Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Guided Reading...An Easy Way to Put it All Together!!

Happy Tuesday friends!! Lindsey here on this beautiful day!! We may officially be in Fall, but here in the PNW we are still enjoying sunshine and pretty warm temps!! I can't complain!!

I am hopping on the blog today to talk to you about guided reading resources.

Okay. TEACHER TRUTH...I HATE planning for guided reading. I love, love, love seeing the progress my kiddos make..I mean who doesn't? But half way through the year I feel like I am a little tapped on resources. So, I wanted to share with you how I make it through the year while making sure that my kiddos are getting where they need to be.

(To get any of the resources in this post click any of the pictures or titles.)

We have spent a lot of time looking at the progress kiddos make. Specifically, how kiddos in high poverty areas struggle and ways that they can be supported. For your average kiddo, they need to be doing 80 minutes of high success reading each day to just make a years growth (to read more info on this, click HERE) That number grows the further behind a kiddo is. SCARY!!! This is why guided reading is so important!

Now, there are many FANTASTIC books that are available to teach your kiddos all they need. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, pulling a text and knowing what to do with it can be tricky. Plus, you need to spend time going through it and pulling out the vocabulary, etc.

Here my kiddos are using one of their favorite books. I have used this book every year and I already have everything I need for it. But, that took a lot of time. Time that teachers don't always have.

This is why we have worked hard to create resources that provide easy prep for teachers and all the content and skills that students will need to make the growth they need.

This is why we created Ready, Set Go! Guided Reading.

When I say these sets have EVERYTHING you need, I'm not joking. Phonics, sight words, passages, review games, assessments...ALL INCLUDED!!! Plus, the kiddos get to take their passages home for additional practice. This allows you to teach your students and have everything you need to get them on to the next level. Yes, there are passages, but there is so much more. Phonics, vocabulary and sight words are an important component to guided reading and they are all set up in these sets. 

These are going to SAVE me this year. I am on my 8th year of teaching and I have NEVER been this organized. They are sequential, so once I work through a set, my group should be ready to move on to the next level. Everything that I need to teach my kiddos is included in the set, including a plan to help them get there AND to keep me on track.

In a very unlike me fashion, I prepped and laminated all the pieces so that all I have to do is copy the passages for each group.

I'm going to pretend I hear clapping because being THAT prepared NEVER happens!!! Thank you! Thank you!!

Another resource I rely on, are Leveled Passages Sets. These are theme based, so they are great for supplementing any of the themes we are working on throughout the year. Since each passage set has passages from level A to H/I, I can support the content I am teaching in my guided reading groups as well.

In this example, the kiddos are working on Owls. The topic is connected to what we are learning about nocturnal animals.

These passages are a great break from our normal reading in guided reading groups. They are loaded with content vocabulary and include text based questions. They are a great way to get the kiddos doing close reading and focusing on reading a text to gather information. They also allow me to differentiate the way they are getting their information. All the students are reading the SAME topical information, they are just doing so at their own level.

These sets also have vocabulary activities which are great for helping me to teach that content vocabulary that so many of my ELL kiddos struggle with. They are able to read and understand the vocabulary we are using in class because these passages practice the same vocabulary, but at the level each student needs.

At the same time that we are reading Leveled Passages Sets on a theme such as bats or spiders in guided reading groups, we will also be using Leveled Quick Read Cards in reading centers. This is a new series we have just began publishing, with more topics to come. These leveled reading cards and reading responses match the topic of the Leveled Passages Sets themes. They further extend the kiddos' learning and give them even more reading time to practice the strategies and content that we have been learning. It "ups" the minutes that students are reading at high success levels, and provides them the opportunity to learn more on a topic independently.

Leveled Quick Read Cards and response activities, also give you the flexibility to use them in guided reading groups. Students can use the included response pages to keep track of the information they are learning while practicing important comprehension strategies and thinking skills. For a little more information on what's included, read our post HERE.

