Showing posts with label organize me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organize me. Show all posts

One of the first things I struggled with when I began my science of reading journey a few years ago was how to adjust our schedule.

I knew there were parts of our balanced literacy block that were not science of reading aligned and had to go.  But what should that be replaced with?  My brain works in schedules.  I truly believe my brain is one giant Excel spreadsheet, lol.  Spreadsheets are my love language.

Okay, you get it.  But seriously.  Scheduling is how I make sense of my day to day world.  So, when a big shift happens in how I'm teaching--hey there, Science of Reading, I go straight to the schedule to process, and start changing.

Here's a peek at how my literacy block schedule shifted from balanced literacy to structured literacy.

Goodbye, Familiar Reading

Hello, morning work!

My day always started with familiar reading.  Kids came into the classroom, did their morning chores, and then sat down with their book tubs we called browsing boxes.  It had charts and leveled readers from guided reading that they would read and reread.

Now, let me be clear.  Rereading has it's place.  I believe in it.  We still do it.  But the problem was that part of what kids could choose to do when they finished early was read from their browsing boxes.  It was kinda the catch all.  

So our morning time was less quiet reading and more just faking it...or bopping a friend over the head with an abc chart...

Instead, we did morning tubs or phonics cut and paste activities for a skill we learned the day before.  These are my favorite phonics sorts and activities for morning work.

Goodbye, Calendar

Hello, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics!  

Truth time: Calendar wasn't completely gone.  When I was in kinder, we moved the calendar block to our math time.  In first grade, it became a quick morning meeting so we could take about our day and schedule... because, YES, my firsties had to endure my obsession with schedules! :)

Phonics wasn't new for me.  I had been doing some phonics work in small groups and a tad at the beginning of the year whole group.  But my big shift was making phonics systematic and a consistent block of time for our whole group.  You can read more about my weekly phonics routine here and find the digital curriculum I use here.

Phonemic awareness was COMPLETELY new to me.  I mean, we learned about it in college, but I had it in my mind that it was really more prek and kinder.  Not for first grade--and certainly not second grade!

I use Heggerty for my phonemic awareness curriculum.  It's quick.  We add TPR and hand motions to make it fun.  It's systematic.  And most of all, it WORKS!  So much so, that I've been using it with my 3 year olds to help with their speech and language delays at home.

Welcome Back, Read Alouds!

The one thing I missed so much is read alouds.  Every year, it seemed like I had less and less time to really read a book to my kids.  Sure, we read a chapter book together at the end of the day.  And I squeezed in a book here and there during transition.  

But a read aloud?  A real, genuine, read aloud where we talk about the book, and work on comprehension together and do some related activies?  That was missing because there just wasn't time.

And I told myself it was fine because they were getting some of that in guided reading.

But y'all, those leveled guided readers were NOT read aloud quality.

With structured literacy, we are focusing on oral comprehension in K-2 and that means READ ALOUDS!  I love using the same book for several days or an entire week with a different focus.  One of our focus days was always Tier 2 vocabulary.  You can read about those routines here and find a free sample of the lessons and activities I use here.

Our writing is now connected with our read aloud and oral comprehension work.  We write about what we read.  On vocabulary days, we write about our vocab words.  On retelling days, we write to retell a story.  

It's so much more connected to our learning and meaningful for our kids.  Not to mention, they know EXACTLY what to write about instead of trying to constantly come up with an idea to write about. :)

Goodbye, Guided Reading

This is such a HUGE shift, that it got its own blog post a while back.  So, if you want all the juicy details from an EX guided reading mega fan, the read here.

I also, go over in detail what I replaced it with.  Because small groups aren't going anywhere in my classroom.  I'm a firm believer in that.  We just had to work hard to figure out what that was going to look like.

And it looks more skill based, intervention focused, faster, and wayyyyyy more flexible.

Yes, I still do centers during small group time.  This is the bundle of centers I used for kindergarten.  (There are plenty of free samples linked in there for you to try out too!) 

I pulled small groups during this time, but also during our morning work time.  Because the skill groups are so focused and fast, it's easy to squeeze in a small group during any part of the day when kids are working independently.

The Actual Schedule

Here's a look at how it all comes together and what the differences look like...

