Guided Reading Series Part Three: Managing Materials

Oh my. This topic is the BANE of my existence. I try so very hard to be organized. I think about it. I make labels. I blog or write about it. Then it doesn't work, so I think about it.  Make more labels and write about it and on and on and on! So please keep in mind that by NO MEANS am I a master of organization. However, I must admit that this system generally keeps me somewhat on track to being organized!

To keep this post organized (Hah! I crack myself up!) I am going to divide it into two sections- keeping the kids organized and keeping the teacher organized.

Keeping the Kids organized for Guided Reading
My father was so sweet to buy (and ship) me this awesome piece of furniture from Really Good Stuff. I asked him to make it for me since he is so crafty with wood. He decided the materials and his time was worth much more that the price tag.

On to the colored baskets. Each guided reading group gets one basket to store their (or my) supplies in. In each basket is a folder for each student, my lesson plans for the book we are reading, any worksheet or graphic organizer for the book and familiar past books the group has read and is still using as a familiar read. For example in the pictures below is the blue group’s basket. In the basket are a folder for each child (I stacked the folders carefully so the student’s names would be covered), the book we were reading was called Animals of the Arctic which you can see in the photo, an atlas to show students where the arctic tundra was, a paper clipped stack of index cards for students to use as a sort before and after reading the book, and a graphic organizer for a post reading project we were doing after reading the book (writing an informational report about polar bears- which where a topic in the book). In the next photo you can also see my lesson plan in the stack J.

Inside each of the student’s folder contains all the material they need for guided reading. In the front pocket they store the book we are currently reading. In the back pocket they store what we have already read and generally they read these books in the beginning of the guided reading lesson when we read the familiar read. In the prongs are clear page protectors. In the first page protector is the reader’s tool box. This has all the post its, highlighter tape, mark a spots and stops signs students need to use while reading. You can get a copy of the tool box here. Since it is in a page protector it is easy for the students to slide in and out. I shared this in my first guided reading post. Only some students have another page protector sheet- it depends on what they need to store.

In the next photo is a folder for a student that is a struggling reader. In addition to their tool box they also have a second page protector that contains a list of their sight words they need to learn (only 10 at a time) on orange paper (I have heard orange helps kids remember better??). They also store their EZ reader to help for tracking and a sheet of decoding stickers. This child is REALLY struggling with decoding words. I told them whenever I saw them use a strategy to figure out a tricky words (more than one time) they would earn a sticker. When they earned all the stickers (cringe) I would buy them ice cream. I know, I know…but it is working. I hate all these dangling carrots as prizes too.

After the page protectors is graphic organizers we have completed about books, fluency passages we have practiced together and notebook paper where students have responded to the question that was given to read for (the “set the purpose” question).
This is a Story Elements chart to help students with comparing and contrasting.

Fluency passage- we used this to practice pausing at punctuation.

Sorry this one isn't clearer. Character web and answering a comprehension question about the book we read.

Keeping the Teacher Organized for Guided Reading
Back to that great piece of furniture...
It is a great way to get organized. The top divider sections are pretty much just “stuff.” The first slot is extra baggies for book baggies for home reading. The second slot is pictures...that need to be hung up somewhere in my room (see that’s where the organization gets me!). The third slot is all my tier information for RTI. I like to keep it handy so I can get to it quickly when I work with kids. The last slot is blank paper.
Behind my guided reading table I have two large rolling plastic drawer organizers and a black shelf. On the bottom of the black shelf I keep several of my binders that I reference daily including my Guided Reading Binder. I use this binder EVERY SINGLE DAY and I LOVE it. You can read more about this binder here and and lots of detail about it here.


In the plastic drawers I keep some of my guided reading materials. In one drawer I keep a small basket of mechanical pencils for students to use while in groups, all my question sticks that I start my guided reading groups (read more about these here), a basket of post its and index cards, and a basket of highlighter tape and post it flags. This is the drawer I use EVERY day during guided reading.

I have another drawer of random guided reading materials. In this drawer I keep wikki stix, cards with different kinds of responses or questions on them, markers (love these!), cards to find the main idea and supporting details and just reading "stuff." I don't use most of this stuff- generally I just use the markers! I use the other materials during specific units or times.

Update: If you are looking for LOTS more information about Guided Reading and organizational  make sure to check out my guided reading pack, A Guide to Guided Reading. A hundred pages of guided reading goodness!


