Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Next Step In Guided Reading Chapter 3 Pre A and Emergent Readers…

If you know me, the really little people kind of intimidate me in the classroom.  Kindergarten teachers are a rare breed of teacher and I truly love and respect each and every one of you.  This chapter was so great to read as I have an emergent reader right here in my home!  I was ready to play school with her after reading this chapter but she was having none of that, because she didn’t get to be the teacher!!!  Oh well…it is what it is.

My sweet bloggy friend Julie has a full run down of chapter three at her blog.  Click the picture below the get the full chapter 3 synopsis. 

Big Ideas for Little Hands


This chapter focuses on how the lessons are structured and paced and the activities which are included in a preA reading lesson and the emergent reading lessons for GR levels A-C.  My big moment was the guided writing for these little guys!  I love how the reading and writing are put together in the lesson and that the writing is very much a window into what the children have control of…. I have put together the first in a series of monthly little guided writers notebooks.  In this bundle, you will get August and September because we all start at different times!!!  I am offering them in my store for 50% for 24 hours!  Click either pic to snag this resource!!! and don’t forget to check out Julie’s blog post about amazing emergent readers!!!

Slide1 LGW September product pic

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Assessment! Ch. 2 of The Next Step In Guided Reading…

To read a full chapter 2 run down please visit #guidedreadinggal Laura at Where the Magic Happens

This is an incredible post which you should really check out!

Where the magic happens 

Chapter 1 presented by my bloggy #guidedreadinggals buddy is in the books and there was a lot to be learned about setting up a classroom for guided reading.  Chapter 2 is all about the next logical step to getting started and that is Assessment…I had an epiphany when reading this chapter (I really felt like Jan Richardson was channeling me as she wrote this book).  Assessment does not look the same at all grade levels and you really can’t use the same assessment tools with kinders as you would use with a fourth grader!  There, I said it!  It is out in the world and I can never reel those words back in!  But, I don’t think I want to either.  K’s and 1’s have a very specific set of reading assessments which are going to include phonemic awareness and phonetic principals like sounds and letter identification, then onto sight words if they have control of letter sounds and identification.  Dictated sentences, a writing sample and an oral running record from text…Shewwwww!  I am tired and I haven’t give any of those tests yet!  What I thought was interesting was the stark contrast in the assessments given to intermediate students.  This is where I have spent the bulk of my teaching career, is with age group, so these were simple for me to churn out…Jan Richardson says the best assessment we can give is a leveled passage with comprehension questions.  I go a bit deeper than just that.  I take a running record with it, I assess fluency, I do a simple retelling and then if all that checks out then I can ask those burning comprehension questions.  As I read further in, I found there to be little more to it…there is a process for assessing below grade level decoders of text and then a process for those students on or above intermediate grade level…

I was left with a burning question and this is still burning even with having given reading assessments for the last 15 years…How many comprehension questions?  And do you ask them orally or do you send them off to answer those on their own?  What do you think?  Do you think comprehension questions are necessary if the student can retell or give the main idea?  My school says four to five questions but it has to be a uniformed decision of our school so we have reliable data.  As far as how the comprehension questions are answered for me, depends on the age and reading level of the reader.  If I don’t think they will have issue, then I will allow them to work on the questions while I assess another student.  If I am not feeling it, then I will ask the questions myself.  I always make note of this in my assessment notebook tab for this student.  What do you think?  I am interested and I want your thoughts!  You can leave your comments here with me or head over to the We <3 Guided Reading Facebook group and join in the discussion over there as well.  Search us with the tag #guidedreadinggals

So, thanks for hanging with me today!  As a show of thanks, I wanted to share a tool that I have used for years for tracking data. This is my Assessment and Progress Monitoring Kit.   It is a great visual tool for showing where students fall in their reading journey and how for they have to move in order to be on grade level.  This tool is what I use to track my students assessment results.  I keep it in a binder under a tab for each student and fill in their results.  I then have a useful tool for communication with parents and my running progress monitoring for progress reports and RtI.  You can get if for free for the next 24 hours and after that the link will expire and you can get in my store.  Either click the link above or the picture will take you there as well…

Assessment and Progress Monitoring Package Information product image

Last Chapter of the CAFE! I had an A-HA moment…

I read it cover to cover!  I have NEVER done that with a professional book and am well on my way to reading two cover to cover this year!  Put that in my bucket list!  I know, sad existence:)  Also, I should have had this post ready and posted Wednesday but my week has gotten away from me?  Sorry :)

