Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Name Is...Using Student Names For Word Study

One of the most important literacy milestones for a child is learning how to read and write his or her name. Think about how many times we ask our students to identify and write their names during the school day. For some children this is a very easy task, while for others, it may be a brand new concept!

So why do so many of us use our students' names for our word study lessons in the beginning of the year? Sure, there are a lot of fun activities and Pinterest is filled with cute displays and projects, but there is actually a specific reason to use a child's name to teach critical early literacy skills. According to Fountas and Pinnell, when using names, children learn that words contain letters and these letters always remain in the same order in the word. This is one of the most important lessons you will teach in your early childhood classroom because it will transfer to your work in both reading and writing workshop.

The Fountas and Pinnell Phonics book for kindergarten contains excellent lessons about this topic. It is also a fantastic resource for your word study curriculum. The lessons teach the relationships between letters and sounds and help support your work in both reading and writing workshop.

Currently, I am preparing my lessons for the beginning of the school year. I thought I would share how I plan to use one of the first lessons in the book:

Learning Your Name (Songs and Chants):

Although I plan on teaching this lesson during word study, I also plan to use the chant as a warm-up for Shared Reading. Multiple readings will increase fluency and provide additional opportunities to read and identify names.

One of the first lessons asks you to write students names on cards and place them in a chart. You can use the songs they provide or perhaps use one of your favorite chants to identify names. I plan on writing the names on large index cards. I write the words to the chant on sentence strips and place in a large pocket chart. We sing the many of the songs I posted a couple of years ago:

To supplement these lessons, I created a "Name Bag" to go home with families. Every student will have an opportunity to bring the name bag home. They will be able to match photos to names, sing the name song, and spell names with letter tiles. Click below for your own Name Bag:

Although the Name Bag does take time to prepare, it is well worth the extra time because it is a wonderful way to begin building a strong home-school connection. Parents love to see pictures of their children's classmates and see what we are doing in kindergarten. The bag also reinforces the important work we are doing!

Again, I really encourage you to look at Phonics Lessons by Fountas and Pinnell. It is one of the best resources I have found for foundational skills.

For my next post, I plan on talking about the first lesson from the new reading units of study by Lucy Calkins. I am so excited to use the reading units of study with my kindergarten class and look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Guided Reading

Hello everyone! I am back from a wonderful, restful, and sunny week in South Carolina. Please take time to read this article about guided reading. My ideas are featured throughout the piece and there are some great ideas and suggestions from Jan Richardson. Enjoy and happy reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Let's Begin: The Guide to Reading Workshop

Like many of you, I have been highly anticipating the new reading units of study by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at TCRWP. I was very fortunate to be able to pilot one of the units last February, so I knew that the units were going to be fantastic.

When my units arrived (and let me tell you I literally met the UPS man on my driveway, LOL), I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I tore open the box, ripped off the cellophane and excitedly looked at the shiny new books. I was so pleased to see that they were formatted like the writing units of study, so I would understand the general format of the lessons. They also have post-it notes for your anchor charts - a teacher's dream come true!!!!

At first, I planned on opening up the first unit of study, but then I stopped. Instead, I found the "Guide to Reading Workshop." Although I have used the reading workshop model in my kindergarten classroom for years, I thought it would be a good idea to read their guide first. I wanted to see their "vision" for reading workshop, and I am so happy I read this book first. If you are going to use the units of study, I encourage you to do the same thing. Read this guide before you open your first unit of study :)

My Favorite Parts From the Guide to Reading Workshop:

  • First, I just love how this book is written. I feel like I am having a conversation with Lucy. It's as if we are sitting down in my classroom and she is discussing my students, our goals, and my plans for the year ahead. It confirmed many things I already believed about reading and young students but it also challenged my thinking and introduced me to new ideas. The guide also promotes conversation between colleagues. In fact, I just met with a first grade teacher and we read through the guide together and discussed how these ideas and concepts can be addressed in our classrooms.

  • The book clearly outlines all of the important parts to having a balanced literacy program for your classroom. For me, their structure for reading workshop was the same as my kindergarten workshop. For example, you begin with a whole-group mini-lesson, transition to independent reading time, move to partner time and then end with a share. You also conduct one-to-one conferences and small groups during your workshop.  The guide also talks about shared reading, read-aloud and word study and how you can schedule these into your literacy block. The guide really appreciates the demands of the elementary classroom and shows you how you can easily include all of these essential parts of balanced literacy in your schedule. 

  • I really appreciated the pages that talked about the challenges readers face in specific levels of text. For example, they describe specific skills that a child reading a level A or B book would need in order to progress. I found this so helpful and I plan on keeping these pages close when planning for my small group work or one-to-one conferences. 

  • Something that has always been difficult for me is how to maintain the notes or data I receive from my small groups or one to one conferences. The guide gives such great ideas. I plan on using the grid/recording sheet from the primary guide (page 69) as an effective way to record my notes. They also give really nice examples of motivational posters for building stamina. I find this to be one of our biggest challenges in the beginning of kindergarten. I am thrilled when they can sustain independent reading for even 5 minutes, so the goal sheets/charts they provided as examples will be really helpful. 

  • Finally, the pages about shared reading were awesome. I do shared reading every day with my class. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of the day. The guide clearly explains different skills you can teach every day of the week using the same text. I typically use big books for my shared reading, but this year I plan to also have a "warm up" as suggested in the guide. I am really excited to try this with my class.

There is so much more to this guide, so I hope you take my advice an read through the entire book. As I said, it really helped me frame my vision for reading workshop so I was better able to understand the lessons in the first book. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hello Friends! Let's talk about reading!

Hello friends! 

I have been doing a lot of reading about...reading! Well, let's be more specific. I have been enjoying a lot of professional development about all areas of balanced literacy. I have also been fortunate to learn from an amazing literacy coach and friend. I have expanded my PLN on Twitter through motivating twitter chats and discussions. I look forward to sharing with all of you.

I plan on discussing some really amazing things from my kindergarten classroom. I will be using the new reading units of study by Lucy Calkins and TCRWP. I have been using the writing units of study for the past two years, so I am really excited about the reading units. I was very fortunate to be able to pilot one of the units last winter for Teacher's College and all I can say is...WOW!!!! 

In addition to TCRWP, I will also talk about my use of the wonderful book called The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. If you have not read this yet, go purchase it right now. As I have said before, every teacher must have this book in his or her professional library. I can't wait to implement the strategies in my classroom.

As I mentioned, I will focus on different parts of my literacy program.  Below is a very brief summary of how I use the workshop model with my students. 

Reading Workshop
In Kindergarten

My Reading Workshop looks a lot like my writing workshop! In fact, the two workshops often flow together nicely during my ELA block. It begins with a mini-lesson, moves to independent reading time and then transitions to partner reading. During either independent or partner reading time, you can meet with guided reading groups.

My Schedule:

Opening: Whole Group Mini-Lesson (about 15 minutes)

Work Time: Independent Reading Time and Partner Reading Time
(Guided Reading Groups and/or individual reading conferences occur during Independent and Partner time) (30 minutes)

Close: Share (5 minutes)

What Does It Look Like in September?

As with everything in kindergarten, you will model everything again and again. Once children have increased reading stamina and independence, you can begin pulling groups. Do not expect to begin guided reading groups until end of September or early October.

The way you schedule your reading groups is completely up to you. Some teachers meet with groups during independent reading and partner reading time. Others use literacy stations, centers, daily five or other formats. You can use any schedule that meets your classroom philosophy as long as you are able to meet with groups on a daily basis.

Mt Book List for Reading Workshop in September:

How To Read A Story by Kate Messner
The Best Place To Read by Debbie Bertram
The Best Book To Read by Debbie Bertram
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
We’re Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller
Read Anything Good Lately? By Susan Allen
Born to Read by Judy Sierra
Look! I Can Read? By Susan Hood
Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Read it, Don’t Eat It by Ian Schoenherr

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weekly Reading Folders in Kindergarten

Hi everyone!

My students bring home reading folders once a week. I typically send them home on Monday. The parents take out the activities in the folder and the student returns the folder the next day. The folder contains a list of our kindergarten sight words (this sheet stays in all year),  an emergent reader or book we read in class (either shared reading or guided reading group) and a poem or small game that reviews key concepts (rhyming, sight words, alphabet recognition, etc.) The parents really enjoy the folders because it gives them something specific to review with their child.

I decided to make a weekly update form to place in the folder. I realized that although I was sending these activities home every week and parents were looking through the folders with their children, they may appreciate some tips about how to review the sight words, readers, etc.

The clip art is from Scrappin Doodles.