Monday, November 9, 2015

Help-At-Home Parent Packs!

We’ve all been there. We spend tons of time drilling certain skills and still there are some kiddos that just. don’t. get it. And school is fast-paced! We can’t spend a long time learning ONE skill deeply. While I know we will still work with those students in class, I often ask parents to continue the work at home. Then I am met with the ever-present question:
Well, how can I help my child?
I used to run off a bunch of copies and stick them in a folder, tuck it in their child’s backpack and say “here you go” or direct them to a website simply because I didn’t always have enough time to make intervention packets for each skill and for every student. I always wanted to do more. 

This product offers you a chance to be way more intentional about empowering parents to help at home. Not only can this be sent home to allow parents to just help- but it also gets parents involved in the process of collecting data on their child. 

I’ve proudly used this during the RTI/CORE process because it shows that I’ve gone beyond normal instruction AND in-school intervention. I’ve now involved the parents and the results either help the student with mastery or it helps to prove that other actions need to be taken.

So how does it work? You can literally print this product, assemble in a folder, and send home! That's it! 

I get a three-pronged folder and in an effort to make it special and fun (instead of seeming like extra homework) I write their name on it the front cover (included in the download). 

When the parent opens the folder, stacked in the front pocket they would find: 

And inside the prongs, parents will find 10 days of practice that is parent friendly (simple and quick!).  I also include anchor charts that parents can display at home. I put them in sheet protectors so they last a little longer. 

Here are a few of the sheets up close: 

This progress tracker is the sheet that I ask parents to send back for my records. They don't always come back, and that's OK. I just explain the importance and most parents understand. 

The best thing is knowing that I have provided my parents with a tangible and organized way to help their child. This provides accountability for me AND my parents! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Word Study Workshop...Units 3, 4, and 5 Visited!

So, being 40 weeks pregnant I've slacked with posting highlights from these units! They have been posted though, and are available in my TpT store! I'll give some snapshots from these units now!

Unit 3- My. Favorite. It's all about our visual memory.

When I wrote this unit, I interviewed some people I know that are really great spellers. Most of the spellers that I talked to would always respond to my "how do you spell things correctly?" question with "I don't know...I just see it in my head." They have good visual memories. Not every one does! I, for one, don't have a great visual memory. Thankfully, this is something that can be improved upon with practice! Here are some activities and mini lesson teaching points:

Teaching Point: Today I want to tell you that visual memories are different for everyone. (You can tell your own story here OR you can use mine!) In college, I remember seeing a movie called “White Christmas” for the first time. I loved it so much that I wanted to order it online. By the time I’d gotten back home, I forgot the title! I asked my roommate who hadn’t seen it either and without skipping a beat...she said, “White Christmas by Irving Berlin!” I was so confused. I asked her how she remembered so easily and she said “I just saw in in my mind!” I was so surprised because I looked at the same movie and my memory didn’t capture it the way hers did. Some of us have to work a little harder to access our visual memories than others...and that’s OK. We can all improve our memories by playing games and working on it.

Teaching Point: Today we will do a quick activity that will activate your visual memory. I am going to show you a tray that has some items on it. Your job will be to remember the items on the tray. You can either draw or write a list of items that you remember seeing. Try to remember where you saw the items on the tray and add as many details about the objects as you can (like write “red fuzzy ball” for example). Complete the activity with students and share what they managed to remember. Show them the tray for about 30 seconds and then hide it. Have students record what they remember.

...and here is a sample of one of the visual memory games! 

To activate their understanding of visual memory, I had them close their eyes and visualize a logo that they could remember just from going out shopping with their family. Here are two samples: 

Another activity that the students LOVED were the visual memory flip cards. Check them out! 
....And so much more!! 

Unit 4 - Tips and Tricks for Spelling Practice! 

This unit offers opportunities to teach our spellers to read as much as they can, pay attention to handwriting, and think about the meaning of the words all in the name of spelling. There are lots of teaching points that provide spellers with habits of mind and examples for teachers to model!

