Pumpkin Visualizing!

18 Oct

With the fall season upon us, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring more PUMPKINS into my teaching! ‘Tis the season, right? :)

Last week, I reviewed visualizing with one of my 3rd grade RtI groups. We talked about the purpose of descriptive words and spent some time reviewing adjectives.

To reinforce descriptive language, we went on an adjective word hunt using various pumpkin poetry. I love using Virginia Kroll’s “Pumpkins” poem (you can find this poem in Read and Understand Poems, Grades 2-3). It has a fun rhythm, and it really hooks my reluctant readers. Plus, it has over a dozen adjectives crammed into the poem! If you don’t have this resource, you can use any poem about pumpkins that includes adjectives.

MsJordanReads Poems About Pumpkins:

Other Poems About Pumpkins:

The students highlighted the adjectives in the poem, and we recorded our adjectives on an anchor chart.

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My students then helped me brainstorm additional adjectives for the different categories. We made our own roll-a-pumpkin chart and the students had fun rolling dice for adjectives and visualizing pumpkins using the adjectives they rolled.

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They recorded their first round of Roll-a-Pumpkin adjectives in their writing notebooks and sketched using a pencil.

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This was a great activity for students to practice visualizing because they had to incorporate ALL the adjectives they rolled and had to make their pumpkins come to life! We made final copies of our illustrated pumpkins with an adjective sentence to display in the hallway.

Interested in trying out this activity?

Create your own roll-a-pumpkin charts with your students, or grab the ready-to-use Roll-a-Pumpkin! activity packet I uploaded to TpT. All you have to do is print and provide a dice! There are two different chart & recording options (3 adjectives or 5 adjectives).

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Happy Teaching! 

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Hooking Reluctant Readers With Series Starters!

13 Oct

Half of my battle as a Reading Specialist is to help my struggling readers fall in love with reading. It’s a vicious cycle: When you struggle to read, it’s not fun. When you don’t think it’s fun, you don’t practice reading. When you don’t practice reading, you’ll continue to struggle. — This cycle is extremely frustrating for the parents and myself!

I have a leveled classroom library of books the students choose from for take-home reading practice. Fiction and non-fiction. Easy books and chapter books. Each year I watch as my struggling readers choose the short, easy books only. (“Chapter books?! No thanks!”) I think they get intimidated by longer texts. They don’t feel “they’re ready.” They’re afraid of being unable to read it or of getting frustrated. It’s my job to encourage my students to move away from the easy readers (or at least to find a balance), and to help them realize that chapter books are NOT so scary!

To help with this goal, I’m always on the look-out for new books. This year, I’ve been on the hunt for books (level L-O) that would be appropriate and interesting for my 3rd and 4th grade struggling readers. I’m typically a Scholastic shopper (Scholastic Points!) or an Amazon shopper (Prime = 2 day delivery!) when I have titles in mind, but when I am exploring new books, I always need to sit on the floor and actually dive into the books. An hour in Barnes & Noble later… I chose FIVE series I thought my students would love!

“Series Starters” are the best way to hook struggling readers. I always choose the first in the series with the hope that they’ll love the book and want to read more. If I discover a series they absolutely love, I take it on as my personal mission to find more. I’ll check garage sales, Half.com, Amazon, and eBay for used books, or I’ll save up my Scholastic points. I’ve also spent quite a few dollars from my own pocket because a growing, diverse classroom library full of books my kids will actually READ is important to me. (Check out Scholastic’s article “Ten Easy Ways to Get Books for Your Classroom Library” for more ideas!)

Before I share the five series starters I chose, I wanted to share my FAVORITE series find from last year… (or in this case, should I say “favourite?”)

Oliver Moon

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Even though this is not a series I bought this year, I feel it’s great way to kick-off my list. These books are actually the reason I started collecting series starters and have a whole bookshelf dedicated to series “firsts.”

