Sunday, December 10, 2017

Disguise a Gingerbread Man Library Contest

One of the most fun partnerships of my job was working with our school librarian. We worked Family Literacy Nights, Read Across America Celebrations, and our fun library contests! The library contests came about as a way to reach our kids and parents and engage them in fun activities that they would enjoy. We wanted our kids and parents to:
together on our

* love reading and love books.
* talk to each other about books.
* create something special together.

To do this, we invented our library contests! They were totally voluntary. One of our library contests that took place in December was Disguise a Gingerbread Man.

We posted posters around the school to let kids know we planned to host a contest.

When kids came to the library to ask about the contest, we provided a gingerbread man template on cardstock and the directions on a flyer.

The kids had about three weeks to disguise their gingerbread man as a character from a book they enjoy.

They returned the completed project (with their name, teacher's name, character name, and book title on the back) to the library by the due date.




Then we had a couple judges identify the winners! We chose many, many winners, because the prize was a big one. We booked a bus and a field trip to Barnes & Noble!

Our original idea was to give the winners gift cards to Barnes & Noble, but we realized that our population of kids might not be able to find transportation to get there to spend their card. So my incredible principal suggested the field trip!

We collected winners from the three contests in the fall (Disguise-a-Pumpkin, Turkey in Disguise, and Disguise a Gingerbread Man) and took them all to Barnes & Noble!

They gave each child a piece of chocolate and a tiny sample of a frappuccino (I don't have to tell you how fancy the kids thought that  was!) and then the school paid for one book of the child's choosing. It was a beautiful day!

To grab the editable version of these fun projects (and more: bunnies, snowmen, and designing bookmarks!) just head over to my TpT store!
 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Book-Projects-for-seasons-holidays-editable-3433625
 
 
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Supporting struggling students without pulling them out

One of the biggest challenges to instructional coaching is time management. Where do you spend
your time? I've written about this before, but I'd like to address a specific problem that comes up frequently.
The dilemma:
Should instructional coaches pull out students for intervention?

A lot of this depends on your job description. If you're more of a reading specialist, this might be what your job is mostly about. My job description was about supporting teachers to grow our school's instruction, so that's where I'm coming from.

Sometimes instructional coaches (or literacy coaches, math coaches, whatever your district calls them) are viewed as the safety net for struggling kids. The RtI standby is "Have so-and-so pull the kids out for a small group intervention."

While this is clearly a better support for kids than sticking them on a computer-based program (another old standby), there are issues that arise with this philosophy.

I've done some thinking about this, and here's what I've come up with.

Pros
The student is pulled out by someone who is trained highly in their area of need.
This might not always be true. I have known people who weren't highly trained in their area of coaching and I was confused about how they were placed in that position. But in general, people in support positions should be very knowledgeable in their intervention practices. Students can benefit from a one-on-one or small group setting with a highly trained individual. 

If the student is at a level all of his own, he will get support at that level.
It's hard (sometimes impossible) for teachers to schedule support for students who have no peers at the same learning level. That is a tremendous challenge for teachers in the classroom with students significantly below (or above) their peers.


Cons
The student is pulled out of class.
This is a huge issue that I believe doesn't get enough attention. Our kids who are pulled out are at a serious disadvantage. They are missing what's happening in their home class and are interacting with someone who doesn't know them as well as their teacher.

Learning doesn't always transfer. 
Kids compartmentalize learning. (Adults do, too, incidentally.) To bridge this requires a conscious effort on the part of the classroom teacher and the pullout teacher.

This keeps the coach from working with teachers or meeting other school-wide needs.
This is also huge. If you're working with a small group, you're affecting maybe six people on your campus, tops. That's not a great ratio, when you consider the number of kids and teachers you're there to serve.

Coaches are frequently pulled from duties.
It's hard to be consistent when you're sent to trainings, pulled to monitor classrooms or to serve as support during other emergencies. Support only works when it's consistent. I really want to avoid committing to a teacher if I might not be able to follow through on that.

This doesn't solve the underlying issue.
The student will continue to go back to class with the underlying issue: something about their school day isn't serving their learning.

My proposed solution:

In order to support kids in the long-term, instructional coaches have to support their teachers. My thinking is in five steps.

