Happy Easter Everyone!
We are safely home from the beach, trying to soak in the last few hours of this beautiful day! My handsome is busy getting ready for his first day back tomorrow...he's not thrilled that I get a whole extra day of break!!! :o)
When I taught first grade in public school, I (almost) mastered how to manage literacy centers and organize guided reading groups. Now that I am in kindergarten and in a school with a little more freedom (little is an understatement - yay!), I have been playing with different techniques and approaches to teaching my students reading. What I have found is that I am terrible at "playing with different techniques and approaches" and guess what? Surprise! It turns out that the method that I (almost) mastered was the best one for me! It only took me 8 months to figure that out...Here's a picture of my "home base" - my horseshoe table and stuffed bookshelf behind it!
Back in first grade, I had an array of students on a wide spectrum of reading levels. We had DRA materials to assess their reading levels, and then we would group them as closely as possible so that each group had students on about the same reading level. Then I learned about the Primary Spelling Inventory which tests students more on their phonemic awareness. I started using that instead to make my reading groups. The Spelling Inventory showed what concepts the students had mastered, but also showed what they still needed to learn. When they were grouped based on phonics knowledge, I had a better "goal" to set with each group, and we could work on very specific concepts and master them fairly quickly. And guess what happened when they mastered those skills? They could read better! We learned how to apply all of our phonics skills to reading and writing. We read books together (more on their DRA level), used word sorts, played with magnetic letters and white boards, oooh the possibilities are endless!
Click on the picture to see some of the concepts we cover...this is a picture from Mrs. Jump's Class (her original website) - I haven't taken a close-up of mine, but I use many similar pictures and examples.
The "problem" I had this year (and I use that word problem, but most will roll their eyes and say that it's a blessing - which I agree with you 100%!) was this: many of my kindergarteners came to me knowing almost all of their letter sounds, basic sight words, and some students even already knew how to read! Whew! I told you it wasn't really a "problem." But it felt like a problem for me because I didn't have my system that I had used in previous years. I basically had to start over when it came to teaching reading.
We follow a reading series called Imagine It! and it does a fabulous job of integrating all kinds of books and writing examples. We took much of the beginning of the year to learn the parts of a book, how to use the picture to find out what's happening (take a picture walk), and then we started looking for familiar words or even just letters to help us start to read. We did all of this whole-group. At first I used my data from our whole group experiences to guide my literacy group meetings. But now, I am back to seeing which students have similar needs, and I group them that way. It helps so much because I still have so many of my homemade materials from last year! They are moving at such a fast pace, I am blown away! Here is a picture of my ever-changing bookshelf behind my reading table. We use everything on it at least once a day depending on which group and which concept I'm working on...
This is my last thought for the day...I am obsessed with word sorts. I LOVE a good word sort! It instantly shows if a student has mastered a concept, PLUS you can play all kinds of games with them, AND the students LOVE them! :o) I found book at a local teacher store. It is a word sort book with sorts for short vowels, long vowels, consonant blends, etc. All of the materials are pre-made, so all you have to do is cut them out and organize in a binder! If you think it can't get any better than that, it does! Get this: all of the word sorts and word mats are PRE-LAMINATED! Holy cow! How much easier can it get? I was lucky enough to have a parent volunteer who cut everything out and organized it all for me! :o) So if you are a lover of word sorts, consider adding this to your purchase order for next year...
If you have questions or if you have any ideas that work for you, let me know!!! Just ask my assistant, or any of my students...I am always changing things up and looking for more efficient ideas!
...be at peace, and all will be well...