Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Balancing Your Reading Instruction- and A Great Back-to-School Deal!

Last year as a reading specialist, I saw so many students who were good at PART of reading. They were fluent decoders... who couldn't understand a drop. Or they would struggle with every letter and sound, but they'd be able to recite it back to you.

I realized very quickly that my kids needed a balanced approach to reading. They needed a little of everything in bite-size lessons and continued practice so they didn't lose it- plus some "real reading" to apply the mini-lessons we'd learned!

When I was teaching intervention, here's what our time looked like for my second graders:

- Come in, re-read from Book Box while I do running record or fluency (5-10 minutes)
- Phonics Mini-Lesson & Review (usually The Phonics Dance, which I love!!- 5 minutes)
- Fluency practice (Monday, cold read with our Fluency Folders, Friday- hot read with our folders, every day in between- fluency or sight words game -- 5 minutes)
- Comprehension Mini-Lesson (usually using our CRAFT board-- 10 minutes)
- Guided Reading with a book (usually from the LLI Kit), or occasionally close reading with a passage (This was a great time for my Text Detectives sets!-- 15 minutes)

Of course, not every day was like this... but in our 45 minutes, we usually tried to hit on phonics, fluency, and comprehension for sure.

It's a lot of work, and it takes time to put together a guided reading routine. I used my friend Em's plan (you can read it here at Curious Firsties) as a great place to start my planning- and then I looked at what my kids really needed... a little of everything!

When I was teaching full-group, I tried to fit in these same things. (You can read more about how I fit in my reading mini-lessons and small group instruction here.)


I sometimes use some of my products as part of our routines. 

Here's my Reach for the Stars Fluency Folder Kit! Last year, when I was a reading specialist, we were required to track our students' progress in fluency... but so often, kids see that timer come out and instantly think they have to speed-read. I really worked with my kids on seeing fluency as multi-faceted- including Pausing, Accuracy, Speed, and Expression- "not reading like a robot." This kit is the best way I've found to keep parents in the loop, let students track their own progress, and help me organize my fluency data too!

(You can read more about teaching fluency as more than just speed here!)

 My multi-syllabic word games were inspired by one of those kids who could decode like a champ... if the word was short. The minute you gave him a two or three syllable word, all of his skills were mysteriously gone! This pack focuses on reading words with common suffixes and helps "chunk" the big words by putting small spaces between each word part. My kids love playing this game, and after a few rounds, I can really tell a difference in their decoding skills!

And of course, one of my Super Text Detectives packs! I have to tell you- these are by far my best-selling type of product on TeachersPayTeachers, and one of the most popular with my students, too. With Common Core's focus on text evidence, I asked my students to cite their reasons... and quickly found out that many of them didn't really understand how to go back in the text and find the answer, even when it was stated exactly! With this product, they HAVE to go back- because the directions are to underline the answer in the text with a certain color. My kids thought this was much more fun- coloring instead of writing? Woohoo! Finding the text evidence in this FUN way really set the stage for moving the skill to writing. It was really ideal for remedial reading comprehension with my RTI kiddos!

Of course, you don't need any products to balance all the different elements of reading- but these have definitely helped me keep it all straight! How do you balance your reading instruction?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

School Is Sneaking Up On Me… and the Indiana Dollar Sale!

Is it just me, or is this summer going WAY too fast? I just got back from a trip (recap to come!) and suddenly it feels like I need to be getting ready for back-to-school already. I only have about a month until we go back- and that includes moving into my new room, going through all of the resources left in my room by the last teacher, getting a handle on my new curriculum, and our August PD and teacher work days!

Did I mention my new room currently looks like this?

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YIKES. And that’s before I move in ANY of my own stuff!

So, as I start thinking about next year and the things I’ll need, I’m checking out the Indiana Teachers’ Christmas in July sale. Yes, I know a lot of people are doing a sale right now, but this one is as easy as Dollar Tree or the Target Dollar Spot.

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C’mon teachers- you all know how easy it is to fill up your cart with back-to-school stuff when it’s all $1 : )

Some of my FAVORITE blogger/sellers have marked down over 100 resources to just ONE DOLLAR for today only. I have found some awesome things to make back-to-school a little less “omgoodness-it’s-only-a-month-away?!” scary… and I hope you do too!

Here are my items on sale:

Exclamation Mark Mini-Unitimageimage

An Exclamation Mark Mini- Unit centered around one of my FAVORITE back to school books- including a craftivity, differentiated writing prompts, two flipbooks, and a page to break down the puns in the book, too!


Nonsense Word Context Clues- a pack that uses nonsense words to teach the skill of using context clues to find the meaning of an unknown word. The “silly” words make it fun and make sure that EVERY student in your class is truly practicing the skill.

Valentine's Day Multisyllabic Word Game previewimageimage

Sweet or Sour? A Game for Reading Multisyllabic Words with Prefixes- one in my series of games to help second/ third graders transition from applying decoding rules to monosyllabic words to those “bigger” words. The words are spaced to help students practice “chunking” them into smaller pieces, and the game element makes it fun!


Turn the Question Around- One of my most popular resources on TpT! Perfect for teaching kids to write in complete sentences. I ALWAYS use this during the first week of school because it allows me to get to know my students while also giving them pressure-free practice with QUITA, or putting the question in the answer. Teaching them this strategy EARLY saves me so much frustration later!

For today only, all of these are just ONE DOLLAR… and so are the resources below!


Thanks for checking them out : )  When do you go back to school?