Any way!  I read chapter 7 of the CAFE book and took away much from it.  Chapter 7 is about the strategy groups.  The sisters do not do guided reading groups.  The strategy group is the method which was born of guided reading groups for them.  The kids in the guided reading groups were never really flexing.  As the students improved, the level just changed and the kids never seemed to.  I took from this chapter that even within the guided reading group, multiple needs still existed.  I have experienced that and found myself shifting toward students all around my table teaching mini lessons on the spot based on those kids needs.  The chapter mentioned a strategy group assessment but I couldn’t seem to locate it in the chapter or in the appendix.  If you know where it is, totally leave me a comment and make sure you are not a “no reply” blogger.  I like to send some love you way! 

Page 109 had some great information to share about strategy groups.  The sister said they just didn’t wake up one morning with “an epiphany and switch all our groups from leveled guided reading strategy groups” Instead the did one strategy group at a time, still using guided reading groups for quite some time.  They also indicated that the strategy being addressed by that group sort of dictated when that group would flex out.  Some strategies take longer to get control over due to their complexity and/or sophistication and/or how well the children were mastering said strategy. 

So…here are some of my #realtalk feelings, thoughts, concerns etc.

I love this idea and the richness that strategy groups can bring to literacy instruction.  The concept is ginormous.  Such a benefit for every child in your classroom.  I am in a district which requires the use of guided reading levels for progress monitoring.  We also just spent, district monies, a whole lotta cash to purchase the Journey’s series from Houghton Mifflin.  So, I feel so stuck.  But, I think I know what I can do.  Start small and smart.  Start with the individual conferences for kids who just don’t fit in your groups.  This is so tier 2 and if you have the conference records and assessment data for progress monitoring then you are already like 25 steps ahead of most folks in your building:)  I can see letting go of the GRL for those high performing students and using these deeper strategies for a book study and really truly and finally meeting the needs of those kids.  Right now the ideas for strategies groups and how the make them work in a guided reading world are just flooding my brain!  I think this is setting me up for a post down the road and  possible PD offering for my people.  I could include you all too if you were so inclined.  If I get some interest, I will set it up and let you know how we can do this.  I am so very excited right now!  #teachersteachingteachers is really a great way to expand your knowledgebase!!

Thanks for sticking with me through my reading and sharing of the CAFE book!  I hope it gave you something to think about and ways you to can make reading instruction work for you! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CAFE Chapters 5 and 6…

I am so glad I hung in for these two chapters….These are what I as a mostly visual learner need when I am learning new strategies and tips for managing and teaching my classroom…EXAMPLES!!! 

Chapter 5 is all about the individual conference with students and the mini lesson.  One take away from this chapter is reminding students about their goals.  Many students I have found in my own experience fail to see the connection to why we do anything at school other than occupy their time or they think the goal to say to teachers is to get better at reading.  While that is a valid goal, goals for reading need to be very specific and tailored to the learners needs.  Moser and Boushey would remind the learner of their goal.  It was one of the parameters of the conference itself.  Most students in the examples were ELL’s and could not articulate their goals or remember them.  So a reminder at each conference is well served!

My favorite highlighted strategy is flip the sound and I can see it being very helpful for my students.  Also combining the check for understanding strategy and pulling it into a summary!  That is really going to work wonders for my kids this year.  I have taught it in a similar way in the past but it never connected well…I can see my kids bridging the strategy with this approach!  Especially since the Sister’s have a menu of really concentrated strategies and they are repeatedly hit over and over as the school year progresses!

This is echoed in Chapter 6 for whole group lessons…Keep it short for short attention spans and then allow the bulk of your time to be spent on strategy group lessons and individual conferences. Hit this scaled down selection of the best and most used reading strategies often and build upon them daily.  Having said this,  I don’t know how in the world I will get in three whole group sessions a day.  I know I can do two a day but I still will have to work into that….We have a new reading series and a pacing guide in development so that has to be followed.  I can see me having to make CAFE fit into this mold and not the other way around.  This is a formality at best but this is my teaching reality.  I know from this chapter that I will need to hit comprehension and accuracy strategies in whole group mini lessons and my fluency and expanding vocabulary can be taught very easily through modeling and think alouds during read alouds. 

