Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mr. Giso's Room to Read Takes Part in Another Magical Product Swap

I'm very proud to take part in my third Magical Product Swap put together by Jessica Stanford, author of the blog entitled Mrs. Stanford's Class.


This time around, I had the pleasure of being paired up with Nicole Johnson, author of her fantastic blog Teaching's a Hoot-- Musings of an Elementary School Teacher.

Teachings a Hoot
It was so cool emailing back and forth with Nicole, prior to the swap.  We have a lot in common.  We are both former reading teachers, her from Title I and myself from Reading First.  We share the passion of having a classroom and a group of kiddos to call "our own."  As a result, we both returned to the classroom as first grade teachers.  What could be better?  It's obvious Nicole has a love of teaching.  She's created countless, quality resources, supplementary materials, science units and mini-books.  Check out her TpT store by clicking HERE.  Her blog's a lot of fun to browse, for you can learn a lot more than teaching tips--like what she likes to read, where she likes to shop and her favorite places to grab a bite--I really enjoy her personal touch.  I'd be all set if I were to leave Boston for a trip to Oregon!

On to my product...

There were so many of Nicole's items that aligned with my first grade curriculum in MA (life cycles, living/nonliving, etc.), but I chose to review her item entitled "My Book of Fact Families."  You see, that was what I was just starting to teach.  I've seen adorable ideas out there with the "fact family in a house" theme, but never came across any first-hand.  This item was exactly what I needed.  It includes over 60 (yes, 60) pages of all the possible fact families for numbers 1-10.  There's a colorful cover too.  Each page has a house with a cloud backdrop and is decorated with charming clipart.

Here's how I used Nicole's "My Book of Fact Families" in my classroom.  I printed, in color, and laminated a bunch of her sheets.  I love laminating...woohoo. 

Next, I got a shiny new clipboard and tied a bunch of colored curling ribbon to the top (spring has hit New England).  I was a bit cheerful.  I also attached a dry-erase marker.  

In my math center I let children fill out the members of the fact family and show me when they were done.  Then, they easily erased their answers and got another sheet.

I also decided to print out the cover page, in color.  I printed the other pages in black and white ink and decided to make a book with most of the pages for all of my first graders, because they were really into this activity.  How neat is this cover?

In my math center, I made our number lines, 120 grids and 10-frames with colored counters readily available to complete the fact families if needed.  My two furbabies are standing quite proud by the final product.  They both give it two paws up!  Oh, I also used some sheets for Before School Work and for homework--so many uses...

There you have it!  "My Book of Fact Families" is a valuable addition to my unit of addition--obviously it's Common Core-aligned and ready-to-go.  To get this item, please click away HERE.  Click HERE to check out  some more quality resources out there in the blogging world.  This swap is always so much fun.  It's great to meet other teachers from all over the country and to have a chance to grab and try out a great product.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Raise That Reading Stamina!

What is stamina and how does it apply to reading you may ask?  I found this anchor chart on Pinterest that's a good start.

I've been reading a lot of the importance of building reading stamina in our young readers for quite some time.  My interest in this topic stemmed from a discussion of a monthly data leadership team meeting in my school.  We were talking about reasons why our students were not getting certain items correct on our practice standardized tests when we knew they "knew" the answers.  My colleagues felt as if the students grew tired as the practice test went on, were not giving their all or as if they simply gave up. 

As a first grade teacher, and literacy instructor, I wondered what can we do to "boost their performance."  My response was that we need to build our students' stamina.  I feel too often students are reading in guided reading groups or with buddies.  There's not enough time built into the day for our young readers to read books at their independent reading level for an extended period of time.  The importance of this time is necessary to build a community of strong readers which is essentially our goal as teachers--not to raise standardized test scores.  

Independent reading to me means a lot more that just having my students read quietly to themselves.  This block of times starts with a minilesson or link to a previous reading lesson.  For this, I remind students what particular reading strategy we have been learning.  I let them know that they have watched me model the strategy, have helped me with the strategy whole class and have done the strategy in small guided reading groups with my help.  It's now time for them to practice using the strategy independently.  During independent reading time, I circulate and offer assistance to those students that need it.  After independent reading, we have a discussion about which strategies we used and how they helped us overcome reading obstacles.  

Everyone gets independent reading time, not just my advanced readers who finish everything early.  This time is especially important to my middle and my struggling readers too!  Research shows that way too often this population does more worksheets, computer interventions, skills in isolation, etc. when what they need is to be engaged in more reading in books at their appropriate level!  Read longer and get stronger.

Reading Rockets defines stamina as "being able to stick with something for periods if time."  This "endurance builds strength."  It offers these tips for parents which easily apply to what we need to do as teachers.

1.  Vary the way the reading is done, especially for new or struggling readers.  The three ways to do this are "read to self," "read to a buddy" or "listen to reading."  This visual (another Pinterest find) shows reading by yourself, reading to  buddy and I'm not too sure of the third icon.

2.  Make sure all books read are "just right."  A child should be able to decode almost every word in an independent book correctly.  Books should interest the child and come from a variety of genres.

3.  Set reasonable reading goals.  For toddlers and preschoolers, it's difficult for them to sit for a long time, regardless of how engaging the book may be.  Start with just a few minutes and then build up from there.  Elementary-aged readers should start with 10-15 minutes.  A few minutes can be added every few weeks or so.

4.  Take time to celebrate and chart progress.  Make a graph.  Talk about the books, recommend a book to a buddy, go to the library to get more books, etc.

In the older grades, reading stamina is essential in order to navigate through longer text of various forms.  It's never too soon to start to build it!  Built from the inspiration in the visuals, I came up with a few posters to use with my students.  You can get your copy as part of Manic Monday's Classroom Freebies.


Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Pin It button on image hover