Saturday, June 21, 2014

Setting Up a Guided Reading Basket


Guided Reading is one of my favorite times of the day.  Getting the kids excited about diving into a book and using lots of different tools to do so makes our job and their jobs so much more fun!  But it always comes down to the big question:  What to put in my tool kit?  Well I'd love to share with you today what I put in mine!  

I don't always use every tool each time I meet with a group, but I like having it all in one location ready to use when the mood strikes.  We all know how planning goes.  We can plan one thing but in the middle of the lesson something else end up working better - so its nice to have every tool you could possibly need right there at your finger tips.  Let's take a dive into the basket and see what we've got!  (I'll do my best to explain how I use each item, but please let me know if you have any questions.  I'll also include links to certain items so if you're interested in where to find these to purchase, you have a lead)  

I've numbered the items.  If its hard to see what the number is covering, just refer back up to the original photo at the top of the post.  :)  

1.     A Star Light:  I've used my light for two main reasons.  Every time I meet with a group, I always model the concept I'm focusing on for that lesson.  To help the students visualize when I'm modeling and when I'm not, I use the light.  When I model - I act like a student.  I talk like one, I refer to myself as Mrs. Harris, and I say and do think I know my 'kids' would do.  So the light helps them know when I'm "Mrs. Harris" and when I'm a "Student". I call it my 'thinking' light.  I've also used it to show the other students in the classroom who are not with me, that I'm working and they need to hold all questions until the light is off - this helps keep my group interruption free :)  You can find these lights at almost any store - Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, Target...

2.     Very Small Index Cards/File Folders - These are first and foremost adorable!  Colorful, small, file folders. They are only 4x6 in size and are great to help keep small files readily available to take notes for all of your kiddos.  I usually use a packet each nine weeks.  I write the student's name on the top and on the inside I keep running record notes, fluency notes, etc - whatever I need!  These are great to copy for parents and to keep in their file for the year as well.  And did I mention they are cute!?  Click here to buy!


3.     Reading Comprehension Dice - I have a feeling a lot of teachers out there use these because the kids love them and they are easy!  Have 2 extra minutes at the end of your lesson and don't know what to do?  Roll the dice!  They come in both fiction and nonfiction so it doesn't matter what genre of book you're focusing on.  These are also good to use when you're getting yourself settled in and the kids are all ready but you're not.  Tell them to each grab a dice and a post it, roll once and answer the question silently.  A great introduction to your lesson, keeps the kids quiet and focused and you have a few extra seconds to get yourself focus and organized or deal with that one student across the room who isn't focused..  :)  Click on the photo to check them out!


4.     These don't need much of an introduction - pointer fingers.  These are great to pick up at Target around Halloween for a buck or two.  Kids snap them on and follow along!   

5.     Number 5 is actually a few items in one bucket:  flashlights, magnifying glass, sunglasses, and highlighter strips.  All of these items have pretty much the same purpose as the fingers do, but they can do a bit more and are a little more engaging too.  Instead of just having the kids follow along when reading, we use these to help 'find' different skills and concepts in our lesson.  The kids might use the magnifying glass to be a detective and search for a word with a long vowel sound.  They might use the flashlights to 'spot' a compound word.  The might use the sunglasses when they are the one reading out loud to help keep their eyes focused (yes, it really does work!).  This hodge podge cup is great to keep handy because the kids love using all of these materials!  The highlighter strips are basically like the fingers too.  We use these a lot when we're focusing more on the text as a whole rather than word work because you can 'find' more if that makes sense.  Click on the photo to find them!


6.     Mini Motivational Cones - Love these and love even more that they are just a DOLLAR!  Yes,  $1.00!  Dollar Tree all the way!  I use them to help spotlight students who are doing a good job, answered a question correctly, read fluently, etc etc - you get the picture.  At the end of the lesson, anyone who has a cone gets a prize!  Sometimes I even have the kids give them to one another and make them give each other feedback.  This makes them focus even more on what their peers are doing right and wrong and why.  Great learning tool!  Click on the photo to find them!


7.     Post-It's.  Shall I say more?  If I'm now on post-its in my basket I immediately make a student get me more because heaven forbid I run out!  These have unlimited powers when it comes to guided reading.  I use them a lot for "Stop & Think"s.  Where in the middle of reading we stop, I ask a question, they take a post it and think and write their response and we discuss quickly and continue reading.  It helps the students understand that we as good readers always need to stop and think about what we're reading.  They can be used for exit tickets.  The smaller ones can be used to have students identify pieces of their text.  "Find me evidence to prove the setting of the story.."  Boom - Post it!  You gotta love them!