1. Meet with the teacher to discuss the area of students' needs.
  • Ask specific questions to get specific details.
  • What has the teacher already tried?
  • How have students responded to that support?
2. Observe the teacher working with the students to fully understand what is going on.
  • Take careful notes.
  • Look for what the teacher has alrady explained to you.
  • Notice what the teacher does when students struggle.
  • Notice how students react to teacher instruction.
3. Plan with the teacher an approach that might work with students.
  • Be specific - use the lesson plan template or structure that the teacher is using.
  • Plan out steps.
  • Choose materials.
  • Write questions and dialogue together.
4. Model the plan.
  • Work with the small group using the plan you created.
  • Debrief with the teacher: what went well? what didn't? what needs to be changed?
5. Carry out the plan: observe and provide feedback.
  • Watch the teacher deliver the plan.
  • Check in with the teacher: how's it going?
  • Watch for student progress.
  • Model again as necessary.
I don't have all the answers. You might really disagree with this! And this won't always work, honestly. But it might help you minimize the number of students who need to be pulled out while growing your teachers' intervention strategies. Both of these outcomes are important for instructional coaching.

 Interested in getting yourself organized? Check out my Instructional Coaching MegaPack on TPT for records, observation forms, planning documents, binder covers, and more for coaches!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Instructional-Coach-Binder-A-MegaPack-of-Printables-Fillable-Forms-and-More-2065048

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Guided Reading: Make It Fun!

If guided reading is an important part of your reading program, your kids will be spending a lot of
time at your table. This means that the time you spend in guided reading has to serve a lot of purposes: growing readers, of course, but not just growing readers at the skill level. Our goal is to create real readers: people who can and do read.

I'm just going to say it: if guided reading is boring, and kids don't feel excited, successful, or engaged, then we may be robbing our kids of the joy of reading.

Here are some things to think about to make sure that love fills your guided reading lessons!

1. Fake it till you make it.
Don't love guided reading? Fake it. If you're bored or disinterested, your kid are too. Be excited and value the work you're doing with kids. Joy and humor go a long way to grow readers.

2. Choose texts with kids in mind.
Those handy dandy leveled readers are awfully convenient, but they're usually not very exciting. I prefer to go with real, engaging texts that kids might actually enjoy and connect with. Scholastic's Book Wizard is a great place to hunt for reading levels.

Find a text you'd like to read with your kids, and then search for it here to find the guided reading level. Choose a book that's high interest for the kids in your group. Starting with a reading interest survey can help. You can find one in Rolling Out Reader's Workshop.

3. Celebrate!
Guided reading is tough work for kids. They're exploring strategies at levels that aren't easy. When kids use a strategy they haven't before, celebrate! When they reach a new level, celebrate! High fives, stickers, bookmarks, and little cheers are easy ways to show kids they've accomplished something and should be proud.

4. Use fun materials.
Depending on the age group and personality types you're working with, props can liven up your lesson and give kids something to look forward to. Some easy props are fun pointers (swizzle sticks are cheap and cute), and "reading glasses"(nothing too distracting or view-obstructing, of course!) are great for younger readers.

My kids also love using dry-erase boards and markers, and sticky notes in cute shapes! The Dollar Store is a great spot for livening up guided reading.

Honestly, though, you don't need to buy anything to make guided reading fun. If you bring joy to your work, it will shine through your lessons and your kids will love getting small group attention from you! It could be the happiest part of their day, because they feel special, successful, and engaged!

Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won't be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading!
 
September 24: Getting to Know Your Readers First
October 1: What Are the Other Kids Doing?
October 8: Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder
October 15: Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading
October 22: Planning for Guided Reading
October 29: How Do I Know What to Teach?
November 7: Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading
November 12: How to Build Reading Strategies
November 19: Guided Reading: Make it Fun!
 
 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Guided Reading: How to Build Strategy Use in Readers

The purpose of guided reading is to build strategy use to support growing readers. We do this in a guided setting so we can introduce a strategy and help students practice it until they're able to do it on their own in their own reading.


In order to actually make this happen, it requires thoughtful planning and figuring out which strategies to introduce to students.

But it's not as hard as it seems! Once you've figured out which strategy to teach, here is how you can actually ensure that students acquire it and are able to use it in their own reading.

1.  Explicitly introduce it at the beginning of your lesson.
This can look like a little tiny minilesson. As in a minilesson, explicitly state what the strategy is and how to do it. Choose a chunk of text - it could be from the book you're about to read, a book you've read before with this group, or any short text. Model using the strategy in this text. Ask students if they understand and if they have questions.







2. Keep a record of strategies kids can use.

When you've already introduced a strategy, you'll want to keep a visual record so kids and refer to it in the future, during guided reading and other parts of the day.

