Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I've Made a Discovery That Saves Me Time, Energy and Accelerates My Students' Learning

Did you see  my post this summer about a new assessment recording system I would be using this year?  You know how it goes, some ideas we have work out great, others....not so much. But I have to share that this assessment recording system has been
............ a life saver in my classroom!
I just wanted to share some tips for those who have also embarked on this journey this year and also would love to hear from you how it is going in your classroom. 
I copied enough of the sheets, put my students' names on each sheet and put them in my RTI 3 holed binder (easy to find each student as needed!). 
I use my favorite Bic Flair Pens (switching colors to distinguish a new meeting with child)  to record the words my students know.  I simply check off each word they read quickly and correctly and circle incorrect words, stopping once they've gotten 6 wrong. 
These 6 letters and/or words become their focus for the week.  Right at the table, I create their "cards" that will go into their book boxes.  They will use them during Read to Self, Read to Friends, and Word Work because they are items that individual child needs to work with. I also create my individual word work lessons based on these words as necessary.  
At the same time, I send home a paper with the letters/words so their parents can also help them practice at home.  The students are so excited to share "their" cards with their friends and family.
 They really take ownership of this learning procedure and I love how easy it is to keep track of.  When students can read all of their words, they put their card pack OR their paper signed and returned by a parent in my blue basket located right on my small group table .  I will meet with them between guided reading groups or anytime I have a couple of extra minutes (because that is all it takes).  
Of course, I have found that I need to thumb through my checklists every couple of weeks or so to catch up with those students who "forget" to turn in their cards.
When I meet with them, I take out my ball word lists and check ONLY the letters/words they were working on. If they get them all right (and they almost ALWAYS do!) we keep reading the lists until we find 6 more items to work on and continue the cycle. 
So, apparently, I was awarded the gifted and talented class this year because I have 1/3 of my class who can already read all 220 Dolch Words (PLUS the 90 Dolch Common Nouns).Wowzers!...so, I needed to figure out a way to continue challenging them in their word work and this is what I came up with which I am very excited about...I noticed that as high that these kiddos were reading, their spelling ability did not nearly match up (which we would expect).  So, I started back over at the beginning of the ball lists (Dolch Word Lists) and had them orally spell the words to me until they couldn't spell 6 of them.  This will keep them busy for awhile...it challenges them and increases their writing ability and knowledge of how words work at the same time.  They are loving it and I love seeing the transfer to their writing! 
And, as I mention the higher end of my students, of course there are many who still need to solidify their letter name/sound recognition, so this is what we are working on, of course before we move onto the Dolch lists. 
Guess what's up next?? We have to test our students on Math Fact Fluency.  This system has worked SO WELL, that I am going to set it up for math facts as well following the suggested order of teaching in the book Mastering Basic Math Facts: Beyond Memorization.  My students are right where they should be with this, but, by January, they are going to need to be nudged over the edge of difficulty and I will be ready to do that for them by having them focus on only 6 difficult facts for them.  We will revisit or introduce math fact strategies during our sessions together so it doesn't become a memorization routine.  I can't wait, so, stay tuned for that!
Speaking of math facts, here is my new, updated freebie.  Its one of my favorite go to activities to review literacy or math concepts we are working on.  These puzzles are so versatile....I needed a related facts activity, so I went to this old puzzle and put subtraction sentences on the puzzle pieces.  Students need to find the related addition fact that will help them solve the trickier subtraction fact AND glue down the puzzle piece....this one also has the option of ordering ten frames and sequencing a sentence....or, with a tiny bit of white out or boo boo tape, you could make this your very own project with whatever concept you choose for your students to practice. 
A GREAT filler during Thanksgiving week.  Just click on the picture to grab the UPDATED free puzzle for your students!


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