Friday, July 28, 2017

Goals 7 and 8 - The Reading Strategies Book Study

Hey there! Thanks for coming back for another installment of our summer book study.

If you've missed the previous ones, check them out here:

Don't have the book yet? Grab it here: The Reading Strategies Book (affiliate link). This is definitely one of those teaching books you will use! 

I have to admit this study has helped me be accountable to press on...sometimes it is hard to stay motivated in the summer. Am I right? 

However, this book has given me so many great ideas for the upcoming year, that I am really starting to get excited about putting the strategies into action.

I am really excited about this...

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that one of the few summer purchases I've made was this sketch book. I can't take credit for this idea (it was shared in this Facebook group for The Writing Strategies Book), but I fell in love with it! Especially since I will only be teaching small groups or one-on-one this year. It is a great way to have all the great anchor charts at my finger tips!

***The only problem is if I make all the charts, I need about 4 sketch books! Eeek! And I will have offices at two locations (20 miles apart), so I would want books at both places. Any other ideas (other than being VERY picky which charts I make???***

In the introduction to this goal, Serravallo shares that, "It takes imagination, inference, determining importance, and ability to synthesize all that happens to try to understand the ideas that are hiding." It sounds so complicated! I appreciated the quote she included that simplifies it this way, "...we are likely to feel themes in our gut." (Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis)

Let's get on to a few of my favorites!

7.6 What Are You Left With?

Focus on last words

I'll admit the example of Ivy and Bean got my attention because my second graders had taken an interest in the Ivy and Bean books this year. :-)

Serravallo suggests we reread the last paragraph or page and think about what the author leaves us to think about. Then say it like a lesson (i.e. I learned...).

7.7 Mistakes Can Lead to Lessons

I love this strategy because it can be a tool to teach a life lesson as well (you might remember from last week that I like those).

This strategy encourages students to think about the mistakes characters make and what he or she learned from them.

I made this simple graphic organizer to use with my students. Click on the picture to get it for free.

7.12 Dig Deeper to Find a Story's Topics

The anchor chart on this one...LOVE it! 

I think I liked it so much because it says, "maybe it's..." Even in the introduction of this section, it talked about different readers reading the same story and interpreting the theme differently because of prior knowledge and experiences. I think using this chart would acknowledge that and help students work together to come to an agreement about the theme.

This goal has us moving into the area of comprehending nonfiction.

The introduction to this section had me giggling. I could just hear my littles spouting off their newly learned WOW facts!
Serravallo reminds us that, "...children are more likely to learn and remember the information when they can create mental files, storing and organizing the information inside larger categories."

8.2 Notice What Repeats

My younger readers definitely need to focus on what repeats! It is so important for them as they gain confidence as readers, and I hadn't really considered how this would also help them find what the book is mostly about.

8.5 Boxes and Bullets

In this strategy, what the story is mostly about goes in the "box" and the supporting details are bullet points. She suggests using notebook paper or even a sticky note and simply jotting a box with a few bullet points under it. Students are asked to consider where the information goes in the graphic organizer as they read.

Simple and effective!

8.11 Add Up Facts to Determine Main Idea

This strategy encourages the reader to focus on one section. Read several paragraphs and list several facts. Then determine what the section is mostly about. As students continue reading, it is important to encourage them to revise their main idea if needed.

That last part is what made this one a favorite. I know I've had students make up their mind about the main idea and then not revise when given new facts. It is a simple prompt that will make them question their initial thought and hopefully formulate a more thought out main idea.


Thanks for sticking with me to the end! I feel like these posts are LONG, but hopefully worth it! ;-)

I want to hear from you! Tell me about your favorites either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Don't forget to check out the other blog posts below for more thoughts and ideas!

8/1/17 - So sorry about this link up issue. I'm working on it!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wisdom for Wednesday - God is preparing us...

Hello there!

I'm in the middle of celebrating my "birthday week" as my husband calls it and enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation. 

I don't know about you, but the last week of July always feels like my break is over even though I don't officially return until August 21st. I think it is because once August hits, my back-to-school to-do list starts overwhelming me a bit...and I can't stop thinking about it!

