Stepping Stone Process for Reading Comprehension Strategies

Ok Blogging Friends - I know I've been absent for a while - but finding out I am having twins has completely overtaken my world.  I haven't left you all - I promise.  I actually need your help!  I have compiled a list of all of the reading strategies I could think of.  I am wanting to put them into a list.  This list needs to almost like a stepping stone list, meaning the strategies at the beginning of the list are the foundation strategies that students need to know at the beginning.  The next few strategies would be what the students should learn next, and the last strategies would be the most challenging that the students would learn after the beginning and middle ones have been mastered.  I'm very interested in what your thoughts are for this list.  How would you list them from foundation strategies to higher comprehension strategies??  Think about which strategies the students would need to know/do before they could do the others.  I have a meeting soon and would really like some input.  I'm offering one free item from my TPT store for anyone who'd be willing to help me.  The list I have is below (NOT IN ANY ORDER)

(These strategies are not in any order)
story elements
making predictions
making connections
activating prior knowledge
main idea/details
determining importance
author's purpose
nonfiction text features
context clues
draw conclusions
(If I've forgotten any - please add them to your list!)

Please respond and let me know your thoughts.  I'll respond back and ask which item you'd like!  Thanks for your help.  I truly appreciate the input!

Classroom Pictures

So I'm finally done setting up my classroom.  I had to move again this year - no biggie!!  But that does give me another opportunity to change some things that I've been wanting to do in the room.  Hope you like!!

View from the door

Another view from the door

My personal Lakeshore store.  AKA:  Games, centers, etc.  

My center bulletin board.  We do centers a lot at our school so this is my way of keeping all of the groups organized.  The dots are velcro dots that the students' names will go on once they're grouped.  (That way I can easily change what group they are in too).  The circles are what color group they're in and the numbers next to the circles are for what center they go to.  May seem confusing - but I promise - I works!

Entryway table.  Turn in trays, exit ticket area, highlighters, etc.   
Book bag hook area.  On top is the lovely watercolor artwork my friend Chris made for me.  Like it?  Let me know and I'll send you his website where you can order one!

Sink area and closet

Front corner of the room.  Dictionaries, paper, objectives/standards board and Allen's bed.  

Supply center and my rocking chair

My desk

Small group table.  It's dry erase :)

Back bulletin boards

Computer area

In front of the computers.  The large grey cart is for our tablets and then of course the blue mailboxes.  

Reading Library

Author area.  

Book series area


Books organized by genre

Books on bottom are organized by genre

Another view

View of room

Another view

Math bulletin board.  Pocket chart is for vocabulary.  Colored pockets are for differentiated journal prompts and the hanging plastic covers are for the example journal pages I'll be making and hanging up for the students to reference.  

Each students have their own hanging file folder filled with papers for them to do when they're done.  Each folder will be individualized on standards the students need extra help with.  

This is my center organization area.  The centers that I'm using for the week are in the tubs that the students grab and take to the designated area when its time for centers.  They sell these on Really Good Stuff but my husband made me this one :)

View from the back

Hope you enjoyed the tour!!

I'm Having a Baby!! *Giveaway*

So feel very privileged!!  I haven't announced this to my school or to 'Facebook' yet but I miss blogging (I've been gone for a while) and I'm coming back with a bang!!!  I'm pleased to announce that my husband and I are expecting our first little one in January!!  I'm 10 weeks today!! :) :) :)  We go for our first ultrasound on Thursday and I can't wait!!  I just want to shout it to the world but I'm waiting until school starts to announce it - but like I said - you guys are special ;)

With that being said - I'm having a 'I'm Having a Baby Giveaway!!'  I'm giving away $30.00 in Free TPT products from my store!  Its not much, but hopefully it sparks some interest!  Here's how to enter:

**Each of the following equals a separate entry for the giveaway**
1.  Follow my blog (comment that you follow)
2.  Follow me on TPT (comment that you follow)
3.  Blog about my giveaway on your blog (comment telling me about your post)
4.  And for an extra entry:  Tell me which products you'll be getting from my store if you WIN! (By commenting on my blog)

So there are 4 fun ways to enter the contest!  I hope to find some new blogs to follow during this contest.  I love finding new friends!  The contest will end next Sunday night at midnight.  Good luck!!  Oh - and I'M HAVING A BABY!!!!!