In a spreadsheet, no less! :)

One of my favorite teacher things to do is curriculum unit planning.

Now, before you roll your eyes, close the tab and go back to Instagram Reels, don't panic.  And listen for just a minute.

I'm a planner.  I'm a control freak.  I like to know what's coming.  And I think that's exactly why as soon as I got a teaching job, I was planning out what curriculum units I might teach during my first year teaching first grade.

But it's not just about me.  Kids need structure and organization to their learning.  When we just teach a string of random lessons, it's less effective for kids because they are having to do all of the extra work on how to process and remember that random information.

When we organize the lessons into big ideas or units, it serves as a brain filing system for kids.  Now they know exactly how to organize their new learning and where to find it in their brain when they need it.  Think of it like a learning anchor... similar to anchor charts.

I know you may still have a racing heart and be ready to bolt, but writing units doesn't have to be that hard.  I have written over 100 units for Science, math, integrated literacy and content units, and Bible units.  

And I'm not gonna pretend like it's always a walk in the park, but there are 4 simple steps that I follow every time that makes curriculum unit planning simple, effective and FUN!  I promise you CAN do it.

(Psst.  Feeling stuck with the boring units your district has written for you or are included in your textbooks?  You can totally use this process to elevate the existing units and make it work even better for you and your students while still "following" the district outline.)

Write Your Big Idea

The first step is writing your big idea.  What's the big idea? 

See what I did there?  A big idea is the main understanding or take away that kids must understand by the end of the unit.  It's the umbrella.  It's the overarching idea.  

It's not just a student objective.  Instead of, "The students will be able to count to 120," it's, "Counting to 120 is useful."

Instead of, "The students will be able to read and comprehend CVC words," it's, "Authors write to tell stories."

Instead of, "The students will be able to name characteristics of birds," it's, "The survival needs of animals determine their characteristics."

The big idea zooms out a bit so that it can be connected to multiple topics, standards, objectives, and even subjects!

Still struggling with writing a big idea?  Here are a few tips...

  • Don't use TSW (The students will) like you learned in college for writing objectives.2
  • Write it like you are writing the topic sentence for an expository or opinion writing essay so that it has multiple supporting points available.
  • Brainstorm and list key words or phrases (like community, rights, responsibilities).  Then write a sentence using as many of those as possible (Individuals within a community share rights and responsibilities).

Our big idea was posted on a huge bulletin board in my first grade classroom.  This was one of my first bulletin boards I had made when I started teaching.  Because organizing the lessons for my kids was top priority.  

This is the first big idea board I had (so excuse the ancient picture).  I taught in an IB school so we were required to include some IB lingo with it.  But we made it work for us too! :)

Here is the next big idea board I used in a new school, new classroom.  With wayyyyy less bulletin board space.  I used the chalkboard to post our big idea quote on.

And when I homeschooled my second grader, I included our big idea in our learning space as well so we could constantly refer back to it and make connections.

Plan Your Essential Questions

Once you have your big idea, you are ready for your essential questions.  An essential question is just what it sounds like... a goal that is essential for kids to understand2 the big idea... in question form!

If we go back to the umbrella strategy, the essential questions (EQ) are the supports for the umbrella.

They still are NOT learning goals.  They are a little bigger.  And they must connect to the big idea.

A unit can have anywhere from 2-4 essential questions.  They can have more, but I find that keeping it to 2, 3 or 4 is much easier for the younger kids to manage.

If I go back to the big idea example I used from my first integrated unit, the big idea was, "Individuals in a community have rights and responsibilities."

The essential questions for this unit are...

  • What is a community?
  • What are my rights and responsibilities?
  • Who is part of our school community?
  • What makes our learning community successful?

Your essential questions need to be smaller in scope than your big idea, but bigger than an individual lesson.  Typically, we work on an essential question for a week or two.

And you may notice from the umbrella example above that the essential questions are listed in the order they will be taught and there is a natural progression of learning happening.

Sort Your Standards Into the Essential Questions

Now you will want to use your district's pacing guide or your own pacing to decide which standards fall under which essential question.

For this integrated social studies and literacy unit, I added the Social Studies standards for each essential question.  Then, I looked through our literacy standards for the first quarter and chose standards that would support the essential question and help develop those social studies ideas.

