Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Poem Coding, Fluency, & RtI

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving


I have a student in the third tier of RtI.  She struggles with fluency, but has been working oh so hard to improve!  

I found a way that I thought would help her.  If you have been following my Wednesday posts for the past couple of weeks, you know that I had the pleasure of listening to Georgia Heard speak at a conference.  Click here if you missed those posts.  She talked with us about using poetry for fluency and the common core.  

Georgia Heard gave this idea of using symbols to help the student practice their fluency.  I call this poem coding.  


I handed my student the poem, Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, and the coding card.  She went through  a paragraph at a time and coded it to what she felt sounded right to her.  She naturally knew where to slow down, stop, and raise her voice.  

You can also see where she was having difficulty with multi-syllabic words.  She has learned to draw in her lines to break the words to help her read them. I find it interesting to look at her work on the poem sheet.  It is like a work in progress to better fluency!

Poem Coding for Fluency

Using Poems for Fluency

I have to say that this coding really helped my student and she got to where she could read this poem quite well!  Coding the poem seemed to help her to think about how it should sound, the punctuation, and using expression.  It was an easy tool for her to put into practice too.  I really appreciate going to a conference and receiving practical resources that you can immediately put into place and that really help our students!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Comprehension Binder Organization for RtI

comprehension passages and questions

By now you must think that I am the queen of binders!!  Binders keep me organized and save me tons of time, especially for RtI.  Hope you are sticking with me on these RtI postings and that you are finding them helpful in your school's journey to get your RtI up and running.  Click here to read the other RtI postings.  

Our school uses comprehension as an intervention when appropriate in RtI.  If this is an area of concern, we teach students how to better comprehend and answer questions about the stories and poems they read.  I needed lots of comprehension passages with questions ready made to use as our weekly progress monitoring.  I didn't need them for teaching the skill, just for assessing.

This is where Super Teacher Worksheets comes in.  Now, those that know me, know that I don't use worksheets and do not recommend worksheets to others.  The name of Super Teacher Worksheets is a bit misleading- or at least for the purpose that I recommend them for.  I do not use these for the teaching the intervention in RtI- only for our assessments.  

comprehension passages

This site has reading comprehension passages for grades K-5.  We mainly only use them for 3rd through 5th grade, sometimes using them in the second cycle of RtI for second grade.  It all depends on the needs of the students for when we begin this skill intervention.

comprehension passage

This is an example of a first grade reading passage. And then comprehension questions that follow each story or poem.   

comprehension questions

When I first started using Super Teacher Worksheets, they were free.  I had my paraprofessional copy all the stories by grade.  Then she placed them in a binder for copying as needed.  This has been a huge help to me as there would be no way to have time to find all these passages and questions.  Now you can only get access to a few stories per grade level for free.  A membership will cost $19.95 for a year.  I am not affiliated with this site at all- so no commission for me if you decide to join.  :)  I wish they were still free to use for everyone as they have been incredibly helpful to have. 

One of our teachers discovered ReadWorks.org.  Have you seen this site?  Lots of skill and strategy units to help you teach reading to those in RtI or just in your classroom.  They list the strategy, lesson plans, and the book to use the plans with.  And the strategies are common core aligned.  It is free, but you will need to register to have access to the informational texts.  I have not gotten to use this site much yet, but the teacher who brought it to my attention just loves it and finds it very helpful.  I hope it helps you too!

reading strategies and lesson plans


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Memories and A Huge Sale!

Photobucket
I know we all love a great sale!  Did you go Black Friday shopping?  I went for a while Friday morning, but not super early like in years past.  And I must say going at 8 am was a lot easier than getting up at 4 am to stand in line in the cold!!  

If you are a Teachers Pay Teachers shopper, you won't want to miss this great sale!  You can get up to 28% off!  Please be sure to use the code so you can save all that you can.  :)

Hope your Thanksgiving was relaxing and wonderful for you!  I spent my Thanksgiving with over 70 family members!!  I lost track somewhere after 70 and gave up counting.  :)

  It was so great catching up with family that I hadn't seen in a couple of years.  We get together for Thanksgiving every other year now instead of every year.  Lots and lots of yummy, fabulous food.  Sounds of laughter, hugs for all, and just a feeling of warmth...That was a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Poems All Around!


