Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Comparing and Contrasting with Joy Cowley's Mr. Tang—Includes FREE Download!

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Jun 2, 2016 4:00:00 PM

JC_MrTangTaxiAtSea.jpg

This is a guest post by Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads which is about motherhood and teaching-related topics.

As a teacher and a learner, I often wonder about the relevance of what I am teaching or what I am being taught. It is not that I am not judging the content but rather wanting to make it practical and understand its importance.

One of the Common Core Reading standards (RL.1.9) requires students to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories. This, I can wrap my around! Comparing and contrasting information is part of real life, and we are asked to do it every day! Hmmm…which shoes to wear? Where should I sit on the carpet? Which book to read? Which car to buy?

We know students are capable of comparing and contrasting, but they need support to do it well. By helping students strengthen this skill (the sooner, the better,) we can help them remember key information, improve comprehension, and make the most of their background knowledge. Introducing this strategy during the early years also builds a foundation for higher order thinking.

In my first-grade classroom, I have some students who simply see differences and similarities right away. Whether we are playing a math game or reading a book, they have it. They can identify what is alike and different when they are read to or when they read independently. However, some students struggle with this skill. During our strategy group time, I pull these students aside, and we start small. Here are a few ways to keep it fun for our beginners:

  • Have two students stand up. Orally start sharing what you notice about their clothing. Compare and contrast what they are wearing. Then have the students join in!
  • Show students two different calendar pages, postcards, or book covers. Have them share what they notice is alike or different. Use sentence stems like, “They both have…” or “Only this one…”
  • Write the students’ names on large cards. Have them work together to compare their names. 
  • Sort, sort, sort! Have them sort books, words, pictures, and even themselves into groups and have them explain the sort.

Once they have this basic understanding, it is time to work on the standard! I like using a favorite character from the Joy Cowley Collection—Mr. Tang. I like these stories because the settings are very clear, the stories are similar, and there is more than meets the eye!

JC_MrTangTaxiAtZoo.jpg

We start by reading the title and looking at the pictures in one of the books. Then we add the next Mr. Tang story and do the same. They immediately start sharing what they notice! We then choose one of the first two books to compare to a third Mr. Tang story. This time, we record our thoughts together on a chart. Their next step is to try it independently!

At the bottom of the page, for a free download, I have included a packet of different compare and contrast organizers that I use in my first-grade classroom. I hope you will be able to put them to use as you support your critical thinkers!

~~~

For more information on the books used in this blog click the series highlights images on the left below or click this link to visit our webpage for the Joy Cowley Collection series. To download the Comparing and Contrasting Packet, click the image to the right.

 

New Call-to-Action    Comparing and Contrasting Packet

                                       
Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Common Core, Lyssa Sahadevan, Compare and Contrast, Mr. Tang

Guided Reading Activities: Draw and Record—with FREE Download!

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Oct 20, 2015 6:09:00 PM

This is a guest post by Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads which is about motherhood and teaching-related topics.

SWRW_Bears_355As soon as I have the reader’s workshop model up and running in my first grade classroom, I begin running records with my students. I have read one on one with them before this point, but I want to dig deeper. I value this time getting to know them as readers and thinkers. While it takes quite a bit of time, the information I gain is invaluable when it comes to planning instruction. 

After analyzing the data from running records, I form guided reading groups. This is a happy day in my classroom! We follow the traditional guided reading model. I choose an instructional level text to share with a small group. We preview the text together and then focus on a specific skill such as vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, or phonics. Students keep the book in their just right bag for rereading.


Book choices include both fiction and nonfiction depending on our unit of study.
During our informational units, we often record our thinking on sticky notes while reading. Sometimes students wanted more though! Last year, one of my readers asked if he could have “bigger paper” to write what he learned while reading Bears. Another student was reading Cheetah and wanted to write all that she had learned about the “big, wild cat.” I happily obliged! 

Cheetah_Cover-Boswell-432From that point on, I decided to keep “Draw and Record” papers available for all students. They became quite popular and students even started asking to work on them during their free time! How exciting that students want to record and share their learning! It is also empowering students, as they are able to do so with pictures, words or both, allowing everyone to be successful. Another bonus? This meaningful activity comes in handy for teachers needing a minute or two to work with a couple of students in a small group.

Every reader, no matter what level they are on, wants to share their learning. This is a quick and fun way to just that! As you start guided reading, I hope this can be one more tool for your little informational experts! Download your Draw and Record Packet below!

