Monday, March 5, 2012

Free Extension Ideas for Reading Groups

Do you have reading groups in your classroom? I run them with small classroom phonics books informally throughout the year. We have formal reading groups beginning tomorrow. Between two kindergarten classes, we run 10 different groups. The other kindergarten teacher takes one group, I take another group. The other 8 groups are run by parent volunteers, three days a week for a half hour each. Parents are so wonderful to help us out, but often wonder about what they can do to add to the reading group experience. Here are some ideas that we came up with in list form for them and I thought I'd share them with you here.

After reading through the story or selection you are using:
1) read the story through once more. Allow students to read different pages than they did the first time.
2) Think of a comprehension question you can ask for each page.
3) Discuss vocabulary on each page. Do not assume children know the meanings of each word.
4) Look at each word. Have them tell you how many sounds are in a word.
5) Look at each sentence. Have them tell you how many words are in each sentence.
6) Focus on punctuation. Have them identify when they see a period or question mark. Discuss what purpose each one serves.
7) Look at each sentence. Focus on where the spacing between words is. Have them identify the space.
8) Choose a word from the story and write it on a small whiteboard. Have them identify what letters are vowels and what sound that vowel makes. Repeat with consonants.
9) Use the whiteboard to play "Hangman" with words from the story.
10) Use the whiteboard to play "Guess the Missing Letter" game with words from the story. You write a word, but leave out one or two letters.
11) Focus on blending in words. You write a word from the story on the whiteboard. Touch and say the sound for each letter slowly. Run the marker under the word slowly and have them read the words slowly. Then run the marker under the word and have them read it faster.
12) Pick a word from the story and write it on the whiteboard. See how many real words they can think of that rhyme with that word. Keep a tally on the top of the whiteboard.
13) Allow them to choose a different ending for the book. What do they wish happened in the end of the story? Compare how that would be different from the real ending of the book.
14) Discuss whether the story is fact or fiction. Could it really happen? Could the characters in the story really do what they do in the story? What parts of the story could really happen? What parts could not?

These are just a few ideas. Remember, the more interactive and fun you make reading, the more students will learn to love the reading process. If you show them you can have fun doing it, they will have fun learning how to do it.

I would love to hear how you make reading interactive and fun for students!

Learning to Spell is Fun and a Freebie

This year, my students are really enjoying the writing process. This group also LOVES to draw. I believe part of their love to write comes from the fact that I believe it is really important to motivate them and champion their efforts at phonetic spelling.
Here is an activity I made for them to show them they can spell and give them a chance to draw their picture. Drawing a depiction of a vocabulary word is a great technique for remembering what the word said. Students do this technique all the way up through junior high school.Word Work

As a kindergarten teacher, I LOVE seeing a student begin their spelling experience. Most children automatically assume they can not spell. A few know they can and do not seem daunted by the process. Those that think they can not though are the ones that I am talking about. At this point in the year, through Saxon phonics, we have introduced all letters except the letter Q and combination Qu. As a result, the students have been exposed to the sounds each of these letters make and can be expected to use them to make simple C-V-C words for writing. They struggle with things like the correct times to use a C versus a K, but they are slowly learning that process too. Here is a snippet of how fun it is to watch a child learn they actually can spell.

Child: "Can you help me spell a word?"
Me: "What word would you like help with?"
Child: "I need help with flip."
Me: "You can spell that."
Child: "No, I can not."
Me: "Let's sound it out together."

The child then sounds it out with me and LO AND BEHOLD!!!! They realize they CAN spell it and put it down on paper! Seeing the look on their face when they run off to show their friends what they did is like money in the bank to me.

What do YOU do when a child comes up to you with a written word that is not spelled correctly, but has all the correct sounds? I celebrate with that child! At this point in the year, if a child can phonetically get EVERY sound, but still misspell the word, I know that they have a sturdy phonemic understanding. Examples: ("hrt" for hurt or "fol" for fall.) They will do VERY well with the spelling mechanics in first grade.

I would love to hear what you do to encourage the spelling process with students! I love new ideas!
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