Showing posts with label Guided Reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guided Reading. Show all posts

What are the Six Syllable Types?

I do running records at least every other day and get to at least two students. I use the running records as a formative assessment. I'm wanting to know if my work attack lessons are sticking with my readers. One of the most powerful thing I teach my readers is the 6 syllable types and which ones I target depend on the needs of my readers. 

Why teach syllables?

Without a strategy for chunking longer words into manageable parts, students may look at a longer word and simply resort to guessing what it is — or altogether skipping it. Familiarity with syllable-spelling conventions helps readers know whether a vowel is long, short, a diphthong, r-controlled, or whether endings have been added. Familiarity with syllable patterns helps students to read longer words accurately and fluently and to solve spelling problems — although knowledge of syllables alone is not sufficient for being a good speller
Spoken syllables are organized around a vowel sound. Each word above has two syllables. The jaw drops open when a vowel in a syllable is spoken. 

Closed syllables

The closed syllable is the most common spelling unit in English; it accounts for just under 50 percent of the syllables in running text. When the vowel of a syllable is short, the syllable will be closed off by one or more consonants. Therefore, if a closed syllable is connected to another syllable that begins with a consonant, two consonant letters will come between the syllables (com-mon, but-ter).
Two or more consonant letters often follow short vowels in closed syllables (dodge, stretch, back, stuff, doll, mess, jazz). This is a spelling convention; the extra letters do not represent extra sounds. Each of these example words has only one consonant phoneme at the end of the word. 

Vowel-Consonant-e (VCe) syllables

Also known as "magic e" syllable patterns, VCe syllables contain long vowels spelled with a single letter, followed by a single consonant, and a silent e. Examples of VCe syllables are found in wake, whale, while, yoke, yore, rude, and hare. Every long vowel can be spelled with a VCe pattern, although spelling "long e" with VCe is unusual.

Open syllables

If a syllable is open, it will end with a long vowel sound spelled with one vowel letter; there will be no consonant to close it and protect the vowel (to-tal, ri-val, bi-ble, mo-tor). Therefore, when syllables are combined, there will be no doubled consonant between an open syllable and one that follows.

Vowel team syllables

A vowel team may be two, three, or four letters; thus, the term vowel digraph is not used. A vowel team can represent a long, short, or diphthong vowel sound. Vowel teams occur most often in old Anglo-Saxon words whose pronunciations have changed over hundreds of years. They must be learned gradually through word sorting and systematic practice. Examples of vowel teams are found in thief, boil, hay, suit, boat, and straw.

Sometimes, consonant letters are used in vowel teams. The letter y is found in ey, ay, oy, and uy, and the letter w is found in ew, aw, and ow. It is not accurate to say that "w can be a vowel," because the letter is working as part of a vowel team to represent a single vowel sound. Other vowel teams that use consonant letters are -augh, -ough, -igh, and the silent -al spelling for /aw/, as in walk.

Vowel-r syllables

We have chosen the term "vowel-r" over "r-controlled" because the sequence of letters in this type of syllable is a vowel followed by r (er, ir, ur, ar, or). Vowel-r syllables are numerous, variable, and difficult for students to master; they require continuous review. The /r/ phoneme is elusive for students whose phonological awareness is underdeveloped. Examples of vowel-r syllables are found in perform, ardor, mirror, further, worth, and wart.

Consonant-le (C-le) syllables

Also known as the stable final syllable, C-le combinations are found only at the ends of words. If a C-le syllable is combined with an open syllable — as in cable, bugle, or title — there is no doubled consonant. If one is combined with a closed syllable — as in dabble, topple, or little — a double consonant results.

Have a gerat week!

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in words. We know that a student's skill in phonemic awareness is a good predictor of later reading success or difficulty. Find out what parents and teachers can do to help children develop this critical literacy skill.

Before children learn to read print, they need to become aware of how the sounds in words work. They must understand that words are made up of speech sounds, or phonemes.

An important pre-reading skill is phonemic awareness. Children become aware that words are made up of sounds which can be assembled in different ways to make different words. Children build these pre-reading skills by practicing nursery rhymes and playing sound and word games such as learning to hear and recognize rhymed words. Tutoring, workbooks, games, or structured computer programs can help teach or reinforce these skills. Parents help in this process by providing high-quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, creating a rich language environment, discussing your child's progress with teachers, and following up on their recommendations.

As this phonemic awareness is developed, children should become interested in how words are portrayed in print. Daily reading sessions with the children following along should help develop their understanding of print concept and feed this curiosity. This interest in decoding the words is the fuel for children learning the alphabet and phonics decoding skills.  For more information on teaching phonemic awareness, read the Put Reading First report on Phonemic awareness instruction. 
The "What Works?" Report found that the five key areas in learning to read are phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.
Phonemes are the smallest parts of sound in a spoken word that make a difference in the word's meaning. For example, changing the first phoneme in the word hat from /h/ to /p/ changes the word from hat to pat, and so changes the meaning. (A letter between slash marks shows the phoneme, or sound, that the letter represents, and not the name of the letter. For example, the letter h represents the sound /h/.) Children can show us that they have phonemic awareness in several ways, including:
  • recognizing which words in a set of words begin with the same sound ("Bell, bike, and boy all have /b/ at the beginning.")
  • isolating and saying the first or last sound in a word ("The beginning sound of dog is /d/." "The ending sound of sit is /t/.")
  • blending the separate sounds in a word to say the word ("/m/, /a/, /p/ – map.")
  • segmenting a word into its separate sounds ("up – /u/, /p/.")

