Showing posts with label organize me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organize me. Show all posts
It took me almost 10 years to find my groove with phonics in my classroom.  If I'm being honest, I spent the first 9 years of my teaching career hating phonics and making excuses to just not teach phonics or spelling in my classroom...or so I thought!  Mostly, I hated scripted phonics lessons.  I hated reading thick teacher I thought I hated phonics altogether.

Then, after 9 years, it hit me!  There were pieces of our daily and weekly routine that were very much phonics and very much who I was a teacher too!  So, I spent some time combining our routines and a few of the "good" pieces from some scripted phonics lessons I had been trained on and came up with a weekly phonics routine that I makes me look forward to our phonics block (who woulda thought??)

I spend about 15-20 minutes on direct phonics instruction each day.  Of course, my kids get more work on phonics with decodable readers in guided reading and word work during stations...but this is our whole group phonics block time!  Here's a look at what we do each day....but if you are more visual, watch the video to see my routines here.


First, we read through our phonics chart (2 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, blends chart, or vowel chunks depending on our focus sound for the week.

Then, I introduce our new sound (3 minutes).  Let's say our new sound is long e as in ee or ea.  I show my kids pictures of our long e pictures and we say the word together.  My kids listen to see if the word has our focus sound.  They give me a thumbs up or down to let me know if the word has our focus sound.  If the word has our focus sound, we then listen for the position of the sound.  Is it at the beginning the middle or the end?  My kids touch their arms to show me the position of the word (see my video on this).

Next, we look at words that have our focus sound and sort them (2 minutes).  For our example focus sounds, ee and ea, I would sort the words into an ee and ea category.  At this point, we are really just focusing on looking for the focus sound and not necessarily reading it fluently yet.  I will read the word and then have them tell me where to sort it.  We sort it whole group.  Then, I can add the same sort into their word work station to do independently or with partners later.  Find the whole year's sorts here.

After our sort, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We have 3 words that decode each day of the week (except Fridays). You can watch me model slide, slide, slippety slide in this video.  We do this for each word.  We slide the first word together.  Then, I ask, "what long e pattern do you see in this word?" and call on a random student to answer.  Then, I ask that same student, "and where is the sound in the word?" and they answer beginning, middle or end.  Finally, we highlight the pattern in the word together.  We repeat this routine for each word.  This can be done whole group on the interactive powerpoint, or can be done as guided practice with each student having their own word list.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (3 minutes).  If you've seen my spelling video, you already know this routine.  It's available to view here, so I won't rehash in this post!  As soon as we finish decoding our word list, I tell my kids to get their dry erase boards ready and while we are transitioning, they practice writing our sight words on their boards or spelling words we've already learned for the week.  Once everyone has their boards ready, I introduce 2 new words  on Monday with our dry erase boards and our break it down chant.

Finally, we introduce new sight words (5 minutes). We use the ASL sight word videos I included in the phonics units..  I love them because it's a tactile way to practice spelling sight words while also learning sign language!  


Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays look very similar to Mondays with minor changes.  Here's a look at Tuesday!

First, we read through our phonics chart (2 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, blends chart, or vowel chunks depending on our focus sound for the week.

Then, I introduce our phonics poem (5 minutes).  I read it to them without showing them the poem.  Then, I reread the poem and students listen for our focus sound and I have them give me some TPR (total physical response) when they hear it.  For our example ee/ea sounds, when my kids hear that long e sound, they smile really big and put their fingers in their cheeks because I teach long e as the sound that makes us smile! :)  Next, I show them the poem and they look for our focus pattern with their eyes.  We highlight the focus sound words together.

Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Tuesday.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (3 minutes).  During our transition to dry erase boards, students write our spelling words we introduced yesterday.  Then, I introduce two new spelling words with the same routine as Monday.

Finally, we do a sight word hunt (5 minutes).  We go back to our poem and reread it together looking for sight words.  I have kids come up to our interactive powerpoint and circle the sight words they see in our poem (new ones from this week and old ones).


First, we read through our phonics chart (2 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, blends chart, or vowel chunks depending on our focus sound for the week.

Then, we sort real and wacky words (3 minutes).  You can read about why I now LOVE using nonsense words in phonics instruction here!  We decode each word together and decide if its real or wacky.  If it's real, my kiddos open their hands in the shape of an open book--it's a real word we can find in a book.  If it's fake, they do the crazy sign around their ears! :)  Just wait for all the giggles!!