Tune in next Wednesday for Chapter 7 and 8!!!!  Thanks for stopping by today! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

What A FUN, WET N’ WILD Day!!!!

My son, my last born, my little tiny baby, turned 3 and we had his birthday party yesterday.  I love having parties for my babies.  This year he has loved Thomas the Train and Toy Story so we went with a Toy Story theme!  His sweet little cake, his banner and bunting…I had his cake made, but the banner and bunting I did with my trusty PC and a little program I like to call PowerPoint. 

20150712_163959 20150712_165348 20150712_165328

He was one happy little boy if you can’t tell!!  Look at that grin!  He is a boss on this thing and has been riding his sisters around the yard at top speed all day!!!


Today I went to school and we got to work on our CLASS LISTS!!!!  This has always been such an exciting time for me.  I love seeing the names of the students who will be in my new class for the the upcoming school year.  I learn so much by talking to their teachers from last year.  They are always so concerned for them to be taken care of and loved on but also that they are in the right classroom so their best can shine.  I think I am going to have a really, really, really great class next year.  I already know a lot of them just through hallway connections alone.  I am looking forward to getting to know them all and preparing for their arrival in 4 short weeks.  We start school on August 12 and I am starting to get the pre- opening day jitters already!!!!

Also today, my part of the world had the storm of the century it seemed! There was wind, there was sideways rain and a river is running over my neighbor’s driveway.  The electricity went out briefly.  I got all jazzed up like I always do in a good storm.  #inmyreallifeimastormchaser  I would totally chase storms if I didn’t have the sweet life I have with my little family…  Here are some of the highlights! 

20150713_161259  20150713_161447 20150713_161330

To say we are a little waterlogged is grossly understated!  I think this is our hundred year flood year!!!

To keep myself busy during the storm I pulled out my copy of “The NEXT Step In Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.  I have been reading this book as part of a collaborative online book study with #theguidedreadinggals. 


Our study launched today and the first chapter is live with Marie Lee at the Literacy Spot.


The Literacy Spot
Click on her button to read more about chapter 1 and check back each Monday for another chapter.  Chapter 1 is all about the research behind guided reading and what the other kids are doing when your are doing guided reading with your small group.  I was hooked after my read of chapter 1 and I know you will be as well.  Click on the button to go to the Literacy Spot and check out some of the other #guidedreadinggals blogs as well!!!  You can also find us at the We <3 Guided Reading Facebook Group to follow our post blog discusson!!!
Friday, July 10, 2015

Harry Wong and My Flawed Classroom Management Plan…Oh My!!!

I was very lucky last summer to get to meet with and learn from Harry and Rosemary Wong and company at a one day seminar.  The focus was his latest book The Classroom Management Plan.  It was a once in a lifetime experience and I was grateful to get to go.  I was ready to hit the ground running when I left, I felt like I had a clue of what I was doing and there was going to be no misbehavior in my classroom this year, no sir! 

So day one of school comes and I have my classroom management plan in my hands and the kids are at the door.  Keep in mind, this is my first year in second grade in many, many moons…I have to say this year was not an epic failure in the classroom management plan arena, but I learned very quickly that I had lots of room for improvement.  This was a new school, mixed with new kids who were also at a new school and we all had no idea what was true expectations.  We were all flying by the seat of our pants it felt like.  I knew what procedures I had when I taught 4th grade so I put those into play because in my mind those were general enough to apply to any classroom….WRONG-O!!!  I didn’t have enough procedures lined out.  At. All.  I knew I was in for it when there came question after question about what to do with this item and what to do with that…I was beat and this was just the first day.  So, I persevered.  I won’t say I abandoned the plan…I just didn’t do it with fidelity.  I was in survival mode most every single day! But, one day close to the end of the year we sat down and had a class meeting.  We worked out what needed written procedures and I will just say, out of the mouths of babes.  These kids said everything needed to written and practiced.  So that is just what we did.  We came up with a list of the procedures we currently had in place in the classroom and hallways.  Then we broke out into groups and the kids wrote what should be in this years plan.  I have to apologize here because this would be a fabulous place to insert pictures of this chart and the kids working on the different procedures of the plan…BUT survival mode remember. 

