Differentiation {A Lesson in Action!}

Hi all! Before our regularly scheduled programming, here’s a little #TBT, Throw Back Thursday!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

Chicks!

A few weeks ago, the fourth graders in our school raised chicks. They invited us up one day to spend some time with them and their new arrivals! It was so much fun and the firsties just LOVED it! I haven’t gotten a chance to post about it because it’s been busy with testing, assemblies, meetings, more testing, field trips, activities, class work, more testing, agh!

But in the meantime, I wanted to post about something I am passionate about and something that is a huge part of my classroom. DIFFERENTIATION! Not only is it what I hold my Master’s degree in, but it’s what drives my classroom instruction.

I get asked a lot about how this really works in a classroom, specifically in a first grade classroom. Sometimes the idea of “differentiating” seems like too much “extra” work. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s a simple way I differentiate in my classroom to meet the needs of all the learners in my room.

Reading text

Reading text

During our phonics block, we’ve been focusing more on putting our knowledge into play rather than direct instruction (focused solely on learning a new sound or blend). At this point in the year, we are putting that knowledge into action, working on reading fluency and identifying blends or sight words as we read.

To meet the needs of all the learners in my room, students were each given a book titled “Police Officers”, which were informational texts about police.

There were 3 different levels of this book. So while every child in the room was reading the same information, some were more complex than others.

Text

Text

Text

Text

In the above two pictures, you can see how both pages are giving the students similar information. But in the top picture, there is more information, words, and vocabulary. In the bottom picture, it’s presented in a simpler form. However- the content is still the same! Both students are reading AND comprehending at their own levels.

Grouping

Grouping

Grouping

Grouping

So how does this work? To begin, I put students into groups around the room with the kids who were reading the same level book as themselves. They started by just reading their text. Next, they worked on highlighting words with letter sounds we’ve been working on, such as “ch”, “sh”, “ar”, “oi/oy”, etc. They also worked on highlighting all the sight words we’ve learned that are on our word wall.

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

Highlighting

That was all on day 1. The next day, the students began by rereading their text. By doing this, they are practicing fluency and their comprehension skills. Then, they went back into their groups. Working as sets of partners within their leveled teams, they had to complete a Tree Map (a type of Thinking Map that helps them summarize) to state the topic of the text and supporting details.

What’s great about this is- 1. Students have a partner to support them 2. Not only do they have a partner, but they also have the support of their team sitting around them and 3. Because everyone at their table has the same level book, they can help each other with finding supporting details.

Groups around the room

Groups around the room

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

You’ll find that the kids are naturally differentiating themselves at this point. The students with the hardest text are going to be making the most complicated and detailed Tree Maps, because they have more text to work with. The students with a simplified text are going to be making a Tree Map using the details from their books, at their own level. Again, THEY ARE ALL LEARNING AND WORKING WITH THE SAME INFORMATION! This is the genius and key to a differentiated room.

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Finding details and putting them into a Tree Map

Was this more work for me as a teacher? No.

Was this just giving some kids “more work” and other kids “less work”? No.

Was this hard to plan? No.

This was meaningful and tailored to the individualized needs of my learners. The students all felt accomplished and proud of their work because it was at their level. All of them were successful and completed the mission- to summarize an informational text.

I hope you can see just how simple, easy, and engaging a lesson like this is! The kids work hard and learn so much when they are given materials that meet their unique needs.

It’s not pictured, but the next day students went back with those same partners and used their Tree Maps to turn their ideas into writing. They wrote paragraphs that summarized their texts. Think first graders can’t write detailed and supportive paragraphs? Think again! 🙂

Thanks so much for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to subscribe and keep coming back!

Text Features

Smiles!

Smiles!

I have such a wonderful group of kids this year, and really by extension, such a wonderful group of families! Earlier this week, a boy gave me this awesome present. It was so sweet of him and I just loved it. His explanation was perfect too-

Student: “Do you know why I gave this to you today and not a few days ago?”

Me: “No, tell me why.”

Student: “Because it took a really long time to make.”

🙂 Well that explains it!

Honestly, getting something like this just makes me remember why I do what I do. Being shown this kind of sweet appreciation is just so kind and made me smile all day!

Text Features

We are reading informational/non-fiction text and working on summarizing. This means, we are learning how to find the topic of the text, as well as supporting details. All of this ties into the idea of text features, those special parts that informational text have.

