Saturday, October 18, 2014

Speak a WHO?

Hey, Friends! How are ya?  It’s that time! Time for another bright idea!

This one….has quickly become a class favorite! While searching online for an animated version of our story of the week, I came across an adorable website that couldn’t be a bit easier to use! It’s called Speakaboos. Have you ever heard of it? Speak a WHO? Speakaboos!


If you choose, you can enter an email address to receive a FREE story each month. Free! Yep! I’ll take it! There’s also an app for THAT! Don’t want to enter your email? No worries, just close the window and move forward to the website. It’s super simple, organized wonderfully and reads “everything” as the mouse moves over the screen.

Sooooooo, you know what my kiddos asked to use as their listening station for next week, right?


Yep! You guessed it! Speakaboos! Action stories, fairy tales, sports stories, ABCS & 123s…..students can also click the wheel at the bottom to choose animated stories by character.


The stories can be viewed within a frame or enlarged to fit the entire screen. SUPER kid friendly, beautifully designed…..and now another little resource for you to add to your toolbox!

I hope your class will enjoy it as much as we have. Now a class favorite….the question is no longer Speak a Who? Now, it’s when CAN WE Speakaboo?! Click HERE to visit the site and check it out!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more ideas to come!

For more bright ideas from a variety of other bloggers, please browse the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guided Reading Routines

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Ready for the weekend? Me? Oh, yeaauuuuh! It’s been a doozy of a week! The highlight? I finally got to do my favorite thing on the planet! ….work with my kids on reading! TO TEACH! The beginning of the year comes with so many “must do’s” it’s almost as if the actual teaching gets put on the back burner. Welllll, being the type of gal that prefers teaching over assessing any day…..actually getting seated at the guided reading table with a group of kids was an absolute blast!

After introducing our last area for Daily 5, it was time to dig in to the meat of why we spent the 1st 20 days building stamina to work independently.


Last week, I promised to share a little more about our guided reading routines.  As we’re starting to build them….here’s a little peek into our 1st week!


Our guided reading block is a solid 2 hours. Every precious minute of it is jammed packed with mini-lessons and small group activities. The wonderful thing about our schedule is having extended instructional blocks. Our daily literacy block basically flows like this……Guided Reading, then Mini-Lesson, Guided Reading, then Mini-Lesson and Guided Reading, then mini-lesson followed by independent work (if time allows). In the past I had begun with a mini-lesson…..

I chose to start with small group instead of a mini-lesson because our literacy block falls just after intervention. By doing this, I make sure not to do any new teaching of concepts before my littles who may have been pulled out return to the classroom.


Each round begins with students “checking in”. This year, I added “teacher table” clipart to the check-in for the group that is rotating to the table to check in first.


The first thing we do is review sight words.


Students practice writing on a laminated sheet of paper. A whiteboard could be easily used instead. I chose to go this route because taking whiteboards in and out was a little too big and bulky for me. Last year, I used contact paper to adhere them to the table. This year, students and I are sharing the space at the table, so I’ve left them free standing. You can click HERE to grab them, if you think you’d like to use them.

After reviewing 3 sight words, students are introduced to their book for the week or begin rereading their book with prompting. The goal of this time is active processing. I want to see my students encounter challenges and observe them as they problem solve to decode words. It’s during this time that I take individual running records and make notes of student reading behaviors. It generally takes about 8 minutes or so.

After reading, we go over a quick discussion prompt that explores a comprehension strategy.

Then, one new sight word is taught. We go through the 4 activities below in order to learn this sight word. Each student has a little bin in front of them that houses magnetic letters to build the new sight word, pencils, a highlighter, expo marker and an eraser.


Finally, we complete one of two activities. Early in the week, guided reading lessons conclude with word study. At our school, we use Wilson Fundations. It’s at this time, that we work to learn phonics patterns. During visits to the guided reading table later in the week, we complete guided writing or reading responses to deepen comprehension.