This is another activity that gets added to my word work station for partner or independent practice later on!

Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Wednesday.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (3 minutes).  During our transition to dry erase boards, students write our spelling words we introduced yesterday.  Then, I introduce two new spelling words with the same routine as Monday.

Finally, we leave our dry erase boards out and play sight word I spy (5 minutes).  We do this whole group.  I say, "I spy a sight word with 4 letters."  The kids write a word with 4 letters.  If anyone gets it right after the first clue, they win a ticket (our school wide character reward system).  If no one has it, I give another "I spy a sight word with 4 letters that has a 'c' in it."  We continue until I have at least one winner.  We play for about 5 minutes.  Once we've modeled this game several times together, we play it with partners later in the year.


First, we read through our phonics chart (2 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, blends chart, or vowel chunks depending on our focus sound for the week.

Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Thursday.

Then, we review our six spelling words from Monday-Wednesday on dry erase boards (10 minutes).  We do a practice spelling test whole group on their dry erase boards.  This is another activity that we do whole group at the beginning of the year and as they learn the routine, they do a partner practice test with dry erase boards later on.

Finally, we practice our sight words in sentences.  Sometimes I show the sight word and have students use it in a sentence for me or turn and tell their partner a sentence for the sight word.  And some weeks, I have sentence frames already with fill in the blanks to decide which sight word goes in which sentence.  These are on my interactive powerpoints for each week.  Just know that some weeks I switch it up and have them give me their own sentence for the word instead.


Everybody knows Fridays are crazy.  Teachers are ready for the weekend.  Kids are ready for the weekend.  And it's pretty much assembly day where I'm at too!  So, the best thing I did to help me be more successful and consistent with my phonics block was to do a phonics test on Friday at the beginning of the day and be done! :)  ...well, almost!  On Friday mornings, I have my kids come in and get our phonics poem for the week, add it to their poetry folder, and highlight our focus sound words and circle sight words like we did together on Tuesday.

You can read about my phonics tests and how I assess in this post.  And find my pre-made year worth of spelling tests that align with my phonics program in this packet.

And if you are interested in using my interactive phonics powerpoints, you can find the bundle in my store!

3 and 4 year olds with free reign and no schedule to stick to? Nobody wants to teach in that classroom!  That's why I made a consistent schedule for my preschoolers at church, even if we are only together for 45 minutes a week!

Here's an overview of our 45 minute class on Sundays that's included in each of my Sunday School units.

And here's a look at each section of our morning!

Exploration Stations

I have 3-5 exploration stations set up around our room each Sunday.  The ideas and signs/task cards are included in each of my units.  Because I teach preK, I keep the stations very simple.  Two of my stations are the same all year long no matter what we teach.  This helps my preschoolers know what to expect and to always have something familiar in our classroom to come in to.  The other 1-3 stations are specific to our unit and are easy to explain or explore on their own.  Many are role play activities, building blocks tasks or matching games that they are already familiar with!  This gives my littles time to play their little hearts out and get out some of that energy before it's time to sit and listen.  But it also introduces them to some ideas and concepts from our lesson that we will be learning about later in the morning.

You can read more about specific stations for my units in this post.

When it's time to transition to our Bible Time, we sing....
Clean up, clean up, 
Everybody everywhere
Clean up, clean up,
Everybody do your share!


During clean up, I lay out foam circles in a semi circle shape around our Bible Time area on the carpet.  These are our "sit up ons" where kids will sit.

After we are cleaned, I count down from 10 and kids find a sit up on to sit on.   Then, we do our attendance sticker chart to see who is in Sunday School.  We sing...
Everybody outta go to Sunday School,
Sunday School, Sunday School,
The men and the women and the boys and the girls,
Everybody outta go to Sunday School!
{when we get to the men/women/boys/girls part, they raise their hands when it gets to them...boys raise hands when we sing boys, etc...}

Then, we read each child's name together as they come up and add their sticker to the chart.

When we have added everyone sticker we transition to Bible Story time by remind them to sit criss cross applesauce, mouths closed, ears listening, and we get our hands in the air and chant together...
Open them, shut them,
Open them, shut them,
Give a little clap!
Open them, shut them,
Open, them, shut them,
Put them in your lap! {whisper}

Bible Story

Once our hands are in our laps we are ready for our Bible story.  I use the bible story booklets/posters and script from our units to tell our Bible story adding as many motions as possible to keep my little friends engaged!  This story itself is no longer than 5 minutes just because of our little attention spans! :)  And I'm repeating a LOT of the information multiple times!

