Sunday, October 4, 2015

Starting Guided Reading

Hi, friends!  I hope you had a nice weekend.  I was out of town for a craft show with my mom.  It's been an annual tradition since I can remember.  I always look forward to it!  The weather is getting cooler {finally} here in Ohio and I'm loving it!  Perfect sweatshirt and coffee weather!

So we are nearing the end of the 1st quarter...seems crazy that I've been back to school for almost 9 weeks.  The hardest days are over {PTL!}.  Now that my kids have the procedures/routines down, we can start to really hit the curriculum.  We began Writing Workshop a few weeks ago.  I posted about that HERE. *And to see all of my many Writing Workshop posts, check out the sidebar on the left side of my blog {shown below}.  Scroll down to see "Writing" and click on it.

I typically like to give my kids the first quarter to get re-acclimated with school and into the literacy center routine before jumping into guided reading.  We've been doing centers for about 4 weeks now and the kids are secure for the most part with the routines and behavior expectations.  Tomorrow, I'll be starting guided reading!  Hooray!  *FYI-I do teach whole-group Phonics and Reading, so everyone is getting that every day!  This post is dedicated to how I start and plan for my groups.

First, I take a running record on each child.  I use Fountas and Pinnell leveling kits.  I then write down the levels and the kids' names under them.  I do end up combining some levels.  For example, I have some D/E kids.  It's ok to combine them.  I have to do this because I don't have much help with reading groups.  I also don't have time built into my day to run more than 2 groups.  So once I have everyone in a group, I select my three lowest groups.  This year, that means two level B groups {Yikes!} and a level C group.  I have one support staff member who pulls a B group.   I will be running the level C and the other B group.  I will run one group during literacy centers and one group during silent reading time.  Each group is approximately 20-25 minutes.  I will keep these groups until the end of the 2nd quarter.  To get a free guide about how I use the 20 minutes, click the cover below.

I use my focus skills by level booklet that's included in my Guided Reading Resources pack to plan for my instruction.  It lists specific skills that should be taught at each guided reading level.  It's such a life-saver when it comes to planning!  I ended up binding my pages into a spiral book so I can take it back and forth from school.

I use leveled texts from our school's book room.  You can also use Reading A to Z.  In addition to using leveled texts, I supplement with activities from my 1st Grade Guided Reading Bundle.  It's loaded with activities that are appropriate for each level.  Below are a few of my favorite activities!

People often ask me how I store/organize my guided reading materials.  I have cubbies in my room where the kids hang their coats and bags.  Above them are built in shelves, which I believe were intended to be used for mailboxes.  I have a separate mailbox unit, so I use the shelves to house my skill bins.  I keep everything that is NON-SEASONAL organized by skill.  This makes finding a particular game/activity super easy!  It also comes in very handy when planning my guided reading groups, as well as my day-to-day classroom instruction.  The tubs I use are Sterilite.  I like that they are clear, so I can see what I'm looking for.

I am often asked if this product can be used with those who do not use Fountas and Pinnell guided reading.  The answer is YES!  ABSOLUTELY!  This pack was developed for first grade readers and will work in ANY first grade classroom that uses ANY form of guided reading.  In fact, you don't even have to do guided reading to use this phenomenal resource!  It can be used in the following ways:
  • RTI for second graders
  • RTI for first graders
  • Guided Reading
  • Literacy Centers
  • Tutoring
  • Whole-group phonics instruction
  • Free time activities
  • Enrichment with kindergarten

To check out this amazing, 1,300 page guided reading resource pack, click the cover below!  *Click on "Comments and Ratings" under the product once you get to TpT to see what other teachers/parents are saying about it!  Don't have the money to purchase the bundle right now?  Each level is also available for individual purchase!  Just head to my TpT store {Mrs. Wheeler} and click on "Guided Reading" on the left.

Questions?  Leave them below or send me an email at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short Vowel Activities

Hi everyone!  I just love literacy time and finding/creating activities for my students and I to use.  I am a firm believer in spiraling in first grade because there are so many skills taught!  I can't expect mastery after one lesson or one week of instruction.  Because of this, I am always looking for things to use to help reinforce concepts I've already taught my kids.    

