Friday, June 23, 2017

Disguise Read to Self As Word Study

word study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to self

Are you looking for more opportunities to encourage your students to apply what they have learned from your phonics instruction while they read? Let me share this success story with you!

We all know that first graders LOVE to read and be read to! The method described below gives them an opportunity to do both.  They read independently hunting for spelling patterns AND are read to by their classmates while they listen for spelling patterns!

Right here, on this page, I will share with you my tried and true method of how to disguise Read to Self as a little more: Word Study! Using what kids love:

sticky notes
color coded "gumballs"
decodable "just right" readers
peer teaching
Share Time (they all LOVE Share Time)
(multi-sensory strategies)

I begin our day (prior to the Daily 5) with a phonics/spelling mini lesson. For example, if we are studying digraphs we might complete a spelling sort or a short fluency passage. To read more about how I manage DiFfErEnTiAtEd Word Study groups using Words Their Way click HERE.

We close our mini lesson by taking a "sneak peak" at their assigned story for Read to Self. The story would include words with digraphs.

I provide my students with Read To Self bookmarks to mark the page in our decodable readers to help them quickly find their assigned story and to remind them of what is expected of them:

word study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to self
If you would like to download a copy of the Read to Self bookmarks click HERE.
During the Daily 5 centers, students spend time at the Read to Self center where they first complete their assigned reading and move on to their self selected reading. As they read the assigned decodable story, they hunt for words that contain a digraph and jot them down on a post-it to share with the class after the Daily 5. My students benefit from using a color coded system for our spelling patterns that we like to call "gumballs":

word study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to selfword study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to self

Once my firsties have completed their assigned reading, they may move on to their own self-selected books. I encourage them to look for these spelling patterns in these books as well. It is important for them to use those stickies as a bookmark on the page where they found the word in the book. They will need to find that page quickly during Share Time.

Once all students have had an opportunity to learn at each Daily 5 station, we meet at the carpet for a Share. This is when my first graders take the lead as "teacher" and TEACH their classmates their current Word Study focus.

word study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to self

Share Time is a favorite part of our day! By mid-year, my first graders have the routine down pat and run the show themselves. This leaves me the time to review their work from the Daily 5.

Student script for share time:

  • "My Word Study goal is I can read digraphs.  Today I read ________________, and my gumball is /sh/."
  • This is the moment when they read the sentence from their book that contains a word with their gumball. The rest of the students listen for the gumball and raise their hand to contribute their answer.
  • The "teacher" calls on no more than 3 students to contribute their answer. Once a classmate shares the correct answer, the teacher says, "You're a smart cookie" and both the "teacher" and the student who answered correctly takes a cookie from the cookie jar (Cookie Crisp cereal).
  • The "teacher" calls on another student, "_______ would you like to share?" and the new "teacher" responds with "Yes, please."
  • The sticky note gets placed on our Interactive Word Study Bulletin Board:
word study, phonics, daily 5, readers workshop, read to self
If you would like to learn more about how I manage differentiated Word Study groups as pictured above visit HERE.

Including a Word Study Share as part of your Daily 5 routine is an excellent way to help motivate your students to apply their Word Study focus and to celebrate what they have accomplished.

It is also a great opportunity for children to learn from their peers, especially if you are differentiating your Word Study groups. Children in advanced Word Study groups can introduce new spelling patterns to children who are not yet at that stage. And on the flip-side, children who have already learned a spelling pattern will have an opportunity to review those patterns they have previously learned!

Share Time also allows you to informally assess your students' ability to apply what they have learned.

In the last decade, I have been using the Daily 5 Management for Centers and Small Group instruction. In those years, I have morphed the Daily 5 into a system that combines MANY best practices (differentiation, Daily 5, Words Their Way, Lucy Calkins, Orton Gillingham... the list goes on).

Teaching is an art. If we go about our instruction utilizing the best programs and resources we can get our hands on, we find amazing results! This story is a testimonial!


  1. Love this post!! My students also LOOOOOOVE sticky notes so any time I can incorporate them will be a successful activity! :) Love your "gumball" method of color coding spelling patterns! They are learning and doing SO much in first grade!! Great work and as always- I love your detailed photos and explanations! Such an enjoyable read! :)

  2. Megan! Thank you so much for your kind words! I just uploaded a FREEBIE for the gumballs method. It's a bookmark or can be used as a deskplate. Here is the link so you can download it for your kiddos for next year!

    Thanks again, Megan for your feedback!

  3. What an engaging, fun, and colorful way to engage students!

  4. I'm just lovin' all of your word study activities and I remembered lovin' the gumballs and the bookmarks. Share is one of my favorite things to do in the classroom, as well as the kids. I think it's important for students to think and then verbalize what they have learned. And the other students listening are learning too. And you the "real" teacher can assess as you listen and check if they were able to apply what they learned independently or had challenges along the way. These are such great ideas! This is a really engaging activity...that's why it is so successful! Thanks for sharing the process, along with photos, to help me follow along.