Tag Archive: re-read

Happy Valentine’s Day

IMG_8064Happy Valentine’s Day from Penthouse B at Lowell Elementary!  Go read a book with someone you love!

Kdg Comparison Writing

IMG_6826My Kindergarten boys are blowing me away!!  They are working so hard and taking on so much learning every session we meet.  (Our Chicka Chicka tree is almost full–and boy do they let me know if we aren’t working on a new letter and adding letters to our tree!!  We might even need a new tree pretty soon!)

Lately we’ve been working on, yep, you guessed it–All About books!!  This time my boys read All About Snakes and All About Penguins.  I don’t know what it is, but EVERY time I read these books with my kiddos they get super excited about both snakes and penguins.  The All About Series is actually really incredible reading for our students.  They are high interest and have a lot of really great vocabulary choices.

My boys read about snakes and then wrote about snakes.  Then we read about penguins and they wrote about penguins.  After that we re-read both of the stories and made a chart of how they are similar and different.  It was like their minds were blown when they realized all the similarities between the two animals.  There was lots of clapping and high fiving and giggling while we were doing this.  It’s inspiring to see kids so excited about reading, writing, and discussing what we’ve read in books.

After we made our Venn Diagram, the boys had to write one fact about each of the animals to go with our diagram.  What a fun couple of weeks of learning!


IMG_6825I haven’t gotten the chance to write about my new 1st grade group, which I’ve only met with a few times.  We looked at data and shifted our groups around back in March to better serve our 1st graders.  I now have 3 lovely ladies and with all kinds of things going on in our building I haven’t had the chance to work with them very many days, but the days we have seen each other have been a lot of fun.

We just finished reading a book calling All About Sharks. (Can you tell I love the “All About” series??–The kids go absolutely crazy for them.  Plus the first graders have had an obsession with sharks all year long.)  We did something a little different than we normally do in group.  We did a mixture of Guided Reading Plus and Interactive Writing.  I noticed that I wasn’t getting accelerated growth from this group (partially because I haven’t seen them very often/consistently) but I wanted a way to get more “bang for my buck.”  My CIM (Comprehensive Intervention Model) coach suggested doing a group Interactive Writing message and then having the students write individual messages.

After we read the story, the next session we met we re-read the story and came up with the group message.  They liked the way the last page had bullets that looked like sharks.  They wanted to write those shark facts and then use bullets in their writing as well.

This was a good opportunity for me to see some of their writing vocabulary as they knew words I wasn’t expecting them to know.  I really was able to nearly sit back and watch them cooperatively work together.  I just facilitated the next word in the sentences and someone in the group already knew how to write it.   They really enjoyed creating a group message and then writing their own message, fashioning it after how the author wrote.


1st grade has been working on problem, solution, characters, and setting in their classrooms.  Today, I decided to do a little comprehension check and incorporate what they’ve been doing in the classroom as a quick little “get up and move” activity.  My 4 boys absolutely loved this activity.

I first had the boys re-read the story Pinky the Pig.  I told them to read carefully as I was going to be asking/telling about certain things that happened in the book later on.  We then went out into the hallway and I put 4 pieces of paper on the lockers in 4 sections of the lockers: Characters, Setting, Problem, Solution.  I had the boys take pieces of paper (although I think tape would work better so no one slips, but I didn’t want to take the extra time since this wasn’t my classroom and couldn’t permanently be there.) and divide the hallway into 4 sections/squares.

I then made a series of statements or questions (I.E. Who is Pinky?) and then said–is Pinky a problem, solution, character, or setting?  The students then had to move to the appropriate square.  Sometimes the students agreed and sometimes they disagreed.  Characters and problems seemed to be the easiest for the students, but for some reason (and it could have been because of the way I phrased the question) the students struggled with setting.  The solution questions made the students really think, but they were able to get those questions relatively easily as well.

The boys absolutely loved hopping into different squares and were all eager to tell their teacher what we had just played once we went back into the classroom to write.  This definitely was a good strategy to use with the kids and I’ll try to incorporate it again at different times throughout the year, but maybe fashion it with different categories as what they are learning will change throughout the year.


One of my students’ very favorite reading strategies is called Stepping Through The Story.  Today I did this retelling strategy with my first graders.

What is this strategy for?: To be used as a retelling tool for students.

