Showing posts with label guided reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guided reading. Show all posts

Decodable is the new buzz word of literacy thanks to the Science of Reading.  Decodable texts are any kind of text (lists, passages, books...) where at least 90% of the words are decodable with the focus sound or sounds previously learned.

I first fell back in love with decodable texts 4 years ago when I was doing a maternity leave in kindergarten.  Kids were using their decoding skills to read, making connections to new phonics skills they learned, and searching for heart words in their texts.  But most importantly, they were GROWING readers.  By leaps and bounds.  In 12 weeks, I saw growth like I'd never seen in 10 years of teaching first grade because it was so widespread with so many kids making amazing progress.

But decodable isn't just a buzz word.  It's a must have in your primary classroom.  If you want your reading instruction to be aligned to the Science of Reading, then you better invest in decodable texts.  And once you get started, you'll find there are SO many ways to use them in your classroom.  Let's talk about just 5 ways to use decodable texts in your primary classroom.

Whole Group Reading

This is how I first started using them during my 12 week job in Kinder!  At the end of our phonics lesson on Wednesday, I pulled out one of our decodable books that focused on the sound we were learning.  I read the book aloud to the kids on the carpet using our ELMO projector.  

Then, we reviewed the expectations.  They were to read their book one time.  Then, go back and highlight the focus sound and circle the sight words listed on the front of the book.  Then, they were to read the book two more times.  

When they finished this routine (read, highlight, circle, read, read), then they could illustrate their pictures. 

While the kids were working, I circled around to each table and listened in on as many kids as I could read the text.  I had a class list with the title of the book and I recorded how the kids were reading that I had listened to on this recording sheet

TEACHER TIP:  If I was listening to a kid who was just copying how the friend beside her was reading, I would ask her to start back at the beginning or a previous page for me. :)

When our time was finished (this took about 15-20 total minutes), the kids would put the booklets in their book boxes to read when they finished other work early.  

Targeted Reading Groups

The nice thing about doing the on grade level decodable book as a whole group is I could quickly see who was thriving or struggling with the on grade level text.   At the end of our reading time, I quickly analyzed the running records and wrote notes for who needed what.

I used our Wednesday small group time to pull kids that were struggling.  Sometimes, we did some extra word work using making words with the focus sound.  

Sometimes, we practice our heart words.  

Depending on what my running record showed they were struggling with.  Depending on the amount of strugglers and the reasons the struggled, I might have 1-3 groups of kids to meet with.

We start with some skill practice (making words or sight words) for 5 minutes or less.  Then, we get our same booklet and reread together.  Then, I let them independently read by stagger starting them and listen in as they each read.  

For kids that read the decodable reader with at least 95% accuracy, but maybe weren't fluent, I would note that during our whole group time and pull them to reread and practice fluency.  For kids who were fluent, I might try the matching passage that is the same text as the book, but in a passage form without pictures!

Each reading group would be 10-15 minutes.  Short and targeted so that I could meet with as many kids as possible.  I was almost always able to meet with all of my kids to reinforce our focus skill, or work on fluency or even comprehension for higher kids.

RTI/Intervention Time

You might be thinking.... isn't that what you just described for small groups?  

And, yes, it is!

But that was just for the on grade level focus sound for that week.

Other days of the week, my small group time is spent filling decoding gaps or extending kids as needed.  I pull kids that maybe are still struggling on last week's skill....or the first week of school's skill.... IYKYK... :)  I keep all of our decodable books close to our reading group area so I can get to the book I need quickly and with little prep!

So how did I keep up with who needed what and how often and who I met with and didn't meet with and, and, and...???  That's all in detail in this nuts and bolts blog post.  

How do I figure all of the groups and their focuses out?   By ASSESSING!!  And that's the next way I use decodable texts in the classroom!

Assessing Decoding and Phonics Skills

Assessing is key to getting the most out of your small group or intervention time.  And if we want to know the decoding holes or gaps students have, then we have to use decoding assessments.

