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Planning for Small Groups!

Welcome to February sweet friends!  

Man.... January just slipped right in and back out again.  It seems like we JUST had Christmas!  

We are getting our feet pretty wet in the world of Guided Reading down in the world of kindergarten! We don't really start our full on guided reading until January, mainly focusing on small intervention groups during the first half of the year and building those important foundation skills to lead us into reading!

With different groups, different skills, and pretty much different everything for each set of students, I wanted a quick and effective way of planning and organizing this to help me run my hour of guided reading as smooth as possible!  (And I wanted to share this with YOU!)

Note:  This post is NOT about what I do in my groups as far as the activities, printables, etc...(that's for a whole different post!).... but this is just a quick overview as to how I plan for those groups!


I just wanted to share really quick these easy and effective printables/ideas to help you plan for your small groups.  


Materials:
- Binder
- Sheet Protectors
- Post it Notes (I like a variety of colors!)
- The FREE printables at the end of this post!


My binder is definitely nothing fancy.... but helps me keep everything in ONE place for my groups!


When I open my binder, I keep all of the extra copies of reading logs, planning pages, etc....

I place sheet protectors in my binder to easily place the printables inside of!  

The first thing I will see is my group listings that show the group and what students are in each group.  

I place the sheet inside of the sheet protector, then place the post-it notes on top of the sheet protector.  Groups will definitely change throughout the semester and instead of having to complete re-write an entire group sheet, I can easily just change the post-its that need to be re-written!
(And.... adding a pop of color doesn't hurt either :)


Behind my group listing sheet, I will have a lesson plan for each group.

I place the sheet inside the sheet protector and use a dry erase marker to write the week and group number.

I place TWO post-its inside of the skills box, (1) for new words/vocabulary for the particular lesson(s)   and (2) for the skills that we will work on during the lessons.

I also write the book being used and level, and then I make notes after I meet with the group.



I can easily see each group throughout the week and the skills that will be used!  



Inside my binder you will also see RTI - Data sheets.  I place the sheet inside of the sheet protector and then I can write the student's name and subject (if you are doing reading groups, math posts, or just an intervention group!)

I have the page set up for 3 weeks, because after 3 weeks of intervention, we should be taking a look at our student's progress and making the necessary changes in our plans as needed! 

On the post-its, I write the skills that will be focused on (beginning sounds, blending sounds, etc...)  Then the bottom boxes will be for results (8/10, 70%, etc...)  You can easily write on the sheet to keep in student file OR use a dry erase marker and then take a picture for student files.  

***I do NOT do an RTI sheet for every student.... just those that are below level ***


While this is just a QUICK overview, (and I focused on Guided Reading)... you can easily use these for any subject that you teach in small groups! I do plan on coming back soon to share guided reading in much more detail!  

In the meantime... you can grab these printables (for FREE) by clicking on the pictures below!




Hopefully this can help you plan a little easier.... or just have some useful printables for what you already have in place!

Until next time....

HAPPY TEACHING!


The Alphabet - Up Close and Personal

Is this a blog?  Am I blogging?

It's been well over a month since my last blogging adventure (I apologize for that!) but with a few SDE conferences, the holidays, and everyday life as a mom, wife, and teacher.... blogging somehow got put on the backburner!

November and December were both packed full of conferences, starting with the I Teach 1st Conference in Nashville, followed by the I Teach Pre K, I Teach K, and I Teach 1st in Baton Rouge.... where I had the most AMAZING time presenting to hundreds of teachers.... eagerly awaiting Christmas break! 

As we reached Christmas break, most of my time was spent with the family at the deer lease, soaking up the last few weeks of deer season.  We also had a pretty good Christmas too, even though it was our first spent without my father-in-law. (Although I'm sure Christmas in Heaven... is a sight to see!)

New Years came and went so quickly because I was back to work on January 2nd!  A couple of work days and my students were officially back this past Wednesday morning!

