Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Sunday Letters" Link Up- 3rd Edition

I'm linking up with Michelle over at BigTime Literacy for her Sunday Morning Letters linky.  Thank you to Kevin & Amanda for the fonts and Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the notebook graphics.  Sit back and relax on your Sunday morning. :)

Click HERE for the Choice Literacy article. :)

Click HERE if you'd like to view the Book Room. 

Enjoy your Sunday because... 
Image from

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Project Organization" for the Guided Reading Book Room is underway!

I'm going to start with some background information about our district that leads up to "Project Organization".  In previous years, our district used basal programs for reading, as mostly everyone did, before researchers uncovered better reading practices to develop competent readers.  When my school district began using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Kits, everything needed to be revamped, including our reading program. Teachers were finding many students struggling to keep up with the class, when using the basal materials.  The stories in the anthology readers were too difficult for some students to read independently because they were not *just-right* books.  On the other hand, the same goes for the above-level students.  They were also not reading materials that were *just-right* for them.  Students were either falling farther and farther into the proverbial cracks or not progressing ahead at an appropriate rate.

To correct this problem, at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, our classroom teachers were asked to pull together any sets of books from their classrooms for the purpose of getting them leveled with a Fountas and Pinnell guided reading level.  The reading staff worked numerous hours leveling hundreds and hundreds of books.  We used Scholastic's Book Wizard and Literacy Leveler App, in addition to Fountas and Pinnell's Leveled Books Website to level all of the books that came our way.  Once the books were leveled, we needed to organize them for teachers to use. 

Book Wizard site
Literacy Leveler App
F&P site

Of course, the issue then became "Where do we store all of the books?"  The custodial staff was diligent in clearing out stored materials in a storage closet to create a Book Room purely dedicated to teachers accessing multi-leveled book sets with ease for use in their guided reading groups.  At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, teachers had access to a variety of fiction and nonfiction book sets.  

To keep titles and use of the materials organized, teachers used (still do!) an iPad and a QR Code located in the room to retrieve the check-out form attached to a working Google document.

Yes, this could be cuter. :)

When teachers click on 
Classroom* and F and P Level* tabs, 
class sections and levels appear.

Well, at the start of this school year, the reading team is noticing how the Book Room is slowly reverting back into a *storage room*Book Room.  Now that we've switched over to Lucy Calkins' Reading Workshop, we're spotting old reading basal materials on the floor and on rolling carts, encyclopedias (from the 1970s), previously used phonics programs, in addition to single and multiple copies of unleveled books squeezed onto shelves that were already organized and leveled.  

Needless to say, the reading team has been re-organizing it little by little since school started. Over the summer, our principal ordered even more leveled book sets for the staff to use with their students (yay!).  Those materials should be arriving in the very near future, so an organized Book Room is in demand!  Thankfully, new baskets and shelving units have been ordered, too. 

There's still loads to do for "Project Organization".  Above are the before pictures, but the make-over reveal pictures will be taken once the project has been completed.  Hopefully that will be very soon. Check back for an update. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five for Friday: Back to School Edition!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday to share a bit about what's been happening since I've been back to school this week. 

Our district has been using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Kit for the past two years to assess the students' guided reading levels three times per year (while conducting running records in the classroom on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on the needs of each student, throughout the year).  Since we began using the benchmark kit, all assessment results have been documented on paper copies of the running records for each book, Levels A-Z.  We copied TONS and TONS of paper and dulled many pencils along the way. The paper trail for each student became overwhelming to many.  However, this year, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel!

This is my Reading Team's "Test" class.  I'm test student #1.  :)
(Thanks to Graphics from the Pond for the background!)