I hope that I have shared with you some great resources. Planning for groups can be such a headache and having to find sets of 6 books can also be a challenge. Having resources that include all that I need AND that I can make as many copies as I need, is very helpful and makes planning oh-so-easy!

Now I'm off to wait patiently...kind of...for my husband to return with a yummy pumpkin pie blizzard!! Yum-o!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bats and Spiders!!

Happy Sunday friends! Lindsey here. I am currently multi-tasking by watching the Seahawks, writing this post AND nursing a head cold which I managed to fend off until this weekend.

I am SOOOO excited to share with you our newest product!! Let me introduce to you our new Leveled Quick Read Cards and Activities!

These sets are perfect for reading centers! They are also great for guided reading and independent practice. Let's dive in and see what they are like.

These are similar to our passage sets where they are leveled from A - I. Each set has five different nonfiction quick read cards on the topic. So for example, All About Bats! has a quick read card on each of the following things: About Bats, Bat Wings, Nocturnal Bats, Bats Diet and Baby Bats.

This means that students will be learning all the same information but they will be able to access it at their independent level!!

To go along with these cards, we have created response pages. These pages will have your students practicing many different comprehension strategies and thinking skills. These are designed to be stapled together to make a mini booklet. However, you could easily keep them separated and have students working on only one thinking skill and comprehension strategy at a time. Whatever fits your needs will work!

Finally, we have also included a picture dictionary to help your lower level readers have additional support reading and writing content vocabulary words. In the response booklet there is also a vocabulary dictionary page where students can keep track of content vocabulary words.

We designed this product to work perfectly as an independent reading center. We would make 6 sets or so and keep them in a center for students to access when needed. They are so versatile that you could easily use them in many different formats.

To get these sets you can click HERE or you can click on the pictures below.


If you are looking for more Bats and Spiders resources, click HERE to see our leveled passage sets!

We hope that you find our Leveled Quick Read Cards and Activities helpful! We plan to make more on many different topics so your students can be reading independently all year long:)

I'm off to drink more tea and enjoy the rest of the game! I hope you all have a fantastic and restful Sunday! Go Hawks!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Five For Friday

Happy Friday!  Happy Friday!  How was your week?  Great, I hope!   Kristin here for a little Five for Friday.  Thank you so much Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting this fun way to end the week.  I LOVE reading what you all have been doing!

Normally I am the one in the duo who thinks in themes, but this week?  Totally random!  Here are the five random things that happened this week in our world. 

Ahhhhh.......we spent one of the last weekends of summer weather at the cabin at the ocean.  It was fabulous!  The weather was warm, the leaves were falling, the ocean was beautiful!  Of course we took the three giant furrybeasts!  They love the cabin as much as we do.

Our staff dressed in blue to support our police officers!  (Here I am with one of my awesome team members posing in our blue.)   The police are our best friends at our school, as we have lots of not-so-good stuff happening in the neighborhood surrounding the school. They keep us safe.  And also.....for Lindsey and I they are extra special, since we have some in our family.  We definitely "Back the Blue." 

Testing, Testing, Testing!  That's how my team and I have been spending the last few weeks.  Since we are the support team, we do most of the testing for the school at the beginning of the year.  We love it because we get to see all the kids in the school and welcome them back from summer break.  Aren't these little kiddles adorable???  They are taking the STAR Early Literacy test on the tablets.

Sneak Peek, Sneak Peek!!  If you read our blog much, you know that we are all about getting kids to read as many minutes as possible with high success reading materials.  We have been working hard on our newest resource...Quick Read Cards and Responses.  They are leveled A-H, designed to match the topics you already teach in your classroom, and to be used in centers, independent work, partner work, or guided reading.  We use them in centers to up the minutes that our students read each day.  Stay tuned! We are on the finishing touches and will have it posted Sunday.  Here's a pic of the Spiders! set.

Finally, Rosie and I would like to wish you a very Happy Fall!  It is such a great time of year, isn't it? 

