Guiding Emergent Readers

I was surprised to read in Guiding Readers that some teachers don't think emergent readers are ready for guided readers. Even though they're not reading on their own yet, these kiddos know a lot about reading already: that print contains a message, can role-play reading, read from memory, & can retell something that has been read to them.

Our goal during guided reading lesson is to push these kiddos into reading by themselves. During guided reading, we can focus on letter-naming, retelling, or spaces around words. Carefully choose texts for emergent readers. Look for texts that support their learning:
  • Predictive text, with a repetitive pattern
  • Mostly non-fiction with lots of labels
  • Strong illustration to support 'reading'
  • 1 or 2 short lines per page
The Guided Lesson Routine
  • Before Reading -- Do you begin with a brief introduction & a picture walk? Rog suggests not having kiddos try to make connections at this point, because their conversations tend to go off in all kinds of tangents. (Boy, I've seen this!). Instead, keep the intro brief & then go into the picture walk, making sure you give kiddos the vocabulary they are going to need. 
  • During Reading -- Give kiddos some 'reading manipulatives' (love that term!): 'witch fingers' can help kiddos track word by word. I've had kiddos who just almost refuse to track with their fingers, but I'm betting the 'witch fingers' will be just the trick to get them interested!
         The first reading is a shared experience: echo or choral reading.   
         Only after you are sure kiddos know what is on every page 
        should you have them read independently! At this point, your        
         kiddos are ready to practice reading the book on their own. 
         If you have everyone begin reading at the same time, there is    
         the danger that they start choral reading. To avoid that, stagger    
         their start times or have them use whisper phones.
         I'm done! I always tell my kiddos "You're never done!" (isn't that 
         the truth? lol)..."Go back & read again". 
  • After Reading Routines -- Pass out those reading manipulatives (magnifying glasses, play sunglasses with the lenses removed, star-ended swizzle sticks, for example) & have students hunt for letters, words, or patterns in the text. As much as possible, tie the activity to the text, but don't rule out playing sound games, word or picture sorts, or chanting letters of the alphabet, or do some interactive writing.
Remember that Must-Do? That activitiy we should send our kiddos off to do after the small group session? Here are some choices for those emergent readers....
  • make their own book
  • picture or word sort
  • word or letter hunt
  • alphabet games
  • Elkonin boxes
Rog gives us lots of ideas for areas of focus for the after reading routine and must-dos on pages 35-44. Make sure you check it out! Lots of great ideas!!

As I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of a few of my kiddos. It gave me lots of ideas on how I can more effectively work with them. I found that I do many of the things that Rog suggests (yay for me!), but there are some I can add to make my instruction more effective. Lori has an excellent lesson plan format in the book & I made just a few small changes for my classroom. This lesson plan format that will help me plan out the small group lessons & help me keep my thoughts focused when I'm planning. Just click on the image to grab your own copy!

Thanks to the hosts of the book study. Please stop by to catch up on the previous chapters!

Using Guided Math with Small Groups

Photobucket Welcome to Chapter 5!

Two fabulous bloggers are hosting Chapter 5.

  Be sure to click over there if you haven't already to read more about Using Guided Math with Small Groups.

I think we all know the benefits working with small groups gives us in works the same with math! What strikes me in this chapter is the fact that each group doesn't necessarily have to get an equal amount of time. Maybe it's just me, but I've always been under the impression that every group should have the same amount of meeting time. But listen to this: the amount of time you spend with each group varies according to the needs of the kiddos. Sometimes, I've had groups that needed a much longer time than others, but I felt guilty not giving everyone the same. I'm telling you, it was a BIG problem! I was constantly working and re-working my schedule to try & get that equal time in there! I'm feeling very relieved to know that it's okay to spend more time with that group that needs it, and it's okay to just check in with a group if that's all they need.  The big goal here is to "teach at the point of need of each group, nudging...students forward along the continuum of mathematical understanding" (Sammons, p. 136).

So, let's talk about effective uses of small group instruction
  1. Differentiating -- small groups provide the perfect vehicle for providing differentiated instruction!
  2. Addressing HOT SPOTS -- within the small group, you're more able to intensively teach those hot spots (those tricky concepts we all have at each grade level). Kiddos get more intensive teaching with you, and you are able to closely monitor understanding.
  3. Using manipulatives -- it's so much easier & quicker to distribute manipulatives in a small group (& monitoring their use!)
  4. Formative assessment -- since you're working closely with students in a small group, you can easily monitor understanding.
SO-- how do we form those small groups??
I appreciate that Sammons says there is no one correct way to group students, & that usually a combination of assessments work best. You can use unit pre-tests, formative tests, performance tasks, and your observations and conversations with your kiddos. 