My file cabinet sits just behind the table. On word study days, we use these cards for word building. On guided writing days, I provide an example of the graphic organizer students will complete on a small whiteboard. Because it is not used daily, I’ve attached it to file cabinet with velcro. Sticks when we need it….pulls free when we don’t! =)


Guided writing notebooks are kept on a shelf close to the guided reading table. The label on the front of each bin indicates the name of the group…blue, purple, green or red. The symbols also correlate to the leveled readers from our series that we use for guided reading. We’ll use these journals throughout the year to complete guided writing, reading responses, and graphic organizers. They do not leave the classroom.


Here’s an example of the graphic organizer we completed this week over sequence of events. The picture shows 3 out of my 4 reading groups. Same concept…differentiated. The first group responded by recording complete sentences from the story in the order of how they happened in the story. The second group, copied the time order words and illustrated what happened first, next and last. The final group, framed the verbs from their story’s pages and labeled each sticky note with an action from the story. That’s it! The End…ish.=)

Each rotation to the table lasts about 18 minutes…..jam packed from start to finish!


This is the little bin I keep close at hand during guided reading. For now, it houses little pointers, magnifying glasses, pencils, bloom’s questions, LOTS of sticky notes, stickers, coding dots, pictures for vowel sorts and letter formation cards. Other things may be added as the year progresses.

What are my OTHER kids doing while I’m at the table with a small group?


They’re checked into Daily 5. They’re moving through routines for read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, work on writing, or word work to grow as readers and writers.


Of the 5 areas that students work on, I only have to prep materials for two of them. The first one of them is work on writing. There is one sterilite drawer at the writing table. In each of the 3 drawers is an activity to write on a given topic, focus on words, or build sentences. Each activity is complete with an I CAN statement to foster reading independence and a quick confidence boost!


The 2nd of these areas is word work.


Like writing, each bin houses an I CAN statement. All of the materials that students need to complete an activity are inside the bin. These activities will follow a pattern throughout the year to build students’ independence and familiarity.


How do I motivate students to complete quality work? The simplest, easiest thing that I’ve found to motivate my students is hanging their work up for ALLLLLL to see!


A clip up comes with having your work framed as an example for your friends to follow too!


And how do my students feel about this time of day? Oh, just like I DO! They love it……


Thanks for being patient as it took me a little longer than expected to get this post up! Getting ready for the week ahead? Click the pic below to grab the activities that my firsties will be working on! You can click HERE to check out my lesson plan format.

Happy guided reading, friends!

fun at school

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Idea {Problem Solving}

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Are you ready for another Bright Idea?


Like most things that work out well in the classroom, this idea developed out of necessity. I needed something simple, quick, but meaningful as a daily opener for math. We begin math each day just after recess and it had to be an attention grabber to move forward with the lesson! Enter daily problem solving……


One sure way to get your firsties’ attention is to make learning personal! I incorporate students’ names into story problems each day. Because they know SOMEBODY’S name will be a part of the problem, they enjoy watching the problem pop up to read and see who it will be.  I also sneak in our current phonics patterns and sight words to get in additional reading practice….(gotta get the biggest bang for my buck)! Winking smile


When I shared this little guy via Instagram and FB, I really didn’t think it would get as much attention as it did! Seriously, ya’ll…’s a very simple slide. It’s just a text box for the story problem and two doodle frames with a white center for us to write over and manipulate objects to help solve the problem. As we return from lunch, we take 3 minutes to “cool down”. As they’re cooling down, I’m gearing up for problem solving! I just click and type in a new problem and we move forward. It really is just that simple…..

The trick is tying the story problems to real world situations that students can relate to.


In Guided Math:  A Framework for Mathematics Instruction, Marilyn Burns is quoted as stating the following criteria for problem solving practice:
  • There is a perplexing situation that the student understands.
  • The student is interested in finding a solution.
  • The student is unable to proceed directly toward a solution.
  • The solution requires use of mathematical ideas.
By keeping these criteria in mind and incorporating the requirements for problem solving from our new state standards….we’re involved in math talks, using vocabulary, exploring mathematical concepts, applying concepts we’ve learned in math and learning to explain and justify our thinking! Using student names in problems and our {Mimio} interactive whiteboard makes it all f-u-n! The student that is featured in the problem also gets to come up and help solve it!

As we move through the school year, problems will increase in difficulty and students will be expected to write to explain their thinking during math writing. Simple. Effective….daily problem solving!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for stopping by =)


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