RTI Documentation

Hello everyone!  It's Jennie from JD's Rockin' Readers!
I'm sharing a post with you today that I had on my blog awhile back.  It's had a lot of views and I know people are always interested in how they can better document interventions.  So, I am going to share with you a form that I created to help me keep track!

I created an RTI progress monitoring freebie and have had people ask exactly how I use it.  I have been documenting and thought I would share a student that I previously wrote a post about.  This student has been struggling with sight words in her reading.  She gets many of them confused and they are definitely not automatic in her reading.  This student is a good artist and loves to draw so I wanted to use her strengths to help her get excited about learning these words that are difficult for her.  You can check out the blog post {here} for more information.
The first page of the progress monitoring plan is basic information.  This page describes the students strengths/weaknesses, skills needed to succeed, and intervention skills that you will be specifically working on.  This page also allows you to document what the intervention will be, who is providing the intervention, how often, and what assessments you will use to monitor the progress.  Here is a sample of my student struggling with sight words. *Here is my disclaimer... I typed this for the purpose of this blog post.  I usually just hand write the documentation but I wanted you to be able to read it- my handwriting is not the best thanks to breaking my arm when I was younger:(
Here is the first page.
When I make copies, I copy page 1 and page 2 back to back.  Page 2 is where I record the Assessment Data and my progress monitoring notes.  For this intervention, I am using my sight word lists (I use Lucy Calkins list from The Teachers College of Reading and Writing).  You can check out my post here that tells why I choose to use her list over Dolch and Fry.  I also am looking at her Reading Benchmark Book running record to see if she is reading the sight words correctly in text.
Page 3 is where I do my daily documentation.  This example is over about a month.  Unfortunately, I didn't see B. L. as much as I had hoped.  She was sick for a few days and I was out with a sick child for a couple days as well.  And- I think we had a couple of snow days... For her intervention I made different flashcards.  Again, to learn more about the intervention and how I made the flashcards, you can go to this blog post.
I hope this helps give you some ideas of possible ways you can use this form to document.  Remember, this is only one example for one specific student.  This form can be used with just about any intervention you may need to do.
If you would like to download this sample, just click {here}.  
For a free blank copy you can click on the picture below.
Please let me know if you have additional questions:)


A Window To Dyslexia

Hi everyone! Emily here, from The Reading Tutor/OG. Do you ever wonder what it's like to live with dyslexia? Do you wish you could get into the minds of your students or even your own children to know what they experience when they try to read? If so, this is the post for you. Today, I'm sharing resources that simulate what it is like to be dyslexic. If you've ever been fortunate to sit through one of these simulation sessions, I'm sure you'll agree it's valuable.

One of the gifts as educators and parents we can give our children with dyslexia is the gift of empathy. To walk a mile in their shoes, and to feel, if only for a short time, the struggles and frustration that come when they are faced with the written word help us to understand, and therefore become more empathetic educators and caregivers.

Since October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, sharing these videos is perfect timing. Each one is short and powerful. Please pin or share this post when you finish reading and watching it. You can also read my last post on dyslexia for more information.

1. This first video explains how dyslexia works in the brain. Thanks to the Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley and The Dyslexia Training Institute for creating these powerful simulation videos.

2. Watch the first simulation video here. This one focuses on the challenges of reading.

3. Here's the second simulation. This one focuses on the writing challenges a dyslexic learner faces.

4. Read more about dyslexia here:
5. Download the pdf file here and distribute to educators, administrators and families. http://www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/All-About-Dyslexia.pdf
6. Click here for an additional simulation and more helpful tips for helping children with learning differences:
7. Learn more about the power of audiobooks and how you can use Learning Ally or Bookshare by clicking the links below:
8. A fabulous classroom reading list for building classroom community and a culture of empathy.
What did you come away with after watching these videos? I'd love to hear and read what you think. Please feel free to comment below. Thank you!


How to Make Letters Fun!

