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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stories on DVDs for a Station?????

I found my son's OLD DVD player 
(we're talking....OLD....OLD....OLD...)
but it works!

A teacher on one of the FaceBook groups 
(you know the ones that sell things because they're moving to a new grade or position)...
put 3 dollars on some Scholastic DVD collections (that had NEVER been opened)....score!

One of my K buddy teachers uses DVD stories as one of her stations during reading rotations.
She makes sure that the "words on the screen" option is turned on....that way the kids are seeing, hearing, and "reading" the story on the DVD players...

I'm putting my 2 "new finds" together to create a different kind of 
reading station for my kiddos this year.

I'll need to do some "explicit" teaching on HOW to use the station...but I think it will be a hit!
and with a headphone splitter...
there can be 2 students at the station at one time :)

I've come up with some recording sheets that will 'hopefully' keep the kids on task and actively engaged with the stories...

You can download them HERE

Have you ever tried to use DVDs with your students in stations?
How did it work for you?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pre-Assess Vocabulary Knowledge with Plickers

I first heard about Plickers at the #NotatISTE online community...
It's basically a way to assess students quickly with the use of just ONE device in the classroom...each child has a card that is coded for them to show what they know by holding the symbol on the card in different ways...
You can download the FREE app by clicking on the pic below or going to
Then I saw Mary's blog post from Sharing Kindergarten and how she utilizes this cool technology 
and now I am HOOKED!
Sharing Kindergarten
She's got an informative video that was really spectacular in helping me to see more ways to
utilize the technology for the younger group of students!
You can read about her ideas HERE

Sooooo....I did some "upgrading" on my version of the
Rating Vocabulary words with hand signals...
and now...
I can have the kids rate the vocabulary words using Plickers

I can pre-assess words as a whole group and see how the class
sees the word before I introduce and discuss it...
Using just ONE device, I can scan the cards...see how everyone is answering...who hasn't answered...and keep a record of what the answers were...

The plan would be to then have a post assessment of the words as well...but we'll see how it pans out...
I can also see using this type of technology with SAT10 practice questions 
and eNvision quick checks...
Should be a fun and different way of formative assessment!

Here's the upgrade to the "Rating Vocabulary" file I shared earlier

Click HERE to download the file to make your own charts!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

#SBS14 Chapters 7 & 8 Thoughts and Shares

This summer has been a whirlwind of travels and fun!
The last seven days, seven hours, 57 minutes, and 9 seconds have been crewing for my husband as he ran 314 miles from Hickman, KY to Castle Rock, GA in the "Last Annual Vol State Race"….craziness….for sure… fun…not sure about that!…tired…don't think I'm totally back to myself just yet….accomplishment!…YES!

To wrap up our book study on Debbie Diller's "Making the Most of Small Groups", I found some shares and thoughts about chapters 7 and 8….I hope you've enjoyed the book as much as I have this summer!  Lots of good resources and ideas to help me dig deeper into my small group meetings this year!

*****Chapter 7 (Phonics) Shares*********
"Phonics is a method of teaching reading that emphasizes letter-sound relationships. It involves the associations between sounds and how they are represented by print. The goal of phonics is to teach students the most commonly used sound-spelling relationships so that they can decode all kinds of words."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1972-1974). Kindle Edition. 

"Phonemic awareness involves working with the sounds of letters, whereas phonics involves working with print-attaching sounds to letters and blending them to make words."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1978-1979). Kindle Edition. 

According to research there are several different ways to appropriately teach phonics…so, I think I'll stick to the way the basal reader introduces the phonic lessons for now…I think the big idea is teaching the letter & sound relationships and let the kiddos practice them by reading & writing!

One piece of research which I thought was useful info:  If you're a good reader, phonic instruction will help your spelling….If your a poor reader, phonic instruction has a small impact on your spelling…

"Children who have already developed phonics skills and can apply them in the reading process do not require the same level and intensity of phonics instruction provided to children who don't have these skills."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 2023-2024). Kindle Edition

Meaning to me…yes it IS important to intro and have that phonic lesson whole group first….then break into small groups to hit it more with those that "don't get it"….instead of doing just the whole group thing again… and "doing a worksheet" is NOT the best way to help kiddos get the phonics they need…they need hands on manipulation with writing involved…that way they're USING what they're learning…

Debbie's book has several sample lesson plans to go along with the different ways you might meet with small groups to discuss phonics….Figure 7.12 is a great chart to help identify some of the things you might want to take notes on for student behaviors as they're reading for you…

She also has some great ideas for things "to do" with the kiddos to help them recognize and use the patterns and sound teams they're learning…along with some suggestions on literacy stations to use with phonics to help them practice what they're learning…

Life in First Grade has some ideas for literacy stations that could be bumped up or down for whatever you are working on…
Here's a PINTEREST board on some literacy station ideas…
Serenade to Second Grade has a blog post on some literacy station ideas…
I Love 2 Teach has some ideas and freebies also…

Right now I'm playing with some ideas for Literacy Stations…
I'm thinking about
***listening to reading…I've got this DVD of story idea running around my head that I haven't quite put together at this time…I'll post to the blog when it finally comes together :)
***computer…where they have to practice typing - maybe spelling words, sentences, or a story?…I think I'm going to have them work in googledocs so I can check their work from any computer instead of having to go look to see what they did :)
***writing station…where they do lists…journals…tweets…squiggle stories…
***work with words…this is where the phonics will come into play…I want them to manipulate and create words and write words and listen to words…still thinking on this one…

******Chapter 8 (Vocabulary) Shares*******
This was probably my favorite chapter of the whole book…now that could have been just because I was tired and trudging through the backwoods of TN 2 miles at a time…but I LOVE her thoughts on Vocabulary development…and I actually understand the Tiers of vocabulary better now!

***I'm going to use her idea of having the kids make a note (on a sticky note of course, cause what kid doesn't like to write on them) of the word(s) they find that are new to them or they have a question about while reading…

Debbie talks about the different kinds of vocabulary…
  Oral Vocabulary (speaking & listening)
  Print Vocabulary (reading & writing)
as well as the fact that we have different levels of "knowing words"… 
Here's a Rate the Word chart that I modified from somewhere…and I'd love to tell you where…but the brain is just not thinking…just know the idea was borrowed and tweaked…but it was useful for me

click HERE to download

Debbie says the first step is to get the kids MOTIVATED to learn new words…. she has a great and simple way of defining the tiers of vocabulary that made it much easier for me to understand…and that I want to spend the time introducing and teaching the tier 2 words to help increase the vocab…

Tier I-basic words…decodable and recognizable (sight words & high frequency words)

Tier II-words used frequently by people with mature speech (words we choose to use for direct teaching to expand vocab)

Tier III-not frequently used or mostly used in the content specific areas…(science & SS lessons)

Best quote of the chapter…."Most new vocabulary will be learned INDIRECTLY"

Debbie has some good strategy suggestions for giving kids the tools to try to determine the new meaning of a word or phrase….but is quick to say that simply copying the dictionary definition of the word is NOT going to help them much in aquiring and really USING new vocab…
**Children need to use a new word OVER & OVER again to really KNOW the word.**

Another tidbit that stuck out for me was that students with larger vocabularies benefit more from hearing stories read aloud….go figure…those read alouds really aren't just taking up time…if you're taking time to talk about what they hear!

Debbie shares a picture of a Words Worth Chart where vocab words are broken into their tiers by money values…10 cent words (big)….25 cent words (huge)…dollar words (enormous)….this might be a great idea for a hall chart that the kids can use as they're waiting for the restroom break to be over :)

She also has some good charts on what to look for when a child is struggling with vocab words and how you might help them... 

She shares a picture of another chart idea that you could create with the kids…
Interesting Words…break the chart into four sections and label with nouns/verbs/adjectives/adverbs…as you do read alouds…have students choose a word they thought was interesting and put it on the chart in the appropriate section…you could even add some "kid-friendly" definitions to the words on the chart….

Strategy suggestions for focus lessons on vocab….
*recognize that it's a new word (true? they can sound out the word, but have no idea what it means and just keep on reading..? teach them to slow down and actively find out what it means.
*get meaning from the context and picture clues
*learn definitions of multiple meaning words…
*Use word parts to determine the meaning of the new word…(prefixes & suffixes)
*think about book language and idioms…deliberately teach what idioms are and how to think about them…
*use informational text features like bold and italicized words.
*dictionaries…last resort…
*try the word in new context and variety of ways...

Second Story Window has a great post on their "Jargon Journal" ideas for an interactive vocabulary notebook…they also offer a freebie unit to test it out...
Scaredy Squirrel interactive vocabulary unit

That concludes my thoughts and shares for the book study this summer!
Hope you got some good ideas and learned some new things!

I had a blast working through the book with you!

Enjoy your day....I plan on just sitting here and working on my computer with "real internet connections" and NO plans of where am I going to park to make sure I meet up with the hubs!
(Well until he gets another ultra run planned out in his head :)

Friday, July 4, 2014

#SBS14 Chapter 6 Thoughts and Shares on Phonemic Awareness

*****Chapter 6*****
Phonemic Awareness

"Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are related terms that are often used interchangeably by teachers. However, they do not mean exactly the same thing. Phonological awareness is an umbrella term that refers to an understanding of spoken words, and includes an awareness of words, syllables, rhymes, and individual sounds."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1521-1523). Kindle Edition. 

*****Debbie talks about the importance of rhyme which made me think about how much emphasis I actually put on the rhyming aspect in second grade…definitely not as much as I placed on teaching this concept as when I taught in First…maybe I need to revamp my thinking and teaching on rhyme in second…
I like the rhyming chart that Ms. Bird used to keep track of the kids' skills…Here's my version for my binder
Download it HERE

-I also like how Debbie talks about holding one finger up for each word in a sentence…I do this during spelling test dictation sentence time…as I say the sentence they're to write…we all hold up a finger for each word I'm saying and then go back and check our work…I don't always count the sentences for a grade, but it does give me good feedback as to how the children are applying the phonetic and spelling skills we've been talking about that week...

"phonemic awareness-the ability to play with those smallest speech sounds in language, phonemes."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1545-1546). Kindle Edition. 

"Much of your phonological and phonemic awareness teaching will take place in whole group, and many students will develop phonemic awareness from this large-group teaching as well as from the language interactions they're having with adults at home. However, some children will probably have difficulty hearing and playing with the sounds of language. These are the students with whom you will want to work in small-group lessons for phonological or phonemic awareness. "
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1587-1589). Kindle Edition. 

*****I do most of my phonic instruction whole group…but I find that I need to re-visit the skills during small group instruction for my SI group of kids…
-Debbie gives suggested lesson focuses as well as materials you may wish to choose to help you with teaching phonemic awareness…
-She has suggested lessons to work with each area of phonemic development that will be a great resource to review when putting together small group lessons!

How about you?  Got any good ideas for helping your students develop phonemic awareness?  I'd love to hear them!  Comment below to share with us!

Happy Fourth of July!
Enjoy your day,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#SBS14 Chapter 5 Thoughts & Shares

*****chapter 5******
Debbie Diller
"Making the Most of Small Groups"

I hope you're getting good information and affirmation as you read through this book.  
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Chapter Five on Fluency...

***'Fluency is not just speed. It's a combination of several factors-rate or speed, prosody or phrasing, expression, intonation, and pacing-along with comprehension.'
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Location 1142). Kindle Edition. 

