Saturday, June 24, 2017

Change is Good {a series of posts about my journey back into the classroom}

WOW ... it has been a while since the last time I posted!!

Last school year was cRaZy busy and full of changes!  To make a long story short... after 12 years of being in a literacy leadership position of some sort, I decided that I missed having my own classroom! I thoroughly enjoyed being a literacy coach, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, and Literacy Specialist ... teacher/trainer/coach and all the training that I was blessed with in all of these rolls.

However, I began missing having my own classroom ... my own students ... so I decided to got back into the classroom.  I often was left wondering if I made the right decision ... well, let me tell you ...
I did!

Last summer, I enjoyed 3 weeks off {I had not been off during the summer in 5 years}. During that time, I enjoyed spending time at the beach with my family, relaxing at home, sleeping in and SHOPPING ... shopping for things I needed in my classroom!

Teacher's Pet ... My Favorite Teacher Store... I spent a LOT of time {and $$$$ here}
Classroom Decor Supplies ... for a Superhero Theme
I also spent a LOT of time in Barnes and Noble and Books a Million ... here are some
Additions to the Classroom Library "fun to read" Box
Adding to the Magazine Collection for Independent Reading
Superhero and Princess Books {motivation to read}
More Superhero Books ... they are going to love these!!
Flashlights ... for Flashlight Fridays {I am SOOOO happy I decided to purchase these}
Yes ... I really did NEED this for at home laminating!
My BIG splurge ... and I got 9 months of FREE ink too!! {more about that later}.
I ordered these online for birthday surprises ... they even have customized messages.
Motivational quotes for the classroom.
What were some of your MUST HAVE supplies {and other goodies} that you purchase in the summer??  Comment at the bottom ... I would LOVE to know!! 

I also enjoyed setting up my classroom ... even though I made a huge mess while cleaning out other teacher's stuff before I could move my stuff in!

I cleaned everything out of the cabinets before moving in my stuff and found a little visitor ... do you see him?
The video chairs were from my sons' bedrooms and the glider rocker ... from the nursery {23 years old} It got a makeover!
finished makeover ... painted black with new cushion covers my mom made and a borrowed super teacher cape!

And the best thing ... I loved meet the teacher / back to school night and meeting all my second graders ... I had forgotten how exciting it was to meet the parents and students!

This is Miss Judy, my TA ...I only get her an hour a day but it is a FULL hour of good teaching!!! (so blessed to have her)

Day ONE with the superkids!! {minus 5 that were camera shy}

Oh the excitement that was in my heart ... I can't wait to share some more of my journey with you!! That's all for now... come back soon to learn more about my journey back into the classroom!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Work Smarter Not Harder! The Laborless Bloghop and a Giveaway

Happy Labor Day Y'all and welcome to our laborless bloghop!!

Main Graphic Laborless

Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!

All of us have been thinking about ways in which to treat our readers and followers.  We thought hard, and I mean ... really, really hard… and decided that we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter rather than harder… at school and home!

We know what it takes to be a great teacher, the stress, the time, the energy! We also know that we crave time to ourselves and our families... so working smarter rather than harder makes sense ... right!!??

During the summer I get a little bit lazy ... and when school starts back up it can be a bit overwhelming so I have become a TO DO List Junkie! I am always writing my lists on sticky notes or scrap paper and somehow they get lost or misplaced ... but this year I found this free Weekly To-Do List  from a Scholastic Top Teacher and it has helped to keep me organized! I love that I can make my list for each day of the week on one piece of paper!! We all know... an organized teacher ... is a happy teacher!
I LOVE guided reading time but I know that it can be VERY time consuming to plan all those lessons if you are purposefully planning to meet individual needs. I work with a lot of teachers helping them learn about guided reading and writing lessons. So many of them try to avoid guided reading because it takes up too much time to plan for it.  Jan Richardson's book, The Next Step in Guided Reading is a wonderful resource for learning about the different levels of readers and what your lesson should look like ... teachers love this resource but they needed lesson plans that would make their planning for the different groups more specific yet less time consuming. 
Another thing I LOVE about this book is that it is like a menu ... once you know what your student's need, you can use this book to purposefully plan for meet those needs! I created these lesson plans and you can grab them for free
This summer I was a part of a book study for Jennifer Serravallo's new book, The Reading Strategies Book.  This is another time savor for teachers ... no more looking through resource after resource to find the just right strategy for your little ones ... this book is packed full of 300 strategies that equip the teacher with the why and the how for teaching them :) This book is another "menu" for explicit teaching!! I highly recommend both of these professional resources!
And since I am recommending books ... remember to take the time to read professionally ... you will be working smarter, not harder when you keep up with current research ... even when it is old research with a fresh twist! 

There are a lot of studies out that have linked a healthy lifestyle with work productivity. Similar to getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy boosts energy levels, clears your mind and allows you to focus more easily. {We all know that TEACHERS have to be focused at all times in order to be productive!} My new motto is Healthy is the New Happy! I am working hard to live by this motto.  Below are a few things that I have been using or doing to meet my goals.
Detox Tea ... I drink this every evening to unwind and it is beneficial because it keeps my kidneys and liver cleansed from everyday toxins.  I have noticed that when I do not drink enough water during the day and when I eat too many carbs, I get very bloated! This tea helps keep me from getting bloated!
I CANNOT live without these fizz sticks ... I stopped drinking soda 3 years ago when I kept getting kidney stones {yep, because teachers can never get to the bathroom as often as they should} and my kidney doc told me to give up soda!! I was so happy when I found these because they do not have artificial sugar or flavors and they are certified vegan and gluten free too! They give me just enough energy mid-day! 
At the end of a long week, I have learned to treat myself with a facial mask and a relaxing bath to unwind!  I LOVE this aromassentials line. It is called UNWIND and it smells fabulous and leaves your skin feeling refreshed! There is also a second line which I love called AWAKEN :)
A good night's sleep is a must for a focused mind!  Sometimes I just can not unwind during the week because of my jam packed schedule, however this little bottle has been a life-saver or should I say sleep saver??  Seven squirts on the tongue {it tastes like lemon} and lights and electronics off it is ... and within 30 minutes I am out! All natural, no chemicals, not addicting ... just beneficial goodness! 

I can't forget the exercise ... I have discovered the SEVEN app and it has helped me become more active! I have set the alarm on my phone via this wonderful app and it reminds me that it is time to do some exercise ... I can determine what kind I want to do and how often!! 

Do you work with emergent readers in your classroom?? I have made some fabulous resources that go along with the Pre-A, emergent and early lesson plans in Jan Richardson's book called The Next Step in Guided Reading.

These resources go perfect with the Lesson Plans  I shared above!  

Now ... Let's top off all these great tips and ideas with these top-notch prizes!

A $100 gift card to Amazon

A $50 gift card to TpT


2 $25 gift cards to TpT

1 $10 gift card to TpT

Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading my tips!
Don't forget to fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win these wonderful prizes!!
Once you have entered ... scroll down to the link-up at the bottom and visit all the other wonderful bloggers that are a part of this blog hop and giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Reading Strategies Book Study: GOAL 3 ~ Supporting Print Work

  Welcome to the #ReadingStrategiesGals book study ... if you are joining in for the first time be sure to click on the links and read about Goal ONE  and Goal TWO!!

I am extremely excited that I discovered this wonderful book ... or should I say teacher resource!!?? This book is set up to be a learning tool and planning tool for teachers.  The author, Jennifer Serravallo did an excellent job setting this book up to give you just enough theory so that you will understand the goal and then she gives you a menu of strategies that explicitly show you ways to teach for it!! I love that this book is created for ALL teachers that teach reading. On pages 13-14, Jennifer explains how the use of this book can be incorporated in a Reading Workshop, in a Daily 5 classroom, in a Guided Reading lesson, and during Basal or whole class novel instruction. Seriously ... if you do not have the book yet I highly recommend it!

This week I am blogging about 
Goal 3: Supporting Print Work
Increasing Accuracy and Integrating Sources of Information 

Goal 3 is all about Supporting Print Work by increasing accuracy and teaching students how to integrate sources of information.  As a literacy specialists, I work with students on a regular basis that have the accuracy part down pat ... and they may even have pretty good comprehension, however as we move up in levels I find that if they rely mostly on visual information and read with great accuracy then their comprehension (meaning) is weak. The same holds true for the reader that reads for meaning but does not have a good understanding of how words work ... everything read makes sense but the words the child is saying do not always match the words in the text.  