So, for the essential question, "Who is part of our school community?" I will add reading and writing standards for informational writing and reading.

Getting the standards set in place first ensures that I have my standards in mind when I am planning lessons.  Instead of just forcing the standards to fit into lessons I want to teach and possibly leaving out standards.


Set Your Daily Goals and Lessons

After writing your big idea, listing your essential questions and sorting your standards, you are ready for the "fun" part.  

Writing your goals, lessons, and activities.  When I'm in this initial unit planning phase, I am just listing the activities or goals or lessons that will help kids fulling answer and understand the essential question.

And, of course, tie back to the big idea.  

But I'm not writing detailed lesson scripts.  It's basically like I'm jotting notes down to myself so that when I get to that week and start planning, I'll remember what I was thinking and can elaborate then.

In our umbrella example, this is the raindrop phase of planning! :)  

And, no, there doesn't have to be exactly 3 activities for each essential question.  I just love symmetry, lol!

For our beginning of the year integrated unit, it would look some like this...

Now, I have my unit at a glance planned and I can add this plan to my lesson planning file or folder to have handy when I am planning.   Here's a FREE digital template in color and black and white for you to use to plan your curriculum unit.

This unit I used in my example can be found here and I've already done the detailed daily planning for you and included all the print and digital materials you need! :)

And if you need help pacing out your standards or just want to take a peek at what my entire year looks like, check out this first grade pacing guide that also comes with digital templates to make your own!

Last week, I blogged about why I said goodbye to guided reading.  

But that doesn't mean I gave up on small groups altogether.  

This teacher LOVES her some small group intervention time.

So, if not guided reading for literacy intervention, then what?  Data driven groups.  That's what.

But what does that look like?  Is it a complete 180 from guided reading?  How much relearning am I really gonna have to do here? (Pssst: not much.  It's really much easier than you'd think!)

Let's chat about data-driven reading groups.  I'll walk you through a sample class data set.  We'll talk about how I assess, set up groups, plan for them, and what my schedule for meeting with kiddos looks like!

Assess the Standards

In traditional guided reading, the first thing we did was test our kids' reading level, right?  In data driven reading groups, we also assess first!

But the evidence from the science of reading tells us that levelized readers aren't the best way to grow readers.  Levels can be subjective, and word difficulty doesn't consistently increase with the level.  The criteria for leveling books is multi-faceted and so none of the components fully consider word recognition.  

In data driven reading groups, I assess the standards.  To make it simple, I started with the assessments the school I was at already required: Acadience (formally, DIBELS) and PAST.  There was no need in adding additional stress with additional assessments--UNLESS I needed more information.

K-1 Acadience (DIBELS) takes care of letter naming, segmenting sounds, decoding CVC words and Oral reading.  

PAST takes care of phonemic awareness.  Beginning in 2nd grade, the MAZE (part of Acadience) addresses some comprehension portions of reading.

As a kinder teacher (at the time I started data driven groups), those were all of the assessments I needed.  And I was already doing them. 

What assessments is your school already requiring?  Can you use those to find skills to target with your students?  If you are in a school that still requires you to assess reading levels, are you also asked to use Acadience/DIBELS with your kids?  If not, the full Acadience and PAST assessments are available online for free and are surprisingly quick and easy!

Record the Data

Once I'm finished assessing my kids, I record the data.  Well, actually, I record the data as I go, but who's counting?? :)

I use this digital data wall literally assess a kid and then type it in on my laptop.  This digital template is already set up for first grade with the DIBELS and PAST benchmarks already listed.  But it is easy to edit for the grade and assessments you are using.

Then, after I'm finished assessing, I go back and color code my data for at risk (very below), low risk (bubble kids), on grade level and above. 

Group By Data Points

Now, I'm ready to group my kids.  

I print out the grouping pages that I need from my Data Driven Groups resource.  These three pages shown below are the ones I'll be walking through in this post.  You can find tons of different grouping pages here.

For my phonemic awareness groups, I printed out a blank page because all of the skills I need to address were on multiple I'm just saving paper!  In the top category boxes, I wrote in each skill from PAST that I need to address with at least one of my kids in my sample class.  Then, I wrote the names of the kids for each category.  Notice that for the PAST, kids are only in one category...the stage they are currently working on becoming automatic at.  Also, notice I combined D1 & D2 and E2 & E3 because they are very similar and both skill groups were very small.  When I do this, I just note which subskill each kid needs to focus on so I can do that individually in the group.

