Tag Archive: Interventions that Work

2nd Grade Procedures

IMG_5181My other 2nd grade group just finished a set of books on procedural steps.  I had started out by reading Monster Sandwich which went over the procedures to which a girl makes a sandwich.  I then used the graphic organizer from Interventions that Work (and our district has blown them up IMG_0003and laminated them so we can use them whole group).  I was going to model, but the kids started shouting out ideas and kind of took over for me.  It was a guided experience, but I was impressed how they really took ownership for what was supposed to be me modeling.  I still had to talk them through the steps as they wanted to jump straight from get out your ingredients to “make taco” and then eat.  We talked about how there is much more to making a taco than just ingredients and eating.  We also noticed how everyone in the group makes their tacos in different ways, which was interesting and brought out the point that just because you think you “know how to do something” that someone else might be able to show you a different way to do it.

Afterwards we did some work on The Fun Club Goes To A Dairy Farm where we talked about how there is a specific process that happens at the dairy farm and then the kids made their own procedural graphic organizers on something they knew how to do or make.

IMG_0005After they completed their graphic organizer, I had writing conferences with each of the kiddos and then went on to model how to transfer the information from the graphic organizer into sentence form.  The kids have already been working on connecting words so they easily put those into their stories (nice job 2nd grade teachers!!)

We are still working on the writing process and how editing can make our writing better.  We are a work in progress, but the students did a fabulous job of procedural steps.

Combo Interactive Writing


This year one of my groups include a 1st/2nd grade combo and it’s fun having kids from different grade levels.  So if you see me talking about my “combo kids” you’ll know it’s my group with both grade levels in it.

IMG_5182This group is working on Interventions That Work’s Interactive Writing.  We have been working on letter identification, letter sounds, word building, directionality, and word by word matching.  I JUST received another iPad from Donor’s Choose (Thank you!) so some of our word work is able to be done on the iPad since both boys have one to use.  You can see them above working on beginning sounds.  It’s just a nice way to differentiate what we are doing.

We started out with a group poem that helped us work on fluency, directionality, and word by word matching.  Kacie Rogan, one of our 2nd grade teachers, came in to observe us on day 1 since she will also be doing Interactive Writing with some of her groups in her classroom so it was nice to have another teacher in to watch.

After we worked on our poem we wrote a group message and worked on building up some more known words such as has, red, go, we, will, or.  We are wanting to see some rapid acceleration in letter ID and known writing vocabulary.IMG_5176

Once we created our group message we then extended our message by writing individual messages.  Once the kiddos were finished with their individual message then I was able to conference with each child and check the sounds they correctly produced in their words.  We are working hard on stretching the word out and writing all the sounds we hear.  Keep checking back on us and see how we work to be the best readers possible.

IMG_9568I am now the proud “mama bear” to 4 fabulous Kindergarten friends as we are working on an intervention from Linda Dorn’s Interventions that Work called Interactive Writing.

We have a lot of foundational skills we’ve been working on such as letter identification, 1-to-1 word matching, writing our names correctly, writing and reading in the correct direction, and correct path of movement letter formation.

IMG_9291We’ve been listening to Ms. Acuff read poetry and have watched her point to each word to make sure what she says matches what the author wrote.  We’ve also been making group stories.  Students help Ms. Acuff make a story and they help add words they know how to write.

We’ve been having a lot of fun locating known letters in our reading and writing to help us know all of our letters as quickly as possible so we are reading to become strong readers!

In the photo at the top you can see we chose a sentence from a story we wrote as a group.  Ms. Acuff wrote the chosen sentence on a sentence strip for each student and we read the sentence as she cut up the sentence.  From there, Ms. Acuff lined the words up vertically and students had to scan the words left to right to put the sentence back together.  Then they had to read the sentence  while pointing, making sure we were correctly matching what we said to what was written.  This was a little tricky, but the more practice we had with it the better we got.  We then glued our sentence to our paper.  This was good practice for spacing and that when we get to the end of the paper we can’t glue down the side of the paper, but have to return sweep back to the left and start there.

Keep watching as we grow, grow, grow in our knowledge.  We are working VERY hard and Ms. Acuff couldn’t be more proud of us!


IMG_8299Woo!  It feels good to be back at school.  I was at the UNI Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy Reading Recovery conference these last 2 days, but with the weekend, I feel like I’ve been away from school for a week.

The conference was GREAT!  I got to meet Linda Dorn (pictured above), who is the author of many books, some of which we are implementing at Lowell.  You know how I talk about Interventions That Work and Guided Reading Plus, Interactive Writing, IMG_8298Writing Aloud, and Comprehension Focus Groups??  Those are all from her.  She talked a little more in depth about adding in some Teaching for Deep Comprehension (also by Dorn and Carla Soffos, who I also got to hear at the conference)  I took away a lot of great things that will help improve my teaching with groups.  I have heard Dorn speak several times, but this is the first time I have actually gone up and talked with her and the first time I’ve seen her since Lowell started implementing Interventions That Work.

I also am a HUGE fan of Dr. Barbara Schubert (pictured on the right), who spoke on Reading Recovery.  I got to hear her speak at the National Reading Recovery Conference in Ohio 3 years ago and it was a treat.  She is an expert in Reading Recovery and brain based teaching and I always take away so much from her after her seminars.

IMG_8302Author Lester Lamanick spoke to the whole group and emphasized the importance of reading aloud to our children.  With everything they want us to pack into our day this often gets put on the back burner.  It was inspiring to hear him talk about his positive and negative experiences in education as a child and how that shaped him into the person he is today.  It just reminded me of how I am in the business of loving and caring for our kiddos and need to do all I can to make them all feel smart and important.

