Friday, August 1, 2014

Spelling Without Teacher Help

Here is a short video that shows a mini-lesson after Writer's Workshop.  I teach the strategy of underline and move on early in the year for spelling.  This allows the students to be more independent during Writer's Workshop.  But I wanted to show how students could use resources from around the room - charts and poetry folders - to help them as well.  

This was just a quick review of a few skills using student work.  It always makes me smile when I do a mini-lesson like this and over the next few days all the students are so eager to use those same skills.  If you spiral lessons like this into your routine then your students will become more independent and resourceful with their spelling while they write.

A funny side note - I once had a spelling test turned in with a few words underlined.  When I asked the student about it, he said that he wasn't sure about those words so he just underlined them and moved on.  I love the transfer of strategies into other areas of learning!  ;o)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Inferring with Social Studies Text

Here is an example of using a social studies text to reinforce a reading strategy.  We were in our unit on long ago and today where we compare pilgrim children and children today.  I had read Sarah Morton's Day during our social studies time the day before.  That gave me the perfect opportunity to teach a short inferring mini-lesson using the same text.

There never seems to be enough time in the day to teach everything...but using social studies texts during reading allows me to double dip and reach TEKS (our state standards for you non-Texans) from both ELAR and social studies.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sight Word Review Games

Here are some more sight word resources that you might find useful.  These are most useful if you use Scholastic's Systematic Sight Word curriculum.  I love that curriculum and have a post about here: Sight Word Resources.  That post has a bunch of PowerPoints for each of the weeks so check it out if you need any of those.

If you follow the curriculum I have a cute game that I use on the review weeks.  It is called Mystery Sight Word Hunt.  I have the kids write down any word off the word wall.  I explain that they are trying to figure out my 'mystery word' using the clues.  After everyone has written down their first guess I give a clue.  They write their new guess or their original word again depending on if the word they wrote matched the clue.  I go through several clues until there is only one word left that fits all the rules.  They L-O-V-E this game.  The reason it works only if you are using the curriculum is because I made sure that it will only end with one particular word following all the clues.  If you use a different curriculum / order for your sight words then you would need to change that up to match your words.

Another sight word activity that I use during those review weeks is called a Sight Word Hunt.  For this one, the kids get an address label with a sight word put on their forehead.  Then they go around with a clipboard and sight word tracking sheet and write down the sight word on each of their classmates foreheads.  I was worried this would be a really loud activity, but it was golden.  I had to share since it went so well - even with my wildest of classes.  Oh, and it is hilarious to see them with sight words on their foreheads!

And last but not least, a nice review for sight words is shaving cream.  The kids get a little wilder with this can see that in the pictures, but they do love it.  This one requires no set up except for shaving cream (2 cans is more than enough).  I just call out a random sight word and have them use their finger to practice writing it in the shaving cream.  I try to choose ones that I actually want them to spell really well by the end of the year.  Many of my review activities use the same words - I feel that they are the most important ones.

I hope you can use these resources or get some ideas from them.  Looking at those pictures just makes me smile - even the wild ones!  Happy teaching ~

Friday, July 18, 2014

Science Videos

One of my favorite things to do after completing a unit of study in science is to have the kiddos make a video explaining our learning.  This is a great way to review since many units are long.  I pop these up on my class website and show them to the class.  Then I send a quick e-mail to my class parents to announce the video.  This is a great way to get the kids and their parents talking about what they are learning in class.  

This video was from our unit on sound energy.

This video was from our force and motion unit.

I hope you enjoy these cuties as much as I do!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Questioning Lessons

Once a comprehension skill has been taught and modeled over and over and over until you are sick of it, then it is about time to move to the students trying the skill.  Remember with the gradual release of responsibility model - I do, we do, you do - it is a process.  This video shows the 'you do' part of that process.  The students were well acquainted with questioning and question words.  We had done several lessons where I stopped reading a text at various times and had them help me come up with questions (the we do part of GRR).  At this point I asked them to try the skill.  But I did not expect them to be experts.  Remember that this is a first try - be okay with approximations right now.  You will notice that not all of the questions were amazing.  But they all tried.

I noticed something that needed to be taught once I heard several of the questions student were asking.  So I took the time to teach a follow-up lesson that same day.  I made sure they had all been commended for trying the new skill.  Matt Glover (one of my teaching heroes) says that you look at students and find out where to nudge them next.  I love that idea - nudging, not shoving.  So my next step was to nudge them to questions that actually matter.  This video is my version of a small nudge.  Some kids will need small group lessons over and over, but some will only need this small nudge and they will be on the right track.  Just because the students are in the 'you do' part of the gradual release of responsibility model, it does not mean I do nothing.  As they begin the 'you do' part they often need guidance and 'nudges' along the way.

Remember to always be watching and listening to your students for what your next mini-lesson needs to be.  This last one was not in my lesson plans, but it needed to happen. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Phonics Skill Using Mentor Text

I have mentioned using the same mentor text for a variety of lessons.  Here is another example of using Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox.  This time I used it to reinforce the phonics skill we were focusing on that week: r blends.

Just FYI - the early finishers for finding r blends on the activity were then given a yellow marker to hunt for sight words on the same page.  Always have something to do next for those who finish before the whole class has!

Happy teaching ~

Friday, July 11, 2014

Small Group Resource - Making and Writing Words

One of the activities I do with my small groups and/or tutorials is making and writing words.  A few years ago my district bought each first grade teacher an official Making and Writing Words kit.  However, the kit had many typos and mistakes.  So I used it as a guide to help me create my own documents for each phonics skill.

I used to have this activity be the whole time for my small group - one day we focused on the phonics skill and the other days we did guided reading.  Next year I will try to do a phonics skill, guided reading, and another skill in each small group.  In order to do that I will have to make these much shorter.  My plan is to have the kids do this activity as the phonics warm up for 3 days - half the words on one day, the next half on the second day, and the sorting / rhyming activity on the third day. We'll see how that goes...

I have the letter cards already bagged for each student.  Back when I first began teaching we used the Four Block model which is where these letter cards came from.  For that you had to have a set of letter cards for each student - yikes!  

It specifies which letters you need at the top of each page I created.  I would recommend bagging them each week the first year and loving yourself for having it ready for the rest of your life after that.  I think I bought 3 sets of the letter cards from Teacher's Tools.  The letter cards are made by Carson Dellosa so you should be able to find them in lots of stores/online.