Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

How to Keep Students Reading Through Spring and Summer [A Classic Post]

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on May 26, 2016 2:07:19 PM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall that originally ran in April 2014. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

The itch of summer isn’t felt just by us. It spreads like wildfire through classrooms all over the place beginning at the end of April. May is crazier than the holiday season for me. I know you know what I’m talking about! There aren’t enough color codes on my calendar to organize all of the different activities and school programs that are happening at the end of the year.

Reading is one thing that seems to be put to the side at this time of the year. Most of the students have mastered the actual goal of learning how to reading, so parents and teachers do not emphasize at home reading as much. My biggest goal is to motivate my students to read more. I want them to want to read. One way I do this in my classroom (I usually start in April), is give them a 100 Book Challenge. If you start later in the year, you can make it be fewer books.

The 100 Book Challenge is exactly what it sounds like. Students have about five to six weeks to read 100 books. I tell them that the book has to have at least ten pages. If the book has twenty pages, then it counts twice. When the student reaches 100 books, we have a bit of a celebration. I let the kids dance around and they get a reading medal. They also get to sign their name on a poster in the hall. There are tons of trophy companies out there that have medals. You can find reading-specific medals as well.

Another way I try to keep my students engaged, even when I’m not with them, is by giving them a summer bucket. In the bucket, I always give them a book and a suggested reading list. I also fill it up with other fun summer things that they can use over the summer. The buckets can be purchased inexpensively at any craft store or on-line.

Hall-8-1-198  Hall-8-2-198  Hall-8-3-198

I know you are just as excited about the days of staying in your PJs until noon as I am, but we still owe it to our students to encourage them and believe in them. Each time you say or think “I am so over it,” remember all of the hard work that you have put in to each student!

Happy Summer Reading! 

~~~

Author Bio (2014)

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

  ~~~

We're pleased to offer ready-made classroom libraries to supplement your collection and give your students plenty of books to choose from for their challenge! Click here to see them on our website, or click the image below to download a brochure!

Classroom Library Brochure

 

Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall

Shared Reading with Little Dan—with FREE download!

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Nov 18, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Hall-10-1-200This is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

I love reading books where the students are able to get more schema about the character they have already met. I always have a book that we use for Shared Reading. The week we read Little Dan was the same week we were reading Dan, The Flying Man. Students were able to learn more about this character through reading Little Dan.

This story is about Dan when he was a little boy. The kids were so interested to learn that he got his flying hat and clothes from his grandpa. They were able to see his house and make connections to him as a child as opposed to just being Dan, the Flying Man. Each year, my students always love reading this book. I feel like they have gotten to understand the character better by seeing him through the two different stories.

After we read Little Dan, we brainstormed the different problems that Dan had when he was little. He wanted to fly ever since he was a baby but he kept falling. His Mom and his Dad would help him when we got hurt, but it was his grandpa in the end that solved his problem of wanting to fly. There are great connections that students can make throughout this story. There is a birthday party, parents helping their child, and receiving a present. Most students can make connections with the character. This is also another way to deepen a child’s understanding and retention of the story.

Hall-10-2-300Hall-10-3-300

We focused on writing about his two problems and how his grandpa helped him overcome his problem. I had the students draw and write (we are focusing on writing) about the two problems in the story. Then, they had to do the same for the solution. This is a great graphic organizer to use with any story. Encourage students to write and make connections about what they read. You can download a Dan-themed graphic organizer below.

Hall-10-4-300Hall-10-5-300

~~~

elizabeth hallThis is my sixth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

  ~~~

We've got plenty of big books for shared reading! Click here to see them on our website! If you want to know more about the Joy Cowley Collection, which features the Dan stories, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights! Click the image to the right to download the graphic organizer sheet

 

 New Call-to-Action  Little Dan Graphic Organizer

 
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Topics: Joy Cowley, K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall, Big Books, Shared Reading

Shared Reading with The Meanies

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Oct 14, 2014 8:00:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

One way that I love bringing reading and characters alive in my classroom is through shared reading. My favorite books are those featuring Mrs. Wishy-Washy, The Meanies, and The Hungry Giant by Joy Cowley. I read the same text from Monday to Friday with the goal of students being able to read the words independently by Friday. We do activities to accompany the book throughout the week.

