Sunday, August 2, 2015

Small Groups - Management Tips

Ok. So Guided Reading. Centers. These two things are a HUGE part of my teaching.

As I'm sure they are yours, too.

Everyone does them differently.

But I'd like to share with you what I do in mine.

I'm not sure where to begin because my mind starts in about 4 different areas all at once when I want to start explaining. I have done a few posts on centers {HERE} and {HERE}. I've also done some Guided Reading posts {HERE} and {HERE}

First, let me show you how I do the rotations.

I made a template in Powerpoint and I put each slide on a timer on the slides so that I just push play and the whole thing runs without me having to get up and do anything!

I have 4 rotations.... Journal, Centers, Teacher, and Seatwork.

Every time the slides change, the wheel just turns. It works perfectly!

In between each activity slide, I have a "Clean Up!" slide that lasts for 30 seconds.

Ok, so I think I'll go to the Center Menu next.. I can kind of kill 2 birds with 2 stones with this one.  

So, the amount of centers I do changes from year to year, and sometimes I change my mind in the middle of the year - like I did last year.  

I have done 10 centers on a menu... which I did 2 centers in one day. I posted about how I did that on {THIS} and {THIS} blogpost.

 And that's how I started my year off last year.

But then, I decided to change my way after I got back from my maternity leave last year...and that's when I went to the powerpoint rotation and only 5 centers for the week and a Journal on the rotation for each day.

Here is what my menus look like for that set up:

I say what each center bucket is (the numbers correspond with the bucket numbers) and then what the Journal topic is for each day. I label them Day 1, 2.... because I don't always start on Monday and end on Friday. I actually DON'T like starting on a Monday. It makes for a stressful Monday and Friday. lol.

These are the buckets that I have labeled to match the menu. 

The labels are part of my "Get Organized" pack.  Both of the menus are included in my Guided Reading Plans and Resources.

For seatwork, I pull a lot of activities from my {phonics packs}. I have one for each phonics skill. I have a love for phonics. haha! That's normally what I do - phonics, for seatwork. 

But sometimes my seatwork isn't actually SEATwork. We do a lot of walking around the room too!

One of my staple centers is Listening centers.

And some kind of word work.

I also have a sentence writing one...whether it's writing a complete sentence or stretching a sentence or unscrambling a sentence. 

Most of my centers come from my {Monthly Centers Menu Bundles}

Then there's the journal writing part of the rotation. I really believe that to become better writers, you have to practice...just like reading. So I like to have them do journal responses. I try to make the "prompts" based around what we've been reading or learning about in class. 

I have some "fancy shmancy" journal covers you can download for free - and you can see how I set them up for the year {HERE}.

When we're ALL done with our rotations for the day, the kids put everything on their desk I need to see... their seatwork should be filed and I need to see their center and their journal writing. I check off thier menus...just a check mark if it's finished, or a circle if it's not. If they finished but need to fix a lot of it, then I put "fix" in the box and give them the week to fix it on their own time.

After Day 5, I collect all the centers and staple them to their menus and give them a grade...the grade is just for completion and it documents if they stay on task and/or have trouble with certain skills.

Now, let's talk Guided Reading.

I use Sundance AlphaKids to level my students.

Once I have them leveled, I put them on my Levels at a Glance page in my binder.  I put all the similar levels together and then box them in with different color crayons to create my groups.

I make a new one each month.   I don't always assess my AGL kids, but my OGL and my BGL I want to see if they're moving, so I do test them each month.

I like to make a quick look for me to see without getting out my binder... like if one of my kids asks what level books he can get for baggie books...or if I'm looking in my Reading A-Z files and I don't want to get out my binder, I just look over at this. I put it away when we have conferences, of course.

I also like to do a quick Dibels assessment.

 I put them in the ORF data sheet as one of 4 different types of readers:


Depending on the reasoning behind the kids that are either slow or wrong, then I will work with them on their fluency.

Ok, so the big question. 

What do I use for my guided reading books since I don't use the reading series?

I like to use Reading A-Z.   I really like this better than using the series' leveled readers because I can match the levels better to my students...AND it's how I can get my themes to all tie in together....and BONUS!! It's how I hit a lot of my science and social studies content, too!

Yes, you have to print the books. BUT, I don't let them write in them and I keep them for the following years. And if they lose them when I send them home? No biggie! I can print up a new one!

Now, aside from using Reading A-Z, I also have a slew of other things I like to use during my small groups.  I've posted about it before {HERE}. But here are a few pictures....

I love using my Sounds Boxes! (in my guided reading pack)

I've been using them forever!!

I mean... this picture is about 4 years old..and my computer crashed so I don't have the original to fix it, but you get the point! ha!

You can use counters to count the sounds or you can write in the letters for the sounds. I always have them count the sounds before they write them. 

Whisper phones - I did a DIY post on those {HERE}

I also love EZ readers! I have a few different kinds that I've gotten from Really Good Stuff.

Another one of my favorite things I use are these little foam letters. I love them. They are smooth on one side and bumpy on the other it's easier for them to know which way the "a" goes or the other easily mixed up letters.

I pick a mystery word out of the book we are reading and then I make words out of that word and we practice phonics skills.

The students use the little foam letters and I use my own letters in a small pocket chart.

I do Making Words with my kids every week.  This is one of the activities in my Guided Reading pack. There's a teacher planner page that really helps you to plan it out so all the words flow, and then there are student extensions like this page.

Another thing I really like to focus on is Fluency.  Obviously, not all of my groups work with fluency, if they are below grade level on their running records, then we focus on phonics and decoding skills, THEN we can work on fluency.

I've posted about Peer to Peer fluency {HERE}

Most of all these resources can be found in my Guided Reading Pack, including some sample lesson plan templates. 

I hope this post helps to give you some ideas on how to manage or set up your guided reading! It was a lot to take in. Let me know if you need any clarification on anything!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Individualized Spelling Lists

So, most years...the years I'm not gone for a few months because I'm on maternity leave (ha!), I usually do an Individualized Spelling List, a 3-Part Test Program.

I'm going to try and explain a little bit about it for you. It's kind of hard to put in words, but super easy once you do it! It does take longer on Fridays, but it so beneficial to the kids, so that's what I do.

Everyone has a Spelling Folder

It's where they keep their Personal Word packet and their list of words for the week.

The list of words comes from LAST week's test... what they missed or what they got right. This is actually the pretest... the words they got wrong have the dots and the words they got right are highlighted.  Later on, when they get the words right that have dots next to them, I'll just highlight it to show that they got it right and they can go on to the next one.

I start the year off with giving the pretests... to get everyone at their starting point. Everyone will have a different starting point - some will be at list 3 and some will be at list 6 (depending on your grade, it'll be even higher!)  Here is the pretests I gave one student.  - when she got 5 wrong, I stopped going to the next list. In first grade, you would stop at 3 words. Most likely, there will be more words they got wrong because there are 10 words in each list. But that's okay. I just dot the words they got wrong and highlight the correct ones!

Once they have a starting point established then it's the same routine each week!   I give the 5 core words and 5 mystery words whole group. Then I call them back 5-6 students at a time and give them their personal words; the rest of the test.  That's when we find out their new words for next week! If they get those personal words wrong, then I dot the words on their packet. If they got them correct, then I highlight them. Their new words are the next 3 or 5 words in the list (dot or no dot) that is not highlighted. They keep their folders in their desk all week until Friday when I call them back. A lot of times they will use the list in their folders during centers sometimes.  

So here's the gist of it, routine wise.

Basically, I have here's the breakdown:

Core Words
Mystery Words
Personal Words
-5 words
-whole group
-everyone gets the same words (lists included!)
-students studied
-5 words
-whole group
-everyone gets the same words (lists included!)
-students did NOT 
-5 words different words for everyone (words come from the personal list packet)
-tested in small groups

I have done this "program" in grades 1, 2, and 3! It is such a great way to differentiate. I love using it! It sounds a little confusing, but I promise, if you just get in and do it, it's really very simple!

I have also included a clickable menu of all the skills included to find activities to practice those skills in centers, classwork, or homework!

1st Grade:

2nd Grade:

(as you can tell, I have a love for phonics! ha!)

I also use this along with my {Spelling Journal}! You can read {THIS} post to find out more about it.

Here is a preview what is included in my {1st Grade Version} of the Differentiated Spelling Packet:

I also have a {2nd Grade version!}

I also have a Spelling "program" that is not differentiated, for grades 1-3