Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kindergarteners Learning Their Letters with QR Codes!

The kindergarteners receiving RtI services in my school are at Level Pre-A and are supported with a variety of resources, including Jan Richardson's Pre-A lesson format, which includes 
  • Working with Letters and Names
  • Working with Sounds
  • Working with Books
  • Interactive Writing    
According to Jan Richardson, Level Pre-A students can not identify at least 40 upper-and lowercase letters in the alphabet and need to activities to improve visual memory, phonemic awareness, oral language and concepts of print.  

This is the case for more than a handful of our little ones in kindergarten.  They have been grouped according to their letter knowledge and are given additional support outside of their classroom every day.   I'm hear to say, they have been making great strides in their alphabetic knowledge!  They are becoming more and more successful at naming, making the sounds of and matching uppercase and lowercase letters.  

One of the activities they have been using to practice matching uppercase and lowercase letters incorporates the use of the iPads, equipped with the Scan App.   Below are a few pictures of the students scanning QR Codes and matching letters. :)

If you're interested, click on the pictures below to view them in my TpT store.  I have a version with QR Codes, as well as without the use of technology, depending on your needs.  :)

I want to thank the 3AM Teacher for the clip art and Kimberly Geswein for the fun fonts in the pictures above.  

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five for Friday with a Freebie- March 20 Edition

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday and Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday, since I have a freebie to share this week. :)
We've been working on Cause & Effect this week, so if you're interested in this freebie, click the image above to head on over to my TpT store to grab your copy!  Of course, ratings are always appreciated. :)
My students finished up their Instagram projects.  They had a good time responding to their texts as characters from their stories.  This Instagram activity is a freebie in Erin Klein's TpT store.  If you have the time, rate her as well.  I'm sure she'd appreciate it! :)
I stopped by Target, one of my favorite stores, and picked up these adorable Spring-themed erasers.  We've been using them for dictated writing associated with the LLI Kit.  The erasers represent each word in an orally dictated sentence.  It helps the students keep track of the number of words they need to write.  The students are loving them. :) 

A little Readers' Theater on a Friday afternoon is always time well spent.  The students love performing and I love additional opportunities for them to practice their fluency.  We're hitting two proverbial birds with one stone! :)
I walked by the bulletin board last week on a day it was 74 degrees.  I cringed realizing I should probably update the board containing little snowflakes all over it along with titles of winter-themed books to read.   I tried to *work a little magic* on the board.  As you can see, I decided to create a "Spring into a Good Book!" board.  Above is how it turned out.  The passers-by seem to enjoy it. :)

Well, there's a peek into my week.  Thank you to Sallie Borrink for the polka dot backgrounds.  Happy Spring everyone! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What Does It Take to Catch a Leprechaun? (Freebie included!)

Ahhh, the time of year when I celebrate my Irish heritage. I enjoy everything about St. Patrick's Day, especially the stories about sneaky leprechauns. While visiting my own kiddos' school last week, I had the most entertaining conversation with them about leprechauns.  
The conversation actually made me miss having a homeroom and a consistent group of students for the year.  Please don't get me wrong because I absolutely love being a Reading Specialist! Working with flexible groupings of students at a range of grade-levels is a dream come true. However, there's something to be said about about establishing a *classroom family* from year to year. Anyone feel the same way? 

Creating a sense of mystery and magic in my own classroom on St. Patrick's Day was amusing. Watching the students' faces spotting chairs tipped over, papers strewn on the floor and little leprechaun feet all over the room was priceless. Writing persuasive letters to the leprechauns asking them kindly to please keep the room tidy while we were out of the room, and then returning to the read letters *written by the leprechauns*, certainly captivated the students attention.  Below is a book that was always a favorite of my 2nd graders. :)
Anyway, these are the comical memories which initiated my motivation to create a St. Patty's Day writing activity for my students and for you! So, what does it take to catch a sneaky leprechaun?  Find out what your students think with this St. Patrick's Day freebie.  It can be used with a variety of St. Patrick's Day-themed books and may even spark a little magic in your classroom.  