For my phonics groups, I had some pre-alphabetic readers and early alphabetic readers.  Not all of the skills need to be addressed with my kids, so I'll only use the columns I need.  Again, I wrote down the kids' names under EACH category they need help with.  Notice that for phonics, they may be in multiple categories.  I will not put kids in two of the same type of subcategories though.  For example, I will not have a kid in boy the read VC and read CVC columns even if they can't do both of those, because they need to first focus on VC, then I can move them to CVC.  But I could have a kid in read VC and spell beginning sounds, because those are different types of sub skills--decoding and spelling.

I also have oral language and comprehension group pages as well that I can add kids to.  Often times, my oral language kids are my ELL kids or low language kids.  I can add those kids based on their ELL level or anecdotally as I notice oral language skills that need more work.

I want to make sure every kid is in a group.  If not, I need to consider what extension groups I could offer for those kids.  This is often where my comprehension groups come in. And for those kids with great comprehension, we work on writing their comprehension skills, like writing a retelling of a story, etc.

Now that I have my kids listed in groups, I'm ready to plan!

Plan the Lessons

Once I sort out my groups, the planning starts.  This is where data driven reading groups become much, much simpler than guided reading.  I look at each skill group and ask myself...

What content should I plan for this skill?  I preplan my list of words or letters we will work on for the week.  I typically only work a week at a time because I like to adjust as my kids grow or struggle.   

What supplies do I need to work on this skill?  For many groups, I will want some manipulatives like colored blocks or felt squares for my phonemic awareness groups.  Dry erase markers, marker boards....anything that I would need for those groups.  Then I get it all together and make sure those things are organized and easily available near my small group table.

I can add all of this information to my lesson planning pages and add them to my small group binder.  Now all I'll need to do is open up to our lesson plan and get started!

As a side note....the lesson planning page is basically the longer version of the groups page.  You do you. :)  If you like one better than the other, use it.  If you like both, go for it!  For me personally, I like to do just the groups page and I keep a separate list of words by sound or feature to reference!

Meet With Kids 

Remember stressing over your schedule with guided reading?   In my head, I was like, "Ok, 2 groups a day, but I have 5 reading groups.  2 of my groups need to see me every day, but that won't work.  Can I manage to just meet with my highest group once or twice a week.  Wait, what about my bubble kids?"  Am I right??

This is the main thing I LOVE about switching my small group mindset to data driven groups.  There is no schedule.  No really.

For those of you who know me in real life, I know you are shocked.  Because I LOVE me a schedule.  I LIVE by a schedule.  But this was the most freeing part for me with data driven groups.  Remember those group pages I filled out?

Those became my "schedule."  Or, more accurately, my checklist.  

So, how does that work? Well, because I am a Type A teacher, I just simply go in order and use those columns like a checklist. 

In this sample class, I would start with my Phonemic Awareness Groups and meet with that PAST level D group.  Then, I would add the date we met (and minutes if needed for RTI) and any notes I had.  

As soon as I finished that group, I would call the next group, and so on.  

For these skill groups I'm showcasing in this post, they are short.  Sometimes just 5 or 10 minutes.  Maybe 15 minutes.  So I can fit way more groups in than the old school guided reading groups. (Yes, I continued to do reading groups with decodable texts.  That blog post is coming next....hang tight!)

My main focus for small group time when I was in kinder was during their center time.  The teacher I was long term subbing for used traditional kinder centers.  I pulled during that time and I didn't just pull one group per center.  I just called a group back and moved on through the groups, switching centers with my timer, not based on when I finished a group.  

Other kinder teachers had the kids on a class set of Chromebooks doing independent interventions while they pulled.  

The other **fabulous** thing about data driven groups is because they were so short, I was able to meet with them throughout the day, not just during centers.  If I had it together one morning and finished attendance early, I could pull a skill group or oral language group during morning work.  I pulled a group or two during snack time.  Or while kids were finishing up their writing work.  Any part of my literacy block where I had a "free" minute where I didn't need to walk around and monitor kids, I could pull groups.