My favorite decoding assessments are these screeners.  I love that they are quick and easy to see the exact phonics skills kids are doing well, and the holes we need to fill.

I also assess our current focus skill on Fridays during small group time using these decodable checkups that come with each set of decodable readers.

Take Home Reading

The last way (I'm chatting about in this post anyway!) to use decodable readers in the classroom is to send them out of the classroom....HOME!

I've sent books home for parents to read after reading with them in class or in a group so that parents can stay involved.  

And I've also heard from many teachers who love sending the books or passages or wordlists home to parents who are asking for extra work!

So where can you find a TON of targeted decodable readers for kindergarten through second grade?  Shop all of the individual sets here!

Do you play "making words" during word work in your primary classroom?  It's one of my favorite ways to practice spelling and decoding skills with kinders and firsties!  But what I DON'T love about making words are all of the letter cards to pass out and keep up with.  It always took me more time to pass out cards than to do the actual lesson!  So when we finally started doing making words digitally, it was SO much better!

Today we'll be talking about our routines for making words, how to use DIGITAL making words mats, and I'll walk you through an entire sample lesson!

Types of Making Words Mats

After I gave up on passing out letter cards, I used two different kinds of mats: dry erase boards and digital.  I love both types for different reasons!

Let's talk about the dry erase mats first!  I've used just plain dry erase boards had kids spell words with me as I give the clues.  But just a blank dry erase board isn't quite structured enough for the little kids.  It's hard for them to easily see where the new letters go. 

Laminated dry erase mats are a much better option!  Just pass out the laminated mats and dry erase markers and they use these just like a dry erase board.  I like to use the mats with the Elkonin boxes to help give the kids structure for where to write their words.  This resource has 4 options of mats though with and without letters and Elkonin boxes.

If you're ready to go all digital with your making words, or want to continue making words with distance learning or Google classroom, digital mats are perfect!

You can manipulate the letters by clicking and dragging so it makes a great alternative to the traditional letter cards.  Digital mats can also be used on iPads or in Google classroom.  They can also be used on your interactive white board if you just want to do the activity all together!

Making Words Routines

This routine is quick and predictable in our classroom.  Just like my Super Phonics lessons, each lesson is basically the same with different content or word.  So the kids pick up the routine quickly and it just gets smoother and quicker as the year goes on!

There is at least one making words lesson for each of my first grade Super Phonics units.  I try to work these in as a whole group lesson a couple times a week at the beginning of the year when we need more whole group activities and then as the year goes on, we do less of this as a whole class, and more of it in small group interventions.

Here is the basic routine (and it's outlined in detail in the video below):

  • Go over the letter names and sounds of each letter in the lesson
  • Build a starting word
  • You give them the new word and the kids have to figure out the letter or letters to substitute to build that word
  • You give them the letters to substitute and the kids have to figure out what the word is
  • Guess my word: You give students clues about a longer (usually 2-syllable) word to spell with the feature sound
You can watch my full explanation and model of a blends and digraphs lesson in this video.

You can find a free sample of these lessons here and the bundle for an entire year of these lessons here.

As we are all navigating how to homeschool our own children at home thanks to CoVid-19, I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to practice essential K-1 literacy skills at home--with no technology needed!

Even after this pandemic is over, these are great activities and routines to keep in mind for the summer time or any time you are at home with your littles to reinforce what they are learning at school.  I've already blogged about my math suggestions, so let's talk about reading and writing today!


WHO? kinder and 1st graders or any kiddos with illegible handwriting :)

WHAT? A pencil and handwriting pages or paper

HOW?  Write a sentence in marker on handwriting paper and have your child trace it with pencil and then write it underneath.  If you want to make it even more fun, let them You can find ready made handwriting pages here.  If your child is in PreK or Kinder or really struggles with handwriting, you can get the phrases I say with kids as we write letters for free here.  This really helps their letter formation.

WHY?  Handwriting is great fine motor practice.  Also, research shows that practicing letter formation helps kids become better readers.  The act of handwriting while learning letters increases letter naming fluency, which is an indicator for reading success.

