Saturday, June 30, 2012

Writing in Small Group Instruction

Hey! I hope your summer is going splendidly!

Every summer I pick an area of my classroom or an instructional strategy to focus on. This year I’m choosing getting myself organized in terms of places and spaces for my instructional tools (i.e. where to put my stuff!), and I’m honing in my focus on effective small group instruction.

I’m diving back into this book in the hopes of researching strategies and tools that will provide the most effective instructional grouping for my students. I love Fountas and Pinnell!
When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works

Framework for my small groups:
I have four different types of small groups that I use during the school year:
1. Word Work
2. Comprehension Strategies
4.Guided Reading
This year with the addition of RTI to my school I’ll also pull intervention groups. I’m using these books to help in my planning for that.
Interventions that Work: A Comprehensive Intervention Model for Preventing Reading Failure in Grades K-3 (Interventions that Work Series)    Differentiated Small-Group Reading Lessons: Scaffolded and Engaging Lessons for Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension That Help Every Reader Grow
Differentiating Reading Instruction for Success With RTI: A Day-to-Day Management Guide With Interactive Tools, Targeted Lessons, and Tiered ... Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension
During any small group lesson I’ve always used the Reading Recovery model to help me structure my groups. In any type of small group I pull there’s always a writing element, because we all know that reading and writing are closely related. The same strategies young readers use when interacting with text are the same strategies they use when composing text.

I’ve been studying the chapter in When Readers Struggle: Extending Reading Power Through Writing. This chapter discusses ways in which student’s writing can be used in small groups as a teaching tool.

There are several types of writing we can use during small group instruction. I wouldn’t do this every time,  but for my strugglers I work it in each time we meet.

Types of Writing in Small Group Instruction:
Shared/Interactive Writing
Dictated Writing
Independent Writing
The routines for using each type are:
1.Talk: Let students discuss the text that they will write. This could come directly from the text they read during guided reading.

2.Compose: Negotiate the composition of the text with your students.

3.Write: Depending on the type of writing you choose you would have a combination of teacher writing (shared writing), teacher and students sharing the pen (interactive writing), or students writing (dictated or independent writing).

The types of writing could be story summaries, writing about your favorite part, writing beginning middle and end, first next last, something you learned from the text, extension sentences..the possibilities are endless.

4. Reread: Read the text together each time you add a new word. Rereading is a powerful strategy to teach our students.

5.Revisit: After the text is written revisit the text for letter or word study. You could use prompts like “Find a long word.” “Find a short word.” “Find a word that begins with.” There is an entire page devoted to prompts to use when revisiting the text and Fountas and Pinnell also have other prompting guides.

You could also provide students with a typed copy of the text the next day, or produce a cut up sentence that the students would put back together.

When I was a Reading Recovery teacher I’d make individual writing books for my students. I’d take a ream of  paper and divide it in half, this would give me two books. Then I’d create a cover and bind the booklet together. But this year I’m expanding my small group writing journals to include pages for different things. But I also plan to include a section of plain unlined copy paper.
Click on the picture to get your copy if you’d like to use it during your small group time. There are two different cover options.
You can use any combination of the pages you’d like. I’m planning on sectioning my pages off so that we can flip to whatever type of writing we’re going to do during small group instruction.
Sorry for the long post, but I hope you find something you can use. If you download please consider following me or leaving a comment about your small group instruction.
I’m planning on posting about my next chapter: Building and Using a Repertoire of Words along with some more freebies. Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Literacy Expo

The Reading and Language Arts Department in my district planned a Literacy Expo for k-2 teachers…upper grades are next week. It was two days and we basically rotated through four sessions each day. It’s been going on for a few years but this is the first year I’ve attended and let me just say I really enjoyed it.

Here are some pictures from the event. Maybe you’ll find an idea or two you can use. They focused all the sessions around the Literacy Common Core Standards which my state will officially adopt during the 2013-14 school year, but I’m going to start early and begin using the standards this year.

This session: Staying on Track: Informational Reading

The presenters used this chart when reading nonfiction texts with students and writing their findings on sticky notes, or writing directly on the chart with a vis-a-vis marker.


A twist on non-fiction book reports. Love this idea.

IMG_3295   IMG_3296


The students listed things they learned about spiders on sticky notes and then created a Spider Quilt. Each student was given a square and they had to draw a picture of something they learned during their spider study.


Quilts from other units of study. I’ll definitely try this.

IMG_3299    IMG_3300

This Session: TWIRLing with the Strategies Using Literary Text

This session focused on reading strategies and using the Primary Comprehension Toolkit which is currently in my shopping cart at

The TWIRLing strategies are: Talk Write Investigate Read Listen

This is a connections tree. As the teacher reads or discusses a text she asks what does this story remind you of? When students respond she puts their names on a leaf and places it on one of the connection branches of the tree. Love this idea.


Comprehension Strategy posters from The Reading Lady.

IMG_3284 IMG_3285 


Thinking stems and a thinking bubble. She used the thinking bubble during interactive read alouds to visually show students her thinking.

IMG_3287   IMG_3288

Pictures of student work.

IMG_3289    IMG_3290


This session: Building a Literacy of Thoughtfulness Through Quality Questioning

I didn’t take picture of this session, but I did come away with a new look at questioning in the classroom. We discussed this book.

Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practice to Engage Every Learner

The two sections we read during the two day workshop were fascinating! If you get a chance you should check it out. This book and Choice Words will definitely have a home inside my teacher bag this school year.

The last session: Writing with Common Core had some really great displays, but when I went back to take pictures they’d taken them all down…boo.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Math Resource

I love love love this book:

Most of my activities for Morning Math Meeting  in my classroom came from this book.

It Makes Sense! Using Ten-Frames to Build Number Sense, Grades K–2

Well today I found this:

It Makes Sense! Using the Hundreds Chart to Build Number Sense, Grades K-2

This one uses Hundreds Charts and it will be a nice addition to Number Talks during math morning meeting. It seems to be packed full of activities and games to use with hundreds charts. It immediately went into my shopping basket on Amazon and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.


Click here and here for  sample lessons and here for more info about the book.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Word Study Games

Do your students love playing I Have Who Has? Mine did…I’m talking wanted to play every day. Well I’ve uploaded my first set of Reading Street I Have Who Has Games (Unit 1: Stories 1-6) to my TpT store, and the best part is it’s on sale for five bucks till Sunday afternoon or evening depends on how lazy I am on Sunday. Even if you don’t use Reading Street you could still use these during your small group time. Click on the picture to check it out.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Math Planning Calendar

I love teaching math. I use the math textbook as a guide but I rely heavily on other math resources. It’s like a melting pot of ideas and strategies. Below is the math planning calendar I created for myself a few years ago. I use this every year as a guideline.

But I must confess I didn’t use this format last year because I was trying to wrap my fingers around the Common Core Math Standards…so I mainly stuck with a thirty minute whole group math lesson and math stations.

But this year I’m going back to my original idea. It just helps me stay more focused and I’m able to get in all the activities my students love.

Note: This calendar is for 2009, but I don't pay attention to the dates just the activities for the week as I make my plans for this year.

If you look at my calendar I reference the book I’m using for a particular lesson or activity,  the codes are as follows:
psl= 50 Problem Solving Lessons
Collection= A Collection of Math Lessons
ML= Math and Literature
You can click on the picture to download a copy of the calendar.
Here’s how it went:
After the daily story problem we’d have a whole group math lesson (This year my school will be using Investigations). During the beginning of the year I used this time to introduce easy math games, and do some Quick Images (subtizing activities). You can read about that here. Each day the whole group lessons had a different focus but still related to the concept for the week.
Here’s how that went:
Monday: Weekly Graph Day (We refer to this graph all week using our Weekly Graph Journals.
Tuesday: Math Games (As my whole group time focused more on the lesson for the day I had less time to introduce math games. So I blocked out time on Tuesdays to introduce new math games and give my students time to play them.
Wednesday: Glyph Day. I have all the scholastic glyph books so each week we’d create a glyph.
Great Glyphs: All About Me: 12 Skill-Building Activities That Motivate Kids to Collect, Display, and Use Data-and Connect to the NCTM Standards

Thursday: Thinking Thursday. Every Thursday we’d do some sort of problem solving activity or Math and Literature activity. I used these books as my go to’s and created a few of my own. I’m working on some Math and Literature activities to share with you soon.
Math And Literature, Grades K-1A Collection of Math Lessons, Grades 1-3 (Math Solutions Series)

50 Problem-Solving Lessons: The Best from 10 Years of Math Solutions NewslettersTeaching Number Sense, Grade 1

Friday: Friday Fun Graph Day or Edible Estimation: Every Friday we’d do one or the other. My students loved this!
I still had time for math stationsDSCN0135  M-Fri but I used the activities described above  in the place of a whole group lesson. Once I introduced the concept on Monday I’d follow up with small group instruction while the rest of the class visited math stations, that helped me to reach the strugglers instead of going over the same thing with the whole class when not everybody needed it.

I’m revamping my edible estimation activities and my Number Talk papers and hope to have them uploaded to my TpT store by the beginning of July…and I’m working on a way to have my Promethean board activities available in my store. Keep your fingers crossed.
I hope you found something useful.
How do you plan for math instruction????

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What Am I reading Linky Party



Happy Sunday! I’m linking up with Teaching Happily Ever After to let you know what I’m reading this summer. So here goes my list:


On Saturday and Sunday mornings I love to get up and watch my two favorite news shows on MSNBC: Up with Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris Perry. I heard about this book on Up. I’m loving it! Fascinating read.

Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army


I read this one about three years ago and loved it too.

Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq

This next on is a YA title but hey, I read the Twilight series and Hunger Games. I’m loving this book. So well written and I found myself laughing out loud…a lot!

Lola and the Boy Next Door

I read Stephanie Perkin’s first one (Anna and the French Kiss) last summer so I was excited to find Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Anna and the French Kiss


I love love love the FX show Justified and it’s based on Elmore Leonard’s collection of stories, Fire in the Hole. I read those two summers ago and wanted to find some more titles from Leonard…so I’m trying this one.




I found this author blog stalking one night and she seems pretty interesting. I’m waiting on it’s arrival from Amazon…my favorite place to shop.


Finally, every summer I reread this book as I think about and plan for literacy instruction in my classroom. She really makes you think about how valuable and sacred our teaching time is with our students. I love Sharon Taberski.

On Solid Ground : Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3

So what are you reading???