Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chapter Two: Book Study - Guided Reading

Sharing Kindergarten - Chapter Two Hostess with the Mostess

Sharing Kindergarten

Things to consider when reading Chapter Two:
What do you use for your assessments:
Letter Identification? 
Sight Words?
Dictated Sentences?
Writing Samples?
Running Records?
I use a packet of assessments given to us by our district.  We also do AIMS web four times a year and we do the CAP assessments as well.  Those are the ones we HAVE to use, but I use many other things as well.  I love these packets from Kindergarten Kiosk.
Common Core Math Assessments: Kindergarten    Common Core English/Language Arts Assessments:Kindergarten
I use these all year long and they are really useful during parent/teacher conferences.  They also really help me bump up my curriculum using the common core standards.  I can find trends in my class that guide me toward what I need to spend time on teaching, what the class already knows and what they just aren't getting yet.  The packets are only $5 each and they cover everything.
I also start off my year using a combination of these two assessment packets and I use them as a basis for my student portfolios.  The parents LOVE this and it really tracks their progress on basic skills such as numbers, writing and illustration skills.
Portfolio/Memory Book Template: Measuring Growth One Sampl   This one is also by Kindergarten Kiosk
Primarily Portfolios  This one is by Growing Kinders
We use popcorn words at our school.  Everyone seems to call them something else, but our sight words are known as popcorn words to our students.  I created all of the words on cute little popcorn kids graphics I found at Scrappin' Doodles.
Kindergarten Popcorn Words (the first fourty plus color an  You can get them at my store at Kindergarten Cafeteria
We place the popcorn onto rings for the kids to use in their reading bag.  We also have a giant popcorn bag on the bulletin board so when the kids master their words we place their name on a big piece of paper popcorn and they earn lunch with the teacher.  We also have a big popcorn party at the end of the school year for all of the kids that master all of their words. 
For running records we are big into The New York Teachers College Reading and Writing Project forms and assessments.  I just spent a week at one of their trainings really learning about running records and how to analyze them to create teaching points for my students.  It was life changing!  I encourage you to go to their sight and prowl around.  Warning, you could get lost for hours!  I could go on and on about using M (meaning), S (syntax) and V (visual) for analyzing running records but you would get board reading the rest of this post.  If you ever get a chance to go to one of their amazing trainings, run, don't walk to get there.
That is about all I have for assessments.  I am still growing in this area.  I am still a big fan of using plain old post-it notes to observe and take down antidotal  notes.  I am a picture freak and take lots of pictures to document growth and understanding.  I love to record my kiddos reading and play it back for them to assess fluency.  I also just stand back and watch a lot.  I learn so much that way about their thinking, problem solving and understanding of a concepts.  I really believe sometimes the best assessments just can't be captured on a form or document, but you have to listen and truly hear them to assess their understanding.  That being said, I am a big believer in giving them time to "play" to see how they use the skills and apply them to new situations.  That is when I really know if they "got it" and can "use it" or not. 
I also keep a classroom blog.  Yes, for me that is an assessment.  It is a picture and written documentation of their learning process.  To see more go to Our classroom blog at Fun in F16.  This gives me a visual and audio picture of how the kids are synthesizing information.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post.  If so please consider following me.  I would like to hit 100 followers this summer.  I feel silly asking, but hey, if you don't ask you don't get.  Leave me a comment so I can follow you back.  Can't wait to read all of your responses.  I learn so much from all of you!

I am having a sale!

Come on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and enjoy 20% off all of my items.  This is just my little way of saying Happy Summer to all of my teacher friends.  I just added a new packet that has the commonly used reading strategies as posters and bookmarks to place into your student's reading bags.  I am also hoping to make it to 100 followers this summer so if you would please take the time to follow my blog I would really appreciate it!  I will follow you back.  Let me know if you have any ideas for other teacher packets you would like to see made.  I am currently working on a Super Readers pack to go with our Reading Workshop Unit on Super Reading Powers and hope to have that up next week.  Thanks for all you do for kids.  Enjoy your summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study Chapter One

Here are my answers to the questions asked in this weeks books study.

