Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guided Reading Routines

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Ready for the weekend? Me? Oh, yeaauuuuh! It’s been a doozy of a week! The highlight? I finally got to do my favorite thing on the planet! ….work with my kids on reading! TO TEACH! The beginning of the year comes with so many “must do’s” it’s almost as if the actual teaching gets put on the back burner. Welllll, being the type of gal that prefers teaching over assessing any day…..actually getting seated at the guided reading table with a group of kids was an absolute blast!

After introducing our last area for Daily 5, it was time to dig in to the meat of why we spent the 1st 20 days building stamina to work independently.


Last week, I promised to share a little more about our guided reading routines.  As we’re starting to build them….here’s a little peek into our 1st week!


Our guided reading block is a solid 2 hours. Every precious minute of it is jammed packed with mini-lessons and small group activities. The wonderful thing about our schedule is having extended instructional blocks. Our daily literacy block basically flows like this……Guided Reading, then Mini-Lesson, Guided Reading, then Mini-Lesson and Guided Reading, then mini-lesson followed by independent work (if time allows). In the past I had begun with a mini-lesson…..

I chose to start with small group instead of a mini-lesson because our literacy block falls just after intervention. By doing this, I make sure not to do any new teaching of concepts before my littles who may have been pulled out return to the classroom.


Each round begins with students “checking in”. This year, I added “teacher table” clipart to the check-in for the group that is rotating to the table to check in first.


The first thing we do is review sight words.


Students practice writing on a laminated sheet of paper. A whiteboard could be easily used instead. I chose to go this route because taking whiteboards in and out was a little too big and bulky for me. Last year, I used contact paper to adhere them to the table. This year, students and I are sharing the space at the table, so I’ve left them free standing. You can click HERE to grab them, if you think you’d like to use them.

After reviewing 3 sight words, students are introduced to their book for the week or begin rereading their book with prompting. The goal of this time is active processing. I want to see my students encounter challenges and observe them as they problem solve to decode words. It’s during this time that I take individual running records and make notes of student reading behaviors. It generally takes about 8 minutes or so.

After reading, we go over a quick discussion prompt that explores a comprehension strategy.

Then, one new sight word is taught. We go through the 4 activities below in order to learn this sight word. Each student has a little bin in front of them that houses magnetic letters to build the new sight word, pencils, a highlighter, expo marker and an eraser.


Finally, we complete one of two activities. Early in the week, guided reading lessons conclude with word study. At our school, we use Wilson Fundations. It’s at this time, that we work to learn phonics patterns. During visits to the guided reading table later in the week, we complete guided writing or reading responses to deepen comprehension.


My file cabinet sits just behind the table. On word study days, we use these cards for word building. On guided writing days, I provide an example of the graphic organizer students will complete on a small whiteboard. Because it is not used daily, I’ve attached it to file cabinet with velcro. Sticks when we need it….pulls free when we don’t! =)


Guided writing notebooks are kept on a shelf close to the guided reading table. The label on the front of each bin indicates the name of the group…blue, purple, green or red. The symbols also correlate to the leveled readers from our series that we use for guided reading. We’ll use these journals throughout the year to complete guided writing, reading responses, and graphic organizers. They do not leave the classroom.


Here’s an example of the graphic organizer we completed this week over sequence of events. The picture shows 3 out of my 4 reading groups. Same concept…differentiated. The first group responded by recording complete sentences from the story in the order of how they happened in the story. The second group, copied the time order words and illustrated what happened first, next and last. The final group, framed the verbs from their story’s pages and labeled each sticky note with an action from the story. That’s it! The End…ish.=)

Each rotation to the table lasts about 18 minutes…..jam packed from start to finish!


This is the little bin I keep close at hand during guided reading. For now, it houses little pointers, magnifying glasses, pencils, bloom’s questions, LOTS of sticky notes, stickers, coding dots, pictures for vowel sorts and letter formation cards. Other things may be added as the year progresses.

What are my OTHER kids doing while I’m at the table with a small group?


They’re checked into Daily 5. They’re moving through routines for read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, work on writing, or word work to grow as readers and writers.


Of the 5 areas that students work on, I only have to prep materials for two of them. The first one of them is work on writing. There is one sterilite drawer at the writing table. In each of the 3 drawers is an activity to write on a given topic, focus on words, or build sentences. Each activity is complete with an I CAN statement to foster reading independence and a quick confidence boost!


The 2nd of these areas is word work.


Like writing, each bin houses an I CAN statement. All of the materials that students need to complete an activity are inside the bin. These activities will follow a pattern throughout the year to build students’ independence and familiarity.


How do I motivate students to complete quality work? The simplest, easiest thing that I’ve found to motivate my students is hanging their work up for ALLLLLL to see!


A clip up comes with having your work framed as an example for your friends to follow too!


And how do my students feel about this time of day? Oh, just like I DO! They love it……


Thanks for being patient as it took me a little longer than expected to get this post up! Getting ready for the week ahead? Click the pic below to grab the activities that my firsties will be working on! You can click HERE to check out my lesson plan format.

Happy guided reading, friends!

fun at school

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Idea {Problem Solving}

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Are you ready for another Bright Idea?


Like most things that work out well in the classroom, this idea developed out of necessity. I needed something simple, quick, but meaningful as a daily opener for math. We begin math each day just after recess and it had to be an attention grabber to move forward with the lesson! Enter daily problem solving……


One sure way to get your firsties’ attention is to make learning personal! I incorporate students’ names into story problems each day. Because they know SOMEBODY’S name will be a part of the problem, they enjoy watching the problem pop up to read and see who it will be.  I also sneak in our current phonics patterns and sight words to get in additional reading practice….(gotta get the biggest bang for my buck)! Winking smile


When I shared this little guy via Instagram and FB, I really didn’t think it would get as much attention as it did! Seriously, ya’ll…’s a very simple slide. It’s just a text box for the story problem and two doodle frames with a white center for us to write over and manipulate objects to help solve the problem. As we return from lunch, we take 3 minutes to “cool down”. As they’re cooling down, I’m gearing up for problem solving! I just click and type in a new problem and we move forward. It really is just that simple…..