So, in this sample class, I have a total of 14 skill groups.  Like I mentioned before, these are not all of the skills or intervention groups I would have.  This is just a sample!  Once I make it through all 14 groups, I start back over and do it over again.  

On average, I would say I had about 20 or so literacy skill groups in my kinder class and was able to get through all groups at least once a week.  But that doesn't mean I only met with each kid once a week.  In my sample class we've been using, that would mean that my highest kid, "William" would be met with twice a rotation for just these skills and my lowest kid, "Cooper" would be met with 7 times per rotation for just these skills.

Want to use all the Data Driven Binder Organizational Things??  You can find them here!

Okay.  Whoah.  That was a TON of info.  Maybe more than I initially intended to share.  Have I convinced you to make the switch yet?  What questions do you still have?  Drop your questions in the comments and let's keep the conversation going!

And next up on the blog, we'll be talking about using decodable texts as a reading group!

One of my most popular resources in my store is especially popular right now during distance learning:   Digital lesson plan templates.  I often get asked lots of the same questions about these templates and how I use them.  So, today, I'm going to give you the answers to my most frequently asked questions about using these digital lesson plan templates!

What are Digital Lesson Plan Templates?

Digital lesson plan templates are the templates I used in the classroom to plan out my week and what I currently use for homeschooling my 2nd grader.  They are hosted on Google Drive so I could access them easily at home or anywhere with internet!  Because they are hosted on Google, it's also super easy to add in links to articles, games, digital resources, or whatever right there in my plans.  That way, when I'm teaching, and we are ready to do our digital phonics lessons, I can just click from my lesson plans and go straight there.

Can the fields inside of the boxes be edited?

Yes!  Every single part of this template is editable, including the contents inside of the boxes.  I have put those there because that is the format that I use, and if that works for you great!  But if it doesn't, feel free to edit as you need to!

Can I Share The Lesson Plans With My Teammates?

Yes... BUT!  In order to follow the DMCA laws and copyright laws, you must purchase an additional license for each teacher that will be using the document.  You do NOT have to purchase a license for your admin who you turn your plans in to for viewing/record keeping.

You can purchase additional licenses for 10% off the original price here!

If you are an administrator and looking to buy a license for all of the teachers in your school, you can email me at for heavily discounted pricing options!

I Need Bigger Boxes.  Can I Make the Boxes Bigger?

Yes!  Just like in Word, the boxes will grow as big as you need them to.  That means, you may end up with more than one page of plans.  I like to keep my plans to one page just because that works best for me... that's why the boxes are sized the way they are.  BUT, if you need more details in those boxes or information on your plans so you remember what you are teaching, you can type a novel in the box with no problems!

How Do I Make a New Template Each Week?

With Google docs, you can make a copy of the template and use it for each week.  At the end of the year, I have 36 files of lesson plan templates on my drive!  And then the next year, I can start with the same templates for each week and just change what I want to from the previous year.  Yay!

To make a new template, you simply choose File > Make A Copy.  You will name the new copy of plans and then make sure it will save into the correct folder and then click ok.  That's it!  Now your own template is saved and ready to edit for the next week!

Since This is a Google File, Will This Work With Word?

Yes... Mostly!  You can download the Google file to Word by choosing File > Download > Microsoft Word.

WARNING: It will not save all of the fonts... it will most likely change the fonts to Times New Roman.  But the formatting will stay basically the same.   

Also, by downloading to Word, you will lose the benefit of being able to view your plans from home, but it is definitely an option if you need it!

I Prefer the Days at the Top and the Subject Areas on the Side.  Is that Possible?

Yes!  Just simply type over the headers and rename them however you choose!

Can I Add More Columns and Rows?

Yes!  Just click where you would like to add another column or row.  Then right click and choose Insert Row above/below or Insert column above/below.  

You can also delete a column or row if you need to!

I Need to See More of this In Action First!

I have a youtube video that walks through the plans for you to see up close and personal here.

And several years ago, I did a facebook live on these plans as well!

Where Can I Find These Lesson Plan Templates?

You can get a license for these templates for a single classroom teacher use only HERE!  And if you are interested in more digital Google templates to keep you organized, you can check out the bundle here.

