5. 4. Friday

I've been MIA from 5 for Friday... I just don't have energy come 5 pm on Friday. Chipotle helped me muster some as I curl up on the couch and relax after a LOOOOOOONG week. Here we go...

To help with my strategy groups, I made these close reading strategy cards. They have been SO helpful! I can instantly pull a group on any reading skill really and I've got something to support my group. I blogged about it earlier this week if you are curious. 

We've learned our strategies to tackle our state test and now we move onto preparing for different genres. Today, we focused on fiction and predictable questions we can be expected to answer about our characters. We made this chart with our read aloud this morning. It's crunch time ya'll. I can't wait for April to be done.

One of my students wrote a persuasive essay during her intervention time. Yes, she missed some punctuation and capital letters, but man, she convinced me! Little did she know that I wasn't planning on giving them math homework tonight anyway, but it made her feel extra special. 

And she's right... I do have something better to do. It's called, "lay on the couch until I fall asleep at 8 pm."

Fractions. We've arrived in 3rd grade when we begin to learn about fractions. They were excited. Well, excited was an understatement. I broke there hearts after I said we were done with fractions already. We only cover our standards... which are not the math common core... before our state test. They are pretty basic. We have to get to double digit multiplication, man! We'll revisit fractions later... I promise.

I got the word that I'll be back at my school in 3rd grade next year! Yay!! It'll be my 3rd year of teaching and they all will be in 3rd grade. I'm feeling thankful. Not to mention, my husband got word yesterday that he was asked back as well for his 2nd year! We remain a 2 teacher household for another year. It's a huge weight off our shoulders. 

I've got a sale going on! 15% off most of my products. Check it out if you've got the itch to buy things (like I have had lately... hubby is gone in Arizona for his spring break with his baseball team... I'm sure he won't mind hehe)



Buzzzzz "Close Reading" Buzzzz Buzzzz

One of the most popular buzz words for teachers currently (thanks Common Core) is "Close Reading." And I feel like.... everyone has kind of a different view and purpose of what close reading is and how to implement it in their classrooms.

I personally think, that it is going to look different in every classroom due to the grade level of the students among other factors, but the focus is the same...

"What did I get out of reading this?" In order to answer this question, students need to...

  • think about the structure of the text and how it aided them.
  • think about the word choice of the author and how it added to the author's message.
  • think about the author's craft  and how the reader brought their own ideas and thinking to a text because of it. 
  • apply a variety of reading skills to help them successfully understand what they are reading.

I think the clear, take away message is that close reading is purposeful rereading (as mentioned by Dr. Douglas Fisher). So I try not to get into a "step-by-step" approach with close reading. I know some teachers do, where they have a set process (read 1- we do vocabulary, read 2- we do main idea/details, etc. ), or a set mode of annotating (? for confusing part, circle new words, ! for importance, etc). Again, I'm not saying one way is right or wrong, as I think it depends on the grade and such. I just think if I pigeon-hole myself this way, the purposeful aspect of close reading goes away.

We made this close reading chart last week inspired by one I found on Pinterest (the link was broke so if this looks like your work, please let me know so I can properly credit you) to explain what close reading means. We determined it was a fancy way of saying "rereading" but we emphasized that we reread things with different focuses and to be able to really discuss what we read and the ideas it made us come up with. Yes, I did put 1st read, 2nd read, 3rd read- but it more open-ended...meaning, it isn't based on reading skills, but rather levels of understanding.

We then began our first attempt at "close reading" using Alyssha from the blog and TpT shop Teaching and Tapas's  amazing Close Reading Passages.
For real people, this is a doozy of a resource. And I would urge anyone in grades 2 or 3 (those are the grades she has now... she's working on 4th grade as well as fictional texts too) to purchase this resource. Here's a few reasons why I think this is so beneficial:

  1. She has 5 passages for each standard. This means, we can do 2 as a class as a piece of shared reading, and then I still have 3 passages that cover that standard for students to practice independently both in school or as homework.
  2. The text-dependent work pages are laid out the same so students know how to do the pages independently- they see the similar layout from our shared reading. 
  3. The topics she wrote these original passages about are totally engaging for my students. They have variety and many are on things that they are either interested in (so they want to read them) or they are about topics they know nothing about (so it truly forces them to read closely as they have limited background knowledge on it).
  4. The way she organized them by standards lets us have a solid focus over a long period of time and makes it easier for me to see which of my students have mastered that standard and which ones I need to meet with in strategy groups.
These are just the stand out reasons why I love this resource, but there are more and I know the more I use it, the more I will enjoy it. So this past week, we focused mostly on determining the meaning of words and why the author chose those words, but we also did some summarizing and we had some great discussions on the content we read. Next week, we aren't necessarily going to be focusing on those skills as a whole class, but I'm sure many students will still take note of new words and annotating what the focus of each paragraph is about since they found it very helpful to use when I asked them questions about the text.  We are also in the mindset and focus of test prep, so our take on this is slightly different.


