Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday~What is an anchor chart?

Hi, Friends! How are ya? It’s time for another thrilling Throwback Thursday! This post was originally created as a guest post for a sweet blogger friend, so it may be new to some of you! We’re recovering from enjoying our first concert ever! Yep! I’m pretty sure I’ve got mommy of the year wrapped up as of today!

Enjoy the post! Deja, DJ and I are snoozing still with a little Mindless Behavior, OMG Girlz, and Coco Jones {along with the screams of tweenage girls} ringing in our ears!
Hi there! Tanya from Mrs. Dwyer’s A+ Firsties here.  How are ya? I appreciate Christina allowing me this time with you!
I know that many of us bloggers know what an anchor chart is and use them on a regular basis, but many of new friends entering the profession do not.  In fact, just the other day, a new teacher asked me that exact question.  Soooo, I thought it would be a great idea to share that here with you all today!

photo 1
The answer that I gave her was a simple one.  We like to keep things “deep”, but simple (gotta get in that rigor).  An anchor chart is simply a chart that you and the class create and hang together as a means of anchoring your learning.  Making a reference.  Have something to refer back to, to make the learning “stick”.

I love to doodle.  If you stop by and visit me sometime, you’ll see how we doodle in meaningful ways throughout the year.  This little cutie was the very first anchor chart my firsties and I put together this year.

My students did an amazing job of listening intently and working to meet the requirements of Read to Self everyday of the first week of school.  It really was a amazing!

          photo 1   photo 2

They don’t always look the same and can be used to record learning in all subject areas.  These two are from language arts and math.  Before you started teaching, did you ever give thought to how many processes a kiddo has to go through just to remember what they’re supposed to accomplish? Whew!

Anchor charts are life savers! One thing that I’ve also decided to do this year is to take a picture of each anchor chart, as we complete it and print it to place into a binder.  Classroom wall space is really important real estate, so many of the charts only hang for a while before being sent home with a student that might need a little extra help or guidance.

The plan is to then, divide the binder by subject area and leave in an accessible area of the room for students to refer to, as needed? 

Wanna get a sneak peek into what we’ll be charting this week?  Have a look see below!

photo 2
I’ve pre-prepped a few so that as we’re discussing the “meat” of how to read to someone this week, we’ll be able to record it right away in the midst of the cutesifying.  Many of the charts that we will build in class are also the result of shared writing activities where students get to share the pen with me.

Thanks for letting me visit you today!  Stop by {and follow} sometime to see what else we’ll be using this year to anchor our learning! Best of luck to you as we start the new year!  Click the pic below to grab a mini chart freebie for your classroom! 

This one was a real eye opener for my firsties as a few of them felt intimidated about not being able to read already.  After discussing the different ways to read a book, everyone felt relaxed and confident.  It helped to get our year off to the perfect start! Anchors away!
Thanks, again!
Happy teaching!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Throwback Thursday ~Literacy Stations

Hi, Friends! How are ya?  I’m linking up with the awesome Cara Caroll for this week’s installment of Throwback Thursday!

This post was originally shared on April 23, 2013 and quickly became my most popular post!  Enjoy!

Just recently, I shared how we conduct math stations in our classroom….NOW its time for the biggie! Literacy stations! Our absolute favorite time of the day! Math is fun. Science and Social Studies, very informative….BUT literacy, reading, word work {ahhhh}…OUR FAVORITEs!

Now, before we proceed, I should probably tell you that I sneak as much literacy into EVERYTHING that we do throughout the day as possible! This post however, outlines how we conduct our specific literacy block of time. It begins around mid-day, just after lunch and runs until we leave for the end of the day.

We begin this time with a quick transition to the carpet that focuses on some phonemic awareness skill done orally.  After settling in at the carpet, we move through a mini-lesson that is focused on phonics, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, or word usage. We use the concepts outlined in The Daily 5 in our classroom. For us, its more like the Daily 6 because we use our computers as part of the rotation, but still call it The Daily 5.


On a normal day, we visit 3 rounds of stations. We check in by sitting at the carpet quietly and waiting for the stylus to be passed from one friend to the next. Students conduct this activity independently as I’m already off and running with my small group at the teacher table. This chart has student numbers on it from the beginning of the year. We have since changed it to names. You can also see the names of each of the areas students have a choice of visiting. They check in and off they go…

Do I tell students which area to visit?  Nope! That’s the great part of it all. They get to have a say so in their learning by making the choice themselves. They get to be in control and decide how they will work on becoming a better reader, a more literate little being!

Do YOU like to be told what and how to do things all day lonnnng? Probably not.

Well, guess what…neither do your students! Ha! Choice is very important and besides, I control what they’re learning through the materials and activities that are prepared for them, so its ok to give them a little control. =)


While they are working independently throughout the room, I am at the teacher table (most days) working with a small group of students on comprehension and word attack skills. If you look closely, you’ll also notice that not all of the books are exactly the same. Initially, we begin the year with just guided reading groups…BUT as the year progresses and as students progress as readers, we move from just guided reading groups (where we’re learning how to read) to guided reading AND strategy groups (where we’re learning how to comprehend what we read).