When planning this unit, we came across this organizer for a text feature hunt.

Organizer

Organizer

We knew that text features were something we totally needed to cover for this unit.

But…. it’s also REALLY hard and LOTS, LOTS, LOTS of information for our little kiddlets. There are so many aspects to text features, not to mention all the various ways the kids see them. Take for example a table of contents. Sometimes in a book it’s called “Table of Contents”, sometimes just “contents”, and sometimes there isn’t a title to it or there isn’t one at all. That alone takes lots of explanation!

Well, the only way to tackle all of this new information is to do little by little.

So, we took one of our Scholastic New magazines….

Scholastic

Scholastic

and began the hunt!

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching

Searching

Searching

Searching

First, we talked about some of the features informational text has, such as bold words, headings, titles, and captions. After going over all of this, we looked for examples in the Scholastic Magazine.

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

I think this was a great way for the kids to see text features in a real way. Sometimes we talk about things, but they don’t get to see them in a practical example. But, this was a super fun way for the kids to explore and discover! Plus, it helped clear misconceptions about what makes titles and headings different, as well as captions.

Searching for text features

Searching for text features

They turned out really cute and the kids loved them!

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Text feature hunt

Thanks for checking in to our adventure! We are also on the hunt for text features and so happy to see you here looking at our “hunts”!

Guided Reading: How it works in our classroom!

Hi all! For starters, HAPPY FRIDAY! Today was a whirlwind- we had our field trip to the bowling alley today! Thankfully the rain gods had pity on us and we got to walk there with no down pours! (We were crossing and double crossing our fingers all day- we didn’t want to have to cancel like last Friday!) The kids had a blast and did a good job walking there and back. A HUGE thanks goes out to the parent volunteers who went with us. We couldn’t have done it without you! 🙂

This week I took some pictures of one of my guided reading groups. What is guided reading? It’s a time to listen to the student’s read and discuss books that are at (or slightly above) their reading level in a small group. The student’s practice their fluency skills and reading strategies and I  keep track of how they are reading, their level of understanding of reading strategies, etc. Here’s how I set my things up:

Folders and books

I divide my student’s into 5 groups: my Monday group, Tuesday group, Wednesday group, Thursday group, Friday group. I just call them by the day of the week I see them. I only see 1 group each day. These groups are flexible and officially change each quarter based on their reading levels (but often small changes are made every couple of weeks based on what the student’s needs are). Back to the picture! I have a folder for each group and behind my folders, I have leveled books. Our school has a library we can pick from that are leveled and come in bags with 6 books inside. So convenient!

When I meet with a group, the first thing we do is look at our objective.

 

What's our job today?

What’s our job today?

We read the objective together so the student’s know what we are focusing on today (it seems like a lot of reading strategies, but since we’ve already learned all of these during shared reading, we move them to guided to continue to practice them).

Next, I pass out the text to the students. The students point to the title, the author, and the illustrator. From here, we decide if it will be fiction or non-fiction. Then, we preview the text to make our predictions.

Prediction board and author’s purpose

The students discuss their predictions with a partner and then we write down a group prediction on the board. (Under the prediction you see the sentence starter “This text was about…”. We use that at the end to help us summarize based off of our prediction. After we predict, we look at vocabulary words from the text. I write the page number and the word and the student’s find the word in the book. This is when we practice using context clues to figure out a new word. The students have to read the sentence the word is in, look at the illustration/photographs, and use the words around it to figure out what it means.

After we do all of this, I remind them that when they’re done, I will ask them “What was the author’s purpose for writing this text?” We use the P.I.E. (persaude, information, entertain) poster to remind us.

It’s as easy as P.I.E.!

Then, the student’s are off! I hand them their whisper phones,

Reading to themselves

and they read!

(Side note: Don’t waste your money on actual whisper phones. I had my step- dad make me my whisper phones. He used PVC pipe, put them together with adhesive, and boom! Whisper phones! I think when you buy a set of real whisper phones at the store, they’re like $40.00 for 10 of them. I think I spent less than $10.00 on 6 of them. Also- I jazzed them up by adding some fun duct tape around the handles 🙂 ) I keep them in a basket at the guided reading table.

Homemade whisper phones!

Anyways, the kids read the whole text to themselves. Because they are using the “phones”, they hear themselves read. This helps practice fluency and voice inflection.

