Jun 29, 2015

Visual Representations for Vowel Teams

I can't believe July is almost upon us and I am not quite sure I have done a lot of relaxing this summer.  Don't get me wrong...I have enjoyed the amusement park, pool, some hiking, and Lego building with my girls.  But there has also been reading, book studies, and research.

As I have shared this summer, the teachers in my school have been reading "Reading Reflex."

 As I finished up the last chapter, I reflected on a few descriptions that the authors made that I thought seemed helpful.  I typed them up for me to use this year.

 I like this explanation because it can be hard for some students to understand that one vowel team can represent more than one sound.  But as the authors explain, it is not hard for children to understand that the shape above could be a circle or a ball.

I really like this second visual.  Students can understand that two flowers can look different but they are still both flowers.  Two vowel patterns can look different but they can make the same sound.

This may not make sense for every student but it may help a few understand these concepts that can sometimes be a challenge.

What do you think?  Do you think this would help our young students?

Jun 26, 2015

Summer Stock Up: Interacting with Short Vowels

I love all the fresh ideas that are buzzing around during the summer months!  All the books studies, extra time to read blogs, and reflect allows me to get ready for the upcoming year.

One of my goals this summer was to prepare some interactive presentations that were engaging and powerful.  A few years ago we tried using  Powerpoints to help our students with segmenting, blending, and visually seeing how the letters come together.  Our firsties need and benefit from this type of explicit, direct lesson in phonics.

The new and improved SHORT VOWEL presentations are here and ready to use!
Each file comes with an introduction Powerpoint that works on one specific vowel sound (such as short a below), an interactive making words Powerpoint, and corresponding printable sheets for the students to use.

Since they are Powepoint presentations, I was able to make them interactive.  The letters move on some of the screens to help students see how words are formed or change.  The video below shows an example of this:

The corresponding sheets help the students to be accountable for their learning.  It provides them with Elkonin boxes to touch and segment the sounds in the words.  But then the students can write the sounds for the word inside each box.

The sentences allow the students to see the word in context.  I think making that connection from word to sentence is really important.

I look forward to creating more of these Powerpoints this summer for VCE words and vowel teams.  But if you would like to win the short vowel collection, please enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you would like to try out part of the short a Interactive Introduction--plus many other freebies--please click below!

https://www.facebook.com/ThePrimaryGal/ app_208195102528120

Jun 24, 2015

Fun with Phonemic Awareness

I have really come to enjoy teaching phonemic awareness.  It provides such an opportunity to be silly with the kids!  Since I primarily teach reading in small groups, phonemic awareness is a quick part of our daily routine.  For the past few years I have really been into the fractured nursery rhymes (is that what you would call them?)  They are poems that go to the tune of the nursery rhyme but may have some different verses.

My firsties think they are so funny!!  And are always asking for more.  I even try to get them to make up new ones as a group.  

I use these rhymes in so many different ways depending on what they group needs.  It may be rhyming or maybe onset/rime or maybe segmenting sounds.  But I use these rhymes as the tool to hit any of those skills.

These are some of my favorite nursery rhyme books right now.

 Do you have any favorite nursery rhyme books that you can suggest?
Please link up below with your fun Phonemic Awareness or Phonics ideas.

Jun 23, 2015

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

Summer days have been flying by!  We've done a little of This.....

We have spent a *few* days at KI since it's only about 4 miles from our house.  We've had several first ride celebrations now that all our girls have grown.  Our oldest is 52 inches so she can ride the Banshee at Kings Island!  The second to  last picture is of her first ride.... IN THE FRONT SEAT! (NO... I did not ride with her, I'm not that crazy!) Our middle just rode Congo Falls for the first time AND she's now able to ride The Beastie (or The Woodstock Express if you want it's for real name) by herself!!! Our youngest LOVES Shake, Rattle and Roll (it's my favorite too!). 
 On her first ride, in flight she said, "I can touch God!" It was the sweetest thing!
Now for a Little Bit of That.....

 We played Footgolf, impromptu picnics under the tree, walking our neighbor's dog, and the American Ninja Warrior Park. hahaha  It's just a park that has lots of obstacles so that's what we like to call it. :)
And a WHOLE Lot of Tennis, Tee Ball, Softball, Golf, Swimming, ......

 I L.O.V.E. being a teacher mom!  I get the best of both worlds.  I'm blessed to be able to work with all our firsties and help them achieve their dreams of being authors.  But then when school is over, I get to go home and watch how my girls are being the author's of their own stories.  It's interesting to see the chapters unfold as they are each choosing different paths.  Paths that have led each of them to find joy and happiness, new friendships, and new adventures.  At the beginning of this year I chose One Little Word.  Author. I'm not sure I'm doing a great job authoring my own story, but sometimes watching the story in front of you unfold through a child's eyes is much better than the one you could write on your own.

Jun 19, 2015

Using a Common Vocabulary

A few weeks ago I shared that many teachers from my school have been doing a book study together.  It has been going well and we have one chapter left.  It has been fun to visit individual homes of the teachers I work with around the city.  Makes for a nice change of environment.
The book that we have been reading is Reading Reflex:

We have discussed Chapter 3: Teaching the Basic Code, Chapter 4: Adjacent Consonant Sounds, and Chapter 5: Teaching the Advanced Code.  Each chapter has provided us with some good conversations about how we each teach these skills in our classroom.  This led to a better understanding of how we could be more cohesive as a building.  And one way that we can do that is through the language that we use.

The book offers some interesting perspectives of the language that is used in most classrooms (this book is written for parents).  The book goes in depth explaining that letters do not "make" sounds.  They represent sounds.  They suggest the term sound picture should be used versus vowel team or other common terms.  We really liked the idea of using represent versus make.  But we also recognize that the kids we work with are very transient and need to understand that "vowel picture" and "vowel team" are terms that can be used interchangeably.

The book also points out that using the terms long and short for vowels is confusing to children because they are terms for length.  And that the term blends is confusing because we are actually blending all the sounds in a word.  I completely understand both points that they are making.  It makes complete sense to me.  But...again...our students are very transient and need to know those terms because they are used in most schools.  So we decided to stick with them.

Because the book takes a different view on vocabulary used by teachers, it has made for some great conversations.  And since we just completed our building Literacy framework, it has been a good time for us to talk about language and the instructional strategies we want to use to teach phonics.

To sum up my rambling....we have decided that we were using lots of different terms to teach the exact same things.  For example: sight words, know by heart words, popcorn words, high frequency words all meant the same thing.  We are going with sight words.  So here are some terms that we are sticking with as a building:

Do you have agreed upon terms in your school?  Do you have any suggestions for us?

Coming Soon: The book does a really great job explaining how sounds are related and not related with visuals.  This was a HUGE takeaway for me!  Be on the lookout for it :)

Jun 18, 2015

Summer Reading

It seems like  a very long time since I have linked up with another blogger!  The school year just seems to whisk away, doesn't it!?!  Molly from Lucky to Be in First is sharing some summer reading.  What are you reading?


Before I made up my lists of books I WANT to read and books I think you SHOULD read, I poked around at what some of the other bloggers are reading.  My conclusion....I need to read some more non-teaching related books.  I have one "for-pleasure" book on my list.  This may be a problem :)

What are you reading?  And what suggestions do you have me!!!??

Jun 11, 2015

Interest Inventory...... FREEBIE

Each year Em and Karen do an interest inventory for reading with our firsties, so this year I'm jumping on the bandwagon!  It's FREE because everyone needs something for free on a Thursday.  :)


Happy Thursday Sweet, Sweet Friends!