Friday, August 29, 2008

And the winners are....
Melaniekay16 for "ABC Bunny" and
Allie (devriesfam) for "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge".

Thanks for all who participated in my contest and for visiting my blog! There were 94participants!!! I will be writing part 2 of Running Records this weekend. I also plan to post video clips demonstrating teaching strategies for reading over the next year.

This drawing was so much fun, I have decided to have a different book drawing each month. So please stay tuned for the next drawing! Robin

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Warning: Read Running Records Part 1 before Running Records Part 1 Continued

Running Records Part 1 - Continued

So if the child said, "One big dog going in" instead it would look like this a big/little aaa . Under the word big would be a line and then the word little which is what the text said (I can't do it up and down on this computer but see example in link). This is called a substitution. If the child inserts a word that is not in the text like, "One silly little dog going in" it would be recorded like this - a silly/- aaaa . If the child leaves out a word, like "One dog going in", it is recorded like this, a -/little aaa (an omission). If the child repeats a word, then an R is written next to the word repeated. So if the child read "One - One little dog going in", it would recorded like this, a R aaaa . This is a repetition. If the child repeats a whole phrase draw a line from the R back to where they begin to repeat. If the child stops at a word and will not try it, write an A on the top of the fraction which signifies an Appeal for Help. You should say at that time, "You try it". If they do not or cannot, tell the word and but a capitol T on the bottom of the fraction. This stands for a told. The last convention is used sparingly. It is when the child gets in a complete muddle. You say "Try that again" and point to the part. Brackets are put around the part you are having them retry and TTA is written next to it. This should be used once during a running record at best. When you take the running record, you will start a new line when the book starts a new line. So on page 13 of "Go Dog Go" there are two lines 1. A green dog 2. on a yellow tree. So the checks for correct reading would be aaa and then a new line aaaa. When the child is trying to solve a word record what you hear on the top of the fraction. For example, if he/she sounds out the word, write the sounds they make with lower case letters. If he/she spells out the word, write the letters in capitals. So if he/she sounds out cat correctly before saying cat it would look like this c-a-t a /cat. If he/she sounds it out incorrectly, it would look like this - c-o-t/cat . One last thing, if the child makes a mistake and then corrects it, you put an sc next to the correction like this - cot sc/cat. There is a recording sheet at this website which can be used for running records - . Okay, take a deep breath, I hope I haven't lost you!!! This is very easy after practicing a few times. Please don't dismiss Running Records without giving it a try! IT IS SUCH A VALUABLE TOOL!!! Practice for a few days and then I will teach how to score it. If you want to read some more about Running Records, this is good site .

Running Records Part 1

Yesterday I talked about matching your child to an appropriate level of book and promised to teach you how to do that. Today I am going to teach you how to do a running record. Running records are a way to record your child while he/she is reading to determine two things. First, is the book at your child's independent (94-100% accuracy), instructional (90-94%), or hard (89-0%) level? Second, it will help you determine what strategies your child is using while reading and what strategies your child is neglecting. Knowing the strategies used and neglected will help you to know what you need to emphasize in his/her reading instruction. In my college class, I teach pre-service teachers how to use this tool. It enables them to teach specifically to the needs of each child. Many teachers do not use this, however. As home school parents we have the perfect opportunity to tailor instruction straight to our childrens' needs. This tool makes it possible. So, this first lesson will teach the conventions of running records. This link gives the conventions that I will describing so please refer to it as I go along - Running records are kind of like shorthand. It is a record of your child's reading without any intervention from you thus showing what he/she can do and is one of the best informal assessments of reading. The first mark to learn is correct reading. For each word read correctly, you will give a check for the word. So if the book said, "One little dog going in" and the child read it accurately, you would have five checks aaaaa. For anything other than correct reading the symbol will be like a fraction. On the top will be what the child said and on the bottom will be the actual text. (I have to break this up b/c it won't fit on one post - continued above)

Free Book Giveway!!!

To celebrate the beginning of my blog and my 40th birthday, I am giving away two books. The first is the Before Five in a Row title, "The ABC Bunny" by Wanda Gag. The second book is the Five in a Row title, "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge" by Hildegarde H. Swift. Email me your name by clicking on the contact button. I will have a drawing next Friday, and two winners will be drawn. I hope you enjoy my blog!!!

Make Your Own Puppets

I have to share the cutest puppets that are made out of felt. The patterns and directions are found in the book "Successful Puppet Making - Learning Language Skills Through Play" by Valerie Bendt. My boys love them!!! So far we have made the bear and the fox. The book has patterns for the following puppets - Animals on the Farm (cow, sheep, pig, cat, dog, horse, duck, and hen), Animals in the Woods (mouse, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, owl, fox, deer, and bear), and Animals in the Jungle (frog, snake, monkey, parrot, hippo, elephant, lion, and tiger). There are color pictures in the book showing what the puppets should look like. These puppets are super easy to make. You just cut out the felt using the patterns provided, sew it using yarn and a large tapestry needle, and then glue the felt details on with felt glue. Super easy!!! My boys are not reading yet but when we they do I will use them for reader's theater. Reader's theater is basically performing a play where the parts are read - not memorized. The focus is on fluency and expressive voices. It is a great way to practice reading in a meaningful context. The play can be presented to younger siblings, family members, or even at a retirement center for the residents. Here are a few links to Reader's Theater Scripts - , , and . The puppets are also great for the younger crowd in building language and imagination. Here is a picture of the two puppets we have made so far.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Matching Your Child to Appropriate Reading Material