I kinda had one of those panic moments this past week.... something like this: 
"Oh my goodness... half the year is gone.... where are my students academically?  How much did they lose over Christmas break?  Will they get where they need to be in the next 5 months?"  Something along those lines..... (which happens every.single.year at this point!)

For us to really kick it into high gear.... my students MUST know their letters and sounds for the alphabet.... like HAVE to know it!  Much of the first semester is spent building this foundation of reading; mastering letter identification and sounds, working on blending sounds into words, segmenting words to isolate the sounds, etc.... 

At one of my conference sessions last month, I presented all about the ALPHABET and this led me to really sit down and write a post.... getting up close and personal with the alphabet and just exactly what this may look like in a PreK/Kindergarten classroom.

So here we go....



If you are a Pre-K or a Kindergarten teacher.... then the alphabet is something that you could probably teach in your sleep.  We do it year by year, day by day, and this is one of our goals for our students to master throughout the school year.  Even though the alphabet seems like a pretty simple thing to teach, we always have students who struggle to master letter ID, beginning sounds, often leaving us (the teacher) wondering what else we can do for our students!

Is your current alphabet curriculum working for you and your students?  Here are FIVE tips to think about when teaching the alphabet:

What order are you teaching the letters of the alphabet?  Do you start with A and go to Z.... do you pick and choose what you feel your students need help with the most?  Do you use a researched method of letter introduction? 

This is something each and every teacher who teaches the alphabet needs to consider! 
While the old and familiar method of teaching ONE letter a week seemed to be the way to go.... it's a proven fact that this is no longer the most successful way to teach the alphabet to our students.... for a couple of reasons!

1.  It is taking 26 weeks (that is TWENTY SIX weeks people!) to get through the entire alphabet with our students. 

2. If we want our students to become beginning readers sometime throughout the school year, this method will only hinder them from reading sooner.

3. Some of our students come in already knowing and are familiar with some of the letters in the alphabet.  We are only holding these students further back by taking another 26 weeks to get through the alphabet.

4. A typical school year is 40ish weeks.  If we are taking 26 weeks to teach the alphabet, then we only leaving ourselves (and our students!) approximately 14 weeks to master the art of reading!   And we all know that in those 14 weeks (3.5 months!) ... we have the beginning of school, the end of school, and so many other factors that will limit us the maximum time of those three months.

So.... you know the order that you are teaching the alphabet... but now what?!

Teachers should be introducing and teaching the letter and sound together.  Students need to be identifying both so that they are relating to each other in the child's brain.  This connection is an important step towards reading!
Even if you are not specifically teaching the alphabet in your lesson plan today... your students still need to be exposed to the alphabet EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! 

This doesn't have to be a formal lesson on the alphabet, but it should be included in your day:

Examples:
- Morning Meeting/Calendar
- Literacy Stations
- Word Wall activities
- Songs/Chants
- Entering or Exiting the classroom
- Fast Finisher activities
- Transitions

If we want our students to be successful... that last thing we want or need to do is confuse them!

When planning the order of the alphabet to teach, be sure similar letters are not taught together,
such as:

b/p
d/b
m/n
q/p


Let's take a quick look at what research says about the alphabet!



Do you do this in your classroom?

Research suggests teaching the lowercase letters FIRST because they account for 95% of the text that we read, leaving only 5% of text for capital letters. 

I can definitely see the reasoning behind this as well, because most students come in developmentally only writing in all CAPS, and then we are spending a chunk of time reversing the bad habit of only using capital letters. 

Personally, I teach both capital and lowercase together so that students can visually see and make the connection between letters... but I also agree with the research behind this fact!

Do NOT spend an entire lesson block teaching the alphabet.  It should be quick and painless! 

Here is an example of an Alphabet lesson:

During this 10 - 12 minutes, the mini lesson should include:

1.)  Identifying the letter and sound

2.) Identifying the letter within text (great for your shared reading book, sentences, morning message, etc...)

3.) Producing the sound for the letter (teacher will model, students will produce sound)

4.) Writing the letter

The activities that you include per step should also alternate from lesson to lesson, giving students a variety of opportunities to learn and master the letter. 




