Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What is Close Reading? Should I Be Doing it?

1st-3rd grade blog post on close reading. What is it and should I be doing it? Steps for implementing. Ideas for differentiation & guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers. {first, second, third graders, balanced literacy, ELA}

I hear it all the time when they come to the guided reading table to read with me and see the book we read together the last time: "but we already read this," they can't wait to proclaim!

"I know. We get to read it again," I answer back.  Every time.  This drives them nuts.  In their young minds, we read it. It's done. It's over.

Oh but my friends....."When you are done, you have only just begun."

Close reading is the reading and re-reading of text. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers.

How often have you conducted a DRA or a running record on a student and their reading fluency is fantastic? They pause at commas, have inflection in their voice, their pacing is perfection and yet....they cannot recall what happened in the story. 

Perhaps their story retell is vague at best, or when you ask them to identify the character traits of the main character you get "She's nice. She's funny." And then...they look at you blankly.

Close reading is a main component of the Common Core Standards. As students progress through their schooling years they will continue to read text and they will need to read for meaning to pull important information and details from the text. They will do this as they answer questions, take assessments, write reports, prepare presentations, and more. If students learn how to read for understanding and meaning, and interpret and analyze text at a young age while their early literacy skills are being set, then they will, in turn, be learning good reading comprehension skills and strategies. As they mature, they will continue building upon these skills, adding even more tools to their skillset.


You need your students to become more independent readers but the time constraints of your time make it increasingly difficult to plan differentiation in your curriculum.

And let's face it.....who has time to PLAN for differentiating?  Logistically, it just happens, but it's not something we have much time to plan out beforehand.

Here are some ways you can begin incorporating close reading in your classroom:


Use Smaller Reading Passages
Students can become fixated on their reading level. It can often cause them to lose sight of the overall picture. It is not the length of the text. It is the content of the text. The words and the vocabulary and the reader's ability to understand the content is what is most important. That is easily seen and modeled with close reading passages. Also, close reading involves a lot of thinking and "brain power".  The text doesn't need to be long to accomplish the task. 

Leveled & differentiated close reading passages for first, second & third graders & homeschool students. Perfect for guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers.{1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

Aim for Independence
Most of the time, I use close reading during guided reading. I do this so that I can use text more tailored for the readers I am meeting with.  I begin our reading by asking the students to read the text quietly to themselves first.  Next, I read the text aloud and they follow along. Then, each student reads a paragraph. 

1st-3rd grade blog post on close reading. What is it and should I be doing it? Steps for implementing. Ideas for differentiation & guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers. {first, second, third graders, balanced literacy, ELA}

I add vocabulary words from the text to the pocket chart and we find the word within the text. We read the sentence, highlight the word in the sentence and try to determine the meaning of the word based on the sentence. 

Leveled & differentiated close reading passages for first, second & third graders & homeschool students. Perfect for guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers.{1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

We complete this process with all the vocabulary, matching vocabulary words, pictures, and their matching definitions.

Leveled & differentiated close reading passages for first, second & third graders & homeschool students. Perfect for guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers.{1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

Reflect

After we read, we talk about the text. What was the main idea?  What details support the main idea?  "Where in the text does it say or tell us the......."

Since they LOVE using highlighters so much I try to give them a chance to use them by asking them to dig deep into the text to find something and highlight it. For example, "Highlight the part of the text that tells what parts of the world frogs can be found."

Leveled & differentiated close reading passages for first, second & third graders & homeschool students. Perfect for guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers.{1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

By the time we are done, our text is heavily marked with highlighted lines, circles, boxes, and more. It has definitely been closely read!

So...are you ready to give it a try? 

Or....are you already doing it?  I'd love to hear how it's going for you and what you think of it.

I have a Close Reading Mega Bundle that is over a year's worth of close reading that I use all year long in my classroom. It is more than half off right now for a limited time.