When we finish our story, I immediately start asking, "Were You Listening?" questions.  I ask it in a silly voice and they just love trying to answer my questions!  The questions I use are all in the lesson pages of the Sunday School units if you don't want to think of your own! :)

Prayer Time

It's super important to me to teach my preschoolers how to pray and why we pray.  So we transition to prayer time, by first chanting...
God is listening, God is listening,
To every word I say.
God is listening, God is listening,
Every time I pray!

Then I ask, "Who has something we can pray for this morning?"  I ask each kid to share something (if they have a prayer request).  Then, we chant,
Our hands we fold, our heads we bow,
So we can talk to God just now!

And we pray!

Games & Activities

After prayer time, I ask my kiddos to bring me their sit up ons and head to our table.  We do a game that we need to play whole group together, or a cut and glue activity or coloring page together.  I have suggestions for each lesson with our units.

The best thing I've found to work during this time for my preschoolers is to play music while they are working.  If we are playing a game altogether, obviously we don't.   But if they are coloring or gluing, I choose a kids' bible song that goes along with what we've been "Who Built the Ark?" during our Noah's Ark unit!  The music is perfect for keeping them on task!

Bible Verse Practice

When we are finishing up our activity, we move back to the carpet in front of my pocket chart that holds our unit Bible Verse.  If I have friends that aren't finished coloring, I usually give them the choice to finish and come join us when they finish.  I've blogged about this routine in more detail here.

I have the black and white bible verse cards from our unit on the pocket chart.  The color cards are in my hands.

I point to each word as we read our verse and do the motions together (included in the units).  We read it 2 or 3 times and then we match the words.  I pass out a black and white word card to a friend and he/she brings it up and matches it in front of the color card it matches!  Then we reread the verse.  We do this until we have matched all of the cards.

Once we've matched all of the cards, we read the bible verse and do something on each word.  Here are a few examples: (We usually do at least 5 ways!)
1. Clap on each word as we say it.
2. Pat your leg on each word as we say it.
3. Touch your nose on each word and say it in a tiny mouse voice.
4. Claw your hands on each word and say it in a big bear voice.
5. Stomp on each word.
6. Jump on each word.

We practice the same verse all unit long and then they get a treat if they can say it at the end of our unit!

When we finish our Bible verse, we grab our papers and line up to leave!  If we have extra time before we leave for Children's Church, I will ask them our comprehension questions from our story again!

Find these routines and specifics for each Sunday School Unit in my 2 Year Curriculum BUNDLE!
Have you jumped on the counting collections bandwagon yet?  Because if you haven't, you need to take the leap NOW!  Counting Collections is one of my absolute favorite parts of teaching math in first grade.  My kids learn so so much counting random objects each week...each May my mind is *blown* by the amount of growth in their counting skills, teamwork skills, skip counting skills, mental math skills, base ten understanding and notation/equation writing skills!  So much math jam packed into one activity.

So, have you been in the dark with this whole Counting Collections movement?  Read more about what it is and what it looks like in the classroom in this blog post.

This blog is dedicated to setting up and organizing Counting Collections in your classroom!

Collect all your random stuff :)

The first thing I did when I set up my Counting Collections shelf was go through old things to find stuff for kids to count.  Anything will work.  ANYTHING.  I pulled out math manipulatives at school that we never used (transportation counters, colored bears, colored cubes...).  At home, I went through my pantry to find things I could use (pasta, popcorn kernels, beans...).  I went through my kitchen and bathroom too and found toothpicks, q-tips, cotton balls...  Then, I went through my craft cabinets at home and at school and collected craft supplies I hadn't used in forever: buttons, beads, sequins, pom poms...

And after all of that searching I ended up with over 30 different things for kids to count and hadn't bought a thing.  And truth be told I didn't even miss the stuff I grabbed from home and school--really, it was a great way to clean out! :)

Count your random stuff!

After I collected all 34 of my items, I got to counting.  I knew that since my first grade standard says kids should count to 120 most of my sets would need to be between 100 and 120 and 50 and 100.  My counting categories ended up looking like this...

1 - 20: 3 sets
20 - 50: 4 sets
50 - 100: 9 sets
100 - 120: 7 sets
120 - 200: 7 sets
200 - 500: 4 sets

Obviously, you do what works for your kids, but this has worked fairly well for me for the last several years.  I used bigger items for smaller sets and smaller items for bigger sets just to help with storage.  And as I counted, I recorded how many I counted for each set on my Counting Collections key (editable template is included in my Counting Collections packet.)