Soooo, there are some weeks where our books are different, BUT the skill we’re focused on is the same. That way we get a bit of a mix to our groups and students aren’t so easily identified by their level of expertise.

What are my OTHER kids doing while I’m at the table? Wellll, I’m glad you asked!


As they go to stations, they have a choice of activities on each shelf. On each shelf is a choice of bins. In each bin is a supply bucket and  ‘I Can’ statement for them to read that provides a simple explanation of the activity underneath. (This also helps to keep our shelves looking neat and tidy. I HATE DESPISE LOATH CLUTTER!) Everything needed to complete the activity is in the bin to minimize movement in the room. Only 2 students are allowed to share any 1 activity.


Students work to review and practice previously taught skills that will help build literate little peeps! Stations help to extend skills over a length of time (that I determine) to gain a greater level of mastery. I do not change station materials each week. I change them as I notice students losing interest or having gained a great understanding of the concept they’re practicing. This allows for extended practice and a little less work for me. =)


There is generally a manipulative of some sort to organize, sort, or put together and a reflection sheet to record thinking, reflect on reading, or demonstrate understanding.  These little guys were used to practice understanding multiple meaning words.  Here’s a close-up!


Students are encouraged to do their best work by possibly having it used as a model for others.



We incorporate a little art that is connected to shared reading or writing.


….and do lots of word work!


Interactive writing is always connected to literature. We tackled this BIG guy in small group AND as part of our mini-lessons on comparing and contrasting in order to get it completed! It’s HUGE!

Each round of stations is timed for about 30 minutes. As I complete a small group, I leave the table or area where we’ve been working and rotate around the room to monitor students and join in for a little “chit chat” in order to provide some individualized attention.  In order to get students attention to change stations, a rain stick is turned quietly.

When they hear it, they know they have 2 minutes to clean up and move to the carpet for the next mini-lesson. Sometimes, we need gentle reminders…but most days, move pretty quickly because we want to get back to stations as soon as we can! Reading is fun!

Friends that have added a new poem to their poetry journal get to bring it to the carpet to read aloud to help build their fluency at this time as well, so you’d best believe they’re the first to get to the carpet as fast as they can!


Most importantly, we read to each other and work together to become better readers! After recess, we move from reading to writing. Writing is often a reflection on our unit of study in reading or a connection to a science or social studies topic.

AND that my friends is how we conduct our literacy block! …our absolute favorite time of the day! Whew! That was a mouthful! Thanks for sticking around!

You definitely deserve a treat! Click the pic below to grab the fab freebie we used to practice multiple meaning words {pictured above}! It’ll give you an idea of what our station activities are like. Hope your firsties like them as much as we did! Enjoy!

multiple meaning butterflies freebie 042313

Sunday, July 7, 2013

FREE books, summer lovin’ & fonts!!!

Hi, Friends! How are ya?! Howzabout a little summer randomness?! I'm linking up with Michelle from Fabulous in First to share a little of what I've been up to! Ready? Let's go!


I hope you’re enjoying lazy summer days. I’ve been m.i.a from my little blog and FB page spending much needed quality time with my peeps. While I’ve been enjoying some “off” time, I have dug into a little summer reading…


….really enjoying The Next Step in Guided Reading! Can you tell by all the scribbles and highlighting? Doodling helps me remember things. I’m a kinesthetic, visual learner so I’m sure there’ll be some pictures doodled in there too [as reminders] for starting guided reading off on the right foot this year. I love teaching reading and enjoy soaking in as much as possible about the why’s and why not’s of it all…


One of my goals this year is to read aloud from chapter books more often. I have to admit, I started to, BUT fell away from it last year. It was just one of those things that we seemed to never get around to. I have a small stash of chapter books for my high readers in the classroom, but knew I would need more to complete read alouds.  Enter summer cleanout! Instead of ordering more books, I enlisted my kiddos to do some personal summer cleaning!


Kill two birds with one stone, you say? Why, certainly! My kiddos are heading into 7th and 3rd grade, so I knew they had books in their rooms that were no longer a “good fit”. Thank you, Lordy! Instead of my usual Amazon spree….I had both clean off their shelves and create a little stash for me to grab as I begin putting my classroom together. Score! Clean rooms and MORE books for school. $0 spent. Well, at least not until I have to buy THEM some more! HA!!!  =P


After getting the house all tidy, we set out for summer fun and have been chillaxin’ ever since! I’ve discovered that I’m a bit of a workaholic. Having my oldest daughter turn 20, really helped me to see just how quickly time flies. It also made me decide to prioritize and make hanging out with my peeps more of a priority.


*LOVE* these crazy kids!

ANNNND, {OK, I admit it!} I have worked just a tiny bit! I know, I know…..what about the chillaxin? Well, they’ve gotta sleep sometime, lol! In between fun escapes, I’ve managed to update a couple files and doodle a little.

Slide1 Slide1
If you’ve purchased either of these little sets, please re-download the updated file.
Slide4 Slide5

Yep! I finally got around to uploading a few of my fun doodles! Check out the first little sets of fonts in my TPT store too! There will most certainly be MORE to come…….AFTER a LOT more chillaxin’!

Laters, gators!



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