~~~

For more information on the books used in this blog click the series highlights images on the left below or click these links to visit our webpage for the Story World Real World and Zoozoo Animal World series. To download the Draw and Record Packet, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action   New Call-to-Action Draw and Record Packet CTA                                          
Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Real World, Zoozoo Animal World, Guided Reading

Introducing R-Controlled Vowels with Leveled Readers—with FREE Download!

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Dec 11, 2014 8:24:00 AM

This is a guest post by Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads which is about motherhood and teaching-related topics.

R-controlled vowels, also known as “bossy r” words start appearing early in leveled texts. While we often spend much time on CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) words at those early levels, we can always introduce the “bossy r” sounds.

bossyrpicture
One of my favorite ways to introduce the “bossy r” concept is this amazing video from The Electric Company
bossyrvideo

After watching the clip, we write the words from the video to start our word lists for each sound. We then find them in our Joy Cowley Early Bird books and we practice building them with letter cards. This can be done with the whole group or smal groups over several days.

                                                    wishy-washy_corn      wishy-washy_garden           

From there, we work on sorting the words into categories. I am including one of our sorts available for download below! I laminate the cards, cut them out and have the students (during small group) sort the cards and record the words. I then have students highlight the "bossy r" as they read the word list to a partner. It is quick, meaningful, and reinforces the sound.