I add the strategy on a little sentence strip into a pocket chart, so students will remember that's a strategy they are able to use. Have kids verbalize the strategy, too. The language needs to become theirs.

2. Set a purpose question that requires students to use the strategy.
I use my little dry-erase board to visually record what we are working on during the lesson. Then I provide students with post-its so they can try the strategy on their on during their reading. At the end of the lesson, we can add their post-its and have a discussion about how they used the strategy. 

3. During reading, prompt students to use the strategy.

As students are reading, prompt them to try the strategy out. Ask questions that guide them through using the strategy. If students are simply forgetting to use it, you can just ask, "What strategy are we working on?" and gesture towards the pocket chart and dry-erase board.

4. Close the lesson with a conversation about the strategy. 

Ask students how it went and if they were able to try it out. Think about how you'd like to continue with your next lesson. More practice? An increase in complexity? Different types of purpose questions? 

Over time, students will acquire strategies. Then you can bridge to their independent reading and have them practice it independently, at which point it will be part of their toolbox!

Once I've taught something whole-group or in guided reading, I add it to my Good Readers... chart so students can use the sentence starters to write their reading responses. It really helps to grow their independence! You can read more about this in Rolling Out Reader's Workshop.


Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won't be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading!
 
September 24: Getting to Know Your Readers First
October 1: What Are the Other Kids Doing?
October 8: Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder
October 15: Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading
October 22: Planning for Guided Reading
October 29: How Do I Know What to Teach?
November 7: Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading
November 12: How to Build Reading Strategies
November 19: Guided Reading: Make it Fun!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).


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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Turkeys in Disguise! Library Contest & Book Project

You've probably seen turkeys in disguise all over the internet - they're a fun way to get kids to be creative and clever! We used this fun idea to get kids engaged in reading and in a school event!

We decided to host a Turkey in Disguise Library Contest! We posted signs around the school to let kids know about the contest.

The rules were that kids had to use the turkey template provided to disguise their turkey as a character from a book they enjoy.

They could have parental help (and many did - it's a great way to encourage kids and parents to work together on a fun task!).

Then we made a stack of turkey templates on cardstock (with an entry form on the back) and a flyer with the due date and directions.

And we were astounded by how adorable the entries were! So much that I wanted to share them with you on the blog!

















If you're interested in using this fun idea as a book project or as a contest, you can grab an editable version on TpT! It also includes the Gingerbread Man in Disguise, Disguise a Snowman, Disguise a Bunny, Pumpkin-in-Disguise, and Design a Bookmark! Keep kids engaged and creative all year!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Book-Projects-for-seasons-holidays-editable-3433625

 
 
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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading

Progress monitoring are buzz words in education. We monitor everything.

How long does it take Benny to read 100 words? How many multiplication facts does Carrie know? How many absences does Richard have? How frequently does Martha use her problem solving strategy?

The only issue with this is: what do we do with that information? What's the point? 

If we collect tons of data on our kids, and then do nothing with it, it was an absolute waste of time and paper.

That being said, there is a purpose to collecting data in guided reading. It can help us make good decisions about what skills and strategies to tackle, how to group our kids, and when they're ready to move up to a new level.

Here are some ways we can monitor students' progress in guided reading, along with the reason it's actually useful.




1. What to collect: reading level
One easy way to do this is on a monthly basis. I have a spreadsheet with each month across the top and students' names down the side. At the end of each month, I record the students' instructional reading level.

Why to collect it:
I look across the student's levels from the year and try to notice if there's been appropriate growth. If a student is making significantly less progress than his/her peers, I notice it and try to think about why that is. If a student is stuck on a level, I think about that too.



2. What to collect: anecdotal notes

To record anecdotal notes, I have an index card for each student. I stick them in the pocket of the plastic divider for that group when I'm not using them. During a lesson, I pull out the cards and have them in front of me, next to the lesson plan.

As students are reading and I'm checking in and prompting, I record notes about their reading behaviors. This might include notes about
- decoding skills kids used or didn't use
- use of comprehension strategies
- how much prompting I had to do
- notes about fluency

Why to collect it:
After a few lessons on a certain strategy, I can pull out the cards and see how my group is responding to the strategy. Do my notes show that they're using it well, and integrating it into their other strategies? Do my notes show a significant area of weakness that I can attack next? The notes are purposeful and help me plan for the future.




