Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Something Old, New, Borrowed and Rescued

We're closing in on the end of first quarter, can you believe it!!?? This is my 4th year as a reading specialist, and I think I am hitting a groove with the students and with planning. Here are some things that are happening this year...

  •  I have continued weekly read alouds with my intervention students. I began this last year. Research confirms time and time again the importance of reading aloud to students to build vocabulary, background knowledge, and to increase fluency. I also find that reading books aloud has increased my students motivation to read (really and truly). For most of my groups we're focusing the read alouds this year on non-fiction: animals from around the world. For my 4th-5th grade students the read alouds will focus on California history- they will all be fiction, as we will be discussing universal themes.
  • Intervention programs: I am teaching SIPPS and Seeing Stars to 1st and 2nd grade students that need sight word and phonics support. Both of these intervention programs have their merits; I recommend them. I'm also reading a Read 180 class to a group of 4th and 5th grade students. Many of the students have already completed the RBooks (reading anthology of sorts) last year, but we are using the software and the Read 180's leveled books for independent reading. I'm using leveled books and thematic articles with them in small group.
  • I have posted a vocabulary word wall for each group. Like last year, I have a small pocket chart for each group with the words we're learning. The charts are hung right next to our reading table.

  • Teaching reading to first graders (and K soon)! I have a couple of 1st grade sweeties I see three days a week. I have to tell you, this experience is stretching me. But two books have saved me: The Next Steps in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson and Beverly Tyner's Small-Group Reading Instruction.
  • RtI (Response to Intervention) weekly team meetings. It has been great to be a part of this dynamic team this year. I feel like we are finally starting to address students and teacher's needs proactively.
  • Lesson Planning. For the first time as a reading specialist I have had to submit lesson plans weekly. Even though it is time consuming, this has been really good for my teaching.
  • Students are borrowing books weekly. I reorganized my library with 4 levels for my intervention students (acorns, walking acorns, oak trees, oak trees with roots). Every Thursday the students use the IPICK system to pick 5-10 new books to bring home for the week. Our school library isn't leveled, many of my students can't find a lot of books at their reading level in their classrooms, and I want to make sure my students are reading books at their level at home. I hope it helps! They  all seem to really enjoy getting new books weekly.
  • Daily Mantra. Me: Are you ready to Read? Students in unison: Yes, we're ready to Read. We start small group with short call and response. It gets the kids focused after transition to my room and lets them know it's "go" time. They look forward to this now.

  • Running Records with a 100s grid. Wow, does this save time!! A colleague sent me her template, and I am in love. I think not having to count the words a student reads save me 10 minutes a day! That's 50 saved minutes a week. If you want this grid, I'd be more than happy to pass it along.
  • Theme posters from Beth Newingham's Third Grade Class. See link. Love these posters. I aim to discuss theme throughout the year with my Read 180 class.

  • My new room! I moved from something that may have reminded you of Rapunzel's turret (a square cement room above the gym) to another odd room off the stage. The newer room is still cement and an unwelcoming peach color- but I love my new home.  I have redecorated and it has become quite a calming space. They kids often comment how much they like my room now. Good, because I like it too! It has a couple couches, and that's always a plus!

Phew! That's a lot to chew on. As for me, I am excited the direction this year is taking, and here's hoping that my instructional decisions will positively impacts students' learning.

Be well! Read on!


  1. Wow! Some great implementations to celebrate! As a reading specialist, I'm thrilled to hear about your read alouds! Sometimes I think my students are read to enough in their classrooms, but then I decide that the love and depth of thinking and conversation in small group is worth it!

    I'd love to try this 100's grid for running records! Sounds . . . great! Is it just a blank 100's grid and you check off each square for each word? Or is there more to it than that?

    Our RtI team is up and running as well. Much room for improvement and I hope you do share some of your great ideas.

    Thanks much! Enjoy reading your blog.
    mlnero @ comcast . net (no spaces)

  2. Michelle, I love running into other reading specialists!

    The kiddos do have Read Alouds in class, but, you're right, the discussion is so rich in small group. And I don't think my 4-5 students get read to that much in class.

    I am going to post the 100's grid today, but I'll email it to you too! Feel free to change so it works for you!

    Yes, last year the RtI learning curve was steep. But it takes time to learn what things will work at a site. I feel like RtI has to be so individualized from district to district or school to school. I'll post some ideas that worked for us.

    All the best, Rebecca


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