Tag Archive: Guided Reading Plus

IMG_8729Recently our other group of 3rd graders has been working on dinosaurs.  I read Dinosaurs by Kathy Weidner Zoehfeld and gave some dinosaur background on the different groupings of dinosaurs.  The 3rd graders were then responsible for reading Dinosaurs by Elizabeth Austin.

We learned about 4 different types of dinosaurs;

  • Theropods
  • Sauropods
  • Certopsians
  • Pterosaurs

After reading in depth about the different types of dinosaurs, the students had to make a brochure writing and drawing about the 4 different dinosaur sub-groups.

Once we were finished we moved on to astronauts and space.  I read Solar System by Gregory Vogt and Planets by Elizabeth Carney.  We learned some background information about the planets and spent more time reading and learning about our moon and astronauts.

Students then were able to read All About Astronauts and learn about how people get through space camp/school and life as an astronaut.  They were then to write about how life is different on earth vs. space.


IMG_0126Our (I say our because I have started to phase out teaching and Ms. Wilson, my student teacher, has started taking over for me) 3rd graders have been working on Fairy Tales and Fractured Fairy Tales that last couple of weeks.

I started out by reading some different version of the 3 Little Pigs:

  • The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel
  • The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz
  • The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague

IMG_0125Students had to take notes on the characters, setting, and plot while I read.  They then were able to read their own story; The Three Little Pigs by Alyse Sweeney.  When they finished they had to take the book they had just read and select one of the books I read to compare the two stories. (Photo to the left)

From there Ms. Wilson took over.  She read some more Fractured Fairy Tales;

  • The Three Samurai Cats by Eric Kimmel
  • Wolf’s Coming by Joe Kulka

While Elizabeth read, the kids were asked to listen carefully and listen to character traits from each character and mark on a character trait graphic organizer what kind of character they are (smart, lazy, hard working, etc.)

The kids then, again, had their own version to read entitled Surprise for Big Bad Wolf.  When they were finished, collectively the group was to write summaries from all the Three Little Pigs that had been read over the course of the last two weeks.


4th grade is working on timelines in their classrooms.  I found A to Z’s book Mount Rushmore and thought it would be a perfect book to use especially since it had a timeline in the book.

I broke the book up into three sections, as it’s a meaty book with a lot of IMG_0121tricky vocabulary.    The kids were asked as they read to do a few things: highlight important parts, highlight unknown words, and take notes of anything they wanted to talk about in the margin.  (This is the beauty of the A to Z books–the kids can write, highlight, mark up the books as they want and then take them home.)

As they read they were to find an event they thought was important and then write why that was important.  This was a little difficult for them as they either thought almost everything was important or nothing was important–both are incorrect.  This gave us a good opportunity to talk through all the things they found important (and bring up things they didn’t think was important) and then together we were able to decide was REALLY need to be on the graphic organizer.

IMG_0119When they were finished reading the book and filling out their event graphic organizer, it paved the groundwork for filling out a timeline.  The timeline they gave us in the book contained a lot of information, but all of it wasn’t completely pertinent to our focus.

Together we went back through the highlighted areas in our book and our first graphic organizer to figure out which were the important dates for the timeline.  This provided us with an opportunity to go over how we would need to go through our timeline in order.  They wanted to just throw dates they remembered, but we had to make sure our timeline was in order.

I’m so proud of the 4th graders.  This Mount Rushmore session of learning took us nearly 2 weeks and they did a lot of great learning and thinking.  They came up with some really great questions that had us looking back in our books and also doing internet research to find the information we wanted to know.

Also, we learned Gutzon Borglum is a hard name to say. 😉

IMG_0101IMG_0109I have noticed my 2nd graders have needed more support than just Guided Reading Plus.  I decided to layer interventions with this group, which was something new for me.

We started out by doing a study on snakes.  I read 2 mentor texts on snakes and then I had the students read a book about snakes a couple levels lower than their instructional level because I wanted the focus to be on writing and writing more complex sentences.  This happened to tie in perfectly because this is exactly what they have been doing in the classroom as well. (I get to go in during their writing block and help in the classroom with writing.)

After we read our snake books, I wrote a snake story in red. (To the left)  I did take input from the students as I wrote on interesting facts I could write about.  The following day I took my purple marker and I had them help me come up with ways we could add more details to make our sentences better, change word choice, and make our story more interesting.  They were very engaged and involved and loved telling me how I should make my story better.  They were actually quite good at this and I give big kudos to the 2nd grade classroom teachers for their awesome teaching on this.

IMG_0108The next day I had them write their own snake sentences. (Photo at the top of the page.)  I highlighted lines so they would write every other line and that way they could easily go back into their writing and add details, change the word choice, make edits.