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1st-3rd grade blog post on close reading. What is it and should I be doing it? Steps for implementing. Ideas for differentiation & guided reading. Close reading is a key component of the Common Core Standards. This reading and re-reading and analyzing of text leads to higher level thinking skills and a deeper level of reading comprehension. These are crucial concepts for growing readers. {first, second, third graders, balanced literacy, ELA}


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How to Use Word Banks During Writer's Workshop


How to use word banks during writer's workshop is a blog post explains how you can effectively use word banks collaboratively with your kindergartners, first & second graders. Great for ELL students & struggling writers. Students and teacher generate word ideas to write in the bank and record the words on anchor charts or display on SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard. Can be used with all genres of writing (such as opinion, narrative & informative) {K, 1st, 2nd grade, homeschool}



    Have you ever taught that great writer's workshop mini-lesson where you can hear a pin drop in the classroom as you are modeling what to write on the easel? You turn around and this is what you see:



The look of confusion on a quarter on those young faces...

I hang up the anchor charts and walk them through the steps of writing an opinion piece...

How to write an opinion piece for first & second graders. This sentene starter anchor chart is a perfet way to get your young writers going during writer's workshop as they learn the words associated with writing about their opinions. {K, 1st, 2md grade, homeschool.}

Then, we talk about possible ways we can start our writing:

How to write an opinion piece for first & second graders. This sentene starter anchor chart is a perfet way to get your young writers going during writer's workshop as they learn the words associated with writing about their opinions. {K, 1st, 2md grade, homeschool.}

Since at least now they have a starting point and a definitive path going forward, some of the confused faces seem to dissipate.

But by far, the most often asked question I get during Writer's Workshop is...

"Mrs. Pettersen, how do you spell....?"

For those that are reluctant to take risks, or for those struggling students/writers, word banks are a helpful tool.

As a class, we generate a "word bank" of words we think we will use in our writing that day during Writer's Workshop.  These are words that are not on our word wall and cannot be sounded out easily.  I also add my own suggestions to the list. I try to keep the list small, at only 8-10 words. Students should be sounding out the majority of the words.

For ELL students, struggling writers and the like, words banks have proven to be a helpful tool in our classroom. 

Sometimes we write them on chart paper:

How to use word banks during writer's workshop is a blog post explains how you can effectively use word banks collaboratively with your kindergartners, first & second graders. Great for ELL students & struggling writers. Students and teacher generate word ideas to write in the bank and record the words on anchor charts or display on SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard. Can be used with all genres of writing (such as opinion, narrative & informative) {K, 1st, 2nd grade, homeschool}

Sometimes I type them out as the students dictate them in a Word Doc and display them on our SMARTboard. This seems to be the easiest way, since the SMARTboard is located front and center in our class so students can reference it easily (and frankly....it looks neater).

How to use word banks during writer's workshop is a blog post explains how you can effectively use word banks collaboratively with your kindergartners, first & second graders. Great for ELL students & struggling writers. Students and teacher generate word ideas to write in the bank and record the words on anchor charts or display on SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard. Can be used with all genres of writing (such as opinion, narrative & informative) {K, 1st, 2nd grade, homeschool}

What tricks do you use to help your young writer's during Writer's Workshop?



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How to use word banks during writer's workshop is a blog post explains how you can effectively use word banks collaboratively with your kindergartners, first & second graders. Great for ELL students & struggling writers. Students and teacher generate word ideas to write in the bank and record the words on anchor charts or display on SMARTboard or interactive whiteboard. Can be used with all genres of writing (such as opinion, narrative & informative) {K, 1st, 2nd grade, homeschool}







Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Tasting in First Grade

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

   When I saw Joanne Miller's resource "Book Tasting: Introduce Your Students to New Books" resource I just knew I needed to have this resource.


I'm always looking for ways to engage my first graders in reading, especially those more-reluctant readers.

The resource is geared for second grade all the way up to eighth so I was a bit worried it wouldn't work for my younger readers, but it went great!


Using the included signs in the resource, I created excitement by posting signs up on the wall for the book tasting the day prior.  Of course, the kiddos were dying to know what it was and what a book tasting is.....

but I wouldn't tell.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

The set up only took me 20 minutes.

I shut the lights off, covered the tables with plastic table cloths, tea lights, plastic trays, table number signs and place settings. I bought the table cloths, tea lights and trays at the dollar store. CafĂ© music played in the background via the links Joanne had within the resource. They were great!  I even plan on using them again during quiet times in the classroom.

 Since I have 5 tables in my classroom, I had 5 genres to introduce. Therefore, I wanted to start off by assigning students to 5 tables.  After that, they were free to move about tables as they wished. Using the included reservation list, I wrote student names and the table names I was starting them off at.