It is hard for our students to master the letters of the alphabet, without first mastering the letters in their name.   Have you ever (or still have) a student that still cannot master or successfully identify the letters within their own name?  It happens all.the.time.

This is where all of the amazing NAME activities you see on Pinterest and online can come into play!



When you are planning your brief alphabet lessons, literacy stations, small group activities, etc...  keep this research tip in mind!  Our students should be learning the alphabet through play (yes PLAY!), writing, fine motor activities, and songs / chants / motions!

Did you know that when content is put to lyrics or musical form, it is 90% more likely to be retained?!  Trust me... we sing A LOT in our classroom!



That's right ladies and gentlemen.... the letter a week has GOT TO GO!  It's not just me saying it.... this is research based.... classroom tested!
With the diversity of our students and the ever narrowing curriculum that we are having to teach, we don't have time to waste!  26 weeks is TOO long to teach the alphabet to our students!



Sooo.... you may be already doing this in your classrooms (or you may be having a mini panic attack right now because you aren't).

DON'T WORRY!  Do not go back to school on Monday and re-vamp or change everything!  If what you are doing is working.... don't change it.  However, if you see students struggling or not mastering these alphabet concepts sooner, then you may want to gradually tweak what you are doing and try some of these researched ideas out in your own classroom!

Not sure where to start?

If you need to pick an order to teach the alphabet in.... consider one of these:


This is favorite among educators because it has been around for a while!  The order will begin with teaching the letter M, followed by S, F, and so on, then concluding with the letter E.


Another order:


This is one of the popular Montessori methods, although there are a few out there with little tweaks in the order!

Again, your district may already have an order for you or if you lucky and get to choose, try one out throughout a school year and see how your students adapt or find success within that order you are teaching.


Are you teaching one letter a week?  Maybe you are transitioning into trying two, maybe even three (gasp!) letters a week?  Below are some examples of how to introduce and teach the letters when doing multiple letters a week:


This example is introducing and teaching two letters within a week.  This will get you through the entire alphabet is approximately three months, or 13ish weeks.  (still a lot better than 26!)

Want to try three letters a week?


This will move at a pretty fast pace.... but with appropriate planning and activities, your students will master the alphabet in 7-9 weeks.... leaving much of the school year for valuable time to teach and really dig into other areas of need!


Another big question/concern:
Assessing students for progress on the alphabet!


What assessment system do you use?  Do you flip cards and document the correct/incorrect responses?  Do you fill in a graph for letters? sounds?  A simple check list?

If you are looking for a quick, time-saving way to assess your students AND get your data immediately.... I highly suggest you look into ESGI!

ESGI is saving teachers HUNDREDS of hours in assessing their students!

Interested in a FREE 60 day trial?  Head on over to ESGI and sign up for FREE!  If you want to use the whole year.....

Trust me.... teachers everywhere are PRAISING E.S.G.I for saving time AND giving teachers valuable data on their students!



After assessing your students, not only do you know where your students are and where they need to go, but you can use your results and data from ESGI to help you plan and teach your instruction for the alphabet!

Are you looking for alphabet resources?


These three resources are used in my class every week throughout my alphabet instruction!


Alphabet Write the Room is a student favorite!  (and mine!)  Want to see students engaged and up on their feet?  You NEED this!!!

I have included 10 cards for each letter of the alphabet and a recording sheet for each letter!  You can grab the pack on sale now by clicking the picture above or HERE.



Alphabet Tongue Twisters.... yes please!

Again... my students LOVE these!  I have included a color poster for each letter as well as the matching b/w version for your students to get interactive with!  Throughout learning the particular letter, my students will highlight/color the letter throughout the tongue twister, count the number of words, highlight sight words, and much more!  These posters are a must have!!!!!

Click the picture above or HERE for more details!



This is a JAM-PACKED bundle filled with everything ALPHABET!

There are letter sorts, letter writing, intervention notebooks, play-dough cards, tracing cards, stations, and more!  This pack is perfect for your small group interventions and activities that focus solely on the alphabet!  

You can check it out in more detail by clicking the picture above or HERE.



This little alphabet chart is in poster-size in my classroom and we go over it DAILY!  I also include student sheets in my small group bucket and use as a warm up to small groups!  We chant each day, (A, /a/, apple..... B, /b/, bear.....etc.....) through the chart!  It really allows my students to make a visual connection with a picture and the sound/letter. 

You can grab this chart for FREE by clicking above or HERE.


Whew!  That was A LOT..... but I hoped you can take something back to your classroom with you as you start the second half of the school year!  

Just remember.... don't go into your classroom and make a complete change tomorrow!  Find what works best for you and your students and go from there!  Baby steps.... get you success!

As always.... please contact me if you any questions!!!!

 Happy Teaching!



Merry GRAPHmas with Reindeer!

See that title..... that's right... we about to head into my FAVORITE month of the year!  DECEMBER.... here we come (full of high-energy kids who completely forgot the classroom rules after Thanksgiving break... but that's ok!)

I absolutely love THEME teaching... and the holidays are the perfect time to do that and incorporate your favorites themes with the content you are teaching.  Teacher heart happy....check!

This week in Math we started our graphing unit down in kindergarten, and we decided to make this week all about REINDEER!  So needless to say.... we were going to be graphing about some reindeer at some point in the week!  We have all seen the typical graphs.... "Have you ever seen a reindeer? YES/NO".....  But I wanted something fun and maybe a little non-serious for this particular graph!  We were going to graph "Our Favorite Reindeer"!

Oh.... don't worry... they didn't have eight choices!  I narrowed it down to three and we of course had to include the one and only Rudolph, and then I added Comet and Prancer to the mix as well :)

In order for my students to get to know the other "not-so-famous" reindeer, I created these little posters to help us get to know more about our three choices!  (otherwise EVERYONE would choose Rudolph....right?!)  ;)






After learning about our three choices, each student had to select their favorite based off what we knew about them.

I created this anchor chart with the students and labeled the graph as we went through it together!



What do you know.... Rudolph is the winner :)

We went through our graph, naming the title, our three choices, what was our DATA that we gathered and our results.

After doing this whole group, each student then created their own (and yes... a themed craft for the win!) little reindeer graph!


I hung all of their graphs and our class graph outside of the classroom, along with "Merry Graphmas"  Lol!  


You can grab this craftivity, the reindeer posters, AND the Merry Graphmas letters by clicking any of the pictures above or HERE!

And yes..... its FREE :)


Have a great rest of the week :)

Next week's theme..... Gingerbread!!!!!!!!



ESGI - Your New Best Friend!!!

Happy Saturday friends!

I just had to stop in today and tell you about MY NEW BEST FRIEND in the classroom!  I mean.... Super excited, kick up your heels, can't wait to get to work kind of friend! 

I have been presenting for SDE (Staff Development for Educators) for 2-3 years now, but it wasn't until this past week while presenting in Tennessee that I was truly introduced to something AH-MAZING!  DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten and I were talking for a while one evening and we got on the subject of using ESGI in our classroom....  something that I had heard of and even seen at conferences, but never really took the time to really dig deep into what they were offering! (until this week!)

As a kindergarten teacher myself, I'm pretty embarrassed and a whole lot of sad that I have not had this sooner!  I'm constantly assessing my students, collecting data to better my instruction, holding conferences with parents, assessing again.... and the cycle continues (with tons of paperwork, binders, and other organizational methods!)

BUT..... this new friend of mine is here to save me HOURS of my precious time while still doing everything I just mentioned above!

Let's get straight to it.... Four simple letters..... E S G I

If you already use ESGI... then you know what I'm talking about!  This life-saving tool and resource for teachers is completely changing how we utilize our time in the classroom when it comes to assessing our students, collecting data, communicating that data with parents, and maximizing our time for instruction!

I *JUST* set up my account this week and all I've done is put in my class list, and then Thanksgiving Break took over!  I don't think I've ever been MORE excited to get back into the classroom after a week-long break until NOW!