When I saw Meanies’ Night Out, I knew that we had to have it in our classroom! Every year without fail, the Meanies in the story are always a favorite. They think they are funny for sleeping in garbage cans and eating old bubble gum. Any time you can get kids laughing, it is a good thing! They find an emotional connection to the story and they get excited when they see the characters in a different story.

One of the activities that we did this time around was about what it meant to be “Nice-ies”. They all knew what Meanies did, but it was a great activity to piggy-back off of both Meanies stories. I never miss an opportunity to talk character education. First, we brainstormed what things Meanies do from both the original Meanies story and then also from Meanies’ Night Out.

We talked about having manners and treating others kindly. Then, I asked students what the opposite of a Meanie would be. I let them come up with a few ideas until I prompted them to think about what Nice-ies would look like. Then, they started to talk about the pretend characters and brainstorm some different actions that Nice-ies would do.

Hall-9-2-200  Hall-9-3-200  Hall-9-4-200

Students in kindergarten are just learning how to sound out words and phonetic spelling is vital in the development of young readers and writers. I asked students to sound out one action verb to finish the sentence “Nice-ies…” and they responded: help, hug, are nice, make friends, and be kind. This was one of our first independent writing activities and I was so pleased with how they turned out!

~~~

This is my sixth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

  ~~~

We've got plenty of big books for shared reading! Click here to see them on our website! If you want to know more about the Joy Cowley Collection, which features the Meanies stories, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights!

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Topics: Joy Cowley, K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall, Big Books, Shared Reading

Classic Post: Using Mrs. Wishy-Washy to Teach Character and Setting

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Jul 24, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This classic post was originally published in September 2013. If you like what you see here, check out Elizabeth's other posts!

Elizabeth Hall, the author of some of our guest blog posts, brought our attention to a video she made a couple of years ago with the original Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, showing how you can use Mrs. Wishy-Washy books to teach character and setting.

The original Mrs. Wishy-Washy has been a favorite since 1980,  and our Joy Cowley Collection features six newer stories with Mrs. Wishy-Washy that are perfect for this type of exercise.

six mrs wishy washy books

Do you have fun Mrs. Wishy-Washy ideas you'd like to see featured on our blog? Click here to tell us all about it!

Want more information about the Joy Cowley Collection books? Click the image below to download an information sheet with highlights and key features!

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Joy Cowley Early Birds, Videos, The Joy Cowley Collection, Elizabeth Hall

Classic Post: The Importance of "Just Right" Books

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Jul 10, 2014 1:09:40 PM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall, originally published in March 2013. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

The Importance of "Just Right" Books

My favorite part of teaching reading is that moment when a student reads a sentence on their own. They look up at you like, “Did I just do that?” Sometimes, the light-bulb moment is as astonishing to us as teachers that we look back at them with the same look of wonderment. We sit back and heave a sigh of relief that they have actually been listening and participating in shared reading, practicing sight words, and just being the little sponges that they are.

From my first year, I got it that “Just Right” books are vital to have in the classroom. They have to be at the tips of those little fingers on a weekly or even daily basis. Growing little readers isn’t an easy business. It takes time and patience, but it also takes some teacher savvy.

Hall 6 300My favorite cringeworthy sentence I read on a blog was “I just watched them read and took notes and gave them books.” Just Right books aren’t passed out on a whim. We use DRA (Developmental Reading Assessments) to determine their level; I know other schools use other assessment tools to place their students in reading groups. It doesn’t matter which assessment piece you use, just as long as you have some way to keep data on their progress and their levels. It also is important that you have this information so that you can show parents and administration. Just “watching” them read is not a valid or reliable way to evaluate their reading levels.

There are many reasons that “Just Right” books are important. One of the reasons is confidence and another is fluency. That look that your student gives you when they read that first sentence for the first time is confidence. If a student feels like the book is too difficult, then they will give up. Frustration starts to build after each page is turned. Sentences like “I hate reading” might start flying out of their mouths. We want to build confident readers.

Fluency is the other key piece to building strong readers. I always tell them to use their “roller-coaster” voice and not their “robot” voice. As students start to become more confident in their reading, then they will start to sound like readers. Applaud them every time you hear them using their “roller-coaster” voice because they will start to use it more often!