Last year, I fell in love with the Oliver Moon series by Sue Mongredien. I always ask my students what they’re reading at home, and one of my students introduced me to a whole slew of books I never even heard of, including this series. I borrowed his copy of Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion and proceeded to buy the whole series on eBay that night… only to find out I bought the UK version, not the US version. #teacherfail #sortof. I didn’t realize there were two different versions; however, Barnes & Nobles only carries a few of the Oliver Moon books. I suppose I’d rather have the whole set, but for those who aren’t familiar to Harry Potter, I had to teach them some UK translations (i.e., mum, pyjamas, etc.). Teachable moment, I guess? I still sent the books home with my kids, but with the disclaimer that they would have to use their context clues strategies (or parents) to help them with unfamiliar words. :)

Junior wizards with magic and potions? At a level O/P? Yes, please! My 3rd and 4th grade students love these books, and they can enjoy a parallel world to Harry Potter without having to read level X, Y, Z books! (There is a great interactive website of activities to go along with the book series, too!)

The Notebook of Doom

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As for this year’s finds, one of my 4th grade students told about The Notebook of Doom series. This particular student loves graphic novels but was getting frustrated reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. At a level T, the Wimpy Kid books are OK for some 4th graders, but way above his level! He still wants to read them someday, which is a great incentive for him to practice reading, but this new series is a much better fit for him.

The Notebook of Doom series, by Troy Cummings, is a hybrid of graphic novel and prose, like the Wimpy Kid books, but much more appropriate for my 4th & 5th grade struggling readers. They’re about a new kid, Alexander Bopp, who finds a notebook filled with drawings of monsters and starts seeing these monsters all over town. The series covers his run-ins with these monsters and his adventures trying to uncover the mystery of the monster-filled notebook.

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The series starter, The Rise of the Balloon Goons, is a level N, but the rest are levels O/P. (Here’s a sample from Scholastic if you want to check it out!)

Shark School

The Shark School series by Davy Ocean is all about the (mis)adventures of Harry, a hammerhead shark, and his under-the-sea friends. Right away, I thought to myself, the boys are going to LOVE this series!

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The series starter, Deep-Sea Disaster, is about Harry wanting to be a different kind of shark, anything but a hammerhead. After a disaster during a class field trip, Harry learns to appreciate being exactly who he is — a great character lesson!

I had difficulty finding extra information or resources on this series (it seems like a spin-off of the Harry Hammer series in the UK), but it looks promising! I feel like it will grow with popularity, especially now that Scholastic offers the series starter as part of their Scholastic Reading Club!

NOTE: I couldn’t find an exact level of these books, but my best guess based on readability is a Level P. (Please email me if you know the exact level. I was comparing to other level P’s in my library!) 

Bad Kitty

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Bad Kitty is a well-developed, popular graphic novel series by Nick Bruel! My students have always loved the picture book (level I), so I decided to check out the chapter books. They are hilarious and do not disappoint. Like always, I started with #1 in the series (there are seven in all).

With the series starter, Bad Kitty Gets a Bath, I know my students will love reading about how the “bad kitty” misbehaves in order to avoid a bath. I was laughing as I was exploring this series at the bookstore, especially since I have a cat at home that would probably behave the same way.

Most of the books within the series are levels P/Q, but a few are R-T. There are many interactive games and activities for this series, as well! I downloaded a mad libs activity for the series starter, which I know will be a huge hit.

My Weird School

Dan Gutman is the author of the hilarious multi-series, My Weird SchoolMy Weirder School, and My Weird School Daze (Level N/O). His books are perfect for reluctant readers, as he draws them in with his silly humor. The idea that there’s a school full of “weird” teachers just makes students giggle. (Let’s face it… we’re all a little weird, right?) :)

In addition to his wonderful collection of books, there is a fabulous website for teachers and students: My Weird Classroom Club. I shared this as a link on my classroom website so that my students can explore the author’s “wacky world of weird” before, during, and after reading the series starter!

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(Teachers can download classroom resources and printable activities, while students can explore the website to read about the books, play online games, and so much more!)

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The series starter, Miss Daisy is Crazy, is just one of MANY books I look forward to sharing with my students! I just know that I’m going to have to collect them all since my students are already asking for more adventures from Dan Gutman’s Ella Mentry School.

The Never Girls

The Never Girls series is perfect for students who love the world of Disney and Peter Pan. The series dives into the wondrous world of Never Land, filled with the oh-so-famous Tinkerbell and other fairies. Each book is a new adventure of four real girls, who are best friends, in a fairy’s world.

The series starter, In a Blink, is filled with imagination. It’s perfect for my struggling readers who still believe in the magic of Disney and fairies.