You can get more ideas for handwriting and letter formation practice here.

Sight Word Practice

WHO? Any kids who are reading or beginning to read words in a book

WHAT? sight word cards (make your own on index cards or use these premade ones), play doh, yarn, or other around the house items

HOW?  There are a ton of sight word games and practice options out there.  I've blogged about my favorite at home sight word games here including the fly swatting game, and this independent activity.

If you're looking for even more independent practice for your first or second graders, you can find tons of sight word printables here.

WHY?  While sight words should not be the only thing you use for reading practice--not even most of your reading time, it is important for kids to quickly read some words that we see a lot in books!  Having several high frequency words that kids don't have to sound out leads to reading fluency.

One Sentence Journaling

WHO? Any age!

WHAT? a notebook or download this free journaling paper here, pencil and crayons

(This is the cover we are using during the CoVid-19 Quarantine, but there are other generic cover options if you want to use this during the summer.)

HOW?  At the end of each day, write one sentence that tells about your day.  It can be a sentence about something you did, how you are feeling, or what you think about this whole quarantine situation!  Illustrate your sentence too.  Only ONE sentence.  That's the fun part (and makes it easier to get kids to do).  Just pick one important thing to remember and write and short and sweet, one sentence memory about it!

WHY?  I have been doing my own one sentence journaling for over a year now and absolutely love it!  It's a great way to look back and see what has happened over the last year and a half or so.  Quarantining to protect our community from CoVid-19 is an unusual time in our history.  Years from now, it will be special to look back and see what we were thinking about and doing during this time!

Letting kids write about what they want to write about (journaling) is great, authentic writing.  It gives them practice with sentence mechanics like capitals, spacing, punctuation and spelling.  And it's way more motivational to write about something you choose than something mom tells you to write about! :)

Pen Pals

WHO? Any age!

WHAT? pencil, paper, envelopes and stamps

HOW?  Find a friend or family member (or several) that will write to you!  Just like we did years ago, write a letter to a friend and write a letter back to someone who writes to you.  Tell them anything you'd like!  My sister-in-law had this idea and started a Facebook group for those interested to exchange addresses.

WHY?  Once again, letting kids write about what they want to write about is great, authentic writing.  It gives them practice with sentence mechanics like capitals, spacing, punctuation and spelling.  And it's super fun to write to friends and family members and get out and check the mailbox everyday while we are all practicing social distancing.
Mail, Newsletter, Home, Mailbox, Hiring

Digital Phonics

WHO? Kinders, 1st graders, and 2nd graders

WHAT? A week of digital phonics lessons.  Just click on the grade level below to get a free lesson.  Want a whole week for free?  Sign up for my email newsletter and choose the grade you need to get any entire week of phonics lessons for free.
 Kindergarten Digital Phonics Curriculum, Letter ID FREEBIE   Phonics Interactive Powerpoint: FREEBIE   2nd Grade Phonics Digital Curriculum FREEBIE

HOW?  These lessons require powerpoint and a computer.  They are intended for a teacher or parent to guide the kid(s) through them.  There are notes at the bottom of each slide that tell you exactly what to do.  It's as simple as click and learn.  No prep needed!

WHY?  Phonics or decoding skills are essential for young readers.  Primary teachers are highly trained for teaching these skills, but it can be scary for parents to understand the skills, much less teach them.  But if our schools are closed for any length of time, we must be able to continue phonics instruction for our children so they don't have decoding "gaps" in their reading when they return to school.

Decodable Readers

WHO? Kinders & 1st graders

WHAT? decodable readers... these are books where at least 90% of the words can be sounded out based on the phonics sounds your child knows.  You can use any books you may already have as long as they fit that criteria.  You can find a free set of decodables here to get you started!
HOW?  Just print the free decodables I linked above or grab your own decodables and have your child read to you.  Can't sit and listen to them read right now?  Have them record themselves reading and then they can play it later for you or an older sibling to listen to.  I have blogged about specific routines and ways to use decodables to help your kiddos.  Read the post here.

