Saturday, November 9, 2013

Word Families and Biographies

Oh my.

I'm sure I've mentioned before how varied my group is this year with their reading levels.  As a grade level, we switch students around and when they're not with us for the 30 minutes of group time, they are either at Title 1, Reading Lab, or (for the higher readers) have "independent time."

I LOVE this rotation.  Before, we used to have an assistant in our room for reading and you would rotate in the classroom.  I remember being worried at first without my assistant being in the room (they are working in lab and title 1)....oh, lil' naive me!

BECAUSE we rotate out, there are times in your room when it is just YOU and your GROUP.  As in, no monitoring behavior because lil' Johnny can't get his work done, or Suzie is talking too loud....

I LOVE the fact that at times, there is no one else in the room but my group.  Last year, I didn't have ANY groups with independent time and the fact that I could focus on them and only them made a HUGE difference.  Trust me, the data shows that this WORKS.  Our lower readers, having that intense 1 hour 30 minutes of reading intervention/silent group time shows in their progress of 1-2 levels (or more) during the school year!  I will never want to go back to the way things were!

I hope your school does something similar.  It's amazing how much more you can get done without having to worry about splitting your attention.  Of course, why am I telling you this?  You're teachers!

Well, back to this year and my original story. :)  I do have a diverse group this year and while I enjoy teaching my lower ones, I requested 1 higher group this year.  So, right now my groups are PrePrimer/Readiness, Primer, and 5/6 (as in on a 5th or 6th grade reading level).  Of course my 5/6 group is "independent", so they spend time in the room while I am meeting with other groups.  At times, I DO have to fuss about noise, but with the other groups being that low, and often they are reading aloud (because let's face it - whisper reading isn't really whispering with these levels!), it sometimes doesn't make a difference!

So what do I do with my higher group for the time they are not with me?  I am lucky they are my second group, since it helps split up the time.  For the first 30 minutes, they are doing literacy centers.  Second 30 minutes, they are with me.  Last 30 minutes, they have a reading response and possible other activity and, if they finish early, can go finish the center they are assigned to that day (I learned long ago - assign the centers, don't let them pick!).

Sooo....this means this year has been a LOT of creating sight word activities AND being able to supplement my higher learner's abilities.  While creating and finding cutesy things works well for the lower ones, I often find that for my higher group, it's looking rather stale, boring, and "old."  I'm currently revamping some of my activities I created while teaching 4th grade to make it look more "friendly" and "inviting" (i.e. less boring).  

It's interesting to be creating things at both ends of the spectrum.  I have to admit, though, I've been spending more time on my lower ones (of course).

However, I FINALLY have something to share for my higher readers!

We are currently in our "Nonfiction 9 Weeks" as I call it.  Last year, they had us do 1 semester of fiction and 1 semester of nonfiction (I'm flinching as I'm typing this - it was horrible!).  So, I'm glad they broke it up this year with our pacing guide.  

This week and next week, we're focusing on biographies.  I love doing biographies and finding those obscure ones that the kids fall in love with!  We're also doing our "Famous Americans" unit in History, so it ties in well.

Looking at my file for my older readers, I wasn't too happy with some of the graphic organizers I had for them.  So....if it's "broke".....

And of course, couldn't leave my lower ones out....a new word family activities pack is up!

Be sure to click on the title picture to check them out (the link will take you to TpT)!  I'm trying to be good and have them available in all 3 of my stores (!).....Teachers Pay Teachers, Teacher's Notebook, and Resources 4 Teaching.  Whichever you prefer, go check them out!  Also be sure to download the Word Family Pack's free preview!

AND....since you've stuck with me this far...the biography pack is a flash freebie until Monday AM at TPT!


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