Monday, September 29, 2014

Perfectly Autumn Passages!!!

Hey everyone! Lindsey here...

Have you ever felt like Alexander from Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? That was my day...I even considered moving to Australia...until I remembered the big bugs and Great White Sharks that live there and then I thought...mmmmm...maybe not.

So here I am, trying to get myself out of a grumpy mood by telling you about our new passage set AND the reason we have made these sets.

We work at a VERY diverse school...primarily Spanish. Which means we have a wide variety of student levels because we have students at different levels of learning English. On any given year, I begin with a range of 11-15% of my kids in tier 3, or significantly below grade level. This averages out to be about 4-6 kiddos. At the same time I usually have 6-8 kids in tier 1, or on grade level. The rest fall in between...enter our passage sets. I have been looking for a way to teach all the kiddos the same the same time....whaaattt?!?!?!? CRAZY! Also, we were trying to focus on vocabulary which is SUPER important for our kiddos learning English, and all the ones who aren't. Now maybe you have kiddos at different levels and have some great strategies for teaching a diverse population, believe me I am all EARS!!! I LOVE to hear other teachers wisdom because I need ALL I can get! But for now, this is what we have come up with.

Here are some of my kiddos working on our Owls passage.

These students are working on level D/E.

Now these next kiddos are working on a level H/I. Notice that they are both working on the SAME questions!!! Let me say that again...THE SAME QUESTIONS!! With these passages you can have them answering the same questions, I know I just said it again, while reading AT their level.

The reason I love this is because the students are all getting the same information and answering the same questions AND can talk about the same topic, all while using the same facts! This is a life-saver for me.

We also wanted to use these passages to help the students gain some vocabulary on the topics.

These students are working on matching up the definitions to the words. Now, for some of these you may need to read the definitions to the students. I have also paired the students up and have had one student read the definition while the other finds the matching word. We also wanted the students to practice the words and be able to read them when they encounter them in the text.

Here they are playing a game with the vocabulary. If they read the word correctly they get to keep it BUT if they get the the special cards, lose a turn, go again or steal a card, they get REALLY excited. Any time you turn something into a game...they eat it up!!

This kiddo is finding the vocabulary words. This student is in tier 1 and needs a little challenge. So for him, I read the definition and he had to find the word and color it. For the tier 3 kiddos I tell them the word and they have to read it and then color the owl. You can really vary it to meet your needs.

There is also an exit slip that is similar that lets you assess your students and their understanding of their vocabulary.

I like to use these passages both in whole group and in small group, depending on my purpose. They lend themselves to be used both ways vary easily.

This is a product that I have found REALLY helpful and our hope is that they will be helpful for you as well. Our new set, Perfectly Autumn Passages, contains 7, that's right, SEVEN different themes:

-Hoot, Hoot! Hoot, Owls! (This is a non-fiction passage and different from Owls)
-Pumpkin Patch
-I Say 'Thank You"
-I am Thankful
-The First Thanksgiving
-Nocturnal Animals

If you are interested in these passages you can get them here, click on the title above,  or click on the picture.

Don't forget!! We also have our first set of passages, Fall into Reading, which has SIX different themes. Check them out and please leave us feedback. We hope that you are as happy with these as we are:)

Now I am going to go crash in front of the TV and turn my mood around:)

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Five for Friday!!

Happy Friday Teacher Friends!   Kristin here.......

It's time again to link up with Doodlebugs Teaching for some Five for Friday fun!  Don't you just love keeping up with teacher friends around the world to see what they've been up to each week?  So fun! 

Yay!  Yippee...and Yahoo!   F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. testing is about done and our intervention groups will soon be starting!  Can't wait to get reading with the kiddos again!  Sooooo....this week it was all about getting ready.

Here are some of my Data Notebooks.  I'm putting in the students' assessment pages and such for my new groups.  Here is one version of the phonics assessment we use for a student we have served for a few years now.  He's making great progress as you can tell by the crossed out words!  Love this assessment!  If you want a copy of a similar one, you can grab it here.

"Glossing".....what do ya think about that term?  I think it's pretty cool! doesn't me "the art of putting on one's lip gloss"....although that would be cool too and would fit me to a T!  It is a term that Dr. Mary Howard taught us when she visited the district...and basically means to skim read a text thoroughly and make notations in the margins!  Hah! Check!  Teachers are awesome at that!  But the littles......well how can they do that when we give them library books, classroom books, or other texts and tell them DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT writing in them in any way, shape or form?  Enter....ta da.....Brain Notes!   Genius and why didn't I think of that?  You probably already did, but I didn't.  The idea is that you give them a blank book mark that they can move from page to page, book to book, etc. and write their notes on it!  They can take it home, keep it for reference, and doodle on it! Okay..just kidding about the doodling...maybe...kinda...sorta kidding. Another way to use them is to run on cardstock and put sticky notes on them. Reusable and saves copies...which is an issue at our school.  Check it out!  LOVE this idea!