While all students will not be ready for mastery of these sounds, some will be and I know the exposure will benefit everyone!

~~~

For more information on the books used in this blog click the series highlights image on the left below. To download the Bossy R Word Sort Packet, click the image to the right.

                             New Call-to-Action              Guided-Reading-CTA-Crane-8
Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, Lyssa Sahadevan, Vowels, Bossy R

Three Fun Ways to Track Print

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Nov 4, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!Lyssa Sahadevan

A few years ago, I was working with another teacher in my classroom when she pulled over one of my beginning readers. He was reading from his “just right book.” She leaned over and said, “Be sure to look at the words when you read.” He smiled his biggest smile and said, “Oh, I never look at the words when I read.” It was early in first grade and we knew we had our work cut out for us!

We quickly began showing him how to track print and explaining the importance in doing so. We told him by keeping our eyes on the words and moving from left to right, we can focus on the words and their sounds. It also happens to be a kinetic process that sets the foundation for all reading. As adults, we do not remember being taught to read from left to right, we just do. For some students, they need a little extra practice. For students who speak another language, this concept might be entirely new for them.

Here are three fun ways to track print!

1. Reading Finger

It sounds silly, but this free, ready to use resource is our first and favorite tool! The physical motion of pointing benefits the reader by helping him/her focus on the letters and sounds, left to right directionality, and keeping their place as they read. Another bonus is that it is always handy!

2. The Eyes Have It! 
Sahadevan-9-1-400

Have you seen these eyes? They were just what one of our readers needed! They slip the plastic eyes on their pointer finger and point as they read. It is fun and the kids love them!

3. Pointers
Sahadevan-9-2-300Sahadevan-9-3-300

By far one of the best investments I have made as an early childhood educator are pointers. Pointers can be made of anything! My collection includes drink stirrers, pencils with ornamental erasers, and popsicle sticks with stickers on the tips. These pointers are all pretty easy to come by and the kids love them!

No matter what tools you use to help readers track print, I think the key is keeping it fun! How do you keep it fun in your early childhood classroom?

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download an information sheet with key features about Zoozoo Animal World, which contains the books shown in this post, click the image below. 

New Call-to-Action

     
Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Lyssa Sahadevan

Classic Post: The Power of Anchor Charts

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Aug 21, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan that originally ran in December 2013. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

The Power of Anchor Charts

An anchor chart outlines or describes procedures, processes, and strategies on a particular theme or topic and is posted in the classroom for reference by students. Anchor charts are kind of the thing right now. That makes me super happy. I love a good anchor chart. I love thinking about what we are learning and building an anchor chart with my students. I love pointing them out to a student who needs a resource while working independently. I love sharing anchors with my colleagues. I love stumbling upon one and making a few adjustments so it will fit the needs of my students. I even have a whole Pinterest board for anchors I love!

All of this anchor-loving reminds me of a conversation I recently had with tablemates at a workshop. While I do not claim to be an anchor-chart expert and some did not agree with my responses, it was a great conversation! Here are the things they asked me, and my answers.

How do you get students to use the anchor charts?

I use the anchor chart for the unit/skill each day as a teaching tool and refer to it as a resource. When I hang the very first anchor chart during back-to-school, we have a conversation about how our walls are plain, but they will soon be filled with resources we can use. I act as though I am hanging a fine piece of artwork—“Wow, boys and girls, check out this resource you can use as you write!” I make a big deal of the chart that first day. After gaining the attention of the class, I share that Student A used a resource in our classroom. I have Student A walk over and point to the chart and explain. By fall, they’ve got it!

Do you laminate your anchor charts?

No. I premake some of the parts like sticky notes or the header, but I do not laminate. I want students to know we are creating this together as a resource for what we are learning right now, not as a reminder of what I did with last year’s class. Making them each year is a bit of work, but it is worth it!

So, no laminated charts in your room?

Ha! I have some store bought laminated charts with words for each month of the year. We change them out each month and add to them. The ABCs on my wall are store bought too.

If you hang every anchor chart, your room must be covered! How do you do it?

As a class, we have a conversation about our anchor charts at the end of a unit or the beginning of a new unit. Sometimes we decide they can stay, other times we agree we have mastered the skill. Some anchors, like our question words and temporal words, stay up all year. They need them and refer to them often. With that said, I do not always leave the decision up to my first-graders. There are times that a chart needs to go. I make a smaller version (index card) and provide that to students who need that resource. Chances are good that those students would not be checking the anchor anyway!