Once they had had a writing conference with me, they were able to put their sentences on chart paper.  We then had to conference again about how once we make edits on our sentences and fix mistakes, we have to make those changes on our final copy, too.  We can’t put those same mistakes back on our final copy.  Thank goodness for post-it white out tape! 🙂

The next book we ended up reading was Hang On, Monkey and we did some work on monkeys.  I wanted them to then apply the skills they learned with snakes by writing monkey facts.  I did type up their stories and print them out for them so they could then go back through their writing and highlight capitals in IMG_6742the wrong place, forgotten punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

After they had gone through their writing on their own, I then was able to have individual writing conferences again.

This whole process took us about two weeks, but I feel like we got a lot of great work done.  I’m super proud of the 2nd graders for their hard work.

Fractured Fairy Tales For Days!

IMG_0419My 4th graders just did a mini genre study on fractured fairy tales (my favorite!)  I read 4 versions of The Three Little Pigs (Three Samurai Cats by Eric Kimmel, A Wolf at the Door by Nick Ward, Wolf’s Coming by Joe Kulka, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz) and then they had to read their own version. (A Surprise For Big Bad Wolf)

IMG_0420The students were able to go through all of my fractured fairy tales for inspiration and then come up with their own ideas for their own fractured fairy tales.

We got kind of carried away with enjoying reading all the different fairy tales that we didn’t get a chance to spend too much time on the writing, but I can’t be mad at the kids for being so engulfed in good literature.

IMG_5702My 2nd graders have been doing a unit of study on seeds, plants, and growing.  I read Leaves, Flowers, Roots, and Seeds by Vijaya Khisty Bodach (4 separate books) starting out our unit of study, which goes into more depth on each flowers, roots, IMG_5897seeds, and leaves.  From there my 2nd graders have been reading And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli.  Both are fictional stories, but based around the premise of growing seeds.

After we read And Then It’s Spring I had the 2nd graders plant their own garden.  This was a lot of fun.  We have planted carrots and beans and been writing and tracking the process (impatiently, of course!)  We have a chart of growth and we are writing the date each time we see something change on the chart.

We also dissected flowers to find the different parts of the flowers and to find the seeds (which they insisted we plant as well–maybe we’ll have carnations at some point growing in there, too??)

The kiddos took a highlighter and had to trace/locate the veins in the leaves.  It was pretty incredible to hold the leaves up to the light and see all the tiny and intricate veins within the leaves.  “Oh my gosh!  There are way more veins than I thought IMG_5900there would be!” said one of the girls in group.

I’ve done these books before, but I’ve never grown the garden or dissected flowers with the kids before.  It has been a lot of fun for me.  It’s almost more fun, though, seeing how excited the kids get coming in each day to see how the plants have changed since we first started working on the garden.

I will post an update later on once the plants have reached maturity closer to Christmas time.



1st Grade Hybrid

IMG_8056My 1st graders have been doing an Interactive Writing/Guided Reading Plus hybrid.    They aren’t quite ready to transition fully into Guided Reading Plus, but they don’t solely need Interactive Writing…so we’ve been doing both!  We’ve been reading a new book every three days.  We do a lot of building words, word work, etc. to build our reading and writing vocabulary to give the needed boost.

On the 2nd day we write a group message based on the story we read the previous day.  Each student gets to pick a sentence they want added to the group message.  This is the exact same process that Kindergarten does, except we write about the book instead of a labeled picture.  We don’t label a picture in 1st grade.

On the 3rd day we do something that looks a little bit different.  I have 4 students so I have 4 rotations.  The full 30 minutes just proved to be too much time for them all to write so I switched it up since we have multiple needs.  (I wish I had pictures of this, but I am SO busy during this 30 minutes I don’t have time to take any pictures!)

Rotation 1: write an individual message about the story we read.  The student tells me their message before they start so I can write it down. When they are finished writing (about 7 minutes per rotation) I conference with that student about their writing.

Rotation 2:  Rereading the story while Ms. Acuff takes a running record.  This allows me to track individual reading progress and collect data weekly on each student to make sure I’m providing the correct level of instruction.  I also get to talk to students about strategies they are using and provide positive feedback for growth.

Rotation 3: ipad!!  Woo hoo we love the ipad!  We play a word building and writing game on the ipad that incorporates high frequency words they need to know!

Rotation 4: ipad!!  Woo hoo!  We love getting to use the ipad AGAIN!  This time we play a sound sorting game of some kind.  This could either be vowel sounds, rhyming sounds, beginning sounds, or ending sounds. This game changes each time, but sounds are important so we continue to work on them!

My 1st graders are HARD WORKERS and they keep me VERY busy during our 30 minute session.

Story Comparisons

IMG_0015Fresh off the tail of our fables we moved into reading several versions of the same story with my 3rd graders and comparing different versions of the same story.  During our preparing phases I read Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse by Lindsey Barrett George and Country Mouse-City Mouse retold by John Wallner as our mentor texts.  We compared the two books I read initially to get us prepared for comparing all 3 of the books later on.