How do I introduce my students to read alouds?  Shared reading?  Independent reading?

I actually start with reading Junie B. Jones:  The Stupid Smelly School Bus.  This helps me know what kids can hold on to information about characters, setting and plot from day to day.  I find that the kids are fascinated to listen to a story about another child going through the same feelings/thoughts that they are experiencing during the first few weeks of Kindergarten.  It is also a nice transition from lunch/recess back into the learning part of the day.  I also get to see who can sit and listen and who is "antsy".  Shared reading is usually introduced by reading alphabet poems.  Our whole team uses these poems and all of the kindergarten kids are introduced to the same poems in the same order across our school.  This year I am starting Reading Workshop the first week of school, starting with how to turn the pages safely and how to read "the whole time".  I use a chart to track our stamina and I really will be teaching into procedures the first few weeks of school (reading the whole time, staying in one place, looking at the pictures, how to turn the pages, how to get new books and how to use post-it notes to mark interesting parts they want to remember).  We use high interest books (such as David Shannon, Mo Willams) to keep them interested.  We have a set of Sulzby book to use as well to teach reading strategies that they can use during independent reading to try to help them stay engaged during independent reading.

Do I have my schedule set?  Do I set up my literacy time in a reading workshop format?  What does my RW shop time look like?

Yes, we do have a schedule set.  I am lucky that I work with a great team and we set our schedule together (more to accommodate Special Education services and Specials).  We all use the Lucy Calkins Units and we are very devoted to the Reading Workshop format.  I was lucky enough to attend the New York Teacher's College this week and I have so many changes I want to make regarding guided reading this year.  We are still tweaking our schedule so I am not exactly sure what it will look like but we pretty much start our reading unit in the morning starting with morning meeting (speaking and listening in the common core), shared reading comes next (Sulzby work), mini-lesson, independent and partner reading, share and then we move into word work.  Read aloud with accountable talk is usually after lunch/recess followed by writing workshop.  Guided reading, small group instruction and conferences are done during independent/partner work time during reading workshop.  We have built in some RTI time after read aloud in the afternoon before writing workshop.
Lucy Calkins
Teachers from my school at the New York Teacher's College with the amazing staff.  I am the second one from the right (as you look at the picture) on the back row.

What activities will I have set up during the first six weeks to teach independence?  Literacy work stations?  Daily 5?  Others?

I do lots of hands-on literacy work while they are building their stamina.  I use my smart board to death during the first six weeks to engage them in letter recognition and letter sound work.  I love to use the Alphablocks series (you can find it on YouTube),
songs from Have Fun Teaching
 on YouTube and Harry Kindergarten
 is another favorite.  I find they stay engaged in letter sound work when I use these videos during the first six weeks.  They tend to transfer that knowledge during independent reading.  I have lots of STAR books available and I do tons of read alouds of those books so they are familiar and comfortable with those books during independent reading (which keeps them engaged).  I also put copies of their poems we use during shared reading and copies of familiar songs in their reading bags with lots of pictures cues on them to support their ability to stay engaged in their reading independently.  I do add lots of literacy work stations during this time to fill in the time that they will use for independent reading later in the year as their stamina increases.  I love using play dough literacy mats, letter stamps and personal alphabet charts for them to read.  We also do King and Queen of the Day work to support letter recognition and to talk about illustrations (which they do).  It helps them get to know each other and to start to recognize beginning letters and sounds.  I use this packet from Kindergarten Lifestyle.  You can go here to get it.  It is too cute and the kids love it!

Reading Notebooks.  How will you use these?  What do you use these for?

The first six weeks I am not sure that I am really going to use them much.  I have so many procedures to teach I am not sure that this will be a priority for me at first.  I do know that I want to use them possibly after the Winter Break.  I will teach them to use post-it notes to mark interesting places in their books and to "jot" or sketch basic markings to remind them of their reading very early in the year.  I use the notebooks more for journaling during the first part of the year to introduce them to how to use notebooks.  I will read everyone else's responses to see if maybe I need to change my thinking on this topic.