I run literacy centers and guided reading daily.  The beginning of the year is always difficult for kids to get adjusted to the center routines, and although I am floating around monitoring and helping them, they need to have simple, yet meaningful activities to work on.  I created these little short vowel packs to support independence and reinforce what I've taught in class.  

I spend a week focusing on each short vowel at the beginning of the year.  For example, last week, I focused on short i.  We did lots of activities to go with short i, including a few little things from my short i activities pack.  So this week in literacy centers, I will include a short i game from the same pack as one of my five centers.  This will ensure spiral review.

I have 5 packs {one per vowel} and then a bundle.  *The bundle price is like getting one pack for free.  Each pack contains the same activities/printables so that your kids will know the format.  These activities are great for RTI, tutoring, guided reading, literacy centers, small groups, or whole-group instruction.  I hope you will take a moment to check them out below!  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Writing Workshop: The Beginning

I love teaching Writing and it's so hard for me not to "jump right into it" on the first day of school! I've mentioned before that I do not do a lot of curriculum things until a few weeks into school.  I believe it's much more important to lay the foundation for the year with classroom procedures and developing rapport.  We are currently in our 5th week of school.  I began the workshop about 3 weeks ago.   Right now, I'm using my Personal Narratives writing unit.  It's going very well.  Below are some pictures from our writing time so far this year:

Using our interactive word wall 
3-Star posters from my Writing Resources Kit
Mini-lesson story {mad art skills, right?!}

Anchor chart pieces from my Writing Resources Kit 
**I've revised my "Personal Narratives" unit, as it has evolved even more over the past 4 years since I first created it.  It is now combined with "Writing for Others."  I am super excited about how it turned out!  It's loaded with 15 mini-lessons {each to be used for 2 consecutive days} to turn your kids into writers in no time!  Some of the skills/mini-lessons included are:  capital letters, spacing, phonetic spelling, sight words, writing longer stories, using temporal words, and MUCH MORE!  I've also changed the format to vertical so the lesson plans will go into a binder much easier.  You can see a sample lesson plan below.  Click the cover picture at the bottom of the post to purchase this unit!

Please re-download this unit if you own it.  If you own my Writing Workshop Bundle, you'll want to re-download that as well.**


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Giveaway!

Hi, everyone!  Today's post is a quick one but good one!  Earlier last week, I posted about having a phone call with Eric Litwin, the author of the first 4 Pete the Cat books.  We discussed his new book, which is NOW OUT!  It's called Sing and Dance in Your Polka Dot Pants and it's a hoot!  It's all about the Nut Family.  The characters' names are so clever.  I read/sang the book to my first graders last week and they loved it!  It has a great, catchy chorus, just like Pete does.

If you'd like to win a copy for yourself, you can enter through the Rafflecopter below!  Winner announced this Friday, October 2.  Good luck!  **Don't want to wait?  Order through Amazon now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, September 21, 2015

Poetry Visualization

 Hi everyone!  I hope you had a nice weekend.  I spent a lot of time resting...I am still getting over being sick!  It's been over a week now.

So I woke up Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m. and my mind was racing and ready to do some work!  I spent most of the day working on the computer...never enough time for all of my ideas!  My hubby and I also went to a wedding on Saturday night.

Today's post is all about using poetry in the classroom.  I like to incorporate poetry with Phonics, mainly because we don't have a ton of time to get everything in!  I use two Phonics books on the reg. I got them on Amazon and/or Scholastic years ago.  They are both shown below:

Monday, I introduce our new poem.  I read it aloud.  We discuss any new vocabulary words. Then, I have students close their eyes and listen/make a picture in their minds about what they think they poem is about.  I distribute half-sheets of visualization paper and clip boards and the kids draw/color what they saw in their minds.  We share our pictures and talk about how they are the same, yet different.

Tuesday-Thursday, we re-read our poem.  We might circle rhyming words/word family words. Towards the end of the week, I have students come up and lead us.  We might choral read, echo read, read with a flashlight, etc...

Friday, I pass out individual copies of the poem and the kids highlight word family words and sight words.  They also color the picture on the poem.  Then, we read the poem together, along with some of our older poems, and place it into our poetry folders.  As the year progresses, partners/small groups read their old poems together instead of us reading them aloud.

Poetry is a great way to build fluency and vocabulary!  To see more ideas on how I use poetry in the classroom, click HERE!

To get the poem visualization pages, click the cover below!