Phonics Instruction

Teaching children to read is a complex process. What should our goals be for early reading instruction?  I think most would agree that our goals should be automatic word recognition (fluency), comprehension of text and developing a love of reading. 

To become skilled readers our students must be able to identify words quickly and accurately and to do that they must be able to decode words. 
Your students need to use a number of strategies when decoding words.
You can get these decoding strategy posters here.
To decode words our students try a number of ways to read the words.  They think about the story, use context clues, ask themselves what would make sense and they sound out words.  To sound out a word or to stretch the sounds out, students must be able to associate a specific spelling with a specific sound.

Phonics involves this relationship between 
sounds and their spellings.
So what do the experts say?

-Phonics instruction can help all students learn to read.
-Readers who are skilled in decoding usually comprehend text better. (Just think about it if you spend all your time decoding, fluency is lost and comprehension suffers.)
-Systematic, explicit (direct) teaching of phonics is better than implicit instruction.  Implicit instruction has readers “discovering” clues about sound spelling relationships and poor readers are not likely to do this.
-Phonics instruction improves spelling ability
-Phonics knowledge has a powerful effect on decoding ability
My beginning letter sounds pocket chart can be found in my phonics-sounds pocket chart bundle,
or by itself here.

-Phonemic awareness is necessary for phonics instruction to be effective. Before your students can use a knowledge of sound spelling relationships to decode words, they must understand that words are made up of sounds.

What teachers can do to help their students.

Keep it simple.

Teach phonics in a systematic and explicit way.

Be sure to begin the systematic and explicit phonics instruction early.

Don’t overdo phonics instruction. A little phonics instruction can go a long way.

Help students understand the purpose of phonics by engaging them in reading and writing activities that requires them to apply the phonics information you've taught them.

Phonics instruction should focus on applying learned sound-spelling relationships to actual reading, with smaller amounts of time spent on learning phonics rules or generalizations and out of context work. 

How I teach phonics to my first graders.
In my multiage classroom we have word work time.  This time of day I have all the youngers or first graders in my classroom.  This is when I explicitly teach phonics to a whole group of students.  Of course I also meet this need during guided reading groups.  I have a very short time to teach these youngsters the relationship between the sounds and their spelling patterns so my lessons are usually quick and to the point.  I love using my pocket chart as my students do a lot of interacting with the chart during the lesson and during their center times. I have researched many scope and sequence programs and they are very similar in the order in which to teach the different sounds to students.  I also have just begun creating monthly phonics lessons for my students. You may want to check out the growing bundle here.

This is a quick preview of September and October phonics lessons.

As you can see many of the lessons at the beginning of the year involve phonemic awareness instruction.  

Here is a quick preview of Novembers lessons.

 As I said the growing bundle is in the works.  Here is the catch if you purchase it now you will save a lot while I work on the lessons.
Here is how the growing bundle works.

I have my work cut out for me, but I am excited to offer engaging hands on lessons that teach phonics skills.  
Any questions just ask.
Happy teaching!

Sale and Phonics Pocket Charts

I am having a sale! Everything in my store is 20% off Wednesday and Thursday July 20-21. 

This might be a great time to catch my new pocket chart phonics units or the bundled version of all the units for a great discount.

Here is  a look at the product bundled.  Check it out here in my store. If you need just one unit check the preview and there are links to each separate unit.
These pocket chart activities can be used a number of different ways; in small groups, as a center, for review or to explicitly teach the different phonics sounds to a whole group or a small group of students. 

Each pocket chart pack focuses on sounds or spelling patterns your students need to know an understand well before moving on in reading and spelling. 

My students love these pocket chart lessons and enjoy coming up to the chart and manipulating the cards.  After I use these cards as a whole group lesson with my students, I leave the cards in the pocket chart so my students can use the same cards and activity during center time.

Here is a look at my students this summer using the different charts.

Included in the packs are blank grid sheets where students can sort their card under the correct sound.  I like to do this activity during guided reading or intervention time.

Happy summer and happy teaching!

Genre Posters

Hello! It has been a crazy last couple of months and I can't believe it is JULY already. I am wondering what happened to June. My summer really has just begun, I have been busy teaching summer school.  I have also been busy updating a few files.  Today I want to share with you my updated Genre Posters.
 In this unit I have 23 posters that includes a fiction and non-fiction poster.  I keep my posters up all year and we refer to them often.

My students like to discuss what genre they are reading and are encouraged to read a number of different genres throughout the year. These posters are simple but contain language my students understand.  Here is a preview page from my unit.
  I have also included a few activities that will help you teach genres to your students.  I first start out by teaching my students  what fiction and non-fiction mean.  I have my students cut out      little book pictures from scholastic book order forms and we paste the correct book under fiction or non-fiction.
Check this out here in my store.
Happy July everyone!


Finished updating my space unit.  This unit was one of the first I made and it was time for an update.  I love how it turned out. If you have purchased this unit please go back and re-download it.
This unit is full of engaging activities and lessons that your students are sure to love.  

I added to the unit some planet posters.

Here is a pic of the accordion book that can be made.  Black and white is also available. 

