Sunday, January 29, 2012

Read to Self Tips

Jane over at The Learning Curve has just started launching Read to Self to her class and wants some tips to make sure non-readers are reading. She managed 10 seconds on one attempt and 50 seconds was the best. First off, I have to say that when I started this week, a minute and a half was the best we managed of 3 attempts so our other 2 were pretty poor! All I can say is, don't stress - it has been that way every year for me, but we always build up enough stamina within about the first month.

Here are my tips for Daily 5 'newbies' - a term I've taken from my son.... everyone is a 'Noob' to him :) However, I'm no expert, this  is just what works for me and tips from the book!

  1. I build up lots of enthusiasm before we start.We go through our I-Chart - "Can you ..... ", Class "Yes!" We build pictures of what we will look like in our mind. Yesterday I commented that a teacher I 'know' already has her class reading for 8 minutes (this was actually a teacher who had emailed me and has a Year 5-6 class, but my kids don't know that!). We can't let them reach 20 minutes before us! Perfect for setting a purpose and creating a sense of urgency!
 Our I-Chart ... a bit messy, but we made it as a class
  1. I make sure that my non-readers have good fit books. This includes very early readers, picture books with few words or books we've read as read-alouds like "No David" which they can read from memory and using the pictures. If non-readers don't think they can read the books they won't read.
  2. I time them from the time I say something like "It's now time for Read to Self", not once they are actually settled and reading (this is different from the book, the Sisters recommend placing the children around the room before getting started during the launch phase). This is because I'm also checking that they can get their book boxes quickly, find a place where they won't be disturbed, get started right away etc. So that minute and a half didn't include that much reading! Each time we pack up they put their book boxes away and have to get them again after we've checked in.
  3. Check in after each attempt using the thumbs up/thumbs sideways using the I-Chart. When we check in about whether we read the whole time, I always say "Did you read, read the pictures or retell a story the whole time" to reinforce to my non-readers that it is ok to read the pictures. We share individual celebrations. Sometimes I get my kids to turn and talk about what their goal is from the I-Chart and then we reflect on that after our next attempt.
  4. Be consistent! Do it 3 times every day during the launch and stop when you need to because of inappropriate behaviours. It takes a little while to build up their muscle memories so they can't be expected to do it correct for extended periods right away. 
Jane also commented that the kids were looking up to see if she was watching. I make a point of sitting at my guided reading table and not making eye contact with anyone. The room is so silent that I can hear when kids are off-task and those kids who want my attention know they aren't going to get it! Continue with the modelling for as long as you need to as well.

And just think, if you didn't take the time to build up their stamina, train their muscle memories and ensure they actually are reading good fit books, do you really think they will be on-task and reading once you start pulling groups for guided reading?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Get to Know Me freebie for Back to School

Are you looking for a quick and easy activity for the first day of school? Here is a worksheet I get my class to complete as one our first activities. It gives me a quick indication of how they listen, follow instructions, whether or not they are willing to 'have a go' at spelling plus, how neatly they work etc. Plus, if I get the kids to do it on Step Up Day (a day we get to meet our class the previous year), then it is student work already on display for the first day of school :)

Get to Know Me Freebie for First Day of School

 You can download through Google Docs - both Australian and American spelling (favourite/favorite and colour/color) are available - just print the one you need. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Introducing Read to Self

On the first day of school, I introduced Read to Self as one of the reading activities we would be doing every day this year - you should have heard the groan!! These little people do not see themselves as readers at all. I'll have to change that!

I introduced Read to Self by explaining that there are 3 ways to read a book. The chart I made in class was a little messy so after about the next week I'll replace it with the one below and put it up in our library area - at the moment the one I wrote is in on my little easel so we can refer to it often. You can grab it in Google Docs by clicking on the picture.
I then demonstrated the 3 ways to read a book - I know the sisters recommend doing it over 2 days, but I've always done it in one. This is the third time I've used Pat Hutchins "Rosie's Walk" to introduce the 3 ways of reading and it's always a hit, even if they have read the story before.
I first read the words in a very boring voice WITHOUT showing the pictures. I ask whether they enjoyed the story and, of course, they say NO, that's BORING! They notice that I skip every second page and think I'm not reading all the words but I explain that there are no words on those pages.

We then read the pictures. This is always so much fun! We notice that the fox wasn't in the words at all and that we had missed a major part of the story by only focusing on the words! We make predictions about what is going to happen to the fox on every second page. We notice that there are marks on the page that show the direction of the rake flinging up for example and that we can follow the gaze of the fox to see that he is watching Rosie very intently and near the end he looks very weary! We notice that Rosie seems oblivious to the fox, but there is always a little cutie that says maybe she is walking that way on purpose because she looks so smug!

They always beg to read the book again, so we always end up retelling the story as well! We use the pictures and what we know about the words to retell the story. I get volunteers to retell or offer suggestions for some pages after I have done the first few.

Another good book I read to continue demonstrating the 3 Ways to Read a Book is David Goes to School by David Shannon. 

After this, even my most reluctant readers want to start reading from their book boxes (which I've already set up with books since we haven't learned how to choose books yet). But before we can, we make an I-Chart (I'll have a picture tomorrow, but they always look the same!). We modelled the correct and incorrect ways to Read to Self which is always a hoot!

We, finally, start reading! We only lasted about a minute and a half the first day. We practised 3 times and that was the best! The first two times most kids talked as they went and got their book boxes, the second time they started sharing their books with others and talking about them (not a bad thing I know!). And the third time someone got up to get another book they saw on display. 

After each time, we checked in and reflected on how we went using our thumbs up or thumbs side ways (so-so, room for improvement). I also explained that once we have practised Read to Self more and built our stamina, we will then start Read to Someone and that is when we can share our books with each other but NOT during Read to Self. They are really looking forward to that!

Each day we are practising 3 times each day and they are getting better. We are aiming for 20 minutes. 

I'm off school today for Australia Day, so Happy Australia Day to my follow Aussies!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

VOICES 6 Traits bulletin board update

Ooopps! So there was a little error in two cards (well 3, with the different spellings of color/colour) in my Voices 6 Traits Bulletin Board pack that was kindly pointed out by a buyer. If you have purchased, please go to TpT or Teachers Notebook and download again. 
Alternatively, I've placed the cards for you to download from Google Docs here


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Back to School: The Middle Part 2

Well, the past week has been SUPER busy! I headed back to school yesterday (Wednesday) for the first of our 3 teacher days this week before school starts on Monday. I found out that we are having a parent meet and greet on Friday (tomorrow) morning at 9am and we are expected to have our rooms done! I knew it was mentioned that it was a possibility we'd do this at the end of last year but didn't know that it was actually confirmed! I feel like such a ditz! (FYI we have never had parents come in before school starts. They usually show up on the first day with all their kids things and then we have a parent teacher night in week 2 which is why it was such as surprise).

Anyway, I hadn't been too stressed about my room because I knew I still had this weekend to finish it off. (I know, I'm slack).  Sooooo.... it was like SHOCK. HORROR! Why did I procrastinate??!! So I had to stay late yesterday and today to have my room at least looking OK (i.e. no stacked boxes, everything spread over desks etc like it has been) before I get to meet my parents and kids bright and early tomorrow. In staying back late, I mean I stayed back 1 hour each day. I know, not much, nothing really. I feel bad. BUT I was REALLY tired after having to get up early and sit through endless meetings and PD from 8am to 4pm both days. So by 5 yesterday and today I called it quits. We had 30mins of 'teacher prep time' (i.e. room set up ) on Wednesday (which turned into 15mins by the time we were out of the last meeting) and 45mins today + working through lunch. So I haven't had time to do much yet.
 Here's a view from the door looking to the left. There's my CAFE board, lots of shelves and the start of my VOICES board. Along the top of the whiteboard is part of the word wall. Kids always love the mini couch and cushions for reading.
 Here's my group area. The tubs on top are for sorting books tomorrow morning - just have to add labels tonight. You can see my clear drawers have just been stuffed to try and hide 'stuff'. I might put labels down the front to hide it for tomorrow!

This is the view looking towards the front. My teacher desk is down there - that's another thing that has used up a lot of time. The teacher next door and I brought our teacher desks out of our shared office and put our 4 computers in there instead (totalling 8 computers) so we have a mini computer lab to share! So that meant a lot of last minute changes but it should work out wonderfully!
 This is at the doorway. I'll be filling the rack with books tomorrow morning. This will be used as a listening post area. The board will be for student work.
This is the front left of the room. My teacher desk is there with the laptop that connects to the interactive whiteboard. I have a small group area there too. On the little table is one of the $3 book racks I picked up recently at a garage sale. Under that is our reading buddies (stuffed animals).

