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Showing posts with label #sarahsnippets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #sarahsnippets. Show all posts

Teaching Two Syllable Words

I love teaching two syllable words! It's always exciting when I get to that point in the year where they are ready to take that next step with reading and spelling. At the same time, it can also be a challenge for our struggling readers. I want to start this post by talking about some common errors I see when my students are starting to read and spell two-syllable words. Then if you are interested in reading (a lot) more, come on over to my blog to get more details and resources. 

Teaching Ideas for the WHOLE Class
Here are some ideas for how to teach this to your whole class. (The activities after this will show mainly how to teach and reinforce small group or one-on-one.)

First model several times, then start calling up kids to the board to help. To keep the rest of the class involved, use hand and body motions. As your helper is splitting the word, ask the class, "Do you think the first syllable should be open and closed?" Have them use these motions SILENTLY to answer. After it has been split, ask what vowel sounds the first syllable is. Have them silently use motions (short vowel is just a swoop of the finger showing the short vowel symbol which sort of looks like a U.)

This next activity is always a fun one. To get the rest of the  class involved, they could be writing the word and splitting it using their own white board or in a notebook.

I hope these tips help and get you started with teaching two-syllable words. :) 

Click here or on the picture to come visit me. :)

Encouraging Parent Involvement

Hi everyone! Happy (almost) fall! This was my first official week back to school with kids... but I spent it in bed. Yep. Sick the first week of school. Not fun.

Today my post is all about parents, specifically parents participating in their children's education. More and more I'm seeing the iPads or iPhones as babysitters. Ouch. There, I said it. I'm being harsh and definitely over exaggerating, but there is a little truth in it. However, there are still TONS of parents who want to work with their kids and are so eager for ideas of how to do this. So  for this post, I've pulled some of my favorite posts and pins that involve kids at home learning and exploring with parents.

At the end of this post, there is a page filled with QR codes that lead to some of these great posts. The goal is to encourage those iPad parents to interact more with their kids and to give those eager parents the resources they want/need. :)

I love this post about fun science experiments to do at home! What a great way to bond with your kids while getting them thinking and exploring.


This is a great post filled with tons of fun, interactive suggestions for at-home reading.

I love this post from my friend Valerie from All Students Can Shine about reading at home. This is a great resource for parents!


My friend Lisa from Growing Firsties also has an wonderful resource for parents. This is such a helpful resource for parents. Often they are reading with their kids or listening to them read, but they aren't sure how to make the best of it.


This post is full of activities to practice math skills. Math can be so fun and it starts with our attitudes toward math. Making math come alive can do wonders for kids! 


This idea is adorable for introducing subtraction to the younger kids:

This post is packed with fun ideas, games, and tools to make math enjoyable for your kids. Love this post!

Last year I posted ideas for practicing the alphabet at home. Here is a link to that post:

One of the questions I get most from parents is how to help their kids master those sight words. I'm hoping this resource can help! Earlier in the summer I also posted some ideas for practicing sight words in the summer. Since summer is pretty much ending, I thought I'd share this resource I made for the parents at my school a couple of years ago.  

(If you scroll down to the bottom of the summer post, you will see this sight word parent resource to download for free.)

I wanted to find a way to share these resources with parents. I put some of these blog posts together on a page with QR codes so parents could easily access them. I also made a bookmark version. Head on over to my blog if you'd like a copy of this. :)

Don't forget to check out all of these other wonderful Chalkie posts this month!

Establishing Your Morning Routine and Classroom Jobs

Hi everyone! It's that time of year again. Summer is winding down and we are all starting to think about going back to school. Some of you are already there! Am I alone when I say that the first week usually makes me want to pull my hair out? Well today I'm going to talk about setting up your morning routine so your kids know exactly what to do when they walk in the room. Hopefully this will help keep a few more stands on hair on your head. ;)

My first couple years, I really struggled with this. Most kids learned our routines and knew exactly what to do. Others knew what to do, but got side tracked. Still others weren't sure. I realized it wasn't them It was me. When our students are struggling in the classroom, we always need to look at what we are doing that isn't getting through to them. I realized that I taught routines and even modeled them, but some of my students still needed a visual reminder. Most days were the same, but Mondays and Fridays were different because Friday was turn in homework day and Monday they had to check their job chart. Some mornings I had morning work, but other mornings I wanted them to read a book. I wasn't being consistent. So I created these posters for my class:

