Sunday, September 30, 2012

Classroom Library Check Out System

leveled classroom library organization

 I carry about 60 students on my Title 1 roster, so I need my classroom library organized and easy for me to see who has what checked out and for how long.  The grade span for me is K-5 so I also need a way to keep books organized and easier for students to find that "just right" book.  So the books in my room have to be leveled.  I use Fountas and Pinnell's way of leveling books.

leveled classroom library organization

leveled classroom library organization

On the front of each book is a sticker indicating which basket it belongs in on the shelf.  
leveling classroom library books

Inside of each book is a envelope glued to the back.  Inside the envelope is an index card listing the name, author and level of the book.  Students write their name and date on the card when checking it out.  You can see in the photo below where I still have AR leveling in my books from when we used AR.  We have decided this year not to use AR and if you would like you can read about it here.

classroom library organization

After the card is signed, students place it in the chart.  The card stays there until they bring the book back.  I can see at a glance who has a book checked out and who does not or has not been checking out books.  

Classroom library organization

Also inside the envelopes on the chart are colored strips of paper listing the baskets students are able to check out books from.  I like to give the students a range to choose from.  As the school year goes along and students improve these levels will get changed.  By changing levels students are reading within their range and getting new choices that keeps it interesting for them!

This system works great for me, simple as it is.  I especially like the visual of being able to just glance at the chart and see who is not checking out books to read and then I can get to remedying that.  I have had thoughts of going to an electronic check out system.  Do you use one?  Is it simple to use for younger students?  I would love to hear about it if you do!  :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

David Shannon Author Study

David Goes to School writing and drawing.
David will run in the classroom.

We have been doing an author study on the David books by David Shannon.  What fun!  My classes, just like I am sure your's, love the David books.  I used the David Goes To School and No, David books with my kindergartners and my first graders.

David Goes to School and No David


The kinders drew the features on David's face and wrote his name.  They did a pretty good job!

Drawings of David

First graders wrote about what rule David might break if he were at our school.  I wonder if these were secretly things they want to do without getting into trouble.  :)

David Goes to School writing and drawing.
David is coloring on his desk.

David Goes to School writing and drawing.
David is going to throw pencils.

David Goes to School writing and drawing.
David runs in the halls.

David Goes to School writing and drawing.
David will attack me.

After we read both books, we talked about how the books were similar and how they were different.  I brought in characters and setting into this since we have been learning about those elements.

Author Study chart

One of the favorite activities of this author study, besides reading the books of course, was choosing our favorite story and making a graph of it.  We made our graph out of miniature covers of the book.  As you can see No, David!  won out overwhelmingly!!  I don't know if it was because I asked them to choose their favorite book on the same day I read that one to them or if it was the naked David running down the street!?!  I do know that part got the most reaction and they just couldn't believe someone would actually do that.  :)

David Goes to School and No David graph


Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm A Letter Expert

letter expert activity to learn ABCs

We have been working extra hard at learning our letters in my kindergarten classes.  One of the many activities that we do and one that the students LOVE is I'm A Letter Expert.  The kids will ask for it when they come into class!  They want to know who's turn is it to be the expert.  :)

First we start with our letter expert's name on the wipe off board.  We chant it and practice spelling it:  R-E-A-G-A-N, who's that spell REAGAN!  We do this a couple of times.  

While we are chanting, the Letter Expert gets to sit in the special Letter Expert Chair- AKA cafe style chair.  They LOVE getting to sit in special chair to be the expert!

letter expert's special chair

Then magnetic letters go into a basket or small container.  We use the letters in their name plus a couple of letters that are not in their name. 

letter expert and letter basket

Our letter expert shakes the basket or container to mix the letters.  Then students come up to draw out a letter.  They name the letter and ask our Letter Expert if they are correct or not.  If they are not correct, the Letter Expert gets to help them name the letter.  

Then the student turns to the board and checks to see if the letter they drew out is in the Letter Expert's name.  They point to it if it is and then place it under yes on the chart.  If it is not in the Letter Expert's name it goes on the no side.

letter expert board to learn ABC's

After all the letters have been drawn out and placed under yes or no, we then practice writing our Letter Expert's name.  You can take it a step farther and have students draw a picture of the student, color it, and make it into a class book.  

I've told my students we will do more letter experts this week.  And I know they will hit the door Monday asking who the Expert is for that day!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guided Reading Plans

Guided Reading Plan Template
Kindergarten Guided Reading

Do you ever wonder what other teacher's guided reading plans look like?  Ever think you would like to change up and improve on yours, but not sure how?  Jen, over at The Teacher's Cauldron, is having a linky party that will help you out!


It seems like every year I am tinkering with my lesson plan forms.  I am always trying to improve it and make it work better for me.  I feel very constricted with my 30 minute time frame and trying to get EVERYTHING covered that my struggling readers are missing.  

Guided Reading Lesson Plan Template
First Grade Guided Reading

I used the big lesson plan book that the school provided for years and years.  Then I tried several times to move to planning on the computer.  But it just wasn't working for me.  So I would go back to the good ole standby that I've always used.  

But this year I think I have finally found something that will work for me!  I am using a modified version of Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading with some 4 BLocks flavor thrown in!

The Next Step in Guided Reading
4 Blocks


When I taught in the classroom, I absolutely loved the 4 Blocks framework.  Once our whole building was using 4 Blocks our state test scores took off and we won lots of awards.  But then I moved out of the classroom and needed to modify things a bit to fit the time frame and the kids I was now servicing.  Combining these two is finally going to allow me to do what I feel I need to do. 

Second Grade lesson plan template
Second Grade Guided Reading

This form allows me to cover phonemic awareness/phonics and comprehension by giving them 2 full time slots per week.  Tuesday/Wednesday will be more like a regular guided reading lesson plan and then on Fridays most students will be reading books on their independent level and conferencing/running records with me.  

Guided Reading Lesson plan template
Third Grade Guided Reading

Click on Jen's guided reading button at the top of my post and check out the other great ways teachers are writing their plans and link up your plans too!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Activity Files for RtI

Reading activities in a file for RtI intervention


Our first cycle of RtI (Response to Intervention) is about to get into full swing. I have posted about our RtI process before.  If you would like to read them or need ideas on how to implement RtI click  for Tier I, Tiers II and III and RtI Decision Meetings to read them.  I have been busy preparing graphs, parent letters, activity files, and weekly progress monitoring files.  That takes me a tremendous amount of time to get all of that organized for all my tier II and tier III teachers.

When I give my teachers their files containing what they need weekly for each student, they then start planning activities for the interventions these students need to progress.  

A great place to go to find activities for interventions is the Florida Center for Reading Research.  They have many activities and are grouped by grade and intervention needed.  


activity boxes for RtI interventions

I have copied the activities, labeled and filed them, and placed them into grade level boxes.  I have one for K-1. 2-3, and 4-5.  


activities for reading intervention

Now when my teachers get their files on who they will be doing interventions with they can come get the grade appropriate box and find activities to do with their students.  One thing I have struggled with with RtI is having time with each teacher who is teaching tier II and tier III to show them what activities to do and to teach them how to do some of the activities.  As with all teachers, I just do not have enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  This website is helping me with this.




This is one of the phonological awareness activities in the K-1 file.  It is just one of many phonemic awareness activities.  FCRR provides the activity, directions, and all the pictures, graphs, game boards, etc... needed to do that activity.  



My teachers are excited about these little black boxes!  They are hoping for a little less time spent in prep for these interventions.  I am excited too.  My teachers will have the resources that they need to better meet the needs of their students and not have to spend so much time searching for them!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Face Lift & 4 Square


This is the pretty after shot!  After my set of plastic drawers got a lovely face lift.  I saw this wonderful idea on Pinterest.  It came from Kinder Craze.  You need to see her room- so beautiful and colorful.  She has beautified (is that a word?) a lot of her drawers and they look wonderful.



This was before the face lift!  I did not like that look at all!  I like my stuff put away and when possible put away where they cannot be seen.  The drawers pre-face lift only accomplished half of this- the put away part.  Not the hidden part.  So I am in love with the new look- looks cute and all my mess is hidden away!

I have finally gotten all assessments completed and began classes last week.  We are starting out with characters and settings.  Clifford, the Big Red Dog is still a great book, even after all this time!





And these take it a step farther with the activity 4 Square.  It is called 4 square because....there are four squares!  It is an easy and quick way to practice the skill of character, setting, problem and solution.  You don't even need to have it typed.  You can just have the students fold the paper into 4 squares and they are ready to go.  Millions of Cats was the book we used for this one.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reading Goals: Being Intentional

Reading Goal Forms

I believe in being intentional.  The students who come to me for help in reading need to be intentional about their learning.  But we do not say that they are in my room because they cannot read.  

But there is no reason why we can't discuss how we can improve in reading.  I always throw myself into the mix when we talk about improving as a reader.  I want my students to know and more importantly to feel that everyone has areas they can improve on.  Sometimes they already feel like they are not as good as some of their classmates.  No need to drive that point home.

I have found that sometimes students are good at figuring out what they can improve on in reading.  But what they will do to improve and how will they know they have improved is a little more of a stretch for them to reason out.  

We brainstormed things that most readers do and then I let them pick the goal they thought would best fit them.  Then we discussed things they could do to try to reach that goal and then finally how they would know they met their goal.  

Reading goals forms



Reading Goal Forms



I made a reading goal too.  I wanted to model for my students that all of us can improve and no one knows everything!  We will be posting these goals in our room so that we can continue to be intentional about our reading. 

Forms for setting reading goals

One of three forms included in the packet.


If you would like these reading goals so your students can be intentional about their reading, click here or on the picture below to be taken to my store.  They are FREE and you get all 3 versions.  I hope you and your students enjoy being more intentional about setting reading goals.  :)

Being intentional by setting reading goals

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Join Lisa over at Learning is Something to Treasure for her flashback freebie! Click on her button above to find some fabulous freebies!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Update & Currently

Sorting letters, words and sentences

I had such a good response to the sorting activity that I wrote about for Tammy at 1...2...3...Teach With Me that I decided to create one that would be ready to go for teachers that needed it.

Telling the difference between letters, words, and sentences with a sorting activity

This was the sorting activity that I posted for Tammy.  It really helps beginning readers to differentiate between letters, words, and sentences.  Such an important skill to learn!

If this is something you were needing for your little readers, click here to be taken to my store.  

I am linking up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade to join in on her Currently fun!  Be sure to click over to her blog and grab the Currently template so you can join in too!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Collection of Name Books

Name books for teaching and recognizing the letters in student's names.

It's that time of year again...Little ones coming in...Some can recognize their name, some cannot.  Some know the letters in their name, some do not. 

I will begin with my kindergarten classes this week.  We will be working on their names as well as the letters of the alphabet so we can get those letters learned. 

I have made 3 different name books for this purpose and each one takes the skill up a level.   These class name books can be bound together to make class books.  Class books featuring their names will quickly become a favorite to read in your room!

You could start with reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  The name book for this one focuses on the letters in the student's name and the letters of the alphabet.


Using books to teach the letters of the alphabet

The next name book focuses on the beginning letter of their name and words that also begin with that letter.  Students are so interested in their names and words that are similar to their names!  This is a cute book to go with my name book.


Teaching letters and letter sounds

My last name book steps it up a bit more and focuses on letters as consonants and vowels.  The War Between Vowels and Consonants is a fun looking book to read before making my last book.


Teaching vowels and consonants


I hope you find this collection of name books useful!   If you need them, click here to be taken to my TpT store.