It is hard to believe that it is almost time for the winter games to begin again. Every time I think about them I remember the excitement we felt when they were held in Vancouver in 2010. It was such a special time for those of us who live in British Columbia.
My students were so engaged and felt connected to the athletes and their accomplishments. We would listen to the theme song I Believe and this became our song in class. As some of you may know, "believe" is my power word and it comes up often as I am constantly coming across things with the word on them.
It is times like this that I miss having my own class. There are so many things I would love to do with my students. During the last winter games, I created some activities that could be used to make writing and Math time winter game focused. I would certainly be doing some of them in the next few weeks if I had the opportunity.
Here are some task card templates that can be used to create your own questions, games, or activities. I hope you find them helpful as we watch the athletes compete to represent the various countries.
I know this will be an exciting time for people all around the world as they cheer on their athletes. It is a time when we focus on the good in the world. It is a time to unite instead of divide. I hope for more caring and kindness towards one another, not just during the games but everyday.
I love using story books for springboards into teaching concepts. It is always fun to see where the ideas go. One of my favourite stories is Stone Soup. I have 2 versions that I usually share with the children.
I like to read the version by Marcia Brown. It is great to present it when studying about veterans because in the story the soldiers were returning from war. It is a good springboard for discussions.
It is interesting to see how the children react when the villagers hide the food. Just last week, when I read the story with my reading group, they kept commenting on how everyone was "lying". They also found it to be magical that stones could make soup for a king.
We also read the version by Ann McGovern. We then did a comparison of the two versions and how they had many similarities but they also had some differences.
I created some activities to further explore these ideas. Some of these activities can be used for single versions as well.
If I still had my own class, I would continue to investigate further and discuss how caring and sharing are inclusive and we can all be richer as a result. Sharing of the stone soup was not just about eating soup, but reconnecting with others and working together. As the villagers learned, because of the stone soup experience, they would never go hungry again.
As a culminating activity, I would make stone soup with my class. They were always amazed that the soup tasted so good. They really thought it was because of the stones!
I told my reading group that I usually did this with my class and they asked if they could be in my class. Unfortunately, I don't have my own class now and I don't have the opportunity to do things like make soup anymore. It warmed my heart to have them say that though.
What are some stories you have used to create discussions and do other activities with? I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.
I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
I am proud of my new products. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them here. Just click on the images below.
Reading strategies are very important for developing good reading skills. They help children to make meaning out of unfamiliar words and ideas in a variety of ways. Many children get stuck when they rely on only one or two strategies. Introducing these 8 strategies and practicing them will give them the tools to better understand the material they are reading.
About 3 years ago, I was introduced to these cute animals and their uses as reading strategies. I loved how the children engaged with them. I had to get my own stuffies so that they could actually hold them and interact with them. I use them all the time now in my guided reading groups.
I created a set of bookmarks and posters to go with these strategies. If you would like to get a copy of these bookmarks and posters, click the image below.
I hope you find these tools helpful with your young readers. I would love to hear how you use strategies in reading.
Using games and activities that are fun will help to engage children and they will learn skills without realizing that they are learning. It is wonderful to see them taking risks and challenges and enjoying learning.
I have always tried to include games in my guided reading lessons and my literacy blocks. Children can often get frustrated if they are working hard at learning to decode or make meaning of what they are reading. Using games to focus on some of the skills relieves some of that stress and allows them to practice the skills in a fun environment.
I use lots of different boxed games, but I also use task cards and other games that I have created. The ones that I have made are specific for what I might be covering in groups. I have many different themes for my sight words so that they are always fun to use because they are linked to different holidays, or special times.
Here are some other types of activities that I have used with my students. Depending on the abilities and the needs, I have made the materials simple for learning letter sounds and names and more difficult for learning about figurative language and parts of speech. I have also created activities for the interactive whiteboard. Bingo games that go with various topics are also fun to create.
If you are interested in checking out some of these products or other literacy activities that I have created, click here.
I volunteer at school and work with several guided reading groups. I create games and activities for them. Another retired teacher volunteers as well. She asked me to make up some game boards for her. You can check them out here.
Here is a free sample from the set of game boards. Click the image below to get your copy.
