Friday, June 28, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study

I read several teacher blogs that are participating in a book study this summer. I've never done anything like this before, but thought I'd join in since the topic is Guided Reading. I teach Guided Reading to all of our K-6th grade Deaf/Hard of Hearing students during our Fairview Learning rotations, so I feel like there is always room for improvement. (Fairview Learning is a 5 component reading program specifically designed for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students to enhance the regular reading curriculum. Read more about how we use it here.) Plus, I have such a wide range of reading abilities and each child has very different needs. Which means I need to be able to tailor all of my Guided Reading lessons to meet their needs. This book study will help me do just that.

Chapter One was all about preparing for Guided Reading. This is an area that I worked very hard on this past year in establishing a routine and developing lots of center activities to keep the kids busy and engaged when not working with an adult during our Fairview rotations. The students have a schedule they follow throughout the 1.5 hour rotation time. This keeps us on track and keeps everyone from students to staff accountable during our Fairview time. The nice part is that we will have 6 out of 7 students that participated in our rotations last year, so it will be an easy start up in the fall.

Students that are not working one to one with an adult during this time are working on literature centers. We have a signing instructional assistant who supervises and assists the students during their center tasks. I try really hard to create independent centers, but it doesn't always work out. Some students really need a lot of assistance, no matter what the task is. 

Due to the wide range of abilities from K-6th I have to provide a  huge range of centers as well. I try and group students with similar abilities and assign them the same tasks. I record all of their centers onto a brightly colored paper that goes into their Fairview boxes. They refer to this slip throughout the week to complete their own assigned centers.

When they complete a center, the assistant checks their work and then signs off on their sheet. They then remove that number from the wall chart. This is a good visual reminder for the students and for me on who has what to complete for the week. Accountability is always a good thing.

I store all of my centers in Ziploc bags or in laminated envelopes and each is labeled with the name of the task so they can match it up against their centers list. The activities are placed into numbered boxes or baskets to make them easy to find. This is what our centers area looks like. We have a lot going on all at once, so organization is a must.

What I focused on while reading chapter one is ways to improve what I already have in place. First off, I am not using my word wall efficiently.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it was a waste of space last year. There are so many ways to improve my use of the word wall and that is something I've already been on Pinterest and TpT researching. There are so many fun things out there to help students learn and practice new words from the word wall.

The other area, that is currently non-existent is a writing center. Sure, the students go to one to one writing with the other D/HH teacher during our rotations, but I don't have a designated area in the classroom for a writing area/center. The possibilities are endless for the writing center tasks. Right now all of my centers are mobile and they take them back to their desks. I just need to find a space for it and make it a priority.

Up next, Chapter Two- Assessment.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Can't Help It!

Even though we have 8 days of school left, I can't help but be thinking about and planning for next school year. Today was a BIG eye opener for me. My sixth graders (5 of them) left for science camp today. While we were working this morning it really hit me... this is my class for next year. Boy, are things going to look VERY different for me in the fall. The dynamics are very different. The skill level is going to be very low. What worked this year is not going to work next year.

So in my spare time tonight... because I have a million other things I could be doing, but chose not to... I was cruising Pinterest. I found a few classroom organization boards. Then there was this......
Cue the birds chirping and the heavens opening up.
I seriously need that file holder. I mean, come on, it matches my classroom perfectly and makes my type-A little heart happy.  So I clicked over and found out that this teacher is offering teachers some free products from  Yes, please.
I searched their educational products site and found my wish list grew quite long. But if I had to choose my top three things to purchase, top on my list would be the File-tastic in black. Soooo many uses! And it's so pretty!
When testing a few of my students for their IEP progress updates this week I was frustrated with the fact that they cannot retain counting money.  Due to my Banking on Good Behavior system in place this year, they can count bills like nobody's business. But next year I think I'm going to make things a bit more challenging by switching out bills for coins. I have a feeling that this motivating classroom management system which includes a class store every Friday will have them counting coins in no time. This Thinking Kids Money Set would really motivate them to learn to count money!
Then I found this Big Money- Magnetic Coins set. It would be perfect for practicing counting coins, a counting money problem of the day, or displaying how much money could be earned for certain tasks in our classroom economy system. Perfect!
I just can't turn my teacher brain off. Somehow I'm always thinking about things that need to be done or planning or organizing. So many things to be done but so little time to do it in. Can't wait until summer arrives so I'll have some much needed down time!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keeping Them Engaged

The end is so close I can taste it! We have 10 more school days to get through before it's officially summer. The hard part is keeping them engaged during this time so we all don't go insane.

I'm busy doing wrap up Fairview testing and testing for IEP progress updates. Not only that, but five of my 6th grade students will be gone this week to Science Camp. I get to join them Thursday-Friday even though there is a ton to do before the end of the school year. Figuring out plans for the sub for two days at the tail end of school is also fun. So I decided to throw together a quick unit on magnets to keep things fun and engaging for the kids.

10 days.  Breathe. My to do list is quite lengthy at this point.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


We recently finished up reading The Popcorn Book by Tomie DePaola.  I wanted something fun for our last classroom read aloud of the year. We learned all about how corn is grown and harvested for popcorn.  We had a popcorn taste test by sampling four varieties and graphing our favorite flavor. We did this fun popcorn adjective activity. Then we wrote about popcorn.  I'm sure this was my student's favorite book to read and activities we did all school year. Food seems to keep them motivated! :)
When we read the book, we kept our anchor chart of vocabulary. The students made these cute little popcorn boxes to store their vocabulary words they wrote on popcorn pieces. They turned out adorable and it was a great way to practice reading our new vocabulary words.
For our final activity, we wrote about popcorn.  It was perfect to be able to differentiate the levels with the same activity. The older students chose a few adjectives to write on their popcorn pieces in their popcorn buckets. They also had a higher level writing template to use.

The younger students wrote three simple sentences about their popcorn taste test. It's been a challenge this year being able to differentiate for all levels of students I have in my class. At times it wasn't perfect and I felt like I had to pick the middle and run with it. But I know that each and every one of my students made excellent progress this year, so I'm happy with that.

Here are some of the resources I used for this unit:

Let's Get Poppin' with Adjectives!
Popcorn and Movie Day! Theme Days for End of School! -Free
Popcorn Prepositions!
Popcorn! A Five Senses Mini-Unit- Free
Math - Popcorn Graphing- Free
Popcorn Box Template- Free