Anyway, I'm glad you're joining me for this week's wisdom post. I know I say this a lot, but I LOVE this quote! ;-)

As I've been going through my Bible study, There's a Fly in my Tea (affiliate link), with my online study group, the Lord has continued to use it in my life. I know that seems odd...since I wrote it, but it is the truth! This summer study has been so good for me!

This last week, I encouraged the group to read Genesis 37-50 in preparation for a chapter on service. As I reread these chapters about Joseph, the Lord had me considering this idea of preparation (and forgiveness) as well.

If you are unfamiliar with the life of Joseph, I'll try to give you a brief summary here before I jump in to this quote:

Joseph's brothers hated him, envied him, and wanted to kill him. He was sold into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned, and then forgotten in prison. He was the only one--he gives God all the credit--able to interpret Pharaoh's dreams warning of the coming famine. Pharaoh then sets Joseph up as ruler over the land of Egypt.

During the famine, Joseph's brothers come to buy food from Egypt, and we get to read about an amazing story of forgiveness and restoration.

Joseph was never angry or bitter.

Instead, he says things like this (emphasis mine):

" not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life." 45:5

"And God sent me before you to preserve you..." 45:7

" was not you that sent me hither, but God..." 45:8

"Fear not: for am I in the place of God?" 50:19

" thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good..." 50:20

All throughout the story, Joseph has an understanding that God had put him exactly where he needed to be for a greater purpose.

God had prepared Joseph for what he had prepared for Joseph.

And he does the same for us...

God is always preparing us for what He has prepared for us.

P.S. Visit me on my author FB page!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Goals 5 and 6 - The Reading Strategies Book Study

Hello again!

Welcome back to the summer book study. I have been so excited to read the other blogs and hear your favorite strategies each week. It seems like there is always a strategy or two that I overlooked and have to go back and check it out after reading other's thoughts about it! That is EXACTLY why I wanted to do this study and collaborate with you all. :-)

 If you are playing catch up, no worries. 
Here's links to the first three posts:

***So I went back to copy these from the previous post, and accidentally deleted it. Can you say mini heart attack? Got it back up though. Whew!***

I'm very excited to start digging into the comprehension goals! I don't know about you, but I have had many little friends over the years who could read wonderfully, but struggled to comprehend. It has been my desire to "unlock" the love of reading for them, which as Serravallo points out, "...that lost-in-a-book, engaged sort of reading that makes reading enjoyable..." can only come if they understand what's going on.

I loved her idea of planting sticky notes inside a text for students as they read to encourage them to stop and jot (respond in writing). She suggested the sticky notes could say:
--Retell the most important events that happened in this chapter.
--Why did that (event) happen?
--Describe the setting. Use as much detail as you can.
--What is the main problem the character is facing?

She also gave a resource for retelling rubrics that you might want to check out. 

Here's a few of my favorite strategies from this goal:

5.3 Summarizing What's Most Essential

Summarizing has always been difficult for my 1st and 2nd graders. They either tell way too much or not enough

In recent years, I have resorted to asking them, "What will you tell mom or dad about this story when you go home?" It does help because they realize that their parents have not read the story and need some key details, but I am always looking for ways I can help students with this skill. 

I love the visual! 

5.13 Summarize Based on What a Character Wants

I really liked how this strategy encourages students to think about how each chapter in the book connects back to what the character wants. I think too often some readers have trouble making connections between chapters, and this strategy with the terrific prompts will be very helpful.

Another great graphic on this one--seriously--the visuals/graphics/charts included are amazing!

5.16 Summarizing with "Somebody...Wanted...But...So..."

This one jumped out at me because I use it for writing! 

When I'm trying to teach my littles to write a fiction story, this is one of the strategies I use to try and help them brainstorm.

It makes perfect sense to also use it as a summarizing strategy.

Serravallo says that in fiction comprehension, plot and setting are first, but character is a very close second!

"Characters can become our friends, can help us learn about lives outside of our own, and can help us think differently about or better understand people in our lives." (pg. 162)

After reading the introduction to this goal, I felt challenged to better understand text level. Serravallo explains that understanding will give us a better expectation for my reader's responses.

