Monday, March 2, 2015

March Currently

This month I thought I'd do a Currently post! :)  My life has been quite full lately and when I'm busy with lots of projects, these types of posts are fun to reflect on and chat about.

Before I get started, I'd like to thank Farley for getting this post started and offering us all the chance to meet new people through this link up! :)  If you are a newer blogger, this is a wonderful link up to meet new people! :)

Tonight I am hanging with the hubs on my birthday eve! :) We went to dinner and are binge watching Netflix!  The other day he went to the grocery store and couldn't resist the girl scout cookies being sold out front! :)  We *had* a box of mint ones...but they were gone in about a day or so.  My husband is a total cookie monster! :/

So, here in #CasaDeRussell we LOVE political dramas. Even though we vote for different parties on election day, the hubs and I love to talk about politics and watch it play out on t.v.  We're the kind of people that watch the State of the Union and have our OWN round table! LOL!  We are unabashedly nerdy in this house! :)  Our current obsession is #houseofcards .  Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey is brilliant!  It's a dark show, so if you're not into politics, and you're not into dark's not for you...but, we LOVE IT!
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Today was our #ReadAcrossAmerica Day Parade!  The kids and I are reading Seuss books all week long.

  For the parade I teamed up with Tami from Rainforest of Firsties to do 'I'm Not Going to Get Up Today'.  It's such a funny book! :)  The kids loved wearing their pajamas!  We wrote about the main idea of the story on the backs of some simple clocks that we made.  

One of the girls on my grade level did 'Oh the Places You'll Go' and made all of her kids look like they were in their own personal hot air balloons!  So creative! :) She's a rockstar! :) I'm totally trying to get her to blog!!


Ahh Florida! :0) I have to tell you, as a Jersey Girl, I can tell you that the only reason I miss snow is because I miss snow days.  That's it.  There. I said it. #realtalk
I just want to be home sometimes...just like teachers up north...but alas...we are still snowless here in Orlando! 

Once I am done with my spring fluency and March Morning next project is to finish up these skills based comprehension tests.  We're so disappointed in the reading assessment that comes with our basal, so, I'm writing new comp tests that are on grade level.  If you're interested in that, you can check out the post I did on it! :)
Last thing...the hubs and I are going to do something super fun over Spring Break.  We don't know what it is yet...but....we're gettin' up outta here and doing something FUN! :)  Stay tuned! :)
Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fantastic Fluency for February

Hello all! :)
I trust that you are celebrating Black History Month in style! :)  There are some wonderful resources out there at all different age levels, and it's exciting to see how many teachers are embracing all kinds of Black History Month studies especially in primary classrooms! :)  I've written a ton of fluency for primary learners, but I'm most excited about what I've been able to put together for February! :) These passages will enhance studies you are doing on the Civil Rights Movement, or the Civil War.  I've written passages for both firsties and seconds! :)  These are part of a new series of themed passages I'm writing for the high end of first and second grade.  
The themed Bridging the Gap passages have ten high interest passages that relate to a specific monthly theme.  Use them as whole group work, small group work, or homework.  I started writing them to enhance units I was already teaching in the classroom.  So, for black history month in my class, we focused on the Underground Railroad. These passages were great accents to the stories I read to the kids!  In the first grade set, there are 10 different biography style pieces that feature notable African Americans.  The stories are all written for the high end of first grade, so they make a great enrichment for homework for high students...but great text for whole group instruction!

I also have passages for the high end of second second grade!

The second grade set features people from the Civil War era, along with a few modern day heroes as well.  Check out the levels below!
If you have never tried a fluency passage from my series...I'd love for you to have one for your room! :)
This first grade sample is from Bridging the Gap for Firsties: Black History Month Edition.  If you click the link, you'll get the passage, the text coding questions and the student version if you wanted to use it as an assessment--so it's a FULL sample!

Click HERE to instantly download this FULL sample for your classroom!

Here's another one from second grade! :)
This one is all about the Tuskegee Airmen!
This one is exclusive to my blog.  This passage is not included in any of my packs!

Click HERE for a FULL sample of the Tuskegee Airmen passage for Seconds! 

I hope you love these as much as I love putting them together for the primary learners at my school!
You can purchase the full packs on TPT.  Just click on the links below.

