Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Differentiating Reading Instruction:Some Simple Ideas

We all know that every child's journey to become a reader is different. What is simple for one may be incredibly difficult for another, some are great with phonics instruction, others seem to sail right through sight words, and others yet can read the words, but have a hard time with understanding what they're reading.  How on earth are you supposed to teach a room full of children who are all unique and at different points on their reading journey?
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

You differentiate.  You may have 3-4 reading groups, you may have 6-7 reading groups (yes, I did that),  you may pull students for 1-1 instruction, or small group instruction with a group that needs to work on a particular concept.  Today I thought I'd show you some simple ways to use a single reading resource many ways, that is, to differentiate.

I'm going to focus today on emergent readers.  UNC defines an emergent reader as:
             "Child on the path to fluent literacy, before conventional reading and writing
             skills emerge. Emergent readers demonstrate alphabet knowledge, a concept
             of what a word is, a sense of story (beginning, middle, end), listening and
             retelling skills, phonemic awareness, and verbal expression."

Here's an example of some text you might use with an emergent reader.  It has a limited number of words, uses mostly sight words, and has pictures that clearly match the sentences.  You'll notice the text has a repeating pattern, in this case, "I see a red __"  The book I took this from has 6 sentences with this pattern, one to a page, plus a final page without the last word on it, for the children to add in their own word and picture.  Once children are familiar with the text pattern from the book, you can have them match the sentences and pictures.  Start with just a couple, and work your way up.
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

You can also separate the words in a sentence and have students pay close attention to each word in order to put the words in the correct order.  This is a great time to point out that sentences start with capital letters (so the word "This" must be first) and end with punctuation (so the word yellow must be last).  Children will look at the first letter in each word to help them decode the word, and need to think about what makes sense.  They may notice that the first word in each sentence is the same, or point out the pattern the sentences are based on.  If they struggle with one of these words, you might want to point out other instances of the word - preferably in a sentence they've already read. 
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

 I find that children are much more likely to engage with the text if they have the opportunity to "play" with it, so I make word and picture cards large enough for students to manipulate easily.  I usually use mine in a pocket chart.  Just think of the fun children can have putting the words in the wrong order to create crazy "sentences" - and the reading and thinking about the words necessary to do so!

If you are working on skills like this with more than one child, challenge them to work together to make the sentences, or to scramble them up for each other.  My students LOVED taking turns scrambling and decoding sentences.  You can even have them dictate and illustrate additional sentences that fit the pattern, and let them scramble and decode those!

As students gain skills and confidence, you can challenge them with more text at once...
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction
... including multiple scrambled sentences.
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

Here I've combined both of these techniques: several sentences need to be unscrambled, and then the matching picture can be found and placed with each one.  Notice that these are still predictable sentences that follow a pattern, and that the pictures still correlate closely to the text.  By varying the number of sentences children are working with, whether the words are in order or scrambled, and whether the pictures are with the sentence or scrambled separately, you can manage the difficulty level for different children - or the same child, on different days.
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

This is the most challenging level I've come up with for this kind of text.  I've scrambled both the pictures and the words for multiple sentences, and have provided the text in book form for students to refer to as they put everything in order.  Look how much more challenging this is than the other ways of differentiating listed above! By the time students can work with the text at this level, they've most likely mastered the sight words used in the text, and will be able to identify those words in other places. (In other words, they're really reading!)
Some simple ideas for differentiating reading instruction

When working with children like this, it's important to look at what they CAN do, and to build on the skills already in place.  A child who already knows the sight words in a text probably doesn't need to match pictures to sentences, just as a child who is working to put a single sentence in order will only be frustrated if you scramble several at once.  You want them to enjoy the experience of working with words, as well as to learn new things!

These techniques will work with almost any emergent reader text, but if you are interested in the texts I've used in this post, they are all part of this resource, including the word and picture cards for children to manipulate:
Emergent Readers: Color Words

I'd love to hear how you differentiate for your emergent readers - share your tips in the comment section below!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Jawsome" Deals for the last week of Oceans of Steals, Deals, and Giveaways

OH. MY. GOODNESS!  This is going to be an amazing last week for Oceans of Steals, Deals and Giveaways!  Amazing discounts? We've got 'em!  Freebies?  Oh yes!  Gift cards to 16 different awesome stores?  Yes, yes, yes!

On Monday 8/8/16 there will be an abundance of awesome resources marked down to just $1!
I'm  offering School Bus Counting and Sequencing, a great back to school counting to 10 resource, and Fire Safety Hundreds Charts.  You can find all of the $1 deals by searching #ManicMonday - but it's for one day only, so don't wait!

Then there's #Two4Tuesday: with each participating seller offering 2 resources at half price.
For this fun day of savings, I'm marking down my Alphabet Mystery Pictures 2 - which includes mystery pictures for every letter of the alphabet, and each one focuses on the letter the picture begins with, as well as visually similar letters.  This is perfect for preschool or kindergarten, and they're ready to print and go - just what we all need that first week or two back at school!  I'm also discounting Rainforest Bingo, a super fun way to learn about a dozen rain forest animals.

On #WildWednesday there will be flash freebies offered throughout the day.  I'm going to offer two fun fall activities, Leafy Letter Learning, and Sometimes it Looked Like...
 To be notified when these items get marked down to free, just like Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten on FaceBook.  I'll let you know when I mark each resource down, and how long it will be free, so you can scoop up these resources and make your fall planning just a little easier!  Here's an extra incentive: If I get 20 more FaceBook likes by Wednesday evening, I'll do one more flash freebie!  (Quick, go like my page and invite your teacher friends to do it too, so you can all get 3 freebies on Wednesday!)

I'm really excited about #ThankfulThursday!  Last week I finally put together a full year bundle of my very popular 100s chart mystery pictures, and I'm going to mark it 50% off on Thursday!
This resource is HUGE!  There are 86 mystery pictures included - and each one of them is differentiated for 3 levels of learners.  This amazing resource has 324 pages of no prep. math learning. There are hundreds charts for all these popular learning themes:
Australian animals,
Fairy Tales,
Fire Safety,
St. Patrick's Day,
Valentines Day.
Purchased separately, these resources cost $59, so it is already an amazing deal at the bundle price of $40, but I'm going to offer it for one day only at half price: $29.50! - that's just 9 cents per page!

To top off the week, we're also giving away 16 $50 gift cards on Friday!  That's $800 in gift cards to fabulous places like Target, Michaels, Kohl's and more!
Enter here - it's super easy, and you just might win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Shepherd Who Cried Wolf

Do you remember reading Aesop's fables as a child?  I do!  There are some that almost everyone is familiar with, like The Tortoise and the Hare, and The Shepherd who cried Wolf.
A beautiful retelling of Aesop's fable, with a game and retelling props - super cute!

 Maybe it's because I remember reading the stories and thinking about the morals, that I was really pleased when I recently found beautiful clip art for fables.  Whatever the reason, I bought it, and have started retelling the stories with it.

I made a reproducible student booklet, and props for retelling the story.  (Fables and retelling stories are included in the Common Core State Standards for 2nd grade, so that's the reading level I aimed for - although younger children can certainly listen and retell the story, even if they can't read this version.)

I even made a short video of me using the props to retell the story!  I'd love for you to use this with your students - my kiddos loved watching short youtube videos like this, and I appreciated the opportunity to let another (virtual) teacher into my classroom to help me out for a few minutes.

If you're a regular reader, you know I think it's important to make learning fun, so I've also been making games to go along with the books and story retelling props.  The game I made for this one requires a spinner, so I thought I'd show you two super easy ways to make a spinner in under a minute!  The first one is pretty self explanatory,
A beautiful retelling of Aesop's fable, with a game and retelling props - super cute!
- all you do is put a paperclip in the middle of your spinner background, and use a pencil to anchor it.  A flick with your finger sends the paperclip arrow around.  Talk about instant and easy!

Here's a more traditional way:  Use a pushpin to make a tiny hole where you want your spinner to pivot (can you see it right in the center of the circle?), then put a brad through a paperclip.  Put the brad through the hole - having that tiny hole will let you get the brad through your paper without wrinkling it up or pushing too hard and accidentally stabbing yourself in the finger with a brad.  (Yup, I've done that a time or two!)
A beautiful retelling of Aesop's fable, with a game and retelling props - super cute!

Open the brad on the back of the paper, and you'll have a spinner like this one:

Super simple, and super fun!  How do you use fables with your students?  Do you use learning games too?  Let me know in the comments!

Have a great day!