Sunday, April 23, 2017

4 Tips to Motivate Struggling Readers to DECODE, not GUESS!

As phonics teachers, we spend most of our time teaching our children to READ, and READ some more.  This is not always an easy task.  We take on this responsibility and are continuously searching for the right strategies and tools that will provide our young readers with ample opportunities to feel successful and look forward to reading.  I have a few tips and tricks to share with you!

Young readers are training their eyes to identify the many phonics rules as they read.  As we read, we are constantly on the look out for word chunks that will help us decode new words we encounter in the books we love.  To help my students locate these "word chunks" we have a color coded system that we call "gumballs".



My students use this system all day.  They color code their sight words, the articles, poems and word problems we read.  They even love to "gumball up" their own writing!  It is a wonderful sight to see how they thrive using this visual and kinesthetic approach to phonics.  And their work looks beautiful.  To learn more about our Gumball Collections click HERE.

Up until now, my students were simply using their crayons or highlighters to gumball up the word chunks during our phonics activities.  But look at what I discovered at Oriental Trading!!!!



They work like a charm.  The dot is the perfect size for printed text for primary grades!

Before reading the passage, students do a bit of word work by hunting for the spelling pattern. One dot and their pages are color coded with the current phonics rule we are focusing on.  Then when it comes time to decode the text, their eyes are able to identify the word chunk immediately.

In the photo above, you can see how one of my students is highlighting the /ea/ phonics rule with one quick dab of the Washable Mini Dot Markers.  The kids love using them, I love them because they come in a variety of colors...to match our color coded system!  It's a win-win!  Be still my teacher heart. I'm in love with them!!!

I have also found providing my students with a Phonics Goal to encourage them to take ownership of their learning. I have created a set of 22 posters with "I can" statements to help my firsties focus on the spelling pattern we are studying in our differentiated Word Study Groups. If you would like to learn more about how we go about this click HERE.


Have you found some of your reluctant readers having trouble with one-to-one correspondence when reading from leveled texts?  This is such an important skill for emerging readers.  However, it can be frustrating when they slide their fingers across the text and just GUESS!

Look at these Arrow Finger Readers I discovered at Oriental Trading to motivate my struggling readers to slow down and decode each word:


My firsties were so excited to use these new tools.  It's amazing how your tactile learners thrive when you give them a simple tool to manipulate.  These Arrow Finger Readers were proven to motivate my young readers!

Using these simple yet effective manipulatives along with a little encouragement and reminders...

"Get your lips ready, kiddos and make that beginning sound...  
Look for the word chunks...
Stretch out the word until it makes sense..."

young readers begin to utilize the strategies you have taught them. They know them by name!  In fact we have "Reading Buddies" in our classroom that remind us of what to do when we come across a tricky word:

You can find this set of 8 Reading Strategies Posters with "I can" Statements at my TpT store:Reading Strategy Goals with "I can" Statements Poster Set

And there you have it.  4 Tips to Motivate Emergent Readers to
DECODE and not GUESS!


If you are interested in BOTH the Reading and Phonics Goal Posters Sets you can download both HERE as a bundled set:


Disclosure: The K Files & Oriental Trading partnered for the purpose of this post. I received free samples of Oriental Trading products, but all opinions are my own and 100% honest.


Friday, April 21, 2017

We are celebrating 4,000 Members! $200 Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

To help celebrate 4,000 members in the TPT Social Marketplace... A team of amazing teachers have grouped together to gift an awesome teacher a $200 TPT giftcard!


Make sure you complete each entry. The more links you complete, the MORE you have a chance of winning!! Good luck!

Imagine all the resources you could purchase for your classroom to improve the delivery of your instruction, the climate of your classroom, your student's engagement and growth!

Ready...Set...ENTER to WIN a $200 TPT gift card!

ENTER HERE!


ENTER HERE


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Words Their Way, OUR way Part 7: Read to Self as Word Study



Why not take your Word Work one step further?  I have disguised Read to Self as a bit more... Word Work... and my firsties don't seem to mind.  Yours won't either.  It's a Win-Win!  Read on!