I have fun creating games and I love seeing the children react when a new game is presented to them. But more importantly, I am excited to see them learning skills that they were struggling with. It is so thrilling to see them applying the skills to their reading and writing lessons.
I would love to hear how you use games in your classroom to teach skills.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating materials? For me it comes from a need for certain resources in the classroom or for my grandchildren to support them in their learning.
I just started tutoring my grandson in French. He moved into a K/1 French Immersion class in March. He is in grade 1, but he is a capable student, so my son decided to move him early rather than do lots of tutoring over the summer and then move him into a grade 2 class. Already he is showing a good understanding of the language and he is able to figure out what is needed during the school day.
He can read the words and he has a few phrases that he can use, but he is really starting all over again. As I began creating a few materials for him, I noticed how similar it was to creating materials for my guided reading groups of emergent readers.
I decided to create a French version and an English version of each booklet or activity. So far I have created a few little readers and a package of interactive materials using basic vocabulary.
I took my little English readers into the Learning Support Teacher and she was so excited. She said it was like Christmas! I am happy that she will be able to use them with her struggling readers. I also plan on using them with some of my emergent readers when I go in to volunteer with reading groups.
When learning to read, it is the same process, no matter what language you are learning.
I am looking forward to creating more resources that will be covering a variety of themes. Stayed tuned for the next group of books.
Learning a second language doesn't have to be difficult. There are many ways to learn. Today I will be touching on a few strategies and steps that can help.
There are 6 steps to follow if you want to really learn to use a second or third language. Not surprisingly, these are the same steps we use when learning our first language. They do not necessarily need to be done in this order or one at a time.
Step one is to begin by listening to others speak so that you become accustomed to how the language sounds. This may seem a bit crazy, but if you go into any area where there are different languages being spoken, you will notice differences in the way the languages sound.
I find it interesting to listen to people speaking to each other in a store or at the airport or some sightseeing venue. It doesn't take too long to recognize whether they are speaking in French, Spanish, Asian, or other languages. I may not be able to understand what they are saying, but some accents and sounds are distinguishable and characteristic of different regions or countries.
Step two is to try speaking some of the words and phrases. This is usually done by copying what someone else is saying. It may be copying from a language program on the computer or at a listening center, or it may be copying someone who is speaking to you. With constant repetition, this will become easier and more natural sounding.
Step three is to work on the pronunciation so that it is as close as possible to the native sound of the language. This will take practice. Recording oneself when speaking and playing it back may be helpful. Using a "telephone" is also a good way to hear what is being said.
Step four is to develop a good vocabulary. The bigger the vocabulary acquired, the more a person will be able to communicate with others on a variety of topics.
Step five is to practice reading the words and reading simple passages that use the vocabulary in written form. As fluency and comprehension develops the passages can get more difficult and varied. It is important that comprehension be included, because it is possible to read words fluently without understanding what is being said. This is particularly true for some languages that are very phonetic.
Step six is to practice writing the language. The most difficult part of this process will be getting the grammar and syntax correct. Most languages are not translated literally, so you need to have an understanding of the language and how phrases are formed in order to communicate well.
There are many different approaches, but these steps have worked well in our schools and with my own children and grandchildren.
If you have other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Have you ever noticed that kids seem to learn languages more easily than adults? Children seem to be able to pick up the inflections and sounds more readily and they often mimic accents and dialects when they are around them for extended periods of time. This is not to say that adults cannot learn to be just as fluent as children, but sometimes it takes more effort to master it.
When our children were young, we decided to put them in French Immersion. I live in Canada, and French is one of our official languages. We thought it would be good to have them learn a second language while they were young. Both my husband and I took French in school, and we managed to do quite well, but it was sometimes difficult to get the correct pronunciation for some words. The programs then were more focused on writing rather than on speaking. They were just beginning to use oral language for teaching. I continued to study oral French in university and then went on to teach in a French Immersion school. My husband studied other languages as well and he finds language acquisition easy.
Many people opt to put their children into a language immersion program rather than have them study it as a course. Being immersed in a language, they tend to become familiar with the inflections, syntax, and basic grammar through hearing it being used on a continuous basis. When they are introduced to it in written form, it makes more sense. Of course, immersion is not for everyone and many people are able to learn well through classes also. (I found learning French fairly easy even though I didn't have the immersion setting.)
Oral language acquisition is best done in a conversational setting. This allows for practicing phrases that are useful and practical with others rather than doing worksheets full of conjugating verbs, and learning lists of vocabulary words. Of course, in order to do written work and read passages or books in another language, some of these exercises are useful as well. It is important to find a balance that works.
My next post will focus on 6 steps for learning a second language.
If you are interested in finding out more about French materials for language and numbers, check here.
Years ago, I taught Grade 1 French Immersion for 4 months and then I taught French Immersion music for several years. My own children also attended French Immersion schools when they were young.
Now some of my grandchildren are studying at French Immersion schools and my son is teaching French Immersion music. It is exciting to see the cycle beginning again.
I have taken some of my early literacy and numeracy products and created a French version. I have enjoyed trying them out with my grandchildren and I am planning on taking them to the school so that they can be used in the classroom as well. I have also created a new game to help them learn how to create sentences. Check them out below.
If you are interesting in finding out more about learning a second language, my next post is about learning a second language. Click on the image below to read it.
I have been sharing my approach to using guided reading in the classroom. Today, I would like to walk through a sample guided reading rotation. For the purpose of this example, I am going to be using 24 students and 5 different leveled groups. Often there will be some students that don't fit nicely into groups and they may need to be on an individualized program.
It is important to also make the groups as small as possible (5 or less) when working with struggling or emergent readers. The other groups can be a bit larger.
Before beginning a program, it is important to figure out what levels the children are at. Then the groups can be formed so that the spread is not too great for facilitating an effective program.
My sample group is a beginning grade 2 class with a wide range of levels.
Group 1 - working with letters/sounds, sight words, and leveled books from 1-5
Group 2 - struggling readers levels 6-8 (4 students)
Group 3 - readers levels 12-14 (4 students)
Group 4 - readers levels 17-19 (5 students)
Group 5 - readers levels 23-26 (8 students)
For this example, I will be spending about 20-30 minutes with the groups that I am working directly with. The other groups will be working independently or in centers. There will be time for about 3 of the groups to get direct instruction. Groups 1 and 2 will get direct instruction each day. The other 3 groups will get direct instruction at least 3 times throughout the week.
Note: It is not always possible to give guided reading instruction every day, but whenever it is scheduled, it is important to make sure that the groups that are struggling get some direct instruction.
Here is the first rotation.
Group 1 - reading with teacher
Group 2 - word work center
Group 3 - listening center
Group 4 - early chapter book reading to self
Group 5 - novel study reading to self and responding to reading
Group 1 - word or letter/sound game
Group 2 - reading with teacher
Group 3 - word work center
Group 4 - listening center
Group 5 - novel study chapter activity
Group 1 - listening center
Group 2 - follow up activity to story
Group 3 - reading with teacher
Group 4 - close reading activity
Group 5 - word work center
The listening center is a great place for using books and audio together. The students can listen to the story as they follow along in the book. This allows them to hear stories read with fluency and expression. The stories can also be chosen to fit the appropriate levels for the readers.
Because it is difficult to get to all the groups, the tendency is to focus on those that are struggling and let the others read or work independently. It is important that time be found for them as well. I discovered early on that they were only surface reading when left to read for long periods of time without some guidance and support. That is why I created some study guide activities to help them to dig deeper into the material and get more out of what they read.
Discussions and book talks also work well to find out what they understand and what interests them. If they are able to make connections and find enjoyment in what they are reading, they are more likely to continue wanting to read. Not all good readers enjoy reading.
Make sure that the activities and work associated with each book don't take away the enjoyment of the book. Sometimes it is is good to just read a story and not do an activity to go along with it. Switch it up and do some activities that are not written, but maybe dramatic or artistic.
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps with running a guided reading program in your classroom. If you missed the early blog posts, you can check them out in the links below.
If you do start up a program, I would love to hear about it.
If you already run a guided reading program in your classroom, it would be great to hear about it as well.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother or 8, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.
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