Label Your Tubs

After everything was counted and recorded, I started labeling.  Labeling makes me unexplainably happy.  And add color coding to that labeling and I'm on cloud 9! :)  I like to go in rainbow order so pink/red are my low babies and blues and purples and whites are my high babies.  That just keeps things easy for me.

For my original tubs, I simply wrote on neon labels with a sharpie and added them to our tubs...

But honestly, those labels just didn't stick as well as I had hoped.  By the end of our first counting collections year, they were peeling off.  So, I made and printed my own labels on colored paper or white paper based on my coding system and taped the labels on with clear packing tape.  SO MUCH BETTER and more durable too!

And the photos on the labels make it super colorful and easy for my little people to use!  I've recently added these labels to my Counting Collections packet so redownload if you already own this packet for the update!

Get Your Count On!

It's as easy as that!  You're ready to launch Counting Collections!  My packet includes lesson plans for helping you establish launching and sharing routines.
July is the perfect time to be thinking about organizing and reorganizing.... 2 years ago I blogged about the 5 habits of an organized teacher.  And now I'm back blogging about 5 more habits of an organized teacher!

1. To-Do Lists

I love a good to-do list.  Yes, I'm one of those teachers that makes a list and writes things down that I've already done just so I can mark them off! :)

I have a to-do list in the classroom, a to-do list at home, and multiple to-do lists on my phone and my computer.  And when May comes around, I pretty much lesson plan off of a to-do list....

Maybe it's because I love an excuse to doodle.  Maybe it's because I'm a completionist and if I write it down I know I'll do it if for no other reason than to get to mark it off the list.  Maybe it's because writing it down helps me remember it better.  But most likely it's because I'm afraid that if I don't write it on my list, I'll forget about it or never actually do it!!

2. Empty That Inbox

I'm admittedly a pretty obsessive person.  An email is one area I'm pretty obsessive about.  Not much makes me happier in my teacher world than to have my email inbox clear.  Seriously, it's the stuff angelic choruses were made for...
Am I the only one that thinks this is just beautiful??

Okay, so what does this habit have to do with organization?  My email is another one of my to-do lists.  I read an email, and delete it if it's just that FYI kind of stuff.  If it's an email asking me to do something, I keep it in my inbox until I've finished that task.  It's another way to remind me that it needs to be done.  Yes, I usually add it to a list I have going, but it always helps to have multiple reminders when you can be as forgetful as I can! :)  Each evening I go through any emails I have left in my inbox and delete or move to a email folder if I need to keep it for a while.

Sure, I go to sleep with emails left in my inbox sometimes...I don't sleep well, but....just kidding!  It happens.  But my goal is to have a clean inbox each night before I go to bed because one of the fastest ways to feel chaotic in my world is to have an inbox full of emails that I can't make heads or tails of.  It may be obsessive, but it sure does cut down on the No-I-didn't-see-that-email problem and the Did-she-really-tell-us-to-do-that issue because 99.9% of the emails get seen and processed in an organized way.

3. Tubs, Tubs, Tubs

Bottom line:  Junk looks junkier when it's not in a tub.

Tubs are stackable.
Tubs can be labeled.
Tubs come in same sizes.
Tubs naturally help sort junk into categories.
Tubs can be moved from one place to another place much easier than a huge stack of junk can.
And great tubs are cheap.  Like a dollar for some really great tubs.

So there are no excuses.  It's time to take over your cabinets.  Do not let your cabinets rule your world.  Take charge.  You are in control.  Put that junk in a trunk tub.

4. One Stop Shop For Data

Nothing makes an organized teacher more irritated than having data or records or grades or information stored in a bazillion different places.  The best thing I did for my own sanity was to start keeping all of my data in one place.

No more shuffling through files.  No more flipping through student work portfolios to find that one piece of data I need.  No more telling administrators to wait a day or two until I can track down that one piece of RTI data they need on a kiddo.  In my organized world, less is more.  And in my teacher world, I can make the data I'm required to keep any less, but I can keep it in one spot and one spot only!  And that's worth a lot in my book!

5. Time Management

Time can be a teacher's worst enemy.  There's just not enough of it to prepare the kids for state tests, next year's grade or, more importantly, life in general.  There's always lessons that get put on the back burner and then just never seem to happen.  And add in unplanned assemblies, fire drills and kid meltdowns and it's a guarantee that something gets left out!

