Thursday, July 31, 2014

All the Write Moves

Writing in first grade is so exciting! I love how much growth you see when you view their writing journal entries from the first month of school to the last month. 

I personally don't love scripted programs that tell you what to do with each lesson for writing from the first day of school on. Having taught 4th grade writing for two years I know very well that writing can feel like a chore to many students- especially those who aren't naturally strong writers. I feel like writing should be taught the way reading is. First children are exposed to writing just as they are books and reading. But when we first start "reading" we are pretending. We aren't really reading anything yet. For years we are given freedom to mimic what our parents read and how they read it before we are ever exposed to letter sounds and how to blend them into words. The first half of the school year I allow a lot of freedom in my students writing journals. Monday through Thursday students can free write in their journals. I have journal prompts and sentence starters for those students who want to use them. On Fridays we do a writing assignment together. I show students our writing prompts and we write together. I put each sentence on a sentence strip in a different color. We read and re-read what we have written to make sure it makes sense. Then students go back to their seats and do their own writing to the same prompt. Beginning in January students do much more writing that is assigned. By this time the majority of students are at a reading level that allows them to use good vocabulary and write sentences using many of our sight words. They begin to see how creative they can be and many students take several days to complete one journal piece.

Last year I created an All the Write Moves packet. I posted our writing goals in our center as well as our posters from this pack.

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But I found as the year went on that I really needed students to have mini versions of the posters inside their journals to use as a reference. I began updating my pack and edited and added several pages.  There are example pages what writers can write. I also have mini versions of writing posters in both black and white. Writing activities and examples are listed throughout the pack. I also included our writing goals.

If you have already purchased All the Write Moves be sure to download the latest version. This is the perfect product to add to your Back to School wish list! Click on either picture to view this product on TPT!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I just saw the video for the OSMO. You've seen it in FB ads all summer. I never clicked on the link until today when another blogger blogged about it. I watched the video and immediately pre-ordered. The pre-order price was too good to pass up! I can also see how this could be a perfect for a grant for your classroom.

The OSMO works with the latest iPads including iPad mini and iPad2. You attach the reflector camera to the top. It also comes with three games to start with: Tangrams, Newton, and Words. All challenge your students in different ways. Tangrams you already know. Students are given positive "dings" when they place a shape correctly. In Newton you guide falling balls into targeted zones by drawing shapes or adding objects- very cool. Words- spell out words to describe what is on the screen. Great as a small group or partner game! You can see all three games on the video above.

If you click the link below you can pre-order YOUR OSMO for 50% off! Just $45!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chapter 4: Early Guided Reading

Chapter 4 is all about early reading for your higher level kinder kids and your first grade students. This week the host of this chapter is sweet Jill from ABC's and Polka Dots! She has a great document to add to your documentation binder for your small groups.

Here are my thoughts on this chapter:

1. What part of the reading caught your attention?
There is a list of skills children progress through in the early reading levels. 
I thought the list would be great to add to our open house presentation for parents. Parents aren't really aware of all the skills that we want students to gain mastery in. 

2. How do you already incorporate this into your guided reading routine?

A few years ago brain feelers were introduced in a blog post from Miss Knights Chronicles. I don't bring them out every week but when I do my groups are highly engaged and love picking their questions. 

One bit that really stood out for me was this quote:
 It is extremely important that children listen to themselves as they read and stop if what they say does not make sense. Self-monitoring is the foundation for comprehension. When you say, "Does that make sense?" do a child, you are teaching comprehension.

If you are new to guided reading this chapter has a great plan for your daily small group instruction.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chapter 2: Assessment

We're on to chapter 2: Assessments in our book study!

I know what you're thinking! Ugh- I hate assessments. Ok, they aren't at the top of my list either, but they're essential to making sure our students are on track and continue making progress regardless of their level.

Again this chapter is full of primary assessments and the information you can gain from them making this book a fantastic tool. If you're switching grade levels up or down this chapter is an excellent tool for you! 

1. What part of the reading caught your attention? 

I liked the chart with average number of words correct per minute broken down by grade level. That's a great tool for me as well as for the parents I have that want to know more. This quote in particular stood out to me, "Speed and accuracy should not be the sole measures of fluency. You need to consider the student's expression, intonation, and attention to punctuation." Jan Richardson also sites this 4 point fluency scale.
Click the picture above to go to the NAEP web site
I also want to mention, as a first grade teacher, that the comprehension component of reading is so very important. We have many students come to us from kindergarten and their parents are so proud that they are reading a book that is so wordy. But we have to explain to them that being a strong reader means more than just reading the words. Oral retell is huge in first grade and it's something we work on with our partners as well as in small groups!

2.  How do you already incorporate this into your guided reading routine?

This year I started making a poetry center. (A Poem a Week- I have poems for most of the months. Working on July -October. Available in my TPT store) We added our poems to a journal. Students worked with me in small group searching for sight words in the poem and answering comprehension questions, and completed missing parts of the poem. As the year went on students started getting more confident and began practicing reading their poems. Some students even memorized them and proudly read them aloud to me and their classmates. I also read and re-read my favorite stories several times over the year and leave them out for the children to try and read as well. Great stories for expression include You Will Be My Friend by Peter Brown and Alice the Fairy by David Shannon. They're both simple, hilarious, and offer great opportunities for the students to mimic how I have read the stories with expression.

3. How do you want to make your guided reading time better? Is there something new you want to try?

This year I want to incorporate the use of rubrics for assessment on a more consistent basis.

4. What are some resources you already have that you can use to teach about what you read in this chapter?

I have some reading comprehension bookmarks for your students. I use them as a tool for my student first is small groups so that my kiddos see me model how to use them. Then as they become stronger readers they can use these bookmarks on their own and in partners. The more students use them the more they train their brain to retell and ask questions as they read these story. Just click on the link to grab your copy!

Be sure to check out the posts from other bloggers in our blog study! 


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