Speaking of Glossing.......I'm glossing an oldie but goody to remind myself of all the wisdom in it! This book has so much wisdom in it that I just pretty much want to memorize the whole thing. You can tell if a book is a goody by the number of sticky notes in it and by the wrinkled "oops I spilled tea on it" pages, right???  It's a MUST, MUST, MUST read! 

Here's another MUST read-every-year to kiddos, book!  Do you know it?  The wolf gets tricked because he can't read!  A VERY good way to get the message across about the importance of reading well!  Best of's pretty hilarious and all the kiddos from K-5 enjoy the humor.....and their teacher does too.  Last time I checked it was on  Side note - is THE best place to get cheap books for your classroom! 

Continuing the theme of getting it are some of our Fall Leveled Passages that I am getting ready for groups.  They are just awesome for close reading, reading practice at the "just right" level, vocabulary building....AND all while supporting the themes you do in your classroom anyway!  These are "can't live without" things for my reading groups!  And GOOD NEWS!  Our second Fall passages set called "Perfectly Autumn" will be available this weekend! 

That's it from Washington!  Hope you all had a FABULOUS week and that you have an even better weekend!   Happy Teaching!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five for Friday!!!

Happy Friday!!! You know what time it is...

We are linking up with doodle bugs teaching for a little five for friday action.

Okay, okay...I know that five for Friday is supposed to be about the current week but this is only one week late...I think it will be okay:)

This girl started Pre-K!! Boy, they grow so fast!! I LOVE her preschool so I am so excited for her to start another year!

Now, unfortunately I had to work on her first day since we were only a couple days into school. So I put her daddy in charge of the pictures. I made the sign, which I got from Cara Carroll. So cute, right?!?! You can get it here. Anyway, I put daddy in charge of pictures. I was expecting a picture. Now, she starts school at 8:45. 10:30 rolls around and still no picture...11:30 rolls around and still no picture. I text him during my lunch and say "hey, where's the picture?" This is the response: "Well, you see..." Are you kidding me?!?!?! He had ONE job! So these pictures were taken after school on her first day. It still counts, right? I think I will let him off the hook. I also think that I have to make sure I take her first day of kindergarten off...

Speaking of my you know what I came home to today?

SERIOUSLY!!!! This pumpkin cookie was DELICIOUS!!! Now I really can't be mad about the whole picture fiasco! This came from our local bakery. Holy smokes!! It was delicious! Now, we are planning on starting the whole30 on October 1st. I think we are going about it the wrong seems we are eating worse now just because we know we are going to be eating better...hmmm...oh well because that thing was so good!!!

As you know, my mom, the other half of 2 Literacy Teachers, works at the same school as me. She is a reading intervention teacher and they have not started pulling their groups yet since school just started. So, that means I get her in my class to help me do some assessments. 

Here she is giving one of my kiddos their Fry word assessment! She's so awesome! Just saying...I know you're jealous that you don't work with your mom:)

This week we started by making connections. I am really into Margo Southall's  differentiated lessons. This week we used her connection stems and practiced making connections to Ron's Big Mission. 

After we worked on connections as a class, I had the students break up into groups of two or three. They chose a book and began writing their connections while using the stems.

The kiddos LOVED this! They came up with some pretty good connections! We will be using Debbie Miller's lesson on how to make meaningful connections soon, but for their first attempt I was pretty impressed. Have you read Kel Gilligan? The kids LOVE it! It's pretty funny and I thought this connection was hilarious!

Finally, we finished our week looking at character traits. We started with Ron from Ron's Big Mission. Then we moved on to Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of the Stripes.

We talked about outside vs. inside traits. Then we created a poster that showed different character traits and whether they were outside or inside traits.

I didn't realize until I uploaded this picture that I didn't actually finish the lettering on the poster...obviously something distracted me...oh well. The kids use the poster and that's all that matters right?....I'll probably fix it bothers me too. 

Finally, we talked about how traits can change throughout a story, while still focusing on inside and outside traits. 

Then the students worked with their own book and found the traits of the characters from that book. Next week, we will review and then assess. 

Let's end this week with a little peek...

We have another passage bundle coming!!! Woohoo!! More Fall themed passages! Our hope is to have this finished up this weekend or by early next week. Hope you all like it as much as our other passage set!!