The phonological processor usually works unconsciously when we listen and speak. It is designed to extract the meaning of what is said, not to notice the speech sounds in the words. It is designed to do its job automatically in the service of efficient communication. 

On the other hand, phonological skill is not strongly related to intelligence. Some very intelligent people have limitations of linguistic awareness, especially at the phonological level. Take heart. If you find phonological tasks challenging, you are competent in many other ways!

This fact is well proven: Phonological awareness is critical for learning to read any alphabetic writing system. Phonological awareness is even important for reading other kinds of writing systems, such as Chinese and Japanese. There are several well-established lines of argument for the importance of phonological skills to reading and spelling.

Phoneme awareness predicts later outcomes in reading and spelling.

Phoneme awareness facilitates growth in printed word recognition. Even before a student learns to read, we can predict with a high level of accuracy whether that student will be a good reader or a poor reader by the end of third grade and beyond. Prediction is possible with simple tests that measure awareness of speech sounds in words, knowledge of letter names, knowledge of sound-symbol correspondence, and vocabulary.

The majority of poor readers have relative difficulty with phoneme awareness and other phonological skills.

Instruction in phoneme awareness is beneficial for novice readers and spellers. Instruction in speech-sound awareness reduces and alleviates reading and spelling difficulties. Teaching speech sounds explicitly and directly also accelerates learning of the alphabetic code. Therefore, classroom instruction for beginning readers should include phoneme awareness activities. Phonological awareness interacts with and facilitates the development of vocabulary and word consciousness. This argument is made much less commonly than the first four points. Phonological awareness and memory are involved in these activities of word learning:
  • Attending to unfamiliar words and comparing them with known words
  • Repeating and pronouncing words correctly
  • Remembering (encoding) words accurately so that they can be retrieved and used
  • Differentiating words that sound similar so their meanings can be contrasted
Learning to read has a sequence. If a student is forced to try to learn skills that he or she does not yet have the foundation for, he or she might become frustrated and lose confidence.  Parents should get a sense of what the right sequence is so that they do not inadvertently frustrate their child. Prior to learning to decode words with phonics, there are a few important pre-reading skills.

Happy Teaching-Have a great week!

What is Guided Reading?

As a special education teacher, I spend most of my small group reading time doing guided reading. Those students who need comprehension work over phonics, this the best way to get students to read at grade level. It does take planning and thinking about where students are going. One thing that has become a great help in planning is my Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Questions and Checklist (click on the picture). It has the reading levels A-Z. I use them when I'm planning groups and looking forward to where they are headed. I use it for daily targets and cross them off when students have mastered a skill. Click on the picture to go to my store.

Guided reading is a procedure that enables the teacher to observe, teach and support a small group of children as they develop an understanding of the reading processes and put into practice their literacy skills. The group reads a book which has been carefully selected based on students' strengths and needs. The teacher facilitates discussion and guides and directs the readers. Groups are formed according to children’s needs and the purpose of the session.

Essential Components of Guided Reading

1. Explicit small group instruction
2. Text matches student’s reading instructional levels and are selected by the teacher
3. Teacher introduces a new book
4. Each child reads the whole text and applies known strategies (the goal is for the student to eventually read the book silently and independently)
5. Teacher assists students in developing self-extending strategies (strategies that the student knows and continues to extend or improve on and apply in different situations)
6. Children are grouped and regrouped based on ongoing assessment of students reading level and strategy growth


• To teach reading strategies while engaging in meaningful reading and writing
• To model strategy use that will facilitate students becoming self-extending readers
• To teach letter/sound relationships within the context of a text as well as with alphabet drill
• To practice fluent reading
• To utilize daily running records as a monitor of student progress, data-driven acceleration within flexible groups, and cue and strategy use
• To scaffold strategy use by readers that allows for “cutting edge” growth
• To provide a supportive, successful reading time that allows students to perceive themselves as readers and writers

Traditional vs. Guided Reading Groups: What’s the Difference?
Traditional Guided Reading

o Groups remain stable in a composition; progress through the same phase at the same rate
o Groups are based on general ability
o One kind of grouping prevails
o Students progress through a fixed sequence of books and skills
o Introduction focuses on new vocabulary
o Selections are usually read once or twice
o Skills practice follows reading
o Focus is on the lesson, not the student
o Teachers follow prepared “script” from a teacher’s guide
o Questions are generally limited to factual recall
o Teacher verifies meaning
o Students take turns reading orally
o Students respond to story in workbooks or on prepared worksheets
o Readers are dependent on teacher direction and support
o Students are tested on skills and literal recall at the end of each story unit
o Evaluation based on progress through a set group of materials and tests
o Groups are dynamic, flexible and change on a regular basis
o Groups are based on strengths in the reading process and the appropriate level of text difficulty
o Groupings for other purposes are used
o Books are chosen at the appropriate level for each group; there is no prescribed sequence and books may overlap but generally are not the same for every group
o Difference in sequence of books is expected
o Introduction focuses on meaning with some attention to new and interesting vocabulary
o Many frequently used words but vocabulary is not artificially controlled
o Selections reread several times for fluency and problem solving
o Skills practice is embedded in shared reading skills; teaching directly related to text
o Questions develop higher order thinking skills and strategic reading
o Teacher and student interact with the text to construct meaning
o Students read entire text silently or with a partner
o Focus is on understanding meaning and the strategies used to construct it
o Students respond to story though personal and authentic activities
o Students read independently and confidently
o Assessment is ongoing and embedded in instruction
o Assessment is based on daily observation and systematic individual assessment

Guided Reading Lessons with Experimental Readers
Experimental Reader

Before Reading

Lesson focus: From ongoing assessment in previous lesson ask:
• What knowledge and understandings do students already have about reading?
• What strategies are students using to read?
• What attitudes do students have about reading?
• What do students need to know next?
• What reading behaviors need to be reinforced?

