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Archive for January, 2014

postheadericon February Poetry Folder


February Poetry Folder


I have been using poetry folders (over the last few months) and it has been working well for my students. The kids LOVE reading the poems together and they very much want to be able to read them independently. 


Here is my poetry folder cover for this month: 

february cover


The poems I chose for this month, were from  Aloha Kindergarten. You can download them for free. 


Feb Poems


I also have a word journal to do "Word of the Day" every day. 

february word journal


Here are the words I used this month for my "Word of the Day"

You can download them from Teachers Pay Teachers



I also found a packet of poems FREE at Teachers Pay Teachers. There is a cute poem about Groundhog Day in the packet, as well as other poems you can use throughout the year. 

groundhog poem




postheadericon Menu Board Choices for Fluency

In an earlier post, Early Workstation Finishers, I briefly talked about Menu Boards.  In today's post, I have provided you with 5 fluency workstation activities that can be used all year long.  They are easily created, differentiated and implemented.  To revisit my original menu board post click here and you will be able to see a sample of my menu boards.

Fluency Speed-Ups

I purchased this on teachers pay teachers awhile back.  It contains over 350 Dolch/Fry phrases and sentences.  Repeated readings of these phrases/sentences will promote automaticity which sharpens fluency.  I like that it is set up in a differentiated format for me to use with all my learners.  The strips are easy to store and provide the students with a simple center to use.  I set up 3 different baskets that include the strips each group is working on as well as strips they have already mastered, a timer, and recording sheets.

 2014-01-21 08.20.04

Sentence Shuffle

I created three different sets of cards (below, on, advanced) for this center.  It is a center that can easily change as the students reading improves.  Each group receives  three sets of cards for their reading level (below, on, advanced) and work in partnerships.  Students place the three color-coded cards in the appropriate box on their sentence mat. Each student takes one card from each group to make a sentence. Sentences can be real sentences or made-up silly sentences. After making and reading sentences, students will choose 3 sentences to write on the recording sheet.  This is an example of a set of mixed up sentences that I created for my below level group.


Voice Jar

Another one of my teachers pay teachers purchases.  This center help students improve fluency through expression using different voices. The jar activity includes 18 pictures of different facial expressions. Students choose an expression card from the jar and then read their leveled reader, decodable book, poem, or Bonnie Kline story using the selected expression. My students love using the voice jar during work stations!  Below is a picture of one group using the fluency strips from the Fluency Speed Up activity in conjunction with the voice jar.


Fluency Sticks

I have several cups filled with an assortment of fluency practice. Depending on the students reading level, students can select letters (capitals/lowercase), nonsense words, CVC words, CVCe words, high frequency words, word families, fry phrases or fry sentences to practice. I change these out quite frequently to adjust rigor throughout the year. The materials are practical and the center is very easy to make.  You will need several cups (color-coded if you choose), popsicle sticks or tongue depressors (these work well for the phrases/sentences) and a sharpie.  These can be used individually, with a partner or in a small group.

2014-01-21 07.46.37

I have created games  for small group practice with the sticks by adding the word ZAP onto a few sticks and placing them in the cup.  If a student pulls out ZAP they lose a turn.  I also have a "Don't Get Stung" game that our team uses with nonsense words, bee stickers and flower stickers on the sticks.  If a student pulls out a flower they read all their words and get another turn.  If a student pulls out a bee they get stung and lose all their sticks.  The possibilities are endless with fluency sticks!

2014-01-21 07.40.25

Whisper Phones

I have had these for years.  They are quite expensive to purchase and I was very lucky to get enough for a small group.  A former colleague of mine has a very talented husband and he made me six of these using PVC pipe.  Here is a tutorial I found online that you can use to make your own.

Whisper phones are wonderful because they amplify the student’s voice helping them to focus their attention on the sounds.  My students use these to read to themselves.  This is not done with a partner.  Instead they find a spot in the room, pull out a mat and a leveled reader or a Bonnie Kline story and they read "aloud" to themselves.  They know that whatever they choose to read has to be something they are familiar with, nothing new.


postheadericon Read For Meaning Workstation using Nonfiction Text

Bouncing off my previous post Read For Meaning Workstation using Fictional Text, this post uses the same workstation only with nonfictional text.  The only thing that changes is the type of questions I ask as well as the leveled readers.  With the older grades, this can easily be left as a workstation for all learners to use once you have taught them how to use it.  However, with my first graders I like to use it as part of my guided reading teacher table lesson. I do this simply because the level of questioning is complex for nonfiction and I like to make sure they are all able to go beyond what they otherwise may not do if left alone.