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Similar to other popular series, Disney has a whole interactive page of book activities through the Random House Kids website. These activities are perfect for the students who fall in love with this series. I especially like the acrostic poetry page!

NOTE: As with the Shark School series, I couldn’t find an exact level of these books, but my best guess based on readability is a Level P. (Again, please email me if you know the exact level. I was comparing to other level P’s in my library!) 

Reading Series by Level

With so many series to keep track of, I created a Popular Reading Series by Level resource to document the different series options in my classroom library. This would be a wonderful at-a-glance resource for helping students pick out “just right” books. Feel free to download this file for your classroom.

(Don’t know how to download Google Docs? Click the link, or the image below, and click “File” and then “Download As.” You can choose to download it as a Word document or a PDF. If you choose to download as a Word document, you should be able to edit it for your own classroom use!)

Leveling Books

Within each series, the reading levels of books often varies. If you’re looking for the exact levels for specific titles within a series, use Scholastic Book Wizard (FREE website or app) or the Level It Books app ($3.99). Unfortunately, not every title is listed, but it will at least give you a start!

I hope this blog post introduced you to a few new series! My plan is to share a few more later on in the school year, especially as I come across new series. If you have any to recommend, though, I would love to hear from you! Comment below or email me: msjordanreads@gmail.com.

What series do you use in your classroom? Are there any other “Series Starters” I should add to my classroom library? Any that I should add to my growing “Popular Reading Series by Level” resource list? 

Happy Teaching!

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A Harvest of Freebies — Blog Hop!

2 Oct

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First, I want to shout out a big THANK YOU to Andrea (Reading Toward the Stars) and Wendy (Read With Me ABC) for organizing this literacy blog hop! Fall is my favorite time of year, and I love all the teaching resources that teachers have created to bring the fall season into our classrooms! Not only will you be able to collect new ideas and resources for October/November, but all the resources are FREE! Really, who doesn’t love freebies?

If you’re just joining the blog hop, you may want to go back to the first stop at Wendy’s blog: Read With Me ABC. There are over a dozen blogs participating, so make sure you hop through all of them and collect your free blog hop resources!

To help you focus on fluency in your classroom, I’m sharing my brand-new Daily Fluency Task Cards — Fall FreebieThese task cards are perfect for reinforcing fluency skills in the classroom. Students will love the different activities focusing on pace, phrasing, expression and attention to punctuation. There is a total of 24 fall-themed fluency task cards that you can use for the months of October/November. I hope your students enjoy them as much as my students do! :)

(NOTE: The resource I’m sharing is an off-shoot of my new Daily Fluency Task Card series. Read more about this series in my blog post here!)

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Are you a member of Bloglovin?

Read posts from all of your favorite teaching blogs all in one spot!

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Hop on over to the next stop, Literacy Loving Gals, by clicking the pumpkin button below!

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Happy Teaching! 

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Daily Fluency Task Cards

22 Sep

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With the school year under way and my RTI intervention groups going full force, I’m excited to announce the launch of my newest product series… Daily Fluency Task Cards!

I just laminated and put together my own classroom set of task cards, and I can’t wait to start using them with my students this week! For the past year, I’ve been using the Daily Fluency Activity Packs (Beginner & Intermediate) with my targeted RTI fluency groups. Students complete these daily activity pages as a 5-minute warm-up while they wait for their intervention group to start. I am still using these activity packets this year for RTI, but I wanted additional task activities that I could send with my students to reinforce fluency in the classroom and at home.

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Daily Fluency Task Cards are the perfect supplement to any classroom reading program and would be perfect for independent practice. Each task card allows students to “dig deeper” into fluency and focuses on specific fluency skills. Use the cards as part of your Daily 5 rotations, RTI interventions, small group instruction/guided reading, and even as informal assessments of fluency skills.

For those of you familiar with my Daily Fluency Activity Packs, these fluency task cards are a modified version of the resource. (Not familiar? Read more about this product series here!) The big difference is that the task cards feature one task per card, as opposed to five tasks per page. The categories are the same, but the content is new!

The Daily Fluency Task Card activities are quick, and you can customize which tasks the students complete. Differentiate your sets of tasks cards to fit your students needs!

