five for friday

we are linking up with doodle bugs teaching.  

here are our five favorite things...
first graders are making rules for book clubs. 

during interactive writing laura's class made a list of words to use in place of the word good.

first graders starting a new unit of study focusing on character book clubs.
second graders writing a recommendation letter to a first grade class.
first-graders leaving post-its on lockers for the kids who have to take MCAS.
we think this is a wonderful way to cheer our school community on!

happy friday!


teacher tip for making anchor charts

 if you get exhausted from handwriting all of your anchor charts, then this blog post will show you how to use the computer to type parts of them.

 you will need:

  • microsoft word
  • printer
  • colored paper
 first we are going to set up a template in microsoft word.
 open up a document in microsoft.
go to file (at the top) and click on page set up...

go to paper size (above it says US letter)
click on manage custom sizes (bottom of list)

for this anchor chart we selected 5X5 (click okay)
type your text.
here is the template we created (the font will look funny if you don't have elizabeth skinny)

get your paper ready

cut 5X5 squares 
check in with your tech person on how to feed the paper in the printer.
our printer looks like this...

 ta dah!!!

flip over the paper and add illustrations.
 students can help make the pictures. 
 different fonts can give it a different look.
happy printing!
jessica & laura & melissa


Monday Makeover

welcome to makeover monday. today's blog post will help a first-grade teacher makeover a writing workshop anchor chart.
makeover monday

here is the original anchor chart made.

how can we make our anchor charts go from good to GREAT??

we can... 

  • add images to our words (so important)
  • add some color to our anchor charts 
  • use lettering that is simple (don't get too fancy)
  • build our anchor charts with our student's
  • print some of the text on the computer (tomorrow's blog post)
  • add interactive writing to our charts  

 smarter charts by marjorie martinelli and kristine mraz is a great resource to have for making anchor charts.

happy monday!
jessica & laura & melissa


five for friday

happy friday! we are linking up with doodle bug teaching five for friday. here are five of our favorite things.
first graders are learning about persuasive writing
jess's class brainstormed writing reviews
during interactive writing laura's class wrote a list of sparkly words
this student convinced the principal to start selling water in the cafeteria!

 march madness came to an end. the winner is...mother bruce!

happy weekend and vacation week!
jessica & laura & melissa


using shared reading for small group time

i recently attended the teacher college reunion with some of my favorite teacher friends. one of the best parts of this day is the car ride home from new york.  we often talk about our big takeaways.  you often can’t pick just one workshop because as one car member stated: it’s hard to decide just one, because you get so many golden nuggets from each.

shared reading
Add caption

today’s blog post will share one of those nuggets (aka: teacher tips). many of the kindergarten teachers in my building attended a workshop called expand your repertoire of small group work: bring your shared reading, interactive writing, word study and read aloud into your small group work by christine holley. of course, i am the biggest LOVER of shared reading, so naturally i wanted to hear more about how can we bring this practice to small group. this is especially true, because it is an essential part of a kindergarten classroom (even though it can easily be forgotten!!). kids LOVE shared reading and it has a lot of BANG for it’s BUCK. For the short amount of time that it takes up in the school day (10-15 minutes) it has so many teaching opportunities and learning rewards.

the purpose of guided reading is to move kids up the levels… right?
you may think,  “i have lots of kids who are reading b level books and I want to get them to a c. they have read almost all of the b books in the closet. I feel like this group is stuck”. one approach is to take a level c or d book and do shared reading with your small groups. this would be temporarily in place of guided reading (you are bumping them up one to two levels above their levels).

the teacher takes the small book and tells the group they are going to do shared reading and they read it all together. the group reads the book and then the teacher passes out the individual books. students are told to read the book during workshop time and to work with their reading partners if they get stuck.

i was excited and also curious at how this structure would work. i was fortunate to go into my friend amy’s class and watch her do this small group shared reading format.

amy told the kids that they were going to do shared reading together just like they do with BIG books on the rug. she told them that she wanted them to try to read the book with her. the kids began by listening but eventually joined in. amy encouraged them throughout the way, saying things like, “i hear voices… great job reading with me!” at the end of the lesson amy went back and talked about a few tricky pages. she talked about the name of the characters and what letters we could find for nick’s name, amy’s name and james's name.  she then told them that she thought this was a challenging book for them and that she wanted them to help each other.