With the school year in full swing now, my kindergartners and I are up to our eyeballs in letters! At the beginning of the school year, I assessed all of the kindergarteners on letter recognition. This is how I determined which students would be in my intervention groups. Many of my students are quickly picking up their letters, but a few of my friends need a little more practice. We have done letter names and sounds just about every way you can imagine. I will show you a few of these ways below.

One of my students' absolute favorite ways to practice their letter names and sounds is with the Pancake Game. I used the die-cut machine to cut out 26 brown circles to be the pancakes. On one side of the "pancake" I wrote the lowercase letter. On the other side, I wrote the capital version of the same letter that was on the front. 

I purchased a very cheap spatula at the dollar store. To play the game, I call out a letter name or sound, and the student has to "flip" the pancake with the corresponding letter. We have perfected our pancake flipping technique. Students place one finger on the front as they scoop and then flip. 

Another favorite of my students is the card game SNAP! In this game, I made a separate card for the lowercase and uppercase versions of every letter. Then, I made about 6-7 "SNAP!" cards. Students draw a card and have to say either the letter name or sound. (Depending on which I ask for!) If students answer correctly, they get to keep the card. When someone draws a SNAP! card, he or she has to put all of their cards in the discard pile. It is hilarious how excited they get about such a simple game!

Another activity we work on is matching capital and lowercase letters using clothespins. First, I made a card for each lowercase letter of the alphabet. I super glued these cards onto clothespins.

Next, I made large cards with the capital versions of each letter. Students have to pin the clothespin with the lowercase letter to the corresponding capital letter. 

I also use this activity to practice letter sounds by asking students to match the cards for the letter that makes the sound /b/. These are just a few of my students' favorite letter ID activities. There are endless ways to practice letter names and sounds.

What are some ways you practice letter names and sounds?


More Tips for teaching English Language Learners: SEI

Hi everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead to share some more ideas for teaching your English Language Learners. Last month I posted about this topic as well, and shared writing instruction strategies and vocabulary strategies. You can find that post here.  Today I have some thoughts on supporting your English Language Learners during reading instruction.


Just a quick review  - what is SEI? In Massachusetts, SEI is Sheltered English Immersion, and to make a long story short, every classroom that has at least one ELL student is an SEI classroom and teachers need to be highly qualified by taking and passing a rigorous semester long course or passing the Massachusetts teacher exam for SEI. After studying for and passing the test, I was inspired to share some of what I learned. I think no matter what state you teach in, the  ways that Massachusetts encourages us to support our ELL students can be extremely helpful.  For information on strategies for vocabulary and writing instruction, check out my blog post from August here. 

Draw on and Build Background Knowledge: 
Students may have limited English proficiency but they may still have a lot of helpful background knowledge. One strategy is to allow students to briefly chat with peers in their native language to discuss their knowledge of the topic before starting a new text. Technology can make building background knowledge a lot easier- you can do everything from printing out pictures that relate to the topic  to show  your class, to playing DVDs, projecting video clips from youtube.com, visiting websites with useful images and using virtual field trips to tap into background knowledge and build new knowledge. Realia is always a great way to build knowledge. As example of a way to use realia is bringing in gardening tools when you are going to read "The Ugly Vegetables" with 2nd graders. There is so much you could do!

Click Here for a short 1 minute video on the importance of building background knowledge to give you some more info from Thinkport. 


Comprehension Checks: 
Informal comprehension checks are important. One new strategy I learned is to  print sentences from  the text on sentence strip paper, mix the strips  up and have students put them in order. For students with even less English proficiency you can do the same with pictures from the text.
Comprehension questions for students- Giving students the opportunity to answer questions orally and not solely in writing is important. Try using  simple sentences and key vocabulary.

Cloze Activities - if students need more support,  cloze passages can be very helpful at checking student comprehension. I created one for my students when we were studying plants. Cloze passages can have a word bank of key vocabulary from the text that you have taught directly, or to make it more challenge the blanks can have only the first letter or can be blank with no word bank. Nurturing Noggins has a great free product which includes cloze passages on Roosevelt. Check it out  here. Here are a few more cloze products you could look into : Ready Ed Publications Cloze Passages and Secondgradealicious Poem of the Week. And there is a solid post about using cloze with ELL students here at Teaching  Success with Ells.

