Tag Archive: Reading Recovery

Zeus and Hercules Books

IMG_8675I have to give a big shout-out to Ann Hollingworth.  She has been a big supporter of my blog and has inspired me to write some of my own books.  It’s one of my long-term dreams to write books about my chihuahuas, Zeus and Hercules, for Reading Recovery.

IMG_8676I’ve finally written a couple books and shared them with my Reading Recovery students as a read aloud.  THEY LOVED THEM!  They have really enjoyed seeing pictures of my dogs and love when they interact with my son, Houston.

While we are no “Bella and Rosie” books, I hope one day I get to share my books beyond the wall of Lowell, but for now I will continue to be inspired by the work of Ann and many other authors around the world!

Happy reading!

IMG_2061One of the things I have struggled to be better at is teaching my kids to find readable chunks so they are able to initiate multiple problem solving strategies at points of difficulty.  My other 2 teammates seem to do a much better job at teaching their students word parts when exiting kids out of Reading Recovery.

IMG_2064This past semester I decided to have my 4 Reading Recovery kiddos make word part books.  I got the idea from my coworker who has her older kids put word parts in file folders.  We put in different 2 and 3 letter blends and digraphs.  As we came upon these word parts in the books we read, I would have the student add it to their word part book.

It was amazing that when we were specifically keeping our eye out for these word parts how often we would find them.  Often times we would find so many that I wIMG_2063ould need to start writing them in just so we could keep moving.  This also made for good book selection options for my students.  If I knew he was having difficulties with a certain word part then I could find a book that provided many opportunities to come across that part.

The kiddos got to take their word part books home with them once Reading Recovery was over and it’s been really neat to see them using the book in class to help themself with reading and writing.  When I walk in I have several of them who tell me about a new word they added into their book or show me their writing where they used the word part book for help. While I still am no genius at word parts, I will say this helped my kids tremendously. They were able to problem solve much more efficiently and quickly. But I’m curious what are some other strategies/techniques/cool ideas people use to help kids with word parts?

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 love celebrating the successes of my students.  Today one of my Reading Recovery students wanted to know how many words he had on his writing chart.  I told him he had 80 and he wanted to get to 100.  I thought we would add a couple more, but he just started writing word after word after word.  “Have I shown you tub?….Have I shown you…”  I was amazed!  And within 10 minutes my little Daniel had added 21 new words to his writing vocabulary, which brought his grand total up to 101 words.  (Oddly enough today is the 101th day of school.)


Before break I offered any of my Reading Recovery students a chance to either have lunch with me from McDonald’s or receive a prize if they read every day over break and had their parents keep track of their reading and sign the sheet.  I was very happy when I had one of my students bring his sheet back.  We finally were able to schedule lunch together today.  We had a lot of fun sharing lunch together.  It’s nice to be able to take time out of the day to have one on one time with students outside of instructional time.

I must confess I am beyond lucky to work in a district and in a building that supports the use of technology in the classroom.  I’ve even more lucky to have a principal that supports that use by me as a reading interventionist.  Many times reading teachers are looked over for some of the things classroom teachers receive, but I like pushing the envelope for what I can use to help engage students in the classroom.

I had asked my principal for an iPad when I heard other teams were getting them for the classroom.  She found somewhere in the budget to get one for me and the team.  Yesterday I received it and I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out some new apps.

Today I tried out the whiteboard app for one of my Reading Recovery students.  Before we got started with the lesson, I let him practice some words for fluency on the iPad.  You can see him in the photo above practicing the word not.  He’s my technology lover and I plan on using this with some of my word work time and also as an incentive for him.


Clemson University developed a Record of Reading (or Running Record) app where you can take a running record on the app.  This is great because all you have to do is type in the number of words and it will figure out accuracy and self correction ratios for you.  You can tap the error and self correct box and it will pop up the M S V analysis section for you to figure out.  The amazing part is you can email this running record in a PDF file to anyone–so the classroom teacher or principal or teacher leader, etc.  (I tried doing this, but I couldn’t figure out my email settings.  My Reading Recovery student laughed and put his head down at my technology illiteracy!)  You can even record your student reading and another iPad user can/could listen to the child reading when you send that user the record.  They recommend using a stylus pen, but I tried and it didn’t work for me.  Perhaps I just haven’t played with it enough.  To the right you can see the running record I took today.  It’s not super pretty, but it definitely is very neat.  This would be nice for those times that you might not have what you need for a running record.  I carry the iPad with me around all day to my different groups for whenever I might need to take a picture of something, video, or pull up Google to gather more information.  I think this could become super handy as well.

It’s been suggested to me that I download the ShowMe app and a story retelling app.  I haven’t played around with those yet, but I’m anxious to get started.  The world is my oyster.  If you have any recommendations for any great educational apps that I could use with my students please let me know.  I’m always looking for additional ways I can engage my students and help them grow as readers and writers while still making it fun.


UPDATE: After posting this blog, I had a technology teacher from the UK like this post and it took me to her blog where she does iPad app reviews.  She has a lot of really great resources so please visit The iPad Investigator to see some of the reviews if you are looking for good educational apps like I am.

 I have 2 Reading Recovery students who are very wiggly and have a hard time getting through the 30 minute lesson without the constant need to move around.  I had in the past used the yoga balls before with my students but I felt like I was nearly sitting on the ground and the students seem to spend more time bouncing on the balls than actually getting their work done, so I took them home.

