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Reading Emergencies


Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

Do you ever have reading emergencies?  I do all the time!  But didn't know what to call them until I started reading Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. 

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

Donalyn describes Reading Emergencies as "those unexpected moments when you are stuck somewhere longer than you planned."  Actually, it was her husband who said this!

I understand these emergencies completely!  I find those times where I have a few moments of waiting and I cannot just sit there and stare.  I have to be reading something!  Anything...posts on my phone, professional books, personal reads, something.  

You see, I was one of THOSE readers she talks about in her book, Reading in the Wild.  I was what you would call a Wild Reader.  I would carry a book with me all the time and I snuck in reading any time that I could.  

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

I would read the cereal box or milk carton in the mornings.  I was not capable of just sitting there eating.  I had to read something!

I want to take that passion for reading and transfer it to my struggling readers.  The idea of reading in moments of stolen time (waiting at the doctor's office, in the car, at bedtime (my absolute favorite time as a child and now)  is foreign to most of my students.  That makes me so sad.  

So I must teach them to how to find those moments.  I must be intentional about pointing these times out to them.  The whole purpose of my teaching is for students to take reading FROM the school and apply it to their lives OUT of school.  Otherwise, I am not building lifelong readers!

Reading in the Wild as re-motivated (is this a word?) me to stoke this fire again for my students.  I am a realist.  A practical person.  I know most of my students do not read at home.  They don't have the stamina, the knowledge of how to carve out minutes from their day, or the motivation.  

But I can be intentional and show my students how to do this!  Donalyn recommends talking to your students about where you find extra moments to read.  Then let your students make a list of times they could have read that week if they had brought a book with them.  Their list might look something like this:

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

I think a key point that Donalyn makes (she is so smart!) is having the students have conversations with each other about when they read.  Also, where they read.  When students hear where their friends are reading and when, it may spark the thought they that could do that too!  After all, isn't that what we do as adults?  We TALK to each other about the books we read and where we read them.  Let's teach students to do authentic, real world reading.  Not reading logs, dioramas,  and such.  But Real World Reading.  Enjoying books and wondering why characters acted the way the did, and having conversations with friends who love reading too!




Giving Choices with Informational Text & A Freebie!

Give students choice with informational texts

Do you give your students choices for what they will read?  Choice is a huge motivator.  We had been reading informational text and learning about the features author's include to make it easier for us to understand the text.  So they were ready to make some choices of what they each wanted to read and learn about.

Give students choice with informational texts

I chose several informational books within a range of levels to fit my students. Then I labeled the books A-E with Post It notes and placed them around the room.  


Give students choice with informational texts

Students were given this packet to clip to a clipboard.  They used the packet as they traveled around to the different books.  

After previewing each book, the students would record what they thought about the books.  Then at the end, they listed their choices of what they would each like to read.

Give students choice with informational texts

Each student made their choice for themselves.  They were not voting on what the group would read.  This was a time they could be individual with their thoughts and choices.  Unless the level was particularly difficult for them, I gave them what they chose for their number 1 choice.  Then students got to read and mark places in their books with Post It notes to help them fill out the next packet.

Give students choice with informational texts

The students really enjoyed their informational texts that they were reading and learning about because it was information that they chose.  They were invested in it and found the texts very interesting.  It was a favorite activity for them.

Give students choice with informational texts

This student was still working on his packet when I snapped this picture.  But I wanted you to be able to see what information he was reading for on the second page. 

If you click here you can pick up this informational freebie for you classroom and students!  Hope you enjoy! 



What Will You Read This Summer?

Books to read this summer for PD for teachers

Summer!!  A time for teachers to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate.  But like most teachers, for me it is also a time for me to work on my craft. Build my skills.  Find new ideas.  Stoke the fire again for my passion.  

Professional Development Resources

I thought I would share some professional resources that you might like.  Some are books I've already read, some are books I have to be read and some I am wanting to read.

Professional Development Resources for Teachers

I am hearing a lot of buzz about this book!  I am really thinking I need this one. Have you read this one?  Did you find it helpful?  