Graphic Organizers:
There is an endless list of graphic organizers that can help any student with comprehension. Here are just a few. Scholastic also has a resource list with tons of graphic organizers too here.
Venn Diagrams
Story Maps
Cause and Effect Charts
Time Lines

What are your go to strategies for supporting your ELL students in reading comprehension? Let us know by commenting below!


Blogging Adventures with Students

Happy Friday from Carla at Comprehension Connection!  Fall seems to be moving in to our part of the US, and we are settling in to a new school year. Things in my classroom have been a bit hectic since the addition of a new teacher meant relocating my classroom a week into school.  However, the dust has settled and we're into the groove of learning, so why not add a new adventure to the routine, right?  We have to keep education lively for our kids in this technology age, and over the past year, I've been mulling over the idea of blogging with my students. 
Blogging with students is lots of fun. Check out this post for how to get started.
The first step for me was to get a blog design done.  I wanted our project to be professional looking, yet kid friendly.  I checked with a few blog designers I knew, and Kristy at Kristybear Designs made it very reasonable for me to do.  I could not be more pleased with the fun and fresh blog design she made for me .  My classroom has a "Wild About Reading" theme, so in keeping with the wild animal theme, our blog is titled, "Where Wild Readers Roam".  After all, I am working hard to build wild readers daily. Here's a sneak peek at our design, but stay tuned for the wonderful projects we will be showcasing.

Before we can begin posting, there are a few management related steps to address.  I want to make sure that each participating student abides by blogging etiquette and keeps posts positive in nature. Parents will also need to give permission for students to participate.  Students will blog under a pen name or with their first name only since this is a public forum, and photos will be carefully formatted to protect identities when needed.  Here is a sample blog permission letter that could be modified to fit your needs. To use it, just click on the image and modify as you like.
Blogging use varies depending upon the grade level of the students, the students level of understanding with technology, and upon the goals of a given assignment.  In our school, we house grades Pre-K through 5th Grade.  I have partnered with our technology specialist and our gifted coordinator to organize the opportunity for the students, and our plan is to form a core team of students who will work with staff to secure the content and pictures, write up the posts (probably in MS Word), and upload the content with the assistance of moi!  Through this process, the students will experience the "Train the Trainer" philosophy, and gradually, we'll include others who are interested. The hope is that the enthusiasm will encourage blog reading and commenting.  

As I planned out this project, I looked at other classroom blogs and websites to determine the best platform and ways to use the blog.  For me, Blogger was the best option since I was familiar with how to manipulate pictures, share permalinks, schedule posts to display at certain times, use labels, and add pages to share links, photos, etc.  The goals I have in mind for our blog will not be class specific, but rather be for our whole school.  We will be using our blog similar to a website or newspaper.  

In addition to Blogger, I have explored include Edmodo which has a "Facebook" appearance. I used this with my students last year, and what I loved about Edmodo is the capability to hold class discussions on our favorite book.  It is very easy to moderate and post to, but the viewing is limited to just the class using it. 

Another option is Edublogs. The positive is security which may allow more interaction between students within the classroom.  The layouts and designs are limited as well as the audience.  It is simple to set up though, so for busy teachers, this may be a great first step to give it a try.

