Monday, November 24, 2014

Support at the Guided Reading Table

Hey y'all, I am preparing for a training on Monday and in doing so, I found a file that I think will help a lot of teachers at the Guided Reading table!

Across the county, we have round tables in our classrooms, we have leveled book rooms full of sets of books, and we call kids for a small group lesson we call Guided Reading.  What I've come to figure out however, is that this just LOOKS like Guided Reading, it doesn't mean it IS Guided Reading.

The difference? What is the teacher DOING with kids at the table?  It's true right? Giving teachers a table and a selection of texts does not mean they know what to DO with the kids when they come to the table.  And the teachers I have trained welcome the opportunity to actually find out what is expected in a Guided Reading lesson.

One tool that helps teachers at the Guided Reading table has been developed by Fountas and Pinnell (actually almost all tools we use at the Guided Reading table were originally designed by Fountas and Pinnell) is a document that outlines possible teaching points (lessons) at the table for readers depending on the text level.

Sometimes teachers don't know what to teach- and they don't have a method of tracking and determining the next step/needs of the readers in their Guided Reading lessons.
So... thank you to F&P for your books...


Working in DC, we compiled from books above and created this document that will allow teachers to know what students should be learning/doing with text at different levels.  A teacher could reference it as they plan instruction with a text.  A teacher could also use it for a group to check off behaviors they see students demonstrate- almost like anecdotal notes.

There is one for each level with behaviors to teach and observe from A-Z.

Sadly it's not as easy as check off all the boxes and move to another reading level- but it does help a teacher know how to increase the rigor of instruction according to text level!

What I appreciate most about this document is that it focuses more on the reading behaviors students need to learn and internalize- and less on other elements of text that many programs, textbooks, etc. see to focus on.

So thanks be to Fountas and Pinnell! Get your copy from my dropbox here! Please download before the New Year!


Friday, November 21, 2014


Have you heard of it?

If you have students that need accommodations or linguistically accommodated texts... then you need to check out REWORDIFY! You can copy/paste text into the site and voila! Look what is spits out for you to print!

Copy and paste grade level text with which your kiddos are struggling, click “rewordify” and BAM!!!!!  (well --- there’s one more step.)

Select the tab “Text/Print Activities” then click the button for “Text with Vocabulary” and hit PRINT --- and THEN, BAM!!!!!  Click around at the other options too while you're at it- but this one is my favorite! Be sure to give it a read to verify- cause it's just a computer- so mistakes are possible! 

But it's still pretty amazing if you ask me! Get to it! Rewordify!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Literature Circles

So a teacher in my district reached out today with a question:

"I'm trying to do literacy circles with my high reading groups. I'm not feeling it though...
 Do you have any suggestions on books or blog posts I could read over the break to make my groups more meaningful and beneficial? Right now they're just reading a chapter and answering some comprehension questions together. How can I make it better? Thanks!"

I'm sure she's not the only one out there, "not feeling it", so I thought I'd answer it on my blog! 

The whole goal of Lit Circles (made popular by Harvey Daniels) is to foster voice and choice for kids in reading and to allow them to engage in student driven conversation and deep thinking about texts. As always, it is easier said than done!  Getting kids to a level of independence with ANYTHING requires a lot of teaching first!  

One way to foster this independence is to give students specific jobs, Harvey called these roles and provide students with role sheets- these are tasks to complete and prepare for their group meeting. Each role asks students to look or do specific things in order to create deep conversation and often times unique perspectives to shine.  The more kids work with their roles and in Lit Circles, the better they get and as a teacher, you can sit back and let them SHINE!  

So how would I introduce this to my students? Slowly... but surely! 

The number of kids in the group determines the number of roles I am going to have my students tackle- one role per student.  BUT, I need to teach them.  So, I would introduce them in a small group (AKA Guided Reading) or to the whole class if my whole class was going to be participating. I would teach one role to the whole class or to the small group- and the entire class, or group would practice that role for a day or so.  Then I would introduce the 2nd.  The goal is that students are so familiar with these roles that each student will have their own role each week (and a different one the next) so as to foster lots of rich and varied conversation in the group.

I went home and realized I was still holding onto a file from back in the day when I used to do lit circles with my students!  So I shined it up a bit (still not as CUTE as others for sale on TpT, but it's the best I've got!) 