My favorite strategies from Goal 6:

6.2 What's in the Bubble?

This strategy is all about prompting our students to consider what the character is thinking and/or why they are saying and acting in a certain way.

I'm ordering some of these thought bubble sticky notes (affiliate link) to make this strategy easy to do. :-) I like how these are white...some of the brighter colors make it harder to see the writing.

6.10 Who's Telling the Story?

The example of lesson language in this strategy caught my eye because I remember having the exact conversation with my kiddos reading Horrible Harry this year!
It is so important that readers know who the narrator is and who is speaking by noticing dialogue tags. This strategy had another great visual and some great prompts that I will definitely be using this year!

6.12 Empathize to Understand

Okay, so I chose this strategy because it could serve a dual purpose in the classroom. 

We are lacking empathy in our society today! 

By using this strategy--which definitely would help make meaning of characters' words and actions--we would have a great opportunity to teach our students about empathy and considering other people's feelings...and maybe, just maybe, that lesson would be even more important than a reading strategy. 


Those are a few of my favorite strategies. 

I want to hear from you! Tell me about your favorites either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Don't forget to check out the other blog posts below for more thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wisdom for Wednesday-God As Your Umpire

Welcome back for:

I was reading a devotion from Joyce Meyers and this quote stuck out to me.  She talked about how Paul in Colossians 3:15 tells us that peace is a lot like an umpire and it often can make the call in our lives.  Simply stated, if you don't feel peace about a decision that you are making , then don't go through with it.  Spending time in prayer and in the Word of God on a regular basis, will help you gain insight and wisdom you need to make those decisions. This way you won't have to wonder if your decision is right or wrong.  Let God help you make the decision for you.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Goals 3 and 4 - The Reading Strategies Book Study

Happy Friday!

Is that day as exciting in the summer? I'm not sure... ;-)

Yesterday, I took a quick trip to the Mercantile with a friend of mine. We attempted to stop at a water fall near Dexter, Kansas (my dad's hometown) on our way. No water! But we did squeeze a stop in to Henry's Candy Co. The Mercantile food once again did not disappoint, and this time I came away with a new favorite coffee drink - The Spicy Cowgirl. Cayenne pepper in my iced mocha coffee...YUMMO!

Okay, on to the book study!

Thanks for joining us again for this week's study. If you are playing catch up, no worries. Here's links to the first two posts:

This week's we are focusing on Goals 3 and 4, so let's get started.

Serravallo explains, "In order to construct accurate meaning from a text, children need to read words correctly, integrating three sources of information: meaning, syntax, and visual." She goes on to explain the importance of students learning to self-monitor their own reading. In my classroom, early in the school year I teach a variation of this cross-checking and have actions to go along with it (I think it is actually from Daily 5 or CAFE).

Here it is... (dork alert :-))

3.3 Use a Word You Know

I love this strategy and use it all the time. My teaching experience thus far has only been in 1st and 2nd grade, and I feel like we have to do a pretty good job of teaching word parts, phonics patterns, and word families. 

If you've ever visited our TPT store, you will see that Kristi and I have TONS of games for specific sounds. We've been blessed to teach in districts that provide our curriculum, and we like to use the games as a fun way to reinforce the sounds and word parts we are teaching each week. 

3.15 Take the Ending Off

Another one of my go-to strategies. I think sometimes our littles are overwhelmed at the sight of a "huge" word and it just stops them in their tracks. When you encourage them to cover up the ending, they will often recognize the base word or feel more confident attempting to decode the part that is left.

3.21 Look for Vowels that Go Together

At our school, we use a reading program called Pathways to Reading.  It teaches the kids to "Spot the Vowel." I like to start out doing this with a list of words on paper...actually highlighting the vowels or putting dots under them. If they see a vowel team, they connect the dots or highlight them together. Eventually, this transfers into one of my prompts as they are reading. I'll simply say, "Spot your vowel," and they know to read the vowel sound, then the word.

