5 Tips for Guided Reading in Kindergarten

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

I have spent the last month or so working with a guided reading group in kindergarten.  Joining these friends has been the highlight of my day.  They are darling and hysterical and so very fun.
Can't decide if #3 or #5 is my favorite.  5 tips for guided reading in kindergarten.


1. Plan ahead

Y'all.  This is no joke.  Kindergarteners come at you 90 miles an hour.  You need a game plan before the little people come to you.  I can wing it okay, but it's a lot harder in Kindergarten because a large chunk of my mental energy is spent keeping everyone on task.  If you're going to think big picture about your students' growth and where you want them to be, planning is not optional.
If  you're looking to learn more about the how, what, and why of guided reading, Jan Richardson's The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading is an excellent resource.  If you're looking to plan for groups more thoughtfully, I really love Debbie Diller's Making the Most of Small Groups.
The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading is a must!! If you're not sure how to teach guided reading, this book will get you there. Excellent resource for how to plan strategically for guided reading groups.


2. Be ready to change plans

Having said that planning is important, be ready to switch gears.  I had several things I'd planned to focus on with my group of kinder friends, but one thing became glaringly evident: they were not checking their picture based guesses to make sure they matched.  Not even a little bit.  Real conversation:

Me: That's a great guess!  That matches the picture.  Does it match the letters?
Kinder friend: Yes!
Me: You're not even looking at the page.  How do you know it matches the letters?
Kinder friend: I just know.

My lesson focus shifted away from what I had originally planned to work on self monitoring because I know that's a key skill and one that often makes it difficult for kiddos to transition from level 3 to level 4 on the DRA.


3. Become an expert

This is a big one.  And probably the most important one.  There is no guided reading resource you can purchase that will negate the need for you understanding what readers need at varying levels.  What we see on the surface of guided reading books is that gradually there are more words on the page and those words get harder.  There is so much more to know about the needs of readers at these levels.  This book is a must:
Awesome resource!! The description of each guided reading level is so thorough and detailed.
One of the most valuable resources you can own is The Literacy Continuum by Fountas and Pinnell.  And here's why:
Awesome resource!! The description of each guided reading level is so thorough and detailed.

Awesome resource!! The description of each guided reading level is so thorough and detailed.

Awesome resource!! The description of each guided reading level is so thorough and detailed.
Let's be honest-did you even think there was that much to know about a Level D book???  I was shocked about how much is possible with these simple texts.

This book is not cheap, so it's best if your school gets a copy.  If that's not in the cards, then my best suggestion is to watch it on Heinemann.  They run matching online codes when they offer one at a big conference.  My school was able to get 7 copies for 30% list price and free shipping because we purchased online while there was a big conference going on somewhere else.


4. Extend the pattern

Group books are the best! One of the books we read was On the Farm.  It was all about animals that live on the farm.  Each page followed a predictable pattern.
I made a super simple page on my computer, so we could make an In the Zoo book that followed the same pattern.  Each child made his/her own page.  I copied the pages, so each child had his own book.  It gave us a chance to practice listening to and recording sounds, more practice with sight words, and an extra special book to add to book boxes for rereading.

Extending the pattern can happen on the fly, too.  Here was a quick extension for A Hug is as Warm as:
Each child took a turn whispering the word in my ear.  I drew the picture (which gave them a chance to make a prediction) then wrote the word (allowing them a chance to confirm the prediction.)


5. Question Students When They're Right

We as teachers have gotten so good with reading strategies that we're ready to swoop in when kids have trouble.  Only asking does that look right/does that make sense when students are wrong trains them to not think about what they're reading.  They don't need to question it because we're ready and waiting to swoop in when they're wrong.
Instead of confirming a student's correct approximation, ask her if it makes sense, and then if it sounds right.
At first they'll tell you no because they're used to only being asked that when they're wrong.  Your kiddos will look super confused BECAUSE THAT'S NOT HOW THIS WORKS.  You'll probably need to intervene because they'll be busy trying to work out what else the word could possibly be.  The good news is kindergarteners are super flexible and will catch on quickly.


Bonus Tip! Target dollar spot makes it fun.

I cannot overstate how much more engaged kindergarten friends are when you involve a little novelty.  Whether it's little erasers, fun sunglasses with the lenses removed, finger pointers, or whatever nonsense you find at the Target dollar spot, a little engagement goes a long way.
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April Desktop

Hey there!  I'm so happy April is here.  It means summer is sneaking up, and that's always a good thing.