Last week I wrote about attending the Marre Reading Conference and getting to hear Georgia Heard speak about using poetry in the classroom.  You can get to last week's post by clicking here.

This week I want to discuss her ideas about posting poetry in the school to create interest in poems, expose students to a variety of poetry and using these posted poems as another way to get students reading! 

Georgia Heard suggested posting poems ALL OVER the school.  This exposes students to all different types and kinds of poems and gets them reading!  Here are some of her ideas of where to place poems:

Post Poems By The:

  • pencil sharpener
  • door
  • clock bathroom
  • water fountain
  • sink
  • trashcan

Post poems anywhere students will be standing, waiting, looking, etc.  Words just tend to draw in our eyes.  I found the poem at the top of this post and I thought it was just perfect for posting by the water fountain.  I also think posting poems in the hall by the cafeteria would be a great place as students spend a lot of time standing there waiting for their turn to go in.

Teachers could be on the look out for great poetry and then rotate it to different areas in the school and switch it out with other poems to keep it fresh.  I think the students would get to where they will be looking for it.  They would definitely notice when one poem went away and another took its place.

How about your school?  Does your school post poems around?  Share your ideas of where you get all of your poetry!

I want to take a moment to thank all of you for coming by and reading my blog since I began last year.  You don't know what that means to me and how thankful I am for each of you!  I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pete the Cat Popup Book and Shoe Graph

class made pop up book

We all love Pete the Cat, right??  I know I do and my students adore him!  Just something about that easy going cat that they seem to relate to and enjoy.  We did Pete the Cat last year too.  If you want to see those activities, just click here to see them.

This year, we read Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes, sang his song (many times), and created a shoe graph.

shoe graph

Since I see more than one class a day, this chart was a major source of excitement.  Each class wanted to check out the chart as soon as they came in to see how it had changed since other classes had added their information.  The kids predicted that black would be the winner and turns out they were right!

Then we created our pop-up book.  Popup books are great because they are easy to make and since they are different than a regular book, they create a lot interest!


class made book
class made book

The pop-up books were made by my kindergartners.  They sang their color songs to help them remember how to spell the color words.

Then the first graders made their class book.  For this one, students had to decide what they would step in that would be the same color that they wanted their shoe to be.  I gave them the words stepped and shoes and they remembered their color songs from kindergarten to help them spell those words.  

class made book

class made book
I stepped in cotton candy.
class made book
I stepped in paint.


I honestly can't wait to get to the other Pete the Cat books!  We will be comparing them and doing some more fun activities to go with them too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Georgia Heard and Poetry


I have been lucky enough for the past 3 days to attend the Marre Reading Conference!  One of the keynote speakers was Georgia Heard and she was fabulous!

During her keynote address, Georgia Heard shared poetry and how poetry met common core standards.  We all know we should be reading, sharing and writing poetry, but sometimes we need a little reminder...a little nudge forward...and some practical ways to put it into practice.

Poetry is a natural way to be playful with language for children.  They love repeating little poems they have heard and playing with the rhythm and rhyme.  Georgia Heard reminds us of some of the ways poems are valuable.

Why Poems?

  • rhythm and sound
  • power of images
  • appropriate uses of figures of speech
  • playful attention to language
  • hidden meaning
  • metaphor
  • simile
  • personification
  • alliteration


How many in that list did you count that are in the common core?  Use poetry!  You can address speaking and listening and fluency standards by making voice recordings of students reading their poems or video taping them.

She suggests that we begin with simpler, accessible poems first then build up to the exemplar poems as used in the common core.  Georgia also asks that we cover more poets that Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky!

Here are some suggestions from her for using poetry through out the day, every day:

during morning meetings
before math (poems that have some sort of math in them) or other subjects that you find poems to fit 
transitional times

I loved her idea of using poems for transitions!  I know teachers use them this way, but I guess I needed reminding.  :)  Students get to choose which poem to  memorize (student choice is important).  As the class recites the poem, they are putting things away and getting ready for the next thing.  They know that they must be done and ready by the time everyone finishes reciting.  I will leave you with a poem she gave as an example that students love for this!  In the coming weeks, I will share more of Georgia Heard's ideas and suggestions.   Be on the look out for them as she gave us some really good stuff!