This was the finished product.

classroom management plan student edition

I took all their notes and cleaned up everything and this is what will run my classroom this year.  I even included some for departmentalized classrooms since I was not sure who would be using this just me or some of you fine people!  I had no idea that I needed to write and practice a procedure for tissues and hand sanitizer but yes folks…we ran out because there was nothing in place to show kids how I wanted these items to be handled.  I have kids of my own and this never crossed my mind.  Go figure!

This is housed in a notebook with my notes for each page.  It is on a powerpoint which I will use in the first days of school to go over each procedure.  I will hang posters with the procedures on this in different areas of the room so kids get a constant reminder of the procedures when they are in different areas. 

If you would like an editable copy of this plan, you can find it in my store by clicking on the picture above.  It’s a forever freebie!  Because a smoothly running classroom is a teacher treasure! 

I am going to leave you with a question to ponder…even with the best laid plans and procedures set…what about those little stinkers who KNOW what they are supposed to do but they just don’t do it.  That to me involves consequences not just a reteach…Any thoughts? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CAFE chapters 3 and 4…

Happy Wednesday!!  Thanks for stopping by today.  CAFE chapters 3 and 4 were all about getting started and the one to one student conference. 

In chapter 3, I had a couple things I took from it that I think I really want to use in my classroom and I can do them VERY early in the school year!  The first take away are the three read alouds and strategy lessons I can do with my class as a whole group the very first day of school.  With your CAFE board set up (CAFE is an acronym which stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Extend Vocabulary), you pick three times to bring your whole class together to the CAFE board and teach them to 1. Check for understanding and place this under the comprehension header, 2. Cross Checking where the reader asks themselves does that look right, do the letters and pictures match what I am saying and does it make sense.  This strategy is placed under the accuracy header on the board.  The third strategy they teach that day is typically tune into interesting words and this is placed under the Extend vocabulary header on the CAFE board.  Students don’t necessarily at this point need to know more about this strategy other than to pick out the words they think are outstanding.  All the time we are teaching these strategies, we are physically touching the strategy cards we have posted on the board each time we refer to them.  The other take away was the Assessment to Instruction portion of the chapter.  The steps are as follows, 1.  Assess the individual student, 2. Discuss your findings with the student.  3.  Set goal and identify strategies with student, 4. Student declares the goal on the menu and in our notebooks.  5. Teacher fills out individual reading conference board, 6. Teacher fills out strategy group chart and 7. Instruction takes place. 

Chapter 4 is all about the conference.  My biggest take away is that this is really student centered and doesn’t focus on a set of questions the student needs to answer.  It about a scheduled chunk of time in which the student and teacher check to see if the student has gotten control of the strategy they were taught in the last conference.  They do offer a suggested frame for the conference so that it doesn’t drag on forever…I know I am guilty of that when I am talking with kids about reading!  They call these the seven elements of a successful conference.  1. check your calendar for appointments you have scheduled with kids (a couple a day) 2. Prepare for the conference by looking at the students conference record in your notebook (pensieve).  3. Observe the child and listen to them read.  4. Reinforce and teach. 5. Practice the new or reinforced strategy.  6. Plan for your next conference and schedule it then.  7.  Encourage the student to practice this new or reinforced strategy during their read to self time.  The conferences are meant to be very quick and you go to the student.  Do not call them to you.  This will just disrupt everyone in the class and that is the last thing you want to do.  As you are walking to your conferences you can easily manage things that might be out of line with routines you have established that students are choosing not to follow.  But that never happens in any of our classrooms (snarky sarcasm here) :) 

Thanks again for stopping by today.  I hope you found something useful and check in with me Friday.  I will be discussing my Harry Wong Classroom management experience…

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Next Steps in Guided Reading…

Hello friends!  On Mondays, beginning on July 13th, I will be talking about Jan Robinson’s book The Next Steps In Guided Reading.  I will have a couple guest bloggers on to share their takes on different titles and some other link ups to other bloggers in the group.  I encourage you to follow our discussions by using #guidedreadinggals.  If you are looking for answers and/or some hints or tips for guided reading in your classrooms, grab your copy and read with us!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

I can safely say that I am back…and with a freebie!!!