Select an appropriate book or text to match the purpose of the lesson. The purpose could be to introduce or develop further understanding of a story, a topic, a theme, an author, language patterns, or conventions, or a particular reading strategy.


• Set purpose for reading by discussing title and main idea
• Provide any essential knowledge that will assist their understanding of new concept or vocabulary
• Link prior knowledge and experience
• Talk through the story looking at pictures and asking students to make predictions
• Engage students by asking critical thinking questions as they “walk and talk” through the pictures
• Call attention to frequently used words of new vocabulary

During Reading

Read the Text

• Read the text together (e.g. choral, echo, or shadow reading)
• Model, prompt, and reinforce the use of reading strategies
• If appropriate, set a focus question and ask students to whisper read a section of the text (1-2 pages)
• Discuss the story by first answering the focus question
• Elicit further discussion by asking students to ask some of their own questions
• Continue this format to read the remainder of the text
• Revisit the text to confirm or revise predictions
• Talk about strategies used to gain understanding, e.g. how did you work that out?

After Reading


• Model and elicit a brief group retell to foster comprehension through prompts, use of text, and illustrations
Respond-- skills & strategy lesson
• Teach skill/ strategy lesson based on assessment and individual observation obtained from reading of text
• Confirm and adjust predictions as a group
• Engage student in self- assessment
• Practice and reinforce high frequency word in second reading
• Reinforce reading strategies
• Reread one or more times to promote fluency


• Elicit response in a variety of ways: discussion, question and answer, etc.
• Offer opportunities for students to respond through writing, drawing, painting, dramatizing, etc.

Revisit: Encourage students to:

• Reread/practice familiar text
• Reread as a group or independently
• Reread independently at home to a parent


• Running records should be done weekly on seen text for which instruction was provided
Guided Reading Lessons with Early Readers and Transitional Readers

Early Readers Transitional Reader

Before Reading

Lesson focus: From ongoing assessment in previous lesson ask:
• What knowledge and understandings do students already have about reading?
• What strategies are students using to read?
• What attitudes do students have about reading?
• What do students need to know next?
• What reading behaviors need to be reinforced?
Select appropriate book or text to match the purpose of the lesson. The purpose could be to introduce or to develop further understanding of a story, a topic, a theme, an author, language patterns, or conventions, or a particular reading strategy.


• Set purpose for reading by having students read the title, author, look at illustrations and predict main idea
• Link prior knowledge and experience
• Provide any essential knowledge that will assist their understanding of new material concepts or vocabulary
• Engage students by asking critical thinking questions and guiding them to pose their own critical questions

During Reading

Read the text:

• set a focus question and ask students to whisper read or read silently a section of the text (gradually increase the length of the portion read)
• Elicit other questions from students
• Expect students to begin using reading strategies with less guidance
• Confirm or revise predictions
• Reread one or more times to promote fluency
• Talk about strategies used to gain understanding, e.g. how did you work that out?
• Encourage students to complete the reading of the text independently

After Reading


• Guide students to retell story including beginning, middle, end, characters, sequence of events, main idea, and supporting details without support of text or pictures
• Model summarization and making inferences using narrative and expository text
• Model summarizations, inference making, compare/contrast, cause effect, problem/solution using narrative and expository text


• Teach skill/strategy lesson based on assessment and individual need obtained from ongoing assessment. Check for understanding by asking students to support answers based on text
• Discuss reading strategies
• Engage in discussion and student in self-assessment
• Revisit prediction and critical thinking questions
• Discuss different student interpretations of text


• Elicit responses in a variety of ways: discussion, journal entry, illustration, diary, story maps, written summaries, plot profiles, literacy letters, reports writing, project work, drama
• Retelling, either from the original text or with variation (e.g., change the point of view, change the form, change a character, or change the ending)
• Lead the students in shared responses. Shared responses provide a real audience for responses and encourage a high standard of presentation.


• Provide students with multiple opportunities to read independently in school and or at home
• Monitor student comprehension and strategies weekly through miscue analysis, written responses, individual cloze activities, story maps, plot profiles, oral reports or student self-as.

Daily 5: Word Work (freebie)

As special education teacher, one of my jobs is to support classroom teacher support exceptional needs students during their day. One of the more challenging parts of the day is during Daily 5 or Daily 3 (depending on the grade level). For many its word work is the place they run into problems. Granted one wants to see the carry over to other things like writing but that takes patience and tons of practice. But I always say start with the basic and work up from their and if the student is working in a more structured reading program instead of guided reading with me than I turn them something like the word work I have created for Wilson.

Students who come to me for Wilson play word games and manipulate letters to create patterns in words so that all are easily recognized. Teachers then can support this work by having a word wall or personal word wall and have these words become “No Excuse” words to get that writing piece they are looking for. In turn it helps expanded vocabulary and correct spelling allow for more fluent reading and writing thus speeding up the ability to comprehend what is read and get thinking down on paper.

Click on the picture below to be taken to Diving with /or/ Words Freebie. Have a great weekend!

Letter Sound Corresponsences

What are letter-sound correspondences?

Letter-sound correspondences involve knowledge of the sounds represented by the letters of the alphabet the letters used to represent the sounds.

