Friday, November 22, 2013

Gift of Reading - Sight Words

As teachers we gift our students with the ability to read by teaching them to be fluent and giving them the comprehension strategies they need in order to understand.  Fluent readers are able to comprehend the text better than non-fluent readers because they are not using most of their brain to decode each word they are reading.  There is more brain power available to put the comprehension skills to use.  Non-fluent readers spend so much time decoding words that they lose the meaning of the text.

One way to help students become more fluent readers is to teach them sight words (words students are able to read without having to sound them out).  Dolch sight words make up 50-75% of the words students read when they are younger.  If they know that many words on a page, they are more likely to want to read the page because they are more confident.

How many sight words do you see in this excerpt from Charlotte's Web?
"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
     If a student spent of his or her time decoding the majority of the words, they would 
     completely miss the meaning of the words and couldn't begin to start employing their 
     reading strategies, like predicting what the ax was going to be used to do.

Another reason to teach sight words is that some of the words are not able to be sounded out or figured out using a picture.  How do you sound out "where" when it should rhyme with were instead of air?  What would a picture of "if" or "soon" look like?

So we know sight words are important.  Now what?  Here are some ideas on how to teach and practice sight words.
  • Read aloud patterned books that contain many sight words like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See.  Seeing the words in an authentic environment is important for students.  Once students are comfortable with the pattern, have them create a class book that follows the same pattern.  Read their book creation many times together and place it in the classroom library.  Believe me, it will be a favorite for them during library center.
  • Games are a great way to help students practice their sight words.  Once students have learned sight words in an authentic text, they need a chance to devote them to long term memory.  Games were they have to quickly recognize sight words can help them.  
    • For the duration of the blog hop, I am offering my Build a Snowman Sight Word game free to all blog hop participants.  Just click the picture below.    Now that the blog hop is over, the game has returned to a priced item.  The game includes all of the sight words from the Dolch lists.  There are two ways to play - students compete to find all the pieces of a snowman before the other players OR students compete to build the most snowmen.  The only way to get a snowman part is to be able to read the word on the card.
    • To those who visit after the blog hop, I have the 2nd Grade Dolch List Build a Snowman Game as a forever freebie.

I love to pin, so I keep track of different games and activities that I want to try with my students.  Check out my pin board on sight words by clicking the picture.

I hope you were able to find at least one idea that will help your students on the way to becoming fluent readers by teaching sight words. 

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you enjoyed your gift and learned something new. If you would like to be the first to know about new posts, giveaways, and blog hops follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TEAMWORK Isn't My Thing and I Don't Like to SHARE!

Laura Candler sponsored a great linky, Cooking Up a Caring Classroom, with the help of some great bloggers.  We are sharing the wonderful books written by Julia Cook.  Check them all out by clicking the picture below.

Julia has so many fabulous books that help teachers set up a wonderful, caring classroom environment that is was hard to pick one.  I decided on TEAMWORK Isn't My Thing, and I Don't Like to SHARE! because I am beginning to work with a new group of kiddos.  I love for my students to work in groups, and I wanted a way to introduce the concept and begin building a team spirit within those groups.  This book was perfect!

Synopsis:  RJ has to work in a group to complete a report on Egyptian mummies and gets frustrated when the group doesn't work well together.  Then he goes home and has to share the last cookie with his sister.  He has had a BAD day, so he talks to his soccer coach who helps realized that working as a team and sharing are needed in everyday life as well as on the soccer field.

As I was reading Laura Candler's introductory post to the linky this really stuck with me:  "The new standards require students to become actively engaged in their learning, often working with others to accomplish a task. If we don’t take time to teach kids to work together effectively, those lessons will be wasted and academic progress will suffer."  So TRUE!!  The time has passed for teacher-centered learning where students sit idly by listening.  It is time to get them engaged.  Learning is a social process that many times includes working effectively with a team to learn and process new information.  Julia Cook's TEAMWORK book helps make this apparent to students through RJ's story.

Classroom Ideas:
I used this book as a read aloud to introduce why working together and sharing is so important.  Since we use read alouds to teach vocabulary, I did with this book also.  Click on the picture below for my vocabulary lesson plan. 

Once we discussed the book, I placed students into teams and completed the following activities from the companion book - Teamwork Activity Book.
      • What's in a Name - students have the opportunity to work as a team to create a unique, united identity
      • Masking Tape Race - game with a purpose - team success is built by choosing and listening to a leader in order to "stick" together
        • We debriefed after this to talk about how well each group worked as a team, why it was important (making references back to the book), and how this will help them academically.
      • Team Acronym - already created a team name, now students worked together to build an acronym from that name
      • To Share or Not to Share...That is the Question - help students know when it is appropriate to share through discuss of scenarios
This book was just the start of how I am building a community with my students.  I will use more Julia's books to continue building our community.

Make sure to check out the rest of the books:


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