Thursday, October 22, 2015

Independent Reading Is a Literacy Center Activity

Greetings!

It's October and leveled reading groups are in full swing.  It can be a daunting task to manage the children that are not working directly with the teacher while he/she is involved with a guided reading group. 

The question that goes through every educator's mind is, "What are the other children in my class doing while I am working with a reading group?"  It's a tough question and there are no "One-Size-Fits-All-Classrooms" answers.  Part of how the other children are managed depend on whether or not there is another teacher, a paraprofessional, or a parent volunteer in the classroom at the time that reading groups take place.

Whatever the answer may be, there's one thing that is for certain.  When students are working on their own, the assignment or literacy centers must be at their INDEPENDENT level.  This is a time for students to review or practice skills which they have MASTERED.  An exception to this is when students are working directly with another adult.  Then, they are working at their INSTRUCTIONAL level. When students are expected to work on a level that is beyond their current independent level, they become frustrated!  In the end, the teacher must reteach material that was learned the wrong way when adult support was absent.    

If the teacher is the only adult in the classroom while reading groups are taking place, he/she has the challenging task of creating meaningful, independent-level activities for all of the students to engage in. 

One of the best literacy centers that can be developed is independent book reading.  (If you have book corner with a collection of picture books that the children go to and randomly select books to view . . . . it's not an independent reading center.  Don't get me wrong!  There is value in "Book-Look" time.  But it is not independent reading.  That is, unless your classroom is filled with first graders that are reading well above grade level.)

In order to set up an independent reading center, you will need leveled books.  The small paperback books work wonderfully.  You will also need to provide each child (or pair of children) with their own storage container for the books.  Plastic ice cube bins make great book bins for the small paperback books.  You can get the plastic ice cube bins at a super-center store.  The cost is under $2.00 per bin.  Tape name tags to the bins to indicate the child or children that "own" the bin.  Try to replace the books with new ones on a monthly basis.  If you are using consumable booklets (the ones that you print and assemble), consider giving the books away (to the "bin-owners") when you switch out the books.  They'll love to take the books home and share with their families! 

Here is a photo of an ice cube bin that is used as a leveled book bin.   
This ice cube bin is being used as a leveled reader book bin.

The next thing that you will need to do is start supplying the children's ice book bins with books!  The only books that make their way into a child's (or pair of children) bin are the ones that he/she can read on an independent level.  Independent reading means that the child can read the book with little or no errors.  Most experts have considered that to be at a 95% level of accuracy for the lower leveled books.  Therefore, if the book has a total of 25 words, and a child makes1 error while reading the book, the child reads the book with 96% accuracy.  The book is within the independent range.  But, if the child makes 2 errors with the same book, it's at 92% accuracy.  Hence, the book is not a candidate for that particular child's book bin.   

The child's "just-right" books need to be his/her independent reading level.  

Have you assessed a child's reading level and found that the assessment tool was not quite accurate?  If you've conducted leveled reading assessments with lower elementary aged children, you've seen this!  You've tested a student on a "B" level book and he's at instructional level.  Then, you've tested the same child on a "C" level book (within a week's time) and he scores at independent level.  Did he make a level's worth of reading growth in one week?  No.  


What happened????  

Many of the leveled books focus on a small handful of sight words within a single book.  If the book on the "C" level happens to have sight words that the child knows, he might score at independent level.  At the same token, if he doesn't know the sight words in a "B" level book, he might make a few errors resulting in an instructional level score.  

Think of the assessment tool as narrowing the gap but not always hitting the nail on the head!  

I've been creating my own collection of READING BOOKLETS.  My reading booklets include word cards for every word within the text.  This includes both the sight words and the vocabulary words.  I've also included assessments for each book so that teachers can easily check for accuracy and determine whether or not a child can read the book independently.  My READING BOOKLETS are the print, fold, and staple style.  There is no cutting with scissors.  There is no use of a paper cutter.  Many of my booklet files include both a color version as well as a black and white version. 

Some of my books are "singable".  I love using the well known tunes because many parents will  be able to find the song on the internet.  Some parents might also recall the tune from their own childhood experiences.  The video below shows my attempt at singing one of my books to the tune, "Oh My Darling Clementine".  



Phew!  Glad I'm finished singing!  I wanted my book, Find a Pumpkin to have an alternate version for an ending.  I wanted something that was not as heavily associated with Halloween as was my original version.  Although, it is harder to say, "Send it to a cat named Chase." than the first option. 

If you'd like, listen to an instrumental version of the song at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - Kids' Pages.  Follow the link here.