In groups, I like for the students to evaluate the books that they read during reading groups. The general rule is if you don’t know more than five words, the book is too hard. If they fly right through it, then it’s probably too easy. We make the final decision as to what level they are reading at, but you always want to hear from them and find out how they feel about their book. You can download a rating card for students to use to let you know what they think of their book's level of ease and their comfort with it—you can find it at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t have an assessment system in place at your school, I can’t stress enough how important that it is that you go to your administration and fight for it. There is a surplus of research out there that supports “Just Right” reading. If you already have an assessment tool that you use, find ways to group your students and make your reading instruction as intentional as possible!

Happy Reading!

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

~~~

To download Elizabeth's "Just Right" Rating Card, click the image to the left below. For more information on the Joy Cowley Early Birds Series pictured above, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the right below to download an information sheet with key features and series highlights.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall

How to Keep Students Reading Through Spring and Summer

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Apr 28, 2014 8:00:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

The itch of summer isn’t felt just by us. It spreads like wildfire through classrooms all over the place beginning at the end of April. May is crazier than the holiday season for me. I know you know what I’m talking about! There aren’t enough color codes on my calendar to organize all of the different activities and school programs that are happening at the end of the year.

Reading is one thing that seems to be put to the side at this time of the year. Most of the students have mastered the actual goal of learning how to reading, so parents and teachers do not emphasize at home reading as much. My biggest goal is to motivate my students to read more. I want them to want to read. One way I do this in my classroom, starting in April, is give them a 100 Book Challenge.

The 100 Book Challenge is exactly what it sounds like. Students have about five to six weeks to read 100 books. I tell them that the book has to have at least ten pages. If the book has twenty pages, then it counts twice. When the student reaches 100 books, we have a bit of a celebration. I let the kids dance around and they get a reading medal. They also get to sign their name on a poster in the hall. There are tons of trophy companies out there that have medals. You can find reading-specific medals as well.

Another way I try to keep my students engaged, even when I’m not with them, is by giving them a summer bucket. In the bucket, I always give them a book and a suggested reading list. I also fill it up with other fun summer things that they can use over the summer. The buckets can be purchased inexpensively at any craft store or on-line.

Hall-8-1-198  Hall-8-2-198  Hall-8-3-198

I know you are just as excited about the days of staying in your PJs until noon as I am, but we still owe it to our students to encourage them and believe in them. Each time you say or think “I am so over it,” remember all of the hard work that you have put in to each student!

Happy Summer Reading! 

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

  ~~~

We're pleased to offer ready-made classroom libraries to supplement your collection and give your students plenty of books to choose from for their challenge! Click here to see them on our website, or click the image below to download a brochure!

Classroom Library Brochure

 

Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall

The Importance of the Classroom Library

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Apr 7, 2014 8:00:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

When I was in fourth grade, I remember my teacher having the best classroom library. She had pillows, a colorful rug, and a loft filled with books. If we finished our work, she would let us crawl up to the loft with a book and read. I’ve taken that reading memory with me into my own classroom. I am not able to have a loft (fire code!) but I have found ways to make our library inviting and accessible for my students.

My thought is every classroom library should have these four things: leveled books, thematic books, books by author and books for Reader’s Workshop.

I know that is a lot to think about. If you can level organize your library so that you can find a way to incorporate all of these components, it will make your life so much easier! I have my classroom library sectioned off into a big corner by a bright, large window. Since I can’t have a loft, I’ve put a beanbag and pillows under the counter so it seems like a little nook. My parents had a sofa that they no longer wanted, so I was able to use that in my classroom library as well.

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The library is organized with the leveled library being the closest to my reading table. Students shop for leveled books each week to bring back and forth from school to home. In the yellow baskets, they can find books that are by topic. For example, I have a basket on sports. If they want to read a basketball story, then they know to look in that basket. The white baskets are organized by author. I also was intentional with putting my word wall above my library this year. It used to be clear across the room and now I feel like they are actually able to use it as a resource!

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Maybe you just want a little facelift for your library or maybe you are a new teacher and you are looking for ways to make your library a space where students can curl up to read. You can pull the basket cards off the internet, or you can make your own. Find a space in your room that is dedicated just for reading!