I also made some mini books on Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.

For a better look here is pictures of the preview.  

You can catch this unit on sale through Monday, March 28.  
Check it out here.

Front Row

Last year I stumbled upon this amazing math program called Front Row. This program allows me to give my students differentiated practice at their own levels.  Students can   work directly on the website or use the app on i-pads as I do with my students. 

Here are 10 reasons why I love using Front Row in my classroom.

1. It is a free program for teachers and students.  
That's right folks FREE! They also have a school edition available, that provides more advanced reporting, and assessments.

2. Flexibility on how you can use this program in your classroom.
My students use Front Row during our Math Workshop time as one of our stations.  My students also work on Front Row during our intervention and enrichment times. There are many ways to use this program in your classroom.

3. Students are placed at their own level.
When your students first start on a specific domain such as measurement and data, they are given a diagnostic test (not available for k/1). This will assess where your students are with the specific math strand.

4. Tools that help your students work out problems.
When students are working through problems, they can have the problems read to them (a big "hurrah!" for us first grade teachers).  Your students can also use the manipulatives and scratch paper directly in the program.  When they do not understand how to do a problem a short tutorial is shown to the students to help them understand how to complete the problem.

5. Instant feedback is given!
Yes, instantly your students will be told if their answer is correct or incorrect.  This is another "Hurrah!" Instant feedback helps the students see what they are aiming at, see immediately if their problem solving skills are correct and helps them understand that they need to make corrections if necessary.
If the student answers the problem correctly they collect coins.They can use the coins to buy items to dress a pig (yep, it works, it motivates them).  The coins are also subtracted from the total when they get problems wrong.

6. Front Row has inquiry based lessons.
These are real world scenarios that are introduced to students through a video.  Very little prep is involved (you simply download the inquiry page). Then your students work together to solve the problems.  My students enjoyed the lessons we did together.  Honestly, it was difficult for my students at first but these types of questions are important and have your students applying what they know.  My students were also required to work together, something that was difficult at first to do.
This is a snapshot of the video that my students watched.  
7. You are given a weekly report on your students via e-mail.
That's right, each week Front Row sends me a progress report on my students.  A report card and other data is available anytime on the program.  My students are also encouraged to work on Front Row at home and parents are given a code to see their child's progress.

This is a report card that can be shared with parents.  Lots of data is available to you and parents.
8. A reading component has now been added to Front Row.  
I have explored this but I haven't used it yet with my students.  It looks just as engaging and includes skills and strategies that students need for standardized tests.

9. Front Row prepares students for tests.
My second grade students have MAPS testing and this does a good job of meeting their needs.  Front Row has data that shows students who work on Front Row have better test scores on the MAPS tests than those who don't.  The questions used within the content are also aligned to the common core.     

10. The program is fun and engaging for my students. 
My students love working on this program.
Check it out here.

Sale on TPT

 Big Sale today and tomorrow on TPT! Everything is 20% off in my store plus do not forget the promo code START16 for more savings!

Geography-Map Skills

I always teach map skills every year in my multiage class, yet my files were overflowing with all kinds of different activities but I had nothing that was easy to implement in my classroom.  So I decided to make a unit that would be ready and easy to use.
So I introduce to you my map skills unit which has been in full force in my classroom this past month.  
This unit contains a map skills no prep packet which you simply print-copy and you are set.
This worked out great for my students.  We worked on a page or two a day.  
These pages are included.

-What is a globe?
-What is a map?
-Where are the continents and oceans?
-Where are we in the world?
-We need directions.
-Using directions.
-What is a map key?
-Using a map key.
-What is a map grid?
Practice your map skills
(students create their own map)

This unit includes 24 vocabulary cards that include the word, definition and picture.  
These cards are great to display in a pocket chart and to refer to while teaching. 
-A vocabulary illustrated dictionary cover and sheet are included so your students can make a class illustrated dictionary.  Create this dictionary by giving each student a vocabulary word and then they illustrate the word, write the definition and write a sentence using that word.
-Vocabulary comprehension page to use for assessment or review.
11 full and half page pictures of land and water forms (real pictures). 

Also included is a land-form matching game.  My students played this like concentration. They enjoy games and had a blast.
 This unit includes a map skills center activity.  
My students will be working on this next week for a good review.  
Students answer questions on map skills then they write their answer down on the sheet of paper that is included.  
I will set up the Geo-Bingo  cards so my students can play Geo-Bingo in small groups.

  We also made globes out of paper mache last week.  
I will not lie that was a big, old messy project.
The students had so much fun and many had never paper mached before so they loved it.  The clean up part I didn't love so much.  

This activity was a fun hands on way to learn the continents.  My students learned all about  the continents but to tell you the truth their globes looked more like a Pangaea project. I even had the older multiage students across the hall help put the pieces on the globe, well they helped a little. I think I would still do this project again because of the experiences my students gained.  The results I guess is what I should expect from 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.  I will remember their smiles and how excited they were with their globes and that made it worth it.  
Please check out this unit here.
Happy teaching and stay warm! -18 below here last night, but feels like -34 below with the wind chill! 
Brr......And nope, they don't call school off for that.