Sunday, November 11, 2012

RtI Fluency Binder Organization

One minute reading assessments
Binders, binders, binders!

Do you test for fluency during your Response to Intervention (RtI) time?  For some students we use fluency tests if that is the appropriate skill at that time for them.  And once again, Reading A-Z has helped me out with this!  This site has an abundance of fluency tests ready to go if that is what you need.

fluency assessments for RtI

Last week, I explained how we used Reading A-Z to help us with phonemic awareness assessments-  click here to read that post.  I am a huge supporter of the RtI process and truly believe that it works.  But finding enough materials that work for your situation can be difficult at times.   

I so appreciated that Reading A-Z already had one minute fluency assessments ready to use.  If you have ever made these assessments, you know how much work is involved!

Reading A-Z one minute fluency assessments

I have 5 binders for weekly fluency assessments- one each for grades one through five.  But I rarely use the first grade binder.  It's not really appropriate to be timing first grade students in the first semester of the year. And I hardly ever use it even in the second semester.  I don't want them to be concentrating on trying to read fast.  Fluency is not about reading fast anyway!  I want my students to be able to read their words automatically, smoothly reading with expression, and read at the correct pace.  That does not mean racing through a passage as fast as they can go.  The goal of reading with fluency is to improve the student's comprehension.  Okay, stepping off my soap box now!  :) 

I have each binder organized by months with assessments in each month increasing in difficulty.  These passages work great for our weekly progress monitoring.  Our RtI cycle runs from September through December and then again from February through April.  So what students would be expected to read fluently in October would need to be different than what they read in March.  

What do you use for fluency tests?  Does it work for you?  I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sound Boxes Freebie!

monster themed Elkonin Sound boxes

Do you use Elkonin Sound Boxes to help you teach phonemic awareness?  I think these little boxes are great!


Elkonin Sound Boxes

If you haven't used these little boxes, you should try them!  Students place an object under each box.  I like to use things about the size of coins.  Pom Poms work well too and are quiet.  That is a bonus!!  For the two box above, you would use words like at or up.  We stretch the word out by saying it slowly first.  Then slide an item into each box for each sound heard.  That would be 2 for at.  Remind students to always start on the left hand side like we do when reading.


Elkonin Sound Boxes

Sound boxes help students to separate and hear sounds in words.  Then helps them to read these words later.  They are valuable for stretching words when writing too.  


Elkonin Sound Boxes

I wanted to change up my sound boxes and cutify (is that a word?) them a bit.  There are 4 different sound box pages.  If you can use this monster themed sound boxes set, go grab them by clicking here!  Hope you like them!

Freebie Fridays

Sunday, November 4, 2012

RtI With A Little Help From Reading A-Z

We are a little over half way through our first cycle of RtI.  If you want to read about our RtI process click here.  Knowing what interventions to teach was not the hard part.  Finding assessments that were ready to use was giving me problems.  I needed a large variety of assessments to cover the many different areas our school could be covering in RtI.  And I did not have the energy nor the time to make them all myself- I know you know what I mean there- never enough time!  :)

This is where Reading A-Z has been a huge help!  I have a classroom license to their site and I put that money to good use!  You can see in the picture above a little tab that says assessments.  They have a wide variety of assessments that you can utilize.  Today I will focus on the phonemic awareness part.

Background Paper from Tessa at Tales from Outside the Classroom

If you have been a follower for very long, you will know that I do a lot of phonemic awareness activities with my students.  With having the assessments I have the other piece of the puzzle.  I like to keep my assessments (well, really most things) in binders.  It keeps them neat and I know right where they are.  I went to the Reading A-Z site then printed off the assessments for phonemic awareness.  They are now in a binder ready to go!

phonemic awareness assessments

phonemic awareness assessments binder

We use the different assessments for our weekly progress monitoring.  When students master one skill then they are moved on to the next and taught interventions until that one is also mastered.  We do not use all of the assessments.  I pick and choose the ones that are appropriate for our students at that time- I don't know that I have ever used all of anything or not tweaked it to fit my style and my students.  I'm sure you do the same!

If you are in need of more weekly assessments for RtI or just want to do some assessmenting of your students for yourself, you just may want to give Reading A-Z a try.  They have a wide variety of items, assessments, and materials.