Introducing Fluency

Before using my Daily Fluency Activity Packs or these Daily Fluency Task Cards, I would highly recommend teaching a unit on fluency. For many students it may be a review, but it’s important for them to be able to identify the different parts of fluency. Consider setting up a Fluency Boot Camp in your classroom to introduce fluency and the different components. You can also download my FREE “What is Fluency?” reference sheet to support your fluency lessons.

The Daily Fluency Task Cards resource include fluency posters that can be used to review the components. Display the posters in your classroom or print them out for student fluency folders. You can even print four to a page (using “Print Preferences”) to create a one-page student reference!

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Integrating Fluency Task Cards

There are 116 task cards (29 different tasks) included in this resource.

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The first five tasks are dedicated to reviewing the major parts of fluency: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and attention to Punctuation.

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The remaining 24 tasks reinforce these fluency components. The variety of tasks provides students with the opportunity to practice specific fluency skills in a fun and engaging way. Pick and choose which to include in your sets, or use them all!

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Getting Started

The prep for these task cards is simple! There are two versions of this resource – light gray background (as seen in preview pictures) and white background (not shown but for teachers who wish to save ink!). Both are included in the .Zip file. All you have to do is print the version of your choice and then laminate, cut, and sort. You can sort the cards by set (i.e., A, B, C, D), one task card per activity in each set. Or you can sort them by target area (i.e., Pace, Phrasing, Expression, Punctuation). You can include ALL the cards or just pick and choose the task cards you want your students to complete.

I like to use key rings to organize my different sets. I hang the task cards around my classroom for students to have easy access. Plus, it keeps the cards together!

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If you don’t wish to use key rings, you can also organize the task cards with envelopes, baskets, or index card organizers.

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Task Card Management

To help manage Daily Fluency Task Cards as an activity or literacy center in your classroom, encourage students to record which task cards they’ve completed. Not only does it ensure that students eventually work through all the tasks, but it also provides a level of accountability. Use the log if you’re using custom sets or having students choose the cards at random. Use the checklist if they’re working through a specific set.

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Using the Task Cards

There is a “Directions” task card that can be included with each task card set. Directions for each activity are also listed on the task cards themselves. Be sure to read the directions and model each activity with your students so that they may complete the tasks independently. You can introduce them ALL at once or introduce one a day/week.

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Once your students have practiced each of the activities, they should able to work in partners or independently to complete the tasks. Task Cards are the perfect tool to add to your classroom reading “toolbox!”

What fluency resources do you use? How do you reinforce fluency in the classroom? Please comment & share! :)

Grab This Product!

Are you interested in purchasing this resource? Check it out in my TpT store by clicking HERE or the image below!

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 NOTE: I will be creating additional Beginner level fluency task card collections and will be working on Intermediate level ones, too! As soon as they’re done they will be listed in the “Daily Fluency Task Cards” category in my TpT store.

Enter the MsJordanReads Task Card Giveaway!

A winner will be chosen September 28th (and it could be YOU!). Click HERE or the image below to enter this Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Congratulations to Heather S. — You are the winner!!

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Follow my store or follow me on Facebook for updates!

Happy Teaching!

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FarFaria Subscription Giveaway!

30 Aug

As many of you know, I’m always looking for new literacy resources to help support my struggling readers, especially ones that can I can use with my classroom iPads. A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to try-out a great app for kids – FarFaria. I was not familiar with the app, and I typically don’t do a lot of product reviews, but I was curious to try it out and explore what it had to offer!

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Although FarFaria is designed for children (ages 2-9) with bedtime routines and story time in mind, I would recommend the app as a perfect resource for classrooms too! If you are a teacher with a limited classroom library, or are looking for eBooks to use with your iPads and devices, this app would definitely be for you!

Getting Started

The FarFaria app is a free download from Apple or Google. With the download, you’ll have access to ONE free story a day! I like that the company gives you a chance to explore the stories and experience the app without feeling obligated to buy a subscription. If you are interested, you can buy a subscription which includes unlimited access to all the book collections (over 750 stories!). The best part is they add FIVE new stories each week, so the collection is always growing and changing!

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The app itself is very student-friendly, and it allows students to read independently. This would be perfect for DEAR time or for “Read to Self” during a Daily 5 rotation. If you only have a few iPads in your room, students could take turns using the app during your scheduled literacy blocks. You would need a set of headphones, but the students could sit at their desks (or pretty much anywhere in the classroom) to interact with this app!