Thank you for what you do.  What you do matters!  Have a wonderful weekend friends, and a terrific week ahead! 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Guided Math...How It Works For Me!

Happy Wednesday everyone!! Lindsey here and I am so excited to share with you how I have implemented guided math this year!

Here's a little background...last year I was really frustrated with my math time. We spent a lot of time whole group and I felt like my kiddos who were struggling and my kiddos who needed enrichment were being left out. I was pulling groups when I could, but overall...just frustration.

SO...this year I decided on trying out guided math. It is working out great for my kiddos and everyone is getting their needs met! Here is how I do it...

I start out with a whole group lesson. This is about 10 minutes. This is where I focus on our daily lesson; we briefly go over it. This is the time that my below grade level kiddos get exposure, the on grade level kiddos get a solid introduction and my above grade level kiddos learn the concept.

This lesson we are learning about story problems. We started off solving them altogether. Then the kiddos started working on them in the math spirals and sharing their work on the board.

Once we have gone through the whole group lesson, we move on to our rotations.

This is my math rotation board.

I have three rounds and each round lasts for 20 minutes. The kiddos names are written on the cards, they are also color coded. They know where they go each time the round changes. These are also fluid groups. I give a quick quiz at the end of each week to see where they are and I adjust the groups as needed.  The kiddos are broken up into three groups, below grade level, on grade level and above grade level. My rotations are set up so that the kiddos can be supported getting through the task for the day.

Here are how the groups break down:

Below level: Teacher, Seat Work and then Stations.
On level: Stations, Teacher, Seat Work
Above level: Seat work, Stations, Teacher

This way the below and on level kiddos meet with me before they begin working at their seat on the days' lesson. The stations are all review stations so the kiddos are able to complete the task and practice their skills independently.

This is my below group. We are working on breaking down story problems using key words. We also spend a lot of time with our math facts. This time really allows me to support them and work on the skills that they are struggling with.

This is my on level group. They are working on a story problem scoot. They understand how to solve story problems and now they are working on solving a variety of types of problems. These story problems come from Joya Crawford's School is Cool Math Task Cards, which is awesome!!

This is my above level group. They are using the challenge dice to get numbers and write their own story problems using the numbers that they get.

All three groups are working on the same skill, they are just doing so at their level. It has been way more beneficial for them and they feel a lot more successful!

For stations, I have three options: roll a problem with dice, Addition fact war and Missing addend problems. This war game, from Amy Lemon's Learning our Addition Strategies pack, is their favorite! I have another game that I am adding next week that might take the cake...stay tuned.

For seat work, the kiddos are usually working on an activity that practices the skills of the lesson. Today, the kiddos were working on a workbook page. Sometimes I will pull other activities or partner games to have them practice, but I always make sure it matches our daily lesson.

When the kiddos finish up their seat work they move onto early finishers. I have four choices: hundred charts, fact cards, minute math and Math Magician. Obviously, their favorite is Math Magician on the computer!

One important step is to make sure that I check their seat work. I have them bring it back to me or I will quickly check it in-between rounds.

Finally, we wrap it up. Sometimes we will finish with an exit slip, or a follow-up question. Today we ended with the Doubles Song, which is one of their favorites. This song comes from Tweet Music, I just modified it a little to add doubles up to nine.

One more tip...one easy way I have found to differentiate is changing up the dice! I have a variety of dice and it steps up the challenge for the high kiddos. So easy!!

If you haven't tried guided math, just do it! It has been so great for my kiddos! I have found the more structured it is at first, the better they handle it. It has been so worth it!

I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your week!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Improving Reading Achievement -Are you sure your "just right" texts are really "just right?"

"Just Right" reading.....you've heard that before, right?  You probably even use it to help your students choose books they can read.  If I asked you to say what qualifies as a "just right" text for a student, what would you say?  Would you say it is a text they can read at 95% accuracy?  98% accuracy? Most reading experts consider it to be 98% accuracy, with good phrasing and intonation, and at least 90% accuracy in comprehension. They call this "high success" reading.  Isn't that a great term?  High success, after all, is what we all want for our students. Now think for a minute though, how much access do ALL of your students have to those texts, and how much time do your students actually spend reading that level of text?  How many students only experience  "high success" reading during your 20 or 30 minutes of independent reading?  What about the rest of the day?

When I was in the classroom, I would oh-so-carefully assess my students and make sure they knew just what book tub to choose independent reading books from, but the rest of the day....I wasn't as careful.  That's a problem because we know from the reading experts that students make the most learning growth with materials that are not too easy, not too hard, but "just right" or "high success reading" for them. On top of that, we know that it takes 80 minutes of "high success" reading EACH DAY for a student to make one year's growth in one year's time. (*See this previous post for more on the 80 minutes statistic.)

The only way we can do that, is to make sure that we have more "high success" texts available for students to read each day.  Eventually, I started typing up the daily math problem, (we used Exemplars problems), G.L.A.D. poems and chants, articles for science and social studies, and anything else I could think of, with at least three different levels of text. I also made sure that every chart in my room was accessible to even the lowest reader.  It was especially important for me to be careful to provide "high success" texts for my struggling readers.  After all, the 80 minutes are even more critical for their progress.  I would type up one or two things this way each week and over the course of a year, I had tripled the amount of "high success" texts available for my students.

I also started monitoring my students' independent books more carefully, because even books at the same reading level, can vary widely.  What worked for me was to do a quick check on it while conferring with readers during independent reading each week.  I'd just listen to them read a page or two out of one of their books. With a bit of feedback, students became experts at knowing when a book was too hard.

So give it a thought....see what you can do to increase your students' access to "high success" reading materials,  so you can increase the amount of "high success" reading your students are doing each day.

Now you know why we are passionate about making things that all of your students can read.  Check out our store if you need some materials to help you out.

Here's to a classroom full of "high success" readers!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Five for Friday!!

Happy Friday friends! It's that time of the week again, Five for Friday! We are linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for our favorite linky party!

One of my parents set up a parent meeting with me for after school this week. I had no idea what she wanted to talk about so I was all prepared with my assessments and her child's progress in the few short weeks we've been in school. When they came in they brought me flowers! She said her daughter insisted that she get me some nice flowers! How sweet!! I LOVE the sweet kiddos I have this year!!

On Wednesday I posted about how I have been teaching character traits this week. Every year I struggle with getting the kiddos from emotions to personality traits. This year I have had more success and this is my favorite response about the main character of Enemy Pie! You can read more about how I am teaching character traits by clicking HERE.

This year I have been doing guided math. I have been having a lot of success. It has been taking me some time to get the planning done for all three levels of my math groups. Lucky for me! One of my besties is also a seller and she has an AMAZING product that my kiddos LOVE!! This is Roll, Add and Sort from Joya's Fall Theme Even and Odd Numbers Fun pack. This is SO great because all I had to do to differentiate it for each group was change the level of the dice! Easy peasy! They were so engaged and they were sad when we had to rotate and they had to move on to stations. HELLO! They would rather be with the TEACHER then STATIONS!!! I about fell off my chair! RUN to get this pack for your kiddos too!

It's apple week!!! Well...NEXT week is apple week. We are going to be talking about Johnny Appleseed next week. Here is a peek at our Johnny Appleseed Passages set. This set, like all our others, has the same passage at 6 different levels, A-I. In my class I am going to be printing levels C-I, so I am definitely happy with all the levels. They also include vocabulary and sight word practice. To check out this set and our other apple themed sets, click on the picture or click HERE or HERE.

Happy Blue Friday friends from me and my new favorite 12th Crab mug!! I also have it on a sweatshirt:) Go Hawks!

I hope you all have a restful and relaxing weekend!!