How do I get everything done in the allotted time?

Attending the New York Teachers College really helped me figure out how to get everything in in the allotted time.  I also think our schedule (as stated above) also helps to figure out how to fit everything in during the school day.  I also have to give myself a break, especially during the first six weeks to know that some days I just will not be able to do it all.  I have to pick and choose the most important things to teach at first, and procedures take the forefront.  Without good procedures and a predictable schedule you CANNOT get everything in.  I have developed a forgiving attitude toward getting everything in every day.  I try, but I also understand that developing positive relationships with the kids and creating a safe, responsible and respectful learning environment is the most important thing during the fist quarter of kindergarten.  I put more pressure on myself to get everything into the day after the first six weeks are over.

How do I keep the noise level in my classroom to an appropriate level during guided reading/independent reading time?

We do PBIS at our school and our PBIS team does an amazing job posting expectations throughout the school.  We have a uniform voice level system and we practice using a level one voice (no voice), a level one voice (whispering), a level two voice (normal talking) and a level three voice (outdoor voice).  We spend a lot of time practicing our voice levels during the first few weeks of school.  We read our poems (shared reading) in all four voice levels.  We practice whispering by touching our throats and making sure we cannot feel any vibrations in our throat when we whisper.  This is a really hard skills for some of the kids to master so I even send "homework" home to sing the alphabet in a whisper!  We then transfer that skill over to working times during the day.  I give lots of gentle reminders when kids are using a level two or three voice when they are supposed to being using a level one voice.  I also create an anchor chart with independent and partner reading expectations including voice level.  I let the children model for each other as well.

How do I keep children from interrupting me when I am working in small groups/guided reading time?

I have a marvelous crown I used to wear when I did not want to be interrupted but the most effective tool was when I wore my Cat in the Hat hat.  It was big and bright and they could not miss it!  I also actively ignore them when they talk to me when I am working in small groups.  They eventually get the hint.  I also teach them the sign for "I need to go to the bathroom" in sign language, that way they can let me know that they need to go without having to talk to me or me having to talk to them. 

How do I know that children are reading self-selected books?

When it gets loud I know they are not reading.  I also have book baskets they can self select from during the first few weeks so I know they are looking at and reading STAR books and emergent readers.  For those kiddos that come to me already reading I start them out with leveled readers in their book bags before I make book bags for the other kids.  I also walk around A LOT during the first few weeks of school and observe and take notes on their reading habits.  We talk about "just right books" to introduce the concept long before they are actually in leveled reading bags.  I just keep a sharp eye and ear out for what the kids are doing and redirect when they get off track.  We start out all reading at the tables together so it is easier to monitor their reading habits this way.  When I see they are on task at least 80% of the time I let them start picking reading spots in the classroom and allow them to read away from the tables.  They are desperate to be able to have a "reading spot" with pillows and such so that is a great motivator to keep them reading.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Book Study

I love doing these and the topic couldn't be more timely.  We started Guided Reading during Reading Workshop this year and we had a lot of questions.  When I saw that Freebielicious and Live, Love, Laugh Kindergarten was hosting a book study on this topic I was so excited.

They have also listed the questions and things to think about.  Here they are.

I hope you will join us for this great book study.  I know I always learn so much from these book studies and summer is a great time to learn from and connect with other teachers.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

almost firsties: Writing Prompts

almost firsties: Writing Prompts: I took some cool pictures on vacation that I thought I would share.  Next time your kids tell you that they don't know what to write a...

You  might want to jump over to our Avoiding the Summer Slide blog our kindergarten team is doing this year for our Almost First Graders.  I have some pictures you can use for writing prompts if you are doing a similar type of blog for your kiddos.  I am really hoping the families are using the blog (two weeks and we already have 125 page views so I think that is pretty good).  I hope you enjoy the post.  Enjoy your summer.

almost firsties: The Night Before First Grade - Read | We Give Book...

almost firsties: The Night Before First Grade - Read | We Give Book...: The Night Before First Grade - Read | We Give Books Just click the link above for a great read for your Almost Firstie!  This website has ...