Here are a few sample mini-lessons and snapshots: 

Teaching Point: Today I want to teach you that you can be clever spellers who learn all the words you can so you can see them in your mind’s eye. How do we do that? By reading as much as we can! Spelling experts tell us that exposing yourself to different types of texts will increase your knowledge of the way things are spelled. Through reading newspapers, novels, blogs, even billboards, your brain memorizes spelling patterns!

Teaching Point: Today I want to teach you that there are tons of ways that you can practice your spelling words in tons of fun new ways. No matter how you practice you have to keep one thing in mind: your visual memory!

We celebrated the unit by creating a self-help book that other classes could use to help with spelling! 

Unit 5 - Write the Right Way 

Unit 5 is all about writing outside of the word study workshop. The biggest complaint I hear from writing workshop teachers is that the skills don’t transfer into their writing. It often sounds like, “They got a perfect score on their spelling test, but spelled the exact same words wrong in their writing piece...what gives?” This unit focuses on TRANSFERRING the skills learned to daily writing! 

Sample Mini-Lessons and activities: 

Teaching Point: Today I want to teach you that word investigators have their word study folder/notebook along side them when they write. Every time we start a new word study pattern, we've been taking our old list and moving it to the back of our folder so that we can have a collection of past words at our fingertips. Today, we will put that folder to good use!

Teaching Point: Today want to teach you that careful spellers pay attention to spelling- even when they are doing a small writing assignment. They understand that no task is too small for good spelling!

To celebrate the end of this unit, we started a business! Mrs. Tabb's Spelling Consultants were established! We created advertisements for services and found places to hang them! They LOVED this and they made lots of great writing partnerships across classes and grade levels.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Word Study Workshop- Unit TWO!

Greetings, teachers!

If you haven't heard of this workshop, PLEASE check it out from the beginning  HERE! So far, you can find:
Launching, Unit 1  here 
Unit 2  here.
Unit 3 was just posted here!

I wanted to share a few snapshots and thoughts about unit 2. Unit 2 is all about becoming an investigator of words in our world. We want to turn our young spellers into people that inquire about spelling all of the time. They should be naturally curious and fascinated by words and the way they are built. That doesn't just happen without teaching.  Investigative curiosity is the spirit of this unit!

Some of my favorite teaching points from this unit are:

*Today I want to teach you that word investigators don’t want someone to tell them how to spell a word...they think, what or where is a word in my world that can help me?

*Word investigators notice environmental print. Environmental print is what you see...EVERYWHERE! Words that are on places like Home Depot, Best Buy, Sponge Bob, Wendy’s, Immediate Care, etc... If you are playing attention, you can use these words to help them spell other words! The thing about environmental print is that you probably know how to spell (or get pretty close) because you see it SO much. Why not use that to help you spell other words?

 *Word investigators collect words from places they go as well. They might ask for the weekly flyer at the grocer or they can even ask for the junk mail at home. Then, they can cut out words they find interesting and glue them in a special place like a notebook or journal. If nothing else, they can record them on the back of their word pattern lists!

(These lessons are fully scripted with EVERY part of the mini-lesson included!)

Hopefully after reading those, the spirit of the unit shines through! I want to use this unit to push our spellers into a frenzy of word pattern finding. That is what makes a careful and thoughtful speller. 

To celebrate this unit, we decided to go on a word- hunting "walking trip" around the school! Then, they get to celebrate with a certificate and a healthy snack that I bring in. 

Thanks for reading along and happy spelling!! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

10-Day Word Pattern Cycle Notes and Tips!

Hi there! I wanted to stop by and give some snapshots of the activities that we've been doing in our Word Study Workshop! If you haven't heard of this workshop, PLEASE check it out from the beginning  HERE! The full blown launching unit can be found here and Unit 2 was just posted here.

So, here is the 10-Day Overview...I'll touch on a few of the activities to give some tips and show how it went with my spellers! Full instructions and notes are available in the Launching Unit, but I wanted to give some specifics and tips! :) 

So, the first day is a Guess'N'Sort. This one takes a lot, a LOT of practice because it is supposed to be independent (except for your emergent spellers- coach them heavily!). The students are excited for new lists! Make sure you teach, model, and remind students to: 
*Look at your new list carefully
*CAREFULLY copy their words onto the word cards. You might even tell them to scribble the entire back page with a crayon so that if one gets lost, they can turn them over to see if the crayon color matches the cards they have! 
*Cut their words out and SORT by similarities. I allow them to do this in partners or trios. That is up to you! 
*Then, I have them record the way they sorted their words and write down the word patterns they think they've found. 
*I do have to coach them in the actual name of the list. Most kids won't come up with the fact that the list should be called "Blends" for example. 