Reading in the Wild

I have this book and it's been waiting on me to find the time to get to it.  I am excited about it.  I really enjoyed Donalyn Miller's other book, The Book Whisperer.  Great ideas so I have high hopes for this one too!

Classrooms That Work

I love this book!  I read an older edition several years ago and the ideas just seems to be so obvious to me that they work.  Pat Cunningham and Richard Allington really know their stuff!

The Fluent Reader

This book is a must read if you are needing to improve your students' fluency.  Great ideas from Timothy Rasinski, the fluency guru!  He describes how to do repeated readings in this book.  I did this activity for my action research for my master's degree and I tell you it works so well!!  The BEST way to improve struggling reader's fluency!

Teach Like a Pirate

Our school used Teach Like a Pirate for our book study this year.  This book may motivate you and cause you to look for more ways to engage your students in class.

Okay, it's your turn!  What will YOU be reading this summer to build and strengthen your craft of teaching??  I would LOVE to know!








Tame the Packing Chaos!

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Have you wrapped up your school year yet?  We just did and just like every other teacher who has to pack up the classroom, I dread it every year!  I have learned a thing or two over the years to make this packing a bit more organized and easier to do.  As you pack up, keep the next school year in mind.  If you do your packing with in a way that makes the unpacking easier you will help save yourself time, effort, and maybe your sanity!  

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier
First, clean everything!  This is easier to do if you can have your students help you.  They can do the easy cleaning with gentle cleaning products- cleaning inside and tops of desks, baskets in sinks, easels, tables, etc... Students love to help out and this will save you some valuable time for when you unpack.  

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Next, get rid of anything you are not using.  Teachers tend to keep EVERYTHING just in case we might need it later since we don't have enough budget money.  But get rid of the clutter, things you don't use, broken or missing piece items.  Give away to other teachers anything in good shape, but get rid of the extra.  I love to throw away clutter and get it out of my room!


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Label all your boxes.  Not just what's in it, but where it goes.  That will help you when unpacking to get everything back like before and if you are lucky enough to have someone help you unpack, they will know right where to put it.

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Use nice looking labels on everything you have to mark with your name or room number.  If they look nice enough, you can just leave them on all year and you won't have to repeat this step the next year.  Another time saver

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Create a classroom map for the custodians so there is no confusion as to where to place your furniture.  Save the map on your computer so it can easily be changed from year to year so you don't have to start all over if you change some of the layout in your classroom.

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Do you use Interactive Reader's Notebooks?  Have students take their pages out and then help you get the notebooks ready for next year.  Much easier to prep these notebooks when you have extra hands to help you than at the beginning of the year and no help.  You can have the notebooks ready to pull and use!


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Along the same thinking is to prep your box or crate or whatever you use to house your extra copies of papers you use frequently, like Interactive Reader's Notebook pages, running records sheets, graphic organizers, etc...


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

One last tip, hang up a sheet in an easy to use place and record supplies you are low in and will need to order.  Makes it a lot easier when you go to fill out your requisitions for next year.

Good luck with your packing as you wrap up your school year and head into your summer!

Universal Screenings & RTI Plans

Using the DRA for Universal Screenings

As we are finishing up our RTI groups for our second cycle of RTI, it is also time to begin our universal screenings of all our students for reading.  At our school, we are using the DRA 2 for our universal screening for students reading up to level 38.  After students pass a level 38, we move them over to assessing with the IRI.  It is so gratifying to see the progress these RTI students can make after 10 weeks or 12 weeks of targeted interventions.  

Teachers keep graphs each week to show the amount of progress each student is making with their interventions.  We use the information from the weekly graphs along with the DRA and IRI scores to help our RTI committee make decisions on moving students in and out of tiers.

Pencil Nubs

Do anyone else's class pencils look like this?  Actually mine look like this minus the eraser!  By this time of year, our pencils seem to always be worn down to a nub and we NEVER have erasers left on them.  And for some reason it seems some students purposely choose these nubs of pencils over the longer ones!  I am not sure why though.  I have to go through and toss the shorties so students will actually use the nice, new long ones!

RTI Reading Intervention Visual Plans and Resources


Here are your visual plans for the week!  As you can see short vowels and long vowels still needing some work.  The centers used in the plans above are in my Spring Literacy Pack.  There are 6 phonemic awareness and phonics activities included in the pack.