Read to Self Word Study Assignments

In addition to my students' Word Work during our Daily 5, one of their "Must Do" items is to Read to Self.  During this time the children are assigned a story to read from one of our decodable readers that reinforces their Word Study Goal.  (The students have the opportunity to choose what books to read later in the day during our Reader's Workshop or as a "Can Do" when they finish their Daily 5).

Since I have 5 differentiated word study groups (using the Words Their Way program), I have found it difficult to manage each group's reading assignment from the different sets of decodable readers that I have collected over the years.  I was using post-its, but that seemed like a waste of 20 post-its a day-they quickly disappear. I found it necessary to create bookmarks to mark the story to be read each day:

I currently use the decodable readers from the Journey's anthology that our district purchased for us.  I also saved the last set of readers from our previous anthology.  I have to admit, I finally have a nice supply of readers that allow for each group to have a story to read each day.  If I find I am a story short, I have several sets of reading comprehension passages that I have purchased and I provide them with a photocopy to keep.

Once I determine which decodable reader (and the story within) best matches each group's Word Study focus, I slip the bookmark right to the page and drop the books in their respective baskets!  

It takes me about 5 minutes to prep their Read to Self assignments each day...  now that I have created book marks as a management tool.  Not to mention, the kids LOVE using book marks!


Another plus...directions for the Read to Self assignment is printed on each bookmark to remind my young readers of what must be done.  You will notice that each Word Study group has a color coded bookmark with their group's name printed on it.  This makes it easy for my students to locate their Read to Self assignment for the day.


My students are also encouraged to jot down the words that contain that week's focus in a folder as they read. We call this notebook a "collection".  For example, if they are working on the long vowel sound of /ai/ they would list any words that contain that word chunk in their folder (we call word chunks  "gumballs" because we highlight them with a color coded circle). They love to see their collection of words grow.  This is their incentive. They also receive a real gumball after taking a weekly spelling test if they do well.  If you would like to learn more about our Gumballs Notebook please visit my post:



As you can see, I have disguised Read to Self as a bit more... Word Work... and my firsties don't seem to mind.  Yours won't either.  It's a Win-Win!

And there you have it!  Words Their Way--OUR Way!


If you would like to download the Read to Self Bookmarks, Bulletin Board Display, bin labels along with the data tracking forms and related resources mentioned in this article visit my TpT store:
Differentiating Words Their Way: Organization & Routines BUNDLE
If you would like to download a copy of the Read to Self Bookmarks, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:


Words Their Way, OUR way Part 6: Assessment



Now that you have your Word Study routines in place it is now time to consider how you will assess your students and evaluate their growth.  I have some simple solutions for you!

Assessing Each Sort

At the end of each sort/unit I administer a simple spelling test. I always choose words from their sort. Words Their Way also provides assessments that are simple to administer but are not available for each sort. Our school district also purchased the Journeys anthology that contains a variety of Phonics tests that I copied and filed away to match my own filing system. I do not follow the scope and sequence of Journeys but their resources are a great supplement to Words Their Way.

This is a sampling of my Words Their Way gradebook for spelling:


If you would like to download the EDITABLE gradebook and record keeping documents along with the related resources mentioned in this article you can find them at my TpT store:

If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:

And there you have it!  Words Their Way--OUR way!


But WAIT!  I have one more idea for you!  Why not take your Word Work one step further?  I have disguised Read to Self as a bit more... Word Work... and my firsties don't seem to mind.  Yours won't either.  It's a Win-Win! To learn more visit:



Words Their Way, OUR way Part 5: Routine & Differentiated Mini-lessons



Now that you have motivated your students and set goals, you are ready to introduce your Word Study routines. I have some tips to help you introduce these routines whole group so that later on, your students will have clear expectations as to what they are to accomplish as they work independently in the Word Study center.  