WHY?  AGAIN....decoding skills are essential for young readers.  Primary teachers are highly trained for teaching these skills, but it can be scary for parents to understand the skills, much less teach them.  But if our schools are closed for any length of time, we must be able to continue phonics instruction for our children so they don't have decoding "gaps" in their reading when they return to school.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS?  If your child gets to a tricky word that he/she can't decode, try saying... "Say the sounds" or "Blend the sounds" or "Get your mouth ready for the first sound and read all the way through the word."  If it is still super tricky, cover up all but the first sound and ask, "What does this sound say?" and then continue to reveal the next sound until they have decoded the whole word.

More Free Resources

Looking for more free printables and resources to help your K-2 kids with reading and writing with little to no prep?  Check out these FREE resources by clicking on each picture to download them.
Seusstastic Rhyme Time Matchup FREEBIE  Poetry Folder FREEBIE  Sight Word Morning Work FREEBIE
Reading Comprehension Passages and Questions FREEBIE  Homeschool Preschool Reading FREEBIE  Halloween Grammar Worksheets: FREEBIE
Language Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten  Phonics Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten  Writing Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten
Pocket Chart Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten
Pocket Chart stations have been around for AGES in kindergarten.  And even with the introduction of all that technology in the classroom, pocket charts still stay!  Why?  Because they are a great way for kids to interact with skills they've been learning.  And let's be honest... kids LOVE pocket charts because it makes them feel like a teacher!

Today we are chatting about fresh ideas for your kindergarten Pocket Chart station and I'll be giving you a freebie too! #winwin

Setting Up Pocket Chart Station

Pocket Chart station is mostly a "set" station in my classroom.  Meaning.... it's not mobile.  Kids don't take it to their desk or a special spot to do.  It hangs on my wall and kids come to the station instead of the station coming to them.  However, last year, when I did a long-term sub job in kindergarten, the kids moved the pocket chart to the open carpet area because their pocket chart was on wheels.  So, it's up to you on how you want to do it!

Since I'm currently on a mommy break with my twins, what it looks like in my preschool Sunday School room will have to do for a picture of it!  All the supplies are kept in the pocket chart for this one because it frees up my floor space.  But you can certainly keep them in a tub nearby if you prefer!

Word Building Puzzles

One of my favorite pocket chart activities is word and letter building puzzles!  At the beginning of the year, this starts off with letter puzzles.

Later in the year, we move to building words with the beginning, ending and then middle sounds!  They LOVE these puzzles!

By the end of the year, they are adding "e" to words to build CVCe words in kindergarten!

Word Sorts

In this activity, students sort words by the first, last or middle letter!  There is no "reading" in this one as much as it is just paying attention to the letters and print.  In our phonics station, we practice decoding words with the same skills!

Later in the year, we sort CVC and blend words as real or wacky words to practice our decoding and comprehension skills.

Story Sequencing

This activity focuses on building sequencing and comprehension skills which helps with retelling stories with a beginning, middle and end.  This station starts out photo heavy.  Sentences are included at the bottom of the photos to help those who may be reading, but they can absolutely be sequenced without reading the sentences!

Starting in March, the sentences and the photos are separate.  Kinders sequence the pictures and then find the sentences to match the pictures.

Sentence Matching & Ordering

In this traditional pocket chart activity, kinders match the sentence with the words

And starting in March, they build the sentences without just matching words to a sentence.  You can find a sample of this activity in this FREEBIE!

You can find all of these activities in this year long bundle of Kindergarten Pocket Chart Stations!

Listening Station is a staple center in kindergarten and first grade.  When I first started teaching in 2006, I had the CD player, headphones and books....actually I used the old Basal readers because I wasn't using them for anything else.  The basals came with a CD and it was a cheap way for me to have an instant listening center! #teachertip

But thanks to technology, by the end of my 10 years in the classroom, we were using kindles for our first grade listening station.  Here's a look at what this listening station looked like in my primary classroom.