For any child there are three levels of reading material - independent, instructional, and hard. Children should have ample opportunity to read independent books which require little help from an outside source. This helps build their confidence and enjoyment for reading. The second level of reading is instructional. This is text that a child can read with a bit of support. This means that they can read most of the story but have some learning opportunities. These teachable moments are valuable in propeling the child's reading progress forward. Hard material is to hard for the child affording little opportunity for progress as there is "to much work" involved with the story and can be very discouraging. The goal for reading instruction time is to have your child reading at an instructional level. This is based on Vygotsky's theory of proximal development . It is not necessary to used a packaged reading curriculum to match your child to text that is instructional. As a matter fact, some packaged curriculums may be to low or to high. There are many lists of books on the internet which are leveled by alphabet - A through Z. The approximate grade levels that correlate to the letters can be viewed here - . Once you determine your child's instructional level, then you can find books at the library that correspond. The goal would be to progress up through the letters. Easy books are read with 94-100%, Instructional is 90-94% accuracy, and Hard is 89% or less. I am including several links of leveled book lists but there are many more that you can find simply by googling "leveled book lists" - , , and . My next post will talk about running records which are means of determining the accuracy of any book your child is reading. That will enable to determine what level your reading material is at for your child - independent, instructional, or hard. In addition, it will help you determine what strategies they are using and what strategies they are neglecting. It is an awesome assessment tool that anyone can learn and requires no special tools other than the book, the child, a piece of paper, and pencil. Please let me know if you have any questions!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hands-On Phonics

One of my favorite educators is Patricia Cunningham. She has written many books dealing with learning to read and write. I personally have had great success with her series of "Making Words" books. These books are multilevel, hands-on phonics and spelling activities. I have used "Making Words" and "Making More Words" in the classroom setting. When I taught in the public school system, I used them with learning disabled students. I had a district administrator observe our lesson and express great amazement as to what my students could do. With "Making Words" the students are given a set of letter cards depending on the lesson. For example, in lesson 1 of "Making More Words" the students are given the following letters a o c n r and s. The students place their letters in a row in front of them. You begin by saying "I want you to make a two letter word. Make the word "on". The children are then to say the word slowly and then pull the letters down from their choices to make "on". After they make the word, they are to check the word they made by slowly pulling their finger under the word while saying it. This trains the children to check on themselves. For example, if the child pulled down "oc" for "on". You want the child to discover this error on their own rather than being automatically being told "No that's not right". Good readers check on themselves and fix their errors. This process will train the children to be self-checkers. If they do not notice, after checking then the parent/teacher can lead them to discover their error by saying. "Say "on". What do you hear at the beginning? What do you hear at the ending? Are you right?" With some children, it is necessary to cover their error, when asking these questions and then uncovering "oc" when saying, "Are you right?" Each time they make a word they are to follow those steps - 1. Say the word 2. Make the word 3. Check the word. Have the child put the letters back with the others and then say, "Make another two letter word - make "or" ". In this lesson, they then make "as" and "an". Next, comes three letter words - "ran", "can", and "car". When going from "ran" to "can", instead of having the children push up the letters say, "Change one letter from ran to make the word can". "Change one letter on "can" and make it say "car". Following these same steps comes the four letter words - "cars", "cans", "scan", and "corn". When going from "cans" to "scan", say "Change the letters in "cans" around to make it say "scan". Five letter words in this lesson are - "acorn", "corns", and "scorn". In every lesson there is a mystery word that can be made with all the letters. I always gave my students a small treat if they could get it. The mystery word for this lesson is "acorns". There are some many phonics and spelling concepts taught through this method!!! My students LOVED "Making Words". It is hands-on phonics that is fun and game like yet teaches a wealth of concepts. Each lesson gives suggestions for ways to sort the words created. For this sample lesson the words can be sorted as follows: c sc s(plural) an orn . Last night I realized that Cunningham has come out with "Making Words" books for every grade level - K, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. I have the first three books she made - "Making Words" and "Making More Words" both of which can be used with primary grades and "Making Big Words" which is for intermediate. I highly recommend you checking them out. My boys are 3 and 4 so they are to young to begin these. When they are ready, though, I will be using these without a doubt to teach my phonics as opposed to using worksheets!
Our preschool year is beginning with great excitement! We are using Handwriting Without Tears - PreK, Right Start Math - Level A, Before Five in a Row, and Lapbooks/Units from Handwriting Without Tears has incredible manipulatives that will help facilitate pre-writing skills and alphabet recognition. We used them for the first time this week and the boys went nuts! There are wood pieces for constructing the letters, magnetic pieces that match to stamp the letters, dough to form the letters, and miniature chalkboards. I learned about Right Start math from fellow homeschoolers and am so excited about it. The point of this math program is for children to truly understand math as opposed to just memorizing. It is manipulative and game based with very few worksheets. Perfect for hands-on boys!!! We will probably be using level A for Pre-K and KIndergarten depending on Eli’s progress. If it gets hard, we will play the math games until he is ready to move on. I’ve read the manual and can’t say enough how awesome it is!!! This month we are rowing : “Yellow Ball” and “My Blue Boat” which are both Before Five in a Row books. We are using materials from to go along with the titles. Oh, I have submitted several really fun preschool units at homeschoolshare that you might want to check out. They are all very boy friendly as you might expect! The topics are Feathers for Lunch, Hello Ocean, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Owl Babies, and Trains which can be found at and Human Body and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which can be found here . I plan on posting reading helps for homeschooling parents over the next few months focused on elementary aged students (especially ones who are struggling) so stay tuned.