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

  ~~~

We're pleased to offer ready-made classroom libraries to supplement your collection! Click here to see them on our website, or click the image below to download a brochure!

Classroom Library Brochure

 

Read More

Topics: Classroom Libraries, K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall

The Importance of "Just Right" Books—with FREE Download!

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Mar 5, 2014 7:47:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

The Importance of "Just Right" Books

My favorite part of teaching reading is that moment when a student reads a sentence on their own. They look up at you like, “Did I just do that?” Sometimes, the light-bulb moment is as astonishing to us as teachers that we look back at them with the same look of wonderment. We sit back and heave a sigh of relief that they have actually been listening and participating in shared reading, practicing sight words, and just being the little sponges that they are.

From my first year, I got it that “Just Right” books are vital to have in the classroom. They have to be at the tips of those little fingers on a weekly or even daily basis. Growing little readers isn’t an easy business. It takes time and patience, but it also takes some teacher savvy.

Hall 6 300My favorite cringeworthy sentence I read on a blog was “I just watched them read and took notes and gave them books.” Just Right books aren’t passed out on a whim. We use DRA (Developmental Reading Assessments) to determine their level; I know other schools use other assessment tools to place their students in reading groups. It doesn’t matter which assessment piece you use, just as long as you have some way to keep data on their progress and their levels. It also is important that you have this information so that you can show parents and administration. Just “watching” them read is not a valid or reliable way to evaluate their reading levels.

There are many reasons that “Just Right” books are important. One of the reasons is confidence and another is fluency. That look that your student gives you when they read that first sentence for the first time is confidence. If a student feels like the book is too difficult, then they will give up. Frustration starts to build after each page is turned. Sentences like “I hate reading” might start flying out of their mouths. We want to build confident readers.

Fluency is the other key piece to building strong readers. I always tell them to use their “roller-coaster” voice and not their “robot” voice. As students start to become more confident in their reading, then they will start to sound like readers. Applaud them every time you hear them using their “roller-coaster” voice because they will start to use it more often!

In groups, I like for the students to evaluate the books that they read during reading groups. The general rule is if you don’t know more than five words, the book is too hard. If they fly right through it, then it’s probably too easy. We make the final decision as to what level they are reading at, but you always want to hear from them and find out how they feel about their book. You can download a rating card for students to use to let you know what they think of their book's level of ease and their comfort with it—you can find it at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t have an assessment system in place at your school, I can’t stress enough how important that it is that you go to your administration and fight for it. There is a surplus of research out there that supports “Just Right” reading. If you already have an assessment tool that you use, find ways to group your students and make your reading instruction as intentional as possible!

Happy Reading!

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

~~~

To download Elizabeth's "Just Right" Rating Card, click the image to the left below. For more information on the Joy Cowley Early Birds Series pictured above, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the right below to download an information sheet with key features and series highlights.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Kindergarten, Elizabeth Hall

Joy Cowley's Smarty Pants Books and Shared Reading—with FREE Download!

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Feb 17, 2014 8:00:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

Shared Reading with Smarty Pants

Smarty Pants is a shared reading that my students have always enjoyed. Hearing them laugh while I read is always a plus in my mind. I was so thrilled to receive a new version starring Smarty Pants, Smarty Pants at the Circus. It was the perfect way to wrap up our week after reading the big book Smarty Pants.

Shared reading is such a powerful way to develop vital fundamental literary skills. I have, as we all do, students who vary in range in terms of their reading skills. However, many of them are lacking important skills that are taught during a shared read. Re-telling, fluency, and inferring are just a few of the skills that we might cover in one book. Different skills are addressed using the same story throughout the week.

Fluency is a huge component for young readers. It is especially important for struggling readers. We all know that readers need a balanced diet of “just right” books. The Smarty Pants books have been perfect for my students because they can read them. By the end of the week, maybe the book is memorized, but that’s developmental. It’s part of growing readers. Even if they have just memorized the words, it builds confidence. We pull out all of the stops—pointers, flashlight fingers, “witchy” fingers, etc. We do these things in order to support the skill we want the students to practice.

Hall 5 Smarty Pants 600

After we read Smarty Pants and Smarty Pants at The Circus, we completed a bubble map of adjectives to describe Smarty Pants. We did it whole group on our Smart board, but it can also be done individually. Download your own copy of the Smarty Pants Bubble Map at the bottom of this page!