Two New TPT Products!

I've been hard at work this weekend!!  I'm proud to say I have two new TPT products.  I have uploaded


I don't have time to make cute preview pics.  But believe me, both of these lessons are loaded with goodies!!  Please click on them and take a look!  The first 4 followers who comment will get 1 for free! (Their choice!).  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  

"What Went Right Today?" Linky Party

So "Confessions of a Teaching Junkie" is having a very inspirational linky party and I thought I'd join in!  Here's what you do:

Think about the things that went RIGHT in for you and/or your kids in your classroom today. No positive thought is too small!
Here's what to do:
1.  Right click and copy the blank "What Went Right Today?" image below.
2.  Open Power Point and insert (or paste) the image
3.  Create text boxes and type in you positives.
4.  Copy all (ctrl A)
5.  Save as a jpeg or png
6.  Upload the image to your blog.
It's that easy!

Since I'm on Spring Break - I had to focus on other things that went right today - instead of 'classroom' things.  Here's mine!

Here are a few pictures from our trip!

So blessed to have a great husband, a great home, great family and friends.  I hope you all can stop and think about what's going right in your life!  Happy Easter Everyone!  If you want to join in on the linky party - Just click here!

Mean, Median, Mode, & Range Center

So I can't wait for this week to start!!  Well, I can considering I'm still on Spring Break - But I'm excited because we're starting mean, median, mode, and range.  The kids really like this because part of it involves working with a calculator!  So for a fun center I thought we'd incorporate Easter - even though Easter will be over by Monday.  But oh well!  It will still be fun.  Here's what I'm thinking...

Picture this:  Adorable Easter basket full of Easter eggs.  Each Easter egg has a number inside.  The students pull out 5 eggs and with those 5 numbers, they find the mean, median, mode, and range.  Fun, simple, practice, fun,  (I think I said that already!)  Here's the printable I made to go with it.  :)  Tell me what you think!!  Click on the picture to download for free! :)

Sale ends tomorrow

Posting from somewhere in the middle of Kentucky, heading to Gatlinburg!! Don't forget my sale ends tomorrow. You can get 15% off any item
In my tpt store!! Enjoy your Saturday!!

Spring Break! (TPT SALE!)

Wah-hoo!!!!  It is officially Spring Break here in Indiana, for me as anyways :)  We are so lucky as a district - they give us Friday off AND the entire next week.  My husband and I are going to Gatlinburg, TN with another couple and their adorable 9 month old baby girl!  I can't wait.  We leave Saturday morning.  Lots to do tomorrow! (technically today since its 2 AM)  I thought - in celebration of Spring Break that I'd have a SPRING BREAK TPT SALE!!  Starting Friday until Sunday, I'm offering 15% off ALL of my items in TPT :)  I've posted a lot of new items recently so I hope you all get a chance to check it out and let me know what you think! Click the picture below for a direct link to my store.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!  

Division Differentiation Scavenger Hunt Activity

     So we've been learning long division now for 7 days - tomorrow will be day 8.  We're doing SO well at it considering we're in 3rd grade! :)  I only have about 3-4 students who are still struggling with it.  We were able to play a game today with the concept!!  Such a proud teacher moment!  Our first assessment over this skill is Thursday so I want to give them one more chance tomorrow to really show me they can do these problems on their own.  So here's what I've come up with:  Differentiation Division Scavenger Hunt.  I'm all about scavenger hunts around the room to answer problems and questions in both math and reading.  But this one has a twist.  I've put my kids into three groups:  red, yellow, and green.  The red group is students who are still struggling, the yellow group is students who have shown consistent knowledge of the topic, and the green group is students who have been pushed onto harder problems.  I have 30 long division cards - each of them with a problem and a colored circle.  The color of the circle reflects the difficulty of the problem.  My students will be given a recording sheet with their color of circle and will be asked to scavenge around the room to find the division cards that have their color of circle on them.  They will bring the card to their seat - solve - write their answer on their recording sheet - and return the card.  There's an extension at the bottom of the page for when they finish.