I used a classroom desk to hold the reservation list and extra menus.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


Each table was assigned a reading genre. I made posters for each reading genre. You can see them at each table. They are available for FREE in my store. You can grab them HERE.

Also, at each table are trays of books (that match the genre), place settings for each student, a reflection napkin for each student, 2 tea lights, and a table number sign.


A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

Since I am currently using my clear plastic frames to hold my flexible seating poster, I couldn't use them for these reading genre poster. Instead, I glued the posters on 12x18 construction paper and stood it on end. It worked great!

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


I was pleased to see that even the boys in the class enjoyed the fairy tale genre books.
A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

I was able to get 2 tablecloths out of 1 package by cutting the tablecloth to fit the table.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}
I also tried to include books at various reading levels to accommodate all readers.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


Joanne of Head Over Heels for Teaching was kind enough to provide a scaled down version of the reflection and book review for me to use with my younger students that worked out really well.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


The visuals were very helpful for my younger readers. My high ability readers were able to use the book review that was included in the resource with ease.

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


Here's some examples of the great work my students did:

These are their reflections on the book tasting in general:

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

Aren't they cute?!!

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

Here are some book reviews:

A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}


The book tasting lasted about an hour with my first graders and I will definitely do it again. They really enjoyed it.

So...are you ready to put your apron on and give it a try?

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A blog post with a FREEBIE about doing a book tasting for with first graders. Encourage your first grade students to experience various reading genres by having a book tasting. Students sample books in various genres in a cafe themed setting. Link provided to free reading genre posters. {1st grade, ELA, balanced literacy}

















Sunday, February 12, 2017

When You've Lost the Love for Teaching...



What to do when you lose your love of teaching. An honest blog post for public school teachers struggling with the teaching elementary school and special education programs. {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, homeschool}

I've been encouraged not to talk about it but I also can't keep this quiet any longer. My heart is breaking and I know that other moms, other teachers have this pain in their lives too.

It's been a long time....

It has been a long time since I have blogged.

A long time since I have created a new resource.

A long time since I have done.... (the list could go on for miles) because ...
          
              1. I'm a woman and we're great at self-guilt.
              2. I'm a mom so I'm an expert at self-guilt.
              3. I'm exhausted so great at self-guilt.
  

Chances are, if you are a mom you can relate.

       My son is 11 years old. He is in fifth grade. Extensive testing and data has determined that he can't add past sums of nine. He is reading at a third grade level.

And I'm a teacher.

I feel like I've failed him. So because of that and because I love him, I'm the longest standing member of his SPED team.

I am his advocate. His relentless, diehard, persistent advocate and I will never, ever give up until he gets what he needs.

I struggled in school. I remember it well. I had extra help with reading (we called it "Title One" back then). In high school I stayed after school, had a tutor, and I still remember Mrs. "I Can't Remember her Name Because the Trauma is Too Great" said to me "I don't know what else to do for you. I don't know how to make you understand this. I just don't get why you're not getting this?!"

If someone could have ripped my heart out, my dignity, my self respect-she did it in that moment. In that moment also, I dug my heels in. I was never, ever going to learn math and no one was ever going to teach me. Ever.

Fast forward 20+ years and I'm sitting in meeting after meeting after meeting hearing the same things about my own son.

And I'm a teacher.

It hurts like hell to hear those things. Again.

He's not progressing and we're at the end of the line. There's not much academic support that I can do at home, despite how much his teachers criticize me for it, when I am doing all I can to support the emotional effects of the school day. All those feelings he keeps in that they don't see....he saves for me and it starts the second I pick him up in the car. How painful it is to hear day after day after day.


It breaks your heart and tears at your soul bit by bit because no matter how big he gets, or how tall he grows, I will still remember how he stroked my cheek when he drank as an infant. I'll always remember the "Mammma, Mammma" over and over as he jumped up and down in his crib. To them he's another student. To me, he's my son. I don't remember my life before him. I guess it didn't really matter as much. 

I made a lot of promises to this little guy when he was connected to life support in NICU, when I rocked him as an infant, when I dropped him off at kindergarten, when I tuck him in after a night of crying and crying over homework that's just impossible for him. 

But there's one I promise I won't ever break. I'll always be his biggest fan, his strongest supporter, his strength when it feels like the whole world has turned their back.

What happens when you've dedicated your adult life to serving students in one public school setting and another public school setting is failing your own child?