I hope you have a great, restful, weekend:)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Assessment, Assessment, Assessment....

Hey Everyone! Lindsey here.

I'm popping on the blog tonight to give you a little peek at my assessment notebook. A few years ago my team worked hard to put together a notebook that contained all the information we would need on our students when it came to reading. We often have to meet on our kiddos and it is SOOOO much easier to just grab a binder and flip it to the kiddos information. So here's what I have.

I know, I looks worn. I think this is my third year using the same binder. We like to call it...well loved.

First up we have all the ELA cores. We keep them in the front so that we can reference them when needed...although I think I use the app on my phone more so maybe I should get rid of this section...

Next up....alignment documents.

We don't have a great reading curriculum. Not many of the teachers use it, so a few years ago our school created this alignment document. This outlines what grade level is going to master what phonics strategy. It's helpful to keep us all on the same page so our kiddos don't have any holes.

This is our DRA alignment page. This shows the levels by grade and tier. This was created for us by our Title team and it is AWESOME! Such a quick reference for when you are assessing and tiering kiddos.

Next, each student has a divider. The first thing behind their tab is this tracking sheet. This is where I have an overview for each student. This tells me where they are on their Fry words, WPM score, DRA and progress monitoring assessments, as well any other areas that they are qualified in. I also have an area where I can write and track their focus for instruction.

Then each student has the Phonetic Elements Assessment. This was also created by our Title team. This is broken down into each element and the grade level it is typically mastered. If you like this, you can head over to our Facebook page and get our freebie. While it is not this same one, it is similar and works the same.

Followed by this we use our Fry word lists.

These are also great because they help me to track the students' goals when is comes to mastering their words. I have my students working on five words at a time. Having this at my finger tips helps me to keep on top of what words they are working on.

Behind their Fry words I keep anything else the pertains to their learning. This could be notes from meetings with our Title team as well as copies of their IEP's with accommodations.

In the back of the notebook I keep extra copies of the Fry word lists and our fluency assessments. I also keep copies of goal sheets for when I need a little more direction on where to take a specific students' instruction.

These goal sheets are awesome and are a great reference to keep close. They come from the Fountas and Pinnell book Continuum of Literacy Learning.

There you have it! All the ways that I track my kiddos when it comes to reading. It seems like a lot of work but it is really helpful to have all their information right in front of me. I keep it with me every time that I meet with the students so I can keep it updated.

I hope you all have a great rest of your week:)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Wonderings! Intervention Questions

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Kristin here......

So we were on our 6th day of school today and I'm happy to report...all was well!   How about you?  Is all going well at your school too?  Great!  ( You are all so fantastic that I knew it would be!)

Questions, questions, questions!  Every time I visit another school or sit with teachers from another school...I always get questions about how we "do" our interventions.  There was a question about the very same thing on the TPT forum a few weeks ago, too!  Guess it is a hot topic.  So....I thought I'd share a little about how our school does things.

A little background....we have 800...give or take at any moment...students, grades K-5 at our school. We have a very high population of sweeties who are just learning English. you can imagine....we also have a lot of sweeties who are considered below grade level in reading.  Well...of course.....'cause I don't know about you, but if I were trying to learn a new language....I'd be behind trying to learn to read in that language, too!  Right??

We do our best at our school to follow RTI and provide interventions based on the tiers.  Each day, our tier one kiddos receive awesome core instruction and guided reading groups in the classroom provided by our fabulous teachers.  Our tier two kiddos also receive an additional group with a paraeducator who provides targeted instruction for the groups' needs.  The teacher plans these lessons. Our tier three students receive an additional group each day with a reading intervention teacher.  We have 6 reading intervention teachers at our school.  Yep...that's where I fit in.   In addition to these groups for reading, the ELL students...again that is most of our sweeties....go for a daily half hour lesson with one of our 4 ELL teachers.  Phew!  You have probably figured out that scheduling is crazy.  Yes, but it all seems to work.  Since we have soooo many sweeties to help each day, kindergarten through second grade groups are each 20 minutes long, and third through 5th grade groups are 30 minutes long.  The additional ELL groups are another 30 minutes long.