Introduce the Word Study Routine Whole Group

Words Their Way has a multitude of Word Sorts that are called Concept Sorts. At the beginning of the year, I use these sorts to acclimate the students for our morning routine and weekly Word Work procedures. The entire class has the same assignment and we “practice” the morning routine which I refer to as our TUNE UPS—remember we are rockin’ readers and we need to “tune up” before our rehearsals (independent Word Work center activities)! Teehee. The kids love this. Drum roll, please.

“Tune Ups”: Differentiated Mini-lessons

Once you have your routine in place, you are ready to start differentiating your lesson content for each group. Prior to meeting with each rock band (word study group) I organize their daily activities in their own color-coded bins so they can access their assignment during their independent work during our Daily 5 rotations:


If you would like to download a copy of the bin labels, bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:


After our morning meeting, we distribute the Anchor Activity Folders and I call each rock band for a “tune up” lesson before we begin our Daily 5. Depending on the lesson you have planned, the tune up lessons should only take about 5 minutes. Enough time to touch base, revisit our goals and motivate one another.

We begin by stating our Word Study goal and dive into our mini lesson. We review the phonics rule for our weekly sort, practice the sort and I then explain the Word Work activity that they will complete independently during our Daily 5 centers. Their daily activity is in their assigned bin located at the Word Study Center. They help themselves to the resources they need for the day when they are ready to complete their Word Work.

Here is a glimpse of my weekly plan book to give you a better idea of how we manage our time:


Word Work Routine

I have found using a Monday – Friday routine difficult to follow due to schedule restraints: days off, assemblies, special events, etc. In addition, if all students are in need of the same materials each day you may run into a shortage of supplies (computers, fluency phones, decodable readers, etc). I find it best to vary my Word Study activities instead of having the class complete the same “type” of activity on each day. For example, if the whole class was assigned a “Write the Room”, it would be difficult to manage your small guided reading groups with 15+ students walking around the classroom.

I have a variety of resources that I use that are engaging, challenging yet not too easy… just right! You can refer to them HERE in Part 2: Getting Organized.

One consistent part of our daily routine is that each student is required to buddy up with someone in their rock band (word study group) and complete the speed sort. After the speed sort is completed, they complete their assigned written activity. It is highly beneficial for the students to complete the speed sort each day so they are exposed to the spelling rule often and repetitively.


If you are not a fan of assigning your students with worksheets (reading comprehension, cut and paste matching, etc.) you can assign the following activities that your students can easily complete in their Word Study Journal: 
  • Written Sort
  • Rainbow Write
  • Pyramid Words
  • Stamping the words
  • Play doh the words
  • Dry erase write the words
  • Stencil the words
  • Wikki Stix the words
  • Write each word in a sentence
  • Type the words
Now that you have your Word Study routines in place it is now time to consider how you will assess your students and evaluate their growth.  I have some simple solutions for you!

To read more, visit: 

If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:
If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:

Words Their Way, OUR way Part 4: Motivation & Goal Setting



Words Their Way-- OUR Way PART 2: Getting Organized
Words Their Way-- OUR Way Part 3: Planning for Differentiated Word Study Groups

Now that you have prepped your resources, you are ready to forge ahead with your differentiated Word Study groups. But before you do, I have some tips to help you motivate your students to achieve with goal setting!


Motivate Your Students with a Theme and Goal Setting

Our Word Work differentiated groups are organized by “rock bands” because we are “Rockin’ Readers & Super Star Spellers” (students will be able to transfer the spelling patterns they learn in their Word Work to their Writing and Reading)!

Each Word Study group’s goal is displayed under their rock band’s name. Each student’s name is clipped to the phonics goal beneath. The students truly love being part of a rock band and celebrate when each band meets their goal with a cheer: “Rock on!” because EVERYONE is a star.