The small group lesson
  1. Introduce the lesson with a brief mini lesson.
  2. Give students a clear understanding of the activity they'll be doing & set the criteria for success. (I'm not so sure I do this. Sometimes, I'm feeling so pressed for time that I'm afraid I just jump right into the activity).
  3.  Encourage the use of multiple strategies.
  4. Give just enough support to move students to the next level.
  5. Give plenty of time for math discussion!!
  6. Give kiddos specific, descriptive feedback & encourage self-assessment. 
How do you picture small group math instruction in your classroom? Do you do all the steps, or are you like me & skip some or zoom through them so you can 'get everything in'? Sometimes I feel like this little guy right here!

Guiding Readers ~ Chapters 1 & 2

I'm coming just a little bit late to this party....but better late than never, as they say! Here are my thoughts on both Chapter 1 & 2........
I love this expression: Get more bang for your pedagogical buck. Rog suggests we can get more bang for our pedagogical buck by thinking of a Guided Reading as a series of 3-4 lessons based on the same text.

  • Rereading supports fluency & comprehension
  • Literate talk supports meta-cognition & higher level thinking
  • Meaningful integration of reading AND writing supports both

Planning a lesson—Start with a plan, but be flexible! Be ready to respond to student needs as they come up.
  1. Start with learning goals.
  2. Find the right text—95% accuracy
  3. Prepare a text introduction—Rog  refers to this as the 3Ps of reading: Preview, Purpose for reading, & Prior knowledge
  4. Map out lesson routines
  5. Plan Must-Do tasks—every guided reading lesson is followed by must-do activity that gives kiddos the opportunity to practice independently (or with a partner)what was learned in small group
During small group, students are reading and TALKING.  I do a great job when it comes to reading, but I don’t allow time for my kiddos to talk. Rog uses the strategy of Talk To Your Neighbor (TTYN) to get kids talking about their reading. 

Simple practices to help you make the most of those 18 minutes:

  1. Take time to establish routines!
  2. Minimize transition times – Here are those routines & procedures that need to be taught again!
  3. Eliminate interruptions – again...establish routines and behaviors. How do you train your students to find help from another source or move on to another task instead of interrupting you in small group? Rog makes a good point: if you’re not teaching this to your students, then they’re teaching you to be interrupted!
  4. Build in Assessment – Boy! Do I need to improve on this! Small group is a good time to get anecdotal records & to do running records. I do both, but don’t always get my anecdotal notes recorded (not efficiently, at least). I like Rog’s suggestion to use index cards to jot down those notes.  And listen to this….you can even cancel small groups for a day or two to do running records. Like the author, I also tend to change up groups about once a month, based on their benchmarking.
  5. Manage/organize materials—(Oh, boy! Pinterest here I come!) Keep all the materials needed for each group stored together (another organizer perhaps? With color coordinated, mod-podged drawers? Yes, please!)… Copies of the text, reading manipulatives like pointers, dice, white boards, markers, and reading tool kits (more on those later).

Check back with me tomorrow to learn more about Reading Toolkits!

Chapter 1 was hosted by Think*Wonder*Teach, and Chapter 2 by Leading & Reading AND Tori's Teacher Tips. Make sure you stop by to read more about this fabulous book!

Leading and Reading

 I'll let you in on a little secret.... you can read the ENTIRE book for FREE at Stenhouse Publishing! How awesome is that?! So-- it's not too late to join this book study!

Just click on the book to go to Stenhouse, click on "preview online" & you are good to go!!

We're TWO! & a SALE!

Look at these two cuties! These are my two adorable granddaughters, Piper & Catey, and they just turned TWO
(No- they're not twins...they're cousins! And their birthdays are exactly one month apart).

I'm just showing off my sweeties & taking this opportunity to have a SALE!
Everything in my TpT store is 20% off today! 

My best selling items are the Beanie Baby Comprehension Strategy, the Decoding Strategy Posters, & Vocabulary Strategy Posters.

1st, 2nd - Balanced Literacy, Reading, Math -
Click over to my TpT store & check it out!
Hurry! The sale is good only Monday, June 25th!

Using Guided Math with the Whole Class


Chapter 4 is being hosted by two awesome bloggers! Make sure you stop by & read their thoughts (& pick up some freebies!) on 
Using Guided Math with the Whole Class.
Sweet Seconds

  I have to make a confession: previous to being exposed to this book, I assumed that there was no place for whole group in Guided Math (well—other than mini-lessons). SO….when I was ‘dabbling’ in Guided Math in my classroom last year, I was trying to do ALL small group instruction. I found that that wasn’t really appropriate for my students every day, though, & on the days I ‘resorted’ to whole group, I felt like I was doing it wrong. Guess what…..I wasn’t!! One of the biggest revelations for me when it comes to Guided Math, is the IS a place for whole group within the framework. 