We recently purchased the F&P Assessment App for one iPad, in addition to the F&P Online Data Management System to see first-hand, if it's something our school wants to implement school-wide.  The App enables reading records to be coded and then placed into the Online Data Management System.  It then analyzes and scores the results to display the students' progress.  The App records oral reading rates, self-corrections, fluency and comprehension scores.  The Online Data Management System allows staff to view and manage the data off all students in the school.  The system keeps an electronic trail of the students' progress from year to year.  Even though we're still in the learning stage, it seems pretty amazing thus far.  It would definitely help solve our paper crisis and keep our pencils sharp! ;)

I was been busily working at home over the summer months making products for my recently opened Teachers Pay Teachers shop.  My latest products are targeted for my struggling readers to practice instantly recognizing the Dolch sight words.  Because sight words make up on average 50-75% of children's texts, it's advantageous for students to know these words, especially since the majority of them do not follow the basic phonics principles.  It also improves fluency, which in turn, positively effects comprehension! :)

Anyway, I've created audio QR Codes for every word on the PrePrimer, Primer, First Grade, Second Grade and Third Grade Dolch Word Lists.  The audio QR Codes provide an opportunity for students to listen to the word and match it to the visual word card.  However, students can also listen and then practice spelling the words (without the visual word card) because knowing how to spell the words helps with their writing.  

 Click HERE to view the product in my TpT Shop.

At our recent Institute Day, I was recognized for being a new blogger in my school district, as well as accomplishing the task of completing the 31-day Blogging Challenge.  I was given a Starbuck's gift card.  I'm all about having a Camel Frappuccino after a long day or to start off a relaxing weekend, especially when it's *on the house", so I'm thrilled.  I'm also very grateful to have met Michelle over at BigTim Literacy and for her supporting me in my Blogging Challenge endeavors! :)

Michelle from BigTIme Literacy recognizing bloggers at our Institute Day!
Me with my Starbucks gift card, along with my former blogging partner, Nancy!  :)

I've been a mentor in the 1:1 Mentoring for New Teachers program in my district over the past few years.  I've had many first-year teachers, as well as those with experience.  Every year, it has been a delightful opportunity to meet exceptional teachers.  This year I am fortunate enough to have three outstanding, experienced mentees.  Every one of them is fabulous.  They are a wonderful addition to our school's family. ;)

Phil- P.E., Amanda- Science, Grace- 3rd Grade

Literacy Loving Gals are participating in our very first literacy blog hop!  If you're interested, please stop by for literacy lessons, freebies and a path that will lead you to numerous blogs hosting even more literacy ideas and freebies.  It starts TODAY and will continue through this weekend.  Click HERE to begin the hoppin'! 

Thanks for hosting Doodle Bugs!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blasting Off a Great Year: 2-Day Literacy Blog Hop with FREEBIES!

Welcome back to school, blog hoppers!  Thanks for stopping by for our very first blog hop and literacy link-up.  An immense thank you to Carla from Comprehension Connection for the invitation to join the hop and to Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars for helping Carla organize this two-day opportunity to share literacy lessons for a new year.  Isn't it nice to start the year with some literacy-related FREEBIES? :)

In our school, the reading support staff utilizes the Fountas and Pinnell Intervention System to support struggling readers.  We currently have access to the kits below, which support students reading on Levels A-Q.
Within those kits, students encounter and process a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres.  We teach the students how to identify the characteristics of fiction, as well as the underlying text structures in nonfiction.  To read more about one resource I use to teach nonfiction text structures, click HERE.  Below are some examples of the different genres found in the LLI Blue Kit that is mostly used with 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students. 
As we all know, exposure to many different genres can assist struggling readers and writers to become more successful in school.  According to research, knowledge of genre when reading a text is a powerful factor in comprehension!  

At the start of the school year, reading stories to students that contain an assortment of genres within the story allows for some great discussion.  The discussions can provide an opportunity for a teacher to pre-assess what students already know about different genres.  Three of my favorite read alouds to introduce genres are Charlie Cook's Favorite Book Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind and Read Anything Good Lately?
Charlie Cook's Favorite Book is a circular tale that begins and ends with Charlie Cook reading his favorite book.  He starts out reading   a book about a pirate, who is reading a book about Goldilocks, who is reading about a knight, who is reading about a frog, and so on.  The book includes snippets from a story book, fairy tale, comic, magazine, newspaper and even an encyclopedia.  Each page is like a mini-adventure for students, since they come upon multiple characters from each tale.  The book ends with Charlie Cook reading his favorite book to all of the characters in his favorite book.  Students adore this paperback!  