Black Friday and a Cyber Monday Sale!

Starting tonight I am throwing a sale! Everything in my store is 20% off. The sale will run until Tuesday, November 29th.   I was going to wait until Monday, but I am such a goober and was too excited!!

On Monday only don’t forget to add your TpT code {CMS28} to your order for another 10% discount!  Wahoo!!!!

Apparently I am one sick puppy because I used much of my beloved vacation to create several new products!!! I have just released several BRAND NEW items!  Now on sale is:

Addition Tic-Tac- Toe Math Game-  $2.00 on sale Monday for $1.40  (with all the above discounts)

Subtraction Tic- Tac- Toe Math Game-  $2.00 on sale Monday for $1.40  (with all the above discounts)

Multiplication Tic- Tac- Toe Game-  $2.00 on sale Monday for $1.40  (with all the above discounts)

Division Tic- Tac- Toe Game-  $2.00 on sale Monday for $1.40  (with all the above discounts)

Making Change Tic- Tac- Toe Game-  $2.00 on sale Monday for $1.40  (with all the above discounts).  This game is not new- just updated.

OR buy Math Tic- Tac- Toe Games which includes Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division AND Making Change Tic-Tac- Toe for $9.00 (a savings of $1) on sale Monday for $6.30!!!

Happy Shopping!!!

Happy shopping!!!


Sunshine Spreading!

Denise from Yearn to Learn has honored me with my very FIRST (!) award!  Thank you so much, Denise!!!!  I am tickled!

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.

2. Answer the following questions below.

3. Pass the award to 10-12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know you awarded them

Here are my answers:
1. Favorite color?  Blue.  I love almost all shades.  I have two rooms in my house that are blue!
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2. Favorite animal? Cats!  I have two kitty cats that have been with my husband and I since we first married.  They were my "first born" fur babies.

3. Favorite number? 7. My birthday is June 7th and it has always been a good number for me.  Last time I was in Vegas I did pretty well with it on Roulette!

4. Favorite drink? Coke.  It is so bad, yet so good.  I don't drink much coffee so my trusty Coke gets me going in the morning!
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5. Facebook or Twitter? Facebook when I have time.  Which isn't much. My profile picture is Kinley and Santa.  From last year.  Oops.  Better get on that one!!!

6. Your passion? Teaching and reading.  I love being around people that will let me talk about teaching.  My best friend isn't a teacher BUT her mother is a retired teacher and her father is a retired teacher turned principal. She gets me.

Reading is a close second.  I love fictional books that take a part of history and turn it into some kind of mystery.  Like the Da Vinci Code.  I know, some people think it is drivel.  I must confess I read about everything EXCEPT British chick lit.  I just can't do it.  I want sensational, trashy and engaging. Even better if it is ALL in the same book!!
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7. Giving or getting presents? Giving.  Although I am a HORRIBLE gift giver.  I am TERRIBLE at keeping secrets (and tell people right up front) so it KILLS me to not tell people what I got for them.  I get so excited I just *have* to tell!  It drives my hubby bonkers!
This is me- with less curls.
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8. Favorite day? It’s Friday, Friday. Gotta get down on Friday. Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend.  Uhhem.  I mean..right, Friday.  Every Friday.  It means fun is around the corner.  Now what I did for fun 10 years ago is way different than now.  But a day at the park with my family beats a night at the club any day!

Now I'm passing the award onto these fabulous blogs. Congrats!

Please don't forget to check out my free-for-all give-away!  Only one day left to receive any item FREE from my TpT store. Click here for more details!



I am Thankful...for YOU! GIVEAWAY!

I am so thankful for the blogging community.  I have made new friends and learned more professionally than I ever hoped for in the last few months.  It has been a true blessing in my life!

In order to say thank you to YOU, my readers, I am doing a give away.  To everyone.

You may choose any item, of any price, from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store FREE between now and Thanksgiving Day.  This giveaway will end at 12:00 AM Eastern time on Friday.

All I ask is that, as a courtesy, you please follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my blog.

To receive your free product please leave a message in the comments with the following information:
1. A note stating you follow both the blog and Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
2. The name of the item of your choice
3.  your email address
4. Please leave ratings and feedback on the item on the TpT site. It makes me feel good : )

Also, please feel free to blog about this.  It is not a "secret!"  It won't hurt my feelings!   I have found so many wonderful , free things through blogs that it is about time I give back!

