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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Keeping It Fresh

I love literacy center time. It's a time when my students are actively engaged in reading and writing, with a few play centers thrown in to break it up a bit. The favorite center is Write The Room with Pocket Chart being a close second. I noticed recently that they didn't really know what to do at Word Work and chose the same activities over and over again not fully recognizing the potential for learning. It was also located in my back corner and out of sight. My writing center was one that was never used. Never. Well, last week I decided to flip things up and switched the 2 centers, changed out some activities and freshened them up a bit. We had a mini lesson on the centers and I explained all the wonderful things they could do in each center. That morning, when it came time for centers, they actually argued over who would go to writing and Word Work. Really?? Isn't that funny? It's amazing how something as simple as switching 2 shelves and telling them about what I did made such an impact. One of the reasons I love teaching. Keeping things fresh and new is always an effective strategy!
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Friday, March 7, 2014

My Addition and Subtraction Epiphany

So we just finished up our math unit on addition. In previous years we really only taught addition, meaning "this+this=this", not really getting too much into reversing the equal sign and surely not doing anything with missing addends. Enter Common Core...(everyone has their opinions, I know) Our new math series has an entire section on finding the missing addend in sums to 10. I admit I was hesitant to teach the concept because it is so abstract. However, I dove into it head first. I put a box of math manipulatives that came with our series on each table with enough for each student to have a set. For the past 2 weeks I've been putting out the worksheets that came with our series where students had to find the missing addend. It was tough at first, lots of modeling and breaking it down and frustration. However, the more we did it the easier it got. I began explaining to them that they "start with the total" and then "take away the number they show" and then "count how many you have left". What? Wait, you mean...I'm setting them up for subtraction? YES! This was my AHA moment this morning. In teaching them to find the missing addend I've been setting them up with CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS that will help them more easily understand subtraction. Wow, how silly of me to have not realized that before. It just goes to show how intertwined the concepts are in math. For those of you who already do this, HOORAY! You're awesome. For those of you who haven't taught the concept yet, I highly encourage you to do so. I can't wait to see how much easier subtraction is going to be for my kiddos!!
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Guided Reading Freebie

I don't know how you guys are planning for Guided Reading but it has taken lots of tweaking to get a LP that I can use and that doesn't make me crazy. I finally decided that I need to just focus on the important aspects of text and content in my planning and let the individualized things, like word work and strategies, happen in the moment based on what my kids need. If you need a simple and easy to follow GRLP template I am uploading mine FREE to my TPT store. Here is a peek at what it looks like. Grab it for free HERE.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Making Guided Reading Work

As promised here is my post on how I organize and manage Guided Reading. It's a system that has evolved through trial and error, but it is finally at a point where I feel I can let go and reap the fruits of my labor.

Centers and Workshop Management

This is my Workshop Management board. Each day we do literacy and math workshops. There are 4 workshops: 2 are teacher led and 2 are independent. The workshop bins are color coded and they don't vary from week to week to keep it consistent. The bins I use are clear with colored tops (pink for literacy and blue for math). Each bin has a colored card on the front denoting what workshop it is: red with me, yellow with my aide, green is word work, blue is phonics. Each day students go to one workshop. When they are finished they go to their assigned learning centers for the day.


This is my center rotation chart. There are 11centers (8 learning centers and 3 "play" centers). Each day students go to the center board and find the task they are supposed to do. They work in pairs or threes. I rotate these daily. I keep the additional cards in a pouch and change them out as needed. The students are really good at knowing where to go and what to do. It has made life so easy and has helped curb the behavior issues of "I don't know what to do", "What do I do now?". Plus, it makes them responsible for taking charge of their learning by gathering their materials and having initiative to get started on their own. I love love love this system!



Guided Reading Management System



This is my reading group management board. It is on the wall right beside my guided reading table. I used an oil drip pan from Wal Mart and some magnets I found on the dollar aisle at Target. Each student has a magnet with their name on it. As I assess them throughout the year I move their magnet to reflect their level. The levels are color coded. This makes my life SO MUCH easier! I can quickly and easily check reading levels for report cards and makes grouping a breeze.








This is my organization system. Each drawer is labeled with a level (F&P) and is color coded to match the levels on the magnet board. In these drawers I keep my assessment binders, leveled benchmark books and the leveled readers we will be using for the week.








These are my assessment binders for each reading group. Again, they are color coded. I use removable sticky labels with student names on the front. As a student progresses to the next level I move their label to the binder for that level.



This is how I keep track of my students. Each student has a tab in the binder with their name on it. Behind each tab I keep both formal and informal running records and my anecdotal notes. As I am reading with a student I use a sticky note to make notes about their reading. I label the notes with the date and title of the book and write down notes that I think will help me when making decisions about interventions and mastery of the level. I place the sticky notes on the back of the tab divider with their name on it.



This is my leveled classroom library. This shelf is only for my use. I keep my leveled readers that I use during guided reading on the shelf. Levels A, B, and C on the top row are in color coded baskets. I will eventually have them all color coded. I have the books clipped into sets of 6 so all I have to do is pull a set each week and put in my organization drawers.




This is the student library. I love this area of the room. The bins are labeled by topic and/or author using book label cards I found on TPT (Erica Borher, I think). The books in each bin have a matching label on the back so students will know which bin the books belong in. The labels are taped on the front so I can easily change them out as the year progresses. I keep additional bins ready to go in my closet so I can pull them and change them out as needed.