I'm kinda a crazy person when it comes to schedules and time management.  I make my schedule, I use these schedule cards to post it...

...and then pretty much stick to it in my lesson planning.

Yes, it may seem a little much to you.  I'm never gonna try and say I'm not obsessive about a few {or a lot} of things.  But this one I really feel strongly strongly that I may just be brewing up a more detailed blog post on how to use your teacher time effectively.

But for now I'll just say: Make a schedule.  Change it if it doesn't work.  Change it again if it still doesn't work.  And once you find the right schedule and the right times for each subject, then stick to it as much as possible.

It's that important, interns.
It's that important, veteran teachers.
Using time wisely is just that important.

Because...I can't teach a kid anything if I don't have the time.



Tier 1.  Tier 2.  Tier 3.

These are not terms I learned in college more than 11 {yikes!} years ago.  In fact, until this past year, I didn't fully understand what this RTI business was all about.  I sat through a 30 minute presentation several years back about the Pyramid of Intervention and thought, "Okay, so this is how kids qualify for special education now.  Check."  And went on about my teaching...

It wasn't until recently that I began to understand how Response to Intervention {RTI} and classroom differentiation really were connected.  2 years ago, my district was asked to essentially jump off the deep end into using PLCs to guide an intervention block of time.  And 2 years later and 2 school districts later I can say that now I get it.

But...BUT....that was after many trials of coming up from the deep end gasping for air, lots of panicky dog paddling and a little bit of drowning too. LOL!:)  Here are the mistakes I've made myself and mistakes I've witnessed when trying to make an intervention block work within your PLC team.  ...And, most importantly, here are the 6 "INSTEADS" that I'm doing from now on with RTI intervention!

1. No Data

If intervention is going to work, we have to come to our PLC with the data.  The question is not, "What do you think?"  The question is "What does the data say?"  When our PLC team meets to talk about Tier 2 kids, we are expected to bring our data.  My husband would loose his job on the spot if he showed up to Walmart Home Offices for a presentation with no data.  Why do we think it's okay to sit at a table and talk about kids without records to back us up?

Instead...Bring Yo Data! :)
I start off the year with tons of district assessments that are required.  I organize that in my data wall so I have no excuses for our first PLC meeting.

As I assess, I record the scores in the data wall.  It's really no extra work at all!  And when it's time for our first PLC or RTI meeting, I haul my laptop down to our meeting and have my data on hand to help me talk about kids.

Yes, our teacher intuition is important.  I've had the feeling of, "but I just know...." many times over the last 10 years of teaching.  But my PLC team and administrators take me much more seriously when I can back up that statement with some numbers!

2. Too Much Data

Then, there's the flip side of this coin....too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Instead...Assess for ONLY the data you NEED! 
Good RTI interventions can be planned around the data we already are required to have.  There is no need to make up an additional assessment just for an intervention.  Don't get me wrong...if you want to assess just because it's super fun and you have plenty of extra time on your hands, then go for it!  But, I struggle to find enough time to assess what's required, much less extras!  If it's needed, then I'm happy to make the time.  Most of the time, though, interventions that are super effective can be built around the data I already have.  Double the work is not how good teachers roll!

3. No Flexibility

Remember the days of the red bird, blue bird and black bird readers?  Once a black bird, always a black bird, right?  Well, gone are those days. willing to move kids as needed!
My kiddos look forward to switching intervention groups...even kids like a fresh start!  But flexibility is more than just redoing intervention groups every so often.  It's getting 2 days into intervention groups and realizing Sammy is a lot farther behind the rest of the group than you expected and really needs to be in that other group.  It's getting excited for Sally because she's soaring during intervention time and would really benefit from extension now.

When our PLC team sits down to plan our intervention grid, it is not set it stone.  It's a fluid document and we have just come to expect changes.  Because always staying a black bird is not what's appropriate.  And great teachers are in the business of doing what's best for kids.

4. Too Much Flexibility

And while being flexible is what's best for kids, there's a flip side to this one too.  I've lived through some way-too-flexible interventions.  Switching kids around every week or every two weeks and expecting any growth in that amount of time was just wishful thinking on my part at the beginning of my intervention experience! And if pre- and post-assessments are required for each intervention cycle then just forget about that teaching thing.