Why is knowledge of letter-sound correspondences important?

Knowledge of letter-sound correspondences is essential in reading and writing
In order to read a word:

  • the learner must recognize the letters in the word and associate each letter with its sound
  • In order to write or type a word:
  • the learner must break the word into its component sounds and know the letters that represent these sounds.

Knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and phonological awareness skills are the basic building blocks of literacy learning. These skills are strong predictors of how well students learn to read.

What sequence should be used to teach letter-sound correspondence?
Letter-sound correspondences should be taught one at a time.  As soon as the learner acquires one letter sound correspondence, introduce a new one. I suggest teaching the letters and sounds in this sequence: a, m, t, p, o, n, c, d, u, s, g, h, i, f, b, l, e, r, w, k, x, v, y, z, j, q

This sequence was designed to help learners start reading as soon as possible. Letters that occur frequently in simple words (e.g., a, m, t) are taught first. Letters that look similar and have similar sounds (b and d) are separated in the instructional sequence to avoid confusion. Short vowels are taught before long vowels.

Lower case letters are taught first since these occur more frequently than upper case letters. The sequence is intended as a guideline. Modify the sequence as required to accommodate the learner’s
prior knowledge, interests, hearing.

Is it appropriate to teach letter names as well as letter sounds?
Start by teaching the sounds of the letters, not their names.  Knowing the names of letters is not necessary to read or write.  Knowledge of letter names can interfere with successful decoding.
For example, the learner looks at a word and thinks of the names of the letters instead of the sounds.

Sample goal for instruction in letter-sound correspondences:
The learner will listen to a target sound presented orally identify the letter that represents the sound
select the appropriate letter from a group of letter cards, an alphabet board, or a keyboard with at least 80% accuracy.

Instructional Task:
Here is an example of instruction to teach letter-sound correspondences. The instructor introduces the new letter and its sound shows a card with the letter m and says the sound “mmmm.” After practice with this letter sound, the instructor provides review.

The instructor says a letter sound
The learner listens to the sound, looks at each of the letters provided as response options, selects the correct letter, from a group of letter cards, from an alphabet board, or from a keyboard.

Instructional Procedure:
The instructor teaches letter-sound correspondences using these procedures:
The instructor demonstrates the letter-sound correspondence for the learner.
Guided practice:
The instructor provides scaffolding support or prompting to help the learner match the letter and sound correctly.
The instructor gradually fades this support as the learner develops competence.
Independent practice:
The learner listens to the target sound and selects the letter independently. The instructor monitors the learner’s responses and provides appropriate feedback.

The Alphabetic Principle Plan of Instruction:
Teach letter-sound relationships explicitly and in isolation. Provide opportunities for children to practice letter-sound relationships in daily lessons. Provide practice opportunities that include new sound-letter relationships, as well as cumulatively reviewing previously taught relationships.
Give children opportunities early and often to apply their expanding knowledge of sound-letter relationships to the reading of phonetically spelled words that are familiar in meaning.

Rate and Sequence of Instruction
No set rule governs how fast or how slow to introduce letter-sound relationships. One obvious and important factor to consider in determining the rate of introduction is the performance of the group of students with whom the instruction is to be used. Furthermore, there is no agreed upon order in which to introduce the letter-sound relationships. It is generally agreed, however, that the earliest relationships introduced should be those that enable children to begin reading words as soon as possible. That is, the relationships chosen should have high utility. For example, the spellings m, a, t, s, p, and h are high utility, but the spellings x as in box, gh, as in through, ey as in they, and a as in want are of lower utility.

It is also a good idea to begin instruction in sound-letter relationships by choosing consonants such as f, m, n, r, and s, whose sounds can be pronounced in isolation with the least distortion. Stop sounds at the beginning or middle of words are harder for children to blend than are continuous sounds.
Instruction should also separate the introduction of sounds for letters that are auditorily confusing, such as /b/ and /v/ or /i/ and /e/, or visually confusing, such as b and d or p and g.

Instruction might start by introducing two or more single consonants and one or two short vowel sounds. It can then add more single consonants and more short vowel sounds, with perhaps one long vowel sound. It might next add consonant blends, followed by digraphs (for example, th, sh, ch), which permits children to read common words such as this, she,and chair. Introducing single consonants and consonant blends or clusters should be introduced in separate lessons to avoid confusion.

The point is that the order of introduction should be logical and consistent with the rate at which children can learn. Furthermore, the sound-letter relationships chosen for early introduction should permit children to work with words as soon as possible.

Many teachers use a combination of instructional methods rather than just one. Research suggests that explicit, teacher-directed instruction is more effective in teaching the alphabetic principle than is less-explicit and less-direct instruction.

Guidelines for Rate and Sequence of Instruction

Recognize that children learn sound-letter relationships at different rates. Introduce sound-letter relationships at a reasonable pace, in a range from two to four letter-sound relationships a week.
Teach high-utility letter-sound relationships early. Introduce consonants and vowels in a sequence that permits the children to read words quickly. Avoid the simultaneous introduction of auditorily or visually similar sounds and letters. Introduce single consonant sounds and consonant blends/clusters in separate lessons. Provide blending instruction with words that contain the letter-sound relationships that children have learned.

Januray Pick 3 Linky

This month I'm highlighting 3 projects or ideas that I plan to do with my students when they come back. I have talked in the past about how my students need to work on both language skills and build their sight word and word work knowledge.

