Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ideas for Teaching Comprehension

Do you still have some little readers who just can't seem to comprehend much while they read? Actually paying attention to the story and understanding it doesn't come easy to all readers. It doesn't matter if a story is read to them or if they are reading on their own. Comprehension can be a true challenge! I made a short video with a few ideas that you can try out right away to get all your readers to improve their comprehension. The ideas provided are perfect for the winter months, but really, the ideas can be applied year round with any theme!

Also, you'll see this freebie referenced in the video. It's a set of passages with a winter theme that are perfect for focusing on simple comprehension questions. You can read the story to your readers or have them read on their own. The same can be done for the questions- discuss them together first, then have them write the answers by copying information from the text. Or, if they are capable, let your readers independently answer the questions and then as a follow up, discuss the story with you. You can grab this freebie by clicking here!

I also have a set of comprehension stories that can be used year round that I mentioned in the video as well. Check out the set of comprehension stories here!

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Post It Notes in Guided Reading Groups

One thing I always have in my guided reading baskets is a whole bunch of post it notes. I use all sorts of post it notes- regular size, mini tabs and the giant ones that are the same size as a piece of paper. Including a variety of post it notes at my fingertips allows for more engagement with reading response- it keeps my readers from getting bored or too used to the same type of responses each day!

Not too much to read today in this post-- instead, I created a video where I explain a few different ways to use post it notes in your guided reading groups- check it out below! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Getting to Know You

I posted this freebie a long time ago, but I never really blogged about it, so I'm doing that today...hopefully just in time as everyone heads back to school!

I love using QR codes as a way to both practice literacy skills and engage my little readers. Since I know how engaged my little readers become when the iPads and QR codes come out, I created this fun little "getting to know you" activity that is perfect for the beginning of the school year. 

All you need is something that can scan a QR code- iPad, phone, computer. The QR code gets scanned and question is revealed. The questions all relate to the child specifically and provide new information about that student. Students then write their responses to each question (if they are incoming kindergartners, then I recommend just discussing their answers). After the QR codes have all been scanned, students can share out their answers to the entire group or to a partner. Students will quickly see who they have things in common with in their new class!

This activity won't take super long, but it's a new way for students to get to know a little about each other! There are 10 question cards that you (or your students) can scan and respond to either on the recording sheet or out loud to the group/a partner. You can grab the freebie here!

Have a great day!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

GRo: Guided Reading App

I love new technology...I also love being organized, guided reading and all things that keep me on track to make my readers as successful as possible.  I am thrilled to share this amazing Guided Reading app with you that was created by a teacher who also loves all these things that I listed! The GRo app allows you to make the most of your guided reading time by keeping you prepared for all your groups in one easy format!

I was so excited when Amanda Duke, the creator, reached out to me. The minute I began testing out the app, I knew it was amazing! If you know me, you know I'm a huge fan of Evernote and that I've used it for guided reading student notes. However- this new app covers everything possible I'd want to get down in one spot for my guided reading group! No need to use Evernote any longer for managing student data in regard to guided reading groups..of course I still use it daily for everything else in my life... :)

Amanda created the app (with her hubby!) because she realized there was no app out there that met the needs of what she was looking for in regard to staying organized for guided reading groups and with student data. When you begin using the app, you can immediately tell that it was created by a teacher who knows guided reading and does guided reading well!

The app is incredibly user-friendly. It truly is an amazing reference tool that you'll constantly be going back to both for teaching your guided reading groups and for follow up meetings about students. Here's a closer look at the app and definitely check out the website as well to get more information! One of my favorites, Alison, over at Learning at the Primary Pond also wrote up a wonderful post all about this app- check it out for even more detailed info!You can download this amazing guided reading app from the app store here!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guided Reading Passages: Levels N-P

I'm so excited to share my newest set of Guided Reading Passages packs! I've had many requests for levels above M for quite a long time and since my 3rd and 4th graders this year were ready at these levels and above, I went for it!

I broke down all that is included at each level to give you a closer look! If you are a new teacher just starting out, or an experienced teacher looking for some new guided reading resources to always have on hand, these passages will provide you with just that. There is also a freebie sampler included in the preview of the N-P Bundle that you can use to test this all out!

These passages, lesson plans, comprehension questions and running records are meant to make your life easier. They also will make your guided reading time more meaningful because you'll have all the resources you need directly in front of you and your readers at all times!