Lesson Plan Templates EDITABLE compatible with Google Drive      Planning And Assessment Tools Compatible With Google Drive BUNDLE

My first year teaching, I was moving 90 miles an hour all day long and my organizational skills suffered those first few weeks of back to school assessing!  I had assessment documents all over the place, I had no time to come up with a good system, and I had to look in 500 places before finding the piece of paper or spreadsheet I was looking for.

Sound familiar?

My OCD self won out after the first few weeks of school and I nailed down a system for keeping the student data organized and easy to find and use. Take a peek at my favorite tips for recording data, and using that student data to guide instruction (since that's the actual point, right???)

Tip #1: Go Digital

Digital data keeping is where it's at in my opinion.  Even when I do pencil/paper data trackers, I always transfer it to my digital student data tracker.

Why?  Because if it's on my Google drive, I can look at it at school, at home, on my phone, on my laptop, in my car, while I'm at PD... anywhere! :)

Most of the time, I keep my laptop right by me while I'm assessing kids.  For example, when I tested my kinders' rote counting, I would call them to my table, have them count with me and then just type in the number the counted to in my student data tracker.  I put their score straight into my spreadsheet and skip the paper copy.  

If I absolutely can't have my laptop with me, I put the student data in a paper sheet and add it in to the computer later.  

Tip #2: Keep the Data In One Place

Not much is more frustrating than having to flip through a bazillion spreadsheet pages to find the student data you need for your administrators during PLC meetings or for your literacy coach when she runs down to your room to get a data point from you.

For years I had roughly a bazillion different sheets for approximately a bazillion different kinds of assessments I needed to give my kids.

Sound familiar?

The year I switched to having my data all in one place was a game changer for me!  

Now all of my student data is in one Google Sheet on my Google Drive.  

So, why not just have several Google Sheets all in the same folder on my Google Drive?  I mean, I've definitely had to do that before when I had someone who needed me to fill out a specific sheet, but I MUCH prefer it all on one sheet.  

Having it all in one sheet means I just have one place to look for the student  data.  When I'm talking to someone about intervention on a kid, I have one line of data to look at instead of flipping through a bunch of spreadsheets.

Also, having it one sheet means I can easily see trends in kids.  I can easily see how lower PAST scores affect the nonsense word fluency scores for the same kid.  And that helps me make better data-driven decisions. 

Note: I do usually have a separate sheet for math and literacy.  I've actually done it both ways (altogether and separate) and both work well since we usually talk about intervention with one or the other.

Tip #3: Keep the Paper Copy

Yes, tips 1 and 2 were all about digital.  

But let's face it:  Many assessments, like the math one below, have pages that must be filled out during the assessment and aren't digital.  This is true for DIBELS, PAST, fact fluency and any student math assessments or writing prompts and rubrics.  

For these types of assessments, I fill out the paper assessment with the kids during the assessment just as I am directed, and then when I have the final score, I put that right into my laptop.  Then, I file that page into that students manilla folder that I keep on them for the entire year.  

Why keep the paper copy?  It's simple.  The paper trail.

Parents want to see the paper trail.  I use the kids assessment folders for parent teacher conferences.  There's nothing "extra" to assemble for conferences, I just pull out their folder and we go through it.  That way, in the spring, if parents forgot how far their kid has (or hasn't) come, I can just pull out both assessments and we can side-by-side compare.

In my early years, I stapled the relevant stuff for conferences together to go over with parents.  And inevitably I would understandably have questions from the parents and then I would have to go digging.

So, filing assessment pages into student folders as I go means I have the most up to date data ready to go for any parent or school person that comes to ask me about a kiddo.

The RTI Team needs to see the paper trail.  Having all of my paper copies all in one place helps me when we have last minute intervention meetings or a administrator comes in wanting to see data evidence on a kid.  It just makes sense to have it all in one spot.

I know it seems obvious, but if you're like me, sometimes it's a simple change that makes a HUGE difference.

Tip #4: Actually USE the Data

Okay, okay, another obvious one.  

But ya'll.  I've totally been guilty of racing to get #allthethings tested and recorded and then never look at it again.

Because, let's be honest, after all that assessing, I don't WANT to look at it again.  At least for a few weeks... :)
But I finally got to the place where I thought, "If I'm gonna have to collect it all, I might as well use it!"