P.S. I was pretty excited to see so many familiar strategies in this goal section (even going by a different name). It was hard to choose my favorites!

Oh, fluency! 

I love how Serravallo reminds us that, "It's important in our attempts to teach children to read fluently, we don't send the message that reading is just about performing."

While I agreed with what she had to say about the dreaded stopwatch, I don't see how we can avoid it when most districts are doing some type of timed testing (we use AimsWeb). I actually like to do cold reads/hot reads because it gets my kids used to being timed and they get excited about their improvement (see more about that here).

However, I was intrigued by her method of recording phrasing and expressive reading. Definitely something I want to know more about!

4.5 Say Good-Bye to Robot Reading

Now this is a strategy that I wish someone would have told me about years ago! 

I actually stumbled into a variation of it on my own. I had a group that was struggling with fluency, and I was trying to make them understand what I meant by phrasing. We were practicing with sentences on a piece of paper and I started drawing "hops" to show them how they sounded compared to "hops" when I read the same sentence.

Love the idea of "scooping" up a few words at a time. I think it will make the idea stick with my kids even better than "hops."

4.14 Get Your Eyes Ahead of the Words

This is another strategy that I know as a reader I do, but it was always difficult to explain. I LOVE the graphic on this page. So simple, yet shows what I've tried teaching my kiddos!

The Reading Strategies Book pg. 121

4.19 Snap to the Next Line

I fell in love with this one right away! 

There is always some precious kiddo in my class who struggles with this concept. I think the idea of "snapping your eyes" to the next line will really help them understand how to keep reading through the line break. 


Those are a few of my favorite strategies. 

I want to hear from you! Tell me about your favorites either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Don't forget to check out the other blog posts below for more thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wisdom for Wednesday - Get out of the boat!

Hey there! Happy Wednesday!

Is anyone else feeling like their to-do list is longer than the summer break they have left?

I mean, I'm looking ahead at my July calendar and seeing August will be here before I know it. And I know my mind will immediately shift to my back-to-school to-do list and all these unfinished summer projects will become...ahem...Christmas break projects (maybe).

Anyone with me? Anyone? ;-)

Oh, well. It is what it is!

Let's get on with today's bit of wisdom.

I love this phrase! In fact, it might be my favorite chapter title from my Bible study, There's a Fly In My Tea! (affiliate link).

This summer I'm going through my study with some ladies in a Facebook group. It has been a great refresher to me (yes, I can still be convicted by my own writing ;-)) and so fun to interact with these ladies as we strive to grow in our walk with the Lord. 

We covered this chapter a couple of weeks ago, and I found myself once again thinking, "Get out of the boat!"

The phrase came from the passage of when Peter walks on water in Matthew 14:22-33. Instead of just focusing on how Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus (which is a great lesson), the study includes a portion celebrating that "at least he got out of the boat!"

Getting out of the boat is being obedient to what God asks us to do. Maybe it is steps of simple obedience--spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study--or maybe it is something bigger. 

One of my bigger "getting out of the boat" moments was the writing of the Bible study which I share in the book. Another was when I decided to go back to school and become a teacher

This year, I'll be "getting out of the boat" and starting a new position at my school. 

Reading specialist. 

I'm extremely excited...and a little nervous. Sure, I could have stayed in the comfort of my boat (2nd grade classroom), but I knew God was calling me to something different. Stepping out in obedience can sometimes be uncomfortable and a little frightening, but so worth it in the end!

Here's  another quote from the chapter that I love:

I know I'm writing to an amazingly talented group of people--we're teachers after all! So tell you need to get out of the boat? :-)

P.S. I'd love to have you visit my author website and/or Facebook page if you're interested. :-)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Goals 1 and 2 - The Reading Strategies Book Study

Hey there!

I hope you had a great week celebrating Independence Day and studying the first two goals for our book study. ;-)

Somehow I managed to schedule appointments in town--remember I live about 30 miles away--nearly every day this week. What was I thinking?!?! 

My friends tease me that I am a hermit in the summer, but I really just like to spend time at home as much as possible. 

What can I say? 

Teaching, coaching, and church involvement leave little time at home during the school year, so I take my time at home in the summer very seriously. 😂 Anybody else? 