My favorite response from a little girl: "I will pepper spray him!"
 She then went on to explain what she'd do after that.  Oh, boy! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day and thanks to Little Miss I, Sticky Foot Studio and Teaching Super Power for the graphics and Jen Jones and Kimberly Geswein for the fonts! 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Freebie Time! Using Analogy Charts in Guided Reading Word Study

I'm linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for another Freebie Friday! You can click the image above or HERE to download your freebie. Ratings are appreciated! :)

In my RtI groups, I have students working on Guided Reading Levels G and higher.  We often use an Analogy Chart during the Word Study portion of our Guided Reading group.  An Analogy Chart is a similar term for T-Chart.  The students have two columns to write and sort dictated words by their spelling patterns. 

I use an Analogy Chart to teach the students various skills, such as the silent e rule, vowel patterns or word endings.  You can gradually increase the challenge by dictating words with different rimes, as well as adding blends, digraphs, prefixes and suffixes, depending on the students' Guided Reading Level.  

Students are given two *key* words they can easily spell.  They write those two words at the top of their Analogy Chart.   Dictate new, unknown words and have students repeat the word after you, attending to the targeted skill.  Students then write the words in the appropriate column.

Jan Richardson offers various tips in her book, The Next Step in Guided Readingfor teachers using Analogy Charts with their students.  Below are two tips I found to be very useful.  

Tip #1 from Jan Richardson 
*Do not use Analogy Charts until students are at a Level G, so they can develop the necessary phonemic awareness skills for blends and vowels.
 Tip #2 from Jan Richardson 
*Avoid dictating words the students already know how to spell, so they are forced to use the analogy strategy. 

Hope you find the tips and freebie useful in your classroom.  Thanks to Hello & KG Fonts, Educlips, Melonheadz, and Coffee Kids & Compulsive Lists for the fun graphics and fonts! Happy Friday and don't forget to link up your freebie with Teaching Blog Addict!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Multi-sensory Techniques for Sight Words in Guided Reading

The sweet, bright-eyed students that come to me often have difficulties automatically recognizing sight words, which significantly affects their ability to comprehend texts.  However, with the use of some explicit instruction and a few interactive, multi-sensory techniques, the kiddos can improve their sight word vocabulary. 

Multi-sensory activities allow students to simultaneously integrate their audio, visual and tactile senses to support their reading and spelling of sight words.  
Picture Resource
The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson (my *go-to* Guided Reading resource) has an effective 4-step sight word routine for students to follow.   
Jan Richardson explains the order of the steps as going from easiest to most difficult to reflect the gradual release model of learning.  All four steps must be incorporated when learning each new sight word.  Each of these steps strengthens visual memory and gradually releases the responsibility onto the student.  

Step 1: What's Missing?  
You have two options as a teacher: write the word on a small, dry erase board held on your lap for students to see or have the students make the word with magnetic letters in front of them.  I've used both options.  When I have a small group, I prefer the dry erase board method.  However, when I have a student 1:1, I prefer having him/her use magnetic letters.  Students I work with 1:1 are struggling the most.  Using the magnetic letters allows them to use their tactile and visual senses simultaneously.  

Next, have the students spell the word aloud, while they point to each letter.  According to Richardson, students should spell the word aloud to make sure they are looking at the letters in sequence.  Then, erase or take away one letter from the word without the students seeing which letter.  Finally, ask the students, "What's missing?" and have them supply the missing letter.  This procedure continues until all of the letters have been removed.  The student(s) must spell the word again looking at each letter in a left to right progression.

Step 2: Mix & Fix
Tell students to make the same sight word used in Step 1, while having them attend to the sequence of the letters.  They are then asked to "mix" up the word.  Students scramble the sequence of the letters until they are told to "fix" the word.  Students must then rearrange the letters into the correct order and spell the word aloud.  While spelling the word aloud, students should pull down each letter as it is said.  The "mixing & fixing" of the letters allows students to use their tactile sense.  