I know you don't have much time.  I feel you.  That's why in my own classroom, I just use my digital data wall and pull groups on the spot.  For example, when I was teaching kinder last year, when I had a quiet moment during morning work, or if I finished a reading group early, or during snack time, I would look at my data wall, and call all of my kids back who couldn't count past 20, or 50, or 100, or wherever I wanted to focus.  

Those counting strugglers would come back to my table, we would spend 5 minutes practicing our rote counting and then they would return to their desk and I would highlight their data points so I knew I had met with them!  Simple as that.

Other times, I called back all the kids on a specific PAST level and we would practice the phonemic skill they needed to move on to their next level.  Again 5-10 minutes max.  I met with all of my kids as I had a spare 5-10 minutes.  Once I had met with them all for that assessment area, I would check it off and move on to another data point.  This helped me keep track of which groups to pull next.

Often times, on Fridays, instead of pulling reading groups, I would pull data groups like I just described to just reinforce or reassess those skills.

This was an EASY, ready to go way to use my student data immediately.  I literally finished assessing and then began pulling data groups during spare moments throughout the day.  It was purposeful, targeted, quick, but most of all, super effective!  Having all of the info in this student data tracker was a HUGE help for this too!

You can find the fully editable, Digital Data Wall I use in my classroom here.
Have you ever spent hours cutting booklets, ordering page numbers, stapling them....times 20 or 25 kids?

And then, if you're like me, at least one kid has a page missing or out of place... #forreal

Last year, I introduced my decodable readers and blogged about why science tells us that decodables are a MUST in the classroom and I blogged about our routines too.

But the downfall to doing decodable readers with the whole class each week is a HUGE prep commitment!  I mean, I did it last year (READ: a copy mom did it for me!), but it sure would've been nice to have a better way.

Now, we do!  I've made all of my decodable booklets print, fold, and staple friendly!  That's it! No cutting and ordering page numbers and making mistakes any more.  If you have my decodables and are like me, you need visuals.  And step by step instructions.  Because, let's face it...I'm spatially challenged! :)  Let's chat about the easiest way to put together decodables!

Printing the Booklet

The first thing you will need to do is get all those settings right on your printer and Adobe Reader.  I'll walk you through it step by step in this video...

A few things to note:  Not all printers are created equally.  That means, not all printer settings are created equally.  Your 2-sided setting may be in a different place, or you may have to click the "advanced settings" button in your print dialog box.  The important part is that you choose double sided printing with it flipping along the short edge!

Chances are you can't print directly to your school copy machine.  If you can... COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!  I taught for 10+ years at 3 schools and only one of those years I was able to print to the copier and it. was. magical.  No, really!

Where were we?  Oh yeah, you will probably need to print to an actual printer first and then copy the number you need.  So...follow the printing steps in the video and print your booklet.  Then, take it off the printer AS IS!  Do not reorder the pages!

Fold the Readers

It's that simple.  Just fold it.

No, but really.  Take the papers off the printer--as is-- and line up the pages.  If they've printed correctly you will have page 5 on top page in the top right corner, then page 7, then page 9.

You will fold the booklet from left to right.  That is, so that page 4 folds on top of page 5. Once you've folded the booklet, it will look like this...

Staple the Booklet

Yep,'s that easy.  2 staples...3 staples...whatever your preference is!

And that's it, y'all!

Ok, But Can the Kids Do It?

Yes, they can!  If you have taught your kids how to use the stapler, this is super easy for kids to do!

Have your kids put together their booklets first thing in the morning as part of their morning work.  Last year, we did our decodables starting on Wednesday, so this would be my Wednesday morning work.

Leave the stack of decodables by the door or in your "morning work" spot.  Have them grab their booklet stack as they come in.

Then, they fold and staple and put it in their phonics folder so it is ready to go for phonics or reading time!

Don't want your kids doing it?  Don't let your kids use your staplers?  Just have a copy mom do it.  Or have an early finisher you trust do it for you!  Or take the extra 10 minutes and do it yourself.  Seriously 30 seconds TOPS to fold and staple one of these booklets, ya'll!  You can totally do it!

Find an entire year of decodables for kindergarten here and first grade here.
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