Thursday, September 3, 2015

Word Study Workshop- Unit TWO!

Greetings, teachers!

If you haven't heard of this workshop, PLEASE check it out from the beginning  HERE! So far, you can find:
Launching, Unit 1  here 
Unit 2  here.
Unit 3 was just posted here!

I wanted to share a few snapshots and thoughts about unit 2. Unit 2 is all about becoming an investigator of words in our world. We want to turn our young spellers into people that inquire about spelling all of the time. They should be naturally curious and fascinated by words and the way they are built. That doesn't just happen without teaching.  Investigative curiosity is the spirit of this unit!

Some of my favorite teaching points from this unit are:

*Today I want to teach you that word investigators don’t want someone to tell them how to spell a word...they think, what or where is a word in my world that can help me?

*Word investigators notice environmental print. Environmental print is what you see...EVERYWHERE! Words that are on places like Home Depot, Best Buy, Sponge Bob, Wendy’s, Immediate Care, etc... If you are playing attention, you can use these words to help them spell other words! The thing about environmental print is that you probably know how to spell (or get pretty close) because you see it SO much. Why not use that to help you spell other words?

 *Word investigators collect words from places they go as well. They might ask for the weekly flyer at the grocer or they can even ask for the junk mail at home. Then, they can cut out words they find interesting and glue them in a special place like a notebook or journal. If nothing else, they can record them on the back of their word pattern lists!

(These lessons are fully scripted with EVERY part of the mini-lesson included!)

Hopefully after reading those, the spirit of the unit shines through! I want to use this unit to push our spellers into a frenzy of word pattern finding. That is what makes a careful and thoughtful speller. 

To celebrate this unit, we decided to go on a word- hunting "walking trip" around the school! Then, they get to celebrate with a certificate and a healthy snack that I bring in. 

Thanks for reading along and happy spelling!! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

10-Day Word Pattern Cycle Notes and Tips!

Hi there! I wanted to stop by and give some snapshots of the activities that we've been doing in our Word Study Workshop! If you haven't heard of this workshop, PLEASE check it out from the beginning  HERE! The full blown launching unit can be found here and Unit 2 was just posted here.

So, here is the 10-Day Overview...I'll touch on a few of the activities to give some tips and show how it went with my spellers! Full instructions and notes are available in the Launching Unit, but I wanted to give some specifics and tips! :) 

So, the first day is a Guess'N'Sort. This one takes a lot, a LOT of practice because it is supposed to be independent (except for your emergent spellers- coach them heavily!). The students are excited for new lists! Make sure you teach, model, and remind students to: 
*Look at your new list carefully
*CAREFULLY copy their words onto the word cards. You might even tell them to scribble the entire back page with a crayon so that if one gets lost, they can turn them over to see if the crayon color matches the cards they have! 
*Cut their words out and SORT by similarities. I allow them to do this in partners or trios. That is up to you! 
*Then, I have them record the way they sorted their words and write down the word patterns they think they've found. 
*I do have to coach them in the actual name of the list. Most kids won't come up with the fact that the list should be called "Blends" for example. 

Mix-It Fix-It 
You'll just want to make sure they understand the pattern of this activity- which is to make the word with letters (tactile learning) and then mix it up to make it again. The goal is to be able to spell it with the tiles WITHOUT looking! 

Day 3

 Word Hunting. The most important tip I can give here is to remind your students that word hunting isn't word SEARCHING. Unlike a word-search, word hunting should involve real reading. I try to model this as much as possible! 

Day 4
Today is the day that the students will select 6 words to explore the meaning of.  Below, there are samples from an emergent and within word speller. Remember that on this day, the definitions are GUESSES. It's OK for them to be a little off. 

Day 5 
Interesting day. Be prepared to be flexible. The students are partnering up and talking about the sheets above. If they agree, the can check a box that says "yes." If they disagree, then their job is to come up with a new sentence together. The new sentence should have a different meaning. As you are conferring and working with small groups, check in heavily with the meanings of the words. Try to use them throughout the week. We are a "Word Nerds" school- so this is where I actually pull our vocabulary words for lanyards. 

Day 6 
LOTTO! This day is always a class-favorite. 
My tips are: 
*Select ONE student per group to use their word cards every time you play this game. Pick your "little Miss or Mr. Perfect" that is super organized. They will always have their cards ready and this will cut down on arguing, not having supplies ready, etc...
*Use small cups to put words and chips for marking their spaces. 
*Have students write their words in any order on their board BEFORE letting them go to groups. 
*Remind them to take the word OUT of the cup before passing the cup to the next friend. 

Day 7
ABC Order
The only tip I have is to model using the CARDS first and recording second. They get really burnt out when they have to erase an entire list because they forgot one! Oh! One more tip- I have them partner up with one member of their spelling club to compare lists! 

Days 8-10 are assessment days and you'd be pulling each group over to play take a quiz using the alternate pattern words and recording sheet- which are all included in the unit! There is a full post on assessment here

Hope that helps! 

Happy Spelling! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Assessment In the Word Study Workshop

Update: Unit One: Launching the Word Study Workshop is available on TpT! Click Here! 

 I'm soooo close to posting the first word-study unit! I've got a couple of people proofing it, and then it'll be up. In the meantime, I wanted to share about assessment in the word study workshop.