(You might be wondering what the rest of the class is doing at this point. This is during our Daily 5 time and all the rest of my students are doing “Read to Self”. They are sitting around the room with their book bins, reading silently to themselves. Since we’ve practiced this since day 1, they are reading in one spot for 20 minutes straight. It’s amazing!)

Reading to Self

 

As my guided group starts, I open up the group’s folder. Inside is…

Side 1

a list of the books we’ve read in this group, the level the book was, and a post-it with who is in this group, and….

Side 2

their guided reading monitoring logs. Each child has these monitoring logs stapled together. I pick one of these out, ask a student to put down their whisper phone, and listen to them read to me.

Reading to me

As you can see, he is reading out loud to me and I’m listening for many things: is he skipping words he doesn’t know, how’s his inflection, how’s his fluency, does he reread when we makes a mistake, etc? I mark down on the log the level of proficiency he has for each strategy. This way, I can see his progress from week to week. (P.s. That was a very difficult photo to take!) I listen to each child read for about 2-3 minutes. Then, I repeat the process with all the students in the group. It’s important to listen to each one of them every time I meet with the group so I can accurately see their level and progress.

After I’ve listened to each student in the group, I collect the whisper phones. Then, I ask them questions about what they just read. (Since Common Core reading asks the students to read “closely”, we always make sure to go back and point to the answers to prove it).

Proving an answer in the text!

Then, we review our prediction. Was it on track? If not, we adjust it. We use the prediction to help us summarize as well! Then, we make some connections, make a few inferences, and ask each other questions about the text. They love being able to discuss what they read with a partner.

Discussing the text

Finally, I ask them the author’s purpose for writing this text. They point to the reason they think using the poster…

What’s the purpose?

and we discuss WHY. When we’re all done, we look back at our objectives and see if we did our job for the day. After a quick celebration on a job well done, I ring the bell…

Ring! Ring!

and everyone cleans up and sits on the carpet. Because this is part of our Daily 5 time, everyone sits with their thumb over their heart ready to reflect on how they did either reading to themselves or reading in the guided reading group.

Cheese!

(After I snapped this, someone said, “Hey I think she took a picture of us…. sneaky!” 😉 )

And how long did that whole process take? 20 minutes! Once the kids know the routine, it’s nice and fast and a great way to hear them read to me each week! In my guided reading pack, you’ll see all of this again (in much more detail!), get all the worksheets I use to record and collect data, the P.I.E. poster, and reading strategy posters. Check it out here: Guided Reading Basics Pack

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Daily 5 Word Work Idea: Hidden Words

Why do we read? Ask any student in my classroom and you’ll hear the shout, “To become better readers!” My students know why we read each and every day- we have fun when we read, we learn when we read, and it makes us better readers. One of the ways Daily 5 supports us to become better readers is by “word work”- a component of our choice time where students get to work with letters and works. Playing and manipulating words and letters help students practice sounds, sight words, and reading! Here is another idea we do in our classroom for Daily 5 Word Work. It’s called “Hidden Words”. First, how I store it in my classroom:

Hidden Words storage box

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love storing Word Work activities in these boxes! The boxes most things come in are so cute, but once they’ve been used a few times, they start to fall apart. I store all my Word Work ideas in clear, plastic boxes that are durable and easy to grab. Here is a look inside the box:

Under the lid

I always make sure to put everything into the box that the students will need to do the activity. (If they are going around the room to find paper, markers, crayons, pencils, etc. it would take way too long- not to mention distracting!) Inside this box are the worksheets- which can be found for FREE here: Hidden Words worksheets. Also in the box is white crayons and markers. Here’s how it works- the students use the white crayon to write a word wall word in the box. Then, they use a marker to color over the word. When you color over the word, it magically appears in the color! The example I made for my students show it:

The hidden words appear!

When I showed this to my class, their response was, “Ooooooooooo!” It’s totally engaging and everyone wanted this to be their choice for Daily 5. I love this choice because it’s great practice for them writing words and reading word wall words. They want to show their friends, which means meaningful discussions about their words and what the words say.

Students finding their hidden words

I made my worksheets double sided so that the fast workers had more words to do. In the free packet of these worksheets, you’ll find more ways to use these in your class. For example, students can write “hidden” compound words, “hidden” rhyming words, and “hidden” sentences.

Thanks for taking a look into our classroom and I hope it helps you and your students during Daily 5!

Hidden Words

Stay cool and have fun on this wonderful weather day!