Thursday, August 9, 2012

Comprehension Continuum

Have you been frustrated with a student who is very literal?  "You said we'd be leaving in 2 minutes.  Well, it's been 3 and half."   Well, I've had a big AHA this summer with those special friends. My grade level and I attended a Reader's Workshop conference this week.  Although the rooms were over crowded with no air conditioning, we gained a lot! 

Our presenter proposed that there are several "pathways" to unlock meaning (comprehend).

*envisioning-how you are making a movie in your mind (aka visualizing)

*synthesis-the ability to put things together and have an idea

*interpretation-finding the big ideas

*critique-ability to push back into a text (aka evaluation)

*prediction-(the most over-taught)

*monitoring for meaning

Our presenter has had many debates with people about whether or not inference is one of the pathways or not.  Her opinion is that you have to be able to infer to use the other pathways.  So, inference is embedded into each of the pathways.

Inferential readers are those that use the pathways.  They read for meaning.  Literal students need more coaching to develop into an inferential reader.  Here's an easy way to assess all your students.

We were each given 4 post its to respond on as she read:

WOW!  What a great historical fiction story!!!   After key moments in the story (I don't have the book yet, so I can't note the exact pages) she asked us:

on post it 1, to jot about what we were picturing
on post it 2, to jot about a character
on post it 3, to jot about what's changed
on post it 4, to jot a lesson or message we might think about with this text

After each post it, we would share our responses with a partner. Then, she'd continue reading. After finishing the story, collect and sort the post its without the students present into 3 piles:  low, medium, high.

The low pile has your literal "on the page" responses.  The students did not add their own thinking to the post it.   ex.  I see a girl with a bracelet.

The medium pile has your "scene makers."  They are attempting to construct the scene "off the page."  ex.  I see a girl with tears in her eyes as she is wandering through her home."

The high pile has your "outside of the book" responses.  The students are your "theory makers" who look at the big picture.  They respond with connections they felt as a reader.  ex.  "I see a girl who is worried and uncertain about what has happened and what is going to happen."

So, now you should have a good idea where your students are! 

Now, how do you move them across the comprehension continuum?  Coach them into envisioning more:  What do you see?  What do you hear?   and ALWAYS add "and that makes me think...." after their response!  Or, "and that makes me wonder..."   Or, "so my theory is..."   The best place to model this is during Interactive Read Aloud or Shared Reading---probably my next post!  (I learned how to better "beef" those up for upper graders.)

Right now, I've got to go get ready for the final day of the Conference!

What has worked well with your literal readers and writers?  I'd love to know!  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Whisperer

The blogging world has introduced me to many ideas, strategies, crafts, and books! :)   I am a little embarrassed to admit that I am so behind the times, because I have just finished reading The Book Whisperer!!

Wow!  What a great, inspiring read!  She's definitely got me rethinking how I want to organize my notebooks this year in Reader's Workshop.  I am liking her idea of the students writing a letter to the teacher about their reading....which connects with WBT's Universal Homework Model  :)  With my large class size, I envision dividing the class into groups, each having a different day to turn in their letter.  I plan on collecting the letters the day before I confer with the students, so I can be more efficient and prepared for each conference.  I worry about this a little because I probably haven't read the books they are writing about.  But, that leads me to a great idea I read about on proteacher:  I will also join the 30 book challenge!  I plan on posting a list on the outside of my door to list the titles of the third grade chapter books I have finished reading!  (Now, I just need to create a cute chart . . . )

I DID however, create a student survey for the beginning of school so I can get to know my students a little bit more as readers.  I anticipate as we study genres throughout the year, I will need to make a more specific survey.  But, that's later!  For now . . . here's the survey I created.  I hope someone finds this useful.  :)

How are you going to be a book whisperer???  Do you think 30 books for third graders will work?
Student Survey

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

180 Followers Freebie!

A week ago, I had around 40 faithful followers.  I posted the Newbie blog hop and before I knew it, I had over 100 . . . I never had time to do a 100 Follower Giveaway, Freebie, blog post, or anything! And now I'm at 180!    (I hope all the other Newbie bloggers have made lots of new connections, too!)