As I mentioned in my last post, the word pattern cycles last 10 days. After the mini-lesson, the students engage in practice activities. But what does the teacher do? A LOT! That work time is your "game time!" This is the time that I am extremely intentional about pushing my spellers to the next level through small group, partner, and individual conferring. 

Below, is the conferring sheet I used to push my spellers along. My goal is to meet with each speller (individually) at least once during their 10-day word cycle. I meet with them a lot more throughout the week via small groups. 

 Here is an example of a conferring sheet filled out with anecdotal notes. It's a great way for me to collect data and provide feed back to students, parents, and administration. Also, if I want to assess their progress during writing workshop, I'll often pull this sheet out and remind myself of the progress the students have made. It helps me to know what they have improved upon!  There are step-by-step instructions at the top of the sheet for what I actually do when I confer. Forgive my awful handwriting. I am not one of those teachers with font-worthy handwriting at ALL!
 This tracker is what I use at the end of a cycle when I give the assessments with alternate pattern words. It is just a quick pass/fail at-a-glance so I can watch progress over time. I also can easily see the students that are falling behind quiz after quiz and address that. If over half of my students fail (marked with an "X" then I might reteach that or plan to reteach it during a spelling small group session.

An example of a tracking sheet filled out for one spelling club. 

This is what I mentioned above when referring to the alternate pattern words. For each spelling pattern, I've provided a list of words that follow the pattern. I use these words for quizzes and examples when I work with a small group. 

So, that's how I assess my spellers in a nutshell!  My goal is to always have a pulse on their progress. 

Thanks for reading along! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Word Study...WORKSHOP!

Hello! I hope school years all over the blogosphere are off to a great start. I am excited about a new project that I've been working on...the WORD STUDY Workshop! 

Just as the reading and writing workshops were born out of studying the habits of great readers and writers, I spent a little time researching the habits of great spellers. I read lots of articles from national spelling bee winners and even interviewed a few people from my life that have always had a knack for spelling things correctly. From there, I gathered my notes and turned them into mini-lessons that might encourage students to become people who find patterns, look for things to alphabetize, or notice when words break spelling patterns in their every day life. Essentially, this curriculum is designed to encourage kids to become word lovers and word investigators by nature. These lessons are designed to provide kids with what I call spelling habits of mind. These units are designed to give your spellers a teaching-tip that is good for ALL spellers, and then they will go off to complete their differentiated spelling tasks, games, and activities to help them become better spellers. 

Based off of the spelling inventory (from Words Their Way), my students are in one of three groups that I call “spelling clubs:” emergent spellers, letter-name spellers, and within word spellers. I like this term because the students don’t know what I’m doing. For example, they think that the yellow group (emergent spellers) just “happen to be studying blends this week” and the orange group (within word spellers) just “happen to be studying long ‘a’ patterns.” I tell them eventually everyone will study everything, so I can trick them a little better. I personally don’t enjoy the spelling curriculums I’ve used in the past where there are multiple lists within the same skill. Kids know when the class is studying "long /a/" and their list consists of words like “cake” and “rake” while other kids are learning works like “obligate”  and "explain." They quickly figure out which “group” they are apart of.  I like to think that this method is a bit less obvious. 

In an effort to meet students where they are, they will work on word pattern lists that are designed specifically for their level. I start my students on the continuum and then move them right along lesson by lesson. There is of course, room to jump groups. I will administer a quick assessment if I feel like a student is rapidly progressing during the year. They are not "stuck" in any group!

The word pattern cycles last for 10 days. After every 4th word pattern cycle, my class participates in a class-wide pattern study on the same skill. This skill is based on word structures or meanings (like compound words, posessives, etc...). These units can be swapped in or out based on need.

Days 1-6 are spent doing various practice activities with their list of words. Days 7-10 are spent doing group assessments, spelling games, or makeup-work.  I keep the same routine for consistency. 
Below are the Word Units of Study for the year. 
These were written with all spellers in mind. The units aren't skill-specific (like a whole unit on long vowels or diphthongs) but rather they are mini-lessons with tips and strategies to become a life-long lover of words. 

The spelling pattern cycles have a set list of words that students will work with but they will be on the lookout for words that match their pattern, so their collection of words will grow tremendously during the 10-day stretch. I do let parent know about the words that their child will be studying but I send a letter home explicitly stating that this is NOT a spelling list to drill. I ask them to jot some words down that they might happen upon during their nightly reading.

There are word lists, home lists, and word logs  for each of these word pattern and skill-specific cycles.

Here are some examples of the activities done during the 10-day cycle. 

Just as we celebrate the end of a reading or writing unit, we also celebrate the end of a spelling unit! The first unit is celebrated by making a class book with our word-study goals for the year. Some units will be celebrated with special projects and the last unit is celebrated with a class-wide (or grade level-wide) Spelling Bee!

So, there is a peek at the overview and some of the first unit. I can't wait to finish them up and share them with anyone who might be interested!

I do plan to post each unit individually but I'll also bundle the entire product. Also, if you are interested in JUST the units with life-long spelling mini-lessons (without the word lists and activities), I'll be posting those individually as well!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Make Clip Art on Power Point! (Video Tutorial)

So, I say "uhm" way too much, sound winded (36 weeks pregnant), and feel super weird about this video it is!