This little bunny is so cute sailing away in his hot air balloon.  I'm ready to sail away to spring and into summer with him!  These darling graphics are from PeaceArtShop on Etsy.  You can click here to download the calendar or click on the image below.


I hope you have a wonderful April!
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March Favorites

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

Hey there and happy almost April to you! Flipflops are here for me in Texas and shorts are close enough to touch!
My new binge worthy obsession, Kendra gets kicked to the curb?, and more in this month's favorites.
I hate cold weather, so I can feel my happy increasing with each degree the temperature goes up.

If you need a new series, The Fall is AWESOME.  It's sneakily addictive.  You think you can stop at any minute.  You're wrong.  The giant bags under my eyes last week from lack of sleep are proof of that.

Aaaannnd Nickel & Suede is my newest obsession.  These earrings are beautiful and weight about -.03 ounces.  I seriously forget I'm wearing earrings sometimes.  The first pair (yep, I immediately ordered more after wearing my new pair for one day) I bought are the matte gold in medium.

To give you an idea of what the medium is like, here's a side by side with some Kendra earrings.  The earring on the left is the largest size and the earring on the right is one size down.


School t-shirts are my jam.  We can't wear jeans except on rarely given Fridays (super sad, and I don't want to hear from you people that can wear them whenever you want.  I can't hear you.  I can't hear you.  I can't hear you.)
Since I can't wear jeans, my I can't deal with life go to is a teacher t-shirt.  My newest one from The Wright Stuff is Picture Books Are My Jam.  How cute is this?

Anyone else a rereader?  It's pretty much the best thing about being super forgetful.  (If you've ever emailed me to ask me to do something, you know this is #truth.)  I love rereading books.  I can only remember that I liked the book and pretty much nothing else.

I reread the Slated series recently.  If you're a YA reader, this is a good one and should go on your to be read list!

And finally, the best thing that happened to me all month . . . .
And yes.  I kneaded it.  And it was glorious.

That wraps up March!  It was a great month, and I am even happier to welcome April, and the warmer temperatures!
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Conferring with Readers

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

Who's ready for this month's professional read?  This year I made a New Year's resolution to read a professional book every month.  FYI-This is the first time I have actually kept a New Year's resolution for more than 5 minutes (probably because they are usually related to me eating less food that tastes really good.)

Conferring with Readers? Who's got time for that?  Well, hopefully you.  This is one of those books that will make you think deeply about what you're doing and how we teach our readers in a one size fits all manner.

Conferring with Readers is the best friend of The Reading Strategies Book.  TRSB is the what, but this book is the how.  A must have for any teacher wanting to teach students through choice and independence.

Why?

I love The Reading Strategies Book.  As I worked with kids on implementing strategies, though, I was left wanting more.  Was I doing this right? How could I better?  I felt like I was shooting in the dark and wanted to know more about differentiating reading instruction for students.

I have decided to refer to Conferring with Readers as the best friend of The Reading Strategies Book and want to dig deeper into conferring with students individually or in groups, this book needs to go on your must read list.

Aha Moment

There wasn't a singular moment in this book that set the lightbulb off.  And that was kind of the best thing about it.  Some books are heavy on ideas but light on implementation.  Too often you're left feeling strongly that the ideas are good but without any clue of how to make it happen in your own classroom.
This book is the HOW.  What it looks like, what it sounds like, why you plan a certain way, how to plan that way, how to manage the structure in the classroom, all the practical parts.
 

I Wish

I wish I had come across this book much sooner.  Sorry previous 3rd and 4th graders.  The third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers are reading this book at my school as part of book club.  I wish that making time and space for teachers to meet to discuss and grow in practice (vs data and standardized testing scores) was something that happened everywhere.  If you're looking for a book club selection to read with a group of teachers, this is an excellent text.  


Surprise

It's not as complicated as it sounds.  If you are already an advocate of the power of independent reading, this book provides a bridge for integrating independent reading with your reading instruction.  I'm not going to say it's easy, but this book shows you how it's possible.


Good For . . . .

Anyone who is in love with The Reading Strategies Book or teachers who want to move towards individualizing their reading instruction but aren't sure what that would look like or how to actually make it work.
I have always admired teachers who were able to run their classrooms this way.  I just couldn't wrap my head around what I would actually "do" with readers in a conference beyond "So, tell me about reading now . . . "  I was pretty confident that wouldn't be successful.  Turns out I was right.  There's more to it, and this book will show you the way.  Conferring with Readers is the How to The Reading Strategies Book's What.


Wise Words



I hope anyone who loves The Reading Strategies Book or wants to move beyond a one size fits all model of classroom instruction will add Conferring with Readers to the must be read list.  It's a practical guide to a typically pie in the sky concept of conferring with students.
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March Desktop Calendar

Happy March to you! I'm so happy March is here. I love spring, and I love spring break even more!

March 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

These spring colors are happy and fun.  I love the yellow.  Since I look wretched in yellow, I'm going to enjoy it every day on my computer screen.  These gorgeous graphics are from Futurel on Creative Market.  You can click here to down the calendar or click on the image below.


March 2017 Desktop Calendar Free Download • I Teach. What's Your Superpower?

I hope you have a wonderful March!
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February Favorites

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my late night random Priming habit! 

Hey hey! Happy almost March to you.  I never have trouble saying goodbye to February because I hate the cold weather.
It's time for February favorites! Read about my InstaAmazing new kitchen tool, my latest bad habit, and more!

February did me a favor this year, and kept it nice and warm in Texas.  Turns out flip flops in February is a real thing.
Number one hands down, no contest, without a doubt is my Instapot.

We've cooked spaghetti squash in 9 minutes (for real), a roast in 40 minutes, chicken tacos in 18 minutes, and pork tacos in 40 minutes (we love tacos, okay?)  It's amazing.  Worried about having room for a crock pot and an Instapot?  No worries, it does the slow cooking thing, too.  And sautéeing.  And yogurt making, but that's way outside our household abilites.


p.s. Don't get too impressed.  I had to Google how to spell sautéeing.

I love this t-shirt I bought from Mindy Mae's Market.  It was kind of expensive for a t-shirt, but since it pretty much sums up my entire life in one hashtag, I felt it was a worthwhile purchase.


My husband and I visited the Holocaust Museum Houston this month.  It was inspiring and heartbreaking and so many other feelings wrapped up in one two hour visit.  It was an honor to learn about the men and women featured in the museum and very sobering to realize how truly horrible humanity can be.


I'm continuing to ease out of my solid color comfort zone (gray, black, and denim-I love you so much!)  This pattern from Loft is so bright and fun.  I didn't grab it the first day I saw it because it wasn't on sale.  Loft consistently puts the whole store on sale for 40% off, so full price is for suckers.  I was polite enough not to say that to the checkout lady when she told me it wasn't on sale.


Shriners Hospital Philadelphia has a special place in our family's heart.  Our older daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis in 2014.  She needed surgery to correct it, and Shriners Philadelphia is one of the few places in the country that offers an alternative to fusion for kids.  It means we trek back and forth once or twice a year, but it has been worth it.  Our doctor and the staff there are simply amazing.  Now that our second girlie has been diagnosed with Scoliosis, they're keeping an eye on her, too.


It was an amazing 72 degrees in February, so we spent some time out and about.  How cute are they?  Turns out my husband and I make great people but terrible spines.

Who else is ready to say goodbye to winter and hello to March and spring break??

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The Writing Strategies Book


This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon tosses me some change whenever someone makes a purchase through one of these links and allows me feed my book habit!

I first fell in love with Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies book. I've written about it a few times:

To say I was kind of excited when I heard she was releasing The Writing Strategies Book would be the understatement of the year.  It was a no brainer to select it for this month's professional read.

The Writing Strategies Book is subtitled "Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers." And she is not joking. Just like the first book, this book is jammed packed with right this minute strategies to use with your kiddos.
The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The first 30-ish pages give you an overview of the book-how it's organized, how to set goals with students, and how you might use the book alongside a variety of writing instruction approaches. After that, there are 300+ pages of one pages strategy instruction ideas that could be used with students individually, in small groups, or in whole class lessons.

Take a peek at The Writing Strategies Book:

•Composing with Pictures
•Engagement
•Generating Ideas
•Focus
•Organizational Structure
•Elaboration
•Word Choice
•Conventions: Spelling
•Conventions: Grammar and Punctuaion
•Partnerships and Clubs

Here's a breakdown of each section:

Brief 2 -4 page overview of the goal

One page overview for each of the over 300 strategies

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

With 38 strategies, the Generating Ideas chapter is amazing. While you may have writers that can write a focused and structured piece, if they can't generate a topic to write about, they're doomed.

The greatest strength of this book for me is as a tool to help me lift writers' practice vs. pieces. I'm really good about giving advice to help a student improve a specific piece, but it's more important to phrase it in a way that students can apply to any piece of writing vs. the piece they're currently on.