To celebrate all 180 of you, I'm posting this 180 Followers Freebie.  (I NEVER win at raffles or drawings, so I'm not going to even bother with a Giveaway.)  Plus, I don't know how to do one!  ;) 

I love Marcy Cook Math Tiles!  But, my volunteers do not!  Well, they love the idea and theory behind them, but they don't love that there is not a cut and dry, easy-to-read answer key.  So, I fashioned a few math tile cards for the different basic multiplication fact families.  I also made an easy-to-read answer key for the students to self-check or for a parent volunteer to use. 

I was inspired by the Clutter-Free Classroom's Math Workshop to use the acronym MATH for my round of Daily 5-inspired daily multiplication MATH time.  This will be right before our actual Math Workshop begins. But I am using:

Manipulatives    (math tiles)
Help Someone   

More details in another post . . .

I hope someone could use these math tile cards.  If you catch a mistake, I'm sorry and please let me know!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jitters and Awards

THANK YOU to Jessie at

Look Whos Teaching


PJ Jots

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

My 7 random facts are:

1.  I LOVE watching Food Network Star and HGTV Design Star, but I never actually watch the winners' shows.

2.  I am addicted to hummus.

3.  I am a Real Housewives fan!

4.  I can't stand the smell of eggs being cooked.

5.  My iphone is the original, first edition. The Apple store employees recently said mine was the in the best condition they've ever seen (at this age).

6.  I will often go through the McDonald's drive thru for one of their soft serve cones.  I LOVE these!

7.  I don't get the Bachelor and Bachelorette hype!

I am passing this award to the following bloggers from the Newbie Blog Hop:

Not Your Typical Day
Lauren's 4th Grade Class
Adventures of a Super Mom
Miss Fuerst's Reading Adventure
Wild About School
Classroom Compulsion

Mrs Woods Class


Now that  I've discovered the fun of blog hopping, I've joined a new one  Ashley at Fierce in Fourth has started.  Share three things you are jittery about for the upcoming school year.  Maybe someone out there can offer advice/support for everyone's jitters!  Comment if you can!  We all love comments!!

1.  My grade level and I are piloting a new way to provide intervention rotations for our students.  I hope it works out!  Our principal has arranged a block of time in the library and computer lab rather than our usual pushing and shoving to sign up for time slots.  One teacher will be in the computer lab (we don't have a speciaist) and after the students do Read Naturally or some math facts review, she will lead them through one project a trimester.  One teacher will be in the library and progress monitor and do one-on-one multiplication facts support as the students check out books.  One teacher will do Word Work activities and provide extra support with small strategy groups. 

2.  I am a little jittery about starting PBIS. 
3.  Our entire grade level is hoping to be on board with Reading Workshop.  I am hoping everyone sticks with it!! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Word Work Words and Awards!

OK first off--WOW!  The Newbie Blogger Blog Hop has really taken off!  When I started that Blog Hop, I honestly didn't know if anyone else would join!  It's so many more people than I imagined!  I initially tried to thank each person who joined in, but I haven't been able to keep up!

Anyway, on to Word Work aka Spelling.  If you haven't already drooled over Beth Newingham's site, you simply MUST head over there.  When I heard I was teaching third, I googled "third grade classroom" and her link was the first one.  I have adapted most of her classroom into mine.  The only tiny disappointment was that she didn't share her word work lists.   :(     However, I do understand.  In a perfect world, you should tailor the lists to match your students.

I, however, do not yet live in a perfect world.  (If you do, I'd love an invitation!)  But, on the third grade board on, an amazing teacher, known as teacher226, shared most of her Word Work words!!!  She based them off her use of Story Town.  I don't use Story Town, and it still worked out perfectly!  Spelling principles are spelling principles!