Lastly, I was really surprised when a reading teacher from another school showed me that I am in one of the photos in the Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy brochure!!!! (Photo on the left)  I was really excited to be a part of the promotion to help other teachers learn more about what Waterloo is implementing and how they can help their struggling readers and writers, too.

OK, my planning time is about up, so I will sign off and go get my Reading Recovery kiddos! 🙂


I haven’t gotten a chance to talk about my 2nd graders yet this year so I thought they would be my blog for today.   I was lucky enough to have a few of my 1st graders from last year be in my 2nd grade group this year.  One of the things we are working on is trying to problem solve on your own first.  Many of them come to an unknown word in reading or writing and while I’m working with a student I’ll hear, “MISS ACUFF!  WHAT’S THIS WORD?” or “MISS ACUFF! HOW DO YOU SPELL ______?”

IMG_8219(Quick side bar: Before I could say, “Try one of your strategies first and I’ll be there in a few seconds.” another student from the group said, “You know your job.  Do something….like sound it out.”  I had to smile.  I might have another little teacher in training.)

Last year they were my babies and had them next to me the entire time.  Now, in the way Interventions That Work want us to do it, the kids meet with me as the whole group briefly for letter work and directions/book orientation and then they go off to begin their work.  This gives me an opportunity to come around to each student while they are working and conference with them on their reading or writing.

Every group session it gets easier for them.  They are learning to use the strategies they have been taught–look for parts you know, what makes sense, what do you see in the picture?  In their writing they are getting better at using their writing skills–try it on your practice page, do you know a word that sounds like that word or is similar?, using your word dictionary, using your book for help, trying the word and circling it for me to check when we conference.

IMG_0068I was really proud of the kids today.  They all were doing a great job during IMG_8220writing of going to their strategies first and trying it.  They all know more than they give themselves credit for.  I went over writing strength and goal sheets with the kids and we were making sure they were monitoring their writing and going back to check.  (An example of the sheet I use it to the left)  I try to have my 2nd graders focus on 2-3 things they can work on.  For a lot of them it’s spacing, capital letters, and using the line spacing appropriately.

So we’ll keep chugging along!  I tell my kids the important thing to ask yourself is, “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”  We take it one step at a time and just have to keep making sure that the work we do today is better than the work we did yesterday.

It’s a great day to be a Lowell Cougar…am I right??

4th Grade: Comprehension Focus Group

photo4th grade started reading Invisible Stanley by Jeff Brown this week and this is the first chapter book for them.  This is an exciting new venture as instead of having a Guided Reading Plus group they have moved to a Comprehension Focus Group.  This is exciting as they aren’t needing as many foundation skills as they were needing previously.  They are approaching proficiency and need some extra work in comprehension and fluency to really take their reading to the next level.

IMG_5485Day 1 we did some work work and I read the prologue as the students wrote predictions in their composition notebooks.  Then I had them each ready chapters 1 and 2 individually.  This became a time where I could sit down with each student individually, listen to them read orally, and then conference with them.  What a great opportunity for me to listen and talk about the story with students.  I have missed this!!  After everyone finished reading, we got back together for a conversation about the book.   This does not come naturally for most students.  It’s uncomfortable and awkward, so dialogue was rather scarce.  This will be a goal of ours to really be thinking about the book, what is the author saying to you, and then being able to speak your opinion, which may or may not be what someone else in the group believes.

photo (3)Day 2 we got back together and I did oral accuracy checks on the kiddos.  While I did this, they were rereading chapters 1 and 2 silently and then summarizing the chapters in their comp notebooks.  We regrouped and started a graphic organizer together.  They paired up and worked on the who, what, when, where component and then went out to work on event #1 together.  They got 5 minutes for both categories and then we came back as a whole group and put our answers collaboratively on the master graphic organizer.

photo (2)Working together was also a bit of a struggle–not because they couldn’t handle it, but because I don’t think they are used to working together collaboratively.  It was very quiet as they worked and I had to encourage them to talk to their partner about what each of them was thinking and how they could take both of their ideas and put it into one.  This, too, will be something we work on.  Teamwork makes the dream work!!

We’ll continue our way through the next 5 chapters over these next couple of weeks and will get a chance for more dialogue and more collaboration with a partner.  Stay tuned!

IMG_0068Part of the Comprehensive Intervention Model (CIM) Guided Reading Plus intervention is to have reading and writing conferences with your students.  I conference with my students regularly, but I was beginning to feel like what we conferenced about wasn’t sticking with the kids.  And to be honest, it wasn’t really sticking with me either.  I often times couldn’t (and can’t) always remember what I’ve told the kids we should work on.  Then I started to feel bad because 1. I couldn’t remember giving them praise on anything particular they were doing well, and 2. I don’t think I was showing value in the conferences if neither of us could really remember what we had talked about.

So I had seen plenty of guided reading conference sheets online, but I wasn’t finding any writing ones.  I decided to develop my own.  I thought about all the things I was harping on the kids to do and typed them up.  It’s a half sheet and we ended up conferencing today by looking through each of the journal entries and decided what they were doing well and what things we could continue to work on.  I highlighted what they were doing well and what they needed to work on.  To make sure I didn’t lose them we glued them to the back of their journals right by where they glued in the synonym rolls.  Now before they write I can ask them to check their writing sheet to see what they need to focus on for the day.  This is a good reminder for me so I can check it before I conference with them.  Then as they start to make those goals into strengths we can check them off the list.

The students seemed pretty excited about the sheets.  I hoping this helps make our time a lot more productive and meaningful.  If you would like a copy of this please shoot me an email or leave a comment on this post so I can get it to you.