First Grade Black History Month Fluency
Second Grade Black History Month Fluency

Happy Black History Month to ya! :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wonders Aligned Comprehension Tests

Happy weekend to you all!
I've been so busy teaching and creating, I haven't had a ton of time to blog! :) I just wanted to answer some questions that I got about a recent product that I created for comprehension assessments!

I certainly DO use a basal series! :) I believe that one major reason primary teachers voted to adopt Wonders is for the stories.  I know that I love them, and so do the kids! :) We've always had liberty in our county to write assessments that align to the standards and give us actionable data for our classroom instruction.  We are ENCOURAGED to do this! :)  Our basal was written four years ago when 'hard for the sake of hard was in'.

Our literacy coach lexiled the assessments and when she came back with the lexiles...I was horrified. :(  Many were as high as third grade.  Completely unacceptable. :( The basal series encouraged teachers to attempt to get students to read the assessments independently by the mid point of the year.  Lexile scores give me information about the sentence structure and rigor of the text.  Even if I gave my kids enough schema to understand some of what they were reading on test day, I don't think it's fair to them to test above their grade level. Have YOUR literacy coach lexile those tests! :(   It's really bad, guys. :(
So...I got to writing my own! :)

Well, I wrote assessments just like my fluencies at first.  When I tried them out in my classroom, the kids did okay.  I could tell it was hard.   The texts were the right level, but...there was something missing. My next step was to  beta test them with other teachers on my grade level.  A few of them asked if I could make some changes.  I shortened the test and made the font bigger.  I broke the text up into specific sections and then I added pictures to go with each section to support the students' understanding.  One of my dearest bloggy sisters ever, Tammy Wathen from The Resourceful Apple has several ESE/ESOL students this year, she suggested a page with words from the text that she could use to support her learners in a small group setting.  I added that too! :)

I feel passionately that the second half of the year in first grade needs to be about building independent on-grade level readers.  This is our second year using this series, and we hit Unit 4 about this same time last year as well, so when I wrote the tests, I wrote them for what I felt an ON GRADE LEVEL reader at THIS TIME of the year should be able to read independently. That said, I wrote with a band in, this unit has tests that could work for a month behind, or a month ahead of this time of year.

In short, YES.  Let me explain why. In this tool, I highlight the sight words given to me with our program.  I also write with the phonetic progression in mind.  The comprehension tests are written with an on grade level, skill based approach.  This means that the questions will tie into specific standards.  So, if the test says Main Idea...there will be questions that relate to that.  I tried to make as many of the questions as I could text dependent, but there are also implicit questions as well.  On texts where there are more implicit questions, I tried to lower the lexile so that I wasn't *dinging* the kids with the rigor of the text AND the questions. Can you tell I REALLY thought about these? LOL! :) So...yes, I think you COULD use them with other series or as your primary assessment tool if you were creating your own resources for your learners in first.

Yes, you can use this to take grades.  At our school we do differentiated INSTRUCTION, not assessment, so...all of the kids take the exact same test across the grade level.  We sit as a team and decide how we want to approach the test that week, so that all of the kids have the exact same opportunity in each classroom. If you've never done a test like this before, I would scaffold.  We've played around with lots of ways to give these.  Having them read only two paragraphs and then reading the questions TO THEM...going over the word list and letting them read independently.  You know your kids, so, do different things until you feel that the kids can read all of it by themselves.  Remember both the text and questions were written for the kids to eventually be able to read them ALL on their own. :)  I usually grade out of eight...with the last question being worth two points.

Without a doubt, if you are looking for daily/nightly fluency practice....the fluency passages in my store are the direction you want to go.  I turned these tests into fluency passages as well because I know that there are some teachers that don't have a system in their classroom, and I thought an on grade level passage would give great data to a teacher in that position!  My kids already do a nightly timing, so I don't want to over assess.  If you already use my fluency resources and you get this too, I would only do ONE timing with this piece per unit.  Just for your own files.  Pick any one that reflects the level your students should be on at that time of year.

Yes! :) I am working on it, but there's no specific timeline.  I'm pretty serious about this project and I'll be working closely with my team and a few other teacher bloggers to make sure I get this right.  I am not going to rush this.  When our kids are done using them, I will post what I have.  I need to make sure that they WORK for littles.  There's so much unnecessary assessment out there.  I don't want to be a part of testing unless it's relevant to the children and to me.  

Click HERE to be directed to the product on TPT.