The next day I had the kids read City Mouse and the Country Mouse retold by Amy Helfer.  They took notes on all 3 of the books of characteristics they noticed while the stories were read.

Once they were finished with all of the stories they each were given chart paper to compare all three of the stories.  We talked as a whole group about different ideas such as all three stories had 2 mice in them, but in one story they were cousins, in another they were friends, and in the last one they were strangers.  In 2 of the stories there was a problem and a solution and in the 3rd story there was no problem or solution.  It was neat to see the kids organize the stories and really dig deeper into the texts and see how 3 stories that are the same can be so drastically different.

2nd Grade: Into The Sea

IMG_9557My 2nd graders have been working on Into the Sea–a book about Emma L. Hickerson by Stephanie Herbek.  I chose this book 1. because it’s a fabulous book, and 2. these students were working on an ocean book in their small group within the classroom and I always love opportunities when I can connect with what they are doing in the classroom.  Students have been working on text features and note taking (using a T chart) within the classroom.

IMG_9558We started out by locating text features within the book and also using the book they had been using in the classroom as well.  We used their book from the classroom as somewhat of a “mentor text” as Linda Dorn’s new thinking in Guided Reading Plus is to add a “Preparing for the Phases” portion where you really build background knowledge the first portion to help the students become more successful in the reading of their new book.

I had the kids write down important vocabulary words that would help them in their reading and writing based off of a vocabulary graphic organizer I created myself using the one from Linda Dorn and then one I received from a colleague of mine.  If you would like a copy of what I used please let me know–I’d be happy to share that with you.

IMG_9560Students then read through Into the Sea with a partner and then were asked to create a T chart with their partner locating the equipment Emma needed for her job and the use for each piece of equipment.  Students were to sticky note the pages each time they found a piece of equipment for easy reference.

We started out as a group listing pieces of equipment and the use Emma had for each and then students broke up into partners to continue finding equipment.  We came back as a large group and shared all of the pieces of equipment and uses.  I started to write all of them on the board as they shared so if they didn’t have the same things other students had they would have a complete list.  They did such a good job of finding things that I ran out of room on my white board.  I was proud with how thorough they were with their findings.

IMG_9559The 2nd graders did a really great job of working collaboratively with each other and taking notes.  You can see in the photo to the left and then at the very top how students took notes on the table whiteboards as they read for quick reference in their book and then put their notes from their white board into the chart in their writing journals.

We’ve really been working on finding the important parts of the information we are given and summing up things in a more efficient and effective way.

IMG_9246After Christmas break we looked at student data and switched around our groups to serve the kids who most need our help currently.  I now am the proud teacher of two 2nd grade groups instead of just 1.  My 1st group of 2nd graders recently read The Fun Club Goes To The Dairy Farm by Jane Shaffer.  We’ve read other Fun Club books and the kids always seem to really enjoy them.

IMG_9247In this story the kids learn about what goes on at a dairy farm.  We did some vocabulary work at the beginning and watched a couple of short clips of cows chewing their cud and a milking parlor as the kids had a lot of questions during the book orientation.

We learned that cheese, butter, and ice cream all come from milk.  I have a couple of English Language Learners in my group and they were curious how these products came for milk.  All of the kids had ideas, but none of them were quite on the right track.  I thought this would be a fun opportunity to bring in some hands-on learning.  I told them the next group session we would be making our own butter.

IMG_9245We talked about how milk separates with milk and cream and that’s how we get different types of milk–skim, 1%, 2%, and whole.  The cream that isn’t used for milk is put aside and used to make these other dairy products.  We watched a couple of short clips about milk separation and then we got to work on making our own butter.

If you are doing any kind of work with farms this is a super EASY way to bring in some fun and exciting learning.  I brought in the smallest tupperware containers I had and then poured in about 1/8th of a cup of heavy cream into the containers.  I sealed each container and gave one to each student.  Together we all shook, shook, shook until we couldn’t hear the liquid swishing around anymore (about 5 minutes or so).  We had a student come in late so I gave him mine and poured up a new container.  The kids were really excited when they hear the very obvious swishing in my container and theirs wasn’t swishing anymore.

IMG_9249From there the kids were given a plastic spoon, napkin, and slice of bread.  They were able to sample their butter.  We talked about how you could eat the butter plain or you could add a little salt to make it taste a little more like butter you buy in the store.  When the question came up about how it went from liquid to solid we talked about how we shook the fat particles to the point where they started to clump together and expand.  I put the left over butter in the fridge and they’ll be able to take their butter home with them at the end of the day with the promise they will explain to their parents how to make butter and why it gets thick.

When we meet again we’ll be writing about the milking process and how you can take the fat from the milk and turn it into butter.