...I got the ugly white border on my PDF. I tried the old trick of unchecking the "Scale to Fit Paper" box, but it didn't work. It just cut out the edges of my cover page. Ugh! I had to step away from my computer for several days. I was too frustrated after trying to figure it out for nearly 3 hours. But a few days later, I was determined and I did it. I figured it out...in less than 10 minutes. In case there's someone out there inthe world that encounters the same issue, I'm hoping this post can save you some time and frustration. Step 1: File ➔ Page Setup ➔ (enter desired page dimensions)➔ Options
I can't believe we just finished our second week of school. It feels like the students have been back for two months! Anyway, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another edition of Five for Friday.
1. I absolutely love my new blog design! A big thank you to Lindsey Paull for doing such an amazing job!
2. I tried using a traditional teacher's planner when school first started, but I quickly found that I needed a better way of organizing since I am now in my new role as a literacy coach. After several hours of looking online, I wasn't able to find the perfect literacy coach planner. Feeling frustrated and needing to get organized quickly, I decided to spend a weekend creating my very own, personalized calendar. I really like how it turned out and it has been filling up quickly!
3. Being a literacy coach is a new position for me and I was feeling completely lost and useless until I got this book, The Literacy Coach's Survival Guide.
I'm only about a third of the way through it, but it has completely
changed my approach to literacy coaching. I'm already experiencing
positive responses from the elementary classroom teachers. Thank
goodness! I will write a post soon about my top 5 biggest mistakes as a
literacy coach and hopefully other coaches in my shoes can learn from my
5. I turned 34 last week...and I finally got a ROOMBA! I've been talking non-stop about how great it would be to have a Roomba for at least a year now. I've used it twice since Sunday and I'm amazed at how well it sweeps up my hardwood floors. Now my boyfriend Chris can stop complaining about seeing my stray hairs all over the place.
Happy new school year everyone! Don't forget to link up!
I was just about done writing this post on Friday when my internet suddenly went out. It was finally fixed this morning. Two days without internet was unnerving. Anyway, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday--two days late.
1. I finally reached the first TpT milestone! It took a little over two years and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears...but I did it! 2. I'm so excited for the new school year! While I'll still be teaching reading intervention, part of my time will be spent as the literacy coach for lower elementary. I will be coaching and supporting teachers in all areas of literacy, but will be targeting Guided Reading. Before I begin coaching in that, I will spend the first few weeks supporting the teachers as they set their routines with literacy centers or work stations. Here are a couple books I've been using as a point of reference:
3. I had the opportunity to lead a 3-hour literacy workshop at my school. I was so nervous! I was worried the teachers would be bored or wouldn't find any of it meaningful. However, it went better than I thought it would. The teachers seemed really engaged and I got a lot of positive feedback. Our school uses a very specific letter-sound correspondence and blending strategy that is a Direction Instruction model adapted from SRA Mastery. Here are some of the teachers practicing:
We also discussed the importance of using cooperative learning structures. Too often we assume students know how to talk to each other. We, as teachers, need to provide the students ample opportunities to interact with each other. One of my favorite cooperative learning structures is called Rally Robin. I played the video below to the teachers to show how I first teach Rally Robin to my students.
4. No matter how much I try, I never seem to be 100% satisfied with my classroom library. This year, I am sticking with sorting my books by guided reading level, but I also added the Lexile to each label on the book.
The Lexile really helps especially since students' comprehension levels vary so much. For example, I could have two children reading at a level H, but one child may struggle with comprehension more than the other. So I would give that child a level H book with a lower Lexile. The other student would read a level H book, but with a higher Lexile.
5. My school is bursting at the seams! Our enrollment increases every year and we are at capacity. Thank goodness we are breaking ground in a few weeks for our school's new location for the 2016-2017 school year. Because we lack space, I no longer have a classroom for my intervention groups. I will have to make-do with empty classrooms and hallway space this year. It will be a challenge, but the teachers have been asked to be as understanding and as flexible as possible this year. After all, it's just one more year and then we will have a brand new school all to ourselves. Anyway, I don't have my own classroom this year, but I want to show how talented my colleagues are. Their doors look absolutely amazing!
As I make my frequent stops to Target, Office Max, Lakeshore Learning Store, etc. to find the best deals for the back-to-school season, I'm also thinking about how I will teach even better during this upcoming school year. In addition to teaching reading intervention, I have the added responsibility of coaching and mentoring the K-3 classroom teachers at my school in best practices for literacy instruction.