Well, that's it for now! The holidays went super duper fast! Wish me luck for tomorrow! :D

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back to School: The Middle, Part 1

OH. MY. WORD. Was it SCORCHING when went I to school to start setting up the other day. Needless to say, I didn't get too much done. I went in for about 4 hours and then just had to leave. I was an exhausted, hot mess! 

Here's the progress I've made so far: 
 This is the view from the doorway showing the width of the classroom. I've started redoing my library so all the books are on the desks. I was thinking of having my meeting area where that blue covered chair is right near the doorway (you can see the side of my easel on the right of the pic). I don't really like it there but in Summer we really need the breeze that comes in the door because it gets HOT. I'm talking, we're sitting and reading a book and we're sweating. So, even though I don't like it there, it might have to be there for the first term at least.

 This is the view from the doorway looking towards the front of the room. I've got 25 kids so far on my list, and I usually end up getting one or two more on the first day. I don't want the desks like this, but I just had to unstack them. I just couldn't DO anything until they were (even though it would have been easier to move things around with them stacked... I'm just weird like that).

 This is showing the side of the room with the doorway. I 've still got random stuff in the bookshelves. I haven't gotten as far as organising all my stuff - just trying to find a place  for the furniture. 

This is from the bookshelves in the previous photo looking at the other side of the room.

So, not much progress made. I do not like how the desks are arranged but I just couldn't 'see' the classroom with them stacked in the middle. They will need to be rearranged. The hexagonal table in the last photo is my guided reading table. That area is not anywhere near ready - just trying to find out where I want it. 

I'm starting to feel a *bit* more motivated to get organised. I don't want to start making/buying things to pretty up the room until I know where everything is going. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garage Sale Success!

I went to a retiring teachers garage sale on the weekend and got some awesome bargains!
I got 2 of these rotating book displays for $3 each. My son is loving Percy Jackson at the moment!
I got this big book wire stand for $2.

Alphabet charts and tangram puzzles already laminated and other resource folders (for Australia Day, Remembrance Day, Brain Gym etc) for a few dollars each. 

 A whole bunch of plain and patterned material (some new), spinners, a whole tub of pattern blocks for $4, street signs for 50c (we are doing road safety first term so these will come in handy), box of scissors (can never have enough!), a bag of attribute blocks and other little random art supplies. 

I LOVE a good bargain!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Valentine's Day centers and Freebies!

Sorry I've been posting so much about new items in my TpT store. Once school starts up again I'll have more interesting things to post about!

Saying that, here's another item I've just uploaded to TpT (haven't gotten around to Teachers Notebook yet - I'll update this post with links once I do). 
It comes with 7 centers and activities: 
1.  Puppy Love Parts of Speech
2.  Opposites Attract Antonyms 
3.  Sweet "Hoots" Syllable sort
4.  Marvellous Monkey Mathematicians
5.  Chocolate groups (given a table/diagram, students draw the number of chocolate boxes, the number of chocolates in the box and write the number model).
6. Love Heart Arrays bingo (boards for 8 students - perfect for pairs or small groups).
7. Multiplication and array number stories (student made booklet to respond to number stories, number stories 2 page worksheet and 1 page for students to write their own multiplication stories).

I've uploaded it as a whole pack, only the array/multiplication math activities and separate literacy activities (as linked to above). 
Now here's 2 freebies from the pack:
Marvellous Monkey Mathematicians comes with number cards 1-20. Students turn over 2-3 cards and complete the worksheet. This center comes with 4 recording sheets for you to choose from:

1. 3 Addends (students turn over 3 cards, record the order that is easier for his/her to add and find the sum).
2. 2 Addends (turn over 2 cards, add and record).
3. Subtraction (turn over 2 cards. Take the smaller number away from the larger and record).
4. Multiplication (turn over 2 cards, multiply and record).

Easy to differentiate - just put out the number cards and/or recording sheet you want your students to work on. 

Also, here is a worksheet of array/multiplication number stories. Click on the pic to grab it.