what i found the most interesting was what happened a few minutes afterward.  the kids in the group took their books back to their reading spots and began reading them!! their reading was not 100% accurate but boy, they did a great job.  by reading the book for shared reading and sending them off immediately to work together it gave them a lot of scaffolding to make their reading experience successful.

amy plans to have use this structure for the next four reading lessons. on day five she plans to do a guided reading book with a level C. she plans to take running records to see how they do!

 i will be excited to report back to you soon!

jessica & laura & melissa 


five for friday

we are linking up with doodle bug teaching it is five for friday!
kids making reading anchor charts!! 
first graders interactive writing 
persuasive writing 

reading workshop 

strategy groups in first grade


how to a make a super reader cape

there is a lucy calkins unit in the kindergarten units of study for reading, called “Super Readers Have Super Powers”.  this unit can obviously be used in kindergarten classrooms, but it can also be used by first grade teachers.

super reader capes
when teachers college put together the units of study, they intentionally left gaps in the year.  while they hope that you teach the units intended for your specific grade level, they also wanted the flexibility for teachers to double back if they have a struggling group, or to use some of the “if, then units” depending on the needs of those specific students.

in this “super readers” unit, kindergartners are introduced to the many strategies that readers need to use when they are learning to read and having to decode unknown words.  there are so many cute lessons in this unit, but the kick off dubs all the readers with super powers and they are told about a super hero called “super reader”. there is even a lesson on multisyllabic words being like the kryptonite for readers and that true super readers must not be stopped by the kryptonite words.

like most units in the lucy units, a celebration occurs at the end to highlight all that they have learned.  making the cape was NOT part of the celebration, however many of us in our school created these “no sew” capes.

½ yard of felt for each cape.
contrasting felt to be used for the letter, or star or insignia on the back of the capes.
fabric glue or iron on interfacing.

step 1:
cut rectangles (we made each cape ½ yard in length) and left the width as is

step 2:
cut the slits along the top. these will be used to weave a ribbon or the contrasting felt strip along the top to tie the cape closed when being worn.

measure down about 1 inch from the top to begin your slits. make 1-2 inch long slits every 2 or so inches apart.

step 3:
make and cut your insignia that will be attached via fabric glue or iron on interfacing to the middle back of your capes.

you will see the sample cape has a star, but for our classrooms we decided to make the first letter of each readers’ name (see photo).  other ideas could be a shield, an eye, etc.
super reader capes

step 4:
gift each super reader in your classroom with their new super reading cape.  host a celebration and invite parents, or classroom buddies or another grade level to visit so your readers can show off their new capes and reading skills.

happy reading!
jessica & laura & melissa


digging deeper with nonfiction reading clubs part one

after finishing the unit, learning about the world: reading nonfiction, the first grade lucy calkins' unit, one of our classes needed a change of pace from the routine of the workshop so we decided to explore nonfiction book clubs.

inspired by kathy collins' reading for real and jennifer seravallo's the reading strategies book, we mapped out lessons introducing students to how book clubs can work. we considered the classroom library for appropriate books levels and a variety of topics. we assembled baskets of books on dogs, frogs, cats, transportation and ladybugs.

kathy's book gives tips on reading clubs for grades k-3

reading partners chose their three favorite topics and were guaranteed one of their three topics for their book clubs. we then assigned groupings based on available text levels. students "discovered" their club on monday morning and embarked on a week long adventure with their baskets of books. our first lesson was to teach students to make a plan with their partners (see below). once they had a plan, the fun began! we teachers made the rounds of the groups to hear their plans and to encourage them to use post its to jot notes about ideas, noticings, and wonderings.

we were surprised that many student pairs decided to read independently first rather than reading with their partner first and our reading workshop had a new shot of excitement to it! in the next post, we will tell you what happened during the rest of the week.

laura's anchor chart for launching reading clubs

happy reading clubs! 

 laura & jessica & melissa


Five for Friday

We are linking up with doodle bug. here are five of our favorite things this week!!

launching reading clubs  
nonfiction reading goals
interactive writing in spanish
making beautiful turtles
writing workshop published books
interactive writing for word study