2014-01-21 08.11.53  2014-01-21 08.14.482014-01-21 08.09.37



Read for Meaning NF Advanced

Read for Meaning NF BL

Read for Meaning ON NF



postheadericon Winter Writing: Using the Writing Process to teach Main Idea and Details

Writing during the winter time is one of my favorite things to do with my students. Earlier in the Fall, my team and I composed a great plan for writing that would begin in September with a "bare bone" sentence, to having children write a sentence with detail, to having students put their sentences together to write a simple paragraph in June.

This month, we are asking our students to compose a sentence with a topic and main idea. We will be looking at four specific correction areas for this assignment: 

1. Subject

2. Predicate

3. Capital Leter/Punctuation

4. Does the sentence make sense? Re-read to make sure the sentence makes sense to the reader. 


Because I love snowmen, and I have been working with a snowman theme all month, I have made this month's writing assignment snowman themed!




Before I begin my writing assignment, I like to incorporate some literature into my lesson. This helps the children think about snowmen and see pictures of snowmen.

Today, I will begin my lesson with the book, "Snowmen at Night."



Once I am done reading this story to my students, we will talk about snowmen a little bit. This is a great time to build on prior knowlege and get them thinking about snowmen.

Next, my word-of-the-day will be SNOWMEN. I tell them that our writing today will be all about SNOWMEN! 

Here is the word card to use for this lesson. It also includes the word cards for the pocket chart. 


SNOWMEN word card


PREWRITE: Think and Plan

The term pre-write is a little confusing to first graders. I teach them to think about what we are going to write. Using a read aloud with discussion helped them to think about the topic. Now, we are ready to plan our writing. 

Next, I go to my handy dandy pocket chart and put the words in the pocket chart. Using my word wall cards, I have the students place the words into the correct column. For example, one of our words this week was "snow." They may choose to put that card under "are" because snowmen are made of snow. They may choose the "hat" card to put under "have" because snowmen have hats. Notice the index card with smile. That was one our spelling words over the last week. One of my students thought it would be good to add that word. I agreed! 



You can downloard these winter words FREE at Teachers Pay Teachers




Now, we are ready to take our thoughts and put them on paper. I created a graphic organizer for the students to  put their words on. Our topic (main idea) is "Snowmen" and the "are" and "have" are the details. 

snowman graphic organizer




Now, we are ready to write our sentence. 

I got my paper from Teachers Pay Teachers for FREE


With my green and red group, I model how we use the graphic organizer and write an example sentence on the board. We verbally practice other sentences together before they begin to write. 

Here are some examples of student work. I was very very pleased with the outcome of this lesson. The graphic organizer worked really well for them. Their thoughts were organized and the students had all the words they needed to write good first grade sentences. I'm so proud of them! 


writing 1



Because my first graders are new at writing more than one simple sentence, I revise, edit, and conference with them as they write. As time goes on, I will separate these steps in the writing process. 

Once the students have two sentences written, I ask them to conference with me. This way, the students don't write too many sentences and become overwhelmed with the editing. This is also a good way to make sure they are on the right track with their writing.

I ask the students to sit at the table and use their whisper phones to read the sentence. I point to each word as they hold the whisper phone and read their sentence aloud. I was pleasantly surprised at how many students knew from hearing their sentence that it didn't make sense. Many of them said, "I missed a word (or two or three)!" or "that doesn't make sense!" 

At this time, I also do some editing with them. I look at capital letters, punctuation, appropriate spacing between words, and spelling. We correct these things together while they are at the table with me. 

Many of their sentences were written well, so I encouraged them to continue to write at their seats and to return to my table when they had two more sentences written on their paper. 



When the students have their sentences written, I won't be asking them to re-copy them onto paper. Right now, this would be a tedious task for some of my students. I sat with each of my students and edited to correct their sentence, so I know their writing is has a capital letter, spaces between words, the correct punctuation, a subject and a predicate. I also know their sentences make sense because I used the whisper phones to double check their work and make corrections, while the students were conferencing with me at the teacher table. 





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