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Setting Up Routines and Building Reading Stamina

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

Before ever beginning guided reading groups, you need to do the work of establishing routines and building reading stamina.  Doing these things first will help your guided reading small group activities run so much more smoothly!

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

Before diving into guided reading groups, I take time in my classroom to teach students how readers choose books.  Some students really do not know how to appropriately choose a book that fits them.  I also have this post where we compare choosing just right books to choosing just right shoes- you can read that by clicking HERE.  The students and I created this anchor chart to guide them through the process.  A lot of my students just use the Grab & Go method (grab any book and go) before we do lessons on how to choose a just right book.  This lesson comes after talking about making reading goals.  You can find that post HERE.  Some of the the links below may be referral links, which means,  I will earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. 

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

After we learn and practice- very important to practice- choosing books, we then learn the expectations of reading to self.  This anchor chart is great for students to visualize this.  

I use the ideas in this book about breaking stamina.  Once everyone gets settled into place, I begin my timer.  If students are not doing their job, I stop the timer and call everyone to a meeting on the carpet to discuss what happened and how we can do better.  If there is time, I send them back out to try again and reset the timer.  I also like to do a check in on the carpet on how we are doing according to our anchor chart.  I ask them for a thumbs up or thumbs down for how they did as an individual.  For example, did you have books you could read?  Did you stay in your spot the entire time?  Were you reading the whole time?

I use this book, Conferring with Readers for ideas on conferencing.  Jen Serravallo teaches to stand back the first few days and kid watch during this time.  Make note of  who gets settled in right away and who struggles to start their books.  Maybe you have some students having difficulty choosing just right books (I always have some who struggle with this, don't you?).  Take the time to observe what is going on with your students.  These observations can them become mini lessons to help students or you can use this information when you being individual conferences.

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

After we have learned about how to choose books, where to sit and the expectations of Read to Self, we begin building our reading stamina.  I have found students enjoy this a lot!  They like to beat their times!

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

When building reading stamina, I like to start low so students can be successful.  Starting with success builds confidence.  But they will break stamina and not make it too.  Call them to your rug or meeting place in your room and talk about why it happened.  Then try again another day.  Students love the visualness of graphs so we color those in each time.  I like to have a record of whether we achieved our goal or not so I have a star for that!  You can find this chart for FREE in our Free Resource Library.  Sign up for our newsletter HERE to find it!

Building Reading Stamina for Read to Self Before Starting Guided Reading Small Groups! #guidedreading #readtoself #classroomorganization #backtoschool #anchorcharts kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade

If one of your goals is to get students reading at home (and who doesn't have that goal?), you can also find this reading stamina chart in our Free Resource Library.  Great way to encourage reading at home!  

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Creating Reading Goals with Growth Mindset

reading goals, growth mindset and the book Wolf

We've spent some time learning about what readers do before we begin guided reading groups.  One of my favorite ways to get started is to read Wolf! and set reading goals with growth mindset guiding us.  

reading goals, growth mindset, anchor charts, the book wolf

If you haven't read Wolf!  you need to!  It is perfect for teaching students not to give up on improving reading.  It is a fun story about a wolf who goes to the farm with the intention of eating the animals but by the end he has worked hard and has become "an educated animal" who is a good reader!  Check it out here for your classroom.

reading goals, growth mindset, anchor charts, the book Wolf!

After reading the book, I like to talk with students about how Wolf feels when reading got hard and then what action he took to make things better.  Great for building growth mindset with your class!

reading goals, growth mindset, anchor charts, the book Wolf!

We discuss all the things Wolf did each time he had difficulty and how it changed everything for him by the end of the story.

reading goals, growth mindset, anchor charts, the book Wolf!

We then write our individual reading goals to work on for this month.  Each student chooses a goal that is specific to them.  You can see reading goals, genre graph, books to be read, etc... by clicking here.

interactive reading notebooks, reading goals, growth mindset, the book Wolf

Goals and other graphs are kept in reading notebooks.  The tabbed sections make it easier to organize the 4 sections of learning: word work, comprehension, vocabulary, and reading progress.  Take a look at this notebook here.

reading goals, growth mindset, anchor charts, the book wolf

To go along with our growth mindset theme, you can get this banner and pennant set for free!  Click here to get it now!

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Make Managing Dyslexia Screenings Easier

laptop, coffee cup, dyslexia reports

Our state has mandated that we begin screening students kindergarten through 3rd grades for dyslexia this year.  And it is important to remember that we are screening for indicators, but we are NOT diagnosing dyslexia.  We needed to make managing dyslexia screening as easy as we could.  Our state department required several areas of skills that needed to be included when we screen.  Thankfully for us, we were already doing most of what they were asking for.  All we needed to do was add in a few elements and then be sure we screened all students in those grades for this first year.  

I did a lot of research into this and attending meetings to be sure we were on the right track and included all of the required components.