Spring Literacy Centers

For students in the other group who are farther along in their skills, open and closed syllable centers is what they need.  They can work in centers with the multisyllabic words and then apply that skill in the fluency passages that have comprehension questions to go along with them.  

Enjoy your week and I hope your school and parents pamper you for Teacher Appreciation Week!

Focusing on Fluency

Activities to improve student's fluency

Finding fluency for some students can be so difficult.  They may. read. so. slow whileothersreadingtoofast!  When reading too fast, their tongues trip up causing errors and their brains can't keep up causing them to lose comprehension.  Neither way of reading is good.

Activities for improving reading fluency

I became of fan of Timothy Rasinski a long time ago.  He has some really good ideas for helping students find their way to better fluency.  One of those ways is repeated readings.  And I am telling you it works!  I even did my action research project for my masters degree on repeated readings and the statistics showed how much my little readers improved.  I take a passage, model for the students how it should sound, then I send them off to different areas of the room to practice reading this same passage.  They must read the passage out loud (that is very important) at least 3 times.  I want them to be able to hear themselves reading to develop the metacognition of does that sound right?  A lot of struggling readers have never developed this skill.  They tend to just call out any word that may (or may not) be close and move on in an attempt to get the activity over with.  
Voice Cubes to improve reading fluency

When doing the repeated readings, kids like to use different voices.  It is just a simple thing of engagement and keeping them interested in the activity.  Using these voice cubes make repeated readings a lot more fun!  

Activities to improve reading fluency

The voice cubes can be used with any passage, book, poem, etc...  The student rolls the cube, reads the passage (again out loud is important) and marks which voice he/she used.  I also like for students to be mindful of what they are trying to improve, so they mark that on the recording page using the fluency rubric.  At the end of practicing the passage with the voices, the student gives a short summary explaining what the passage was about.  Improving fluency is all about improving comprehension.  

You do need to incorporate other skills when focusing on fluency improvement.  One big one for us has been multisyllabic words and being able to break them down to read them.  Practicing a LOT with these type of words really helps with fluency too.  I start with closed syllable words and then move on to open syllable words.  We practice and practice and practice.  Then I make sure they are applying these skills as they read.  It won't do any good if they can do the skill in isolation but not apply it to their reading and that is where the break down can sometimes occur. 

reading closed syllable words to improve fluency

reading open syllable words to improve fluency

weekly progress monitoring for fluency

Currently at my school, we are using Reading A-Z fluency passages for our RTI weekly progress monitoring.  I have the passages copied and placed in notebooks for our teachers to use.  

I hope these ideas help you with your students and improving fluency.  It is definitely a difficult skill for some readers.  What are you doing in your classroom to improve fluency?


Quick Formative Assessment Tools

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

It is Bright Idea time!  Once a month some of my blogging friends get together and share great classroom tips with you.  Great tips to make your life easier, more organized, and help you run your classroom smoother.  

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

Are you using formative assessments?  Who isn't, right?  We all need to do those quick checks on student learning to check their progress.  It lets us know if they really are understanding the material.  I need these checks to be super quick due to only having my students for 30 minutes at a time.  I don't want to fall into that trap of testing all the time at the expense of teaching and my students' learning.  

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

These quick check boards are great for formative assessments.  You can preload them so to speak with answers like yes & no, A or B, etc... They are wipe off so they can be used many times in different ways.  Ask your question, students flip their board to their answer and you scan the room to see how they did.  Super easy and versatile.

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

I use Show Me app ALL. THE. TIME.  I mean really, we use this app the most!  It is just basically a white board on the iPad.  Easy way for checking learning and not wasting paper or markers.

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

Dice are great too!  Write what each side would represent and ask your questions. Students roll the dice to their answer.  You can use all the sides or only a couple.

Quick Formative Assessment Tools

Most of us have wipe off boards and are already using them for quick checks.  If you aren't, start using them!  Here I was checking to see who could write their sentence with correct punctuation and capitalization.  

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Be sure to take a look at my friends' Bright Ideas!  I am sure you will find lots of great ways to help you in your classroom!