The trick is tying the story problems to real world situations that students can relate to.


In Guided Math:  A Framework for Mathematics Instruction, Marilyn Burns is quoted as stating the following criteria for problem solving practice:
  • There is a perplexing situation that the student understands.
  • The student is interested in finding a solution.
  • The student is unable to proceed directly toward a solution.
  • The solution requires use of mathematical ideas.
By keeping these criteria in mind and incorporating the requirements for problem solving from our new state standards….we’re involved in math talks, using vocabulary, exploring mathematical concepts, applying concepts we’ve learned in math and learning to explain and justify our thinking! Using student names in problems and our {Mimio} interactive whiteboard makes it all f-u-n! The student that is featured in the problem also gets to come up and help solve it!

As we move through the school year, problems will increase in difficulty and students will be expected to write to explain their thinking during math writing. Simple. Effective….daily problem solving!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for stopping by =)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five for Friday~Routines, Routines... & Making 10

Hi, Friends! How are ya?! Another Five for Friday has rolled around….and we’ve officially survived the first two weeks!!  Whooo hooo! Sit back and stay awhile….check out these 5 happenings from our TODAY!


Routines are taking shape! My little crew of firsties and I are getting to know one another and meeting expectations has become the name of the game!


1 of our classroom expectations is knowing how to use an appropriate voice level. Sometimes you also just need a little space for yourself to get your work completed. With the switch to {round} tables this year, there’s no space for big, rectangular privacy folders. To gain a little privacy students learned to divide their tables into 4 individual spaces by placing their book boxes on the table extending out from the supply caddy set in the middle.


After taking time to learn procedures for showing what we know….students earned their first crack at smart art! Smart art is our weekly reward activity for meeting expectations during Daily 5 throughout the week. Our story this week was about pals, so students worked in pairs and used verbs to tell things that friends or pals do! Turn & talk, reading response and art all rolled into one….=)


Having a classroom library that students are allowed to access for good-fit book choices requires organization. Last weekend, I had my [personal] kids return all of the books back to the library bins because….let’s face it….I was just too exhausted to have the class do it for themselves! This week….however…I knew that it was important to teach this routine and hovered just a bit to ensure each student neatly returned their “good-fit” books back to the correct library bin by matching the sticker or letter on the bin. They did a great job!


I posted this picture earlier today onto the FB page and it’s gotten A LOT of attention! {Thank YOU to all!} We started this lesson by viewing a quick video clip about different ways to make 10 on The title of it was The Making of 10 (Math Monsters). We discussed what the little monsters were doing to create groups of 10 as we watched and then used this little activity to review the week by showing the pattern found in creating the same number different ways.

We worked on 2 or 3 of the little rectangles together and then…..I asked the class to stand and pretended that I couldn’t remember the next combination that would come in the pattern, sent them to talk about it in small groups and to build it using their own set of cubes {for each group}. They were charged with the task of holding up cubes that would be an example of the next combination needed…FIRST….THE FASTEST….and it involved a “clip up” action for getting it done! Engagement, movement, good behavior….all in one!

A little friendly competition makes things fun and interesting too! =)

After working to create the needed combination, the class was called back to the carpet and we completed additional squares together. Students making wise choices were chosen to record the numbers for each part to be joined to create a group of 10. Oh, how wonderfully a firstie will sit in order to get their hands on one of the teacher’s FAVORITE markers!

It took a couple of times to go back and forth before completing the chart and our room was a little rowdy, BUT the kids really enjoyed the lesson and it was a great wrap up to subitizing, spatial patterns, counting in easy ways and counting in hard ways, etc… It was so much fun to watch them challenge each other!

ANNNNNd guess what?! All I did was put the chart together and facilitate the discussion…the kids did EVERYTHING else! Score! ANNNNNNND, little did they know… soon as they were off on their way home, the chart was laminated and placed in a bin for math stations next week! No excuses about not knowing what to do because… guess what?! They created it! Extended practice……deepening of understanding… we come! You can see the blank poster that was set into stations by visiting the FB page.


Before ending the day, we settled down and settled in to routines for writer’s workshop. Today, we completed the assembly of our folders and began to write across 3 pages for the first time. Because it was our first time, I simply stapled 3 blank pages together. No copies. No wasted ink. 3 blank pages of printer paper. Students used their pencils to draw a line across the page from the middle staple to divide their paper in half. Illustrations went above the line. Words/writing went below the line. We use that same routine in our morning work journals. It saves pages. =)

Reference resources are kept on the prongs that run down the middle. So far, we’ve added our heart maps and a mini-poster to practice the path of motion for forming our letters. Each student also has a personal word wall that is kept in the folder. The pocket on the left houses writings that are still a work in progress. The pocket on the right houses writing that is complete.

I searched all over and couldn’t find green and red coding dots….soooooo, instead we incorporated color coding plain white labels as part of our discussion about the use of our folders! Glad I never found them….

Well, friends…..that was our Friday. There’s been so much happening on the homefront since school started that I’d loved to share! One day that I don’t come home and collapse…we’ll play catch up! Until then, keep visiting…more fun stuff to come! Click the pic below to grab a little freebie for Making 10. Next week….beginning addition!


My favorite thing that has happened so far this year? One of my shy guys walked over and quietly asked…. “Is it ok if I put your name on my heart map?”….{heart melted}. It’s been just 9 days, but……..I think they like me!!!!!

Freebie Fridays


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