Why is this goal important??
Fountas and Pinnell are famous for saying ... Reading is Thinking ... if that is so, then readers must know that we read to understand something. In order to construct accurate meaning from a text, readers must read the words in the text with accuracy while integrating the three sources of information: meaning, structure (or syntax) and visual (or grapho-phonics). Many of you may know this by the acronym MSV.

This matrix gives Clay's definition of the each source and a reminder of what to teach for when one source is used but others are neglected. 

Serravallo says that "integrating all three sources of information is like being a juggler with three balls in the air. It takes coordination, mental effort, and strategic action." In order for students to understand how to "juggle" all three of these sources, they must be taught how to monitor their own reading.  They must monitor when it does not look right, make sense, or sound right
Clay also says that the strategies we teach one by one would need to become secure and habitual so the reader can focus on reading with expression and/or deeper comprehension.

How do I know if this goal is right for my student??
Serravallo suggests, and I agree that you can determine if this is the right goal for your student by using a running record or oral reading record.  Marie Clay, Irene Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell and others have written about and developed resources to make running records a simple, yet essential way to record what a student reads in a short passage and then analyze their reading. {Analyzing ... you know ... that MSV thing!!} One thing I love about this assessment is that a running record can be taken on any selection of text-- on a blank sheet of paper. {I have taken a running record in the cafeteria at school on a napkin because I was sitting next to a child reading when she finished her lunch!} I prefer the blank sheet of paper vs a running record form ... especially the one with the words typed out {which makes it a oral reading record}, because it enables me more options for recording what I observe and hear while the child is reading. On page 78, Serravallo has included a sample analyzed running record (on blank paper) with side-notes for you to better understand what you are looking for.  

How do I know what to teach??
In this chapter, there are 23 strategies to choose from that will help your students meet Goal 3.  The chart below is scanned from the book and it shares all 23 strategies. I will only focus on 3 {well really 4} of them! {{I must say that one of the things I LOVE about this book is that for each goal, you have a menu of strategies to choose from... if one thing doesn't quite work ... there is something else you can try !!}} On this chart you will see the strategy "named" and what level, genre and skill it is for.
Remember, take a running record, analyze it, then look for strengths and needs.  Once you have a list of things that you want to strengthen and teach ... then use the menu to pick and choose what strategies and skills you are teaching for. 

Strategy: 3.3 Use a Word You Know
Level: Any  Genre: Any  Skill: Decoding

The first strategy I am taking a closer look at is 3.3 Use a Word You Know ... this strategy is about teaching students how to use a word they know, or parts of words they know, to help them solve a word they are having trouble reading.  They will learn to look for a part of the word that's the same as a part in a word they know. For older students, I like to teach them that this is called using analogies. In the picture below there is a sample of changing the first part {the onset} to make a new word in a rime family. It is a sample chart found on page 82.  I also included a way that I model how to read ... or write a new word by using the first part of a known word and the last part of another known word to read or write a new word. Using a technique like this is beneficial because it shows students the reciprocity between reading and writing ... they learn, "I can think about words I know to help me read and write new words."

On page 82, Serravallo lists an array of prompts for this Strategy 3.3, that can be used to call the student to use this strategy ... but be reminded that a prompt is only as good as the explicit teaching. You must first teach them how to use the strategy before you prompt them to use it.

Strategy: 3.6 Try, Try, Try Again
Level: Any   Genre: Any   Skill: Decoding, Integrating Sources of Information

I chose this strategy because it is an ultimate goal and one that will enable students to become more independent when reading complex text. As a Reading Recovery teacher and Literacy Coach I learned that we need our students to become FLEXIBLE Thinkers ... it took me a while to figure out exactly what that meant and how to teach for it but once I did, it made a difference in the progress of my students. {Especially the ones that were having a hard time pulling it all together ... they were good at using isolated strategies but did not know what to do if what they tried did not work.}  For this strategy, Try, Try, Try Again, you will teach students what to do when they get to a tricky word.  You will tell them not to just try one thing because sometimes you will need to try more than one strategy to help you problem solve. We want our students to think: "What will help me read this word?"

