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Archive for February, 2014

postheadericon Good Readers Ask Questions


We've been doing Q-A-R at our teacher table. My first graders have been introduced to Q-A-R (Question-Answer Relationship) strategy, but some students need more practice with generating and asking questions about the text. This is a teacher table activity, which reviews the "Questions in the Book" part of Q-A-R. 




If you would like to learn more about Q-A-R, BSRI (Bay State Reading Institue) has a great movie of Q-A-R in a first grade classroom, click on the picture to the side to link to the video. 





Just like authors have a purpose to write, readers have a purpose to read. We know good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to increase their comprehension of the text. 

Today, I am going start simply with the Five W's. We are going to review the five W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why) and use those questions to help us better understand the text. 


Activate Prior Knowledge and Introduce the 5 W's:

 To begin, we read and review our question words and have the students practice asking questions.

Then, I show them a picture of a little girl pulling a sled (cut out from a magazine) and ask them to use the question words to ask questions about the picture (you can use old calendars, magazines, and books to find pictures). 

They ask: Where is she going? Why does she have a sled? When is she going to get to the place she is going? Who is that little girl?  I record their questions on chart paper. As they ask me questions, I point to the question word they used in my pocket chart. 


You can download these posters for FREE at:



Next, I ask them to imagine a new student is joining our class. Your job is to get to know that person. What questions could you ask him/her?

I give each student a question card and put them in partners. I allow the students to think and share with a partner and each student writes a question on their paper.

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(this student wrote "How did you come here?")


When each student has a question, we return to the rug where we share our answers. Here are some of the questions the students wrote on their papers. 

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The students are now ready to bring those questions to a text. I am starting the story "Ruby in Her Own Time."



Day Two: Questions Before We Read and Questions While We Read


Before Reading:

When the students come to the teacher table, we quickly review our question words from yesterday. 

I put the question words in the pocket chart and hand out their reading textbooks and we open to our story "Ruby in Her Own Time." I give them a brief description of the story. I tell them this is a story about ducks. One duck's name is Ruby. Let's take a picture walk and ask questions about the story. Let's use our five W's to ask our questions. The kids ask who is going to be in our story? Where is Ruby? What does Ruby do in the story? When is the story taking place? Why are the ducks flying? 

These are all great questions! Let's see if we can answer our questions! Let's read the story!



During reading:

Before we read, I give each student a bookmark that has the 5 question words and read each of the questions with them. 


You can download this for FREE at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

We read our story and while we read, I stop and ask them if there is a question we could ask about the story. I encourage them to look at their bookmarks to think of a question. This is where it may be difficult for some students to attain those questions. If they are having difficulty, I reread the sentences and model a question. We re-read the sentence, "Then, one bright morning, the eggs began to hatch." I model the question "WHEN." I ask, "When did the eggs hatch?" The kids answer, "in the morning!" Let's keep reading and see if we can ask another question about the story. 

We read the section about the names of Ruby and her siblings. I stop and say, "Let's ask a question!" Again, they are encouraged to ask use their bookmarks. What are the duck's names?

As we read, I ask the students to ask me a question about what they read. I have them point to their question words as they think of a question. 

This student is pointing to the "When" question. He asks, "When will Ruby swim?" Let's read to find out. The kids read and answer, "In her own time!"

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We continue to read the story. I stop and hold up question words to help them think of a question. I continue to model how to ask the questions at different points in the story. I also give the children opportunities to think of questions using their bookmarks. 

When we are done reading, we go back to our pre-reading questions and answer them.

During the last few minutes, I take a minute to talk about how much we learned about our story just by asking questions.








postheadericon Menu Board Choices for High Frequency (Sight) Words

In continuing with my samples of menu board options.  Today's post,  provides you with 5 high frequency/sight word station 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.


Shake a Word

Shake, Find and Write a high frequency word.  I create a word list using each unit in the Reading Street curriculum.  I cut out the words for each unit and add them to a bottle.  Students grab a bottle, shake, read a word and write it on the recording sheet or dry-erase board.



Power Towers

Review game for HF/sight words that can be played in a group, partnerships or individually.  A "Pringles" canister is filled with paper cups (bathroom toss cups work well) and each cup has a HF/sight word written on it. When a word is read correctly, students can start building a tower.  If they get a word wrong or knock over the tower or the tower falls, they have to start over. You can use duck tape or construction paper and Mod Podge to decorate your canisters.



Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check

Using a file folder, I cut three flaps.  The left side says Look, Say, Cover.  The middle says Write and the right side says Check.  Inside I give students their word list to practice using this activity.

PicMonkey Collage


Popsicle Stick Words

Using popsicle sticks or tongue depressors, attach a letter sticker to one end of each stick.  Students use the letter sticks to spell out high frequency words on their word list.


Kinesthetic Sight Words

This activity is taught at the beginning of first grade to review letters and the kindergarten sight words.  I keep it as a menu board choice because the students enjoy using it and they already know exactly what to do.  Students say the individual letters as they trace them in the salt, sugar or sand.  I especially like this activity because it addresses all three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To get more sight word practice ideas visit Kindergarten is Crazy.



postheadericon Compare and Contrast


This week, we had to teach compare and contrast. We just finished the story, Honey Bees, and we learned about bees, especially the queen bee and the drone bees.  