We did used these passages as a whole group. They did some on their own. Now what?

I looked over their independent work and took notes.

I looked for the type of annotating my students were doing: were they just underlining, were their circling/boxing in things, were they drawing arrows, writing notes in the margins, marking up 'too much', not marking up 'at all?' All of these could be strategy groups on how to mark up the text. I also create my own assessments by writing my own multiple choice questions to passages that focus on targeted reading skills. I then am able to see who needs more assistance in which skills. My note taking is impressive...I know. (Did you feel the sarcasm there?)

With all this data, I can then form strategy groups. For example, I had one group work on strategies for solving the meaning of new vocabulary words. I met with them and discussed what I noticed from their work and then provided them with some strategies. We used their copies to discuss. I modeled one and they shared out what they noticed that I did. Then we tried one together. Lastly, I pulled a short passage from Reading A-Z for an independent job.

I did a similar process with my summarizing group, but did so with different strategies. I realized that I had to erase the strategies from my vocab group to make room for strategies for this group. I didn't want my vocab strategy group to forget the strategies they could use, so I thought about making them a little card to remember. It got me thinking, that my strategy groups will be fluid; students will move in and out of them throughout the unit. I thought about doing a book mark, but I felt they would loose those easily, especially when they move to different strategy groups and before you know it, they have 5 bookmarks. So I went home and brainstormed these:

Now, students can keep track of the strategies we used for that reading skill. They also, can accumulate other reading skills and strategies in other strategy groups they partake in. I have them attach them to their book bags so they don't get lost or mangled.

Whenever they come to a strategy group, they bring their ring.

I color code them as well so I can easily see who has met with me in which type of group. It also makes it easy for them to know which card to flip to for a particular strategy.

I also have these cards that are blank. They are on the same colored paper as others and I can print them back to back or just add them to the ring. I can put an additional note, or I can add an example for them to reference.

What has helped SO much is that I have these cards stored in little manilla envelopes so they are ready to go. Once I give a formative passage assessment, I can quickly look it over, look for students who need more support in a skill and have a resource ready to go off of. Depending on my group and who is in it, we may find a different strategy that works, or they may need more information on the skill. Having these cards printed back to back allow me to differentiate the strategies for my learners in a very convenient way.

I have 9 different reading skills for reading Non-Fiction text that I can use with different strategy groups as we go through our test prep. They include:
  • Tricky Word and their Meanings
  • Summarizing Paragraphs
  • Fact vs. Opinion
  • Cause and Effect Relationships
  • Main Idea/Details
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Point of View
  • Text Features
  • "Right There" Questions

Thanks to Alyssha's passages, I can get great data on what to do, and with who during my small group time. It's targeted, purposeful, and preparing them not only for 'the test,' but also building great reading skills they'll use throughout their academic careers. These Close Reading Cards allow me to feel prepared to meet with a variety of groups to meet their needs and have really helped me stay focused.

You can snag my Close Reading Strategy Cards for Non-Fiction Reading Skills at my TpT store by clicking on the photo below, and make sure you check out Teaching and Tapas' TpT store for her close reading passages!!



Quick Giveaway Update!

Hi All.

I was hoping to blog about how we've been tackling close reading in the classroom, but I'm just exhausted after a loooooooooooooooooooooooong Monday and preparing for sub tomorrow.

So in the meantime, I'll share with you the winner of my 2nd lil' giveaway!

And the winner is...

Congrats, Toni!

Email me at kelynch88@gmail.com with the email you'd like me to send my Close Reading Strategy Cards! Thank you to everyone for participating! :)



Close Reading Resource- A Giveaway for my CLOSE followers!

I've been working on a resource to go with some Close Reading passages and work pages from Teaching and Tapas.

This resource is ah-ma-zing! I would highly recommend it to any 3rd grade teacher... It is loaded with a variety of topics; my students LOVE reading them and actually beg me to give them more time in class to finish doing all of the questions. I use them as a shared reading twice a week. We read through it at least 2 times and I focus on the standard that she emphasizes for each passage. Once we practice a couple times together, I give them one to do independently. I was so impressed with how our first week went. They were marking up the text and truly were taking their time closely reading. I'll share more of how I use this product in my class in a future post...

