Saturday, September 15, 2018

Tips for Conducting Small Group Guided Reading in Third Grade

I conduct small group guided reading sessions with my third graders during our intervention time.
We call our intervention time WIN (What I Need).
For the past two years, our grade level's WIN time was the last half hour of the day.

I do small group rotations (or stations) during our WIN time, and one of the rotations is a small guided reading group, which I call Book Club.
I'm sharing some info on how I conduct guided reading groups.
This is what has worked for me, and has proven to make an impact on my students' reading growth.

To me, guided reading groups are a way to target reading strategies with 4-6 students who are reading at a similar level, or working on a similar skill.

Listed below are tips for conducting guided reading lessons.

1. Focus on one teaching point.
I reference this resource when looking for teaching points for my groups. I have 4-6 students in each group, and they read at a similar level. 
 Notice that it has teaching points and discussion starters.
Here's a sample page from the section on transitional readers.
Below is a sample page of the discussion starters.  There are more pages like this, and the book also includes prompts for conferring about writing, too!

The teaching points often connect to what I have done in my whole group reading lessons earlier in the day. 

I am an Amazon affiliate, and receive a very small compensation if you purchase the book through the link above.  
2. Begin with a warm-up of reading language word cards.
Before introducing the teaching point, I do a quick flashcard like review of common reading language words.
So, these are not phonetic words, or words related to the selected text, but words that are concept words.
I've found that reviewing these words has really made an impact on my students' achievement and understanding on tests. You can find these words in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store here.
 They love going through these words, and its a way to get started while we're waiting for the stragglers to arrive at our meeting place.
This pack includes over 80 words that can be printed or used digitally on a device, like an iPad.

3. After introducing the teaching point, make sure students have time to read the provided text.

After doing a very brief intro to the book, the students have time to whisper read the book individually.  As they are reading I sit across from each child, and listen to the strategies they use as they read the book.

If you had done a mini-lesson during workshop on how characters change, then you might address that same idea during your guided reading lesson.

Or, if this group struggles with identifying the setting of the story, focus on that.
The most important part of guided reading is to have students read books at their level, while practicing a skill.
4. Vary the kinds of reading material.
Hopefully you have access to a wide variety of reading options at your school, or in your classroom.

If your supply is limited, you can find leveled reading materials at these awesome websites:

Reading A- Z


5. Record the teaching points and materials you have used with each group.
You will want to collect some data on what you have worked on with your students.
You will probably impress your administrator if you kept detailed notes of your meetings with students!

Here is an example of a form I have used with students:

You can find a free copy of this form by clicking here.
Please leave feedback after downloading this form. Thanks!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Five Useful Tips for Designing Classroom Learning Spaces

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Robert Dillon speak about Designing Learning Spaces. 
He and Rebecca Louise Hare have written a short book about this topic, called 
During Dr. Dillon's session, he stressed that a teacher may not need to go out and buy lots of stuff to enhance their learning space. To me, it was really more about the mindset in developing a learning space.

I want to share 5 quick tips for rethinking your classroom environment.  I was so motivated after hearing Bob speak that I went straight to my classroom and rearranged desks and tables! 

1. What story does your classroom tell at first glance??

This was the question Bob posed when discussing classroom design.
So, when someone enters your room, what is the immediate word that comes to mind?
I wanted my "story" to be one of collaboration.
Previously my rug had been in the corner. Throughout the school year I arrange the desks in a variety of patterns and groupings, but never had the rug as the middle meeting space.
Now I've arranged the desks in pods of 2, 3, and 4. Some are around the rug, and others are near the wall.
I had 25 students last year, so that is the number of desks that are currently in my room.
I also have small group work spaces in the outer areas of the room. 
I love the look and feel of my room when I walk in. 

I haven't put much on the walls yet, but I am continuing with a global classroom theme this year. 
You can read more about that in this previous post.

2. Could you use whiteboards attached to your walls in a different way?
Dr. Dillon suggested turning long tall whiteboards from a horizontal display to a vertical one.
So, teachers could display classroom instruction on the upper section of the board, and the bottom area of the board could be used for student reflection and interaction of that content.

3. Do the items on the walls of your room have an expiration date?
Anchor charts should not be left up indefinitely. Instead, put a date on the back of them that will serve as an expiration date. On that date, you can revisit what you want to do with that chart. Is it still serving its initial purpose, or did students stop noticing it weeks ago? If it's still useful, leave it up, but reevaluate at a future date.
Find this chart paper and other favorites in my Amazon store here!
If it's served it's purpose, award it as a door prize for some lucky student!

4. Do you teach lessons on body language, and how that can affect learning?

Making students aware of how their bodies send messages can be powerful. 
Establishing expectations for best student learning positions may help to get your year off to a better start.
This is especially important if teachers are implementing flexible seating options. 

5. What message are your school's signs sending?
For instance, these banners at ISTE convey an overall communication strategy for the conference.
Do you have posters displayed right inside your classroom? Do they convey the overall message you want to send about learning in your classroom?
Rather than posting a list of dos and don'ts, Dr. Dillon suggests sharing powerful slogans about what your class will do together. This sets the tone for your year.