Okay, enough about me. Let's get on to the real reason you are here!

This week we started digging into the "meat" of the book, the reading strategies. I can't say enough about how this book is set up! The organization by goals is so helpful for a busy teacher, and the list of strategies at a glance in the beginning of each goal section is perfect for finding what you need and getting started right away.

Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers

I have to share my favorite quote from page 20-21, "We can meet students were they are and help them engage with and enjoy books, make meaning, acquire vocabulary, use text features, connect the pages, respond to texts by writing and talking, practice their fluency, and develop identities as confident, engaged, joyful readers (even without decoding)."

That is a mouthful! 
But it is an amazing list of things our littles can do before ever learning to "read."

Another great thing about how this book is organized is when Serravallo answers the question, "How do I know if this goal is right for my student?" THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

The handy "at a glance" page for the strategies in the Goal 1 section.
On to a few of my favorite strategies from Goal #1...

1.5 Word Treasure Hunt

This strategy allows the student to enjoy the story through "reading the pictures" first. Then encourages them to go on a "treasure hunt" for letters and words they know. I think this will be a perfect strategy to create joyful readers and challenge them a bit as well. 

In my role as a K-6 reading specialist (remember that is a new position for me next year--eek!), I can see myself using this with Kindergartners (letter hunt) and some first and graders (word hunt).

1.8 Express the Emotions

When I read this strategy, I wondered why I hadn't thought of it that way! I always asked my second graders to read with expression, but didn't always take the time to connect the character's feelings to how it should be read. Let's just say it was an A-ha! moment for me--and made me realize how automatic these strategies can become. I know I consider the character's feelings when I'm reading, but hadn't really thought about how I learned to do that.
I also loved the visual aid on this one--and totally plan to use it with my beginning readers this next year.

1.14 If You Don't Know, Guess

This seems so simple, but over the years I have had so many students who are hesitant to make a guess or prediction. I think if I start teaching this strategy to my littlest ones, maybe as they grow as a reader it won't be so difficult. I also like the prompts to think about what makes sense with the story because I'm sure we have all had those kids (who aren't afraid to make a guess) say something completely off-the-wall! ;-)

"Without engagement, we've got nothing." 
(pg. 44)

Isn't that the truth?
I was immediately reminded of the first year I taught an actual engagement lesson to my class. 

Afterwards, my students were cracking me up because they would say, "I'm engaged to my book..." Ha!

Building stamina as a class is something we work on extensively when training for Daily 5. This would be interesting to graph individually, but I'm not sure how that would work for a teacher working with younger readers. I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you do this with littles!

Now...a little secret about something that was mentioned in this section. 


I'm not a fan of book logs or reading logs.

That's all I will say about that.

2.3 Reread to Get Back in Your Book

Again, this is something that I do all the time, but hadn't really considered purposefully TEACHING to my students. 
I often tell them to "back-up and reread" if they are struggling to understand, but to link that to recognizing when they become distracted hadn't occurred to me.

2.6 Fixing the Fuzziness

This immediately made me think of a "Mr. Check-In" bookmark* that I make for each of my students at the beginning of the year. I give them out when I teach a mini-lesson about asking questions as we read. I know my students will relate to the image "fixing the fuzziness."
*I would link this for you, but I'm not finding where I got it. It seems you now have to sign up for something to get it, and I know I didn't do that (because that kind of thing annoys me). 

2.19 Finding Reading Territories

This strategy will help students answer the question, "Who am I as a reader?" That, of course, helps us to point them in the right direction for books that will interest and engage them.

The visual for this one is simple and informative, divided into three sections. 

Books I loved...
Pits Books...
When I want a book, I want it to have...

It is just a practical strategy that will help students identify the kinds of books they are looking for, and I think it really could be done at any age.


Those are a few of my favorite strategies. 

Now it's your turn! 
Tell me about your favorites either in the comments below or on our Facebook page! 

And don't forget to check out the other blog posts below for more thoughts and ideas!

P.S. Ooops! I clicked something and it published so I guess today is the day!

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