Well, mid teacher summer is here and I think I can safely make a dip back into the bloggy pool.  At least the shallow end anyway.  I taught second grade this year at a different school…It was an eye opening experience to say the least but I learned as much if not more than my students did.  The one thing I learned is that kids are so much more capable than we give them credit for, they just need the right motivation.  This was most evident when I was teaching writing and constructed response answers.  One goal I had this year was to get kids writing coherent answers to short answer questions.  I hated having fourth graders come in and not be able to effectively answer a question.  So I started basic and we worked on restating the question.  Simply lifting part of the question and placing it in your answer.  Second graders stepped up let me just tell ya.  They felt so grown up when I told them “guys, fourth graders don’t even do this as well as you!!!  My strategy for teaching this was the acronym RUN.  We read the task and placed a rectangle around the do word (i.e. describe or summarize).  Then we would underline the key words in the question to place as our restated portion of the response.  Then we would put any numbering or labels in our answer and get to writing.  Click on the pic for a free copy to use in your classroom.  With repeated practice and scaffolding, even my approaching students were able to write a constructed response answer. 

RUN constructed response poster

And students NEED TO BE KIDS.  I tapped into that as much as possible this school year.  We did a lot of GoNoodle Indoor Recess Mix…They begged for brain breaks and Popsico! 

GoNoodle classroom brain breaks.Image result for indoor recess brain break mega mixes

My students would go gaga for these and the mega mixes allowed for the boys who don’t dance, you know the ones, to get up and get at it!  Go Noodle is a resource I will use no matter what grade I teach!  It was a great school year, a humbling learning experience and I am already turning this new school year over in my mind!!!  I hope these resources get your wheels turning as well. 

Happy Independence Day!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Facebook and the Old Fashioned Book Study…

I love Facebook…totally can be used for the power of good!  I am taking part in two book studies on Facebook right now!  I am in a Daily 5 group and a guided reading group.  (Yes little ones, teachers are in reading groups too!) Because of the nature of the nature of these books, I am going to post them separately and I will post my chapter reactions, thoughts, questions etc on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Can we say some sort of linky party may be developing…I don’t know, I digress…

Before I go any further with my Wednesday book (its my only book this week since I have to go pick my other book up) I wanted to link to the Facebook groups in case you might be interested in joining us. 

Daily 5 Book Study AND thank you to the fabulous Marie Lee of The Literacy Spot for putting together our club for The Next Steps in Guided Reading  by Jan Richardson. 

Onto the first two chapters of the the CAFE book.

cafe book pic

Chapter 1 is basically an introduction to the book and how the system was born.  CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Extend vocabulary.  We learn in chapter 1 that the teacher does meet with each student, some students more than other dependent on how the needs show up during assessment.  Students become goal oriented in the design through individual conferences with the teacher, again each student, but some more than other others each week.  There are not a huge number of record keeping forms because the Sisters wanted this process to be in-depth, but user friendly.  Based on the conferences and what goals the students set, small fluid groups are formed.  The groups are goal based so students may or may not be reading the same book.  As I stated before, some students get more face time with the teacher than others.  Taking from Richard Allington’s research, exemplary teachers of reading knew that children with the greatest needs get the most instruction initially and then as the school year progresses the amount of time decreases as the needs decrease.  This doesn’t mean your advanced readers at any grade level get ignored, it just means the quality of the instruction when they are with you must be enriching!

One key standout of chapter 1 was a research point.  The Sisters refer to it as a touchstone of what they do…It was drawn from an article from Johnston, Allington, and Afflerbach in 1985 and titled “The Congruence of Classroom and Remedial Reading Instruction.”  In relation to Rita today, in order for students to become readers and develop strategies, coordination must take place between what these students are learning in the classroom and what is going on in tiered instruction.  Otherwise, students do not get the opportunities for application of the newly learned skill.  This is one plus for curriculum pacing guides in districts and food for thought when discussing student progress during the PLC!

Chapter 2…The Pensieve…

This is the organization station of those few forms.  I love the calendar and the keeping track form.  The strategy group sheet I can see helping me streamline my groups by organizing the information from the conferences and the data I get from my running records.  We are a guided reading classroom and school and that data is significant for RtI groups. I love the individual data I will be able to collect and how that will help me back better instructional decisions for these kids.   I am sure I am going to learn this as I read further but I don’t yet know what the touch points are. 


And those are my musings and a question over the first two chapters of The CAFE Book.  Check back next Wednesday for chapters 3 and 4. 

Have a great day and a blessed tomorrow!