My role sheets are for use with elementary kiddos- I've used them in 1st-3rd, but are good 1st-5th. Some for older kids (middle school perhaps) can be found hereI also appreciate the resources/explanation on this site

What are you waiting for? Head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers site and get yours for FREE! This may be JUST what you need to spice up your text talk for kiddos in your class after the Thanksgiving holiday! We get the WHOLE WEEK off next week in Elgin Texas!!!! 

Gobble! Gobble! Have I told you lately that I am thankful for hard working teachers like you?

Monday, November 17, 2014

FREE Procedural Text Resources

If you are a 3-5 teacher who follows the TEKS Resource System Scope and Sequence, then you are like my Elgin teachers and are gearing up for some PROCEDURAL WRITING in your unit on Informational Text.

I spent some time (OK- maybe I spent two hours or so because I was procrastinating another task) collecting resources.  Textbooks have "How-To" pages, but kids can't write on them or highlight them!  And everyone knows the best procedural writing also has VOICE!

So if you need some easy to print/copy HOW TO/PROCEDURAL examples to read, study, examine, dissect and perhaps imitate in writing with your students- look no further than my DROPBOX!

Please download to your own computer.... this folder will no longer exist once we move into the 4th six-weeks!

Happy Monday from Texas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Need brain breaks for your kiddos? 



Monday, November 10, 2014

Writer's Workshop Folders/Tool Box

I worked with my teachers in Elgin today! We had a great day of clarifying expectations for writing and to talk specifically about mini-lessons in Writer's Workshop. If you are like my teachers, you are gearing up for Poetry Writing (K-2) and Expository Writing (3-5).  Another blog post to follow with the ideas I shared with them!

Sometimes it's the smallest things that get teachers the most excited. In this morning's training with K-2 teachers- it was the idea of writing folders!  Classroom walls are a great resource for students, but in Writer's Workshop I like to keep students heads DOWN and looking at their writing. So rather than making them look around the room to find support for writing, I give them TOOLS in their writer's toolbox.  That toolbox just happens to be the first two pockets of their writing folder! And that writing folder happens to be two folders taped/stapled together and has two OTHER pockets that hold their writing. It looks like this....

In today's training a Kindergarten teacher asked me if I had files I could send her so she could make "toolboxes" for her kids.  I told her I was sorry... I didn't have the files anymore. Which was true. But I came home (unloaded the dishwasher, changed clothes, went to the gym, ate dinner, and MADE them).  I'm hoping she will use them- and that I made them- and sent them to her before she makes them herself.  I also am posting them here so teachers everywhere (all 3 of you who read my blog! LOL!) can use them with their kiddos. You can get them FREE in my TpT store.   Happy writing!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Currently

It's that time again. November, can you believe it? I love November... because with November comes Thanksgiving. Jeff and I just purchased our tickets home to Michigan! Can't wait to be with family this year as we usually don't travel home.  

I'm doing Farley's currently.  You can too if you go here!

Listening: I do like the Amazing Race! It's probably the closest I'll ever get to Morocco!  I'm also 100% sure that my light would NOT shine on a show like that! I have no patience... I don't like not being in control... I don't like not knowing things....  but I like watching other people.   

Loving: It was such a beautiful fall weekend in Texas!  We sat outside on our back porch with the fire pit burning last night! The air is off- the windows are open! It's FALL y'all.  

Thinking: I hate when weekends seem to disappear from you! That's how this weekend felt.  I wish I could have just one more day. But alas, tomorrow I'm back at work and things that did not get done will still not be done. 

Wanting: My sweet best friend is stressed out! I hate that. I want to see her so badly. I miss the days when we lived in nearby cities- even living in the same state would be good. But I am down here in Texas, and she is still home in Michigan.   I'd love to have another trip home to see her or get her out here for a few nights.  I just miss her! This is our favorite song right now... send it to your friend to make them smile!

Needing: I'm really wishing I would have started on this sooner- it's been on my mind- but there's so many other things that had earlier deadlines!  So I have TWO office days set aside this week to design the best little PD on Mini-Lessons in Writer's Workshop that you ever did see!  Praying PowerPoint inspiration tomorrow and Tuesday. 

Reading:  I am excited about this new series that someone told me about! She said it's like Hunger Games meets Bachelor! What's not to love about that? 

Happy Fall Y'all!