**  Please note - if there is a delay in receiving your item it is because my computer sometimes has "issues" when we visit my in laws.  All items should be received by Sunday evening.

Happy Thanksgiving and THANK YOU!!

PS: I will continue the Guided Reading Series after the Thanksgiving Break! 


What I'm Thankful For...

I read that both Oh' Boy Fourth Grade and What the Teacher Wants are both throwing a wonderful linky party.  I had to join- sometimes life feels so rushed and I forget to be so very thankful for the many things in my life.  It is the least I can do to write them.

1.   What are you thankful for in your classroom?
I co-teach with the most AWESOME teacher.  She is amazing with the students and makes them laugh but keeps them in control.  They love her.  And I do too- she has a great sense of humor and we crack each other up all day over our goofy song and pop references!  We fuel each other's professional fires.  When we get together the ideas just explode.  We joke and call each other our "professional life partners."

2. What person are you most thankful for?

My husband.  He is it all.  He is my best friend and makes me so grateful to have found him when I did.  He is a fantastic father to our little girl.  He truly is my partner in every  I can't imagine not being with him.  I loved him the day I married him (seven years ago) and I love him even more today.  I can't even begin to imagine how it will continue to grow.
It was jammie day at our house the other Saturday...just like most Saturdays!

I can't choose just one.  I have to say my little girl, too!   She is a hoot !  She is just about to turn 14 months and her little stubbornness personality is starting to show through.  I can't imagine where she got all that.  She makes me laugh every day and her kisses are without the doubt the sweetest.  I just have to brave poopy diapers, a snotty nose, and a bad habit of hair pulling to get one.  And I do.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
ohhhh...this is tough.  So many fantastic ones to choose from.  Let's see.

  I LOVE Kristin at the Teeny Tiny Teacher.  She CRACKS me up every time I read her posts.   Her voice in her writing is enough to read her blog!

Ashleigh has so any great ideas.  I am VERY lucky since we teach the SAME grade in the SAME state so I can use many of her fantastic materials as is.

Ginger shares so many of her fantastic ideas- for FREE!  She is so generous with her creativity and work!  I have LOVED many of her ideas and downloaded her entire rocks and minerals unit that was fabulous!

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
Guilty pleasure...I have so many.  I love chocolate.  Pretty much anything chocolate.  I also like the Twilight Saga.  The books, movies, anything pretty much anything Twilight.  Apparently my inner tween is raging!  I just saw Breaking Dawn on Friday and I must confess: I loved it.  Cheesy, unrealistic, and I sighed romantically at every horrible piece of unlikely dialogue.

5. What are you most thankful for?

My faith- I was blessed to be born in to a family with a strong faith so I don't have to struggle to find mine.  It has simply aways been a part of my life. 
My family- I love them all and we actually LIKE each other.  Even my in laws.  I know it isn't always this easy.
My health- it wasn't until my horrible morning sickness did I ever actually realize what a blessing good health it.  And even THAT was temporary!

I could keep going and going, but I have a dirty house to clean. And  I am thankful for that, too.
 The house not the dirty part : ).


Inspired: My personal story of "The Teacher That Almost Wasn't"

After reading Kristin's story at her HYSTERICAL blog The Teeny Tiny Teacher ,I shared my own story in her comments.  When she wrote that Teaching Blog Addict was publishing  her story and was actively looking for others I clicked over to TBA and submitted mine in a flash. 

Then I realized that I had never really shared my story on my site or blog.  Now almost ten years in I have plenty of stories to share like most veterans.  I have given the Heimlich, and had a child rushed to ICU ( directly from my classroom) but I don't think I have even written about THE POSSUM.  So below I share my own personal story, " The Teacher that Almost Wasn't."



Guided Reading Series Part Two : Making the Most of Teacher Observation

Shoo-wee!!!! My fingers hurt from my last guided reading post. I don't anticipate this one being any shorter! Apparently I am slightly long winded. Seriously, such a shocker. 

In this post I really want to focus on that "teacher tap in" part of the guided reading lesson. I feel that I get so much mileage out of this part of the lesson. I feel that this is the time I get to see how kids tick and how their little minds work (or race) as a reader.

I try to make sure that I am very organized and prepared for this part of the lesson because it is really only a few minutes per child and I want to make the most of it. I use this sheet that I modified from the Sisters to help me.