During a meeting where we talked about how we could help wiggly students be more successful in the classroom we decided maybe it was time for the yoga ball to come back.

I knew that potentially what I did for one student with the yoga ball I would need to do for them all.  I have a very tiny office and there isn’t a place to hide the yoga ball.  Also, I have some braggers who like to tell the others when I do something special for one of them.  So of course all 4 of my students wanted to use the ball.  The 2 who normally don’t need any type of accommodation were the 2 that had to have the ball removed and exchanged for a chair.  The 2 who have lots of wiggles and difficulties getting through the lesson it was very helpful.

One of my students ended up producing the best writing I’ve ever seen him produce while he was with me.  With a little rocking to the side and back and forth, he was focused and worked quickly.  The other student needed a few minutes to get a couple of good bounces in before he settled in.  “Can I bounce like this?” *tries a big bounce* “Can I bounce like this?” *tries a medium bounce*…and so on.  I get it–we need to test the boundaries first.  But once the boundaries were set I had 2 happy boys who were ready to wiggle and learn.  Hopefully this continues to be a successful way to get wiggles out while still helping them be successful in the classroom.

I spend half of my day teaching a 1st grade intervention called Reading Recovery.  I am able to teach four 1st graders individually for 30 minutes daily.  The lessons are individualized and tailored to meet each students’ personal needs in reading and writing.  What exactly is Reading Recovery and what happens during a Reading Recovery lesson?

Before the 30 minute lesson begins, sometimes the student gets to write new words he is learning on the whiteboard.  The child is learning to write little important words as fast as he can so he can write them and read them in stories.

Once the lesson has started we start with rereading familiar books.  Everyday he gets to read lots of little books.  He gets to pick some of his favorite stories that he has read before.  This is easy and fun for him.  He tries to read his book like a story and make it sound like people are talking.

Then I do a running record where I take notes on reading behaviors.  Is the student correcting mistakes?  Is the student rereading or repeating certain words?  Was the story too hard, too easy, or just right?  This is where I’ll be able to get more information on what the student does as a reader.  Now he has to read a book all by himself.  I will check on him and won’t help unless he has a problem.  If he just can’t figure out a word or he gets all mixed up I will tell him the word or say, “try that again.”  He read this book for the first time the previous lesson.  I helped him work hard to figure out the tricky parts.  Now he is able to read it pretty good all by himself.

Next we move on to letter identification and word analysis.  He works on learning about letters and important parts of words.  I know the things he needs to learn.  He likes to move the magnetic letters around the whiteboard.  He’s learning how to use letters to build up new words to help him read new words in his books and write new words in his journal.

After word work it’s time to write a story.  Every day he gets to think up his own story to write in his writing book.  He can write lots of the words all by himself.  I help him to figure out how to write some of the words.  We use boxes and he says the word he wants to write slowly so he can hear the sounds and then he writes the letters in the boxes all by himself.  He reads the story when he’s done.  He reads the story and I write it on a long strip of paper.  I cut up the story so he can put it back together.  He has to think real hard to get it all back together.  He has to check himself to see that everything looks right.

Finally a new book is introduced.  I pick out a new story just for him and I tell him what the story is about.  We look at the pictures and think about what the people and animals will say in the book.  I help him think about some new, important words in the story.  Now it is his turn to work hard again.  When he comes to a hard part I will ask him questions to help him think or I might show him what I should try to think about or try to do.  I am trying to teach him to do all the things that good readers do to help themselves.

We pack a lot into those 30 minutes!  When the 30 minutes are over he picks out 2 familiar stories to take home and practice with his family.  He also takes home the cut up sentence and will need to glue it into a sentence book with his family as well.

Reading Recovery is a program for struggling 1st grade readers.  The program occurs every day for 30 minutes and is a 12-20 week intervention.

Below is a video showing and explaining a little bit more about Reading Recovery and how students are selected.

I think one of the most valuable lessons you can give to your students is show that you are human: that you have fears, insecurities, and make mistakes, too!  I had a moment yesterday with one of my Reading Recovery students as we walked up the stairs to my room.

I saw what looked like a spider or a large bug in the shadows of the steps.  I saw he saw it too.  He started to lean over as if to pick it up.  “DON’T TOUCH IT!” I shouted.  He jumped back, with wide eyes, and looked at me.  “But it’s not alive.” he quietly said back to me.  I wasn’t convinced if it was dead or alive, but regardless, I didn’t want him touching it.

He leaned over to grab it again and I shouted to not touch it again, but it was too late.  He had already scooped it up in his hands.  Now I’m pressed up against the wall screaming as he thrusts it into my face.  “See?!?  It’s not alive!”  Now I can see that it is plastic and my heart attack stops.  Daniel is grinning from ear to ear.  He is happy to see that I have fears.  “Are you afraid, Ms. Acuff?” he asks.  “Very much so!” I reply.  And so begins a discussion of things we are afraid of.  He is still beaming that he was brave and I was scared and we wrote about his new found object.

Later that evening we had parent-teacher conferences and I was able to share the humorous moment with his parents when they were concerned their English Language Learning son wasn’t making connections between the two languages.  I showed them this very much wasn’t the case.  He understands the humor and bravery established earlier in the day.

I went into his classroom this afternoon to pick him up for his Reading Recovery lesson and several of his classmates shouted at me, “You were scared of the spider, Ms. Acuff?”  Daniel had shared our story with his classmates during sharing time.  I owned it.  I’m human!  And I’m glad students could benefit from the teachable moment that we all aren’t so different after all.