Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reading & Writing Focus Cards and Fluency

As I ponder about where my little 2nd graders started this year and where they're at now...I think about how far along they have come as readers and writers.  They have all made some nice gains, but I want to refine my teaching practices and provide students with a little more guidance in helping them become even more independent learners.   As part of my role as a special education teacher and reading specialist in the regular ed classroom, I have been thinking about what more can I do to help my learners take on more responsibility and ownership of their reading and writing.  It dawned on me to provide them with more visual support and giving them just ONE goal to work on in writing and ONE  goal to work on in reading independently throughout every day.  This way students know what is expected of them and don't feel too overwhelmed by trying to remember all of the important things we do as readers and writers.  Soooo, I created several different writing and reading Strategy cards for students to have right at their desk every day whenever they are reading and writing.  I am so excited about getting these strategy cards up and running after spring break!  I think it's going to be a powerful tool and reminder to my students of how they can continue to work on and improve their work!  

Often times we try to hold our little young writers accountable for ALL of the conventions of writing, but for some, this almost seems like a foreign language to them to understand. Help your students become a better writer by helping them be responsible for just ONE area of writing at a time. Students will have their "Writing Focus Card" with them on their desk whenever they are writing. 

-capital letter
-finger space
-lowercase letters throughout
-punctuation mark
-known sight words spelled correctly 
**Laminate and velcro writing focus card on student's desk as a visual reminder of what they are responsible for every time they write!**

-make the first sound and look at pic
-use punctuation to make my voice sound interesting
-Check across the whole word to make it look right
-Reread when it doesn't look right or make sense

**Put these reading focus cards on popsicles sticks and use as bookmarks to help students remember to use the 1 reading strategy they need to focus on during independent reading***

There are several different styles of the strategy cards, so just pick on of your own personal taste!

***Create a Guided Writing Booklet for each student and use these pages back-to-back to help scaffold and build writing skills!***

Guided Writing Pages 

After you do your guided reading with your students, it’s helpful to have special guided writing strategies and focuses to work on too! I have created guided writing paper with a “Criteria for Success” at the bottom of the page so that students can check their work for conventions. Typically, I try to hold students accountable for their ONE “writing focus” from their writing focus card and then I will help with other parts of writing along the way. 

Choose the guided writing page that fits your style.  I have been using picture #2 all of this year, but I think I like the organizational structure of picture #1 better now. I am going to give this one a try too after spring break!  

Practice Pages

There are 2 pages you can choose from to use as a practice page. This is a great space for students to practice any letters they are having difficulty forming or any new words they are still working on. Often times I use this space for Elkonin boxes (sound boxes) to help students hear and record sounds in words before they write the words in their stories. Sound boxes are a critical piece in helping our beginning writers stretch words slowly and record the sounds they hear. With teacher guidance and support, students are able to write new words. Also this page is a great resource

for students who need visual reminders for vowel sounds, digraphs, and b/d confusions.

Choose the vowel/digraph that best fits your learners.  


Fluency Self-Reflection Rubric
Students will read a familiar book twice and reflect and their fluency skills and reading strategies (Use photo both or garageband to record timed reads to help students self-reflect on their rate, expression, and reading strategies!) 


-Reading Strategies

Then students will choose one area of reading fluency/strategies to work on in order to continue to improve their reading! 

This package is loaded with visual cues for our beginning readers and writers!

I'm always thinking about how I can help my students become more independent learners!  These reading and writing strategy cards, guided writing cues, and fluency self-reflection sheets remind students of their academic expectations with less teacher support!  I hope you find these visual cues helpful in your classrooms too!  I would love to hear how they are going in your classroom too!!  

Click here to get your very own reading & writing focus cards, guided writing paper and practice page, and reading fluency self-reflection rubric!

Spring break is finally here and I can't wait to get outta here!!!

1. VEGAS, VEGAS, VEGAS right after school on Friday with the hubby!
2. Enjoy the crazy, fun night life on the strip
3. Go see BEATLES Love show!
4. Watch the fountain light and water show at Belagio! It's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!
5. Play some GOLD FISH slot machines and some 3 card.
6. Enjoy some warm weather and get some sun on this pasty girl!
6. Come home and celebrate my birthday!
7. Spend time with family!
8. Go see a comedy show
9. Begin thinking about additional ways to strengthen my teaching practices! 
10. Get my first 5 mile run in before the SHAMROCK SHUFFLE in Chicago on April 7! : ) 

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1 comment:

  1. Caitlin,

    You have provided so much good information, strategies and more here in this excellent article! Thank you for taking the time to write it and incorporate quick, referral lists to make implementation so much easier for teachers.

    Your mention of the reading focus cards is very interesting, too. I have used these in my classroom with students of all ages. Finally, when several 8th graders came to me with reading challenges (ADHD, dyslexia and other issues), I decided to create a more permanent solution for them. That's when the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759) were "born" (in 1998) and are now available to parents, teachers and adults who are challenged readers.

    For busy teachers and parents, the customizable and sensory-appealing Reading Focus Cards can be just the tool to have handy for struggling readers of any age. For more information on these unique reading tools, I invite you to visit http://www.FocusandRead.com.

    Thank you again, Caitlin, for your great article here. Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the months ahead!

    Happy reading!

    Joan M. Brennan
    Brennan Innovators, LLC