3. What to collect: reading behavior records
Reading behavior records incorporate a record of student decoding behaviors, a note about fluency, and a comprehension check. You can get a freebie form here on TPT, or get a form and analysis tools and explanations from Rolling Out Guided Reading.

Why to collect it:
These notes are more thorough than anecdotal notes. You record reading behaviors on about 100 words, and then check for comprehension using a scoring rubric. Using this data, you can decide whether it's time to move up a guided reading level or time to stay at the same level.





4. What to collect: Strategy Quick Check
I have a little system called QuickChecks that I use as an overview every so often to see how students are using a variety of strategies for decoding, fluency, and comprehension. I just check off the strategies I've seen students use effectively.

Why to collect it:
This will give you an overview of where students are. As students move up in reading levels, sometimes the reading behavior record doesn't provide you as much information. Thinking about what strategies students are able to use is a great way to monitor and plan for the future, and will help you think about what kids need to learn next.

Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won't be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading!
 
September 24: Getting to Know Your Readers First
October 1: What Are the Other Kids Doing?
October 8: Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder
October 15: Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading
October 22: Planning for Guided Reading
October 29: How Do I Know What to Teach?
November 7: Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading
November 12: How to Build Reading Strategies
November 19: Guided Reading: Make it Fun!
 
 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Guided Reading: How Do I Know What to Teach?

This post is super important. It's probably one of the biggest questions I'm asked about guided reading.  

How do I know what to teach? 

That's a pretty big deal. Guided reading is meant to be strategic and responsive to students' needs. If we're just throwing out random strategies, without thought as to whether students have already mastered them, or if they're ready for them, we're spinning our wheels and wasting our most precious commodity: time. So choosing a strategy to focus on for guided reading is pretty important. 

There are a few factors to consider when you're deciding what to teach in guided reading. 
*What strategies should students be able to demonstrate?
*What strategies are appropriate for the level of text?
*What strategies has this student mastered?
And a really important one:
*What is keeping this student from moving up a level?

This is where all of that record-keeping comes in. If you're planning your first guided reading lessons with a group, start with the initial assessment data that you collected. If you used my reading behavior records, great! If you used something else, great! Pull out the records you have for all the members of that group and lay them in front of you.
 
Also, print out my Good Readers strategy sheets from my Guided Reading Freebie or product. It's a good place to start and provides you an overview of common strategies for decoding and comprehension.

There are lots of other sources for reading strategies at each level, too. I found this great freebie on TPT, but in the past, I've referred to Fountas & Pinnel as well as Scholastic for these resources.

Then it's time to use your data!

Decoding Example: 
Frequently (but not always!), below level 18, students who are struggling to move on are struggling with decoding skills. Comprehension is always important, but it's not as common for students to be held back by comprehension at lower levels.
As you look across the assessment data for your group, think about this: what strategies are students using consistently across the group?
If students are consistently reading sight words accurately, using initial sounds to decode, and rereading to clarify meaning, then that's not a place to start. You already know they can do these things without instruction. Instead, look at the errors they're making. If you see several errors across the group where students misread vowel teams, or leave the endings off of words, then start there.

Comprehension Example:
Once you get to a level 20, it's really a mixed bag. Students should have been comprehending prior to that, of course. But the level of complexity really increases and students have to apply increasingly complex strategies to understand. 

So again, look across the assessment data for your group. What strategies are students using consistently? If students are able to make reasonable predictions and identify genre, don't start there. Instead, start with something that's keeping kids from moving on. If students are struggling to analyze characters or make inferences about character feelings, then that's a good place to start. 

As you move forward in your lessons with students, you'll have more anecdotal notes and records to help you decide what to work on. Pay close attention to student reading behaviors and take good notes to maximize your instructional time!

I hope that helps! Please, I'd love to hear about your questions in the comments!

Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won't be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading!
 
September 24: Getting to Know Your Readers First
October 1: What Are the Other Kids Doing?
October 8: Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder
October 15: Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading
October 22: Planning for Guided Reading
October 29: How Do I Know What to Teach?
November 7: Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading
November 12: How to Build Reading Strategies
November 19: Guided Reading: Make it Fun!
 

  
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
 
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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Planning for Guided Reading

Planning for guided reading doesn't have to be stressful.
There are basically three things you're trying to do:

1. Preparing students to read a text with strategy.
2. Monitoring and prompting as students read, so they use the strategy.
3. Recording notes about how students applied the strategy and used it to comprehend. 

That's why the guided reading lesson plan is divided into three parts: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading.