These Fluency Mini-Cards made by mrskilby are free on TpT…
and would be great as a reminder to students that it's NOT just about how fast you read…it's about what you sound like as well.  
How many of you do the "one-minute" timing for the word count in the Reading Street program?…every student is different, but many I find that many think when I start the timer they have to race through the passage to finish even if they don't say something right or fly right by the punctuation marks.  I noticed that near the end of second grade, they actually started believing me when I said that the time is for me so that I make sure I can meet with everybody and hear them read. :)

***"A second fluency component is automaticity (or quickness) in word recognition. In addition to reading accurately, students should effortlessly recognize the words they see in print."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1148-1149). Kindle Edition. 

Rowdy in Room 300 has a neat idea for fluency practice with sight words.
How do you help your students with word recognition?  I've used both the Dolch and the Fry lists to help play games such as "Snap" and "Sorry" to encourage automaticity with the sight words each week.  

***"Fluency is a bridge between phonics and comprehension. When children can read with greater automaticity (fast, accurate decoding) and not spend so much brainpower trying to figure out how to read words, they are freed up to think more about what they've read, which leads to better comprehension."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1160-1162). Kindle Edition. 

I really only spend one day a week focusing on fluency and am interested in starting more of a station type area where the kids can go and record themselves as well as listen to themselves each week….I think they need to hear what they sound like to really be able to hear what others are listening to as they read…We have a couple of flip videos that I think I may "play around" with this year and let them record and listen to themselves as they read books from the classroom library…
Anybody have an app they can recommend for fluency practice?  I'd love to have the kids record and send something to me via the iPods.

Debbie has a lists of possible focuses for lessons to work with small groups and fluency...
*Decoding words effortlessly and automatically
*High-frequency-word work
*Reading the punctuation
*Reading in phrases
*Reading with intonation and expression 
*Reading dialogue
*Regulating the speed of reading
I like the way Debbie gives short bursts of information in the book on how each lesson might look…gives me something to go on when planning and refer back to for ideas.

Ms. Diller does give a "Fluency Caution"to make sure I put as much effort into both comprehension and fluency when teaching in small groups… good advice….I don't want one area to suffer due to emphasis placed on the other…keeping a good balance is important.

I'm off to enjoy some more of the wildlife in Mamaw & Papaw's front yard. 

Check out these freebies I found that others are using with you have a resource you find to be really good?  Comment and share....please!  I would love to know what works for you!

What have you tried for fluency tracking?
Here's a fluency folder idea from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

Elementary Discoveries has a set of fluent reader posters for free on TpT that look interesting as well…

There's a cute idea for

Here's a freebie on TpT for guided reading lesson plans…goes along with Jan Richardson's "The Next Step in Guided Reading"

Here's the link to a cute Thick and Thin question poster.

Enjoy your day....looks like storms in my area of the world for today!

Monday, June 30, 2014

#SBS14 Thoughts & Shares on Ch. 4

 *****Chapter 4*****
"Comprehension is understanding. It involves thinking and can be likened to a conversation between the reader and the text. It can be basic, as in understanding a general message, or deep, as in inferring and generalizing ideas."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 639-640). Kindle Edition. 

I love the idea of relating comprehension to a conversation between me as the reader and the book with it's words!

I like that Debbie uses the student talk…
"….reading is thinking and that I'll help them with their thinking as they read today." 
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Location 617). Kindle Edition. 

I've actually made one of the retelling gloves like Figure 4.1, but have never really "used" it with a group….

I used sticky notes this year to have the kids create a "why" question or a "what" question from a chapter they read in a book.  Then the kids had to ask the question in group and we would review the chapter together as we discussed their questions.  This way the kids are questioning and explaining in small groups…guess this was a good technique according to Klinger, Vaughn, and Schumm 1998 :)

It was also good to learn that it's best to have small groups 'reading texts that they can decode with a very high level of accuracy to improve comprehension'.

and it was good to read that Ms. Diller's opinion is similar to mine…"I prefer to help kids think more deeply, rather than to keep pushing them through higher and higher reading levels once they are reading on grade level."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 682-683). Kindle Edition. 