This part of the lesson is about 8 minutes long and I usually read with 2 students. On a good day I may get to 3, but I am satisfied with 2 students. I have a pretty standard format. I have the students read that page orally to me as I follow along. I take a quick running record on the section and then I ask a comprehension question. Sometimes it is explicit, sometimes inferential, sometimes the students opinion. It is never written down what I will ask the student, I just try to think quickly on my feet. Some days this works better than others.

I try to keep track to see if students can answer the questions correctly.  This is a formative assessment for me and it helps me make sure I vary the types of questions I ask students.  I write the date next to their name under the column for the question style.  If they got it correct I mark over the date with a check.  If it is incorrect I mark over it with an X.

So far when I made this check list I had asked an inferential question, a prediction and explicit question of students. I cut the student’s name of the left side for privacy: ). Since I am part of a cotaught classroom I do not meet with all of the students in guided reading. I only meet with the highlighted names. That is what the big yellow marks are.

Often I find this teacher tap in time is a great time for a quick conference with that student. I do a modified version of the Daily 5 and the CAFE menu. I usually discuss where they are on the menu and what they can do to help themselves with that area next time. After I listen to the student I jot down my next step to meet their needs. Here is a student's sheet from earlier this year as an example.

Here is a close up of the sheet. Please excuse my messy writing!!

The first reading block for the student says "had some decoding trouble," "able to figure out with prompting" and "did not monitor." The next box is a quick running record. The last box is what I will do next to support this student. I wrote "Does that make sense?" because the student needs to ask himself this constantly (that was the point of my quick conference with him) and "decode book." The last part was a reminder to me to make some of the decodable readers from Reading A-to Z and read these with his group since he wasn't the only one with this problem!

To make sure I am not reading with the same students each time I keep a checklist.  I write the date next to the name to keep a running list.  It is the same copy of the earlier checklist, just another use!

Here is a copy of the checklist.  If you download it you can type directly into the form so you can save your students name rather than typing them over and over.  I am sure all of you already have a form like this, but I thought it couldn't hurt to share.

I hope this gives you some ideas to manage the teacher assessment and observation piece!  Next I will share how I organize and manage all my materials!  It is crazy how much guided reading requires (or at least, it requires me to keep up with!)!

Update: If you are looking for LOTS more information about Guided Reading and organizational  make sure to check out my guided reading pack, A Guide to Guided Reading. A hundred pages of guided reading goodness!



Contraction Action

This week we are studying contractions- specifically contractions with will and not. We watched the Between the Lions video on contractions. I love that one! It is so cute!

I created a few games to go with this unit. Initially I was going to sell these, but I feel guilty because I feel like my blog posts have focused too much on what I am selling : (.  I hate it when people do that.  So here is a freebie! Here is the information from the description page:

The first game is a simple activity that would best work with white boards. Students draw cards and a partner tells them the word to draw and then the partner checks their work. Simple but engaging due to those white boards!

The second game is a Kaboom! game that has students identify the two words that make up the contraction.

The third game is a concentration game matching the contraction to the words that make up the contraction. There is a recording sheet to practice spelling and writing the contractions.

The fourth game is a “Band Aid Contraction” activity. Students build the two words and then use a band aid clip art picture as the apostrophe to “knock out” the letters. There is a recording sheet for this activity as well.

These games are perfect as partner activities!
Feel free to download and use. If you download it please leave me a comment ! I big puffy heart them!



Guided Reading Series Part One: The Anatomy of a Lesson

TeeHee... the "anatomy" of a lesson. My inner ten year old boy is peeking out. I feel like I have wanted to type that in a blog title forever. Almost as much as I have been dying to have "Stop. Collaborate and Listen" as a title. Can you name that tune? Seriously, now I may have to craft a blog post JUST to use that one!