If shared reading is not already a part of your literacy instruction, I highly encourage you to look into ways to incorporate it. It can be through a morning message or a meaningful big book. Characters like Smarty Pants and Mrs. Wishy-Washy are perfect because students love them and think they are hilarious. Find a way to make it work in your room. I promise you will not be disappointed!

~~~

Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

~~~

To download Elizabeth's Smarty Pants Bubble Map, click the worksheet image below. To learn more about the Joy Cowley Collection, which contains the Smarty Pants books, Mrs. Wishy-Washy books, and more, click the information sheet image below to download series highlights and key features.

Smarty Pants Bubble Map Download New Call-to-Action


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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, K-2 Literacy, Elizabeth Hall, Shared Reading

Strategies for Teaching Reading: The Helping Hand—with FREE Download!

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Jan 17, 2014 8:06:00 AM

elizabeth hallThis is a guest post by blogger Elizabeth Hall. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, Kickin' It in Kindergarten, for more of her writing, or you can click here to see her other contributions to our blog!

Strategies for Teaching Reading: The Helping Hand

Teaching students how to read is what I love most about being a kindergarten teacher. So many people are intimidated by something that has become such a large part of my teaching style. The moment when they read a full sentence and then look up at you like “Did I just READ!?!” is why I do what I do. They are so proud of themselves, and it is so rewarding to get to experience that with them. When I first started teaching, I have to admit that I didn’t really understand balanced literacy, shared reading, “thin” and “thick” questions, and so many other important strategies. That is why having a mentor teacher and being a mentor teacher is vital that first year and even your second year. I had an amazing mentor teacher that gave me brilliant resources.

That first year teaching, I read a book called Growing Readers by Kathy Collins, and it helped me understand how the process of reading really works. It was the perfect mentor text to read before getting started with my twenty-five little kindergarteners. I can’t stress how important it is to send “just right” books home with your students. I’m not talking about those printable paper books either. Yes, the books will get lost and worn down. They might get a juice or coffee knocked over on it, but kids need to feel the book between their little fingers. There is also something to be said about sharing stories they read at school with their families. If you don’t do anything else, send books home with your students!

child reading smiling 4190245 Jarenwicklund 300That first year teaching, my mentor teacher gave me a tool to use with my students called “The Helping Hand for Reading." When I meet with students during guided reading, they pull their helping hand out with their books. I have one enlarged and on my board behind me. I also keep on in their bags they use for Reader’s Workshop. The five parts of the “Helping Hand” are as follows:

1. Say the first sound

2. Check the picture

3. Skip it

4. Re-read

5. Does it look right, sound right and make sense?

Students use this hand when they come to a word in a text they don’t know. I teach one strategy a day at the beginning of the year. My students come to my knowing most of their letters and sounds. They are eager to read. You might just be at this point with your students so you can start introducing these strategies to your beginning readers. I model with a book they are familiar with. Then, I model some more. I also teach parents how to use it in a quick e-mail or note home. Each strategy is pretty self-explanatory. The only strategy that my reading specialist and I changed and moved was “skip-it.” Typically, students can figure out a word based on the context of the sentence if the first two strategies don’t work.

The week after I teach each strategy, I let the students practice with each other. They sit on the carpet with their bag of books. While one student reads a book, the other student holds the helping hand. If the reader gets stuck on a word, then the reading partner walks them through the steps on the helping hand. Again, there is a lot of modeling that takes place before I have the kids do it themselves. We are constantly reviewing the strategies and learning how to build our “strategy suitcase” as I like to call it.

Happy Reading!

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Author Bio

This is my fifth year as a kindergarten teacher. The best part of kindergarten is watching a child fall in love with reading. It has become my passion to show children the possibilities and amazing adventures literature can offer. I love watching their eyes light up when they tell me they can read their favorite book, or they can’t wait to go back to the library! I have the best job in the world!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support system in and out of school. My family lives close and I get to spend a lot of time with them! While I am not at school, I enjoy running, teaching spin class, swimming, playing kickball, spending time with my husband, and traveling. I also have a sheltie named Maggie, which is spoiled rotten. I am married to the best guy in the world, work with wonderful people, and have fabulous students!

~~~

To download Elizabeth's "Helping Hand" cutout, click the image below.

Helping Hand Cutout

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Reading Activities, Kindergarten, Vocabulary, Elizabeth Hall

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