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Classroom Perks

I can see many perks for owning this app as a parent. The number one perk would be the unlimited reading opportunities. You could bring your iPad in the car, share a story at bedtime, and provide iPad time during downtime throughout the day. Completing at least 20 minutes of reading every day would be no problem! It’s like having a children’s library in your pocket (well, maybe not your pocket… but maybe your purse or backpack?).

As a teacher, I really enjoy the variety of texts. The FarFaria collection includes quality books that cater to the interests of every child. With eleven categories of books (e.g., fairy tales, animal stories, adventure stories, classics, etc.), the children in your home or classroom will have many different genres and topics to explore.

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Each category includes books at different levels. The levels range from 1 (Pre-Readers) to 4 (Fluent Readers). Your children can pick a “just right” book and read on their own, or they can choose an easier book to read for fluency practice. They can even choose a challenging book and read along with the app! For the classroom, you can have students complete individual “FarFaria Reading Logs” so you can check-in on the levels and genres they’re choosing.

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The “Read to Me” feature is probably my favorite part of FarFaria. From my experience with read along books, I would assume it would be the kids’ favorite feature too. Kids love story time! They love being read to. Similar to RaZ-Kids and the B&N Nook (color) “Read to Me” books, though, I always encourage parents to make sure there’s a balance of using the “Read to Me” feature and having their children read on their own. Listening and following along with a story is great for modeling fluency (and great for bedtime!), but it’s even more powerful if the children listen to the story and then read it on their own after. If the text is to hard to read independently, parents can encourage their children to listen to a story that’s challenging and then pick an easier text to read and practice their fluency. Reading on their own allows kids to practice reading with good pace, phrasing, expression, and attention to punctuation. They can challenge themselves to “read like the iPad” and use it as a model for good fluency!

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Another great feature is that the FarFaria app allows the children to choose stories to read when they don’t have WiFi or internet access. By selecting a story as a “Favorite,” it allows them to access the text offline. This is great for when you’re traveling and you want your child to read in the car or during those in-between times when you don’t have WiFi. Again, I’m not sure how this could work with a whole class using one device and selecting favorites, but it’s great if you only have one child or a small group using it.

FarFaria Resources

Check out the FarFaria blog if you get a chance! Not only do they share new books and app features on the blog, but they also share awesome literacy resources, such as homework tips and literacy games you can play at home. There are many strategies and ideas for encouraging your child to read beyond the app!

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FarFaria App Giveaway

Do you have an iPad at home or in your classroom? Would you like to try-out this wonderful literacy resource? I’m offering a Rafflecopter giveaway for a 3-month iPad subscription to FarFaria. The giveaway will run for one week, so please share using Facebook and Twitter for an extra chance to win. I will be picking ONE winner September 6th! Good luck!

ENTER my giveaway by clicking HERE or the picture below!

This giveaway has ended. Thank you for everyone who entered!

Congratulations to Pam Kobza! You are the WINNER! 

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Happy Teaching!

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“Blasting Off a Great Year” — Blog Hop

21 Aug

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3… 2… 1… Blast Off!

First, I want to shout-out a huge THANK YOU to Carla from Comprehension Connection and Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars for organizing this “Back-to-School” blog hop. I love opportunities to collaborate with our amazing group of literacy bloggers, and I can’t wait to read through all the ideas that are shared! I’m sure they will be out of this world! (See what I did there?) ;)

For this blog hop, each blogger was asked to dig into their teacher toolboxes to share something that would help “blast off” the school year. As you navigate through this blog hop, you’ll find a variety of fun literacy resources and ideas to use in your classroom for the months of August & September. There are book ideas, guided reading tips, classroom set-up suggestions, and SO much more!

(NOTE: If you’re just joining the hop now, you may want to go back and see the other blog posts you missed. The first stop is Reading Toward the Stars.)

When brainstorming what to share with you, I couldn’t help but think about the CRAZINESS of this time of year. Not to say it isn’t crazy during other months… but “Back to School” season is especially busy. Between getting READY for the school year (i.e., setting up classrooms, organizing resources & materials, getting lesson plans in order, etc.) and SURVIVING the first week of school (i.e., establishing classroom routines, getting to know your new students, keeping your sanity, etc.), it’s just… C.R.A.Z.Y.