 Before going to Christmas Break, I took some time and broke about all their running records. I looked at the errors they made as well as looking at the average errors made across all the running records I made for each reading level. So, my student reading at 10s--I looked at his errors, his error average since starting 10s, and an average of how long it took him to read 10s. I then asked myself why he was doing what he was doing. After all that I created a plan and a SMART goal for January. I normally don't plan out what books a student is going to read since with Guided Reading  I let the reader determine the path we take each week. But in this case because I set a SMART goal to more each student a reading level by the end of the month, I'm creating a plan for the month and hoping students blow the goal out of the water.

The first thing I created for each of the students is a Word Work/Sight Word Folder. I love this idea because I can create different folders for each student. I have two students in a reading group that are on two very different places when looking at needs and reading levels. Using folders will allow me to easy for me to differentiate for the students. This will also help build a readers stamina. Even though the pinner uses the folders to organize Words Their Way (my schools doesn't use) but I was able to take the idea and create word work folders for my students.

So what do I put inside of my folders for my students. In this case, I went back to my running records and looked at the errors they were making. Though they are at different reading levels, the error patterns were more or less the same--sight words and vocabulary. Like the one below, I used a circle map and the vocabulary from each book. I created maps specific to the book, so that my students could cut out the pictures and place them on the circle map.

 For sight word practice I created a play on this read, stamp, and write to help students work on sight words instead. We don't use Houghton Mifflin and have a building wide sight word list that they need to master. Each list has been tailored to each student to focus on the ones they need to learn.

I hope you find one of these ideas as something you can take and use in your class. Be sure to take a look at the others who have linked up.

A freebie for stopping by:

I hope you find something you can take back and use in your classroom with your students. Have a great week.

Strategies to Develop Expressive Language Skills in the Classroom

Working in a small district, my Speech-Language Pathologist is only in the building a couple days a week. Which makes collaboration with her very hard. I have a couple of students who have significant expressive language delays that make learning and making progress in reading very difficult for them.

I have used some of these activities to build both background knowledge and vocabulary to help with their comprehension of what they are reading. I have found that their first reads or cold reads of an instructional level text are at a frustrational read but by the second read its an instructional level. My SLP believes that this is because of their language delays.

I have decided to make a point at the beginning of each book to focus on their expressive language as part of their pre-reading. My hope is that by the end of the month these students have moved up a reading level.

Strategies to Develop Expressive Language Skills in the Classroom

  • Opportunities to speak and time to rehearse before speaking
  • Visual clues to help children order ideas effectively before expressing them
  • Vocabulary lists to help with word finding difficulties. Use appropriate and consistent vocabulary
  • Color coding different groups of words/sets of pictures
  • Giving correct models of language structures
  • Repetition and reinforcement of correct language structures
  • Small group work to give children confidence to express themselves
  • Appropriate questioning to give children the opportunity to reply
  • Self-questioning and the development of learning scripts (e.g. What do I know already? What do I do next?)
  • Rhymes
  • Word play
  • Restrict your language to short unambiguous language
  • Story telling – cutting up picture segments and retelling stories
  • Try and keep children ‘on topic’. Be specific, remind children e.g. ‘We are talking about…’
  • Discussing what they have seen or done with an adult or more verbally able peer
  • Puppet play/drama etc.
  • Sharing books
  • Revise links and associations between ideas and vocabulary – categorization/function/
  • context/similarity/association
  • As part of the partnership approach, it is important to detail which of these strategies have been most effective.

Barrier games

  • This can be used for both talking and listening. The child or children either side of the barrier have identical sets of equipment.
  • One child has a picture or constructs an assembly of objects and then gives instructions to the other to enable him/her to duplicate the picture or assembly.

How do I feel?

  • In a small group imagine a situation and talk about how you would each feel and what you might say (speech bubbles resource is good here).

Silly Stories

  • Collection of objects/pictures, e.g., horse, lady, man, child, dog, ball, pirate, dinosaur.  Adult starts story “Once upon a time there was a dinosaur”. Next child (house) continues the story “He lived in a house made of chocolate”.  Next child (ball) “One day he found a ball under his bed” …..


  • Color Coding approach.  Children take one color question ‘Who, What, Where, When’ and sequence a story using their own ideas.
  • Mind Map Activities: An excellent way for supporting new vocabulary and talking.

Defining and describing

  • Have a range of objects in a bag or a range of pictures. One child takes an object or picture and is allowed to give 3 pieces of information to describe their item. The rest guess.

Question Question

  • Barrier game. Once child has an object or picture and the rest ask questions to find out what it is. You cannot say the name of the item.
  • A good resource is Clowning Around or Guess Who?

What do you know?

  • Use a composite picture and take turns in the group (mini circle time). Each child giving a new piece of information about the picture. Extend by talking about a particular object or event in which everyone has been involved.
  • Tell me how to do it
  • Use a classroom activity or event which has already been experienced and get a child to re-tell the event in his/her own words.
  • Allow a child to explain to the others how to play a particular game.


  • In a small group it is possible to think about how we behave during a conversation and make explicit the skills we need. There are a couple of good resources for this.

I look forward to sharing how the next four weeks go. I wish everyone safe travels and a Merry Christmas.

Stages of Reading Development Plus a freebie

Being mid-year, I find that I'm explaining why I'm selecting the text that I am. I walked into out book room and someone asked what I was looking for and I said no more than 2 words on a page with strong (if not in your face) picture support. I have a student that I've been working with on not adding to the text (she loves adding extra words to the story). The teacher in the book room pointed my to the a shelf on Level As. Knowing what text looks like at each level helps me find the right text for each group. I hope this helps you out or something you can share with parents.