Let's take a look:


Once you create your account, you will have an ESGI homepage, where you will see the tabs at the top, assessments in the center, your class list to the left, and so many GREAT options to your right!  

Again, all I have done is enter in my students (which was SUPER easy!)  Once my students begin to be assessed, their data will be showing in the center for each of the areas. 



After you get your students listed into your page, then it's time to find the assessments you need!

You can search assessments that have already been created OR you can create your very own assessment!  You can search by content, etc... on the left OR click on "Create a Test" on the right and get down to business!



Not sure if the pre-created assessments will be what you need?  You can easily click on the assessment and preview it!  

Now, most of your assessments will still be done One-on-One, but instead of hassling with papers and dis-organization.... there will be a place on the test that allows you to click if the student responds correctly, creating the data for you!  I mean.... I'm not lying when I say this whole thing is 
AH-MAZING!



This part might be my favorite of the entire thing!!  

After students have completed their assessment, I can create a letter for EACH student that will go home to their parents!  I know....right?!  AHHHH!  
Not only can I show my parents their child's results, but it will show what was answered correctly, incorrectly, AND I can print flashcards for the parent to assist their child at home.  

Now tell me.... this wouldn't make you excited to get back to work and use ESGI???  
I am so stinkin' ready to get back and implement this!


Don't have ESGI?????  DON'T WORRY!!!!

You can click on ESGI tab on the right side of my blog as you scroll down OR click on anything related to ESGI in this post!

The best part....

You can sign up for a FREE 60 day trial..... but I know you will want the WHOLE YEAR!!!  
  If you are a Pre-K Teacher, Kindergarten Teacher, or 1st Grade Teacher..... don't waste another minute!!!!!!!

Use my code: WILD for a HUGE discount!!!!!


I'm telling y'all.... you do NOT want to teach another day without this resource right at your fingertips!!!!!  

Let me know if you have any questions!!!!


SDE Conference RECAP!

Happy Thursday Friends!

This week has definitely been an interesting week!  (Full Moon, Sub, some other crazy things..... you know... the joys of Kindergarten!)

The week did start off pretty AMAZING as I got to spend a few days with some blogging buddies and Tennessee teachers in Nashville for the I Teach 1st and I Teach Kindergarten conferences!

I presented eight sessions but I wanted to highlight a few of those sessions in this post and let you know where you can find some of the resources that were mentioned!

My Sight Word Session is always one of my favorites!  I am ALWAYS looking for fun and meaningful ways for my students to master their sight words.  Below are a few of the resources I mentioned, although it on my to-do list to create a pack with ALL of the activities that were presented as well as printables, material lists, directions, etc....


The Writing on the Wall pack includes all of the activities that can be done with your sight words and word wall!

Interactive Sight Words (First 100 Fry Words) is great for morning work, fast finishers, interactive journals, and MORE!

Fun with FRYS includes multiple activities AND songs for the first 100 Fry Words! (1000+ pages!)

Sight Word Songs (first 100 Fry Words) includes a song for EACH Fry word on the 1-100 list!


Writing is something that can be super scary..... and not just for the kids!  Teaching writing used to be so challenging for me because EVERY.SINGLE.STUDENT was somewhere different in the writing process and their development stage.....
But that's all change and I absolutely LOVE seeing my students progress throughout the year in their writing.... definitely makes my teacher heart swell!

These were just a *few* of the resources mentioned in my "It's Gonna Be All WRITE" session! (links are below!)
Sentence Stems for Young Writers includes over 150 stems / prompts for your beginning writers! 

Read, Write, and Build is great to integrate your poetry and have students reading and writing familiar rhymes!

Writing Spinners puts a fun twist on your writing activities!

The Silly Sentence Station is a classroom FAVORITE!  Students will selects the parts of a sentence and write a very silly sentence!


R.T.I...... probably three of the scariest letters to a teacher!  RTI can definitely be tricky due to amount of  planning and organization needed for it be successful (as well as finding the time to do it all)!