Here's a little preview of what I use to help me with my strategy groups that I form with the use of Alyssha's resource. These cards are a great way to help me focus on particular strategies that students can use to prepare for our state test next month and it keeps on giving by allowing them to have access to what we learned together whenever they need it.

I've covered 9 non-fiction reading skills to help my students! I've included 2-3 strategies to help them grow in these skills as well as blank cards that have unlimited uses. Here are a few ways you may use the blank cards...
-add your own strategies
-add an example for students to use as a reference
-add a visual
-add a special note or assignment

Students keep them on a metal ring so that all their strategies are at their finger tips! Not to mention, I can easily see which skills I've worked on with each student because I color code the skills (not every student works on each skill... it depends on how they fare on the passages).

Again, I'll show you later this week more in-depth how I'm using close reading in my classroom to help my students prepare for the test (and let's be honest, this is just down-right good work for them to be doing all year), but I wanted to giveaway 1 of these babies for someone else to try!

Check out my Close Reading Strategy Cards at my TpT store for more details and make sure you enter the Rafflecopter below. This is only my second giveaway so your odds are pretty good. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Free Books?!? Yes Please!

Ok- confession... They weren't free. I had to spend a $0.26. Yes, you read that right- I had to pay 26 cents. Talk about busting the bank right?!

I spent 26 cents and received 50 BRAND NEW soft and hard covered children's books.

How you may ask? From this amazing, amazing blog, Disney, and a grant from the White House Initiative.  My teammate's spouse found this opportunity and shared it with us. All 3rd grade teachers in our building, plus a few other teachers took the little time needed in order to apply for the grant and WE got to pick the books we wanted for our classroom libraries!

We got to spend $200.00 on Latino Culture books for our classrooms. My total came to $200.26, so I only had to pay $.26 out of my own pocket. And in less than 2 weeks, I was greeted to all these new books! I did manage to snag a couple other Asian culture books, as I currently have an EL cluster of students who speak Hmong and Vietnamese (I have students who speak Somali and Amharic as well, but the majority speak Hmong). However, I think it is so important to have a balanced classroom library that has characters from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. It can be very hard to find quality literature on the cheap (since most of my classroom library has been purchased by yours truly) so when this opportunity came, I had to do it!

**This current grant has expired, but I have a feeling that this organization provides a lot of opportunities for educators to get books at good prices. Since doing so, I've gotten emails about other offers including only paying for the shipping and handling of books, earning a free book, etc... Something to definitely keep an eye on!

If you are looking for titles that emphasize the Latino Culture, take a look at the photos below and start your wish list now!

 These books range from 2nd to 5th grade reading levels. Most are realistic or historical fiction.

 These books are in English, but the characters and situations have a latino focus.

 I picked up some social studies books that show more of the latino culture.

 Most of these biographies have famous Latinos as their focus. One of these is not, but the book is fully in Spanish. 

A lot of my books were bilingual (Spanish & English), I took 2 more pictures up close so you could read the titles easier. 

I already had Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match, but it is one of my mentor books that I keep out of the library (so I can find it when I need it). It is a great book about individuality.  

I'm so excited to finish leveling these and get them into my library. I'll need to add another bin and shelf, as my library continues to grow!



Tried It Tuesday: Wall Pop!

I've got something special to share for Fourth Grade Flipper's Tried it Tuesday.

Have you seen those peel and stick whiteboard dot thingys?

Ya... like these?

I had the itch to add a lil' summthin summthin to my table to help with my LLI group that meets every day. I remembered seeing these posted somewhere so I decided to use my lovely Amazon Prime to rush them to my doorstep so I could use them after spring break.

Click on the picture below to be taken to these Wall Pops through Amazon:

I have to say it... I'm not being paid to discuss these Dry-Erase Dots... I just stumbled upon them, wanted them, bought them, and used them. Boom. No one had to pay me to use it (or say this) but I can say I'm a happy camper so far!

Here they are in action in a few different ways (and I've only had them for 2 days... I'll keep you posted if my love affair with them turns sour). I bought two packs. You get 3 in a pack which I think is great! You also get a whiteboard marker. When I took them out, they were rolled up tight and I was worried it was going to be hard to unravel and place, but it actually wasn't hard at all!

Small Group Time

When my kiddos were reading silently, I had them write down any words that tripped them up and the page number. As I went around and read with each kiddo, we talked about the word and applied some strategies. I also took notes on their dot when they read to discuss with them. For example, one kiddo kept leaving off the "s" endings so we discussed what they noticed about these two words that I jotted down from their reading and such.

Here's another note I left on the dot to discuss with a kiddo on a contraction. I noticed he didn't say it correctly, and it was his only error. I'm glad I noted this to talk to him, because I found out that he didn't know what two words make this contraction. It was easy to jot quick to remind myself, and I didn't have to erase anything to move to the next student- they could keep that lil' note as a reminder the whole reading time.