Mix-It Fix-It 
You'll just want to make sure they understand the pattern of this activity- which is to make the word with letters (tactile learning) and then mix it up to make it again. The goal is to be able to spell it with the tiles WITHOUT looking! 

Day 3

 Word Hunting. The most important tip I can give here is to remind your students that word hunting isn't word SEARCHING. Unlike a word-search, word hunting should involve real reading. I try to model this as much as possible! 

Day 4
Today is the day that the students will select 6 words to explore the meaning of.  Below, there are samples from an emergent and within word speller. Remember that on this day, the definitions are GUESSES. It's OK for them to be a little off. 

Day 5 
Interesting day. Be prepared to be flexible. The students are partnering up and talking about the sheets above. If they agree, the can check a box that says "yes." If they disagree, then their job is to come up with a new sentence together. The new sentence should have a different meaning. As you are conferring and working with small groups, check in heavily with the meanings of the words. Try to use them throughout the week. We are a "Word Nerds" school- so this is where I actually pull our vocabulary words for lanyards. 

Day 6 
LOTTO! This day is always a class-favorite. 
My tips are: 
*Select ONE student per group to use their word cards every time you play this game. Pick your "little Miss or Mr. Perfect" that is super organized. They will always have their cards ready and this will cut down on arguing, not having supplies ready, etc...
*Use small cups to put words and chips for marking their spaces. 
*Have students write their words in any order on their board BEFORE letting them go to groups. 
*Remind them to take the word OUT of the cup before passing the cup to the next friend. 

Day 7
ABC Order
The only tip I have is to model using the CARDS first and recording second. They get really burnt out when they have to erase an entire list because they forgot one! Oh! One more tip- I have them partner up with one member of their spelling club to compare lists! 

Days 8-10 are assessment days and you'd be pulling each group over to play take a quiz using the alternate pattern words and recording sheet- which are all included in the unit! There is a full post on assessment here

Hope that helps! 

Happy Spelling! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Assessment In the Word Study Workshop

Update: Unit One: Launching the Word Study Workshop is available on TpT! Click Here! 

 I'm soooo close to posting the first word-study unit! I've got a couple of people proofing it, and then it'll be up. In the meantime, I wanted to share about assessment in the word study workshop.

As I mentioned in my last post, the word pattern cycles last 10 days. After the mini-lesson, the students engage in practice activities. But what does the teacher do? A LOT! That work time is your "game time!" This is the time that I am extremely intentional about pushing my spellers to the next level through small group, partner, and individual conferring. 

Below, is the conferring sheet I used to push my spellers along. My goal is to meet with each speller (individually) at least once during their 10-day word cycle. I meet with them a lot more throughout the week via small groups. 

 Here is an example of a conferring sheet filled out with anecdotal notes. It's a great way for me to collect data and provide feed back to students, parents, and administration. Also, if I want to assess their progress during writing workshop, I'll often pull this sheet out and remind myself of the progress the students have made. It helps me to know what they have improved upon!  There are step-by-step instructions at the top of the sheet for what I actually do when I confer. Forgive my awful handwriting. I am not one of those teachers with font-worthy handwriting at ALL!
 This tracker is what I use at the end of a cycle when I give the assessments with alternate pattern words. It is just a quick pass/fail at-a-glance so I can watch progress over time. I also can easily see the students that are falling behind quiz after quiz and address that. If over half of my students fail (marked with an "X" then I might reteach that or plan to reteach it during a spelling small group session.

An example of a tracking sheet filled out for one spelling club. 

This is what I mentioned above when referring to the alternate pattern words. For each spelling pattern, I've provided a list of words that follow the pattern. I use these words for quizzes and examples when I work with a small group. 

So, that's how I assess my spellers in a nutshell!  My goal is to always have a pulse on their progress. 

Thanks for reading along!