If you are already familiar with Beth Newingham's style of word study, skip reading this paragraph.  I pretest the students on Monday.  If my students score 80% or above, I assign them the 10 challenge words to study at home.  Everyone else is assigned the 10 regular words.  During the week, each group plays Words Their Way games with their assigned words and also the 10 New Pattern Words.  So, each day I give a mini lesson on the spelling principle to the whole class.  Then, students go work with their spelling partner with their 20 words.  (My other Word Work posts have some of the activities my students do and a copy of my Spelling Pretest/Test template.)  The goal of the New Pattern Words is to see how they can apply the spelling principle since they are not taking them home and memorizing them. 

For my most recent group of students, I found it necessary to create a third list with more basic words.  My lists are on my computer at school.  :(     So in the meantime, I thought I would repost teacher226's original work she shared.  This gave me a huge starting point and helped me out TREMENDOUSLY!  So, I hope this helps some of you (and your students) out there!

Also, thanks to Haley at My Silly Firsties, Mrs. H at Just a Primary Girl , and Ashley at Fierce in Fourth for awarding me this Liebster award!  It was just a few days ago, I pressed "publish post" and wondered if anyone would ever read this blog of mine.  So, it is surprising to be nominated!

This award goes to a blogger with less than 200 followers. 
When you receive this award, you must nominate five other.
Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and
make sure to leave a comment to your award recipients.
Let's show these people some love!  Visit their blogs!
I am awarding:


Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun Grammar and Mechanics!!!

I don't know about you, but teaching writing mechanics is my least favorite part of teaching.  (Yawn!)  I taught first grade for years.  Then, after moving to third, I discovered....they still haven't mastered the things I taught in first grade!  I mean, capitals!?!  Come on!  But, as most teachers will agree--we care about content!  (Which thanks to my amazing principal and PTA, I have attended great professional development, trainings, and conferences for Writer's Workshop and the content of my students' writing has immensely improved.)

But, I wanted my students to have stronger writing mechanics.  So, I tried to "jazz it up" so the kids would have fun and remember everything better.  We sang songs and performed the Bad Wolf Press's Pirates from Grammar Island.  We had FUN!  Then, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. youtube video:

Wait!  (Gulp!)  Was that me?!?  (But dang, our play was cute!)  I realized instead of just trying to make it "fun," I needed to find a way to make it more active and meaningful.  The answer to my problem came at a recent Summer Institute on the Teaching of Writing I attended in June.

There were many FABULOUS presenters, but Cathy Skubik answered my issue with mechanics.  I'm going to share her amazing and EASY ways to make mechanics more interactive and effective. The GENIUS part of this is it can work for any grade!!

She referred to Jeff Anderson a lot!  I haven't read any of his books yet, but she is not the first to highly recommend him.

Students work on mechanics 10 minutes a day through a process you can repeat again and again for each skill or area of study.  It can fit in during Writer's Workshop, as a morning warm-up, or as a stand alone. 

1.  Notice/Label  (1-2 days)
2.  Collect  (3-5 days)
3.  Imitate (1-5 days)
4.  Apply (1-5 days)
5.  Practie Forever (1-5 days)

I made a sample capitalization unit using the story The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Pollaco, since my grade level is planning on using it as our mentor text for our first Unit of Study:  Personal Narrative.


1.  Show one sentence from The Keeping Quilt to the class on your SMARTboard or under a doc cam.

     Carle and George moved to a farm in Michigan.

2.  Say, "We're working on capital letters, what do you notice?"

3.  Record their responses on a chart.

4.  Repeat with several different sentences from the story that have other uses for capitalization.

So, your chart may have the following:  (there are many more or less depending on your grade level)
     -first word in a sentence
     -first name of a person
     -name of a state
     -titles of books, songs, movies
     -first word in quotations


1.  Have students get out their Reading Workshop Book Boxes.
2.  Tell them to find (on a page that they have already read) an example of capitalization.
3.  Write the example on a post-it.  (For example:  September)
     You can also have them write the title of the book on the post-it, depending on your grade level.
4.  Have them post it on a chart.