How do you move forward and act like it's all going to be ok? 

What if the school system that is failing your child is doing all that they can and they are good teachers but....your child still isn't making effective progress?

I have asked myself these questions millions and millions of times over this past year.

It has kept me awake many, many nights.

I have shed more tears over it than I ever have in my life.

Friends, what happens when you start to lose the love of the job?

I talked to my husband about it and he said we need my paycheck. I never considered my job a paycheck.  I know that sounds stupid but it never really was about the money. But really.....does anyone ever enter teaching for the money?!

I'll admit feeling angry at him. I wanted him to hug me and say that he understood. That he understood my anguish and it would be ok and I that would find another career path and it would be o.k. But he didn't and I felt stuck.

Cornered.

Angry.

Defeated.

So now what?


What to do when you lose your love of teaching. An honest blog post for public school teachers struggling with the teaching elementary school and special education programs. {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, homeschool}

     I went into my classroom on a Saturday. I pulled into the empty parking lot, pulled my badge over my head and heard the familiar click as I opened those heavy school doors.

    The smell of construction paper and crayons filled the hallways even in the dark. When I put on the lights I took more time to look at the projects hung on the walls. I never really took the time to truly look at them before. Starting with the third grade classrooms, I read their thoughts on growth mindset. Recognizing the names and even the handwriting, of previous students it made me smile. As I moved down the hall to the reading rooms, tucked in the corner, it reminded me of my son and the many hours he spends reading and trying to keep up.  The second grade classrooms were next.  The snowmen projects were adorable and their writing, just a bit larger reminds me of all the growth and progress they will make as the year continues on. 

   My classroom was the last door at the end of the hall. Two projects had fallen off the wall. I had hung them up at least 5 times before I left Friday!

    I walked in but didn't turn on the lights. Two large windows lit up the classroom well.  There was a glove on the floor and snow boots that never made it in the cubby. I found myself picking them up and mumbling the students' names and then stopping myself. No....this was "their job". I would talk to them about this come Monday AM.

    I looked around the classroom and took it all in:  the anchor charts on the wall, the books on the bookshelf, the students' book bins filled with books. I walked around the student tables and saw their pencil boxes, stacked neatly and the tiny chairs pushed in. I sat down in one of the chairs.



What to do when you lose your love of teaching kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade. An honest blog post for public school teachers struggling with the teaching elementary school and special education programs. {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, homeschool}


And just like that....out of nowhere....

The tears poured down my face.

After 20 years this is still home.

I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

These kids drive me bonkers. They leave their gloves on the floor and don't put things away. They don't listen all the time. They need reminders. But...

I love them.

They are my family.  I spend as much time with them, if not more, than my own family.

I look over at one student's spot and the level book he is reading is a level 10. He started the school year considered "at risk" and flagged for reading support, entering first grade at not even a level 3." 

I'm sitting in the chair of a student who wouldn't talk for most of the year and now I can't get him to stop.

As a sit here I'm starting to realize that the work I do inside this room....matters.

It matters to my students.

It matters to their parents.

And most of all.....it matters to me.

I can't imagine walking away.

I'm still hurt. 

I'm still angry.

I'm still very, very sad.

I can't change the way things are.

My son has dyslexia and that won't change.

But what I can change is sitting right in front of me.

These little people think I get up in the morning and hang the sun.

All I can do every day is my very best.

That's all they will ever ask of me. And in turn, all I will ever ask of them.

And what if, we all did our very best?

I think that's good enough.

I think we are all good enough.

And I don't have any guilt about that.

I love teaching....still.

And just like anything in life...sometimes it has let me down.

Sometimes it has made me angry.

Sometimes it has made me feel defeated.

But more often than not, it has been a gift.

Every day I learn something new. Every day I'm better than I was the day before and for that I am grateful.

I am grateful to be a public school teacher and honored to be one. It is a job not meant for the weak of heart. It has done much over the years to make me waiver.

But....I am strong.

And my love for the children and my love for teaching is even stronger.

I hope that if you have those times when the tide feels high



  that you can hold on and weather the storm.

Because usually after every storm there is beauty to be found....



                                                 Pin for later
What to do when you lose your love of teaching kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade. An honest blog post for public school teachers struggling with the teaching elementary school and special education programs. If you are a parent with a special needs student in general education or restricted settings in public schools this post may resonate. {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, homeschool}