It is that time of the year again. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils fills the air and we are busily getting our classrooms ready for a new batch of students. Not knowing the skill levels of my students is always an exhilarating, and partly nerve wracking, thing. I so fondly recall how my last group of students met and exceeded my expectations and sometimes worry if I will be able to do it again. However, after those few moments of panic, I start to collect my thoughts and realize that in fact, yes, it will happen again and begin to plan accordingly.
I believe in meeting students exactly where they are and bringing them as far as they can go in the short year that we have with them. In order to do this effectively, I start the year off assessing my students individually. I created a pack this year that I am so excited to use. In it I include EVERYTHING you will need to assess your students and track them as the year progresses. I love this because it really will give me a road map of where I need to go. Each assessment comes with cards that you can use to assess your students and the recording pages you will need.
Once you have set up a routine in your classroom where your students can work independently, you are ready to start your small groups. May I recommend using the Daily 5 or Literacy Centers to help you structure this time? You can read about how I do that here and here. Meeting with your students DAILY is so important to the success of the learners in your classroom.
In the beginning of the year our students come in on such different levels. In order to help all of my students succeed, I have created numerous packets to help them during our Guided Reading times.
These packets helped me meet my students exactly where each of my learners were. Each pack includes readers, sight word practice, comprehension pages, activities and games and more.
In each pack you will get games to help focus your students:
The game that the two boys were playing above is called “sight word roads.” In this game my students practice driving their car along the road while reading every word that they come to. They LOVED this and I saw a huge jump in sight word retention after introducing this game to my students.
Next, each packet comes with a readers that your students are sure to love. Each reader focuses on a certain skill. Some focus on sight words while other will focus on word families or other skills. Each packet comes with lesson plans for you to use with each reader and they also come with extensions for you to use with your students.
To help keep all my packs and activities organized, I put them into binders. I have several of these binders and use them at different times through the year. You can see how I organize my guided reading books here.
This year, I will be teaching kindergarten. Therefore at the beginning of the year, most of my students will need support learning and mastering all of their letters, sounds, and blending. Therefore, my kindergarten guided reading packs include many games to help our students learn these important skills. I’m so excited to use these games.
In this game my students will work on beginning sounds.
After my students learn how to blend letters, we will work on sound and word puzzles. I know that this will be a favorite activity. We will start off with the blending cards where my students read the blend and then add on the last sound. The pictures will help us with this.
As time progresses, many of my students will dive into our word family books. Each book is written on an emergent level and is very repetitious. This will allow students to feel success as they read and also will reinforce not only the word family but also the sight words that are in each book.
Another element to my guided reading groups includes what I call our magazines. My students LOVED reading the magazine articles that I wrote for them last year and I decided that I must get these into their hands earlier this year. Therefore, I created two new packs that have magazine articles in them.
To organize my magazines, I create four binders that my students use both during guided reading groups and also when they have free time. They love, love, loved this. Because my first two themes this year will be community helpers and apples, those are the two new packs that I created. These packs are perfect for building schema and vocabulary in our young learners. The magazine articles are written on two different levels to meet the needs of the learners in my class. Each packet also has vocabulary cards that feature real life images.
To get started, I put the magazine articles into page protectors and then put each article in a binder.
The magazines even end with a fun game for students to play. My students loved doing activities like this!
I also created mini books that you can put in your student book boxes.
For this lesson I even created LARGE vocabulary picture cards to help my students. This will be our first adventure in close reading and I am very excited. The large pictures will help my students learn these new terms quickly. We will focus on our magazine articles as we dig deeper into the text in September.
By building enthusiasm and creating readers and magazines for all levels of my classroom, I know our reading skills will skyrocket as the year progresses.
If you are interested in any of these packs here is a list of what was featured in this blog post. To get taken to my store, simply click on the picture and it will take you there.