Of course we use wonderful assessments to inform our teaching.  Don't you just love it? Well....maybe you have your doubts some days, but let me tell ya.....I taught in 1902-before-dirt which was  before quality assessments and I'm here to say that teaching is sooooooo much better these days now that we don't have to guess what our kiddos need!  I'm sure you have fabulous assessments you use at your school too!  One of the areas....if you can believe it....for which we didn't have a consistent assessment, was phonics!  Now though, we have one that is a continuum starting with the kinders and going through the intermediate grades!  LOVE it!  Teachers  can tell where the students are needing help and whether or not they are on grade level.  Teachers from other schools that have seen it, have really liked it.   Bad News though...we can't share that exact assessment with you because it doesn't belong to us.  Oh but Good News!  There is one that is similar that you can have...and it is the best price of all....FREE!  Don't you love that word?   If you are can grab it here. that was a bit long winded!   I'm sure you have a wonderful system in place at your school, but if not...hope this helps you with some ideas.

Hey....have a great rest of your week!

Happy teaching!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My First Week!

Hey everyone! Lindsey here.

Well we made it!! Our first week (okay really only 3 days) is officially done! I am E.X.H.A.U.S.T.E.D. It amazes me that I am able to do this every year. I need to work on my stamina!! Anyhoo, here is a little peek at my 3 day week:)

We started on Tuesday with back to school night. I had 14 out of my 23 kiddos show up which is about an average turn out for our school. This year I tried something a little different. I got this idea off of Pinterest and I LOVE it! Now usually I have the kiddos come in, find their desk, grab papers, put away supplies and then go. In and out. This year I had stations. Five stations to be exact. Each student and parent had to visit each station and it was wonderful!!

The first station was a sign-in. This way I could keep track of who came. The 2nd station was a paper pick-up station. The parents had to pick up some papers from the school in either English or Spanish. The third station was another paper station BUT these were papers for me. I have found over the years that important papers tend to get lost. I decided instead of sending them home I would just have the parents fill them out right there! GENIUS!! I know! So I had the parents fill out how their child gets home and a survey about their child. The fourth station was where they put away their supplies. Then they found their desks. This wasn't a station but they had papers on their desk as well, it's ridiculous the amount of papers we overwhelm our parents with, so they had to visit their desks to pick them up. The fifth and final station was the "o-fish-ally" in second grade station, another Pinterest idea!!

Now on to the rest of the week. It flew by! I can't even keep track of what we did each day because it was a whirlwind! I always read First Day Jitters and then we write about how we feel about our first day. A lot of the kiddos were SO surprised that the character in the book turned out to be a teacher! Actually...a lot of them thought it was a kid in the first part of the book and then she just grew up by the end...comprehension is definitely a high priority...moving on. We also worked on our brochures. I really like to know who lives with each student and more about their lives outside of school. Many of our students have mixed families or multiple generations in their household and I like to keep track of this. Insert brochure.
This is a freebie on our Facebook page which you can get here

We also spent time on Amy Lemon's Mathematician craftivity. They LOVED it! 

This always happens to me. EVERY TIME!! My boards NEVER fit! Seriously. It's bananas. But I am going to pretend that the three faces hanging off on the board don't bother me. Move on, right? It really drives me nuts. I'm going to have to change it. 

On Friday we did one of my FAVORITE activities. Now let me back up a little. I live in Washington State which is Seahawks territory. I am not a huge football fan. I mean football is great. Just not my thing. Usually I start watching it...then take a nap in the middle...then wake up to see who won. It's actually a really great way to watch a football game...but let's get back on track. Like I was saying we are in Seahawks territory and we have a player by the name of Derrick Coleman. He is my favorite. He has a Duracell commercial, which we watch on youtube. It gives an insight into his story and how hard he had to work to become a Seahawk. Never give up people!! I about a great message. Back to successful students. I started by showing my kiddos this video. All I had to do was mention the Seahawks and they were all ears and eyes! We talked about all the things that Derrick Coleman had to do to be successful at football. We talked about how hard things must have been but how he overcame it all. Then we moved into talking about being a successful student.  This is what the kiddos came up with.

Now this poster came from Pinterest (which is where most ideas I have come from) but I can't find it anywhere. I swear it's on there somewhere so if it was your original idea I give you credit. The drawing was all Pinterest. BUT the ideas were my kiddos. Once we brainstormed they made their own.

We did a lot of other things but really...I'm exhausted and thinking about it again makes me want to fall over and sleep:)

I did end my week on an awesome note BECAUSE of THIS!!!

My Erin Condren Plan Book FINALLY came!! I learned my lesson!! DON'T WAIT UNTIL AUGUST!!! Note to self...order in June. It is so pretty and I love it. I haven't put anything in it yet...I'm too tired to think about it...but it's so pretty!!

Since tomorrow is Sunday I guess I better focus myself. On the docket for next week: schema, connections, hopes and dreams, trust builders and breakers and story problems. Plus we are starting assessments. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!!! 

I hope everyone has a restful and relaxing weekend!!