How does the strategy work?: Students are given 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story.  You hand each student their pieces of paper and ask them to lay them out–can be in a line or a curve.  I ask my students to lay them out with spaces in between.  (My kids in the photo above didn’t leave themselves very much room.  I typically like there to be a good 8-12 inches between the papers so the kids really get the movement of stepping through the story.)  Students are to start on the first paper and tell what happened at the beginning of the story.  Students then step to the next paper when they tell the next plot point or what happened next in the story.  They continue stepping to the next pieces of paper as they retell the story until the land on the final piece of paper and tell what happened at the end of the story.

Why use this strategy?: Students in our building really struggled with retelling when it came to DRA2 testing throughout the year.  We quickly realized this was something we needed to work harder on.  Brain-based research has shown a connection with students retaining more information when you cross both sides of the brain–such as involving moment/Physical Education into the learning.  My kids love getting out of their seat and hopping on pieces of paper to retell the story.  It always seems that they remember the story much better after we use this strategy rather than just a verbal retelling or just comprehension questions alone.  Students are eager to share and can’t wait to move to the next paper.  It’s good to get the wiggles out while having fun and learning.  I’ve found that all of my groups in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade love this strategy.

Materials needed: 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story times however many students you have in a group.  (10 plot points x 4 students = 40 pieces of paper)  I am big of visual representation and so I really like to use a different color for each plot point.  I think it just really shows that this is a different point in the story and it’s easy to see with the color change.

Helpful information: The first time I did this last year I used one piece of paper for a group of 4 students.  I thought they could each put a foot on the corner of the paper.  This did not work.  There was plenty of pushing and arguing and I spent more time doing crowd control than helping them with retelling.  I decided to cut the paper into 1/4th the size so they each could have their own section.  This takes up more space, but it has eliminated all behavior problems.  Now they get to lay down their own cards in their own space and it just makes more sense!  All students love to help so I have them each pick up their own papers and hand them in when finished.

This is a strategy that I use with my groups as frequently as possible.  I usually devote 10 minutes to this strategy by the time you hand out papers, step through the story, and pick up the papers.  It’s a quick way to move, learn, and have fun!

3rd Grade: What Stuck With You?

We are continuing to add to our “What Stuck With You?” chart in 3rd grade.  Reflection is such an important piece to the learning puzzle for both students and teachers.  I’m finding that the reflection is a lot more meaningful with my 3rd graders so I’m only doing this chart with them for the time being.  I may try to add 2nd grade back into this chart later on in the year.

Some of the reflections are surface level like “I’ll sound it out”, but some of them go much deeper.  Last week I was teaching a lesson and we were reading the book Animals with Wings.  At the very end of the book the author asks a series of questions regarding the information in the book.  I asked the students to go over that section if they finished before everyone else while I was conferencing with another student.  I heard one of the students read the question and then say, “Oh!  I better go back.”  And out of the corner of my eye I saw him turn to the section where he’d find that information.  Talk about a teachable moment!!!!  I had to stop at that very moment and talk about how that was a strategy excellent readers use.  We read for meaning and to learn about something.  If we aren’t sure of the answer we don’t just shrug our shoulders and say, “Eh!  Oh well!  Maybe next time.”  We have to go back to understand–to comprehend.  So I was thrilled when many of the students wrote on their post it note at the end of the day that going back and re-reading was something that they felt was important and would take back with them to do on their own as a way to help themselves be a better reader and writer.

I feel like this reflection piece has been extremely important for both of us.  For me, because I’m seeing what they value and what they think is important.  For them, because it’s not just “OK group is over.  Let’s close that file in my brain.  Back to my regular life.”  They are transferring back and forth and finding real ways to help them when I’m not breathing down their necks to do it.  I’m allowing them to be independent learners.  And as much as I would love for them to need me forever, I’m proud that I’m giving them strategies to fly on their own.  Perhaps the story should have been called Students With Wings because my babies are flying!

It’s inevitable that at some point when your child is reading, he or she will come to a word he/she doesn’t know.  What are some strategies your child should be using?  What are some strategies you could prompt for?

  1. Look at the picture. (Yes, we want your child looking at the picture!  Please don’t cover the picture up.  There are many helpful clues he or she can find from searching the picture!)
  2. Think about the story.  What would make sense here?
  3. Get your mouth ready.  Point and slide your finger under the word.  Then go back and re-read the sentence.
  4. Read to the end of the sentences and then go back and see if you can figure out the word.  Then go back and re-read the entire sentence together.
  5. Try a word!  Does it make sense?  Does it look right?  Does it sound right?
  6. Look for chunks or parts in the word you know!

Encourage your child to try multiple strategies before telling them the word.  If after several attempts at the word and your child is still struggling, give them the word, but run your finger under the word slowly while you tell them.  Most importantly, help make reading fun.