How do you manage all those charts?

I take pictures with my phone and print them. I then place the pictures in my unit plans so I can easily reference them next time. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this printing and putting the charts where they belong may not happen until May! The actual charts are often sent home with students.

Do you go back and "fancy up" your anchor charts?

No. I try to think about their purpose. Is the anchor chart a decoration or a tool? Should I spend my time planning a small group, writing notes in their writing folders, or jazzing up a chart? Jazzing up a chart usually does not win! Of course, I do write them neatly. They are colorful, often have student samples with them, and they are placed in their perfect spot in our classroom as decided by the students. I am pretty proud of a chart I made for a famous penguin character. I traced it though and my class colored it! Maybe I should let them start jazzing up the anchors!

If you have anchor chart tips and tricks you'd like to share, write about them in our comment section! We'd love to hear your ideas!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

Teaching Onomatopoeia with Joy Cowley's Books—with FREE download!

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Jun 30, 2014 4:50:23 PM

This is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!Lyssa Sahadevan

Sound plays such an important role in reading. Sounds of letters, sounds of animals, sounds of laughing, sounds of repetition, and talking fill our earliest reading experiences and hopefully continue! As readers develop, they sometimes add their own sounds to stories. I have inserted my own sound effects more than once or twice during a read aloud.

Last fall, I was reading with a first grader when he skipped the speech bubbles on the page in his book and quickly turned to the next. I asked him about those bubbles and he said they were “nothing.” I reread the story to him with the speech bubbles and asked if he noticed the difference. He did, indeed! We then read it again and he acted out the speech bubble words (animal sounds). The story made a lot more sense and he sounded happier reading it! We decided we might want to pay attention to the pictures and the details in the pictures.

We then went on a sound hunt in other books. I do this with my class, too. We define onomatopoeia and discuss how it impacts the books we’ve read. We discover after reading several books that the author has a purpose for adding these words. They are part of the story.

They love the “SQUISH SQUISH” of Wishy-Washy Tractor, the” HOO HOO” in Spooky House, and the “PURR PURR” in Sloppy Tiger on the Bus, all by Joy Cowley. Students then work with a partner to find sound words in other books. They record the words as they find them. They love sharing these with the class! From there, we create an amazing class list. This list is used as an anchor for both reading and writing.           

EB_US_WW_WW_Tractor_Cov_TSpooky_House_180sloppy_tiger_on_the_bus_180

First graders really like the sound of onomatopoeia. More importantly though, when they discover the value it adds to the stories they love AND the stories they write, it is quite powerful!

I have included the definition, recording page, and the anchor chart (we complete on the SMARTboard.) I hope your class enjoys them as much as we do!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download information sheets with key features about Joy Cowley's two series Joy Cowley Early Birds and the Joy Cowley Collection which contains the books show in this post, click the images below. To download the Joy Cowley Onomatopoeia Packet, click the image to the right.

  New Call-to-Action   New Call-to-Action   Joy Cowley Onomatopoeia Packet Download
Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley, K-2 Literacy, Lyssa Sahadevan, Narrative Text

What Is It Like to Meet Joy Cowley? A Teacher-Blogger's Perspective

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on May 30, 2014 8:00:00 AM

For teachers and students, authors are like rock stars! They are celebrities we welcome into our classroom each day. We start and end our day with their works. We talk about them all the time and we try to be just like them! Authors are rock stars.

This explains my feelings as I stood in line to meet none other than Joy Cowley at the Hameray booth during the International Reading Association annual conference. I heard her speak that morning. She spoke so eloquently to the crowded room of teachers.


“I’ve always been a storyteller,” Cowley began. The author, illustrator, and literary hero of mine is also funny. “I’m glad I chose this path,” she went on to say. Sahadevan-7-1“If not, I’m afraid I’d been just a compulsive liar.” As you might imagine, we were hanging on every word!

Cowley said she was not a great reader as a young child. She started reading at age nine, and the first book she read by herself was Ping. She read it and then read it again, amazed at how it was the same story the second time! That is not how she became a writer though. She became a writer when her son’s teacher told her to write stories for him. Her left-brained son needed a little something extra as a reader. That’s how Mrs. Wishy-Washy was born!

Cowley spoke about her characters. She told us she works closely with her illustrators so every word and picture work together for meaning. She read aloud a Mrs. Wishy-Washy book. You could have heard a pin drop in the room! We were in awe. How humble and delightful she is. This author, word master, and creator of books that have helped so many children become readers shared stories with us like we were family.

Sahadevan-7-2Hours later, I stood in the long (and ever growing) line to meet her. I was practicing in my head what I was going to say to her. I thought I might start with “you’ve helped so many of my students become fluent readers.” Then I decided to go with “my cooperating teacher introduced me to your treasures thirteen years ago.” As I inched closer, I knew I had my first words: “I LOVE your books and so do my students.” YES! I was ready!