To help manage the “crazy,” I decided to share a few of my “getting organized for guided reading” ideas and resources with you. Hopefully they can help you get started with small group instruction during the first few weeks!

Getting Organized for Guided Reading

Getting guided reading up and running shouldn’t be an overwhelming, painful task. Some teachers feel they can’t start their small group instruction until they have beginning-of-the-year data on every single student. For those classrooms, guided reading and small groups could be delayed for many weeks while assessments take over and pause instruction. My suggestion is to get started right away, if possible, and to use the spring data that you have. Yes, there may be some summer regression (or a lot, in some cases), but it gives you a starting point. You can always make adjustments as you collect up-to-date assessment data and get to know your students.

Grouping Your Students

Unless I have the past year’s anecdotal records or running records, I try to group the students initially by reading level. Later, I may change the groups to strategy groups or a combination of the two. It’s difficult to guess at which strategies your students will need until you have a chance to read with them or analyze past records.

Use a form like this one (bel0w) to help you map out groups. It used to be a paid product in my store, but I recently changed it to be a free download. It’s a 2-page product – one page is organized by colors and F&P levels, and the other page is completely blank so you can customize your own.

Guided Reading Grouping

You don’t need to meet in a group with every student, every day. Create a rotating schedule and try to stick to it. You could even consider implementing 1:1 conferences versus regular guided reading groups. Pick what works for you and what you can manage!

Picking Texts for the First Week

If you’re not sure what text-level to pick for your groups, and you don’t already have a text in mind, you should consider starting your first round of guided reading with a poem. Poetry is a fun way to kick-start reading instruction at the beginning of the year and allows students to show off what they can do! Plus, most students could use a little fluency practice after a few months out of the classroom. You could even use the same poem for every group but differentiate the instruction. As you observe student reading behavior within the small groups, start filling-out an informal skills assessment for each student (TeacherVision has a great printable form here). A skills assessment will allow you to start monitoring each student’s level of proficiency with different oral reading skills and comprehension strategies. It will also help you plan strategy lessons for students while you’re still collecting assessment data.

If you’re looking for a fun “Back to School” poem to use, check out the partner poem I shared in a blog post a few days ago. A few other options are listed below!

Back to School Poetry:

Independent Tasks for Students

We use Daily 5 in my building, which helps build-up stamina and independence in students. I love this structure because, once it’s up and running, it allows teachers to work with small groups without interruptions. Of course, a structure like this takes TIME to model and practice at the beginning of the year, so your small group instruction may need to be modified for the first week or so. If you are not familiar with Daily 5, consider activities like literacy centers, task cards, or independent choice boards for your students to complete while you meet with your small groups. You could even have them work on back-to-school writing pieces like Hello School Year, Goodbye Summer poems.

Collecting Anecdotal Notes During Guided Reading

A big part of guided reading, especially in the beginning, is collecting and organizing anecdotal notes and informal assessments. Find a system that works for you! Some teachers use clipboards. Some teachers use mailing labels. I use a big binder and create tabs within the binder for each student. This only works if you have a small group table where it can stay (it gets VERY heavy!). I record anecdotal notes for each student and collect running records, sight word lists, student samples, etc. Sometimes I will jot a quick note on a post-it and will later transfer it to the anecdotal page, or I will create a summary page of anecdotal post-it notes for each student.

Download a FREE packet of Anecdotal Notes Forms for Guided Reading:

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If you have access to an iPad, I’ve also used digital forms (Google Docs) or apps (e.g., Notability) that I can take type notes into. For the Google Doc form, once you submit notes for a student, it exports the data into a spreadsheet that you can sort, print, etc. I only used the iPads when I traveled around the classroom to the students (vs. them traveling to me) because the iPad was portable. In the end, I went back-and-forth between this and a sticky note system because I ended up typing WAY too slow. If you’re quick with the iPad keyboard, though, it’s a great way to organize anecdotal notes. (I blogged about how to do this last year! Check out the post here.)

Getting organized and ready to start small group instruction is half the battle. I hope these resources help you blast off a great year, especially with guided reading. Do you have any suggestions? Feel free to comment with any tips, suggestions, or resources YOU have for getting started with guided reading!

Follow me on Bloglovin’!

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Now it’s time to “Blast Off!” to the next blog stop, This Little Piggy Reads. Click the rocket ship (below) to hop directly to the post!

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Happy Teaching! 