The images below are from my fall themed booklets.  Click on any of the images to view at my shop.  The first one is a book about the days of the week which are presented in sequential order.  The second booklet is sung to the tune of, "Oh My Darling Clementine".  The last booklet is about a visit to a pumpkin patch.  The last booklet is a FREE RESOURCE that you can get at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.

 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/days-of-the-week-1493848
  
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Booklets-FIND-A-PUMPKIN-1504958

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/emergent-reader-1508906

The titles of the three booklets shown above are:  SUPER KIDS!, FIND A PUMPKIN, and PUMPKIN PICKING.  I am planning to make more READING BOOKLETS in the future. 

There are several artists that should be credited for the adorable illustrations in the booklets that I made.  They are  Laura from Whimsy Clips  and Sarah from Educlips.  Visit their fabulous shops!


That's all for now!


Lessons by Molly © 2015  All rights reserved.





Friday, October 2, 2015

sight-word-games

Summer is over but its memories linger on.  I thought I'd post a few pictures from last summer.   

The first photo is of a young fellow who learned how to float.  His swim trunks are almost the same color as the water!  The shiny dark hair that you see floating in the water is now sporting a short, "school boy" haircut.  He was taking it easy and clearing his mind of his summer projects.  He wasn't thinking about the fact that in a few short weeks he would be floating right into a classroom!   
Relaxing before the start of a new school year.

Learning how to float!
The young lady has a different way of relaxing.  For her, it's all about movement . . . . nonstop!  
Going down the water slide!

Jumping off the diving board.
Once in a while, the two of them like to compete with each other in a friendly game of ball!  
Time to play ball!

I have been working on some fresh ideas to practice sight word recognition.  Our "poolside fun" gave me inspiration!  This summer, I sat down and made up 3 new games for sight word practice.  I decided to use the pool as the theme.  

I wanted the games to be ENGAGING, FUN, and CHALLENGING.   They also needed to foster FLUENCY, SPELLING, and high-order THINKING.  I used 25 of the most frequently used sight words in text.  When students don't know the first 25 sight words, there's little point in trying to learn more advanced sight words.  If you've taught second grade for a while, you've probably encountered a student that came to you in August or September and knew less than 15 sight words.  You scratch your head and can't help but wonder what happened in first grade!  But, you have to take your students where they're at.  The good news is that you can support children that have significant gaps in their progress and they can make huge gains in their growth during the next few months of school.   

Here's a description of the sight word games I created:    

Game 1 Fish in the Water        
Players take turns withdrawing sentences from a stack.

Players take turns withdrawing sentences.  (This game works best with 2 players.)  There is a sight word underlined within the sentence.  The player that withdrew the sentence reads the sentence and marks the spot with the same word on the game board.
The 4 green bingo chips will go in the water.


The players continue taking turns withdrawing sentences and marking spots along the pool's edge.  Once a player has 3 spots in a row covered with bingo chips, it's "Fish in the Water".  He/she slides the bingo chips into the water.  (Because of the nature of the game, it is necessary for each player to have his/her own set of bingo chips that are distinguished from the opposing player by the color.)
In some situations, a player will have 4 or 5 in a row.  In this case, all the chips within the row go in the water.  In the photo above, the player with the orange chips could cover the word "is", then the word "at" and then the word "that".  5 in a Row!


The game is over with when all the sentence strips have been withdrawn.  The winner of the game is the child that has the greatest number of "FISH" in the water.

This game will require a minimal amount of preparation.  You will need to print the game board and laminate it (if desired).  You will also need to print the sentence strips and cut them out.
Print the sentence strips on card-stock paper and cut them out.

Game 2  CLAIM!  
Each player will need his/her own set of bingo chips and his/her own set of letter tiles.
Players "BUILD" the sight words that are show along the pool's edge.  They use paper (or other material) letter tiles to make the words.  Once a player builds a word, he/she must "CLAIM" the spot by placing a bingo marker over the word on the pool's edge.  Once a spot is "CLAIMED" other players can't take the spot.  Children will quickly learn that it is easier to start by building 1-letter and 2-letter words claiming those spots first.  Let them figure out this strategy on their own! 

The game ends when a player has created the required number of words to win.  This can be a small number such as 5 words.  The game can also continue until all the spots along the pool's edge are claimed.  The winner is the player that builds the most words or builds the required number of words first.  (Use a small number of words to win when the game when it is first introduced to the class.)
"BUILD" a word.  "CLAIM" the spot.

"BUILD" another word.  "CLAIM" another spot.

This game will require a minimal amount of preparation.  You will need to print the game board and laminate it (if desired).  You will also need to print 2 or 3 sets (1 set per player) of letter tiles and cut them out.  Print the letter tiles on card-stock paper.  Use a different color card-stock paper for each set of letter tiles.  Store them in small baggies.

