Tag Archive: transfer

My 2nd graders have been reading a series of informational books called All About Sled Dogs and All About Spiders.  We’ve been having a lot of fun learning about new animals in this world.  Their task was to write informational sentences about spiders based on what they learned from the story.

The kids know how much I hate spiders so they had fun showing me all the gross pictures of spiders and writing and drawing about spiders.  It was fun to see how much of the information they retained.

We’ll now be transitioning into writing sentences into a First, Then, Next, Last format, which is something they are continuing to work on in the class.  It is my goal to help transfer knowledge between group and the classroom and to help foster independence with what they are already doing in the classroom.


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!


As a specialist I hear many times from the classroom teacher, “Whoa!  He was able to do that with you?” or “No!  She isn’t using that strategy when she’s in group with me.”  These types of comments can be extremely frustrating for me AND the classroom teacher as the student is seemingly not transferring knowledge from me to the classroom or vice versa.

One of the things I decided to try with my 2nd and 3rd graders is a “What stuck with you?” chart.  (I wish I could say this was my own creation, but I stole the idea from Title 1 teacher, Erin Sale, from Lincoln, who is in my Reading Intervention cohort)  Today I had my students write on a post-it note something that “stuck with them” from our reading or writing conferences we had.  Things varied from “break down the word”, “the edge is my friend” (referring to filling the page and not just writing in the center of the paper) to “using capitals”.  My hope is that each student will really stop and think after each lesson about something that really stood out or stuck with them that they can use in the classroom when I am not there.

This worked really well with my 3rd graders.  They each very easily were able to talk about something we had conferenced about and made it their goal to work on for the next time.  This was a difficult task for my 2nd graders.  When I asked them what stuck with them about our conference, they each started talking about the story they had read or about their writing.  They weren’t mentioning anything we talked about that they needed to work on or a strategy they could use to help themselves at a later point.  It took a lot of discussing before we got to a point where they could write something down.  Perhaps in the next coming weeks we’ll do some goal setting and work our way up to using the “what stuck with you” chart.  I will continue to use this with my 3rd graders.  I’m excited to see in the coming weeks if there starts to be more of a transfer from the work they do with me to the work they do with their teacher.