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A FREE Back to School Poem and a Bonus TpT Sale!

18 Aug

Two more weeks and then it’s back to school for me! (Seriously… where did the summer go?!?) I’d like to say that I was extremely productive and accomplished everything on my to-do list, but… not so much. I started to feel guilty and disappointed in myself, but then I came across Jenny’s post at Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad, “The Summer That Should Have Been,” and it helped put things into perspective for me. I’m feeling a LITTLE less guilty about the neglected task items on my list, because looking back, I’ve had a pretty awesome summer!

Just to share a few things I was lucky enough to do:

I went to Ireland with my husband’s family for a week. (One word: AMAZING)

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(Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland – July 2014)

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(Lough Leane, Killarney, Ireland – July 2014)

I spent three days in Belgium with my husband where we ate lots of waffles, chocolate, and frites (and tried MANY new beers!).

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I spent time with family and friends, near and far. Threw a (successful) surprise retirement party for my father-in-law. Went to a couple of weddings, from Buffalo to Chicago, to celebrate the marriage of some of my favorite people. Snuggled with my adorable pup, Kiko. I even read seven books (YESSS!).

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For teaching-related tasks, I completed two online courses for continuing ed credit, published two new partner poems (I now have 14 total!), and filled up a notebook with fun ideas for the school year. I’m also in the process of planning a new intervention block with the 2nd grade team in my building.

Productive summer? Yes. As productive as I wanted to be? No. Am I okay with it? ABSOLUTELY, yes. I feel accomplished, yet refreshed. My summer was FULL… full of fun, relaxation, travel, and wonderful memories (with a little work mixed in there). :)

Despite all of that, I’m still struggling with the summer being almost over. It’s one thing to create lessons and resources by the pool, another to get up, get dressed, and get myself out the door each morning! I’m not looking forward to that, but I am eager to kick-off another fun school year. I have so many new ideas I want to try out, and I can’t wait to see all my students!

A *FREE* Back-to-School Poem!

As I mentioned above, I’ve been working on a few new partner poems to use with my students this year! If you love partner poetry (aka, “poems for two voices”) and are interested in checking them out, click HERE! They’re great for fluency practice and for teaching character perspective. My students love them, and I bet yours would too! You can buy a collection of just the poems (PDF eBook), or I sell each poem individually with activity pages. I’m working on getting them published as a REAL book (wouldn’t that be awesome?!). :)

In the mean time, to celebrate my growing partner poetry collection and the back-to-school season… I’m offering my newest poem for FREE on TpT (if you’re not already a member of TpT, you should join here!). Grab the FREE poetry packet HERE or by clicking the images below!

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Boost Your Teaching Power with a Bonus TpT Sale!

Also, did you know that TpT’s doing a bonus one-day sale, August 20th, as a follow-up to our annual Back-to-School sale that already took place? It’s an extra day to scoop up all the resources you wish you bought earlier this August! Everything in my store (including my bundles!) will be 20% off. Use promo code “BOOST” for an additional 10% off my already discounted prices. :)

TPT Boost SALE

Happy Teaching!

Happy Shopping!

Happy Back-to-School! 

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Back to School Giveaway & TpT Sale

3 Aug

It’s that time of year again…

The Teachers Pay Teachers “Back to School” Sale is here! On August 4th & August 5th, thousands of sellers at TpT will be coming together to host an awesome two-day sale.

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Everything in my MsJordanReads store will be 20% off. Use the code BTS14 for an additional 10% my already discounted prices.

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Back to School Bundles

With just hours to spare before the sale, I (finally) completed my “Daily Phonics” Word Work BUNDLE. Bundles are a great way to collect resources at discounted prices. By purchasing my newest bundle during the sale (with the promo code), you will be saving $12. That’s like getting FOUR months of resources free from this 12-month series. (To learn more about Daily Phonics, check out my post here.)

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Not everyone includes their bundles in the site-wide sale, but I like to offer the extra discount as an incentive to stock-up during sales!

Check out some of the other bundles at MsJordanReads:

TpT Gift Certificate Giveaway

In addition to some great savings, I’m hosting my very first TpT Gift Certificate Giveaway! One winner will receive $25 to use during the Teachers Pay Teachers sale. Enter by clicking HERE or the image below. The giveaway ends 8/4/14.
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Happy Teaching & Happy Shopping! 

