Transitional Readers in Kindergarten

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If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you know that every year is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. Every year I have kiddos come in who range from not knowing their own name to knowing a few letters to being able to read and comprehend chapter books.

Today i’m going to talk about what you can do to meet the needs of those high students without cloning yourself… because let’s be real, sometimes it feels like you need to if you want to fit it all in! And these ideas aren’t just for kindergarten – many can be used with any primary grade level!

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I’m going to start with talking about guided reading. Right now I have a group of kiddos who read and comprehend at a range of levels M-U (3rd-5th grade levels). The word comprehend is so important because it doesn’t matter if a student can read a higher level text if they don’t understand what they read.

Sometimes that can be difficult to explain to parents why I have their student at a lower reading level when they’re convinced they can read every Harry Potter book back-to-back, but what’s the point of reading if you don’t do anything with it? (Does that make sense? I’ve got spring break brain, HA!)

We’ve been working all year, and one area I found my kiddos struggled in was retelling nonfiction.

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I LOVE these Scholastic Kids newsletters! Yes, they’re a lower reading level, but they are laid out perfectly to show my students how to pick out the main idea and supporting details.

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After reading a few times, I have my students fill out this graphic organizer. You can find it here. If it was a magazine with 4 points, i’d either have them just choose 3 or add another on the back.

On day 2, we would put this into paragraph form, which was definitely a challenge as they had never done that before! First, I had students write a topic sentence using the main idea, then put the 3 details into sentences, then write a closing sentence. I taught them that they could just reword the topic sentence to write the closing sentence (So “There are dangerous animals in summer.” might become “Those are some of the dangerous animals of summer.”)

Then, because I do want to push my students further, I have them go back and add more to each detail (this extends over multiple days – so a day for the graphic organizer, a day for writing, a day for adding more details, etc).

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Students use sticky notes to add on to each detail. Often they want to say “But there’s no more here!” and I have to make them go back and read because of course there is. 😉

Now, this step is extra, but  I wanted a way to make the structure more visual to them.

 

First, I had my students cut apart their paragraph. Then they glued it down in order, this time adding in those expanded details with the post it notes.

Then, they wrote their paragraph again and this time illustrated it:

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Pretty impressive! Now that they understand the structure of a paragraph, we’re working on writing multiple paragraphs about an animal they’re researching. Once they’re done, we’ll learn how to type it up and they will get to present to an upper grade class (they’re dying to do this!)

Again, those graphic organizers can be found here. Honestly, I use them every day for any skill I think we need to work on – making connections, predicting, retelling, and more!

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What about literacy centers? If you go back to this post, I show you how I differentiate my literacy centers to meet the needs of all my students:

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This group is my purple group, so they know that they can choose any basket with a purple ribbon or any purple folder.

Some centers are very easy to differentiate because I just need to change up the sight words. For example:

-Read it, Make it, Write it

Mystery Sight Words

-Sight Word Stamp

-Roll and Write a Sight Word

I also like to have them do research and write as a basket. One basket contains a bunch of Scholastic Kids magazines and the same graphic organizer so that they can get more practice even when they’re not at my table.

I LOVE the PBL projects from Digital Divide and Conquer! I sometimes start these with the students and then make them a basket.

I also put out these animal research tab books out and let my students choose an animal to write about. You can try the lion tab book out for free here:

 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! Do you have any great ideas for meeting the needs of your higher students? I’d love to hear them!

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Organizing for Guided Reading & Guided Math

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If there is one place I am organized (the only place I am organized), it is at my small group table. What happens at this table is so important, and it happens SO fast, that I find I need to be as efficient as possible.

Keep in mind, this is what works for me and its taken me 4 years to figure out exactly what did and did not work. Hopefully you can use some of these ideas, but if something doesn’t work for you – find something that will!

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Ignore the mess in the background! It’s proof that i’m human. 😉 This is how my table is set up each day. I’m supposed to be able to fit 6 at my table, but I can only fit 5 right now and i’ll show you why in a minute. I prefer to have 5 or less in my groups if possible (We share kids between classrooms to try to make this doable).

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This set of drawers is where my 6th chair would be and without them I would be lost. I keep my alphabet charts, sound boxes, and analogy charts on top in dry erase pockets.

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In the small top drawer, I keep my magnetic letter trays. I used to keep these out, but I found that letters would mysteriously “walk away.” 😉

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In the middle drawer, I keep things I need for guided reading. I keep my pencil trays with dry erase markers, erasers, pencils, and highlighters in them and I keep one tray to the side filled with extras just in case. I also keep small sentence strips from the dollar spot in here.

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In the bottom drawer, I keep my items for guided math. Most of my manipulatives are kept in separate tubs, but I keep things I bought myself in here. I have counting bears, 50 & 100-charts to practice counting, magnetic ten frames, and playdough.

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I also keep this 10-drawer cart over here because you can never have enough drawers. On the top is a “junk drawer basket.” I keep random things like sticky notes, scissors, and glue in there and I also throw in anything students bring up to me during guided reading.

The top 5 drawers are for each of my guided reading groups.

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In each drawer I keep a folder with any printables I need. For example, my Pre-A drawer has all the letter pages we will be doing from my Letter ID Intervention pack. In my Pre-A drawer, I also keep a pile of magnetic letters to match to alphabet charts.

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I also keep each groups’ writing journals in here so that I don’t have to sort through one big pile. These were just blank journals I found in a cabinet. If it’s day 1, I keep their books in here too. After that they go in their book boxes.

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This binder is my LIFE. Seriously. It was originally just for guided reading, but I recently made the back half for guided math. In the very front I keep my schedule and the interventionist’s schedule side-by-side, but I won’t show you that for privacy purposes.

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I have a tab for each group. In each tab, I keep a chart with what letters/sounds they know, what sight words they can write, and then all my lesson plans. I switch kids around quite a bit, so I just change out the charts as needed. We use Jan Richardson’s lesson plans (which I seriously love and suggest you check out), so I don’t have anything fancy to show you there.

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After that, I have my math intervention groups tabbed by what skill they need to work on. I just write the students on the front with a vis-à-vis and I can easily erase/add as needed. I also put the day of the week I aim to meet with that group on the bottom.

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After that, I have all my regular guided math groups. Again, I write their names on the tab cover. I can only meet with 1-2 of these groups a day unfortunately.

Hopefully some of these ideas were useful to you!  I will have blog posts up soon about how I organize and teach each reading level in kindergarten – from Pre-A all the way to Transitional!