While reading, I couldn't help but reflect upon my own teaching practices. I cringe thinking about my first few years of teaching. How did those children learn anything from me?? Well, I must have done something right because I spent the following years watching them move on from grade-to-grade. But I also came to understand that my teaching practice is always evolving. For as long as I'm a teacher, I cannot be immune to my mistakes. I will always be growing, learning, and improving upon my teaching practice.
I compiled a list of my well-intentioned approaches that just, well, wasn't effective. I hope this list will help you in your guided reading instruction. If you want to read more, I included the page numbers from Debbie Diller's book that I used as a reference.
My Top 5 Guided Reading Mistakes
MISTAKE #1: I didn't have a thorough plan before teaching.
Often times, my plan for guided reading only involved two things: the students I'll be meeting with and the book I'll be using with them. Since the books are short and at an easy elementary reading level, I don't even read them ahead of time. Admit it--I'm not the only one--you've been guilty of this too! While there is nothing wrong with this "plan" and when you're meeting with so many different groups, it's inevitable that you will not be able to plan anything more than this from time-to-time. However, when I spent an extra few minutes planning for each group, the results among the children were significantly better. The skills taught were intentional and not just happenstance.
*Takeaway: Plan a skill you will be focusing on with a specific group of students with a book you have read in advance.
**Further reading p. 5-9
MISTAKE #2: I only used the leveled readers from my basal reading curriculum.
The leveled-readers that came with the Scott Foresman: Reading Street curriculum were terrible. The readers had no F & P guided reading level, Lexile, or any useful leveling apart from the words below-level, on-level, and above-level. In trying to use the expensive readers my school purchased, I sorted my students into those three groups for my entire first year of teaching. (CRINGE!) Thankfully, I learned a more effective approach during a guided reading workshop. I assessed my students so I knew what books to use in small groups at their instructional level. Book sets were expensive though, so I used book sets available through my school, book sets donated by Half-Price Books, ordered book sets using points accrued from the Scholastic Book Club, and printed books from Reading A-Z.
*Takeaway: Use running records to continually assess the reading level of students. Use texts that the students can read at 90-94% accuracy.
**Further reading p.4
MISTAKE #3: The students were doing round-robin reading.
Round-robin reading admittedly was the biggest mistake I made when I first started teaching reading. What was my reasoning for round-robin reading? Well, nothing more than my teachers did it when I was a student and I continued to do it when I started as a teacher. Keeping in mind that the ultimate goal of guided reading is to give the students enough reading practice so they can eventually gain independent reading skills. Round-robin reading does not achieve this goal. The students are listening to each other but rather than focusing on word-solving and comprehension, they are more worried about reading perfectly in front of their peers. Some students are bored when a child is reading too slow. Some students are frustrated because they lost their spot and can't follow along with the child reading. While it is important to give the students opportunities to listen to each other read, guided reading is not the time. Students will be reading their new text during your small group at the same time, but independently of each other and at their own pace. You will then listen for a minute or two to each student as they are reading.
*Takeaway: Allow students to read independently of each other and at their own pace.
**Further reading p. 8
MISTAKE #4:When students come to an unknown word, I gave it to them.
I still can't help but give the tricky word to students sometimes. I see students, parents, and even teachers doing this all the time. But if you just keep giving the word to the student, then you're not teaching them how to word-solve, which is an essential independent reading skill they are trying to learn. Now, when a student gets to a tricky word, I wait 3 seconds. The 3 seconds of silence is really uncomfortable for the student and often-times uncomfortable for the teacher. However, it is important to give the student time to attempt the word. After 3 seconds, I use several prompts such as:
Look at the anchor charts to help you.
It's a sight word we've been working on this week.
Can you chunk the word?
You say the first sound, I'll say the rest.
It rhymes with...
*Takeaway: When a child encounters a tricky word, don't just give the child the word.
**Further reading: p. 8
MISTAKE #5:. I didn't connect the skills during guided reading to other parts of the day.
One day during guided reading, we were talking about how the setting changed multiple times in a story we were reading. This boy in my group was able to describe the multiple setting changes perfectly. Then, during whole group, we were reading a class story. I called on this particular student to describe the setting, but this student seemed to draw a complete blank and looked at me as if he had never heard of the term setting. I was so frustrated because we had just talked about it for several days during guided reading. The next day during guided reading, he successfully described the setting of the story. I then said to him, "I want you to think about setting again later today when we read a different story during read-aloud. I want you to think about where and when the story takes place." The boy smiled and nodded. Later that day during read aloud, I asked the students about setting and the boy immediately threw his hand up eager to answer. I learned that I was teaching skills in isolation and therefore not being intentional in how I wanted to the students to transfer their learning to other contexts.
