Tuesday, February 9, 2016

First Grade Spelling Scope and Sequence

Several teachers have emailed and asked to see the Scope and Sequence for the First Grade Spelling Programhttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/1st-Grade-Spelling-Program-2337435
I studied Words Their Way , Word Journeys, and the Virginia Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening Assessment to cover Common Core State Standards and the Virginia Standards of Learning to create the scope and sequence to ensure that the spelling patterns that first graders needed to master were covered. I also used the knowledge I gained as a Reading Specialist and a Reading Recovery Teacher.

These are the spelling patterns that average first graders should be able to use by the end of the year. If you find your students are advanced, then skip the ones they know and move on to the next pattern.  If some of your students don't master the pattern for that week, then provide remediation for them in a small group or individually.  If you don't teach the grade level standard to your lowest children, how will they ever catch up?  The idea is to accelerate their progress with explicit teaching and intervention to help them catch up to their peers. :) 

Here it is: 

First Grade Spelling/Word Study Demonstration

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The "Write" Way to Teach Spelling to Elementary Students

Do you have 4 or more word study/spelling groups?

Do you spend precious planning time finding and printing four sets of words?

Do you spend more than 20 minutes of powerful instructional time teaching and testing these groups? 


Are differentiated word/study groups effective and the best use of your time?

As a first grade teacher, I tried differentiated word study groups and didn't find them to be effective.  My students didn't apply the spelling patterns when they were writing.

As a Reading Specialist, I helped teachers assess, organize and plan for instruction, but we still had the same problem.  Our students didn't apply the spelling patterns they were studying.  The results on the Virginia Pals State Assessment continued to drop and the quality of students' writing had not improved.

Spelling is a very small part of the language arts block, but it takes WAY too much time using differentiated word study/spelling groups. Children were sorting words by just looking at the letters that were the same.  This is not meeting the objectives of VA SOLs or CCSS.  If you search the Virginia Standards of Learning and Common Core State Standards, you will find spelling in the writing strands.  They both state that students will demonstrate/apply spelling patterns when WRITING.

Several of my teachers started searching online for something they could use that was manageable, but they couldn't find anything that was effective. 

I began to brainstorm with them and for over a year I've worked on a complete spelling program that teachers could use sequentially from the first week of school to teach spelling patterns. It can be used to teach whole group with remediation for struggling students or with groups if your school system requires groups.

Combining my knowledge as a Reading Specialist and Reading Recovery Teacher with my experience as a classroom teacher,  I created sorts, activities, and assessments where children APPLY the patterns. There is a scope and sequence to ensure that all of the grade level spelling patterns are taught, as well as, specifically selected words so previous patterns are reviewed.

Elementary school children need to spend more time writing in order to prepare them for the rigors of the higher grades. Teachers need materials readily available so they can spend their precious time teaching.

Thanks for everything you do every day for children.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Why I Teach Primary

When I was shopping at the mall recently, I mentioned that I was a teacher and the salesperson said it must be fun playing with little kids all day. She also said how much easier it was than teaching a real subject.

Now, playing is an important part of children's development and I do enjoy teaching. Actually, I LOVE it, but it's not why I became an elementary teacher or why I began my career as a first grade teacher.  During college, one of my professors advised me to focus on primary grades.  She felt that the primary grades were the most important and that only "masters" should be allowed to teach them.  Our discussions about how primary school lays the foundation for children's success still motivates me today.

This memory was triggered earlier today when I read a blog post  about how Finland's education system values primary education so highly that it is THE most competitive degree to get in Finland. The education departments only accept 10% of all applicants and turn away thousands of applicants each year.  Not only do primary teachers  have to be the best and brightest to become primary teachers, they also have to go through personality screenings and a series of  interviews.

 Another interesting idea discussed in the blog about Finland was how the students loop with their teacher up to six years. WOW! Can you imagine how well teachers would know their students if  they taught them for three consecutive years? Another aspect  mentioned was how this helps the teachers understand the curriculum in a holistic and linear way.

Having taught kindergartners through fifth graders, I understand curriculum in this way and can identify gaps in older children's understanding.  I agree with the author that it could be a major factor in Finland's success.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's My Anniversary- Big $avings for You

Happy Hump Day Everyone,


I just realized that it's my first year anniversary with Teachers Pay Teachers so to celebrate I'm throwing a BIG sale.  
I love sharing lessons and ideas and feel so blessed to have found Teachers Pay Teachers.
(: With a son in college, every penny counts :) 

AND my Christmas story with Reader's Theater Script, Room 14's Christmas Surprise is FREE!