Early Emergent Readers (Levels aa-C)

Readers are just beginning to grasp the basic concepts of book and print. They are acquiring a command of the alphabet with the ability to recognize and name upper- and lowercase letters. They are also developing many phonological awareness skills, such as recognizing phonemes, syllables, and rhyme.

Early Emergent readers are beginning to learn sound/symbol relationships--starting with consonants and short vowels--and are able to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, as well as a number of high-frequency words.

Books at this level have:
strong picture support
carefully controlled text
repetitive patterns
controlled, repeated vocabulary
natural language
large print
wide letter spacing
familiar concepts
limited text on a page
is acquiring book handling skills and concepts of print
is acquiring knowledge of letter names
uses pictures to create meaning
beginning to understand sounds of the language (rhyming, same/different, etc.)
beginning to understand letter-sound relationships
typically can read some environmental print (example: “stop”)
uses one to one matching (connects spoken and written words)
uses left to right progression
recognizes some known words and uses picture clues and print to recognize new words
understands the difference between letters and words
has control of most consonant sounds
typical titles at this level have very simple text, less than five words per page, are predictable,
have strong picture cues

    Emergent Readers (Levels D-J)

    Readers at this stage have developed an understanding of the alphabet, phonological awareness, and early phonics. They have command of a significant number of high-frequency words.
    Emergent readers are developing a much better grasp of comprehension strategies and word-attack skills. They can recognize different types of text, particularly fiction and nonfiction, and recognize that reading has a variety of purposes.

    Books at this stage have:
    ·         increasingly more lines of print per page
    ·         more complex sentence structure
    ·         less dependency on repetitive pattern and pictures
    ·         familiar topics but greater depth
    ·         beginning to use knowledge of letter sounds to solve unknown words
    ·         uses language, memory, pictures, and print as major cues to read and understand text
    ·         is able to predict what comes next

      Early Fluent Readers (Levels K-P)

      At this stage, reading is more automatic, with more energy devoted to comprehension than word attack. Readers are approaching independence in comprehending text.
      These readers are experiencing a greater variety of text and are able to recognize different styles and genres. Independence often varies with the type of text being read.

      Books at this stage have:
      ·         More pages
      ·         Longer sentences
      ·         More text per page
      ·         Richer vocabulary
      ·         Greater variation in sentence pattern
      ·         Less reliance on pictures
      ·         More formal and descriptive language
      ·         Analyzes new words and checks them against what makes sense and sounds right
      ·         Uses meaning to begin to self-correct
      ·         Uses known words and word parts to figure out unknown words
      ·         Begins to retell the major points of the text
      ·         Decreases the use of finger pointing as fluency and phrasing increase
      ·         Uses prior knowledge and own experience to make meaning

        Fluent Readers (Levels Q-Z)

        Readers have successfully moved from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Their reading is automatic and is done with expression and proper pauses. Their energy is devoted to understanding, and they have good command and use of the various comprehension strategies.
        These readers read a wide range of text types and do so independently. They will continue to refine and develop their reading skills as they encounter more difficult reading materials. But for the most part, they are capable of improving their reading skills and selection of materials independently through increased practice.

        Books at this stage have:
        ·         More text
        ·         Less familiar, more varied topics
        ·         Challenging vocabulary
        ·         More complex sentences
        ·         Varied writing styles
        ·         More description
        ·         Reads silently; reads fluently when reading aloud
        ·         Initiates topics for discussion about books
        ·         Begins to use comprehension strategies (retelling, monitoring for meaning, making connections, making mental images, making/revising/confirming predictions, questioning, determining importance, inferring, summarizing, synthesizing, critically evaluating) across genre and subjects
        ·         Consistently develops new strategies and new knowledge of texts as he/she encounters greater
        variety of texts
        ·         Is in a continuous process of building background knowledge and realizes that he/she needs to
        bring his/her knowledge to his/her reading
        ·         Sustains interest and understanding over long texts and reads over extended periods of time
        ·         Notices and comments on aspects of the writer’s craft
          I hope everyone has a great week going into Christmas Break. Have a great holiday break and enjoy the Sight Word freebie below.

          Guided Reading and a freebie

          What is Guided Reading?
          According to Fountas and Pinnell, guided reading is an instructional setting that enables you (the teacher) to work with a small group of students to help them learn effective strategies for processing text with understanding. The purpose of guided reading is to meet the varying instructional needs of all the students in your class, enabling them to greatly expand their reading powers.

          Keep in mind, guided reading is only one piece of a literacy program. Guided reading gives students the opportunity to read at their just right level, which means that the books provide them with a moderate challenge. They are grouped with students who are similar in ability, needs, and strengths. Instruction is then finely tuned to meet the needs of particular students.

          I plan my guided reading books using students Instructional Reading level which is 96% to 98% accuracy. I have found anything lower than 96% is too hard and it takes a long tie to get students to move. I also want students to do 95% of the work. I strive for each student to make two years worth of growth each year. This really means looking at each students daily data from their guided reading session and making the most of the the next. Looking at what they need to better access the text the next day. Like thinking about how I structured my questions and how the student responded.  I never afraid to change it up if they are not moving-then something needs to change. I always go back to their data.

          Making the Most of Guided Reading
          • Ensure that the heart of each guided reading is actual reading and practice. Commit at least 2/3 of total guided reading time to actual reading practice.  Never do anything that isn't aimed directly at the goal of independent reading.
          • Let students’ needs drive instruction. When your guided reading groups meet, keep students’ individual goals on the front burner. Don’t deviate, and give them time to mature the skill.
          • Highlight the three top needs in your class, integrate and repeatedly focus on them throughout the day, no matter what you are teaching.
          • When teaching independent reading strategies:
          • model it; when the class reads together, ask “does that make sense?” and show them what to do when it doesn't; remind students to ask the same question when they read independently; explicitly describe to students the strategy you used.
          • Dissolve and create new groups whenever students’ needs change.