Step 3: Table Writing
Students are asked to write the sight word from Steps 1 & 2 on the table with their finger.  According to Richardson, the pressure applied to the fingertip while tracing is what makes the activity powerful, as well as stimulates visual memory for learning the sight word.  With my most struggling students, I often add sandpaper into the mix.

Step 4: Whiteboard Writing
Students are asked to write the sight word from Steps 1-3 on whiteboards and say (not spell) it aloud as they check it with their finger.  According to Richardson, the child should focus on the entire word, not the individual letters of the sight word.

If you follow this 4-step sequence for a particular sight word two days in a row, usually students will be able to identify the word.  Make sure not to introduce a new sight word until the student(s) can be successful with the previously taught sight words. Richardson also mentions students may need additional practice if they have extremely poor visual memory. 

Last, but not least, I've added a picture collage of additional interactive, multi-sensory techniques I've used with my students.  The manipulatives below support their learning of sight words as well, and seem to spark some much needed motivation in the hard-to-reach students.

Thanks for stopping by Literacy Loving Gals to read about a few techniques I use with my students to learn sight words during my guided reading groups.  A special thank you to 3AM Teacher, Educlips and Collaboration Cuties for the clip art and to Jen Jones for the font.

Enjoy your day! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hello, March. I'm Feeling Lucky! March *Currently*

Ahhhh, March.  This month always brings along a few bonuses: longer days, warmer weather, Spring Break and leprechauns!   Because of these, I'm always happy to welcome March.  Anyway, the fantastically fab Farley is hosting another Currently.  I'm linking up to share #widn and to find out what my blogging friends are up to on the first of this month.  
Listening: In the background, I hear my kiddos playing with one another on this sunny March morning.  Lately, *Super Heroes* is the name of the game in this household.  Ever since we checked out Super Hero ABC from the library, they've ditched the princess and pirate costumes (for now)... 
Loving: I recently ordered Beyond Leveled Books from Amazon. I've only just begun reading it and am already loving the book.  It explores the uses and limitations of leveled texts in primary reading instruction.  It's a very easy read and includes a good deal of practical ideas, as well as sample mini-lessons that are worth putting into action.       
ThinkingYay, the time gets to *spring forward* next weekend!   Even though we'll lose an hour of sleep, the thought of knowing spring is near makes me happy.  When the sun still peeks above the horizon after 5 P.M., I know warmer weather is on it's way.
Wanting: It's fun being an Irish gal, especially when I live 20 minutes west of Chicago.  I'm wanting to celebrate my Irish heritage on March 17th.  I love heading into the city to watch the parade and see the river being dyed green.  It's something I've done with my family and friends ever since I was a kid.  It'll be a nice tradition to start once my own kids get a little older.  

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in school with the students is entertaining, too.  When I taught Kindergarten, First and Second Grade, I loved *brining a little magic* into the classroom.  The students' faces spotting chairs tipped over and little green leprechaun feet all over the room was priceless.  Now that I'm a Reading Specialist, it's not quite the same, since I don't have my own classroom.  However, I do love reading and discussing St. Patrick's Day themed books with them.  A few of my favorites are below.  
Needing: I'm needing a vacation and am ready for Spring Break to arrive...STAT!  

Spring Break Plans: My husband and I are both teachers, but unfortunately our breaks don't coincide this year.  Even though this saddens me, I am looking forward to some time to ??? while my husband and kids are at school.
Okay, okay, all kidding aside.  For all those out there who know me, I can't allow myself to do absolutely nothing.  Most likely I'll spring clean the house and do a little closet organizing.  After that, I'll surf some remarkable blogs for classroom ideas and continue to read the professional books I purchased on Amazon and checked out from the library because...

Well, happy March and don't forget to link up with Farley!

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