Let me make a disclaimer: In a kindergarten classroom, I do not recommend using anything but an actual book for those kinder babies to hold. When I did a long term sub job in kinder, we used real live books and no technology for this station except for a CD player and headphones. Why? Because kindergarteners are developing concepts of print and need practice holding a book the right way and turning pages on their own correctly.  That's why my kindergarten listening centers link to actual books to purchase. In fact, I can think back over my years of first grade and think of one or two classes that I would still use real books with because of their low reading skills--at least for the first nine weeks of first grade.

Now that we all understand that disclaimer... :)

Setting Up A Kindle Listening Center

Listening Station must be a "stationary" center if you have a plug-in CD player.  It can be a "Grab & Go" station if it's on an iPad or kindle.  

But I do like to have a special sitting spot for this station.  At least to have the wall space.  I like to post an example of the listening station on the wall to model how to write the title of the book and give them the sentence stem or show them how to trace the sentence stem.

This was my listening station.  The blank wall is where the I Can posters and examples of work go. (This was a before school picture.)  I post those with the kids as we learn this station.  The white tub with ribbon holds the recording sheets.  The CD player sits on top (or Kindle if you go that route.) And under the cart skirt are all of the books and materials needed for the entire year.

Here is the I Can poster I put on the wall.  Each listening center in my packet has two options: Full color or black and white so it's ready no matter what kind of printer you have.  Print the black and white version on bright paper for a colorful, ink-saving option!

Materials I have at this station or in the station tub are:

  • iPad, Kindle, or CD player/Book (for kinders)
  • two headphones (if you do partners)
  • headphone splitter (if you do partners)...find what I use HERE
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • recording sheet
  • Kindle version of the book

NOTE: I use these cheap headphones in the classroom for two reasons.  1) They're 5 bucks each. And 2) WHEN the kids break them (because it happens a LOT no matter how well we go over procedures), it's cheap to replace!  I mean, I tried the more expensive ones and they break too, so.... :)  In fact, I kept a few extras in my closet so that when one broke, I wouldn't have to wait for another pair to come in.

If you want to use the "old fashioned" books in hand (which I 100% recommend for kindergartners to help them build concepts of print and page turning skills!), then you will have a stationary place for this center and a hard copy of the book.  All of the books used can be found with their CD at the link in my listening center resource!

Setting Up Your Kindle

On the kindle, I use the free time app.  When it is open, the kindle will always stay in this and the only way to exit it is by password.  Yay!  Within free time, there are books, apps, videos, games...but only what you add!  So, when I am using a kindle for listening station, I only have the books part available.

Here's how to add or take away books

1. Exit free time by going to parent settings.  You will need to put in your password.
2. Click on "Manage Content & Subscription."  You may need to put in your password again.

3. Click "Add Titles to **** Library."

4. You will see a list of items.  Click the down arrow on the selection box so that you only see books.  Then, just simply check or uncheck the books you want to show up.  You can also go in here and make other videos, apps or games disappear by filtering those in the drop down selection box.
NOTE: Books will only show up if you have purchased the kindle version of the story.  Just purchase the kindle version of the book on Amazon and choose for it to be sent to the device you use for listening station.

And that's it!  When you change out the story, just go in and add that book again and take away what you don't want left in there!

Listening Station Routines

When students come to this station, they get the kindle and find the story we are reading.  My son's book section looks like this with lots of books....

He has lots of books, but when I used this for listening station, we only had 2-3 books in there at a time.  I kept the book we were currently listening to and 1-2 other books they could read if they finished early.

I use a headphone splitter so that partners can use the same kindle and listen at the same time.

After they listen to the story, they grab the recording sheet and write.  The beginning of the year kindergarten response sheets have "favorite" part prompts.  Later in the year there are beginning/middle/end and problem/solution.

They trace the sentence starter and finish writing their sentence.  Then, they illustrate a picture to go with what they wrote about.

For each story, there are 4 options: two different sentence starters, no sentence starter and a blank template with no title.  That's a great option if you have another book on the same topic you'd rather use!

All 4 of those versions are available in this listening center FREEBIE!  Also, find a year of listening centers here.
Back to Top