to. Traveling the country has raised the bar of good ideas. Thank you to Mrs. Morales for sharing her room with me and with my BLOG readers.




What's your favorite thing about your classroom?


What would I want a picture of if I came snooping?

Photobucket

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shopping for Books


Reader's Workshop is a time of day when students are engrossed in reading books of their own choosing. It is a time of day when we are living a REAL READER'S LIFE- rather than a SCHOOL READER'S LIFE.

Unfortunately, there is a difference.

Real Readers talk about books.
School Readers complete graphic organizers about books.

Real Readers are always thinking about their next book to read.
School Readers can't wait to know when they will be done reading a book.

Real Readers pick books they want to read.
School Readers pick AR books so they can get points or because it is their "level" or they just read what their teacher tells them to read.

If we are going to have this time of day for real reading- we need to teach kids what real readers do.

Let's start with shopping for books. Right now, I want you to think about how you pick out a book at the library, Barnes and Noble etc. Do you pick based on a favorite author? A friend's recommendation? By topic? Genre? Tell me this, do you walk into the store, find someone who works there, tell them your reading level ("I'm a Level L", or "I'm a 1.2.") and then have them show you where your "section for reading is?"
Nope!
Real Reading doesn't work like that. So we need to teach our kiddos what will WORK in the real world.

Shopping for books is like shopping for shoes! That's my lesson and I'm sticking to it!
What do books have to do with shoes you may ask? Lots.
First, I want to be somewhere for shoe shopping where my kids might actually go! DSW would be a fabulous place to talk about for this lesson, but I've been to MANY cities, and sadly MANY of them are without a DSW- therefore our kids would have no idea what I was talking about. So alas, to Walmart I went and armed with my camera.

First- what KIND of shoes (just like KIND of book) do you want? Do you want tennis shoes (show the tennis shoes picture), do you want dress shoes (show dress shoes picture), maybe boots?  What is your purpose for these shoes? Just like readers have a purpose- to be entertained, to be informed etc. I was there looking for comfortable shoes for work.

Once you know what section of shoes to be in and have determined your purpose then you want to look for shoes that interest you. Some shoes are ugly, some are cute. (Show picture of ugly shoes) Some book covers look interesting and some don't.  So maybe you start a stack of shoes you like just like you might put a few books you like in a pile. So here I am now, with several shoes I like in a pile. (Show several shoes lined up on floor)

Here is the hardest part- while I might need shoes for work- and while I might have found a few pairs I think are cute and that I have interest in buying- I need to make sure they ARE MY SIZE!

SHOW PICTURE OF SHOES I PICKED.



The lesson for "Is this book my size?" well you will have to keep reading my BLOG for that! This lesson helps kids understand shopping and selecting books. The same kind of shopping and selecting books that they can do in a real bookstore and in the real world.

Click here for the pictures that will help you with this lesson in your own classroom.

Photobucket

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Can Read Books

So today I'm hoping to share something
VERY simple...
VERY easy...
while still being a VERY good idea!

It's called I Can Read Books! Do you use black and white/paper books  in your classroom? You know the ones... you copy them on the copy machine. You cut them into their pages. You lick your fingers to collate them by pages. You staple them and then you repeat that process 25+ times for each student in your classroom. To get ONE set of books ready to read in your class takes almost an entire prep time.  Do you know what I'm talking about? It doesn't stop us from making them however- and I would give blood, sweat, and so much time to make them for all subject areas. We might read two a week in my class! One of the reasons I loved using them is kids could HUNT and color what they knew in the print- new high frequency words- letters- phonics patters etc.

So, we would read them. We would find some new words/letters etc. and then the students would have a few minutes to color them and they would go home with the kids in backpacks/folders that night.

Now fast forward to the next morning or even the next week and guess what is all crumpled up at the bottom of their backpack? You guessed it! That book that it took me almost an entire Music prep time to assemble. My I Can Read Books were clearly not getting the same amount of honor at home as they would get at school! So I stopped sending them home! That's right! I keep them at school now. If you can't treat my little books right- you can't have them at home! :)

Enter easy idea here!


I got folders for every kid and a management plan (here the folders are kept organized by tables- green triangles, purple pentagons etc.) and I started having kids put their books away in their I Can Read Folders after we had read them that day rather than in cubbies to go home.  

Now, in our classroom I have one more collection of familiar reading. It also makes an easy center.
I don't have to do anything but teach to have the center keep itself going.   I put a sign/poster/dry erase board near the center that says "When you read your I Can Read Books this week remember to look for __________ "  and I would write down what we had learned lately. A new high frequency word, a new letter, some phonics rule or skill, new punctuation etc. 

Kids were then re-reading books from AGES ago (well a few weeks ago is ages in Elementary terms) while armed with a highlighter (and if you are not that brave then a yellow crayon) and if they found a NEW thing in an OLD book they would highlight it. The kids get so excited to find NEW things in books they know how to read! It is too funny. "There is an A in Humpty Dumpty!!! Look there is an A!" 

Now... if you want to go to the next step... keep reading. 

At some point the books DO go home- when the folders get so stuffed, we do a little cleaning out- however. I want to make sure they have a VERY SPECIAL place to go home to. So we also decorate I Can Read Boxes in early October. You know like Valentine's Boxes? It is a family school work assignment. 

It is around early October that these folders start to get a little stuffed. And I'm ready to see a few of them go home. BUT I don't want them to end up in the garbage. So we make a VERY special box! The kids bring those boxes to school (all decorated) and we do a little quick "OOOOOOOO and AHHHHHH" circle to show off their at home handiwork. Then the students get to pick their first ten (or so) books to go into their I Can Read Box. 

And voila- the boxes go home. Every month or so we empty the I Can Read Folders and kids take their books home to put in the box. Now my kids have a familiar reading collection at home too! At the end of the year... we have an I Can Read Party. Kids bring their box to school... SOOO STUFFED WITH BOOKS some of the boxes can barely close anymore! 

It's usually nice weather and we have a reading beach party! 
Kids think it is so cool to look back at all the books they know how to read!  

Simple?
Easy?
Hope you like it and can use it! 
Photobucket