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

five for friday

we are linking up with doodle bugs this week.

here are our five favorite things.

persuasive writing

kicking off persuasive writing in first grade was a blast this week.  in the first lesson they get to write about (and judge) a special collection.  it was a fun way to have the children write about something that they were passionate about, and required that they state several reasons why they had a favorite within their collections.  some of the collections in first grade included:  F1Racecars, rocks, shopkins, money, and even bottlecaps.


this is an impromptu project that we did to go along with a math activity about measurement.  for the math lesson the children were measuring fish and finding “keepers” or fish that were long enough to keep.  in the final fish lesson, they get to measure, make and name their own keepers.

 keeper clues

the children asked if we could make a class tank for our keepers and wallah!  we now have a tank with their fish (magnets on the back) so that they can look at, admire, and remove and measure.

helping a child learn one to one matching

we love how this kindergarten teacher helped a child by adding stickers to the page. this is just a temporary scaffold.

interactive writing 

we 💜 interactive writing!

happy weekend!
jessica & laura & melissa


ten tips for writing workshop

Here are ten tips for writing workshop:

Tip 1: keep the routine of writing workshop consistent.  

always start with a focus lesson (mini-lesson)  on the rug, lots of time to write and a ten to fifteen minute share time. we can sometimes be so busy to finish and move on to the next part of our day we might skip the share. we would urge you not to, there are lots of teaching opportunities during that time and kids LOVE to share!! Leah Mermelsten wrote a whole book about the sharing time and the teaching impact it can have on our little ones!

Tip 2: Rally the kids about writing time.

our energy and excitement about workshop time impacts all of our students.   before a new unit of study begins build excited by creating a sign outside your classroom door “nonfiction writing coming soon… two mores days."  this will build excitement about the new unit. on the classroom calendar mark the beginning and end of the unit. this also allows kids who may not love the current kind of writing to know that there is an end in sight and that they get to transition to a new genre.  try to stick to the timeline. if a unit gets dragged on too long, the class could lose interest. momentum is the key!

Tip 3: Have the kids help you set up for workshop time.  

this helps kids anticipate what will happen next and gets them moving around the classroom before having to sit and listen. right after setting up, we go to the rug for the focus lesson. since the classroom is set up for writing, once students are dismissed from the rug, they can get right to work!


Tip 4: use your anchor chart to dismiss kids from the rug. 

 For example I may say, if you are working on making your writing easy to read, you may get started. if you are working on adding details to your pictures and words, you may get started. the kids who are unsure what to do can stay on the rug and the teacher can work with them right away.   we find that students will quickly find something to work on.

tip 5: the power of partnership.

there is power in having a writing partner. instead of having the author’s chair for fifteen minutes, have partners share for five minutes and the author's chair for ten. students will realize that if someone does not work during workshop time, then they will have nothing to share. knowing that you are going to have to share every day will motivate students to write. you will need to circulate during partner time at first to set up this routine as an expectation. try to keep partners together for as long as possible. 

tip 6: don’t let kids erase.

teach kids to cross out or give them black felt pens for writing erasing can be a stall tactic and when they do erase, the often put holes in their paper...not good for reread reading and very messy. another bonus to using the pen is that children realize that they should try to write neatly, because it is “permanant”.

tip 8: save samples of kid work.

the year gets so busy that we sometime forget this important tip but try to save samples of student work for mentor text. try to save a few different examples (not just the strongest) to use for the next year.

tip 9: create a risk taker or strategy sign 

when teaching a new concepts hang up a sign and say ________ has tried this. you’ll be surprised at how many student will be willing to try something new because you gave them recognition.

writing long and strong
The kids could record how long and strong they wrote that day by putting a Post-it

expert at writing time
an expert seed story writer

 tip 10: make someone famous in your class.

can you imagine what it would feel like if the teachers put your story on the bulletin and highlighted your strengths? the first grade teachers in our building find a way to make each child famous by putting their story on the bulletin board and naming what they did.

we all want to feel famous someday, why not start in first grade.

happy almost friday!

jessica & laura & melissa