Instead...give your RTI intervention time to work before switching everyone!
We have to be willing to change kids around....but within reason!  And we have to be willing to stay the course long enough to figure out if our intervention is working!

5. Focusing on the Why Nots

Because the RTI system is set up to identify kids who are not successful in the regular classroom, our first instinct is to focus on the kids who are struggling.  And that's important.  Don't get me wrong.  One of the superintendent's I taught under and consider one of the greats used to say,

Who's not performing? Why not? And what are we going to do about it?

All valid questions.  Extremely valid.  And it helped make me the data driven, small group focused teacher I am today.  However, somewhere along the way I started feeling guilty for my strongest learners and the little attention I was giving them.  How was this fair?  Their parents trusted me to give 110% to their child too, right?

So, INSTEAD.... after a lot of reflecting over the years, I've changed my mindset to...

Who's not performing? Why not? And what am I going to do about it?
Who's achieving? Why? And how am I going to keep them growing?

By focusing on these two areas, I am able to find out what's not working as well as what is working.  We can add extension groups to our intervention block and not feel bad about it.  I can pull small groups of my highest learners more than once a month and feel less guilty about the students I'm not working with and more like I'm fulfilling my promise to every child and every parent who has trusted me with their most treasured possession!  A wise co-worker once told me that parents send us the best that they have every day to school--and while that has a world of implications, I like to think that parents of my lowest and my highest babies feel their child is the best they have.  And I want to do everything I can to treat them like the best--no matter their academic abilities.

6. These Are MY Kids

This is a big one.  My first year teaching I realized really fast that I can't do it all.  While I'd love to be everything to every child every day....that just doesn't happen.  It is physically impossible.

Instead... These are OUR kids!
So the fact that I was on a "dream team" for so many years that shared kiddos was a blessing that I didn't even realize I had at the time!  You can read about how we shared our kiddos during guided reading groups here...and intervention groups work the same way with my teammates.  Check out how we *physically* share our kiddos during intervention time using this interactive intervention grid.  It's seriously been a life changer for planning how we would share kids!

Watch this video first to see exactly how I use this document!

Intervention groups really only work when your whole PLC team is on board.  Otherwise we are just differentiating in our classroom.  Thankfully, both schools I've taught at had an "our kids" mindset.  Not just in physically sharing kids, but in owning the successes and failures.  While Jane may be in my classroom, my teammates who see her during intervention are the first to be frustrated when she hits a brick wall and are the first to celebrate with me when she succeeds!  And that's a culture that is so SO important in a school.  It's not me against you.  There is no, "my kids are smarter than your kids." And at the school level, there is not one shining grade level favored above the rest.  Because every grade level has a part in each child's story.

They're our kids.
Our family.
And...we are all in this together. (Cue the music!)
Thanks to the science of reading, shifting from guided reading to data driven reading groups is a big shift.  As I blogged about earlier, the planning can be easier, but organizing yourself, your students and your parents is key.  Unorganized, last minute planning means it takes me twice as long to figure out what in the world I need to be doing!

Let's chat about how I organize my teacher space, my students, and my parents for data driven reading groups.
{this post contains affiliate links}

This is my Small Group Intervention area in my room.  I love having my table in front of my cabinet area because it makes for an easy place to organize all of my texts and materials for decodable groups and reading skill groups.

Organizing the Teacher

After assessing my kids' reading skills, I sort them by need.  You can read all the details in this post for how I organize my skill groups.

I have a laminated manila folder to sort my kids who need work reading decodable texts or my advanced kids that need work reading higher level texts.  I write each kid's name on a sticky note so I can easily move them from one group to another.

Each color represents a group: blue-purple-orange-green-yellow, with blue being the neediest group (usually the lowest level, but not always!) and yellow being the most advanced group.  I try to keep my reading groups in a 6 or smaller group.  My skill groups can go bigger if needed, but when reading a text, it's helpful to have them smaller if possible, so I can have time to listen to each individual read.

If I have "outliers" or one or two kids in a decoding level alone, I put those to the side.

When my team is finished testing, we sit together and try to place outliers.  So, if I only have 3 kids working on letter sounds and word decoding, that means I have 2-3 open spots for another teammate's sounds outliers.  I will add my colleagues' kids to my group to make a full sound decoding group.  And someone on my team will have a spot in their group to take my outliers too.  THIS IS SO HUGE that my team does this!! It keeps each of us from having too many groups and being overwhelmed.  And I'm not giving them my "outlier" kid for the entire year, just until I retest...or until they show enough growth to move up early to another level.

