Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflecting on Reading Instruction

Recently I've done a lot of reflecting on reading instruction.  Lots of PD on formative assessment, feedback, writer's workshop and readers workshop has me very reflective of how I taught reading in my classroom.  Common core is not for the weak hearted! We have to change our practices so that our students are successful. We need to start asking ourselves, "What is the effect of my teaching on their learning?"  With that being said I FINALLY understand just how important it is to teach our students to be readers and writers.  This doesn't mean following a script or a program. It means a lot of hard work for both teachers and students.  We have to put the time into planning those book clubs, close reading lessons, lessons on writing and reading strategies and giving them the time to read and write during class.  Our kiddos need 30 minutes of independent reading time in class. They need 30 minutes of independent writing time in class.  It makes sense for your ELA block to look like this:  10 minutes of Word Work, 30 minutes of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time with reading response, 30 minutes of Small Group Guided Reading, 45 minutes of Readers Workshop, 45 minutes of Writers Workshop.  I see now how your Writers Workshop focuses on informational writing while your Readers Workshop focuses on informational text.  It makes sense!!  No longer do we need to teach standards in isolation.  We need a "power" standard that drives the lesson but with that standard we also teach other related standards. Close reading has to become something good readers do naturally but we have to make it a focus in our classrooms.  If we start in the first grade can you imagine the readers we would have by the time those students enter 3rd grade.  Standardized tests are geared towards close reading and if our students have always been close readers then those tests no longer become daunting.  We aren't teaching to the tests. We are only equipping our students to be successful when they take the test. :0) 

I've bundled some of my reading anchor charts together that might be helpful to your kiddos in anchoring reading strategies.  You can print them poster size to put in the classroom or print them on an 8x11 sheet for a notebook that your students can refer to during their independent reading and responding.   You can get it HERE.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Movie Clip Monday ... When Two Vowels Go Walking

                                              Techie Turtle Teacher

Sharing another fun video you can use in the classroom. My firsties loved this video, When Two Vowels Go Walking! In my district we are 1:1 digitally so all of our firsties have their own iPad.  If you are fortunate enough to have iPads in the classroom I have a great tip on how to manage all of these videos.  You can post the links on padlet walls at  Once you create the padlet wall you can go to the url address of the padlet wall and put the shortcut onto the homescreen of the iPad so your firsties can easily access it.


Ruby Bridges Unit Update

I just added one more piece to my Ruby Bridges unit. My first grade teachers asked me to add a fact and opinion graphic organizer to the unit.  They will be using it instead of "How Ruby Changed History" with the craftivity. If you have purchased the unit or are thinking about purchasing and want something added just send an email to

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Movie Clip Monday ... Ruby Bridges ... Do You Know Her Story?

For as long as I can remember I always introduced civil rights in my classroom using the book, The Story of Ruby Bridges.  My first graders always related to Ruby and were so shocked at how she was treated. Some great conversations were sparked through the reading of her story.  As we enter Black History Month I urge you to spark those conversations with your students no matter what grade you teach.  Here is a video of a Read Aloud of the book!

Click on Ruby Bridges below to purchase the craftivity and lap book.

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