If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board graphics, planning bin labels and related resources to help make planning your differentiated Words Their Way goups a breeze, visit my TpT store:


The Phonics Goals Poster Set with “I can” statements provide the students with a visual reminder as to what their Word Study focus is. All the goals are displayed in the classroom on a clothesline. When the students are ready for a new goal we take the goal poster down and display it under their rock band’s name on our Word Study bulletin board. Their previous goal is then returned to the clothesline as a visual reminder as to what they have already accomplished. The students refer to them as they are reading and writing. The goal posters encourage students to take accountability for their learning!

 



If you would like to download a copy of The Phonics Goal Poster Set please visit my Tpt store:

Now that you have motivated your students and set goals, you are ready to introduce your Word Study routines. I have some tips to help you introduce these routines whole group so that later on, your students will have clear expectations as to what they are to accomplish as they work independently in the Word Study center.  To learn more, read on:


Words Their Way, OUR way Part 5: Routine & Differentiated Mini-lessons

If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:
If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:

Words Their Way, OUR way Part 3: Planning for Differentiated Word Study Groups



Data drives instruction! You already have the data from the Qualitative Spelling Inventory. You already grouped your students. Your resources are ready. You are ready to “rock on”.

Planning for Differentiated Word Study Groups

I have a basket for each Word Study Group labeled with their "Rock Band" name right above my filing cabinet. Once the year is under way, within a third of my planning period I am able to pull resources for the next week’s Word Study groups in a pinch.

In each bin, I place the necessary resource files, leveled readers, games and other resources that will support that group’s word study.

If you would like to download a copy of the planning bin labels and related resources to help make planning your differentiated Words Their Way goups a breeze, visit my TpT store:


Pre-prep As you go…

Use your “high” group as your guide for the year. At the beginning of the year if your leading spellers (ex. Within Word group) are studying Long vs Short Vowels to start, make a class set because by the end of the year the groups that follow them will need them at varying times throughout the year. File the extra copies. Do the same for any other resources that support each spelling pattern such as reading passages and Anchor Activities. Follow suit with your second highest group, make a set of copies that will prep for subsequent groups following them (perhaps 3/4th of your class). Do the same for your third highest group (a set of copies for ½ of your class…etc. ) You will save yourself time at the copy machine. Be sure to stop this process three quarters through the year, because the other groups may not get as far as your leading group of spellers. This sounds tricky, but it’s a little helpful hint to make your prep a bit easier.

To be honest, at the beginning of the year, prepping for the following week’s word study will take up one of your planning periods (if you make your own copies).

Anchor Activities

When you are prepping your resources for your differentiated word study groups it is important to keep in mind that you will need to run additional copies of resources that you will include in the Anchor Activities folders.

 
When you are facilitating your morning tune ups (differentiated mini lessons), the students who are not working with the teacher are completing independent activities in their Anchor Activities folder or playing games that reinforce their Word Study for the week. If you have 4 groups running at a time, the students will be working independently for a total of 15 minutes when they are not “rehearsing” with the teacher, they will need to remain “anchored” in their learning.


If you would like a FREE copy of the Anchor Activities Cover  and bin label you will find it at my TpT store:

The anchor activities folder contains a multitude of activities that reinforce and review the skills they have learned in previous tune-up lessons. Those worksheets include activities that will strenghthen their decoding skills for the word sort they are currently focusing on or have previously learned. The activities may include a reading comprehension worksheet, a puzzle, word search, and other various resources you have accumulated for each spelling stage.

It is important to note, that the students should be able to complete the activity independently without teacher support. You may also throw in a few Math review worksheets as well.

Now that you have prepped your resources, you are ready to forge ahead with your differentiated Word Study groups. But before you do, I have some tips to help you motivate your students to achieve with goal setting!

To learn more, read 
Words Their Way, OUR way Part 4: Motivation & Goal Setting

If you would like to download a copy of the planning bin labels and related resources to help make planning your differentiated Words Their Way groups a breeze, visit my TpT store:
Differentiating Words Their Way: Organization & Routines BUNDLE
If you would like to download a copy of the planning bin labels and related resources to help make planning your differentiated Words Their Way groups a breeze, visit my TpT store: