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Direct Phonics Instruction for Struggling Readers

As a special education teacher, I spend a lot of time focusing on foundational reading skills. Direct phonics instruction is a huge part of our day, and so important for my kids to learn how to be successful readers.

Although my students receive pull-out instruction for reading in the resource room, I try really hard to keep up with the grade level curriculum (Reading Wonders). I do admit that I'm about 3 weeks behind the gen ed classes for pacing.

I teach the same phonics patterns and follow the pacing from our Reading Wonders curriculum. I do make some adjustments as I feel it is necessary. Unit 1 Week 5 of Reading Wonders teaches S-Blends and R-Blends together. I felt like that was too much for my students so I divided the instruction into two weeks.

We start our weekly phonics instruction with a chart similar to this.

We practice reading the words together as a class. When I first introduce the words, I follow a "my turn, your turn" sequence. I first model for students how to blend the students and chunk any word patterns. I use a highlighter to show students the different chunks in words.

I use the same words for 2 days in a row (maybe 3 if they're extra tricky patterns). The first day we practice reading the words first as a whole group. Then I call on individual students to read the different colored rows and sometimes having them read columns just to keep them on their toes. :)

On the 2nd day, we practice reading the words but faster and with less support for me. After we've practiced reading words, students get to do their favorite part.

I call students up and give them a task such as "Circle the word in the purple row that rhymes with top." Not only are they having to practice their decoding skills, but they get to practice other skills as well. I'll use this time to practice things like:

*Deleting and inserting sounds in words
*Grammar such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives
*Categories like animals, body parts, etc.

My students love being called up to read and circle words, and I like that I can use this time to differentiate extra practice tailored to each student's needs.

Of course, phonics instruction wouldn't be complete without lots of practice experiencing words in different ways during small group. 

I love Sound Boxes for tricky patterns like blends since it forces students to really think about every sound in the word.

I use any extra quick moments I might have to throw in extra practice writing words and differentiating between patterns.

Of course, my students most favorite thing to do is play games. I've created a bunch of phonics games, like this Beach Days CVC Game, to give my students more practice while having fun. I love sneaky practice!

This Catching Insects game focuses on Short I words and is part of my Unit 1 Games for Reading Wonders. We use games like this weekly, and it's always a hit.

And none of this instruction would matter unless we put it into practice reading it in text. I use a lot of decodable readers and leveled readers from the Reading Wonders series, plus other books I find.

On this day, my friend here was sooooo distracted by everything that he couldn't focus on the words at all. Finally, I covered up the pictures so he could focus on the words and not the pictures. Success from a simple sheet of paper!

And there you go, a brief look at phonics instruction in my classroom and some of the tools I use. Next week, I'll be back with how I plan sight word instruction.

This Year Got a Rewrite

I've been silent for awhile now. It wasn't my plan for this year. I actually had BIG plans for this blog. I had so many blog posts lined up in my head and great things I wanted to happen.

I was super excited and enthusiastic about this school. I was moving to first grade and was thrilled! I've had a few rough years teaching special education and had become very discouraged. A new grade level back at my old school in FL was just what I needed.

I worked so hard in my room. I never got around to my classroom revel post but here are some my favorite parts of my room.

This is my absolute favorite place to be in my room. This rug from Kid Carpet! Everyday I look at it and love it.

I labeled everything! These AR labels can be found here.

 I organized everything, and it made my heart so happy!

I made this awesome AR Points Clip Chart and then realized I forgot the numbers 65 and 70 (it's still hanging BTW).

This bulletin board was so dang cute! Seriously I didn't even know I could love a bulletin board this much. If you love it as much as I do, you should check out Linda Kamp's unit.

School started and it was amazing! I loved these kids as we got to know each other.

We built our reading stamina (graph from The Brown Bag Teacher) and learned to be independent readers.

We did our first science experiment, and the kids thought it was amazing. You can check out A Day in First Grade for this experiment.

 And then it all came to a stop. :( 

During the 2nd week of school, our school got cut a 1st grade teaching position. We also had an open ESE (special education) position that was unfilled. So the principal made the decision to move me from gen ed back to ESE. 

I really, really loved my class. I felt so disappointed. Sending those babies home with a letter in the backpacks and not even being able to say goodbye as their teacher was heart wrenching. Yes, I still see them in the hallway. But it's not the same.