I approached the table, and she reached her hand out to greet me. All of my planning was out the window. I was a bit teary eyed. I told her it was an honor. I told her thank you for being so passionate about developing readers. Then she thanked me. She thanked me for being a teacher.

Joy Cowley is definitely a reading rock star, and I look forward to introducing my new class to her works in the fall!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download information sheets with key features about Joy Cowley's two series Joy Cowley Early Birds and the Joy Cowley Collection which contains the books show in this post, click the images below.

  New Call-to-Action   New Call-to-Action
Read More

Topics: Joy Cowley, Lyssa Sahadevan, Conference

Teaching Quotation Marks with Mrs. Wishy-Washy—with FREE download

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on May 7, 2014 10:56:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

Characters start talking in the earliest of readers—thank goodness! Conversation is taking place, and our readers need to be ready for it! While working with a group of students on fluency, we reread one of our Joy Cowley favorites, Wishy-Washy Tractor. The group loves when Mrs. Wishy-Washy becomes stuck in the mud! I pointed out the first set of quotation marks to the group and asked why they were there. 


“Oh, because she is talking,” they said. I then sent them on a quotation mark hunt in their books. They quickly noticed the words around the quotation marks, too. We created a list of words that we found. The list included said, cried, yelled, they, she, he, etc. We keep this list handy for reference and to add to later.

Sahadevan-6-1-200We reread the book together again and stopped each time we noticed the quotation marks. It was the perfect time to discuss who is speaking at each part of the text (CCSS.RL.1.6: Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text). We changed our voices to match the characters and started brainstorming things the characters might also say. We recorded a few on dry erase boards.

This group became slightly obsessed with quotation marks. They placed sticky notes on every page with quotation marks and started writing their own…well, trying to write their own! It is kind of like when we introduce the apostrophe-s and they add it to the end of every word!

During one of our next lessons, we found a few favorite pages and noticed where the quotation marks were and who was talking. I then wrote a sentence and had them guess who was talking. We did that several times. Each student then said a sentence and we guessed who was talking. The group favorite was (of course) the student mocking yours truly!

Sahadevan-6-2-200Depending on the levels of the students, students then wrote their own quotes and drew the character who was speaking. Some wrote one from their Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, using it as a resource. Others wrote sentences from different characters, while some wrote their own sentences and added their own quotation marks. We then shared with the group. They were a big hit and it was a perfect opportunity to review those foundational writing skills! 

I am so glad I slowed down and spent time with quotation marks early in the year so my readers (at so many different levels) could have an understanding of just what they mean AND how they impact the story. They hold someone’s words. They help us picture the story in our head and feel how the character feels. They are meant to be read as the character would say them. They are important and my readers know that! 

I’m including a copy of a few of the activity (different levels) we used to practice writing our own quotes. You can download them at the bottom of the page.

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download the free activity, click the image to the left below. To download an information sheet with more information about the series Joy Cowley Early Birds, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the right.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Quotation Marks Activity   New Call-to-Action
Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

The Power of Anchor Charts

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Dec 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

The Power of Anchor Charts

An anchor chart outlines or describes procedures, processes, and strategies on a particular theme or topic and is posted in the classroom for reference by students. Anchor charts are kind of the thing right now. That makes me super happy. I love a good anchor chart. I love thinking about what we are learning and building an anchor chart with my students. I love pointing them out to a student who needs a resource while working independently. I love sharing anchors with my colleagues. I love stumbling upon one and making a few adjustments so it will fit the needs of my students. I even have a whole Pinterest board for anchors I love!

All of this anchor-loving reminds me of a conversation I recently had with tablemates at a workshop. While I do not claim to be an anchor-chart expert and some did not agree with my responses, it was a great conversation! Here are the things they asked me, and my answers.

How do you get students to use the anchor charts?

I use the anchor chart for the unit/skill each day as a teaching tool and refer to it as a resource. When I hang the very first anchor chart during back-to-school, we have a conversation about how our walls are plain, but they will soon be filled with resources we can use. I act as though I am hanging a fine piece of artwork—“Wow, boys and girls, check out this resource you can use as you write!” I make a big deal of the chart that first day. After gaining the attention of the class, I share that Student A used a resource in our classroom. I have Student A walk over and point to the chart and explain. By fall, they’ve got it!