I am always amazed by just how much progress readers make within a year. Leveled texts move at a gradual pace, but the difference from for example, a Level K text to a Level O text, is truly extensive. Readers need to continually apply strategies to figure out difficult words as text continues getting more challenging at each level. Figurative language also plays a big role in these higher levels. And let me tell you, readers need a lot of exposure to figurative language in order to even begin understanding it and using it in their own writing. These passages include a variety of figurative language for just that purpose. Readers need to see it both in and out of context to further their understanding.

I included a full page of comprehension questions for Levels N-P that require more in depth thinking by the reader. At these levels, with the intensity of Common Core Standards, readers need to really be diving into their texts and understanding figurative language and why/how characters or the author do certain things. These comprehension questions provide readers with the opportunity to dig deeper as they read!

You can check out each set, including the bundle by clicking the images or links below!

Happy reading!

Have a great day!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Can't Do That With an Actual Book!

I've been doing a lot of reading this summer, which I love! When asked, I generally tell people I don't have a preference of reading on my iPad/Kindle versus an actual book. I truly enjoy reading on both. What I didn't realize until after reading several books in a row on my iPad and then switching to an actual book was just how dependent I've become on the dictionary feature on the iPad.

All of a sudden I came across a word I didn't know the meaning of in my actual book and I found myself instinctively touching the word to have its meaning pop up. Uhhhhh. Yikes! That doesn't work on a non-electronic device- who knew?? :) It made me realize just how much I rely on immediate gratification in the sense that I don't even take the time to consider figuring out the word on my own while reading on my iPad. It's just done for me with one simple click. Which is fantastic- I think it's a great feature, however it got me thinking... so many of our students know things through the use of technology- they are heavily reliant on things just being told to them. I still want them to be able to think for themselves though personally!

Since I interact directly with students on a daily basis as they read in my guided reading groups, I also realized this year just how little my readers understand at times. The books we were reading were actual books. For my 3rd and 4th graders, I usually only had them read a short bit of the text aloud to me. The rest they would read on their own, but one way I could tell if they were really reading/understanding was by asking questions about the text that they didn't read aloud for me. I would turn to page with a word that I knew was challenging and would ask them to explain the meaning. That's when the conversation above would occur...nearly every time. I was kind of shocked just how easy it is for kids to just keep on reading, but then again, I know I've done the same thing myself as a reader! Of course, I would then continue the conversation by guiding the reader to figure out the meaning of the word through these questions:

You can grab this freebie here for your classroom- I recommend leaving it in your guided reading basket. Perfect spot for easy access to use with readers as they are struggling to figure out the meaning of words! 

I did a quick video with a few examples of how to teach context clues- you can check it out below!

Have a great day!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Oh Those Challenging Letters!

A few weeks ago I noticed that some of my earliest readers were still struggling with letter recognition. I know this happens every year, but this year it has been especially apparent. I was having a tough time getting those little readers to read the most basic leveled text and even just simply decode words. That's when I started to realize it's because they still didn't know all their letters! If they were struggling with identifying letter names and sounds still, well, then sure, reading words when trying to apply sounds you don't actually know is a true challenge!

As a result, I took a step back and focused a little less on leveled text and more on texts that allowed these little readers to see the same letters and hear the same letter sounds over and over again. I am so glad I did this! Now these same students are able to make quicker connections to letter names/sounds and in turn able to decode more words....annnnd read more! Yay!

I wanted my little readers to hear words with each letter more often, so I use my full color teacher version of the passage to read to my little readers. We then discuss the letter that pops up frequently in the story. My little readers then go to their own journal which includes the same story, but in b&w. They then go through and find all the uppercase and lowercase letters that we discussed. I have them highlight each time they see the letter within the story- no matter the location in the word (doesn't just have to be at the beginning of the word) because I just want them to really see the letter and recognize it right away! The next step for my little readers is to label pictures from the story that begin with the letter we discussed. This provides each reader with another aspect of recognizing the letter.

I have one passage for each letter of the alphabet (each passage has a colorful teacher version and a b&w student version) and I love that I can pull these out whenever I notice a specific letter that is still challenging for my earliest readers!

These passages are great to use to introduce letters whole class, review letters in small group/one-on-one or even to send home for homework! You can check out these passages by clicking here or the pic below! I hope these passages help out your little readers as well. :)

Here's a video showing how I use these passages in my room to help my struggling readers!

Have a great day!
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