Activating Strategies – this is really an area that I have neglected in my classroom, which is a shame because, just like in other content areas, I do use them. I use them in those areas to “stimulate interest and to get insight about my students’ prior knowledge and to discover a misconceptions they might have about a topic. It seems that it would be just as important to learn these things when it comes to math topics. I don’t know why I‘ve never thought about using activating activities during math. This coming year, my big goal for this year is to use activating strategies on a regular basis.
  •  KWL charts
  • Anticipation guides – this one is new to me, so I’m taking Sammons’ direction on creating anticipation guides: choose the most important concepts from the unit & create T/F statements. Make some of the statements contrary to what students might believe. As your students complete the survey, either in small groups, or independently, they’ll become aware of gaps & uncertainties.  I created a freebie for you! Just click on the image of the anticipation guide and you can download from my TpT store. It's in Word, and completely customizable for you! I’m thinking these would make great additions to math journals. At the end of the unit, students flip back to the anticipation guide. & complete the after section. At this point, you can see who still has some misconceptions & address them with those kiddos.
  •  Word Splash—This sounds like a fun way to introduce vocabulary. Take a look at the standards you’re covering, & choose relevant and “catchy” vocabulary, & write the words on a chart or doc to display in a “splash” – all at once. The class then brainstorms together to figure out how the words are related.  Sammons also suggests students create word splashes at the end of a unit as a way of summarizing.
I feel like this post should have been titled ”Things I want to add to my math block this year”. In addition to using activating activities, I also want to:
·         Incorporate math-related literature. I actually have quite a few titles I could be using more frequently. My district uses Everyday Math, which lists related literature at the beginning of each unit. I’m hoping to go through my teacher manuals this summer & start compiling a list & getting the books in order. Another addition on my ever-growing to-do list!

Freebie Fridays


Guided Math Chapter 3 & Webby Wednesday!

Chapter 3 is being hosted by two awesome bloggers:

Click over & find out more about
Using Math Warm Ups in Guided Math!

 Here are a few of my thoughts on this chapter...........

 Helping your students warm up before math helps your students "draw on their prior knowledge and bring it into their working memories where it can be easily accessed for extending their understanding of mathematics".Wow. That makes perfect sense....& yet I have never thought about it. Starting math without a warm-up is probably like jumping into cold water & being expected to swim a race! Especially for students who struggle. 

I already do some of the activities that are math stretches. But I don't do them everyday. It's important to stretch every day. "The daily repetition of a variety of similar tasks and the accompanying discussions help students begin to see patterns & make generalizations. SO---- I'm formulating a plan.......
Possibilities for math stretches:
  • Graphing Question of the Day
  • Number of the Day - These are called name collection boxes in Everyday Math. In the past, I had a person in charge of this each day who recorded classmates' responses. I really like Sammons suggestion to have each child write a response.
  • What's Next - completing a pattern. We use a Function Machine (EDM) which supports very similar skills.
  • How Did My Family Use Math Last Night? Helps children make mathematical connections to real life. I love the idea of making this a homework activity one day a week. Another brilliant idea came from Carol at Still Teaching After All These Years on last week's stixy: "Have students and parents add a note to a class stixy as a homework activity! LOVE it!
  • ______ Makes Me Think Of....
Sammons offers a possible Morning Stretch plan for a week. Now, the way my day is structured, my stretches can't be in the morning. Mine will have to be right before we go to recess...

Here's what I'm thinking.....

I'm excited to be coming up with a plan! 

And now on with Webby Wednesday!!
I thought I'd stick with the math theme of the day & share a website that my kiddos like to use during our workstation time. Are you familiar with My kiddos love it.

Click on your grade level & you're taken to a screen that has lots of educational games:

Numbers = math games: number grid games, math facts, number patterns, base 10, & more.

Letters = literacy games that focus on sight words and keyboarding.
There are also Holiday games & more. 

I love that you can differentiate within the website.Children who are ready for some enrichment can click on the next grade level up (or more). Those who need some extra support can click on a grade level that is lower. Click the link & take a look around. Hope you can use this in your classroom!

Made It Monday ~~My Teacher Toolbox!

So-- I was super inspired last week by the posts of bloggers who made teacher toolboxes as inspired by Pinterest. Truth be told, I myself had pinned the teacher toolbox....but just had never gotten around to actually doing it!