The chart should be divided into sections and have categories in each section that match the standards or things you want used.  She suggested having a section called "things we want to learn more about."

For example:  A third grade chart may have the categories:  pronoun (I), names (proper nouns, people, geographical locations), brand names, first word in a sentence, first word in quotations, onomatopoeia, titles (books, songs, movies), abbreviations.   

The next day, repeat the activity, but divide the students into small groups.  Each group will have their own poster.  You can provide the categories for the students or make them come up with them.  Select one chart to post on the wall for the class to refer to all year long.  (Genius!)


1.  Show students a sentence from your mentor text or from one of your students' books.  So, from The Keeping Quilt, we plan on showing:

     We were all so proud of Traci's new baby brother.

2.  Then, show them the same sentence, but with some blanks for them to fill in.  (Think Mad Libs.

     We were all so proud of ____'s ______.

3.  Students now fill in the blanks and make their own versions, remembering to capitalize!  Try to use a sentence the kids could have fun filling out.

     We were all so proud of Dan's game winning free throw.
     We were all so proud of Sharon's sculpture.

4.  You can assign this frame for extra classwork or homework. 


1.  Make a writing example with capitalization errors.  Look through some of your students' writer's notebooks to model mistakes for your example.  (Don't copy their exact mistakes!)
2.  Show this writing example to the class. 
3.  Edit together for capitalization.
4.  Students take out their writer's notebook. 
5.  Students open to an old draft and highlight every time they used a capital letter.   Oops!  Found a word that should have had a capital letter?  Fix it and highlight it!  :)

Another fun part of the APPLY step is the game, "One Mistake."  This is a game where everyone can be successful because there's only one mistake in each sentence.  (Rather than 3!)  Here's how you play:

1.  Choose one sentence from your mentor text or one of your students' books.  So, from The Keeping Quilt, we plan on showing:

     On Friday nights anna's mother would say the prayers that started the Sabbath.

2.  Tell students to put their thumbs up when they see the one mistake.
3.  Call on someone who must explain HOW they know.
4.  Show another version of the same sentence with a different mistake. 

     On friday nights Anna's mother would say the prayers that started the Sabbath.

5.  Repeat several times, but with different mistakes.  She says the kids absolutely LOVE this and I can totally see them diggin' this!  It's interactive and I love that everyone can be successful with this!  I see great WBT teach-okay moments.


Students are now held accountable for the targeted skill.  If you want to do a worksheet, here's the perfect time.  Practice the skill in your state's standardized testing format.  Revisit real writing again.

How easy is this?  It took me a few minutes for a month of plans.  You don't even have to base it off a mentor text (or a basal story).  You can get the sentences from the books your students are reading from.  She mentioned it's very advantageous to choose sentences from your lowest readers so they feel successful. 
Here are some of the sentences from The Keeping Quilt that my grade level and I have integrated into this format.  I hope this inspires you!   If you made it this far, thank you!  You definitely deserve a FREEBIE!  I'll post more of the units as I create them.  (If people are interested!)  Gotta go glance at what skills are on the Common Core...What do you think?  Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

I joined my first blog hop(s) yesterday and it was such a great way to find some amazing bloggers out there! I am SOOO impressed with the way technology is linking teachers together to share ideas and knowledge!! So, I thought I would start a blog hop for people out there like myself who recently took the plunge and started blogging. We may need to help each other out a bit!  I hope you link up and tell everyone:

    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1.  I'm in California
2.  I currently teach third grade...and lovin' it!
3.  I taught first grade for 14 years and just finished my second year of teaching third
4.  I just started blogging this July
5.  Experienced bloggers are extremely ANNOYED by the "leave a comment word verifiers"!  Turn them off!  You can learn how here:

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you link up!