This is our big book bin. I just got this through a grant on Donor's Choose, so I'm really proud of it!! I love it because it has 4 slots in the middle which help the books stand up nice and tall. No more drooping!




This is just a glimpse of how I manage guided reading. I hope you find this useful. As I said before, this was total trial and error, but it's an amazing feeling to finally be at a point where you have a system that works for you and your students and one that gives you more time to actually sit down and work with your students individually. The centers and workshop cards are available at my TPT store.















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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm Back...Again

It's been quite a while since my last blog post and I am so sorry it's been so long. Lots of things going on personally and professionally, but I'm back and ready to share what's going on in The Perch. Our school is a first year Fountas and Pinnell balanced literacy school and we have been fully engaged in it for the past 5 months. It's been a labor of love but I finally figured out how to get to all of my guided reading groups in one day without sacrificing any content areas. This is the first week of my new schedule and I'm really excited that it's going so well. I never thought it was possible but here is how it looks:

8:30-8:45- Calendar, morning meeting
8:45-9:00- Shared Reading (usually a mini-guided reading WG lesson on PB)
9:00-9:30- Whole group writing (I work with small groups of students who need extra help and my aide monitors and helps the rest of the groups)
9:30-10:30- Workshops and Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (2-3 rotations)
                    *WS 1- Teacher led guided reading small group
                    *WS 2- aide led workshop (word work, phonics, word families, etc...)
                    *WS 3- Word Work (sight words review and practice)
                    *WS 4- Phonics (letters, sounds, segmentation, etc...)
          ***When students are finished at their workshop they place their work in the check basket and go to            their assigned center. I have included my "fun" centers in the rotations to give more choices and                      alleviate boredom. 2 students per center for a total of 12 centers. When I finish my first GR group I              call my next group over from centers to work with me. If time permits I pull the third group.
10:30-12:30 lunch, RA, recess, bathroom
12:30-1:00- SSR/RTI- this is when I pull the remaining GR groups
1:-1:30- Math workshops
1:30-2:10- free centers

During the GR times I do the focus mini lesson with the group and then send them off with the book of the day and the books from the week to read while waiting for me. I have 3 students read to me each day, rotating them out each day. On Friday I pull those students who struggled and do strategic intervention with them or I use the time to do a RR. By the end of the week my students have all read to me independently at least 2 times. That is huge! I had to get myself out of the mindset of not being able to read with every child every day, but there's just no time for that. I take comfort knowing that twice a week is plenty. I have seen amazing results from doing it this way and can't wait to see how much it's going to impact my reading scores at the end of the year.

If you need literacy center rotation cards you can get them in my TPT store at 20% off tomorrow and Friday. My students love them and it has made independent work time so much easier to manage. I hope this schedule is helpful to you. I'm happy to share with you the things I've learned from Trial and Error! It's great to finally have a system that is working!!

I'll take pics tomorrow and post them of what my board looks like now. It has changed since I first started it. I'll also post my organization system for my guided reading time.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Madness, I tell you!

Today was a teacher work day. I had several parent conferences but was fortunate enough to have a 3 hour break in between. So what does any good teacher do on a work day with a 3 hour break? That's right, we start a project! Here are some pics of the madness...


I realized that I needed to organize my reading center a little better if I want my kids to be able to navigate. I had a great start last year but it just didn't work well. I had the bins labeled but they weren't in a logical sequence or order. So I have researched and searched for ideas and decided to bite the bullet today and get started on it. Previously my reading center looked like this:
Colored bins organized by topic and just laid out in a color pattern. I got to thinking about how difficult it was for me to navigate the bins, which means that it would be even harder for my students to navigate them. So, I took everything down and am in the process of reorganizing and color coding the bins. So far I have GREEN bins for books by characters, BLUE bins for books by author, ORANGE bins for books by skill and PURPLE bins for books by topic. I hope to finish up tomorrow and have the reading center ready for "business" during balanced literacy workshops next week! I'll post the finished project tomorrow.

Update!!! This is my newly organized system:

Really happy with how it looks now! 
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Update on Balanced Literacy

So today we did rotation 2 that I talked about the other day and it went well. I spend a lot of time going over each activity and reviewing the rules and purpose for the activities as well. Instead of having my own group to work with I just monitored and guided the students as they worked. My RTI group was out of the room so we had fewer students which made it much easier. Here are a few pics of how I set up my rotations:
Here is the work job board. At the top you see Groups 1-4 with cards underneath. That is for rotation 1 when we are doing workshops of pre-planned activities for specific skills. We have 4 groups and they rotate to one per day. One group is always a teacher led group and the others are independent practice. The groups who are not working with me have 2 cards: the have to and the what next. This shows them where to go when they are finished and they don't have to ask me and interrupt my group. The bottom is our rotation 2 centers. There are 11 centers right now and I will change them out during the year. Students are paired into groups of 2-3 to do a specific task. You'll notice that some of the cards have a colored dot on them.
The colored dots represent activities that have a recording sheet or work mat to go with them. I have bins that are these colors and I put the materials for these activities in the bins. I teach the students to look for their dot and find the bin that matches to get their materials. It worked really well today and I'm excited to give more choices and activities later on!
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