I received some really good teacher emails in the past few days and thought it might be helpful to respond to them in a blog post. The teacher question is highlighted in bold.
Question: How do you use your stash of goodies?
Add a pair of detective glasses to the notebooks and they turn into detectives searching for non-fiction text features or connections!
Question: How long do you stick with a long book for guided reading groups?
Answer: Yes, the books from Treasures are sometimes pretty long, especially if we read a chapter book. It usually takes about two weeks (depending on how often the group meets) to complete the book. We have about 5 minutes of discussion at the end of every reading so it takes a few weeks to complete the book.
Question: I noticed you have the students sit on therapy balls. How do you establish guidelines and minimize distractions?
Answer: We both have used these therapy balls for the past 2 years. I started using them only during guided reading, however, I found that many of my students could benefit from sitting on them throughout the day. Each day, all of the students at 1 table would have a ball. At the end of the day they would “rotate” and give their ball to a child at the next table. The key to managing them…give clear and specific directions and model, model, model! I give the students the rules at the beginning of the year. I start by showing them examples of ways to properly sit on the ball and ways not to (they will love seeing you sit on them in silly ways and laugh hysterically). I give 1 warning (if needed) and if a second warning is given, this child loses the ball for that day. I have 5 balls and 5 tables of 5 students so each child gets a ball 1 day per week.
A few tips if you do decide to use the balls-students will try to “take flight” by laying face down on the balls. They also might try to kneel on them. Make sure the students keep an eye out for pencils on the floor since they can possibly lead to a popped ball. The cheapest place to find the balls is at Walmart. The 55 cm ball is for children 5′ 3″ and under and is sold for $6.77.
Question: Where do you get the clear plastic sleeves?
Answer: We were lucky enough to have school funds buy them for each classroom. It’s a great way to save paper and endless copies! These SmartPAL Sleeves are from EAI Education and a 10-pack sells for $16.95.
Question: How do you find time to do anecdotal records? How do you balance reading and discussion time during GR groups?
Answer: Finding time for the anecdotal records is not easy!! I actually fill those out when the students are reading the text independently during the guided reading groups. However, my individual reading conferences take place during our reading workshop time, when students are buddy reading, or practicing their reading fluency. As for the reading/discussing…I know exactly what you mean!!! We spend about 12-15 minutes actually reading and then the rest of the time, about 5 minutes, discussing the text. I struggle with keeping the discussion time to 5 minutes too because they can talk forever about the books we read! They want to share their questions, thoughts, connections, what they visualized…everything! While this is a wonderful thing, we can’t take 20 minutes to have a discussion! What I’ve found helpful is to remind the students that they will have time during reading workshop to discuss their reading with other readers when they are buddy reading, participating in literature groups, or book buddies. I also do a lot of “turn and talk to your neighbor” so each child feels like they are having the opportunity to share their thoughts even though they are not sharing them with the entire group.
Question: I saw somewhere that you do a classroom economy. I have seen Beth Newingham’s and a few others but would like more information on how you set yours up and how it works. I don’t know if you have some basic information or even a file on TpT.
Answer: Thank you Beth Newingham for this idea! Similar to Beth, I created a “My Classroom Economy Book” for every student. Throughout the day, the students earn credits for smart, responsible, and respectful choices and debits for poor choices. Attached is a copy of the classroom economy book that I made after being reading how Beth incorporates it into her classroom!
I photocopy 10 pages of the “credits/debits” page for two weeks worth of school days. The students fold those pages in half. Then they fold the cover page in half and place the credits/debits pages “inside” the folded cover page to make a book. The crease of the credits/debits page is on the outside. A picture would be worth a thousand words right now wouldn’t it!?!? I don’t have one :( Sorry!
You can also have the students get paid for the classroom positions they work for as part of their daily credits. You can read see more about this by clicking HERE.
Question: Is the Guided Reading Guru file included in the Teacher Reading Binder: Ultimate Resource for Any Teacher?
Answer: YES! :) Here is a description of the Teacher Reading Binder:
An invaluable resource for any classroom teacher who teaches guided reading, uses literature groups, or loves reading workshop! Inspired by Fountas and Pinnell and Regie Routman!
Teachers create their own reading binder, which includes numerous files:
-Guided Reading Guru File (80 pages) Includes anecdotal record forms, assessing student comprehension, reading goals, running records, informal reading conferences, numerous guided reading forms and templates, LOTS of pictures, information and resources.
-Literature Groups File (55 pages)
Just updated on June 20, 2011 to include all job roles for fiction, nonfiction, and mystery books. Also has pictures and ideas for how to successfully implement literature groups in your classroom!
-Reading response letters and assessment and reading workshop mini-lessons file (15 pages)
-Cover pages for binder
Also, this file is frequently updated with more information. If you purchase, please check periodically for updates to redownload!!!
******We just finished updating this file on June 20, 2011. If you already purchased this file, please redownload so you get all the goodies!****
Question: If I bought the reading binder through your SOS site, can I still have the updated file?
Answer: OF COURSE! :) Please send us an email so we can send you the updated file!
THANK YOU for your kind emails and comments about our recent posts! :) We apologize we could not answer them sooner!