I also have a 3-ring binder for keeping plans and running records in.

I bought plastic color dividers with pockets to organize each group.  The colored dividers coordinate with my colored groups, so my blue group has a blue divider, etc...{I like to color code just a little bit, can ya tell?}

In the front of my binder, I keep my data sheets and my weekly lesson plans.

{In my Guided Reading Packet, I have a few options for the planning pages since we all think about this differently!}

In each divider pocket I keep decodable texts I'll be using for each group plus index cards for recording reading records.  These index cards are not only great data for how my kids are progressing, but they are also good for keeping track of which books kids have read and taken home.  I always highlight book titles on my cards when a student returns a book to school so I know if I can send another book home {I try not to send books home if they haven't returned a book...:)}

Yes, I do running records every single time I read with a group.  Religiously.  More on that later.

When a card is full, I file it away under that students' class number and keep them for the remainder of the year.

I store my decodable readers and passages in these plastic crates and they are sorted by decoding sill.

{You can grab the labels shown in my Guided Reading Packet.}

All of the decodable texts or any materials like these that I need for my reading skill groups are kept in the cabinets and drawers behind my table so I can easily access them.

Organizing the Students:

I purchased these chair covers a few years ago and just sewed on some ribbon to customize them for my room!  This is where we keep a dry erase board, abc and blends charts and a sock eraser and dry erase marker for our skill work.
This system is very easy for the kids to use and saves a ton of time! As a teeny tiny side note...each chair has the same color marker so they don't waist time fighting over seats or colors! :)  {Every single second is precious, right??}

At the beginning of the year, students get library folders with their library barcode and we use these as our reading progress folders also!  When I first test them, I staple in their reading level graph.  This is what the first grade one looks like for the girls.

When I finish testing them, we color in their graph for the level they tested on and we discuss what their goal will be for the next time I test them.  I've used this for a few years now and it is a really powerful visual for the kids.  I tell them all that it is a private graph and they can share if they want to, but it's not for bragging! :)

We also fill out a goal setting sheet and keep that stapled in their folder as well.

Those of you doing TESS or some other Teacher Evaluation system using the Charlotte Danielson rubrics can easily use this as "distinguished/4" evidence in your binders!  The students write the "grade level goal" {where they should be}, what their actual level is and we discuss whether they are  behind, right on target, or ahead, and what their goal is.  In the beginning of the year, we really have to emphasize what a reasonable goal is! :)

Any skills that we practice or games we play during reading groups, go in these color coded baskets {just el-cheap-o walmart bins with ribbon woven through them!} for independent or partner practice if they finish their work early or at literacy stations.

After reading groups, students put their decodable in their take-home folders.  I have these document holders that I 3-hole punch to put in their take-home binders.  When the book is returned to school, the decodable gets stored in their book box, which they read from when they finish early.  Their book boxes also have their own abc and blends charts, plus a numbers chart and any class booklets we have made together.

Organizing the Parents:

Let's face it...parents need organizing too! :)  I have a take-home binder I make for each kid that they take home every single day.  In that binder, are the plastic document holders I mentioned earlier.  This is where students put their books we read during groups that day.  They take it home and read to an adult at home for at least 10 minutes.

{{I should mention here that I am NOT a proponent of daily homework for a multitude of reasons that I will keep to myself for now! :)  But I fully believe that reading at home with your child increases their success in school...even just 10 minutes.  And to send a book home that a child can successfully read on his/her own just adds to that success!}}

*stepping off soap box*

In these document holders are two things {besides the reader}.  One is a parent log shown in the above picture.

The top of this page explains my expectations for reading at home with their child.  Once they have read with their child, the parent is to record the date, title and sign that they read it with them.  I also have a spot for any comments or difficulties they notice.  I check these logs every morning as part of my morning routine and highlight on my reading record index cards when the book is returned.

The other thing in the document holder is a bookmark.  I print these, cut in half and then fold into book marks.  The book mark is to use at home so parents can help their child at home like I am helping them at school.  It's to keep the language the same for the kids!  I also give the kids bookmarks to keep in their browsing boxes--which they love!

Congrats to you for making it to the end of my super long, organize me blog post!  As a reward, click on the bookmark picture above to download your own FREE copy!

And check out my Science of Reading Groups Packet which has all of these organizational tools and materials I blogged about plus MORE!

Back to Top