     With this activity, the students are still being engaged and having fun - but I'm able to give them the differentiation they need for this difficult concept!  I've place some pictures of the activity below and it's now available on my TPT store for only $3.00!!!  I hope you check it out and let me know what you think.  This activity could EASILY be adaptable to any other math or reading concept.  I hope you enjoy it.  I do it tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes!! :)  Goodnight!

Click HERE to check it out!!

Grocery Store Estimation

Making math skills relevant to the students' lives is very important.  Being able to answer the question "Why do I need to learn this?"can help engage and motivate the students more in the classroom.  Our review skill in math this week is Estimation.  I found some food pictures at my local teacher store.  I'm going to write prices on the back of the cards and put them in a grocery bag.  I've created a simple estimation center to go along with the food cards that my kids will complete this week - I just wanted to share :)

These are the cards I'll be using :)

There are two sides to this activity.  Click on the picture to download! :)  
I hope everyone has a good week.  4 days until Spring Break for me!!

Persuasive Writing Lesson

So writing used to be one of my least favorite subjects to teach - until we adopted the 6+1 writing traits.  I love it now!  And the kids do too.  We focus on the traits the 1st semester of school and then writing genres the 2nd semester of school.  With it being the 2nd semester - we are focusing on the genre of persuasive writing.  Because I'm ADDICTED to Pinterest - I found the OREO acronym to be extremely helpful with this genre.  If you're not familiar with the OREO acronym for persuasive writing check out Tracey's blog HERE!  She has made some fantastic free printables that I used with this genre.  Way to go Tracey!!

So I decided to combine Tracey's idea of the OREO acronym with the engaging idea of having the students watch TV commercials and came up with this idea.  I'm very into the "I do" - "We do" - "You Do" gradual release model so this activity is technically done 3 times.  I first showed the students the graphic organizer I made for this activity (see below).  We reviewed the OREO acronym and discussed where we see persuasive writing in our own lives.  The students were well versed enough with persuasive writing that they were able to tell me 'TV commercials' without me having to hint at it!  (Proud teacher moment!)  So we discussed shortly TV commercials and how they're persuading us to go to a certain place, buy a certain item, etc.  We talked about some of their favorite commercials and we talked about how the 'author' or the 'text' (words) are in the script that the actors are acting out.  I told the students that the first OREO was for the 'We do' and the last OREO was for the 'You do'.

With that review in place - we then together watched the 1st TV commercial.  After it - I stopped and did a think aloud to model the thinking process for trying to fill in the graphic organizer.  I thought about how to identify the opinion from the commercial, and a reason and an example that was in the commercial.  Then I did a 2nd commercial and modeled the same thinking - the whole time filling in the graphic organizer (my copy - students don't write) After I modeled 2 commercials we stopped and talked about the thinking process.

Then it was time for us to do some together.  We 2 commercials together - the 1st one without writing anything down - just discussion.  The 2nd commercial they wrote in our answers on the 1st OREO on the graphic organizer.

Then the last commercial we watched twice and they filled in the organizer on the bottom on their own.  When they turned it into me - they received an OREO to enjoy!

They very much enjoyed this lesson.  I didn't take any pictures because it was dark in the room, but I would like to share the commercials I found and the printable.

There are multiple commercials on these links so feel free to use whichever commercials you'd like.

Click HERE to get the printable.  I made it at school so it's not amazing with fonts and graphics - but it does the job!!

If you do the lesson, let me know how it goes!!  Have a great Thursday!

Math Instruction (Long - but good!)