Do you laminate your anchor charts?

No. I premake some of the parts like sticky notes or the header, but I do not laminate. I want students to know we are creating this together as a resource for what we are learning right now, not as a reminder of what I did with last year’s class. Making them each year is a bit of work, but it is worth it!

So, no laminated charts in your room?

Ha! I have some store bought laminated charts with words for each month of the year. We change them out each month and add to them. The ABCs on my wall are store bought too.

If you hang every anchor chart, your room must be covered! How do you do it?

As a class, we have a conversation about our anchor charts at the end of a unit or the beginning of a new unit. Sometimes we decide they can stay, other times we agree we have mastered the skill. Some anchors, like our question words and temporal words, stay up all year. They need them and refer to them often. With that said, I do not always leave the decision up to my first-graders. There are times that a chart needs to go. I make a smaller version (index card) and provide that to students who need that resource. Chances are good that those students would not be checking the anchor anyway!

How do you manage all those charts?

I take pictures with my phone and print them. I then place the pictures in my unit plans so I can easily reference them next time. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this printing and putting the charts where they belong may not happen until May! The actual charts are often sent home with students.

Do you go back and "fancy up" your anchor charts?

No. I try to think about their purpose. Is the anchor chart a decoration or a tool? Should I spend my time planning a small group, writing notes in their writing folders, or jazzing up a chart? Jazzing up a chart usually does not win! Of course, I do write them neatly. They are colorful, often have student samples with them, and they are placed in their perfect spot in our classroom as decided by the students. I am pretty proud of a chart I made for a famous penguin character. I traced it though and my class colored it! Maybe I should let them start jazzing up the anchors!

If you have anchor chart tips and tricks you'd like to share, write about them in our comment section! We'd love to hear your ideas!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

Lessons Learned: Digging a Little Deeper with Traditional Literature

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Dec 2, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here! This post contains a free worksheet on lessons learned from traditional tales at the bottom of the page!

Lessons Learned

Comprehension, comprehension, comprehension! We want to make sure our youngest readers really understand what they are reading. We ask questions. We practice retelling the beginning, middle, and end in narrative stories. We make chart after chart of story elements. We confer and reteach in small groups. The primary grades set the stage for understanding (and we pretty much rock)!

The thing is, not all narrative stories are just telling a story. They have greater themes, bigger ideas, and often a lesson or moral. This is one reason I love-love-love traditional tales, also known as fables. Fables are short stories, typically with animals as characters, that convey a moral. My first graders love them and the fable basket is a hot spot in our classroom! Fables ask readers to think a little bit harder, and I love that!

To introduce fables, I read them like crazy! They are a great read-aloud because they are short, and the characters are relatable. Being all about movement in our first-grade classroom, we often act them out, too.

Crow and Rain Barrel Cover FinalI tell my readers that fables have a lesson hidden inside, and we must discover the lesson each time we read one. We retell the story first, then have a discussion about what the fable is trying to teach us. They do not always agree on the lesson learned, and that is okay—as long as the reader can provide a solid explanation, their answer is accepted. Another fun activity we do is watch fables on Youtube and then discuss them in the same way. We complete the worksheet (downloadable at the bottom of the page) together first, and then students complete it independently with their favorite fable or one we have read together. You can also compare and contrast, but that would be a whole different activity.

I love using the Story World series for fables. Two of my favorites are The Crow and the Rain Barrel and The Lion and the Mouse (retold by Alan Trussell-Cullen). After reading The Crow and the Rain Barrel and discussing the message or lesson, we work on building the connection to our own lives. I record the students' thinking on chart paper. Students say things like, “the crow did it one stone at a time, just like we built our reading stamina a little at a time” and “the crow did it slowly, just like we have to take our time when we build a tower.” Powerful stuff! Students can then complete the attached worksheet for either book.

Fables are a fun read and provide an excellent opportunity for strengthening comprehension with our youngest readers. Do you have a favorite fable?

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download a free PDF of Lyssa's worksheet on lessons learned from traditional tales, click the template image below! To learn more about the Story World books used as an example in this post, visit our website or click the series highlights images below to download free information sheets explaining key features of the Story World-Real World series.

Lessons Learned Worksheet   New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Literature, Lyssa Sahadevan, Story World, Narrative Text

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all

Follow Me