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Make-Your-Own Trading Cards Using iPads

27 May

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Creating Trading Cards

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Download the Trading Cards app from ReadWriteThink!

After the app is downloaded to each iPad, students need to create an app username, similar to the other ReadWriteThink apps I blogged about a few months ago. (Check out the post here!)

Once students have a username created, you have to choose what kind of trading card you want your students to make. They can choose from seven different categories: Fictional Person, Real Person, Fictional Place, Real Place, Object, Event, or Vocabulary. If you’re looking for a few ideas, students can create trading cards for book characters, historical events, content vocabulary, and can even create a card for themselves! (Perfect for a fun beginning of the year “Get to Know Me” autobiography project!)

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Students will select a category and then will be prompted to add a title. Each trading card has two sides (you have the option just to print the front side if you wish). Students will type information into each of the information sections, so it’s important for students to plan out their writing. I created graphic organizers for students to brainstorm or research, and this really helps with the writing process.

Download the GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS I created here:

Once all the information is input into the sections, students can choose a trading card design and add a picture. If it’s a trading card about themselves, students can take a “selfie.” If it’s a trading card about an object, students can take a picture of the object (use the camera icon on the trading card). You can also upload a picture from your device’s Camera Roll (use the picture icon on the trading card). If you need to upload pictures from the web, save them to your Camera Roll and access the pictures that way.

Just a reminder, make sure the students hit “Keep It” at the bottom of the card to save the draft throughout their project (this will prevent any accidental erasing of trading cards before you get to print or share it). After editing the trading card, students can print or share it by clicking “Share It.” If a printer is directly connected, you can “Send to Printer,” but if it’s not you can “Save to Photos” and upload it using Dropbox or DropItToMe (this allows you to print from another computer).

Make sure you grant the app permission to access your Photos (this will be a pop-up request prompt when the FIRST student using the app clicks “Save to Photos”). If a student accidently hits “no,” you can always change permissions settings under your iPad Settings (click “Privacy” and then go into “Photos” to make sure permission is turned on!).

NOTE: If this project takes a few days, you’ll need to make sure students are using the same iPad each time, since the usernames are connected to a device.

Here are a few student examples for a historical event project we did: 

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The pictures above display how each trading card prints (it’s a one-page file). You can cut out each page, fold it down the middle, and then laminate the folded page so it’s a two-sided cards (There are directions right on the page so your students can do this part!). The picture at the top of this post are the trading cards we created (not yet laminated). My students wanted their cards to be larger, but you can print them any size.

I’m already brainstorming the possibilities for using this app next year. There are so many! I would love to hear how you use this app in the classroom. Just leave a comment below! :)

Happy Teaching! 

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Hello Spring! — Poetry Writing Using iPads

14 May

I meant to write this post for Poetry month in April, but as usual, life just gets in the way! Better late than never though, right? Here’s an idea to tuck away for next year.

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post from Grade ONEderful about students writing Goodbye/Hello poems. She completed this writing activity with her first graders, but you could really integrate this idea with any grade-level.

Pic Collage Poetry

I decided to take it one step farther and use Pic Collage for the students to publish their poetry.

I’ve used Pic Collage for other projects, including my QR Code Summary Posters (tutorial for Pic Collage is included in that blog post!). I like the idea of using technology and iPads to publish writing. It was a fun 1-2 day activity for my students. Not only was it great for vocabulary practice, spelling, and visualizing… but students were able to take home a poem that THEY wrote and were proud of. We also practiced reading them for fluency for a Poetry Showcase during few minutes at the end of the week!

Here are two examples:

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A few additional blogs and websites that share ideas and templates for writing your own Goodbye/Hello poems in the classroom:

If you’re interested in a web-based template, here’s one you can use for creating your poems. I personally prefer for my students to brainstorm ideas in their writing notebooks (see below), but you can use whatever format works best for you.

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Even though this idea is too late for the end of winter, Goodbye/Hello poetry would be a fun end-of-the-year writing activity to celebrate summer. Goodbye Spring, Hello Summer? Goodbye School Year, Hello Summer Vacation? Goodbye Stress, Hello Relaxation? (Oh wait, that one is just for the teachers!) :)

P.S. New blog post about using the Trading Cards app from ReadWriteThink coming soon!

Happy Teaching! 

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