Each morning, I chose the posters I wanted for that day and put them on my magnetic white board. They took up a lot of space, but I was able to remove them when the bell rang and our day began so it didn't matter. I kept them easily accessible so I could grab them each morning. The following year, I started out my year strong by introducing these posters on day one. I told my students that they could count on these visuals to be there each morning so they knew exactly what to do. I started with just one poster: Hang up your backpack. Then as I introduced more routines, I added that poster up the next morning. Here are some tips on using these posters:

1. Start on Day 1 with just one poster. Introduce the morning routine posters. 
2. Each day, add a poster as you introduce new routines. 
3. Model and practice as you introduce a new poster.
3. After the bell rings and everyone is seated, go over the posters that you have on the board. Check to make sure everyone has completed each routine before taking down that poster. Give them time to do it if they hadn't already. 
4. After all have been introduced, modeled, and practice, spend a few more days or a week (however long it takes) going over each poster to make sure everyone has done them. Do this after everyone is seated. Take down a poster and ask, "Did you hang up your backpack?" If everyone has done it, move on to the next one.
5. Spend time practicing your morning routine at the end of the day so checking these each day becomes a habit. Mix it up so they get used to the fact that sometimes certain posters will not be there. (For example, my homework poster was only there on Fridays.)
6. For those students who need a little extra help, give them a mini-version (pictured below) to keep laminated on their desk. They can check off as they go using a white board marker. If needed, provide a timer to show them how much time they have. 

You can download these by clicking HERE

One of my routines on Mondays is to check the job chart. I change out jobs each week. I don't need to keep a checklist of jobs because I just move the jobs one over each week. 

There are two different ways to set this up:

Jobs on the inside and faces of students on the outside:

OR jobs on the outside and student names inside:

Come by my blog to read and see more about how I use this job chart.

Another clever idea for job charts:
A coworker many year ago used to have two kids doing each job at a time. The first student was the "expert" and the 2nd was "job training." The next week the job trainee would become the expert and teach the next person how to do the job. That means every other week you were learning a new job and every other week you were an expert. I loved that system! 

I hope you all have a great first week back.  I hope this post helps with some of those routines! :)

Tutoring Tips

Hello! It's Sarah from Sarah's First Grade Snippets.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer break so far! Since most of us are not teaching in classrooms right now, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about tutoring. Before I had kids, I was tutoring like crazy during the summer! I would literally tutor from 8am to 4pm four days a week. It was before the days of blogging, TPT, and kids so I had the entire summer to myself. Tutoring was the perfect way to get some summer cash and fine-tune my teaching skills in my earlier years of teaching.  Now, I don't tutor all day during the summer, but I did start tutoring two kids during the school year at my son's school. It had been a while since I tutored, but it's very similar to what I do for my actual job (reading pull-out.) One big difference was that at my actual job I have a big classroom to store all of my things. When I'm tutoring, I go into another school so I had to haul all of my things with me. That brings back memories of my earlier summer tutoring. I would literally roll in a suitcase full of stuff to the public library and station myself at a table all day. Ha! Well, I've evolved a little. Now I have a cute teacher bag and a binder that go with me and a filing system at home. Earlier in the year, I posted a picture of my tutoring binder on Instagram. I had some requests to see more, but just never got around to it. I thought I'd share some of my tutoring tips today. :) 

Don't lug around a suitcase like I did early on! Unless you tutor in your classroom, you will need to be prepared and organized. My tutoring sessions usually last between 30 and 45 minutes so I need to make sure I have engaging and meaningful activities to fill that time. Keeping this stuff organized is key for your own sanity! Also if you are totally organized, it makes your tutoring session flow much more smoothly.  

This year, I carried a teacher bag with this binder. I had a separate filing system at home filled with more tutoring stuff.  Everything I need for that day is in my binder. 

I use these divider pockets to separate parts of the lesson.I like the ones with pockets because I always have things to fill them with! The picture above shows the different tabs I use for my binder. For each session, I do a phonics lesson, sight word practice, a fluency exercise, and guided reading.  At the end of my binder there are tabs for lesson plans, notes, and assessments. 

Since you may be tutoring in a room with no materials besides a pencil waiting there for you, you should definitely come prepared with your own pouch of goodies. Above is a picture of what I have in mine. 

You can create your own word building mat and tiles. You can cut index cards into smaller rectangles for the letter tiles and use a regular piece of paper to draw a word building mat. 

I have two phonics tabs in my binder. One is for introducing the phonics skill (the building words) and the other is for addition practice. I usually have 2-3 more activities to follow up my introduction. These are less guided and more for the student to practice sounding out words using that phonics rule.  Some simple activities include word sorting and matching up onset and rime. There are all sorts of resources on TPT for this! 

When you are planning your sight words, there are a few more tips:

1. Get a list (dolch, fry, or a list your district uses)
2. Find out what words your student already knows (this means they read them instantly on sight)
3. Keep a checklist of which words you taught and which they mastered. 
4. Introduce 3-5 at a time, depending on where they are at. Don't try to throw a bunch of new words at them. To make them stick, your student needs to practice them over and over in different ways. For your beginning readers, you may only want to introduce two at a time.  
5. Review previously learned sight words. This is good for two reasons: It's good to review so they go  deeper into their stored memory and it helps with confidence/flow when you are playing a sight word game.  Have a stack of notecards with the words that you have worked on, plus some that they already knew. Begin by going through this stack. 
6. For your new words, add a multi-sensory experience by tracing the word in glue. You can add glitter or just keep the glue. Then let your student trace and feel the word. You could also use Wikki sticks and pipe cleaners to make the word. That way, your students can feel the word and build the word in a different way. These materials are also easy to carry around. :)

There are so many awesome ideas on TPT for practicing sight words! 

Here is a simple activity to add to your toolkit: 

This is an activity that you can make on your own using a file folder. Games are fun, but your student does need to be seeing the word, tracing the word, and writing the word. This activity is perfect for that. 

Your plan doesn't have to be super detailed. I just think about two main things: what am I teaching and how am I teaching it. In this picture below, you see the what under the skill.  The how is under the method

Here is an example of what you could use if you are tutoring more than one person in a day. I used something like this in my earlier years and it helped me stay organized with all those kids! In the boxes, you can include the what and the how together.  

I plan it out first, then I "pack" my binder with the things I'll need. 

I use Readinga-z for my assessments. They have Guided Reading assessments a phonics inventory.
This is honestly the best investment! I first bought a subscription my first year of teaching and I was so happy I did. It's SO worth it! Look at all these options:
Once you've assessed your student, you are ready to plan your instruction!

I'm constantly changing the way I assess and keep notes from year to year in my own classroom. It's a problem. Don't be like me. Choose a way and stick with it! Here are some ways that I keep track of my students' sessions and assessments. 

The top left is used when the student is reading a book or reading passage. I do a quick check using this page. The checkmarks under the running record column show a snapshot of their reading for that day. Then I go back and "grade" their fluency, comprehension, use of phonics skills, and sight word knowledge with a simple plus, check or minus. 
The Snapshot Assessment is what I fill out at the end of the session. It includes all the pieces of the session. I "grade" with a scale of 1-4. This helps me keep track of their progress. 
The Phonics Snapshot is used specifically to keep track of phonetic skills. It goes into more detail (can they blend, can they segment, are they fluent with reading those phonetic words.) I mainly use this with my beginning readers. The last picture is my phonics quick check form. For time sake, I might only check half of it in one session and half in another. I use that when I think a child is ready to move on to the next skill. You certainly do not have to be this detailed! Choose one that works for you and go with it! :) It could be as simple as a box to take notes!  

One mistake I made super early on was that I spend too much time having my student read a book. Although it's important to practice reading real books, they can do that with their parents. They can do that on their own. We need to provide them with instruction and guided practice. Our struggling readers see a book as a daunting task. It's big, filled with too many words. Sigh. I find it really helps to give students opportunities to read in smaller parts. If you are working on fluency, they need to have opportunities to reread things. It makes sense that those texts need to be short so you have the time to reread them. I use short reading passages or story cards (in my Super Reader pack or any seasonal guided reading pack.) Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is an appropriate level and not too long. Choose one focus each day: expression, rate, stopping at punctuation, etc. Model it first and again after they read so they can hear good fluency. 

When I'm tutoring, I often pull from these resources:

Sentence Scrambler:

Head on over to my blog if you want to read more about my Tutoring Toolkit. 

Don't forget we have TONS of great posts in store for you this month. You can read more about it, by clicking here