          Suggested Mini-Lessons
          • Story Elements
          • Vocabulary
          • Sequencing
          • Character Development
          • Predicting
          • Fluency
          • Decoding Strategies
          • Making Connections (personal, to another text, to the world)
          • Inferring
          • Summarizing
          • Analyzing
          • Critiquing
          • Skimming and Scanning
          • Retelling
          • Word Meanings

          Prompts to Support Learners with Strategies

          To support the control of early reading behaviors
          • Read it with your finger
          • Do you think it look like __________?
          • Did you have enough words?
          • Did it match?
          • Did you run out of words?
          • Read that again and start the word

          To support self-monitoring behavior
          • Why did you stop?
          • It could be __________, but look at ________.
          • Where's the tricky work? (after error)
          • Try that again.
          • Were you right?

          To support Cross-checking
          • Check the picture.
          • What could you try?
          • Try that again and think what would make sense?
          • Do you know a word that starts with those letters? Ends with those letters?
          • Check it. Does it look right and sound right to you?
          • What part do you know?
          • What do you know that might help?

          To support phrased, fluent reading
          • Put your words together so it sounds like talking.
          •To support searching for cues

          • Try that again.
          • You said__________. Does that make sense?
          • Look at the picture.
          • What might happen nest, in the story?
          • Did that make sense?
          • What would make sense?
          • Try __________, would that make sense?

          • Does it look right?
          • Can you say it that way?
          • What would sound right?
          • Try __________. Would that sound right?

          • Does it look right?
          • What do you expect to see at the beginning? at the end?
          • Do you know a work like that?
          • What does it start with? Can you say more than that?
          • What do you know that might help?

          To Support Self-Correction
          • You're nearly right. Try that again.
          • I liked the way you worked that out.
          • You made a mistake. Can you find it?
          • Something wasn't quite right.

          This guided reading checklist focuses on the many skills taught during guided reading. When a child isn't reading fluently, it is usually because one or several of the following reading skills require more support. This is a helpful resource that I use when planning for the next day. Make sure to grab your below.

          Reading Comprehension Strategy: Summarizing

          It would come to no surprise to anyone that summarizing becomes more complex as a reader moves from a beginning readers of Level A/1 to those reading at Level 38/P. This makes teaching this reading comprehension skill to a group of readers that span three years-18/J to 28/M to 38/P. (What was I thinking when I agreed to try this?) But this group has made progress than I would have guessed. They have risen to the challenge.

          As I started thinking about how I was going to plan the next few weeks with this group, I went back to Fountas and Pinnell's Continuum of Literacy Learning, to see what the summarizing targets looked like. In this case, its the depth that students need to have. (This is a great resource!)

          This means my models need to include two different ideas: 1) focusing one beginning, middle, end, with characters, problem, solution, and characters; 2) focusing on summarizing longer texts being more chapter based.

          Next, problem what does the summary need to look like and how do I want them to know when they have met the target. But first, I need to find my mentor text to support my modeled lessons. (I could hold story hour for them and they would never mind not working:-))

          Knowing I need at least four books covering several different reading levels:

          These ones will provide me with different examples for my students.

          With models in hand, how do I want students to write their summaries. They will also need the rubric and success criteria. (This is a new push for more. As a building we have just taken on Learning Targets--which   my students have loved. This is a tough challenge.) This is success criteria example of a 4 using the DRA scaffolded summary template.

           I'll share the examples the group puts together. Have a great week.

          Three Guided Reading Groups in One

          This week I'm changing one of my guided reading groups to not guided reading but guided reading. Confused yet? I was when I was asked to make this change. I have three readers that are outliers and if I had tons of time to give each one on one guided reading I would.

          First off, I had to find a common overarching strategy that they all needed to work on but the text level didn't matter. After looking at their reading data and talking with my coach, synthesis was decided on.

          Next, finding text that would fit each and allow me to target synthesis. This took some looking but after some time I found three that would fit the bill. Once, I had the books, I crafted questions that would target the skill. I put the questions on return address labels, so I could put the questions in each students reader's response journal.

          Before starting the lesson, I told the group that we were going to do some playing. (As I had never done this before.) Because this was new and I would most likely be making changes as the week went on. They were cool with this and couldn't wait.

          I started the lesson by creating an anchor chart. I made the pieces large enough to add specific story element information. We used Tacky the Penguin. I wrapped up the lesson by asking the girls to change the end of the story to where the hunters didn't run away.

          Day Two: With the questions matching everyone's own books on stickies, students knew what they were reading for. They also had to complete--a four square. (character, setting, problem/solution) This gave me the time to go around, having each one read to me and a chance to ask specific questions about each book, clear up any confusion, and talk about the questions they had to answer by the end of the book. Just like any other guided group! (I got this!) I closed the lesson, by bringing them back to the anchor chart and talking about what they knew of their characters. They had not finished their books and I was laying the groundwork for the next day.

          Some sentence frames I used for synthesizing:
          -If _____________________, then then the outcome maybe _______________________.
          -What would happen if __________.

          Its important to remember that synthesis is taking multiple strategies to construct new insight and meaning as more information and ideas are added to a reader's background knowledge. My group of sixth graders, needed a visual to see what I meant when I explained  synthesis. I gave them a couple of different pictures like making cookies or a pizza. All the ingredients are comprehension strategies and the finished product is synthesis. This group of 5th graders sees synthesis as an banana split.

            This week we are going back and doing prediction. With the overall target being synthesis and the daily target being prediction. I'm hoping that this works as I continue to work out the kinks. I'll let you know. Have a great week.

          New Ideas for an Inferring Unit

          This week I have a group of students who are going to move into inferring. Last year, this was one of the best units I taught. I loved watching students make connections between their background knowledge and what they could out of the text. This year, I'm looking to expand what I used.

          Why do Student's Need Inferring:

          All reading is an active, reflective, problem-solving process. We do not simply read words; we read ideas, thoughts that spring from the relationships of various assertions. The notion of inference equations is particularly powerful in this regard. Readers can use the notion of inference equations to test whether or not the ingredients for a given inferences are indeed present. To show lying, for instance, a text must show that someone made a statement that they knew was incorrect and that they made that assertion with the specific purpose of deception. If they did not know it was wrong at the time, it’s an error, not a lie. If they did not make the statement for the specific purpose of deception, we have a misstatement, not lying.

          How Can Inferring Help Writing:

          The notion of inference equations is equally useful for writing. Writers must assure that the ingredients of the equation are present and clear, and that the desired relationships are signaled in a clear and effective way. As writers, we must be aware that our readers will interpret our thoughts.

          We must strive to make our meaning as clear as possible. We must provide sufficient examples to make our ideas clear, as well as to short-circuit undesired interpretations. We must recognize what evidence is necessary and sufficient for our purpose, and assure that it is included.

          And we must choose our terms carefully for accuracy and clarity of meaning, and spell out our exact thoughts in as much detail as possible. We must recognize biases our readers might bring to the text and explain and support our evidence as much as our conclusions. The advice: Buy diapers.

          I think I'm going to start out with this video. This video is about synthesizing is closely linked to evaluating. This is a great way to show students how thinking should change as we read...often to a deeper understanding. As older students read more complex plots they will learn to expect the unexpected, inferring meanings and pick up on foreshadowing.

          This will make a great opening to the week and help them think outside the box.

          From the video, what else do I need to do. Well, I want proficient readers. Proficient readers understand that writers often tell more than they actually say with words. They give you hints or clues that allow you to draw conclusions from information that is implied. Using these clues to “read between the lines” and reach a deeper understanding of the message is called inferring.

          Students need to learn how to infer so that they can go below the surface details to see what is actually implied (not stated) within the words of the story. Some meanings are meant to be implied – that is not stated clearly but they are hinted at. When meanings are implied, you have to infer them.

          Students make inferences every day without even thinking about it. For example, you can ask children to imagine they are sitting at their desk doing their homework when they hear a loud booming sound and hear pattering against the window. They don’t actually see anything, but they can infer there is a thunderstorm outside. All students recognize the sounds of thunder. They know heavy rain makes a pattering sound. And they know that any time the two go together there is almost a thunderstorm going on.
          Inferring with context clues

          One way students can infer a word meaning is from context clues within the text. Students have to learn how to work out meanings from these clues. There’s several ways to do this.They can simply make an educated guess using the hints given before the unknown word and the sentences that follow the word. Asking questions is one way to unravel these clues.

          I have some ideas for guided reading:
          These questions will be very helpful while we are reading to work through unknown words and what they mean. During the guided reading session, the teacher should have these question stems available when students find a word they don’t know the meaning of.   The teacher pauses the reading and chooses the appropriate question to ask.
          “What do you think the word means considering (a certain action or event) has happened?
          “How do you know that the word means (insert definition)?”
          “What part of the text helps you make this inference?”
          “Where can you find other clues to help you understand?”
          “If you substitute what you think is a similar word, would the sentence still make sense?”

          My goals for my students include:

          • Draw conclusions about their reading by connecting the text with their background knowledge
          • Synthesize new ideas and information
          • Create unique understandings of the text they are reading
          • Make predictions about the text, confirm or disconfirm those predictions based on textual
          • information, and text their developing comprehension of the text as they read
          • Extend their comprehension beyond literal understandings of the printed page
          And thinking stems to help my learners:

          • “Even though it isn’t in the picture, I can see the…”
          • “Mmm, I can almost taste the…”
          • “It sent chills down my spine when it said…”
          • “For a minute, I thought I could smell…”
          • “I could hear the…”
          • “I can imagine what it is like to …”
          • “I can picture the…”
          These are going to be great additions to my inferring unit this week. Have a great week.

          Currently in August

          I'm linking up with Farley again for her August Currently. I still have a week before I have to go back.

          I'm listening to City of Bones by Cassandra Clare before it opens in the movies. Its been an interesting read. I'm hoping to finish it before going back. I'm loving the cooler weather. I doubt it will last much longer but the rain in the afternoon has been great for walking my dogs first thing and still have time to get a run in before it heats up. I have to set up my iPads for the beginning of the year but just not gotten to it yet. (Will share when I figure it out). I hate unpacking my classroom. I'll need to suck it up and go in and get that done before heading back in a week. I'm needing to train two new teammates and bring them up to speed. I will need to update my data charts with last years state assessment data once I have it. This information will help make decisions for the coming months. What I always do once back--Starbucks, lunch with teachers at least once before the end of the first week back, and have the first couple of units planned out and ready to go. (This I have done of math and reading.)

          Have a great weekend, enjoying the time before returning to school.

          About Me

          Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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