So now, I'm back as a resource teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. I have a sweet, sweet set of boys. But it has been a hard transition. I keep seeing posts about teaching the students you have and not the ones you wish I had. Well, I'm trying.  I'll admit that it hasn't been easy. 

Since my year got a rewrite, I had to give my bulletin board a new look. Thanks to Teaching Special Thinkers for this cute idea and the pencil craft.

 I'm trying to be positive and make the best out of what I've been given. Maybe I'll even make it over to this blog every now and then, too.

Reading Wonders Interactive Notebook

Hi everyone! I've finally gotten a chance to blog about how I incorporated Interactive Notebooks with the 2nd grade Reading Wonders series last school year. 

Halfway through the school year, I finally felt comfortable enough with the curriculum to start implementing the Interactive Notebooks as a way for us to practice the skills. Sometimes I would use them during whole group, small group, or as an independent activity. If the week was crazy, I would sometimes not use them at all. I would pick and choose which activities to use as an Interactive Notebook depending on our schedule and my student's abilities.

First thing, I did was look at the Unit Overview for each week to see which skills I thought could be incorporated as an Interactive Notebook activity.

I decided that Work Work, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Grammar would be good areas to use an Interactive Notebook for teaching or practice.

To get us started, I made each student a notebook and added tabs for easier organization. Having these colored tabs helped my students quickly find the area of the book that we were working in that day.

I tried two different printing options before I found the one that I liked the best for my class. I felt like printing 2 to a page made items too small for my students and settled on printing at 85%. By printing at 85%, the pages fit perfectly in a composition notebook.

I like including anchor charts for my students to use as a reference. Then if I new anchor charts up on our focus wall, they can use their Interactive Notebooks as a guide.

To help build my students' independence, I kept the weekly phonics and vocabulary activity the same. The only thing that changed was the new phonics patterns and new vocabulary words.

I made different activities to practice the skills found each week for all 4 areas.

 If you're interested in my notebooks, you can click on the pictures below. Units 2, 5 and 6 are coming shortly!


 I was also late posting my giveaway winner! So sorry!

Happy weekend!

Two for Tuesday ~ Phonics Games

Hi everyone! I'm linking up with Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher for 2 for Tuesday! It's a great day to stock up for upcoming school year since these are only $2!

I've got two of my favorite resources for you guys today.

I have just revised one of my students' favorite phonics games, the Magic E game. I love using games with my students in small groups and as an independent center. This game is perfect if you have students who struggle to read words like can and cane. I have included 32 pairs of words like this. To make this multi-purpose in my classroom, I've also included sorting header cards and a recording sheet.

I'm also marking down my Touch Point Math Posters to $2. Using touch points has been a life saver for some of my students who really struggled with fact fluency! I keep these posters up all year long, and many of my students refer to them frequently.

Make sure you check out some of the other awesome $2 for Tuesday deals!

Back 2 School Giveaways

It's getting that time of year where all teachers are prepping for back to school. For me, that means I'm spending so much money in my classroom. But to help you out, the Owl-ways Be Inspired girls have joined together to help you out!

You can enter over at the Owl-ways Be Inspired {here} to win one of these!

But that's not all! While you're there, you can also stop by all of these blogs to enter and win some great stuff!

Before you do that, you'll want to enter here to win a $40 gift card to Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck!

Back to School Writing Freebie

Today, I'm blogging over at Owl-ways Be Inspired with a great freebie for you! 

If you're like me and have been scouring every Target's Dollar spot section, this freebie will be perfect for you!

Click {here} to stop by and get your freebie!

Visual Classroom Management Freebies for Back to School

I can't believe back-to-school time is coming up so quickly! I've been thinking about my classroom decor and decided to go a little different route this year. I want to try and use as many actual photos as possible to make things super clear for my students and help with explicitly teaching classroom procedures.

I've made some new visual posters and wanted to share them with all of you.

My first change was with my class rules posters. I have used a modified version of the Whole Brain Teaching rules for the last several years.

I also wanted explicit Voice Level posters for my students.

If you haven't checked out A Day in First Grade's blog post about her morning meeting, it's a must read {here}. I loved how she gave her students three choices for sitting on the carpet. Last year, I had a lot of students who didn't want to sit criss-cross applesauce. I think my students will be much happier with these options.

If you're interested in any of these visuals, you can download them all below for free by clicking on the pictures!

I hope these are helpful in your classrooms!