So, back on track. I want to address how I choose to plan and implement guided reading groups and the parts of the lesson I choose to include. There are several different approaches towards guided reading and I like to sample from what I have read and also simply what I have observed others do. I have been heavily influenced by teachers that I admired as masters and I tried to emulate what they did. Here are a few of my personal nonnegotiables (these are my opinions of what is important to me in my classroom : )

  • Students should be successful in guided reading- if they are not I need to make changes. Whether that be text difficulty, the amount of previewing and activation I provide or text choice. Students need to WANT to come to my groups. Magic happens at that table and I want my students fully invested.
  • I should have a plan. Yes, that means I write 3 plans per day ( I only have 3 groups this year). When I teamed I wrote 8 guided reading lesson plans per day. It is important that I know the text inside and out or it is very difficult to anticipate errors and scaffold. Teachers that whip out the pamphlet lessons or no lesson make me cringe. The point of guided reading is guiding YOUR reader. The pamphlet of lessons can definitely be a great resource and guide, but I don't view them as my lesson. I'll wait for people to stop throwing tomatoes at me. I know that it is pretty opinionated of me. (Insert long pause here). However, I DO reuse guided reading plans from year to year but make modifications for what I anticipate this year’s group of readers will need. Am I forgiven now?
Since I am so picky about having a lesson plan : ) I will share the plan I use now.

During guided reading groups I stay to a general format.

1.     Reread
2.     Introduce or activate text
3.     Discuss tricky words
4.     Set purpose for reading
5.     Students read. Teacher taps in.
6.     Discuss purpose for reading question and text in general.
7.     If time, quick teaching point/ lesson.

I have created a handout that is a flow chart of a guided reading lesson. It contains much of this post in a more eye friendly manner!

 Kids always reread familiar, past text. I have a set of sticks with cards at the top that each have a different reading question. I made these at a class that I took on guided reading (it was wonderful). I pick one student to randomly draw a stick and then kids read for this purpose. Shelley Gray has posted some cards that are similar on TpT for free. I try to "tap in" and listen to a student for fluency.

After the familiar read students share the answer to the card that was pulled.

The next step depends on whether I am introducing a new book or if I am continuing an old text.

If I introduce a new text I complete some kind of activation or previewing activity.  Then I share the author, title and a brief summary. How long I spend on this step depends on the amount of support and background knowledge my students need.  I tend to spend MUCH longer when starting a nonfiction book.   On my website I have several ideas for activation or previewing.  A great one is Give One, Get One.

If we are continuing a text from a previous day we usually discuss it after we do the familiar read (using the part of the text we have already read) and then I move on.  I share tricky words or vocabulary that I think kids will struggle within that portion of the reading.  I try to stick to 3 words.  Sometimes I might go over 4, but that is the MOST.  If I find I have more tricky words, then the text is either to hard or I need to chunk up the reading so there are only 3-4 tricky words at a time (if this makes sense).  Often when I introduce the tricky words I model chunking the word.  Sometimes I will play games like Rivet (the kids love this one).  After we decode the word I tell students the page it is found in the book and I tell them where it is on the page.  They use highlighter tape to highlight the word.  Then I have them read the sentences the words are contained in to figure out the meaning of the word.  This is a great time to teach kids strategies to figure out word meanings like reread, look at the picture and so on.

After we have figured out all the tricky words in the text, I have students mark a stopping point in the text.

Then I set the students purpose for reading by giving some kind of question to answer after they have read that portion of the text.  I usually write the question on the easel so student always see the question.  One thing I need to get better at is giving students post it flags to mark the text.  They need to use the flags whenever they find the answer to the question I ask.  This sets up a support system to start guiding students to use evidence in the text to support responses. (Note to self- start doing this again).
Students have the Reader's Tool Box sheet above available to them during guided reading groups (I will explain soon how I organize materials but thought it would help in this post too).  On the sheet are all the do-hickeys (yes, that is my technical term)  needed in guided reading groups.  Below is a picture of it and the materials I use in guided reading.

As students read the text I try to “tap in” to one or two if the students and listen to them read.  I usually do a quick running record and then ask one comprehension question.  I spend maybe 3 minutes on a student or so.

After a student reads they answer the question.  If they finish before the rest of the group, they reread to practice their reading fluency.

After all students have finished reading (even if they haven’t written down their responses. This is where the real world and the dreaded clock buts in) we share our answers.

If time I try to find a common teaching point.  Fluency is a great one.  It is easy to show students how punctuation affects inflection.  Quick and easy lesson.

And then we are DONE!...and I call my next group.  Whoosh.

That is the Mandy School of Guided Reading.  I am sure other people do it differently and probably even better : ).  I have been very lucky to be successful so far.

Next I intend to focus on teacher organization and recording of information. Oy.  This could be a doozy!

Update: If you are looking for LOTS more information about Guided Reading and organizational  make sure to check out my guided reading pack, A Guide to Guided Reading. A hundred pages of guided reading goodness!

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