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 :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thoughts on Ch. 3. #SBS14

Thoughts and shares on Chapter Three:

Debbie talks about how to form small groups during Chapter Three.

I like how she shares ideas for using both formal and informal assessments to create the small groups for instruction.

One of the formal assessments we have access to at the beginning of the year is the SAT10 results from the students' end of the year test from first grade.

Another formal assessment we have access to is STAR reading assessments as well as iStation.

My favorite informal assessment is the "San Diego Quick Assessment". If you google this title, you'll find many resources available to use with this quick and fairly accurate assessment for forming reading groups at the beginning of the year. Here's a couple of links to posts on the San Diego Quick Assessment from my blog...

Here's a link to the pdf file of the words...

I upload this to my iPad and the kids can swipe across the words as the complete the test. You can also print out the words and have the kids read through the words on a list or put on index cards.

Here's the powerpoint file for the same thing...

Here's a link to the how's and why's of the San Diego Quick Assessment...

as well as a link to a pdf of the recording page..

I used the iPad app "Good Notes" and created a folder for each child. Then I uploaded the recording form into each of their folders and was able to record how they did on the test without paper...

Debbie also refers to a phonics informal assessment (Quick Phonics Screener). I did a quick search for more information and think I'll spend more time looking into this type of assessment. It looks like it will give an informal view of students' phonetic awareness which could be very helpful when it comes time to group :) Here's a link to the doc I found can find more resources by searching the net...

I've tried Carol Stafford's idea for index cards to use for anectodal recording, but like how Debbie suggests putting the cards out in front of each child's spot to record quick thoughts on how they did during the small group. I LOVE sticky notes, but I'm really trying for the paperless record keeping this will have to see how this pans out.

I'm thinking googledocs will be a good resource for keeping notes as well...then I can access and update the notes from any device with the google doc ability :)

Still visiting in the land of "no wifi", but enjoying limited internet from my niece's line:). More shares coming. Stay tuned. This is a GREAT book!  I'm enjoying the lesson suggestions as well as the well thought out ideas for small group meetings!

Looking forward to creating more with Mamaw!
Can you guess what we're working on here?

It's going to be FUN!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Techless Vacation

Traveling with Mamaw!
Seeing tons of things and having a BLAST!!!! But - experiencing techie difficulties;)

Will post  more about our summer book
study as soon as I return to the land of wifi!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Design and Drill

What better way to end the year than to try out Educational Insights "Design and Drill"!

Perfect set up for an unexpected indoor recess rainy day station....

The boys enjoyed creating different designs with the colors of screws.
Taking turns with the tool to attach the screws, they were able to create all the designs 
before our time was up...
This would be a great tool to have in a younger age classroom to help with the development of small muscle control. Especially given all the technology our students are using!
Hop over to 
There a whole line of Design and Drill products that would be great for small muscle control development and practice - IMO. :)

Have a great day!

PS....I created this post on an app on my mini-iPad.  
Hope it came out okay!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Padlet Makes Sharing EASY Peasy!

I am IN LOVE with Padlet's quick and easy 
sharing ability!
It's like a virtual bulletin board where you can share ideas and activities
with others from any device that can get the internet!

There are sooooo many ways to use Padlet for education 
Professional Development!

Padlet walls are tremendously EASY to create!
Just go to YouTube and search the word "Padlet"!
You'll find tons of tutorials from how to make your own wall to 
how to use padlet in your classroom!

You can put files, links, and even photos on your 
Padlet Wall...

I attended a fabulous SRSD writing strategy training this week (more on that next week)
and thought I'd try out 
Padlet as a resource for Professional Development sharing!

As a group, we were able to add and access many documents on the wall
to help us as we developed ideas and activities to use with 
the wonderful writing strategy!
Here's a picture of our wall.
I haven't made it public just yet...we've still got a couple things to add as a group...
But when we're done, I'll post the address on the blog so you can get to these cool
resources that were shared by the group:)

Check the blog post at "I Hear EdTech" for some 
cool ideas for using Padlet in the K Classroom to the High School Courses!

Check back next week for more share on 
our book study for 
I'm getting a LOT of great ideas for planning, organizing, and 
WHAT to do DURING small groups!
PS....there's a Padlet wall of sharing for ideas on this as well :)

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

#SBS14 Chapters 1&2 Shares

Week of June 16 - 19
Chapters 1-2 Discussion and Shares

Quotes and Thoughts from Chapter One: TIME
Thought 1~ Balance of -Whole Group and Small Group Time when planning for the reading block...I think my district is using a 150 minute reading block this year, but I’m not sure if that is ALL at one time or includes intervention and RTI as well.
-I LOVE how Debbie reminds us that the beginning of the year will NOT look anything like what we do once we get into the groove.  We’ve got to take time to get expectations in place and help them adjusted to the “What to Dos” during station rotations.  I use the I Can statements for each station and create anchor charts WITH  the kids to show what to do during this time.  We all try to practice the station so we can become “experts” at what we’re doing while we’re at the station.  The anchor charts aren’t very cutsie or premade...they’re developed WITH the kids so they have ownership over what they think should go on during the station...I often have them use their senses to tell what it will look like, sound like, etc. while they’re at that station.

Thought 2 ~ Work with students at their instructional reading level in small groups...not too easy...yet not so hard that they can’t practice the skills during the small group meeting.
-want each student problem solving and applying strategies that have been taught in whole group instruction…
**I often find this a good time to reteach the skills that the kiddos didn’t get during the whole group lesson...practicing these skills in a small group setting with game-like tasks work well for me and the kids**
-focus is on having child do more work than me!

Thought 3 ~ Plan to meet with children individually as well...I usually met with students to do fresh reads and fluency checks on Friday.  I keep a list of kids I’ve listened to and took an oral reading grade (sometimes)... I’m still thinking about the best way of recording and tracking the times we meet together and the things I notice...
-Carol Stafford has a crazy neat tool for making anecdotal records using large index cards and a clipboard or file folder arrangement.
-Vicki Kinder has a neat system of recording how the kids are doing each time she meet with them using check marks. Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 10.50.45 AM.png
Here’s a LINK to Vicki’s Running Record Document.

-I am looking at using the “Good Notes” app on my iPad and creating individual folders for each child….
...possibly using google drive and creating docs for each child.  Making notes using google docs means the docs can be accessed from ANY device to add to or use in planning…
Still thinking on how to best utilize this…I seem to get started with something, but not be very good at keeping up with it as the year progresses :(
Pros and Cons of Google VS Good Notes...
--Google is typing only where as Good Notes can be notes that are handwritten on the document…
--both documents can be emailed and shared via pdf formats….however ONLY google docs can be ACCESSED and Changed in all places from any device…(we’re talking EVEN my PHONE!)
“How do you keep individualized data on your students?”

Planning for Small Group Lessons…

“In my mind, there is not really a "right" or "wrong" way to work with kids in small group.”
Debbie Diller. Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All (Kindle Locations 208-209). Kindle Edition.

~ I’ve tried planning out a week’s worth of small group and did a WONDERFUL JOB of planning!  But when the groups meet, I’ve inveritably find that I need to adjust …. sometimes A LOT…
I like that Debbie says we should be prepared to plan a little each night for the next day’s group…

~ I like how she explains how to have the group reading with a purpose and how using the sticky notes can be helpful for giving them a way to share what they learned...or thought...or found.
...and to read individually with a child or two before addressing the group…

~ I also like her suggestion that we shouldn’t try to meet with every group every day.
Debbie give several lesson plan ideas in her book...still haven’t decided which one I like the best…
Have you?

Here’s one from Dina...

Screen shot 2014-06-14 at 6.26.59 AM.png

*Dina at “Second Grade Smarties” has posted some thoughts about Chapters One and Two as well...Check out her blog post HERE
*Check out Dina’s “Instructional Planning Sheet” HERE

Quotes and Thoughts from Chapter Two:  Organizing

Screen shot 2011-06-06 at 7.40.18 PM.png

     Thought 1 ~ Creating a “Do Not Disturb” signal has proven to be a great tool for me.. I like using Donna Whytes stop signal...You can read more about it on one of my old blog posts HERE

I love all the planning binders and things that are on TpT right now for helping with organization and I DO NEED HELP with organizing…
Things I’m thinking about and planning to work on this year...
1. Where do I want to hold small groups?
...kidney table? movable areas?
2. How do I want to plan?  What kind of format?
3. How do I want to collect data?
4. Where do I keep things to work with small groups?

Do you have any organizing tips you can share?

I hope you’ll consider sharing along with us this week.  You can comment on my blog post HERE
or Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #SBS14
or post on my Blog FaceBook page

I’m really enjoying the book!  Be sure to check back next week for chapters 3-4!

Friday, June 13, 2014

You Oughta Know June Blog Hop

I'm excited to be linking up with Jasmine McClain from "Buzzing with Mrs. McClain"
for the June

(which starts tomorrow at 9am...but gotta post when the internet is 
good when you're traveling :)

and in my humble opinion...You Oughta Know about 

This has been a VERY successful way of sharing information
with my class parents!

Parents can sign up via text messaging OR email to receive your sends!


You can send from your device using the handy dandy app...
or for the android device using google play

It's a FREE service and you can create as many classes as you like...
You'll get your own share code and a pdf for how to have your parents sign up to receive your texts and notices.

Remind101 allows mobile devices to attach pictures now so I can take a photo of the homework board or paper that needs to be returned and parents can SEE what they're looking for in their child's backpack :)  

Remind101 even keeps track of all the notices I send out so I have an ongoing record of the communications that I've been sending!

But the best thing is that I can SCHEDULE...yes you heard me...SCHEDULE when I want a text to be I can set up reminders to be sent on the weekend for the rest of the week..
Like spelling test reminders...
homework due reminders...
project turn in date reminders...
special days coming up reminders...

I also sent "SHOUT OUT" TEXTS to recognize special goals that were reached...
for instance when students earned 25 AR points, I would send a shout out!
Or when someone became 100% fluent on Reflex Math in Addition and Subtraction..

You can even create a widget to post on your classroom blog/website that will show what reminders have been sent so that even those without texting can see up to date this widget from my classroom blog...

When I was the communications officer for my son's high school band of 250 members...
I  had a Remind101 account set up to send out texts to remind both students and parents of events...
so there's no limit on the amount of people that can join your group.

You also have the ability to delete people as well as groups.
No One sees YOUR personal cell number...
They can't reply to the text that the Remind101 program sends out...
so you'll want to make sure they can contact you via email
 if they have questions or concerns about a text.

My son is trying to win a Music Scholarship from our local music store.
Would you take a moment to vote for him?  
Just click on his photo below to go to the Facebook Link...
Thanks so much!

And just in case you didn't notice the date....
it IS Friday THE 13TH and it is a FULL MOON!
Beach fun begins at sundown!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TTT Worksheet Wednesday Linky QR Style

I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune to share in a math 
workstation that I hope will be a new favorite for my kiddos...

My plan is to gather Gatorade bottle lids...
(My son drinks a ton of the stuff and if I was really smart
I would take out stock NOW...but I'll be happy with just 
collecting the caps he's throwing away :)

Then use Avery's Round Labels...

and create a station or two or three for math rotations this year.

My thought is the kids would work the problem on the top of the bottle cap....

4 + _ = 10

to get the answer.  I might have them write their equations in their 
Station log or create a simple recording sheet...haven't decided on this yet...

To check their work...they scan the QR code on the underside of the lid..
and check to see if they are right or wrong...
I've tried to develop the QR codes so that they
DON'T have to be connected to the internet to scan the codes..

What do you think?  

Here's the download freebie...

First head to Avery's free template download site to download the template 
for the 8293 round labels 
(I've linked the site to the picture below.)
Next download the template from the site...
You'll also need to download and install the SF Cartoonist Font from
It's my favorite font so I use it ALOT!

Then click on the picture of the station you'd like to download from 
my googledoc account below...
Missing Addends are HERE

Subtraction is HERE

And with a little luck when you download my docs...
you'll be able to open them to see what they look like the right way on 
your computer.
I tried to save them as PDFs, however, the template did NOT like this.

I've also left them as docs so that you can change up the equations as you like...
as long as you remember the QR code next to the equation is the answer that's missing.

I LOVE using QR codes in the classroom. could as easily change the QR code to a digit and 
take away the technology aspect all together :)

Hope you are enjoying your summer!
Stay hydrated!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Meet Me! Linking Up...

I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune 
for a week of Summer Bloggin' Posts...
well...let's just say I'm linking while the internet connection is good and the weather is hazy...
Cause otherwise I'll be chillin' here...
and relaxing and walking....
LOVE my Beach Time....but the weather's a little wacky today sooooo
Here's a little more about me...
Thanks for hopping by!
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Loved That Lesson! (June)

I'm linking up with Meg Anderson to share another lesson that 
worked really well for me this year!

I usually read the kids "Giraffes Can't Dance" at the beginning of the year
so we can talk about how some people learn at different rates
 and in different ways.

There's a cool YouTube video of the book as well...
We write about the main character and the things that he learned in the story.
We talk about how the other animals acted in the book and how Gerald responded to them.
It's a great book for helping the kids to see how their words and actions
have an effect on others!....good and bad...

Then I created a math task to go along with the story..
and my mom helped create the giraffes for the kids to design...
Most importantly...the kids share their giraffes with partners and tell how they 
solved the math problem.  They must say something positive to their partner as well 
as prove their mathematical thinking..

It is a great way to integrate
Working Together with Positive Talking
into one lesson....
Plus the giraffes are a HUGE hit for the whole week!

I'm definitely keeping this in the 
"Back to School" files and will be creating them again this year.
Just need to bump up the math task for my 
Second Graders...any suggestions for making this a more 
difficult task for Second Graders is welcomed :)