Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why I Tore Down My Word Wall {& a freebie}

Hey There!

Today I have to speak from my teacher heart.

It might be controversial.

You might disagree.  

I might be wrong.                                           

Word walls. You know the kind with a bank of sight words.

If you are a K-2 teacher, I bet you have one.

Me too, I mean, had a word wall.

You see, last year I ripped mine off the wall.

In theory, word walls sound very effective to me. You introduce a few new words. You practice the new sight words. Then after a week or so you slap those puppies up on the word wall for your student’s reference for the remainder of the school year.  

Students will work the word wall. They can play I spy or word detective games. They will constantly be exposed to the print and the words will seep into their brains. While independently writing their little brains will be capable of spelling those tricky words (they, said, want...) because they will just remember it is a sight word and look at the word wall.

In theory, this is why I have had a word wall for years and years and years.

Then last year I ripped it off my wall.

Say what?

I decided to put a portable word wall on EVERYTHING!

I had previously made a list of sight words organized in alphabetical order for my students. 

I had mounted a copy on my students’ writing folders.

Click the picture to see more! 

I had them glued to the back of their homework folders. 

Editable Homework Newsletters and Folders (click picture)

But we needed more!

So I mounted on construction paper, laminated, and taped the mini word wall onto my students’ tables.

I placed multiple copies at my writing center.

I created monthly hidden sight word games for them to interact with at the word work center.

Monthly Hidden Sight Words~ Click the picture to see more info! 

Basically, mini word walls here, mini word walls there, mini word walls everywhere!

Here is what I have noticed: 
My students are more frequently looking at their word wall.  While they are writing and stuck on a word, they are more frequently stopping to search for the high frequency word they need. 

I am not sure what the difference is? My only guess it that having the list taped down to their tables is SO MUCH EASIER for them to look at than looking across the room? Or maybe it is that they see the laminated mini word wall on their desk ALL.DAY.LONG?? 

What ever it is, I am thankful they are finally using their word wall to spell those tricky words. :) 

So there you have it, if I have my way I will never take up precious wall space again for a giant word wall that no one gives any love. 

If you like this "mini word wall" you can download it for FREE by clicking the picture! 

I'd love to hear any comments you have on word walls. Do you have one? Do you have any amazing strategies you have found to help your students learn those darn sight words? 

Thanks for reading :) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

12 Books of Christmas Giveaway!

Hey There! 

I am Christina from Mrs. Winter's Bliss. I have been teaching 1st grade for 20 years...WAIT, what? How did that happen? I cannot be THAT OLD! Anyway, I am excited to be linking up with 11 other amazing bloggers to share some of our favorite holiday books and FREEBIES with you! 

Along with the freebies for each book, we are also giving away a copy of each book. Make sure to read through to the end of the post to grab the freebies and a chance to WIN ALL 12 books! 

I chose to share the book Junie B. First Grader Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.) by Barbara Park. 

If you are like me and my 1st graders you already know what a hilarious and relatable character Junie B. is to us. This book is no exception! 

It’s holiday time, and Room One is doing lots of fun things to celebrate. When everyone picks names for Secret Santa, Junie B. gets stuck with Tattletale May! Junie B. thinks maybe, just maybe, a Secret Santa gift is the perfect opportunity to give May exactly what she deserves. This book has a sweet kindness message at the end.

My freebie is a packet of text dependent comprehension questions. I use them with my small group“independent” readers who are ready to dig deeper into what they are reading. Junie B. Jones Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.) 2.5 (DRA 24) reading level.

There are 2 text dependent questions for students to provide a written response for each chapter. Also included are character analysis graphic organizers. 

When I meet with my small group I have them bring their book and reading response sheet from the previous chapter they completed independently.

First, we discuss the main events of what they read and each child shares their responses to the comprehension questions assigned previously.  I give my students time to comment or question other student’s responses in the group.

Next, we preview vocabulary words in context to clarify meaning before they read independently.

I highlight the vocabulary words in the books so students can easily find them while we preview AND so students recall them as a word we discussed while reading independently. 

Last, each child reads the chapter and completes responses independently before our group meets again.

My students greatly enjoy the independence, have continued or ignited their love of reading, have become much better at writing responses to text dependent comprehension questions, and can better communicate their thinking with other students.

Of course you could use these response sheets to practice the rigorous text based written responses after reading aloud the book to your whole class, or as homework for individual students. 

You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking the picture or {here}! 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop onto see my friends, Angela and Kelley over at Glyph Girls, don't forget to grab my number! Each blogger will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all the numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below!

Good luck, happy hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway