Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Study: Week 7 (Helping Struggling Readers)

It's week 7 (and the last week) of the #GuidedReadingGals' book study on The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson!

This week Amber from Barefoot in Grade School is hosting Chapter 7: Helping Struggling Readers. Go check out her page for a more in depth post about Chapter 7!

Chapter 7 is all about helping the struggling reader. I had a big ah-ha moment reading this chapter! At the beginning of the chapter, Jan Richardson gives you three steps to take when determining how to help a struggling reader: 
Step 1: Analyze your teaching
Step 2: Analyze student assessments
Step 3: Ask a colleague to observe the student
Step 4: Develop an acceleration plan

Ok, so I definitely analyze my teaching- I make sure my guided reading groups are consistently meeting, that I'm following my lesson plans, etc. I also analyze student assessments. I look at the student's running records, state mandated test data, anecdotal notes, etc. 


I can't say that I've asked any colleagues to come in and observe any of my struggling readers. Jan Richardson says that with having an extra set of eyes and ears, you might learn things you didn't notice before...and she is so right! 

**Don't forget to check out Amber's post about helping struggling readers!

Check out each week of the book study by clicking the links below!
Week 1: Guided Reading- Center Rotations
Week 2: Guided Reading- Grouping Students
Week 3: Pre-A and Emergent Guided Reading
Week 4: Early Guided Reading
Week 5: Transitional Guided Reading
Week 6: Fluent Guided Reading
Week 7: Helping Struggling Readers

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Buddy Journals

Have you tried buddy journals?

My first graders used to write to fourth graders and it was so much fun! These buddy journals taught my first graders how to write letters and gave the students in both classes a fun, real reason to write! 

I saved this particular journal because both students happened to move during the school year. It is a little old (only from 2007!!), so the pages have wrinkled some but they are still so cute to read. 
"Dear Daniel, My favorite sport is soccer. My favorite color is blue. I have a dog. Do you have a dirt bike? Do you have a cat? Your friend, Seth"

"Dear Seth, I do not have a dirt bike but I do have a motorcycle. And I do have a dog. But I do not have a cat. My favorite color is blue too."

You can see here that I wrote out some of the inventive spelling so his buddy could read it! I tried to stay away from writing on their letters as much as possible, but sometimes had to so their buddy would fully understand what they were trying to say. 

The relationship these kids formed by doing these buddy journals was amazing. They were so excited each week to trade journals and see what their buddy had to say. My favorite part was that it was a "real" writing experience which we often lack in school! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Study: Week 6 (Fluent Guided Reading Part C)

It's week 6 of the #GuidedReadingGals' book study on The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson!

There are 3 bloggers blogging about Chapter 6- Fluent Guided Reading:
1. Melissa is guest blogging on Teacher Talk with Mrs. Sadler about Part A (p.178-199).
2. Brooke is guest blogging on Big Ideas for Little Hands about Part B (p.200-224).
3. ME!!!! I'm hosting Part C (p.225-251)!!!!

There is lot of great information in Chapter 6, so let's get started!!

Chapter 6 is all about the fluent reader- readers who are reading levels N+. These readers have mastered decoding skills so are ready to focus on comprehending challenging texts. 

Chapter 6 Part C (225-251) focuses on several comprehension strategies and how to scaffold them. Jan Richardson discusses cause and effect, character analysis, making inferences, poetry analysis, and more!

1. Scaffolding: Okay, so I've always known I needed to scaffold and I do scaffold my instruction the best I can, but sometimes it is hard!! My favorite part about this chapter is how Jan Richardson spells it out for you!! She gives you a strategy and then tells you exactly how to scaffold it. 

For example, when teaching cause and effect, she gives you 3 steps:
1. Flag the effect and students find the cause
2. Flag the paragraph that contains the cause/effect relationship
3. Flag the page that the cause/effect relationship is on. 

She even gives a paragraph with each step that further explains what you should do. She makes it so easy!! 

2. Character traits: Jan Richardson says you should introduce 1 character trait a week and connect it to someone they know (people or characters in fiction, fairy tales, current events, etc.). I love this idea! I can see even adding the weekly character trait as a bonus word on their spelling tests. Students would have to spell it and define it. 

She also cites how Manyak recommends having the whole school on board to teach character traits. This way, each grade level would be responsible for teaching about 20 character traits. Wouldn't it be nice to have the whole school on the same page? 

3. Individual Prompting: When students are reading silently and working on their independent writing responses, Jan Richardson says the teacher should conference with individual students. In this chapter, she states several questions to ask students you are conferencing with when they are stuck on something. 

Two questions really stood out to me:
1. What are you thinking now?
2. What questions are you asking yourself?

I don't feel like I incorporated questions like these enough. We have to teach students that readers are thinkers. We have to teach them to ask questions and to think about what they are reading and writing and asking these two questions will do just that! 

1. At the end of chapter 6, Jan Richardson lists several questions teachers often ask about fluent guided reading. One teacher asked if students can write on whiteboards instead of in reading notebooks. Richardson says you should use notebooks so you have artifacts you can use for evaluating students and I couldn't agree more! 

When I was in the classroom, all my students had guided reading notebooks where we recorded our word work, guided writing, and comprehension work. This past year, I worked as a remediation teacher and all my students had folders to keep their work in. I made quick little charts like the ones below for students to show their work on and keep in their folders. If you have notebooks, these can easily be glued into their notebooks. Once students get comfortable using charts, teach them how to create their own charts in their notebooks!

Character's Feelings 


Sometimes you just don't have any schema on a word! :)

Cause and Effect

2. In this chapter, Jan Richardson talks about the importance of reciprocal teaching. She talks about how you should start by teaching each strategy to the whole class. Then, have students practice one strategy at a time in guided reading groups. Once all the strategies have been taught and mastered, you can give students their own strategy card to work on independently. 

Another idea would be to create a comprehension puzzle. Give each student in your guided reading group a comprehension strategy on a puzzle piece. Then, after all students are finished, have them share their puzzle pieces and put the puzzle together!

1. Since this chapter is all about comprehension, I thought I would share my Reading Comprehension Choice Boards and Activities Bundle! It contains choice boards and activities for the following reading comprehension strategies:
~ Summarizing
~ Inferring
~ Visualizing
~ Making Connections
~ Questioning
~ Predicting
~ Schema

Each comprehension strategy contains a choice board with 9 activities. Handouts and activity sheets are included for each activity that does not require plain paper. 

Choice boards can be put into a center for students to work on independently... 

...or they can be used as homework, a whole group activity (number each activity and have students vote on the activity they want to do that day), or as a Fun Friday task during guided reading groups.
(I like to use Fridays as my day to catch up on anything we didn't finish during guided reading groups and a time to work one-on-one with students who need extra support. These choice boards are perfect for those students who have finished everything and are ready for an independent task!)

You may also like these:
Reading Comprehension Skills Bundle
(Contains whole group Smartboard lessons and activities for schema, inferring, questioning, predicting, visualizing, summarizing, and making connections!)

Character Traits Games and Activities
(Contains four fun character trait games!)

Character's Feelings, Traits and Motivations 
(Contains Smartboard lessons and activities for teaching about character's feelings, traits, and motivations!)

Cause and Effect 
(Contains Smartboard lessons and activities!)

Don't forget to check out Melissa at Teacher Talk with Mrs. Sadler and Brooke at Big Ideas for Little Hands!

Check out each week of the book study by clicking the links below!
Week 1: Guided Reading- Center Rotations
Week 2: Guided Reading- Grouping Students
Week 3: Pre-A and Emergent Guided Reading
Week 4: Early Guided Reading
Week 5: Transitional Guided Reading
Week 6: Fluent Guided Reading
Week 7: Helping Struggling Readers

And, check out the rest of the #GuidedReadingGals blog posts below!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Class Pets

Do you have class pets?

Back in the day (again- don't pay attention to the dates! I keep things for entirely too long), I had a lot of class pets. I put a journal at each class pet for students to record what they animal was doing. Students were allowed to write in the journals during center time or when they were finished with all their work. 

Our hermit crab's journal:

These were perfect because even my students who didn't like to write couldn't wait to write about our class pets! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Study: Week 5 (Transitional Guided Reading)

It's week 5 of the #GuidedReadingGals' book study on The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson!

This week, Tobi from Teacher Talk with Mrs. Sadler is blogging about Chapter 5: Transitional Guided Reading. Go check out her page for an in depth blog post about Chapter 5! 

Last week's chapter was about early guided reading (levels D-I) and I shared a two day lesson plan that I used when teaching a level H group. Transitional guided reading group lessons (levels I+) have a lot of the same components as the early guided reading lessons. 
For example, in both lessons you:
- prompt for reading strategies
- have teaching points
- have discussion prompts
- work on guided reading

There are two differences though that I wanted to share:

In early guided reading groups, you teach and review sight words with your students. By the time they reach transitional guided reading group levels, students should have mastered their sight words and are now ready for vocabulary instruction.

Jan Richardson states that there are 4 steps you should do when teaching vocabulary:
1. Define the word (do not ask students if they know the word because it can lead to confusion; just say the word and give them the definition)
2. Connect the word to their background knowledge and experiences
3. Relate the word to the book (discuss how the word is used in the book)
4. Turn and talk about the word (have students tell each other the meaning of the word)

**Jan Richardson also states that you should not introduce new vocabulary words if the definition is in the text, glossary, or illustration because you aren't teaching them to be independent problem-solvers!

Word Work
The big takeaway here is that..... 
**Not all transitional readers will need word work!**

Jan Richardson states that if students have proficient phonics skills and are fluent decoders, they do not need word study. You can use the Word Study Inventory and observations to determine whether or not your transitional readers need the word study component. I tend to spend more time on higher order questioning and guided writing with my transitional readers who do not need word study. 

There is so much more to this chapter so don't forget to go check out Teacher Talk with Mrs. Sadler for a great post about Chapter 5!!

Check out each week of the book study by clicking the links below!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summarizing Self, Peer and Teacher Assessments!

This would have been me when I was in school!! But, not because I thought the teacher said to "summer-ize" my would have been because I struggled with how to summarize and would have done anything to avoid the assignment!! 

I used to dread teaching summarizing to my students because I wasn't confident in summarizing myself! Then, I decided to give summarizing self, peer, and teacher assessments a try and they have worked wonders!! 

Teacher Assessment
I start by using the teacher assessment. I have my guided reading group work together to create a summary of the book they read. 
In this case, each student was given a chapter in the nonfiction book we read and a piece of a tree map. After each student summarized their chapter, they worked together to put the tree map together!
When the group was finished, I used my teacher assessment checklist to 'grade' them. We discussed things they did a great job including, as well as things they need to think about including next time. I usually use these teacher assessments a few times before we move on to self-assessments.  

Once I feel students have a good understanding of the checklist and how to summarize, I have them self assess their summaries. 
You can see where this student realized they didn't include the setting. Not only did the student not put a check next to setting, they also wrote down at the bottom that the setting was one thing they wanted to work on. 

This is the same student a few weeks later! Guess what they have a check next to this time?! Yup!!! Next to summary!!! Now, if I had told this student they needed to include a summary do you think they would have remembered? Maybe. But, they definitely have a better chance of remembering when they discover it on their own!

After students feel confident with summarizing and self assessing their own work, we begin peer assessments. What I like most about these peer assessments is that they are positive! Peers are asked to write one thing they liked about their classmate's summary and one thing their classmate did that they want to do. 

These checklists have really made a difference with my students when teaching summarizing. When we write a summary, we always make sure we have a checklist nearby to help remind us of what to include. 

Need already made self, peer, and teacher assessments?! Check them out here!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Study: Week 4 (Early Guided Reading)

It is week #4 of the #GuidedReadingGals book study on The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson!!! 

This week, Beverly over at Warren's 2nd Grade Wonders is blogging about Chapter 4: Early Guided Reading! Go check out her blog for a more in depth post about this chapter! 