*Takeaway: Connect the skills students are focusing on during Guided Reading to other parts of the day.
**Further reading: p. 9-10
New teachers and veteran teachers, I hope this post has been helpful for you. If you would like to discuss guided reading, please join me this afternoon (Tuesday 7/21/15) on Periscope @msmaihuynhat 4:15 p.m. CST. If you are not available for the Periscope, the replay will be available for 24 hours. Otherwise, please leave your questions or comments below.
My sister, Linh, is very crafty so she is always inspiring me in many ways! Over the weekend, I helped her set up this amazing art corner in her house for her kids. It was really simple. My school is moving into a new building in one year, so I will definitely set this up for my art wall in my new classroom.
We used twine and connected it to the ends of the hooks. Yarn can also be used too, but twine is more durable and doesn't fray as easily. The clothespins look like the standard size in the picture, but they are actually mini-sized clothespins from Michaels. It doesn't matter what size you use though.
I will obviously use the white Command hooks in my new classroom so there is no damage to the wall.
The revision of my 1st grade morning work packet bundle is still in progress. The morning work packets I have up on TpT are aligned to Minnesota State Standards so the math review includes concepts like counting collections of dimes, nickels, and pennies which are not part of the 1st grade CCSS. After receiving requests from a few of my followers, I decided to revise the morning work packets so that the skills are aligned to the CCSS. It's been taking me a long time, but I hope to have them ready by the end of July or the first week of August. If you have already purchased the packets, you will be able to download the revised files soon!
Teachers are flocking to Periscope. It's exactly what the teaching community needed to connect with each other to offer teaching tidbits, stories about life, and support. I will be hosting my first LIVE Periscope broadcast today at 2:15 p.m. Find me @msmaihuynh. I will be posting a reminder on Instagram, so don't miss out on my introduction!
If you can't make it at 2:15, the video will be available for 24 hours for you to watch. You won't be able to make a comment, but you will be able to give me hearts by tapping on the screen.
Spending a week in Costa Rica with Chris was absolutely amazing. We were both so excited to have a nice and relaxing vacation. Although, I had to lecture Chris about taking care of his things though. I'm sure you can guess which passport belongs to him...
We stayed 20 minutes outside of La Fortuna at the Lost Iguana Resort. We made such a great choice with this resort. There were two different hiking trails on their 120-acres in the rainforest that kept us busy in the early mornings. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Here are a few pictures I took from the resort:
There is so much to do in Costa Rica so it was very easy to stay active while having fun. We did a night walk and a day walk through the Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, kayaked in the Peñas Blancas River, hiked over the lava flow of the 1968 Arenal Volcano eruption, and crawled through the tightest spaces amongst bats and crickets in the Venado Caves.
I'm really scared of bats, so the cave tour was really creepy, but turned out to be my favorite activity. The limestone was beautiful and the water was so refreshing because we got so hot and sweaty from all the climbing and crawling around in the cave. We didn't have waterproof cameras (why didn't we buy a Go Pro??) so we only took a before and after picture of the Venado Cave tour.
I love going out to eat, so I don't end up cooking too much at home, especially during the summer. However, the few times a do cook during the week, I always avoid using fresh herbs simply because I end up throwing 75% of it away. I try not to be wasteful so I usually end up using dried herbs. I was elated when I saw smaller packages of fresh, organic herbs at the grocery store yesterday and only $1.50! I made crusted pork chops last night and they tasted significantly better with fresh herbs.
Chris is slowly moving into my condo and my closets are exploding! Time to look into a closet storage system!
I finished my 3-credit Minnesota Writing Project Open Institute called "Writing Process and Thematic Inquiry: Writing for Social Justice" at the University of Minnesota right before I left for Costa Rica. I learned how important it is to design lesson plans with social justice themes. Bree Picower (2012) suggests that an elementary social justice curriculum is beneficial to help "students care about and critically understand inequalities in the world around them."
I created a lesson plan with the social justice theme of bullying. Bullying prevention needs to be addressed in schools as early as possible. Jensen, Brisson, Bender, and Williford (2013) found "A considerable proportion of students who bully their classmates in elementary school continue to be perpetrators during middle school." Hopefully my proactive approach will be effective at the elementary level, in turn, hopefully deterring acts of bullying at the secondary level.
Brisson, D., Bender, K.A. & Williford, A.P. (2013). Effects of the youth
matters prevention program on patterns of bullying and victimization in
elementary and middle school. Social Work
Research, 37, 361-371.
(2012). Using their words: Six elements of social justice curriculum design for
the elementary classroom. International
Journal of Multicultural Education, 14, 1-15.