What Dyslexia is Not

One of the trainings I attended was a MARRE conference and I was able to attend a session by Linda Dorn.  It was a great session with a lot of information on dyslexia and what it is not.  

Managing Dyslexia Screenings to Make Assessments Easy and Affordable

I knew I didn't want to use a program for this.  I am not a program kind of person.  But I did need to make this screening affordable and as easy to manage as possible.  I already use ESGI software for my RTI screenings and am familiar with how to use it.  So using ESGI for dyslexia screenings was of course what I knew I would need for this too.  

We chose to use free screenings for the most part and I just entered them into ESGI.  Our screenings include PAST for phonemic awareness, Quick Phonics for phonics, letter identification and letter sounds assessments, Dolch sight word lists, and nonsense word lists.  These are all free and all you would need to do is type them into ESGI.  I enter yes or no if the child knows the word/answer or does not.  

This has saved me HOURS, not kidding, of my time!  By using ESGI, I do not have to make paper copies of all my kids, test them, then go back and score them.  I can assess them quickly and as I push yes or no, ESGI is scoring the assessments for me!  Now, there are a few screenings that we still administered with paper- spelling and writing.  I also did not use ESGI for the rapid naming assessment.  But all the others, I did and it was smooth and easy!

Managing Dyslexia Screenings to Make Assessments Easy and Affordable

All these screenings could have been a paperwork nightmare to score and try to create reports for each student.  But again, ESGI made it easy because they do that for you!  I can run reports for the least know letters for an entire class.  Or phonemic awareness for just one student.  If you look at the last report in the picture, a new feature of ESGI is plotting the progress of students.  We will be assessing students 3 times per year.  So by May each student will have 3 data plots of progress in their graphs!  So easy and I didn't have to be the one to do it!  I just pull it up and send to the printer.  

We have all of our screenings done now and I am using this data to help me reach students where they are at and who needs help in each area.  

Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools

If you think ESGI might be what you are looking for to help save you time when assessing, click the picture above.  There are many more features to this software that I didn't even write about today.  Try it out  for 60 days and see!  I use it for dyslexia and RTI screenings.  Classroom teachers use it for grade level check off skills and so much more.  

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ABC Letter Recognition Activities That Work!

Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

It's Back to School time and if you teach preschool, kindergarten or first grade, you are thinking about letter recognition and letter identification activities for your little students.  You need ABC activities that are fun and that really WORK!

Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

There are a lot of different ideas and games for learning the ABCs.  These are just a few of them that we use.  The first several listed are hands-down some of the best ways to help students learn their letters!

Linking Charts for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

Reading an ABC Linking Chart, every single day, is one of the most beneficial ways to help students get those letters and letter names learned!  Read the charts during guided reading time or shared reading.  There are so many ways to use the linking charts:  
  • read it across
  • read it from the bottom
  • read each row backwards
  • take away the letters with just picture clues remaining
  • take away the picture clues
  • match magnetic letters
  • call out letters
  • call out sounds
As student get more confident and learn more letters, you can mix it up more.  This keeps it interesting too.  You can find the linking charts here.

Tracing Books for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

Whenever I have a student that is simply struggling to learn the ABCs, I instruct them with tracing books.  Students trace each letter (capital and lower case) with the proper path of movement, say the letter and then picture cue:  trace capital A and say /A/, trace lower case a and say /a/, then say alligator.  This works best if you use letter books that match your linking chart.  You can also cut apart the letter cards to make letter matching games.  This works best if you can do this one on one with the student to ensure they are properly tracing the letters.  A para, parent volunteer, or even an older student provided that they are detail oriented for the path of movement can help with this.  Tracing the letters, saying the letter names and the pictures every single day makes a big difference in their learning! Find the tracing books here.

ABC Alphabet Books for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

Using Alphabet books are a fun way  to practice learning letters too.  After reading the book in whole group, set the book in a literacy center for students to read and match letters to the pages in the book.  Here are my favorite ABC books:

The Handmade Alphabet (different hands signing the abcs with a picture cue)

ABC Arc for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

As you read alphabet books or if you place them in a center, have the letters formed above the book in an ABC Arc.  Students can pull down letters to match letters on the page.

Letter Sorts for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

Letter sorting can be done in many ways.  Here are a few ideas:
  • letter attributes- curved, straight, both
  • sorting by colors
  • in my name & not in my name
  • vowels and consonants
  • tall, small, and fall

Pinch A Pom Pom for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

Fill a bucket with pom poms and magnetic letters.  Students reach in with a pair of tongs to try to pull out letters to match with their name card.  Teach letters and strengthen hand muscles at the same time!

Letter Toss Game for Letter Recognition and Letter Identification Activities

I use letter bean bags in a basket.  Students reach in the basket to pull out a bean bag- capitals on one side of the bag and lower case letter on the other side of the bean bag.  They decide if the letter is in their name or not and then toss it into the YES or NO bucket.  Kids love this game!  I use this ABC Bean Bag.

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