8.     Colorful Hair Ties - Just in case your hair falls down..  Just kidding!  I use these for grouping.  Even in a small guided reading group of 5-6 kids (sometimes bigger unfortunately) I want to group my kids into pairs or smaller groups for discussion or an activity.  Yes, Its just as quick to say "You two together and you two together"  But where is the fun in that!?  Using these makes grouping 'random'.  I put "'s around that word because you can make it random by letting them pick or you can make it look random by placing a colored band in front of their seat before they sit down.  You've previously chosen the groups because of XYZ but they don't know that!  


9.     Highlighter Tape - The 'repositional' kind!  This stuff works great to have kids identify pieces of the text while working - and unlike all of the other tools that do the same, this will stay in place!  I love using this when switching books around or having the kids leave their text behind for me to 'grade'.  I hope I'm making sense with this one - I may have the students highlight the clues when making an inference.  Then switch books with another student and then they have to use what's highlighted to make the inference the person before them already made.  Or I'll have them make an inference and highlight the clues before leaving as their exit ticket.  I can easily open their books and see whether or not they can identify the clues in the text.  Do you see what I mean now it stays in place!?  


10.    Stickers!  You always need stickers!  You ARE a teacher right ;)  

11.     More pointers - you can never have enough!  And letting the kids choose their pointer...  motivational!  

12.     Smencils!  Just another small way to help motivate students - let them write with a smencil! (sorry for the icky black line around the photo..)


13.     Blooms Taxonomy Question Flip Book - I love having one of these on hand.  I feel like I'm pretty good with pre-thinking up my questions I want to have answered as well as coming up with others on the spot.  But sometimes my kids either struggle with something I didn't foresee or they catch onto something that I thought they'd struggle with.  So now I'm caught on the spot in a place I didn't plan for!  Hence - the book!  Grab it, open it to challenge or remediate your questioning to help guide your lesson as needed!  I even use the verbs to have the students generate questions in specific blooms categories for one another to answer (this takes practice!)


14.     Guided Reading Question Cards - These cards (like the dice) are great to use in a lesson if your lesson as gone quicker than expected.  OR you can plan to use them too!  They have them for both fiction and nonfiction.  What I love about them even more is they are geared towards "Before, During, and After" reading so you can really use them at specific points in a lesson.  


Things that are usually in the basket but aren't pictured:

*  Pens/Pencils
*Popsicle Sticks w/ Smiley Face post its on the end (Smiley on one side and sad on the other)  These are great for question/answer sessions!
*dry erase markers
*Small anchor charts (as needed)
*High frequency word flash cards
*Extra mentor texts on hand (just in case!)

And there you have it!  Whew!  :)  That's a lot to cram in that little basket!  I'd LOVE to hear what else you have in yours (that I just may have to put in mine!!)  I hope you found something new to put in yours!  Let me know what you think :)

For more Bright Ideas from over 100 other great blogger authors - Make sure to browse through the link up below!









Sunday, June 15, 2014

Let's Get our Math On! *Guided Math Conferences Book Study*




There are SO many things that I <3 about summer!  The sun, spending time with my family, swimming, etc.  Professionally, summers are great because its a time when I can focus on improving my classroom skills by doing some professional reading.  Last year, I had the privilege of participating in my first book study over the title Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons.  (You can check out last year's study by clicking on the title of the book above)  She's an amazing author who does a fantastic job of breaking down concepts in math like guided math, using comprehension to help students achieve, and also using math conferences - yes, I said it... Math Conferences!   And that's what we're going to be focusing on this year.  I'm continuing on with my book study tradition and am going to be participating in Laney's next book:  Guided Math Conferences.  Check out the schedule of the book study below!


Each week, there will be at least two amazing bloggers giving the juicy details about their assigned chapter, outlining important concepts, and maybe even designing and giving out a freebie that goes along with what they've read and learned!  What a great way to get professional development!  Each week just head on over to one of our blogs to find all of the information!  If you have any questions, comments, or additions to our posts - make sure to let us know!  We love having discussions as we're reading and YOU can help be a part of them!  If you want to follow any of the above blogs to make sure you don't miss a beat - them make sure to check out this post from Primary Inspired.  She has all of the book study participants' blogs laid out where you can easily click to get there and follow them!  

Click here to read that post!

Now to top all of this off - we've decided to give away TWO copies of this amazing book in hopes others will join us!  Just use the rafflecopter and enter!  It ends soon so don't miss out :)  Let's go get our math on!  

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Kickoff to Summer Blogging! (Giveaway too!)

It's finally here!  Well, for me its been here or about two weeks but I'm FINALLY getting around to my first blog post of the summer.  It has been one heck of a last few months for me and my growing family.  Just to catch everyone up, here's what been going on outside of room 129:

1.     I'm currently 26 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child.  I feel like this child is already neglected.  With the twins I took pictures of my growing belly every month.  I have yet to take one photo of 'me' with this one.  This is the only photo I have of me so far in this pregnancy.  It's been an easy pregnancy so far.  Just tired overall, but that's to be expected - especially after running after these two adorable creatures!

2.     We bought a new house!  It's not much but its twice as big as what we had!  We bought it back in April and moved in in May.  End of the school year + moving = ONE STRESSED TEACHER!  Oh - and did I mention we had to live with my parents for a month too!?  We closed on our house earlier than we could get into this one so we were 'homeless' for about a month.  We shacked up with my parents who live about 25 minutes away.  The travel and the babies learning to sleep in pack n plays was not an easy transition!  It's all coming together though.  We just have a few more projects to go and it'll all be done.  We're building our dog Allen a little house under the staircase, we still need to organize the garage, landscaping needs updated, we're building a deck out back (next summer), and the nursery needs to be done.  I love it though.  It's so big and open.  The twins can run and play AND they have their own playroom!!  No more toys in the living room!!!!

3.     I've dealt with lots of 'health' type issues.  I ended up fracturing my foot (and I have NO idea how).  This happened the same time we bought the house.  I was a homeless, broken foot, end of the year teacher during the month of May..  Whew!  Kennedy also got bronchitis this last week.  She was not a happy little girl.  Her lungs are still bad but she's feeling much better now which makes mommy a lot less stressed.

4.    Here's the big one!  A very good blogging friend of mine - Brenda Frady from Primary Inspired  and I made a huge decision a while ago.  We are both heading down to New Orleans this summer.  There is an amazing SDE conference called "Reading, Writing, Math, and More!" going on the last week of June.  Brenda and I decided we want to try to take our blogging/TPT careers to the next level - so we're both renting promotional tables that will be in the lobby during the conference each day.  We hope to help promote our blogs, TPT stores, and most of all the amazing blogging and TPT community.  We're both very nervous and scared and don't know what to expect - but we're putting ourselves out there and we hope to gain experience and growth from our opportunity!  If you wanna know more about the conference, just click on the picture below!  


Well, that's been my last few months in a nutshell.  It's been pretty crazy and I've missed blogging but its always been the last thing on my list unfortunately.  I'm very excited to get my new routine started this summer and get going on writing, sharing, and reading other blogs of course!  And to help make my re-entry to even more fun - I've decided to do a giveaway!!  

I have an amazing friend who is an even more amazing artist.  She was the art teacher at my school so I've had the privilege of seeing her work year after year.  She has a business where she sells her fantastic art pieces and even does custom pieces of all sorts.  She did all of the art work that's currently in the twins' room.  Her style is just so unique and she puts a piece of herself into each piece she makes.  Take a look at some of the photos I grabbed from her FB page:


This is a pic of her store - can you say I want it all!!

Well, I bought a few pieces from her and would LOVE to give them away!  I have 2 adorable circular/heart pieces that are not only colorful but they also have a Bible verse stitched into them on the back.  Take a look:





They are about 5/6 inches in diameter and would look great hung next to a frame or two on the wall.  I just LOVE them and I hope you do too!  

Along with that I'm giving away a $25 TPT gift card!!!!  I'll be choosing 3 winners - one for each of the heart pieces and one for the TPT gift card.  The contest starts today and ends next week Friday (June 20th at midnight)  I hope you're as excited about this giveaway as I am.  Make sure to enter as many of the different ways as you can.  And if you LOVE Rustin Wagon (Jonee, the artist) as much as I do, make sure to let her know!  She would love to work with you on a piece if you're interested.  Just follow her page and send her a message :)

I hope everyone has an amazing summer - make sure to leave a comment and let me know what you've been up to!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



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