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind describes how Miss Malarkey vows to find each of her students a book to love by the end of the school year, but one video game-loving, book-hating boy proves to be a challenge.  Miss Malarkey gives the boy various genres to try, including a fantasy, comic, biography and some poetry.  She finally finds the perfect book for him.  Ever been challenged like that with one of your students?? :)

Read Anything Good Lately? is an alliterative alphabet book with each page listing something a person can read and a place to read it.  For instance, a person can read a biography in bed, the dictionary at a desk, information on the Internet, science fiction on a swing, and tall tales in a tree house.  

Below are three FREEBIES!  The Genre Reference Poster containing an Independent Reading Log is based on Jan Richardson's reading genre chart found in her book, The Next Step in Guided Reading.  Both the poster and log can be useful tools for students to reference and use throughout the school year to keep track genres.  Take a peek at both Genre Reference Poster freebies to see which one you prefer!  I've also added a "Readers Rule!" back-to-school reading preferences graphic organizer, which touches on favorite genres and places to read.  I added it to go along with Read Anything Good Lately?, since it discusses places to read.  :)
Enjoy the freebies above.  I hope they're useful for you.  Before you blast off to the next blog, below you'll find (my former blogging partner) Nancy's addition to our literacy blog hop! 

:) Colleen 

Hi all!  One of my favorite books to start the school year is Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, by Howard Binkow.  This book leads to interesting conversations about classroom expectations.  It's one of my must haves to introduce my expectations of students while they are participating in my intervention groups, as well as my one-on-one time with Reading Recovery students.  Time is limited, so it's crucial that we are able to get right down to business without wasting time. 

I often use the Think-Pair-Share Strategy to get students to discuss what they feel are important rules for listening in the group.  Of course, I guide them into the most important aspects of being a good listener, but it's important to allow students to have a *say* in setting expectations in the room.  I want students to know I hear their voice.  It permits critical relationships to be developed with my students.   Take a peek below at the book, as well as the freebie my partner created so I have a freebie to share, too! ;)
Click HERE to peek inside!
Thanks for stopping by Literacy Loving Gals!  If you're interested, we'd love for you to follow our Bloglovin' feed and/or link up on our Blogs tab up above before you go.  The best part about being a blogger is learning  from others all over world.  We'd love to learn from you, too!   

Okay, that's all for now.  We hope the start of your school year is a successful one.  Click below to hop on over to the next stop, which is Lori from Conversations in Literacy, for even more literacy lessons to blast off your school year.  Enjoy your hoppin'!
Click HERE for the next stop!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Entertaining Book for Back to School!

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi is an appealing story book students can read or listen to at the start of the school year to enlighten them about some benefits of reading.  It describes how Henry's book-loving ways are interfering with his duty to be a fearsome Buccaneer like his father, Barnacle Black Ear. 

Henry is not acting like a true Buccaneer.  Barnacle Black Ear is disappointed in his son for reading the books the Buccaneers have stolen from other ships.  

Barnacle Black Ear continually pesters Henry to do as Buccaneers do, but Henry always has an excuse to put aside his duties so he can read.  However, when a storm falls upon the ship, everything gets destroyed.  Will Henry's treasure chests filled with his books save the day? 
Henry proves to the Buccaneers that reading and learning from books can benefit everyone.  When the crew needs shelter, Henry builds a two-story hut using what he learned in the book 101 Things to Do with Palm Fronds and Coconuts.
Henry shows the Buccaneers various useful things from the multitude of books he has read.  For instance, he shows the Buccaneers how to make stew, plant carrots, create sandcastles, and even build another ship.   
Will Henry be able to transform the Buccaneers into book lovers just like him?  
Check out more information HERE, if you're interested in sparking some conversation in your classroom about the advantages of reading, as well as sparking the motivation in your students to become stronger readers.  Remember, readers are leaders! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Sunday Letters"

I'm linking up with Michelle over at BigTime Literacy for her Sunday Morning Letters.  Sit back, enjoy your coffee and partake in a little light reading... :)

Thanks for stopping by while on your coffee break.  Enjoy your Sunday.

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