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! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Word Study...WORKSHOP!

Hello! I hope school years all over the blogosphere are off to a great start. I am excited about a new project that I've been working on...the WORD STUDY Workshop! 

Just as the reading and writing workshops were born out of studying the habits of great readers and writers, I spent a little time researching the habits of great spellers. I read lots of articles from national spelling bee winners and even interviewed a few people from my life that have always had a knack for spelling things correctly. From there, I gathered my notes and turned them into mini-lessons that might encourage students to become people who find patterns, look for things to alphabetize, or notice when words break spelling patterns in their every day life. Essentially, this curriculum is designed to encourage kids to become word lovers and word investigators by nature. These lessons are designed to provide kids with what I call spelling habits of mind. These units are designed to give your spellers a teaching-tip that is good for ALL spellers, and then they will go off to complete their differentiated spelling tasks, games, and activities to help them become better spellers. 

Based off of the spelling inventory (from Words Their Way), my students are in one of three groups that I call “spelling clubs:” emergent spellers, letter-name spellers, and within word spellers. I like this term because the students don’t know what I’m doing. For example, they think that the yellow group (emergent spellers) just “happen to be studying blends this week” and the orange group (within word spellers) just “happen to be studying long ‘a’ patterns.” I tell them eventually everyone will study everything, so I can trick them a little better. I personally don’t enjoy the spelling curriculums I’ve used in the past where there are multiple lists within the same skill. Kids know when the class is studying "long /a/" and their list consists of words like “cake” and “rake” while other kids are learning works like “obligate”  and "explain." They quickly figure out which “group” they are apart of.  I like to think that this method is a bit less obvious. 

In an effort to meet students where they are, they will work on word pattern lists that are designed specifically for their level. I start my students on the continuum and then move them right along lesson by lesson. There is of course, room to jump groups. I will administer a quick assessment if I feel like a student is rapidly progressing during the year. They are not "stuck" in any group!

The word pattern cycles last for 10 days. After every 4th word pattern cycle, my class participates in a class-wide pattern study on the same skill. This skill is based on word structures or meanings (like compound words, posessives, etc...). These units can be swapped in or out based on need.

Days 1-6 are spent doing various practice activities with their list of words. Days 7-10 are spent doing group assessments, spelling games, or makeup-work.  I keep the same routine for consistency. 
Below are the Word Units of Study for the year. 
These were written with all spellers in mind. The units aren't skill-specific (like a whole unit on long vowels or diphthongs) but rather they are mini-lessons with tips and strategies to become a life-long lover of words. 

The spelling pattern cycles have a set list of words that students will work with but they will be on the lookout for words that match their pattern, so their collection of words will grow tremendously during the 10-day stretch. I do let parent know about the words that their child will be studying but I send a letter home explicitly stating that this is NOT a spelling list to drill. I ask them to jot some words down that they might happen upon during their nightly reading.

There are word lists, home lists, and word logs  for each of these word pattern and skill-specific cycles.

Here are some examples of the activities done during the 10-day cycle. 

Just as we celebrate the end of a reading or writing unit, we also celebrate the end of a spelling unit! The first unit is celebrated by making a class book with our word-study goals for the year. Some units will be celebrated with special projects and the last unit is celebrated with a class-wide (or grade level-wide) Spelling Bee!

So, there is a peek at the overview and some of the first unit. I can't wait to finish them up and share them with anyone who might be interested!

I do plan to post each unit individually but I'll also bundle the entire product. Also, if you are interested in JUST the units with life-long spelling mini-lessons (without the word lists and activities), I'll be posting those individually as well!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Make Clip Art on Power Point! (Video Tutorial)

So, I say "uhm" way too much, sound winded (36 weeks pregnant), and feel super weird about this video it is!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Putting Your CONFERRING TOOL KIT Together!

Does conferring intimidate you? I know it intimidated me for the longest time, but now it really has become the heart of my reading, writing, and math workshops. One thing that has helped me is having a well-stocked conferring tool kit. This is what I have with me at all times when I confer.

I use a simple caddy that you can find anywhere. I share a kit for reading and writing and I have a separate one for math. Inside, I have everything that I could possibly need for effective conferring!

-Markers, pens, pencils, etc..
-Wipe off boards
-Index cards
-Sticky Notes
-Extra reading tools that have been taught (think marks, speech and think bubble sticks, pointer fingers, alphabet charts etc...)
-Transparencies for writing conferences (you can put a transparency over their writing piece and model your teaching point without writing on their work since that is a big no-no!)

Inside the binder, I have: 
-Word Lists 
-Writing mentor pieces at various stages (a bare bones piece, pieces with blatant errors so that I can model how I might edit my writing on the spot). I keep these stories in sheet protectors so that I can write on them with a wipe-off marker. Then they can be used with different kiddos. Also, the mentor pieces that I write are swapped out when the unit changes. 
-Student mentor pieces from years past. Students always do better when they can see how other kids did with the writing assignment. 
-Copies of anchor charts from current and past units 

(bare bones piece) 

(This piece has no punctuation, only a period at the end)

(This piece is where I show students how to show what happened, not tell what happened. Also, there is a piece where I misuse lowercase and upper case letters.)

And the most effective tool in my kit is a series of progressions, continuums, and rubrics.  These are usually made in class during a mini-lesson and turned into an anchor chart that stays up during the unit of study. I then make a condensed version of it and stick it in my binder. I keep past units' anchor charts and progressions as well because a lot of times my students need to refer to something that was previously taught and the charts are usually taken down at the end of a unit. 

Also, I am always trying to find a better way to collect anecdotal notes. I've done the sticky note system most effectively. Basically, I have a sheet with 30 labels on it. The goal is to get all of the sticky notes peeled off by the end of the week. I write all of my students names and the weekly dates on them and then any extra labels I have go to my lowest readers and writers so that I can attempt to meet with them twice in a week. Each student has a blank white sheet of paper and I just stick the label on their sheet in chronological order. 

After reading some work by Jennifer Sarravallo, I've been using a conferring template that has been really nice. I created it at the end of last year, so I haven't had time to use it for a long period of time. But, feel free to check it to download! 

So, that's it! It is ever-growing and changing. And I'm sure that I'm missing a ton of items that could help me with my conferring- but  here is the gist! Happy Conferring!