Here's an example from the book:

Lifting a Piece:

"Writing about your dog is a great topic! Can you think of specific memories that you have? Like the day you got him or a time you took him on a walk?

This talk will help your writer get through a piece, but unless he/she is only going to write about the dog, this advice won't transfer to other work.

Lifting practice:
I'm so glad you have a topic. Now think about specific memories connected to your topic.

Lifting practice is hard! This book is an incredible resource to help your conferences move away from fix a piece to lifting writing practices.


Here are few quotes I love from The Writing Strategies Book:

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

The Writing Strategies Book is the one book you need to meet your learners wherever they are.  With over 300 strategies organized by writing goals, you'll find what your K-8 students need in this book.

Are you a The Reading Strategies Book fan?  Do you plan on adding The Writing Strategies Book to your collection?  I hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Want more on professional reads?  Catch up here:
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5 Tips for Getting More from Your Hue Document Camera

Disclaimer: Hue sent me this document camera to review.  But, I do what I want, so if it was terrible I would have said no way and sent it back.  Read on to find out why I loved it enough to write a review.

Hue recently sent me this DARLING red Hue HD Pro document camera.  {I know darling is not a qualifier for a great document camera, but it sure doesn't hurt.}  We all know that document cameras are great for helping students follow along on worksheets and assignments--raise your hand if you've ever had a student go through a entire lesson while on the wrong page--but don't stop there with your document camera.

5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.

1.  Writing Feedback

Sharing kids writing this way only works after you've built a classroom writing community.  Once you reach that point, your kids understand that revising and feedback are important elements of their writerly lives.  You may only get a few top brave souls at first, but eventually more and more kids will jump in when they see this isn't a what you did wrong exercise but instead a how to grow opportunity.
I have asked kids permission before and promised not to use names.  I'll say something like,
"I'd love to share this with the class.  Look how you're working on xyz here.  I know a lot of your classmates are working on the same thing.  This would be a perfect example to work through together."

2.  Capturing Notes and Lesson Details for Absent Students

Oh, those pesky absent students.  Hue allows you to capture the work as an image or a video to pass on to students that are out sick or pulled from class (does your classroom ever feel like it has a revolving door?)

3.  Take a Closer Look at Illustrations

My former teaching partner once read The One and Only Ivan to our classes next to her document camera, so she could share the illustrations with them.  Share illustrations or make any book a big book with your document camera.  You could also use it to zoom in on text features like graphs, maps, and photos in textbooks.

4.  Interactive Notebooks

Ever hold up your little composition notebook in front of the class to show them what to do?  Yeah.  You're wasting your time.  Stick that notebook under the document camera to help your students actually see what they're supposed to do.  It won't make them stop opening to random pages in their notebooks (Why???????), but it will help that random page have the correct information on it.  Absent student?  See #2.  Print out your example to help absent students catch up easily.

5.  Save Some Trees

Maybe everyone doesn't need a copy of that worksheet.  Maybe just stick it under the document camera and have them talk discuss it in groups or write or white boards or review it with the class and move on.


While you can do these things with any document camera, what I love most about the Hue HD Pro Camera (besides the fact that it's so darn cute) is how reasonably priced it is for such a high quality image.  Hue's Intuition software makes it easy to "write" on a document, video what you're doing, or capture an image.

Here are a few screen captures from mine:

Zoom in on Illustrations: So much going on in those Jan Brett illustrations!
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Nonfiction Text Features: Stop trying to hold up the book to show them charts and graphs.  Take a closer look together with a document camera.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Dive Into Revising with Kids' Work: Make revising instruction more authentic by using your students' work.  Once you create a classroom community where revising is a part of the writing culture, it's not too hard to get volunteers to share their work.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


Sharing Notes: Review with students' notes or use your document camera to capture a copy of notes for absent students.
5 ways to get more out of your classroom document camera.  Go beyond the worksheet with these easy tips.


If you're ordering 1 or 2 cameras, I recommend ordering from Amazon Prime.  They'll cost the same as ordering from Hue's site, but if you're a Prime member, you can't beat two day shipping.  For orders of 3 or more, you'll definitely save by buying from Hue's site.  Want to know more?  Get the techy details on the Hue HD Pro here.   Too steep for your blood?  Hue also offers a less expensive version.  You can compare the two with this comparison chart.

Got any other great tips for using a document camera?
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