Finally, Kidblog is another option too.  They advertise that their blogs can be set up in 20 seconds. Students are not required to give an email in order to participate.  Again, this is a quick and simple option for teachers and students just getting started and who want limited viewing.
I am very excited to see where this blog goes.  I am going to discuss with our student team to see what interests they have, and we'll see how to channel those ideas.  As much as possible, I'd like to let our students take on a leadership role. I have a few ideas of my own to get us started.  
  1. Book reviews-What a great way for students to discuss their reading and learn from each other!  I think having students read with an analytic eye helps students identify their preferences, but may also offer students other options that they may not otherwise check out.
  2. Literacy Projects-Many students love hands-on learning and creating.  Literacy projects also offer a cross curricular opportunity where reading teachers can partner with art teachers to explore authors, illustrators, and create.  Projects can be easily photographed and described on a blog.
  3. Literacy Events within the School-Communication is very important, and using the blog to publicize literacy events improves the home/school connection.  Students can increase the motivation to participate through their posts about such events.
  4. Showcasing Written Work-I am really looking forward to uploading my students' work. They work hard at writing.  Even though we're still learning, I think knowing their work will be published and read will cause students to polish sentences and improve work quality.
  5. Current Events-Students can write about grade level field trips, school functions, share thank you notes with the community, and other school or grade level events.
  6. Interviews with Visitors or Authors-Students can share interview questions and responses that happen with visitors to our building in a news reporter fashion.  
  7. Fun Photos-Kids love taking pictures, and why not have them write about them.  They can write clues for readers to follow to determine what the mystery picture is, describe how the object they photograph is made (artwork, food), or just photos of nature.
  8. How-To Writing-Cooking in the classroom, group building projects, or crafts can be demonstrated (and videotaped) for sharing.  
As you can tell, I am very excited about this adventure, and I can not wait to write up a sequel in a few months telling you how our project is going.  If you have experience with blogging in the classroom, please share your experiences in the comments below.  I look forward to reading and learning from you too. 


Making Meaning of Main Idea

Hello, everyone!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars with an easy comprehension strategy for your students.

This year our school really needs to work on comprehension strategies to help our students understand what they are reading.  Not skills, but strategies!  Our students didn't score well on the reading or math assessments, so we are working hard to help those students become better readers.  Whatever we were doing before just wasn't working.

As the reading specialist, the teachers tell me what skills their students are lacking, and I work on the skills by giving the kids some strategies.  I love that our district uses Thinking Maps as a strategy to help students understand what they are reading or working through.

This week I have been working with my third grade group on finding the main idea of a fiction story and NOT retelling the story.  This is hard because kids want to tell you every single detail.  We have been reading this book from Mondo Publishing:  Edgar Badger's Balloon Day.

We have been reading chapter by chapter and focusing on the main idea or details.  Today we focused on both.  They read the third chapter of the book titled "The Wrong Day?"

After reading the chapter, we discussed the main idea and only the main idea.  This is tough for students.  They want to tell every.single.detail.  After talking about the main idea, we then listed some, not all, details to back up the main idea.

They wanted to give me every.single.detail again, but I helped them focus on what was important for the main idea.  This strategy helped them out so much, and the thinking map helped them to narrow down what was important information from the book.  Tomorrow, they are going to find the details for the chapter's main idea.  I hope this will help them as they think about what they are reading!

How do you help students focus on the main idea and details and NOT retell the entire story?


Tips for Goal Setting During Individual Reading Conferences

Hi everyone! By now, I think we are all getting fully adjusted to our classrooms and are really in the swing of things for the new year. I know some of you are getting ready to finish out your first nine weeks while others are just three weeks in (like me) and finally getting a good handle on your kids.

Right now, we're working hard to get our classes immersed in Daily 5 and CAFE. The lessons have begun, and this is the point where teachers really start pushing to get in those individual reading conferences. One of the issues that I notice many teachers struggle with on these conferences is setting goals.

FREE Reading Conference Form
I keep my form simple (you can click on the cover to the left to download for your own use), but writing useful goals takes a lot of time and practice. I pulled out my forms from the beginning of last year to look at and give some examples. You can see how some are a little weak and leave a lot wide open without a clear path. The more specific you are with the goals, the better your student will understand how to improve.

I'm going to give a few examples from my own forms and talk about what works and what might not. I hope these help!

These are some goals that aren't terrible, but they really don't do much for the student. Yes, as a seasoned teacher, I know what I mean when I write "author's message" or "practice with passages", but these goals are supposed to be something that the student can work on independently as well. I would have been better to put these on a sticky note (or maybe in the observation section) and then come up with a plan for them to work on at their seat that was more specific.