This chapter is definitely a must read if you teach early guided reading students. Early guided reading students are students reading levels D-I (DRA 5-16). My favorite part about this chapter is where Jan Richardson lays out a two day guided reading plan (p. 116-133). She literally lays everything out for you!! 

My guided reading lessons are based off of her book so I wanted to share an example of a guided reading lesson for a level H group. Here is what the lesson plan looks like: 
(The numbers are not usually there. I have numbered the sections as I'm going to discuss them below.)
Day 1

Day 2

SIOP/Guided Writing Page

I fold it in half and display it on my guided reading table so students can see it. 

Here we go! Day 1!
On day 1 of a lesson plan, we start with a familiar reading. This might be a book they read last week or earlier in the current week. I pick one student to do a running record with while the other students are reading independently. 
See section 1

After my running record and conference with the student is over, I discuss the SIOP with students which lets them know their job for the guided reading lesson. Then, we go over our sight word. 
See section 2

I give each student a whiteboard with the magnetic letters already spelling the word. After we read the word together, I have students mix the letters up and pass their boards to their neighbor.

Students fix their boards and slow-check them (slowly say the word while dragging their finger underneath the letters to check the spelling). 

Next, we do what's missing! I take a letter away and students guess what letter is missing!

Then, we do 'table writing' where students use two fingers and write the word on the table (sometimes we do the air, sometimes our arm, sometimes our leg, etc.). After 'table writing', students write the word on their whiteboards. All of this only takes about a minute or two.

Now, we are ready for our book! If there is prior knowledge I feel students need to know (ex: book is about white water rafting and I know most students have never been), we will have a quick discussion about it to get students ready for the book. If the book is about something students should be able to relate to, I start with my hook to get students excited about the book. Then, I pass out the books and we do a picture walk. During the picture walk, I will point out words that are difficult to decode, new vocabulary, and any language structure that I feel students would have a hard time understanding. 
See section 3

Then, it is reading time!! Students read independently while I listen in. I write anecdotal notes while listening to students and also see if there are any additional teaching points that need to be addressed. If a student finishes reading before I'm ready to move on, they are instructed to read their books again. 

After we are done reading, I go over my teaching point(s). I try to spotlight a student who has used the teaching point I'm teaching. For example, Ava first said teeth for tooth on page 3 of her book. She soon realized it didn't make sense, went back, reread, and fixed the word to make it make sense. 
See section 4

After my teaching point, we answer a higher order question. I use one question for day 1 and the other question for day 2. Then, it is word work time. This lesson's word work was about using sound boxes to spell five letter words with blends. 
See section 4 

Now, it is time for Day 2!!! 
Day 2 starts with reviewing our SIOP, sight word, and teaching point from Day 1. Then, I do a running record on the current book while the rest of the students read independently. 
See section 5  

Finally, we end our lesson with higher order questioning and writing. As I said earlier, I pick one higher order question to ask on day one and another for day 2. 
For the writing part of this lesson, I flipped my SIOP/Writing paper to a written comprehension question. We worked together to highlight parts of the question that we wanted to use in our answer. Then, students independently answered the question as I individually conferenced with students about their writing. 

When I listen in on students reading, I take anecdotal notes which I record on page 2 of my lesson plan. These are simple notes that help me determine teaching points for each student. For example, you can see where Madison L. was using meaning and visual cues, but the word wasn't grammatically correct. This note helps remind me that I need to be working on making her aware of grammatical issues when reading. I tend to refer back to past anecdotal notes when planning lessons and reflecting on individual students. 
See section 7

The last thing I do is reflect on my lesson. My reflections are usually based on the whole group, not individual students. I tend to comment on things that need to be worked on in future lessons or things that the whole group has a good understanding of. 
See section 8

And there you have it! A 2 day lesson plan! 

Need more guided reading resources? Try this Guided Reading Tips and Tricks Flip Chart. You can read more about it here!

***Don't forget to check out Beverly's post on Early Guided Reading!

Check out each week of the book study by clicking the links below!