Print the letter tiles on card-stock paper.  Use a different color of card-stock for each player.
Cut out the letter tiles.  Provide each player with his/her own set.


*If you have access to blank ceramic or plastic letter tiles, it is easier for the students to build words with this material.  This is because they are heavier than paper.  The paper letter tiles tend to move around while the children play the game and hence, the words become disarranged.  

At least 70 letter tiles are needed per player.  (It's better to have extras in case some get lost!)  The tiles need to be a different color for each player.  Ceramic tiles might be found at a craft store.  A local flooring company is also a good place to look.  (Keep in mind that ceramic tiles will create more noise than paper tiles.) 

Program the tiles to align with the letters in the words.  This can easily be done by using the letter tile sheet provided in the file.  Separate the individual tiles.  (Avoid using tiles that are linked together with cement-like material!)
The white ceramic tiles are being programmed with the same letters as the paper sheet.  A black permanent marker is used to write the letters.
 Game 3  Mystery of the Floating Flip-Flops


Players become "Detectives" in this game.  Players use deductive reasoning to determine the mystery word.  (It is the same concept as logic puzzles.)  At least 3 players are needed for the game.  1 player is the "Witness".  The witness is the only player that views the mystery word.  
Turn the card that is in the swimming pool face down so that it can't be seen by the detectives.

The word cards are shuffled and placed in a bag.  The witness withdraws a word from the bag.  The witness looks at the word and then places it face down in the swimming pool.  
The "Witness" randomly selects one of the sight word cards to be placed face down in the swimming pool.

There is a set of interrogation cards.  These are shuffled and placed in a stack.  Detectives take turns withdrawing an interrogation card.  They ask the witness the question posed on the interrogation card.  The witness answers with "Yes" or "No". 
Interrogation cards

Detectives rule out "suspects".  They mark an "X" within the circles when a word is no longer a "suspect".  ("Suspects" are any words which might be the word that is face down in the pool.)
"Detectives" record their "clues" on the Word Suspects sheet.
In the photo shown below, the first question that was withdrawn says, "Does the word have a t?"  The mystery word is "that".  Therefore, the answer to the question is "Yes".  At this point, detectives can cross out the words which do not contain the letter "t".
Game components include:  Game board, interrogation cards, sight word cards, and the word suspects recording sheet.
The game is concluded when all but one suspect remains.  This will happen before all interrogation cards are used.  At that time, detectives must determine the word that is floating in the water.  They record this on the word suspects sheet.  The word in the swimming pool is revealed.  The witness is the one to reveal it.  The winners are the detectives that accurately determined the correct mystery word.

The preparation involved in this game includes:   1.  Printing the game board and laminating it (if desired).  2.  Printing multiple copies of the word suspects sheet.  3.  Printing and cutting out the word cards.  4.  Printing and cutting out the interrogation cards. 

Print and cut out the word cards.
  Use white card-stock for printing the word cards.

Print and cut out the interrogation cards.
Use white or colored card-stock for printing the interrogation cards.

If desired, trim the white edge off of the game boards prior to using.
If desired, trim the white edge off of the game boards.





I used graphics from Lettering Delights to create this resource.  It was the perfect fit for what I was envisioning!  Here is a link to their website:  Lettering Delights.

I created this product for second and third graders that have learned less than 15 sight words.  Due to the length of the sentences in the game "Fish in the Water", it is too advanced for most first semester first graders.  The "Mystery of the Floating Flip-Flops" requires deductive reasoning which may be beyond the reach of some first graders as well.

This file will work well in a one-adult to one-child ratio where the adult is one of the players.  This could be a parent volunteer or a paraprofessional.  

If you have groups of older students that visit your classroom on a weekly basis, second graders could be paired with fifth graders to play the games.  (You would need to print multiple copies of each game for this to work.)  

An educator could also work with a small group of six students with the "Fish In the Water" game.  This could be done by pairing the children together.  The educator's role would be to support the players.

Once your students have practiced the games several times, the games could be used as independent group literacy center activities.

On a side note:  The sweet gal shown in the photo below loves the sight word wheel that I made from a cake wheel.  She can read each word separately and turn the wheel to read the next word.  She doesn't have to read the words from a horizontal or vertical line of print.  She can turn the word wheel faster than she could if flash cards were being used.  However, the sight word wheel does NOT provide her with reading fluency practice, sight word spelling practice, high-order thinking, learning to work with peers, or to develop positive sportsmanship conduct.  Get your sight word game on!
Sight word wheel


If you're interested in the resource featured in the post, you can view it at my shop by clicking the image shown below:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/fun-with-sight-word-games-2100166


Lessons by Molly © 2015  All rights reserved.