This one starts off weak (and then I think I just kept his goal for the middle and didn't bother to write anything), but notice how the goals get more specific. On the last one, I didn't even list the specific skill. I gave him a task to focus on while reading to self.

I felt proud looking back at this sheet because we had a definite plan all the way through with this child. We started out with just finding books to stay interested, then did a little accuracy before switching to comprehension goals. You can still use short-hand AS LONG AS your students understand what they are supposed to do. (FYI: SWBST stands for "Somebody Wanted But So Then", which is great for summarizing!)

Finally, sometimes you may have to assign "homework" to help. I had one student who just couldn't get the hang of text features. We did an activity in class (this actually was a small group lesson, not individual conferences), and I noticed he was WAY off. I jotted this little note with the date and then let him know that I wanted him to practice them at home for the next time. Also note that you can set goals during small group lessons if the opportunity arises!

It takes a lot of practice, and I still have a long way to go personally. I struggle with consistency, especially since my groups of kids change throughout the year and my time with them is very limited. Some other tips to consider:

  • Make a chart with specific strategies/goals for each skill. I'm going to start collecting a list for myself to keep in the front of my binder. Then I can refer to it when I'm stuck. You could even do this as a team!
  • If you're not sure where to start, it's okay to give everyone the same goal for a while. Don't stress yourself out! Good instruction is good instruction. As you become more comfortable with these conferences and learn more about your students, it will be easier to branch out and give different goals.
  • The more notes you take, the better you will know your students. Any little note can help you recognize ways to help your student later. I like to make notes of the types of books they are drawn to as I work with them so I can help them find good books for them. This also helps when I'm choosing books or passages for us to use as a class!

I hope that some of these tips help with your own instruction!


5 Favorite Interactive Bulletin Boards

Hello, Literacy Land readers.  This is Wendy from Read With Me ABC.  I'm here to share a few of my favorite interactive bulletin boards with you.

Guess Who?

Whether you are looking for a great "getting to know" you activity or teaching students to write descriptive paragraphs, this activity is just for you.
Credit: Surfin' Through Second
Credit: Surfin' Through Second
Students write a paragraph describing themselves and draw a corresponding picture.  The hand-drawn picture is used as a flap to cover a photograph of the student hidden underneath.  Students read one another's paragraphs, guess who it describes, and lift the flap to reveal the author. This would also be the perfect display for parent visitation night.


Credit: Adventures in Literacy Land
Credit: Adventures in Literacy Land
There are many versions of this bulletin board floating around the internet. However, I am particularly fond of the interactive aspect of the one shown above.  As students learn about poetry, they document their learning on the "Poetree" and add their own poems to the ring-booklets hanging from the tree.  Students returned to this display frequently as a reference and to read the poems.

Vocabulary Piggies

Credit: Teaching After Ten
Students show off new vocabulary words they learn by completing a vocabulary slip with the word, definition, synonyms, antonyms, and an illustration.  Each pig on the bulletin board serves as a pocket to store the vocabulary slips. As students learn a new word, they simply add it to their pig. As their pigs grow, so does their vocabulary.

Visit Teaching After Ten to pick up this great freebie and build your own pig pen.  ;)

Tweet Me!

Credit: Ms. Spucci's Class
Credit: Seaver's Blog
This bulletin board was created as an exit slip activity, but has evolved into so much more. Depending on the teacher's direction, students tweet anything from a math problem to a question they still have about a lesson to something they are excited to learn. Students post their responses to the board and the teacher can gather information at a glance.

Teacher's Read Too!

Credit: Read With Me ABC
This bulletin board features photographs of teachers taken while they were reading.  Students guess which teacher is hidden behind each book.  What a great way for teachers to model that they are readers!  You can read more about this display and pick up a {free} copy of the bulletin board set on my blog today.

What are some of your favorite interactive bulletin board ideas?  Please share in the comments.  Our readers would love to know.  Thanks for stopping by!