So it's funny how my favorite subject to teach teeters back and forth year after year.  Last year it was reading, but this year its definitely math.  I have finally come up with a system that works tremendously and allows me to hit multiple skills a week in a variety of settings:  small groups, whole groups, conferences, etc.  I've created a 'calendar' that I think shows what I do in the classroom.  I'm hoping it makes sense to others who don't know my classroom (like yourselves!) and other teachers at my school.  I might be asked to present this to the staff because my math scores are so high.  So please - any feedback on the 'calendar' and this post is greatly appreciated!!  Below is the picture of the 'calendar' - click on it to download.

So basically I teach 3 different math topics in one given week.  I have the Current Week's Skill, the Review Skill (a skill taught previously but that needs to be reviewed), and a skill from DesCartes on NWEA.  I teach math for 30 minutes in the morning and for 60 minutes in the afternoon.

In the A.M. on Monday - I give the classroom a whole group mini lesson over the review skill.  This skill is something we've learned in the past that needs to be reviewed OR its a skill I haven't taught that I think will be simple enough to teach in the matter of a few short lessons and some centers for practice.  For example:  this week - the review skill is fact families.

On Tuesday - Thursday in the A.M. I have 3 centers going that the students rotate through one a day.  The students are grouped by a goal strand RIT from NWEA.  The centers are as follows:

1.  Teacher led center using DesCartes from NWEA.  Since the students are grouped by an NWEA DesCartes goal strand, I am able to differentiate my center based on what the group I have needs.  Right now, my class is grouped based off of the computation goal strand on NWEA - so I have my high group working on 3 digit x 3 digit in multiplication, the average group working on 3 digit x 2 digit, and my lowest group working on 2 digit x 1 digit and facts.  All of this is laid out in DesCartes.

2.  Independent (sometimes group or partner) center over the Review Skill of the week.  Student usually turn in this work so I can check their progress

3.  Mountain Math/Mountain Language - if you're not familiar with this program you definitely need to check it out.  It's a great way to get in that spiral review!  Click HERE to check it out! This is done independently as well.

On Friday in the A.M.  I do one of two things.  If I think the entire class needs another lesson over the review skill - then I do another mini lesson.  If not - I conference with students one on one who I think need some one on one attention with the review skill.  Other students are doing some independent reading while I'm working with the students.

Now for the P.M. - GET READY!!!

Monday in the P.M.  - I do a whole group 60 minute lesson over the week's CURRENT skill.  For example - this week I introduced long division - so on Monday I modeled, modeled, modeled, this.  I always do some sort of I do (model), We do, and You do activity on Monday.  The You Do activity - the students do on their own.  Even though its a new skill - this gives me a chance to see what stuck and what didn't during that long lesson.  I collect the You Do activity and use this data to group my kids for the P.M centers.  If I see that a group of students understand the concept after a lesson on Monday, then they're put into the high group for the week so they can be pushed on.  Students who don't get it are put into the medium and low groups so they get more support during the week.

Tuesday - Thursday  in the P.M - I do a 30 minute review activity over the Current Skill.  Then the last 30 minutes are centers.

Here are how the centers go for the P.M. -

1.  Teacher led center over the current skill.  Since the students are grouped by the data I collected on Monday for how they grasped the concept - I am able to differentiate my activities during these three days.

2.  Independent (sometimes group or partner) center over the current skill.  I make sure this center is very basic for the current skill seeing is how its only the 2nd day we've worked on the current skill.  I am fortunate to have a Title One assistant who pushes in on Tuesdays during centers.  I put her with the low group on Tuesday for this center so they have some support during the independent current skill center.  With that - the 'lower' students on the skill are never alone during the week while working :)

3.  Independent (sometimes group or partner) center over the review skill.  Just like the center in the morning - same skill, just different activity!

I also have a Title One push in who comes in on Thursdays.  On Thursdays - the Title One pulls out students who are struggling with the REVIEW skill.  I use this as my LAST INTERVENTION.  If you think about it - the review skill is something they learned a few months past and should have mastered.  They are getting it this week in mini lessons and centers and for some reason still are not grasping the concept.  Therefore they are pulled out for a last resort intervention with the Title One specialist.  I choose the kids who go with the specialist based off of the leading data I take the week prior (see below about leading data) and based off of how they do during the week in their centers.