The Decoding Skills Binder listed at $19 is now $12. 
It has over 400 pages to help struggling readers.

 Decoding Skills Binder 

This flash sale is only for 24 hours!

Thank you!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

How to Use a Carabiner to Lock Out an Intruder

Recently, I watched a video on how to tie a belt around the hinge of a door to stop an intruder. At school, we are always thinking of ways to keep our students safe, so I took a belt to school to see if this would work on our doors. It did, but as a teacher who usually wears a dress to school it wasn't practical.  

Later that day, I discussed this with our P.E. teacher and we started brainstorming other things we could use that would work in a similar fashion. 

He hangs his key ring on a nail with a carabiner. Inspiration hit us at the same time! Slide the carabiner over it!

Most teachers wear some type of lanyard to display their identification badges and hold their keys, so what if we attached one to our lanyards? 

What do you think? Would this work? Do you have any other ideas to keep our students safe?

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Do You Blog with Your Students?

As a teacher, I'm a lifelong learner. So this summer, I attended an ASCD conference to improve my knowledge of using technology effectively with my students.

Communicating in the digital age is something new to me, but it's the world our children live in today.  My primary school students don't know a world without the internet or the iPad. It was time for this old dog to learn some new tricks. 

One session focused on blogging with students.  It was presented by Sylvia Duckworth. During this session, I had an epiphany.  Blogging is writing for a REAL audience and for a REAL purpose.  

When blogging, students use critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and personal expression.  Students improve their written communication skills and also have opportunities for collaboration and cooperation, as well as, practice to develop their communication technology literacy skills. All of these are 21st Century Skills and vital to our students' future success.

Sylvia Duckworth

I began researching and reading lots of information/blogs on the internet and found some very helpful information. Blogging can be used in so many ways to teach writing skills to children. There are some free sites and lessons available from NCTE to help you start.

One idea I found was to create a Class Blog for primary/elementary school children where the teacher and children write the blog together, similar to the interactive writing approach.
For students in grades 6-12, ReadWriteThink.org has lesson plans and tips on how to manage student blogs, Teaching with Blogs .  

Blogging isn't just writing about something, it's a conversation between you and the world. Teaching children how to post a response to a blog is just as important as creating a blog post.  The posts to a blog should be thoughtful and engage the author and other readers.

Do you blog with your students? If so, please post tips and helpful hints. This is something I want to start at my school and we would really appreciate ideas to help us get started.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Running Record Analysis SIMPLIFIED Part 2

Today, I took running records as I listened to two students read and the running records provided some great examples of why students get stuck in a level.  

  Break It Blend It Cards      Karen Mallard  
The first student's running record on a Guided Reading Level D/ DRA 5 book had 8 Tolds and four errors: flower/yellow, hippo/elephant, blue/purple, says/said.  The student needs to learn what to do when she gets stuck on a word and needs to check to make sure the word looks right by checking the beginning part of the word. 

For example, when she read flower/yellow or hippo/elephant she should have noticed that the first letter of the word didn't match what she said. She also needs to try to solve the word instead of appealing for help. 

I showed her how to check the picture, go back and reread and say the first part of the word.  We call this Get Your Mouth Ready.

The second student's running record had one self- correction: sat/sit SC.  There were three errors: wanted/went, get/got, and swim/swam.  The student isn't looking left-right through words and is noticing that the middle parts don't match.  I began by praising the student for the self-correction sat/sit/SC and asked why he changed the word.  He noticed it didn't sound right.  I told him it didn't look right either.  Then I wrote the two words on a white board and asked him how the two words were the same.  Then I asked him how they were different.  I asked him how he was going to know which word was sat and which word was sit.  He said that he had to look in the middle.  

Then we compared the other errors in the same way.  By comparing and contrasting those words, he was able to gain new understanding in how words work.  We will study his running records for the next few weeks to see if he applies what he learned today in his reading. If he needs additional help, we will use some activities we created to help him practice this skill.
  Read It Right Cards
My friend, and co-creator of our Intervention BindersAshley Benoitand I created activities and assessments and then we organized them in binders to share with our colleagues.  These binders help us stay focused and organized. 

We've included the Running Record Analysis in our binders to help you decide which sections you can use for each type of error.