Well, last Monday's stalking of everyone elses "Made Its" got me moving...

I found my toolbox at Lowe's (on sale for $16.99! Woohoo!), and loaded up on scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby & headed home. (Sorry for the blurry pic).  I left the toolbox navy blue since it fits perfectly with my new color scheme, & printed my labels on a light blue paisley scrapbook paper. The papers I chose fit in my color palette, but are a calmer hue than my new labels.That's perfect, because this little baby is going to be living on my desk....and I certainly want it to be calm there!

I've got to give credit where credit is looks like Create*Teach*Share was the originator of this wonderful idea (& the home of my original pin). I also have to thank Lessons with Laughter & Mechele at Barrow's Hodgpodge to giving me the inspiration to actually get up and do it! 

I can't wait to get back into my classroom so I can clear stuff out of my desk & load this baby up! I'm excited about how this is going to help me get organized next year! 
Now off to check out all the other Made Its & see what everyone else has been up to! Why don't you join me?

Feeling very accomplished!

I know you will probably say, "Oh, please!" when I tell you why I'm feeling very accomplished.....but I'm very excited and proud of myself.......

I just added a page to my blog!

It's right there on the right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I added a page to keep me all organized for the Guided Math book study. Yay, me!

I also changed the Book Study button so that when you click on it, you're taken to the Book Study page. Yay, me!

Go ahead & click on it!

Now I just want to figure out how to put those cutie patootie tabs across the top of the blog.....

Don't you just love it when you figure out something new?

Guided Math-Chapter 2 & a Button!

Thanks to Dana at 3rd Grade Gridiron, who is hosting Chapter 2.
Click on over to check out what 
 Using Guided Math to 
Create a Classroom of Numeracy
 is all about! 

New to the study? You'll want to start out with Chapter 1. Then come on back here to read more....

Here are my thoughts on Chapter 2....... A few things stuck out to me:
  1. An organized classroom environment supports learning. Are materials organized & easily accessed?  I can do a better job with that! That's why I created new labels for my manipulatives! I've spent too much time pulling out tote after tote. Is this it? Is this it? Sound familiar? (I hope not!).  Have you seen Brittany's math manipulative organization? Doesn't it just look friendly?! Check out Sweet Seconds, & take a look!
  2. Communication is at the heart of mathematics. Kids need to be able to express their thinking to build conceptual knowledge. Establish a classroom where kids share their thinking, listen to each other. Use strategies like turn & talk. Of course, all of these have to be modeled and taught.
  3. Create classroom charts WITH students rather than putting up ones you've bought & hang them up! Students have more ownership, connect with the content, and refer to them when they've helped create them!
  4. Keep measuring tools out & use them frequently (not just during the measurement unit!). Sammons reminds us that when they are visible & used on a regular basis for daily routines and problem solving, students begin to value their utility and understand their importance.
Probably the biggest question I've had from others is:  
What exactly is a numeracy rich environment?

Do you encourage kids to use manipulatives, compute, compare, categorize, question, estimate, solve problems, talk, & write about math? Providing these opportunities creates a numeracy rich environment. can use these:
  • Student calendars or agendas. My school provides agendas to all students. I really haven't done much with them, but I'd like to think of a plan for using them. I've got to wrap my brain around that.....
  •  Using manipulatives.
  • Math Word Walls
  • Math Journals- another of my goals for next year. I'm thinking they'd be great for a workstation.
  • Class made charts
  • Math-related literature
AND.......last, but not least.....

For those of you who are linking up or hosting....please grab the button to add along with your post. 


Welcome to Webby Wednesday!

Welcome to the debut of my new weekly feature....Webby Wednesday. Every Wednesday, I'll feature something cool from the web: a website for students or teachers, a tool to use for your classroom or blog.
Monday, I introduced you all to Stixy.
Stixy is basically an interactive bulletin board. You can set boards up to be private or public (as I did for Guided Math - Chapter 1). 

Here's a screenshot of the Chapter 1 board:

 When the board opens, all you do is is click on the note & drag it up to the board. An option menu will slide up on the right, where you can change the color of your note, the font, & color of your text.
Type in your response, click Save up at the top (though it automatically saves, too), and you're good!

To set up your own stixyboards, all you need to do is register for an account (it's FREE!)

I can think of all kinds of applications for this in the classroom.
Can you think of ways you can use this in the classroom?

I've set up a board where we can all add ideas for ways stixy can work for us in the classroom. 
Please click the stixy link to the right to go to the board & add your ideas!