On Friday in the P.M. - I do a 30 minute review activity on the current skill.  Then I give their assessment for the week.

Assessment looks like this:

1 part is over the current skill
1 part is over the review skill we worked on this week
1 part is over NEXT week's review skill.

I use the 3rd part as leading data to see which students still remember this skill and which students have forgotten.  I keep a spreadsheet of red and green checks on the review skills to see who has it, who doesn't and who went from red (bad) to green (good) at the end of the week.  I hope that makes sense!  If it doesn't and you have questions - please let me know!!

Well, that's it!!  That's my math instruction.  I'm very proud of it and hope to see very high scores on NWEA in the Spring!!  I'll let you know if I do :)  Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions on what I'm doing!

Have a great week!

Brown Bag Main Idea!

Reading, for many students, is a very abstract concept.  Letters make words and words make sentences and these sentences form some type of meaning.  And then we have multiple sentences in a row to form paragraphs..  The rigor increase with every key stroke.  One way to ensure all students understand the reading strategies that we are teaching them, is to provide them with a concrete introduction to the strategy.  Basically, this means to allow the students to use as much schema they have about the concept, create a hands on approach, and then apply that understand to text.  This can be done with any reading strategy you teach!  When teaching Main Idea, I do this with  my Brown Bag Main Idea lesson!

Brown Bag Main Idea is a concrete way to introduce or reintroduce Main Idea to your primary students.  It allows students a hands on approach to understanding how details are related and connected and then support the main idea.  Here's how it works:

I begin by putting together 6 different Main Idea bags.  Inside each of these bags are objects that are related in some way and together create an obvious overarching topic.  This lesson usually takes  me two days with a few mini follow up activities to fill in any cracks and this is all done prior to reading any text!  I want to make sure all of my students understand the concept concretely without the text before they apply it to the text.

On day one, I begin by modeling.  I have my own main idea bag and I model pulling out each item
from the bag and showing it to the students.  After each item I pull out, I ask and discuss how the items are related or 'What do they have in common?'.  Once all of the items are out of the bag, I then determine how they are all connected - or what the overarching topic of the bag is.  I use a recording sheet through this process to keep track of what's in the bag and what I determine as the topic.  With the remainder of the bags, the students then work together to do the same - analyze each bag of items to determine the overall topic - now known as the main idea.

On day two, I again model for my students.  This time, I use the same bags as the previous lesson.  This time we are taking our understanding of main idea a bit further.  I begin, with the same bag as I modeled with yesterday.  This time, I again pull out each item of the bag - but instead of talking about 
it, I write out a sentence or detail about the item.  I do this for each item in the bag.  Then when all of my details have been written, I re-read them out loud and ask myself 'What do all of these details have in common?'  Once determined, I write out my main idea statement above my details.  I've just created a main idea paragraph!  After I'm done modeling, the students again work with the same bags as yesterday and write paragraphs in their groups based on the bags they have.

These lessons typically take me 2-3 days to get through, but introducing main idea this way allows my students a concrete understanding of how the details work
together to support a main idea, what questions they need to and can ask themselves when determining a main idea, and how different details truly are compared to the main idea.  These are things in which we discuss throughout the lessons as I'm continuously relating this concept to text (without using any!).

To follow up the lessons, I do a few fun independent activities to make sure there aren't any holes to fill.  I love having students create their own bags and then, of course, a main idea paragraph to go
with it!  What the students are able to come up with is truly astounding.  I also have students analyze bags (on paper) with pictures of items inside the bags.  One of the items in the bag doesn't belong and the students have to determine which item doesn't and why.  If students are able to determine the unnecessary item, then they are better able to determine important and unimportant details in a text later on.

Overall, its an amazing week of developing a concrete understanding to a concept that's typically difficult for many students!  It may seem like we're taking a long time to get to the actual reading of a text and determining the main idea the 'right' way, but starting here and taking time will pay off in the end, you'll see!  If you're interested in any of the printables you see here, definitely check out my Brown Bag Main Idea resource!  Everything you need for this week of lessons is included and more!

Too much to read?  Pin this article for later!

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