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Thursday, July 28, 2016

5 Ways I Use Punch Cards in My Classroom

Every summer about this time, I start to get the itch. You know, what will I add/subtract/continue to do in my classroom this year?

This year I'm changing a lot because it will only be my 2nd year in the role of a reading intervention teacher. Last year was all about learning the ropes of my new position and my new school. I was just treading water. I'd like to think this year I know a little more and I can offer a lot more to my position.

One thing I'm adding is punch cards! I plan to use these punch cards in different ways for each of my groups, grades K-2, because their needs are different too!

There are so many ways to use punch cards in your classroom, and students love them!

Read on to see how I'm using punch cards this year, plus a few ideas for classroom teachers too!

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

I will be using punch cards to monitor reading with my 1st and 2nd graders. I will send home punch cards in their take-home book baggies. Parents will initial for every book read, then I will punch the image to show I've checked it. The monthly themes of my punch cards add an extra initiative to their at-home reading and it's such an easy way to keep track of who is reading regularly (their nightly reading is optional from me). I will add empty punch cards to their student file and come progress report time I have an instant image of who was reading regularly and who I can recommend more at-home reading to.

Other Ways to Use Them to Monitor Reading...
Have older students reading chapter books, or want to stress quality reading, not quantity? Have parents initial for every 10 minutes read, or have students punch during Daily 5 for every 5, 10, 15 minutes read to focus on stamina.

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

Punch cards as incentives will mostly be used with my little K friends, although I am not above breaking them out for my older friends as well. My time with my littles ones is precious, as I am spread out between 8-10 classes. And we all know how short of an attention span our little ones have, so I will be using my punch cards as a way to keep them focused for as long as possible.

We will be punching for coming to groups quickly, staying on task, completing a task or mini-assignment, being a helpful friend to others in group, and extra effort. I will be punching away. Punches alone are the perfect incentive. They do not need to be tied to extra prizes. Just saying, "Wow, Brady, you earned 3 punches today!!!" is enough for my little friends. I will also let them pick out their own punch cards instead of using them seasonally because, why not?

Other Ways to Use Them as Incentives...
Independently or Whole Class: you might not want an extra thing to use with your whole class, or you might want a collective way to inspire your kids. There are no rules with these things!
Use them for behavior, at specials times only (the gym teacher gives a punch or she doesn't: EASY!), at dismissal (I wish I thought to use these my first year when dismissal was a HOT MESS for poor first year me!), during arrival, etc, etc, etc

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

I will have a separate punch card for each of my reading groups (there's so many to choose from)! Anytime my students get a compliment from someone else, they will receive a punch on their group card. There are plenty of opportunities for compliments: we have to walk down to my classroom and back and we share a classroom with another intervention teacher. I also plan on punching the group's card if any of my students' teachers come to me with a compliment about progress in class. Each time a group's punch card is filled, I will have a fun reward, like no shoes or gum in small groups.

Using the punch cards this way is important for me because, as a non-classroom teacher, I struggle with the amount of time to spend on procedures and routines when my primary role is an interventionist. Classroom management has always been one of my strengths and I found it was more difficult this past year not doing my usual beginning of the year lessons on behavior, procedures, and routines. Punch cards will offer a great assist in my management program as pull-out teacher.

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

Punch cards are great for classroom teachers to use to monitor and track homework. During my last few years as a classroom teacher we had "choice homework"...90% of our homework was by choice and the remaining 10% had to be done each week. I wish I'd had punch cards during those last few years. Students would receive a punch for the required homework and a bonus punch for any choice homework also completed.

Punch cards work great for any homework program, though. An easy, student-centered way, to monitor homework completion.

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

Do you do timed tests in your classroom? AR? Xtra Math? Any skills you assess using progress monitoring would be a great way to use punch cards. Have students keep individual goals and write the steps for getting to that goal? They can punch their card every time they complete a step along the way. Bonus for letting students choose and punch their own cards! This will really help them take ownership of their own work and goals.

As you can see, I've really thought through how I'm going to use my punch cards this year! Now not the next 23,982 things I want to work on for the next school-year!

If you're interested in using punch cards in your classroom or small groups this year, you can grab them from TpT by clicking the picture below. They include a theme for each month of the school-year (some have two themes  because I couldn't decide), plus 5 extra sets for even more student choices! Black ink, so they're printer friendly...print on bright cardstock and you're good to go!

There are so many amazing ways to punch cards in your classroom! Letting students choose their own punch cards makes it extra fun!

Have other suggestions for how to use punch cards? Leave them below!

Happy Teaching, Friends!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Prepping and Planning for Guided Reading

Hi Friends,

I'm here today with the first post in what I hope will be a really helpful and successful series on how I run my small groups and a reading/language arts intervention teacher in grades k-2. At the end of this post, I've included a freebie to help you get started with the planning of your own small group instruction!

Free printables to make planning guided reading and small group lessons a breeze!

In my school, my role is to work with the top tier of students who are performing below grade level in reading and language arts (Tier II RTI). We have two reading specialists who work with our students who need a higher level of intervention (Tier III RTI), and they use our schools' LLI kits.

LLI is an amazing program, but since I do not meet with students everyday, I can't use it authentically, and therefore, it's up to me to make sure I'm using a variety of resources to meet my students' needs. I meet with students 3x a week for about 35 minutes each. My schedule is actually a lot like it was during guided reading when I was a classroom teacher. Because of this, I feel like my guided reading posts are (hopefully) just as beneficial to classroom teachers as they are to intervention teachers.

Today's post is all about how I prep and plan for my small groups. I use a variety of planning sheets to make sure I am planning every part of our lesson and making the most of our time together. Future posts will detail the resources I use for each grade (k,1,2), as well as how I run my small group time for each grade level.

Prior to my position as an intervention teacher, I was not a planner. I didn't need to be. We had a basal, and I was confident in my teaching style. While I still consider myself flexible and more of a free spirited teacher, not planning is not an option when my time with my littles is so precious. And so, my planning sheets were born!

In the summer, or during the first few weeks of school, I use my planning questions sheets to make sure my guided reading area is set-up the way I need it to be. I want to make sure I have all the materials I need handy. These questions also help me identify possible problems or issues before they pop-up during a lesson. Last year, I looked back at my planning sheets about halfway through the year, and made adjustments to make my small group time even more effective.
Free printables to make planning guided reading and small group lessons a breeze!

When it comes time to actually plan my instruction, I try to plan 2 weeks at a time This just gives me a little more time between planning and it seems a little less tedious this way. I make sure to plan what resource(s) I will use for each group, a focus lesson (based on notes and data from previous lessons), and the before, during, and after of each lesson. I didn't start out planning all 3 components and before I knew it I was winging at least one part of each group's lesson. With time being so precious with each group, I knew that wasn't really an option.

For texts, I use a variety of different resources available to me. I usually start out in our book room, which is pretty well stocked. I make sure to look for high-interest texts, and try to correlate them to seasons and holidays whenever possible. One problem with the book room is that classroom teachers are also using it for their own guided reading groups, and I really want to avoid duplicating a guided reading lesson a student has already been a part of.

I also rely heavily on Teachers Pay Teachers. I will go into this further when I post about each grade level I work with, but a huge go-to for me is my reading comprehension passages. They're perfect for close reading lessons, as well as teaching my students to go back into the text to find their answer. I love that they're seasonal, so if I can't find a book on MLK Jr. in the book room, I have a passage to use instead.

Another resource of my own that I use for my 1st and 2nd graders are my Grab and Go Comprehension Packs. They each feature a fiction and non-fiction passage with comprehension questions built in. Each pack also has a focus lesson and activity so that part of my planning is already done. They are the perfect size for meeting with students 3-4 times a week as well.
Free printables to make planning guided reading and small group lessons a breeze!
My "before" lesson is usually a phonics activity that takes all of 5 minutes to play. I love starting with games because it gets my students excited and in a frame of mind that reading can be fun! Phonics games are also great when the included phonics lesson with whatever text we're using isn't something I really want address yet, or a fabulous way to tie in that book's phonics lesson.

The "during" part of my planning is where the bulk of the lesson occurs. This includes previewing the text, introducing/reviewing the focus skill, and the reading of the text. I make sure to budget about 20 minutes for this part of the lesson.

During this time I am taking notes while my students are reading to me. I include what level the text is (if applicable), areas they're struggling, and where they are making strides. These notes help me plan my focus skills and strategies for upcoming lessons.
Free printables to make planning guided reading and small group lessons a breeze!

The "after" part of my planning sheet is how I am going to wrap up the lesson. Exit ticket, discussion, adding to our anchor chart, all happen here. Just like the "before" part of my small group instruction, this takes about 5 minutes. This leaves me 5 minutes to check book baggies or just check in with my students and see how their day is going.

I also do individual reading conferences with my students. I shoot for about 2 a month for each child. I also do a lot of reading conferences when I push into other classrooms. I make sure to keep the reading conference notes in a separate section of my intervention binder for when I am working on progress reports or meeting with a parent. For me, reading conference notes are the most authentic way of seeing how my students are progressing. I get to see what skills and strategies they are using independently, as well as how well they are comprehending what they're reading.

I've compiled all of the sheets included in this post into a "Guided Reading Starter Kit", which you can download for FREE here. I would really appreciate some feedback if you download it and use it in your own classroom.

Free printables to make planning guided reading and small group lessons a breeze!

Stay tuned for the next part of my Small Group Series. I will be sharing how I run my kindergarten small groups at this point in the school-year.

Happy Teaching,

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Few St. Paddy's Freebies

Hi Friends!

I posted a fun St. Paddy's Day inferring activity on the eve of St. Patrick's Day and since most of you are probably ahead of the game {unlike me}, I wanted to share it again here so you can save it for next year.

Click the picture to grab it:

At some point I plan on updating this freebie to be more like my other inferring packs and then it will no longer be free, so grab it now.

PS: At some point for me usually means in about 1398 years ;)

I also posted a picture of  the little treat I gave to my kiddos and a few people requested them on Instagram and Facebook, so I'm posting those here too. I also added the tag I attached to bags of Skittles Ella gave her neighborhood friends.

Click the pictures to grab the tags.

Print and go! St. Patrick’s Day printable freebie-a quick gift for the classroom or friends.

I planned on adding Rolos, but when I couldn't find them I decided Reese's did the trick :)

Hope you can add these to your digital filing cabinet for next year!

Enjoy your day :)