To get started planning for a group, here's what you do.

1. Identify a focus for the group. At first, you're basing this decision on the notes and records you took during your initial assessment. You want to look across the reading behavior records for each student in that group and notice any patterns you can start with. Start small - give the kids and yourself a chance to feel successful!

For students who are at a 20 and above, it's not a bad idea to start with visualizing the text. Many kids don't even stop to process, and visualizing is a good strategy to help them realize that they are meant to understand what's happening in the text.

2. Once you've chosen your focus, fill out the strategy portion of your lesson plan. That is really important. I've seen a lot of guided reading lessons where teachers are just having kids read book after book and hoping that they're gaining strategies. They're not. You have to explicitly introduce the strategy, and honestly, you need to do a little minilesson too. Model what it looks like so students know what you're expecting of them. 

3. Then you choose a book. I know! You wait till step 3 to choose a book! But you can't choose an appropriate book until you've figured out what you want to teach! If I want kids to work on decoding words with vowel teams, I have to make sure I choose a book with opportunities for them to practice vowel teams, which means the book has to have a lot of vowel teams in it! If I want them to make inferences, I have to choose a book leaves enough unsaid for kids to practice this strategy. So choose carefully. Ensure that the book is in the instructional range for your group.

4. Read the book. Yup, you have to at least be a pretty skilled scanner. Pull out vocabulary that students might struggle with - no more than 5 words. If it's more than 5 words, you might have chosen a book that's too difficult. What structures or features are in the text that the kids should notice? Record those on your plan, too. 

5. Think about a good introduction for the book. A good introduction plants proper nouns and introduces kids to concepts or ideas that are present in the book, very briefly.

But as your students progress in levels, you don't want to give the whole text away in the introduction. Choose carefully what it is that you want to introduce.


6. Set your purpose question. I have a handy planning guide in my Rolling Out Guided Reading materials that aligns questions with strategies. A good purpose question has students practice the strategy you're teaching, so think about a question that requires students to use that strategy.


7. Record prompts that you can use during the lesson. How will you prompt students to use the strategy if they're not? Think of some short prompts you can use to support the strategy.


8. Leave the anecdotal notes space blank - this is where you record what students did during the lesson, to help you plan for next time. 


At first, planning for guided reading can feel a little daunting. If you want it to really reach your readers, it takes a little thought. But after you've done it for a while, it will start to feel more natural and will take you less time. Practice helps!

So now you're ready to plan. How do you know what to teach during guided reading? My next post will focus on that!

Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won't be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading!
 
September 24: Getting to Know Your Readers First
October 1: What Are the Other Kids Doing?
October 8: Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder
October 15: Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading
October 22: Planning for Guided Reading
October 29: How Do I Know What to Teach?
November 7: Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading
November 12: How to Build Reading Strategies
November 19: Guided Reading: Make it Fun!
 



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading

If every time you head over to your table to do guided reading, you have to clear piles of junk off of
your table, let's just be honest: you're probably not going to be very consistent.

The purpose of having your space set up is to minimize transition time so you can maximize instructional time. Every minute wasted is precious: time is your most valuable and limited commodity!

There are a few things to consider when you're making sure your space is ready for guided reading every day.

Visibility
As you're making your plan for your classroom, you'll want to make sure that you select your guided reading (and small group) space carefully. Put yourself in the chair you'll be sitting in. Do you have visibility of your classroom? Are there nooks that students can sit in where you won't be able to see what's happening?

For safety reasons, and management reasons, too, you'll want to be able to see every part of your classroom, if at all possible. This minimizes the likelihood of disasters happening during guided reading.

Clear surface
If you have a guided reading table (a kidney table), then great! They're an excellent space because they are shaped to help you have visual access to each of your readers. But if you don't, you can use any table that works for you. I've done guided reading at rectangular tables, desks pushed together, and sitting on the carpet. You just want to make sure  that you can communicate with each student well. Have a consistent space, too - this helps your groups learn the routine.

Enough seats for the kids in each group
I've been in classrooms that are short on seats. For each lesson, the kids dragged their noisy chairs across the room, from their desks to the table. It contributes to the chaos of the transition and keeps the other kids from getting started on whatever it is they're supposed to be doing independently. 

Sometimes the school just doesn't provide enough chairs to have an extra six just sitting at your guided reading table all day. In that case, get creative! Make those cute crate seats or buy those little cubes from Target or Home Goods. I found really great kid-sized folding chairs at Wal-Mart. Whatever your budget, find a way to provide a dedicated spot for kids to sit in. It will simplify your transitions!

Access to tools students should use during guided reading
There are some things we want kids to use during guided reading. Whether this is comprehension strategy speaking stems, a word wall, or decoding tools, you want kids to have easy access to the tools they need to use to help themselves. If they have to turn around to see the chart on vowel teams, they probably won't really use it and you won't be building much of a habit.  


Don't have wall space? You can make a handy tools folder out of a file folder and the pages you want students to have access to. Glue them on and laminate. Then you can pull them out for each session.

Access to group materials
This is totally up to each teacher. Some people like to have their materials in baskets, and some use the vertical magazine holders. Some keep them in folders. The bottom line is: when you're starting a group, you don't want to spend three minutes digging around in a pile of stuff behind your table to find your guided reading book or your lesson plan. 

To keep myself organized, I used an organized guided reading binder (more on that next time) and a series of plastic vertical magazine file organizers behind my table. The lesson plan and my copy of the book went in the binder, along with the necessary reading behavior record forms. The materials for the kids (each kid had a folder with their guided reading book in the pocket) went in the vertical organizers. Each group had a different organizer. This helps me stay on top of my materials and start guided reading quickly each day.

Here's another tip: Have a set of pencils in a cup. Don't ask kids to bring pencils them. It's just a time-waster. Three kids arrive at the table with a pencil and two don't. The two who didn't have to go back and get one. It wastes your time and theirs, which is your most valuable commodity.

Instead, I buy  a pack of unique  pencils and put them in a pencil cup on my table. They are always sharpened and always available. And because they're special, it's to tell if someone had accidentally walked away with one of my guided reading pencils.


Keep teaching materials handy
I use a dry-erase board for minilessons, so I need to ensure that I have space for my dry-erase board, markers, and (except for those times I just use my hand) an eraser. I have a stack of little dry-erase boards (you can often find them at the Dollar Spot at Target) so each student could write on them, as well as post-its for student responses.

I organize most of these materials (including highlighters, dry-erase markers, post-its, and index cards) into a handy supply caddy that I found at Wal-Mart for a few dollars. 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-All-in-One-K-5-Editable-765963
Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
 
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder

An organized binder is a happy binder. Sounds silly, but tell me I'm wrong! When your materials are tidy and labeled, doesn't it give you a sense of satisfaction, that all is right with the world?

It's best to have your binder organized long before you work with your groups. Trying to throw it together after the fact is stressful, messy, and will cause you to miss some opportunities for noticing what your students' needs are.  

Here's how I organize my guided reading binder.

You'll need...
  • Regular dividers
  • Plastic pocket dividers (my favorite thing)
  • A hole punch
  • A 3" binder
  • And rectangular post-its, if you want to use this strategy for grouping

First, I put in the plastic dividers. I have one for each group, and then I leave one or two for resource. These are the labels on my dividers:
*Group One
*Group Two
*Group Three
*Group Four
*Group Five
*Group Six (if needed)
*Data
*Planning Tools


On each group divider, I put post-its with the students' names who are in that group. I use post-its so it's easy to move kids from group to group.

In the pocket, I keep index cards with anecdotal notes about each student (more on that later). I also keep a copy of the book we're going to work on during the next lesson. For upper grades, this could be the same book over several days, because we might do a small section of text each day until we finish the book.

Behind each group tab, I put one regular divider for each student. That's where I keep the reading behavior records and Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Checks for each student. I also include their BOY & MOY assessment data for reference.

If a student changes groups, which they do frequently, I just take that whole stack of records and the divider tab and stick it behind the new group. I also change the student's post-it to the new group divider.


Behind the Data tab, I keep class data, such as the roster of all the student assessment data from BOY and MOY, and the Guided Reading Levels for each month. It's helpful to look across and notice who has made good progress and who isn't moving. You can also keep results of reading assessments here, because they can give you insight on what strategies you might use as minilessons in the future.

Behind the Planning Tools section, I place regular two dividers. Before the dividers, I add in any planning reference tools, such as MSV coding, questioning, strategies, etc., that help me plan my lessons. Behind the first regular divider, I add a stack of blank lesson plans so I always have a copy when I'm ready to plan. Behind the second regular divider, I add a stack of blank reading behavior records.
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Grab the All-in-One Guided Reading Materials (over 100 pages of tools, forms, organizational strategies, and more for guided reading K-5).

 
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