Dr. Robert Dillon also has videos on youtube that may be helpful with designing learning spaces. You can check them out here.
You may also want to follow Bob on Twitter here.
Share your ideas or thoughts in the comments below!
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Monday, May 28, 2018

Sunday 6 - Transition Words Anchor Chart and More

Thanks to Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade for hosting the Sunday 6!
My third graders have been writing persuasive pieces.  We've used this anchor chart for writing transitions from one supporting reason to another.  
The anchor chart is actually a compilation of other anchor charts I found online.
I have 12 iPads in my classroom - all obtained through grants.
We LOVE using the Epic app for eBooks.
This app has more books than I could ever house in my classroom library and...
 it's free for educators!
Check it out by clicking here.

We still have 2 weeks of school. 
We had to do some goal setting to get us through these final weeks. 
Check out this product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for helping your students to 

Our final social studies unit is about Japan. 
Our city has a sister city in Japan, so we do lots to learn about this interesting country.
One of the things the students love is to paint Japanese characters.
I put on Japanese music, and it makes for a calm class period.
I lead an after-school STEM Club with three other teachers, and our final meeting is this coming week.
We are going to explore augmented reality, and each student will get one of these!
It's called a Merge Cube, and each side of the cube has multiple games and learning tools that come to life when you use the connected app.
I hope to write a blog post soon to share how this went.

This weekend I tried out a new recipe on the grill, and it was delish!
A couple added bonuses were that it was easy to put together, and had minimal clean-up.
Thanks to Mrs. Wheeler for hosting the link-up!
I'm planning on checking out her Editable EOY Bookmarks!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Poetry in the Third Grade Classroom - 4 Quick Tips

Happy Poetry Month!
While we do poetry all year long, April is a great time to really highlight this genre.
Here are a few tips for incorporating more poetry into your daily routine.

Check out this introductory lesson on Learn Zillion.
This quick video introduces learners to "What Makes a Poem a Poem".
It touches on the vocabulary of line, stanza, rhyme, and title.

Try any of the interactive poem tutorials on the ReadWriteThink website.
This site provides a wide variety of poetry formats to easily access.
Here is what the acrostic poem page looks like:
There are easy to use interactive templates for acrostic, diamante, haiku, shape poems, and much more!
I would suggest sending the link to your students through Google Classroom, and then have them try out the tutorials. 
Or, create a QR code of the website's URL, and post in your room if you have iPads.

Scour your school's library for books by Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Bruce Lansky.
There are many books by these famous poets, and they are hilarious - kids love them!
You might want to check out Shel Silverstein's website, or Jack Prelutsky's website, too.

This is one my favorite poetry books  - it will have your kids ROFL!

Check out the resources in my School Poetry Kit.
You will find original poems, with reflection questions for each poem.
This kit includes simple examples of a cinquain, limerick, haiku, acrostic, and couplet poems.

Below you can see an example of the haiku poem and follow-up pages.

 Students visualize and draw the poem.
Discussion questions are included for each poem.
Also included are templates for students to write their own poems, as well as a banner!
This kit is on sale for the month of April!  Click here to take a look!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Classroom Olympic Activities - 4 Quick Tips

Do you have Olympic fever??  My class does, and here are some of the things we've got lined up to capitalize on the interest in the epic sporting event.

Check out the Classroom Champions website for inspirational videos from competitors, as well as classroom lessons on goal setting, perseverance and more.

How fun will it be to connect with the athletes while they are in Pyeongchang?
 Learn more about the science behind some of the Olympic events through ScienceNetLinks.
I follow them on Twitter, and they always share lots of cool info!

 Use this forever freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store to practice similes.
Some of the similes are related to the Olympics in general, and some will describe specific athletes.
You may want to also check out this product in my store that supports research of individual athletes competing in the Winter Games.
My students have selected an athlete, completed a research page using the team website, and are now excited to watch "their athlete" and the medal count.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Global Classroom Decor - Classroom Tour

I decided upon the theme of a Global Classroom for my third grade students this year.
This theme sprouted from our participation in the Global Read-Aloud project.
I love the way our learning environment reflects our global theme of understanding, respect and communication.
The first wall visitors see upon entering our room is the one above.  I felt it was important to explain to families and other visitors right away on the night of Open House what it meant to be a Global Classroom.
We use PBIS, so it was essential to link our school goals with our classroom goals.
 I created a decor pack that is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that includes a variety of bulletin board options for implementing a Global Classroom theme.
These theme materials have a burlap background with globe accents.
The set includes a a variety of bulletin board options, as well as suggested lessons and links for setting up a respectful, informed global classroom.

This pack also includes posters and suggested lessons for digital citizenship, like the one below.
Teacher Tips for using the pack are included, too!

A variety of bulletin board letter styles are included.

I found some additional pieces that fit nicely with the theme.
I found this globe at Hobby Lobby.

These squishy globes are from Amazon, and students will receive these as gifts for Christmas.

I absolutely love this book, as it is written in kid-friendly terms.  It is a must-have for any classroom!
You can purchase the book entitled What Does It Mean To Be Global? by clicking here.

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As part of our Global Classroom theme we have done a Skype with a Scientist, connected with a classroom in Canada as part of the Global Read Aloud, and invited in a local business owner.
We also connect with parents everyday through Seesaw Learning Journal.

Do you have other suggestions on how to promote and lead a Global Classroom?
I'd love to hear your feedback through a message below!