To teach compare and contrast, I used the book, Stellaluna.




OBJECTIVE: What are we going to learn today? 

We are going to learn about compare and contrast. 
I tell my students we have something fun to do today. I have a special treat! We are going to read a story about a baby bat that ends up in a bird nest with baby birds. Let's talk about those words! We talk about compare and contrast. One of my students tells me it's like two friends. They are friends and have a lot in common, but they are different people! So true! I will remember that when I teach this again. I used this as a teachable moment and we talked about friends, but how people are their own person.


READ WITH A PURPOSE: Set the stage for reading

While I read this book, I want you to think about bats and birds. What makes a bird a bird? What makes a bat a bat? How are they the same? Do they have anything in common? 



I read the story and watched their faces as I read. They were enthralled in the story and no one budges while I read to them. I'm thrilled to see them so interested and focused on the story. 

When I am done, the kids have a lot to share and talk about. They loved the story! 

I ask them if this story is fiction or nonficiton? They all agree it's fiction. Bats and birds don't talk. What's the author's purpose? They think about this. There's a lot to learn about bats and birds in this story. We decide the author wrote this to entertain because the bats and birds talk to each other. 



What did we learn about bats and birds? Let's talk about bats first. What did we learn about bats? I put their answers on chart paper as they tell me. They know bats sleep upside down, eat fruit, are awake at night. We review the term "nocturnal" at this time. 

We talk about birds next. The kids know they stand upright, they are awake during the day, and have feathers. 

How are bats and birds the same? 

They have wings, they fly, and they are both animals. 

We fill in the chart as we go. 


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Here is the graphic organizer I created for this lesson. 

(Click on the picture to download it)

compare and contrast

Later on, students can use these to write sentences. I put the their charts in the writing folders, to come back to during our writing time. 


Wrap Up Time!

Before we leave our teacher table, I like to take a minute and review what we learned today. I ask the kids to look at their chart and find a fact about either bats or birds. I ask them to share a fact they didn't know before teacher table time. 



postheadericon Reading With A Purpose Using a K-W-L Graphic Organizer


This week, we read the story, Honey Bees, at my teacher table. Not only did I want to review nonfiction, author's purpose, and what a fact is.  I also wanted my students to learn about honey bees in the process. Lots to learn at one teacher table time! 

Using the K-W-L chart made this process a lot easier. 


STATE MY OBJECTIVE: What are we learning today?

I always begin my lesson with the same question, "What are we going to learn today?" I explain my objective in kid-friendly terms.  I told them, "Today we are going to learn about honey bees! We are going to read a story about bees, and we are going to learn some facts about honey bees! We are also going to learn how to use a K-W-L chart to learn facts about honey bees." The kids at this point are excited and ready to read! 


ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Let's get thinking! 

I use this time to open the text book and show them the first page of the story. They also get a K-W-L chart to complete with me while we read. I explain the K (what you KNOW about honey bees). This is a great time to talk about facts. We talk about that term and I ask them to tell me some facts about honey bees. The students look at the picture and know that bees are black and yellow, they BUZZZZZ, they fly, and they make honey. At this point, the kids are thinking about bees, looking at a picture of bees, and talking about bees. As they state what they know, I write their ideas on my chart. We are off to a great start! 

Now, I ask them if they think the story is fiction and nonfiction. The kids know it is nonficition and therefore, the author's purpose is to inform the reader. 

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Next, I tell them, "Today we are going to read with a purpose." While we are reading, we are going to think about 2 questions. It's like a scavenger hunt! We have to read to find the answers to these quesitons. 

My first question is: What does a queen bee do? 

My next question: What is a drone?

Let's see if we can read to find the answers to these questions! Are we ready for our reading scavenger hunt? They all say YES! I have easily got them excited about our story. 






What did we learn about honey bees? Let's use facts from our story! 

We read the story, Honey Bees, and the kids get excited when we reach the page about the queen bee. They excitedly tell me, "The queen bee rules the hive!" Yes, let's write that on the "L" chart.

Next, we read more about bees and we start learning LOTS of facts about drone bees. We start to make a list of all the facts about drone bees. The kids can't wait to read each page to find all the facts about drone bees. I couldn't read with them fast enough! At one point, I was chatting with them about the bee hive, and a student raised his hand and asked to keep reading to find out more about drones. Let's keep reading!

We are very busy filling in facts about drone bees. We put as many facts as we can fit on the chart. 

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What did we learn today?

We have been so busy learning about bees and finding facts..we only have a few minutes left of teacher table time!

Let's talk about what we learned today! 

The kids tell me all the facts they have learned about honey bees. They are excited about what they learned! We did it! We talked about nonficiton, author's purpose, and what a fact is, we learned about honey bees, and we learned how to use a K-W-L chart. More importantly, we have been learning to read, but today, we were able to spend our time reading to learn. Objective DONE!


Here is the K-W-L chart: 

(click on picture to download)


K-W-L Honey Bees

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