Chapter Four has a list of possible focus for lessons to help build comprehension along with some suggested lessons to help present each focus...
*Understanding text structure
*Asking questions
*Answering questions
*Using schema/making use of prior knowledge
*Visualizing/using mental imagery
*Also helpful for increasing comprehension: monitoring, inference, graphic organizers, and deeper meaning…

I think it's important to remember this concept….
"I'm careful not to focus all my attention on comprehension. It is certainly very important and rather tempting at times. In fact, it's the goal of reading. But if kids can't decode, their comprehension will suffer. Reading fluency must also be considered, since this has been shown to increase comprehension. And vocabulary has a huge influence on students' comprehension."
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 1087-1089). Kindle Edition. 

Also best to ask thick questions rather than thin questions…I've seen a ton of resources for question stems on the internet…

Wouldn't it be fun to put the question stems on large popsicle sticks. .. have kids pick a question stem and create a question to go with the story using the stem they chose.

There's also dice that you could throw and have them create/answer questions based on their throw.

How do you encourage comprehension in your small groups?

Check back for more shares on Ch. 5 and 6 this week. I'm off to enjoy more of Mamaw & Papaw's front yard garden. Here's the squirrel behind the vision for the newest math task coming soon!

Enjoy your day,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

#SBS14 More Shares on Chapter 3 "Making the Most of Small Groups"

*********My favorite quote from Chapter 3 **********
Trying to see every group every day will not yield quality teaching. Remember, quality, not quantity. It's not about how many groups you can "fit into" a day. Rather, it's about meeting the needs of students in small groups.
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 542-543). Kindle Edition.

-Debbie recommends about 20 minutes per group in grades 1 and up…
How many minutes do you schedule for your groups?

I usually go until I “feel” we’re running out of steam or the activity I wanted to do is complete.  
When I had my “bookclub” group up and going, we could literally be engaged for 30 minutes if I let them...but I used the Aurasma app and created auras to help them identify with some of the vocabulary and visualization of the story we were reading. You can see some of our Auras on the my kids’ blog HERE

I’ve never been a “timer” group kind of teacher...I try to monitor the clock, but I always feel if the kids are doing well and the groove is good...keep on keepin’ on  :)

-I love Debbie’s suggestion of using recording devices for kids to read into and check fluency.  I think there’s an app or two that I was looking at earlier this summer that I may go back and check out.  A friend of mine used AtoZ (maybe) and kids could read a passage and then she would go back into listen to them…
Anybody use this kind of technique for fluency?

Any suggested apps or thoughts on how you might have students record and share their recordings to increase fluency levels?

-I agree with flexible grouping!  I love the chart stand that I created last year based on Carol Stafford’s idea.  The kids know where to go and how to check on what station they’re at.  You can read more about it (math version)  HERE
I created a reading version as well...You just flip the stand (pictured above) around and I have the reading on the back.

Here’s a pdf of the file for Reading Small Group Maps
Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 9.11.52 AM.pngScreen shot 2014-06-29 at 9.12.10 AM.png Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 9.12.25 AM.png

I’ve also created the small group organizer that Debbie shows in her book using the file folder.  Then have sticky notes of the kids’ names to manipulate as you create small groups based on the data.
Photo Jun 28, 6 12 48 PM.jpg  Photo Jun 28, 6 12 33 PM.jpg

But since I’m planning on making a binder for my small group plans...I thought I’d make one I could put into a page protector and manipulate names in the binder...not sure yet which way is best.  
Here’s the template for the binder version.
Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 9.22.59 AM.png

Check back soon for more updates and shares.  I know I’m a little behind schedule, but summer plans changed.  Thanks for being patient with me :)


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