The picture below shows the chart from page 85. I would suggest building this chart after you have taught your students a variety of strategies.  I would also suggest that this chart not be "pre-made" but to build this chart as you go ... as you teach them!  Once you have two or three strategies taught and students are showing evidence of using them, then begin creating this chart and add those two or three strategies only.  After that, as you teach a new strategy, you can add it to the chart. Something that I like about this chart is that it shows students that they can not always rely on one source of information ... the chart has decoding (visual) and meaning and structure thinking on it. 

So what does flexible mean??  It means that if you try something and it doesn't help you, do not give up!  Try something else ... and if that does not help ... try something else! Referring students to the anchor chart will help your readers become more independent with choosing which strategy they will use. 

Strategy: 3.18 Cover and Slide
Level: E and above   Genre: Any   Skill: Decoding

I had a hard time choosing my last strategy to blog about!! There are so many good ones in this chapter!  For the third strategy I chose Cover and Slide. I chose this one because so many students, especially early and transitional readers, have a hard time TAKING WORDS APART when they read. Students will learn: When you are trying to read a word part by part, you can cover up the parts you are not reading yet and focus on the part(s) you are reading. The teacher should model this by showing students how to slide their finger left to right across the word, showing more and more parts as they read them. It will also be important to teach them that once you take it apart (segment it) you will need to put it back together and read the whole word. 

The picture below is a great graphic model of what it would look like to take the word plastic apart while reading it left to right. This strategy would also be helpful for teaching how to take words apart using syllables or meaningful chunks.  If we take a look at the word plastic ... you could start with teaching the to say the word and clap the parts {phonemic awareness ... done with the ears not the eyes}. Once they know it has two parts, then show them how to take the word apart using those parts {phonics ... done with the eyes and ears}.  Plas - tic ... This is a more sufficient way to take that word apart, however the main goal is that they are moving across a word in a left to right motion and looking all the way through the word saying the parts they see.  When thinking about meaningful chunks {prefixes, suffixes, affixes} you would show them how to read the base word or root word first then add in the other chunks. Using meaningful chunks is tricky for students that are having trouble looking through words in a right to left fashion so I caution you not to add this level until they have mastered the Cover and Slide strategy. 

A quote that sums up Goal 3

As we approach back to school time, it is important to remember why we do those mandated assessments and running records. It is important not do these tasks out of compliance, but because we want to know what our students can do and almost do. We want to know what they can not yet handle on their own. And we want to know WHAT to teach!  When it comes to teaching reading, there is not a one size fits all method or sequence of lessons.  When you take that running record and analyze it for MSV, you will discover what to focus on in your reading instruction.  If you have a lot of students that need the same thing, then start by modeling in whole group lessons. If only a few students need to learn a certain strategy, teach it in a guided reading lesson.

If you are interested in reading more about the sources of information, click here to go to a previous post about the reading process. 

In case you are interested, strategies 3.12 and 3.17 both focus on using sound charts to help students group letters to make sounds {blends and diagraphs} and to become flexible when it comes to vowels sounds.  CLICK HERE to get my sound charts that include ABC charts, Blend and Diagraph Charts and Vowels Have Two Sounds Charts. 
These are prefect for emergent, early and transitional readers.

Catch UP and a GIVE-AWAY !! 

  If you missed the first two goals from the  #ReadingStrategiesGals book study click on the blog buttons below to hop on over and read about Goal One and Goal Two.

While you are visiting Literacy Loving Gals blog, don't forget to enter WIN a copy of this fabulous book: THE READING STRATEGIES BOOK 

OR ... If you are like me and can't wait and need this book NOW, you can click on the picture and purchase your own copy

Are you ready to read more!!  On August 13th you can head over to visit Kate and read all about Goal 4: Teaching Fluency: Reading with Phrasing, Intonation, and Automaticity

Are you reading along with us?? Here is the schedule so you will know where to go for each goal. 

Let's Continue the Thinking ... Choose one of the bullets below and Leave some comments and or link up and share your thoughts on your own blog :)
  • I was helping a friend work with her own child and she needed a resource so that she could better understand Sources of Information.  I came across this website and shared it with her.  Check it out ... how would you use it with parents, or beginning teachers that you are mentoring?
  • If you are reading along with us ... which Goal 3 strategy are you looking forward to using with your readers this year?
Happy Reading!!