Getting Supplies

One day, I had a lot of little pieces for a clock we were going to make. (You can get it for free from this TpT store!) I put the supplies on different dots with little arrows and it was smoooooth sailing. Not to mention, it kept all the piles neat.

Also, my lil' face scrubbers from the Dollar Tree work great on these dots. They are holding up and yes, I'll need to get new erasers for next year, but they are working fabulous! They cleanly erase normal dry erase markers. I've only used Expo markers and the markers that came with the dots. I have to say, the ones that came with the dots took longer to dry and didn't come off as easily as Expo markers.

I'm only 2 days in, but I'm loving this Tried it Tuesday! If you have any questions about them, give me a shout! :)



Note-taking Box-a-Roos

Ever wander around your room while students are working, trying to feverishly scribbling notes on a post-it for what Jimmy is doing, only to then move to Bobby and notice he is doing something note-worthy as well and try to squish it on the same post-it, but then it just gets messy so you draw arrows and boxes around things to try to separate it and it only adds to the mess and then of course you misplace that silly post-it with your chicken scratch notes and you are back to having nothing??

Ya, me too.

As much as I love post-its, I like to be able to easily take a few notes while I'm observing all my kiddos. I came up with these note-taking squares that one of my teammates introduced to me and I've tweaked it to work for me. I use it most often during reading, especially when I'm observing students during independent reading time. It's fascinating to do engagement studies every now and then to watch the behaviors my students do during their independent reading.

Now, what I'm about to show you may shock some of you, but trust me, there's a lot of valuable information and for some reason, it totally works for me!

I number my students... it helps in so many ways. I can easily figure out who is absent by doing a running number count in my head; finding out who the no name is just as easy- I don't even have students put their numbers on their papers... I just remember their numbers and can put students in number order to find who's I'm missing. It really does work amazing! Anywho, each box is for 1 student. On this particular day, I was observing engagement during independent reading. Here are my steps:

1. I move around the room and I look at each student in number order.
2. Using my very sophisticated key, I just mark what they were doing at the time I look at them.
3. I move to each student, and then repeat... it usually takes me about 90 seconds to go through the class, so I am looking at each student at a consistent pace.

I did this two days in a row for a little under 20 minutes. I used a different color for each day. Here's what my "key" was for that day:

Note-taking Key
Tally marks= they were in their book when I was watching them
O= they were out of their book when I was watching them
J= they were jotting/writing while I was watching them
arrow= out of their seat

After I was done, I looked at each student's data to see what engagement strategy I could work with them on. I did this in black pen.

Teaching Point Key
J= Work on jotting while reading
I= Book selection/ interest- usually for students who seemed to be out of their book often
*=seemed engaged throughout the reading time

Here's a closer look:

I was looking for students to have a balance between stopping and jotting occasionally (not too much, not too little) and staying in their book. I also took some other notes that didn't fit my key. Oh, I also put a "f" for fiction and a "nf" for non-fiction of the type of book they were reading as well. I created strategy groups for students based on theses patterns in their engagement.

Now, I don't do this too often, because it does take a lot of precious small group time. Here's another way I use them that requires much less time, but provides equally telling information.

Today, I had students read for 20 minutes. I then stopped them, and had them write down on the corner of their desk their start page and their current page they were on. I then walked around quickly, while they resumed reading and took note of their page range in that 20 minutes.

Some students wrote a quick note to clear up any confusion on my part. For example, one student looks to be reading too fast, but she was reading a Bad Kitty book which has a lot of pictures, so she told me. :). As I was walking around, I also looked at their 4 square response sheets they were doing (I talked about them here). Even though book clubs are done, I found this to be very successful and plan to carry it over as much as possible to other units.

I wrote a quick note on how many of the 4 boxes they had completed during that time. Some had all 4, some had 3, a couple only had 2. I noted using the same symbols the students use as to which ones they had completed.

This also shows me how engaged students are with their books. It also shows me what type of thinking my student is doing, as each symbol stands for a different reading skill.

Both examples of how I use the note-taking sheets help me determine what I can do to help students stay engaged during independent reading when I'm meeting with my small groups. Essentially, some students have 40 minutes of reading where they do not meet with me (obviously not every day, but some days). I want to make sure that they are still engaged in their reading and I can keep track of ways to help support them, while still getting insight on their reading lives here at school.

What do you use to take anecdotal  notes? How do you use them to help your students? I'd love to hear- leave me your ideas in the comments!

P.s. Sorry for the poor quality photos... most were taken on my phone. :)


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