EDIT: Marvellous is spelt with a double l here in Australia. I have updated the file to include both the double l and single l spelling of 'marvellous' so my American buddies can also print and enjoy this activity! Thanks for pointing that out!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

VOICES - 6 Traits Writing Bulletin Board

Well, I've been mulling over my classroom design - in particular, what permanent bulletin boards I will have and where they'll go. I saw this pin on Pinterest ages ago, and well, it stuck in my head because it was something that I really wanted to do.

It is much like the CAFE board and I absolutely could not live without my CAFE board. Last year, it became such a big part of our classroom and we referred to it everyday. It made the vocabulary 'stick' and was a central point for what we had learned. I thought a VOICES board would complement it.

So, over the holidays I've been working on cards to make it up. What I loved about the CAFE board is that I already knew the strateiges that I could teach under each component because they were provided with the book. I didn't for VOICES. So I've read a couple of books and came up with some cards and done up a pack for TpT and Teachers Notebook. 

It comes with over 90 cards that you can add to your VOICES board!


Just like with CAFE, I'm thinking that I'd still have separate charts that go along with a lot of the strategies. For example, I have a card that says 'Hook the reader with a bold beginning'. I'd have a separate chart that would go over the different ways that authors create bold beginnings  or leads (e.g. begin with a question, begin with dialogue, create a ticking clock etc).  But I hope that, like our CAFE board, it will become a central hub for our writing strategies. 

You can check it out at TpT and Teachers Notebook. It's 20% off at TpT for a limited time - I couldn't find the sale thingy on Teachers Notebook - I'm tired, ok!!

I can't wait until I put it up! Some motivation is seeping in - might have to head to school this week and start setting up!

EDIT: I've also uploaded a Penguin/Polar Bear skip counting pack. It covers skip counting in 2's, 3's, 5's, 10's and 10's from single digit numbers (1-9). You can grab it on TpT and Teachers Notebook.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Back to School - The Beginning

Soooo, I went into school today to check out what my room looks after being cleaned over the holidays. This is my third year in a demountable.

Needless to say, we don't have those great big halls many of my lovely readers have, so no big cutesy bulletin board to put up outside my room for when my new bunch of big grade 2's arrive in a few short weeks. I must say, I'm relieved about that because that must take you guys HOURS to do! I'm not that creative so I'd have a very hard time.

At the end of the year, we pile everything up on the lino between the two classrooms - only desks stay stacked up on the carpet so that the carpet can be cleaned. Here's the view from the door. I've stacked things on top of the desks since they couldn't fit on the lino.
Here's the lino/kitchen area between the classes where we had to box up and pile everything. You can see the top of our bookshelves (with stuff boxed up inside them). 

I am so NOT motivated to get in and get everything ready. I'm still rethinking how I want to organise and set-up. I'm umming and ahhing about doing a theme. I've never done one before, but I see so many cutesy classrooms that do that I'm considering it. I'm thinking frogs, monkey's or space/astronauts. I'll see.

Here's my list of things to think about before I head back to school (because of course your interested... why wouldn't you be haha): 
  1. Guided reading materials, records, books and other paperwork. This is always the messiest place in my room with piles of books and activities and post-its and folders and records and pointers and and and.... you get the point.
  2. Math games and manipulatives - again, how to store, keep neat and keep track of so I know what I've got before I start buying/making more!
  3. Weekly materials - I can never find things when I want them. I'm always misplacing things!
So, before I head in and start to get organised I want a plan so these things are less of a problem. But I'm not motivated... maybe give me another week and when it gets a little bit closer to school starting again, panic mode will set in - the number 1 motivator I know! 

Once I do, I'll get back to you with The Middle and The End posts!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

FREEBIE: Science Variables and Job Roles posters

Science is one of my favorite subjects to teach. Today I have a free set of posters for you to use during science investigations. 

The first is a Cows Moo Softly poster which I use as a reminder for variables which change, stay the same and are measured/observed when we are conducting fair tests. 

Next I have 3 job role posters. These roles are used is some Australian schools, particularly those using Primary Connections science units. 

In the lower school, they recommend that teachers limit the roles to 2 - Manager and Speaker. Later, they introduce the Director role. 

Download them for free from my TpT store.