I really need about a week to talk all about RTI.... 75 minutes is definitely a short amount of time to discuss all of the components, but hitting the high spots was about all I could do!  Below you find some resources that can help you when implementing RTI!

FREE - RTI Informational Posters let you know exactly what is in each tier, how to identify these students, and more! 

Mission Intervention - Alphabet - Includes printables, activities, games and intervention activities for students who need additional instruction with the alphabet and sounds.


Guided Reading for 1st Grade - The Bundle (Includes monthly packs with multiple activities and resources to use for reading groups, stations, and more!)


NUMBER SENSE..... just a few of my favorite words as a kindergarten teacher!  I absolutely LOVE teaching concepts and activities that will better my student's number sense!  This is also one of my favorite sessions that I present on.... and below are a few of the math activities :)
Monthly Math - Kindergarten - Bundle - Includes monthly packs with 8-12 math stations!

MEGA Math Bundle - 1st Grade - Includes 8 packets with content specific activities - full of engaging activities for whole and small group, stations, crafts, and more!

Math for ME!  - 1st Grade - an RTI intervention binder that covers the math standards for grade 1.

Know Your Number Sense! - 60 number cards that will help students identify the multiple ways to represent a number!


Since I am still in the classroom as a full time teacher, I usually only present about 3-5 conferences during the school year.  You can click on the tab at the top of the page to see where I will be this year!  (I need to update a few summer conferences once they are set in stone!)

And.... I can't forget these ladies below :)   They are SO sweet and talented and I am so thankful that I got to spend a few days with them.... until next time!




And my goodness.... always good to catch up with the AMAZING and sweet ladies!  These ladies right are some seriously talented friends who I truly wish I got to spend some more time with!
Left to Right (DeeDee Wills, Reagan Tunstall, Kristina Grant, Elizabeth Hall, and Jessica Travis(me!)

Pumpkin Number Freebies!

It's Thursday.... it's Fall... yet down here in Texas, you wouldn't know by the 93 degree temps outside!  (I'm trying to be really patient to bust out my sweaters and booties for Fall!)
 
We did manage to have a pretty good cold front come through today though.... which may explain the unusual crazy wild behavior lately (and don't forget the full moon we had earlier this week!)

We are in week 9 of school (yes.... already!) and we are finally trucking along at a pretty consistent rate and *finally* into a good routine down here in Kinder World!

After working with students, small groups, one-on-one, analyzing student assessments and observing independent work.... it's safe to say that I officially have my students figured out and where I need to go (academically) to get these sweet babies truckin' through Kindergarten!

I posted about my most recent RTI pack (Mission Intervention - Alphabet Recognition and Identification) but with fall officially here... I can't help but throw in some themed-learning/intervention!  

Working with my math groups, I wanted to create some pumpkin-themed activities BUT .... make it beneficial for learning AND fun!  So.... I whipped up a few activities that I wanted to share with you (and if you hang around till the end.... you can grab them too!)



Let's take a look in detail;



These pumpkin picture cards include cards with 1 - 10 pumpkins.  

Options (but not limited to!)
1. simply count the pumpkins!
2.  Teacher calls a number - students find a pumpkin cards with more/less/equal to the teacher's number.
3.  Match the pumpkin picture with the number cards (next picture!)




I also use these number cards to help with the next activity:


I created FOUR different pumpkin number mats.  Each includes numbers 1-10, just in different variations on the mat.

You can either call out a number, or use the number cards to call out a number.  Students will need to identify that number that you call out and cover it on their mat.  We just use unifix cubes, but small erasers, pumpkin seeds, whatever you want!



The pumpkin to fill up first or with the most cubes "wins".  
Again, you can vary this up as well and say, " find a number more than ____"  or "less than ____"
Feel free to match it to what your students need most!


Last but not least.... these little pumpkin wagons are great for building the number!


I have included mats for numbers 1-10 as well as the pumpkins!  

Students will just pick a number wagon mat and represent the number using the pumpkins (or orange cubes if you don't want to cut out the pumpkins!)


The best part.... you can grab all of these pumpkin activities for FREE:




Have a great week!!

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