Sunday, October 11, 2015

Textual Evidence in K-2

Hey all ! I am so excited to be sharing this topic with you. As a  teacher of several years, I never thought "Text Evidence" would become one of my main instructional focus topics until I started tutoring in 5th Grade. I especially did not see the importance until I realized that many of my students were not passing their weekly reading comprehension assessments because they did not know how to reference the text for support. In first grade we do a lot of explicit text evidence but understanding inferential questions is also important. So I wanted to give you an idea of how I included and taught both using  Text Evidence for Beginners.
At one point  I tutored 5th grade. I realized that many of  the students I tutored lacked basic skills in referencing the text to support their answers. At that grade level I expected them to have a good grasp on inferential text questions but they didn't  even have the basic knowledge of referencing the text for explicit text questions. It was like pulling needles and threads to get them in the habit of referencing the text to support their ideas and thoughts. When I posed a question, they would pretty much give me something off the top of their head. In most instances, their answers or thoughts pertaining to the passages were incorrect.  It's kind of like they were picking answers out of a hat. I mean answers that had nothing to do with what I asked or what we were even talking about. I was a bit shocked to say the least. It was also very frustrating.  Especially now with the Common Core, this is a super important topic for almost any grade level.
Granted some of their inabilities  stemmed from lack of interest because of the super long and boring passages but it was evident they had no strategies for completing the task at hand. I began teaching them strategies using super easy passages that incorporated text-dependent questions. This was to help boost  their confidence and build stamina in searching the passage for reference. Using shorter passages helped so much. It gave them the stamina to tackle longer and more difficult passages and got them into a good pattern.  

After seeing this at the upper level, it prompted me to be proactive in first grade.
I began brainstorming ideas on ways to make referencing the text fun while also introducing text with inferences and text with explicitly stated answers.  I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to create the tools I now use in implementing textual evidence in my small group routine. I began searching for short, leveled passages that I could use to introduce explicit text evidence . I could not find what I was looking for. I also wanted passages that only focused on drawing conclusions from the text using inferences, clues and hints from the passage.  I was not able to find passages that addressed both topics in a way that would be appealing to my group of students, and also  be effective in teaching them the needed skill. So I created  Text Evidence for Beginners
I started with passages that the students could actually read or passages with phonetic patterns we were practicing. I know this seems obvious but it must be mentioned that reading above the  instructional level of the student will frustrate them. They will probably give up before they even begin. They certainly will not enjoy reading and probably will cringe every time they have to attempt it.  We all want our students to get to that level where they are reading like rock stars but the foundation has to be built before they can get there. You may even want to start out with a passage below their level  to  kind of  "get their feet wet" and build confidence. 
The intent was to address this skill for the K-2 grade level in a fun and meaningful way. As first grade usually begins in a phonetic sequence in terms of reading, I had to have passages that integrated the phonetic skills we were learning along with the reading comprehension and text evidence elements.Text Evidence for Beginners in this way are "All  in One" readers. We talked about how the author may give you clues to the answer or how sometimes we may find the answer directly in the passages. Understanding inferential and explicit text evidence is important to teach seeing that we find both while we are reading any text in first grade. Practicing with both types of passages gives students a better understanding in reading comprehension. We started with readers that had no writing so we could focus on the skill of looking back and practicing how to find our evidence in the story. 

Each story includes the phonetic sound we are working on and also incorporates rhyming patterns within. We also get to review our key words by pointing and reading each word family word from the story. I must say this, do one task at a time. First, read the story. Next, color the answers in the text. Finally, point and read the focus words.
I found out that if I print 2 per page, I can save on paper and use them in their interactive notebooks if we will be working on the same sounds and stories for multiple days. You can also print 2 per page to make it easy to send home for homework. 
 If you want to work on a story as a whole group or even begin your lesson with inferences as a whole group, it is easy to just project a slide with an example story.
As students grow throughout the year, the passages get harder. We started out with word families and them progressed to reading stories with inflectional endings, blends, digraphs and passages with other phonetic patterns. By now they are understanding a bit better how to scan the text and sequence events in their mind. For kiddos just starting out, use the phonics set. For more advanced readers, use the nonfiction set. This is a great way to differentiate.  I must say that when I started to use Text Evidence for Beginners, it made a world of difference in the way the students looked at the text. Now every time we have a test or we read a story, it's like a light bulb goes off in their head. They immediately start circling or underling or highlighting evidence for the answers they selected. 
Our nonfiction stories are short but they integrate so many essential vocabulary words and also incorporate inferential and explicit textual evidence. Kiddos love the fun stories and learning about insect, holidays, birds, etc.  Grab their attention through the use of incentives as they read. As we are at our small group, students who find the evidence first, get  a linking cube. They race to see who can get all three cubes first. 
Some of the passages that go along with the yearly non-fiction readers also include stories.
With the stories,we read once and quickly do a sequence of events using our sequencing cards. 
Check for understanding by having students turn over their folder and quickly tell you what happened in the beginning, middle and end of the story. I used astro bright paper to cut out little squares. I wrote the sequential words after attaching each card and then laminated.  

I added notebook paper to each folder for students to write down new vocabulary from each story. You can not imagine the level of growth as we go back and review the new vocabulary words we learned. 

These super cute mini notebooks are also great for writing the new vocabulary words . They are also great because they don't take up a lot of storage space. 

Organizing these readers is pretty simple. Plan for intentional instruction by using a reading folder during small group. You can also get each monthly set bounded. However, my first year using these, I used a basic prong folder and stored them in these awesome magazine storage containers. As you can see I have many different types of  folders stored in these magazine holders also. 
Use different color folders to differentiate with your guided reading groups. I keep each group folder in the magazine holder. They are right next to my guided reading table for easy access. This worked so well in keeping me organized so I could just pull a set of folders and call that specific group over. During planning time, stack the folders with the readers you will use for the week. 
Get them bounded. The nonfiction unit is black and white and colored. You can print everything in black and white to save ink . These were bounded with the colored covers which are free in my store if you want to use them for organization. 
Use different folders for each month or use one large folder for all your readers and use the free reading covers as inserts. Binding the books may be a bit expensive unless of course you are able to do it at your school or have a binding machine. 

Pick up the free comprehension covers  for organizing your readers. The non-fiction unit comes with the black and white covers for students to color for each month. 
When you try Text Evidence for Beginners, I would love to know how they worked for you. Feel free to share in the comments.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Teaching Rules and Procedures

We all know that at the beginning of the year, one of the most important things we do is teach our classroom rules and procedures. One year, I had students tell me what they think should be our classroom rules. I wrote these on chart paper and posted in our classroom. They were super proud of the way they got to be involved in the details of our classroom community. 
Another year, I had these large set of  rule posters, which worked pretty well but they took up a lot of space. This year, I thought of doing something new. I wanted the rules to be visible, yet not take over my whole classroom. I also wanted to make sure I was intentionally demonstrating the expectations and going over everything my students needed to know. I created these small rule sticks and placed them into a cute little green bucket. These are actually my large rule cards that I printed 4 to a page, cut and laminated. EDITABLE RULES
During our circle time for the first two week of school, I  had different students pull a stick with the attached rule card. We certainly do not go through these in one day.  I attached the rule cards with glue sticks but velcro or tape will certainly work too. We talked about probably 3 or  4 per day for the first 2 weeks of school.  We acted out and modeled what they should look like. On specific procedures such as lining up, staying in our reading spot and centers, we worked on building stamina with my little timer. Worked pretty well. 
After we get done chatting and modeling, the kids were able to follow up by writing one or two of the rules in our  "Keep It Safe" rule book. I got a quick glance of their writing also. 

After we got through with all our rules and  procedures, we posted them. This is an example of what I did before I posted them all. They were small enough, yet visible. Not to mention, super cute !

This is how it looks after we have posted all of our classroom rules and procedures. It's funny to see the little ones go up to the board and point out a classroom rule when they are trying to correct or explain something to a friend. 

Incorporating rules and procedures in this fun way is easy to do and really makes them more meaningful. 

You can find these editable rules  HERE: