Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Spin on Differentiated Instruction

I'm teaming up again for with the Bright Ideas teachers for another Bright Idea Link Up.  This time it's all about spinners and how you can use this simple tool to differentiated your instruction quickly and easily.   

Spinners!  One of the best tools for differentiating around.  Really! I'm not just pulling your leg.  At any given time, I can guarantee you that there is 3-4 activities available in my classroom for students to utilize that involve the use of a spinner of one kind or another.

Students love using them (Engaging!!!) and they are easy to use.  Better yet, if you use them like I do, they can be easily used to tier an activity so simply and quickly that differentiating becomes painless.  I promise!

Let me show you.  First of all, you need to set up your spinners so that they are user friendly.  And by user friendly I mean that you can change out the 'spinner card or data' quickly and easily.  .  . so easy that any kindergartener could do it.

How do you do that?  Get your basic transparent spinner and tape it using invisible tape to the top of a CD case.  

Now your CD spinner is ready to go. 

Now for the differentiating part.  When I select an activity, it is always my goal to be able to meet my students at their own readiness level and not just to aim for the middle and hope for the best.

These three spinner cards are an example of one way I can make this happen. I use them in an Easter bump activity, but by replacing an addition spinner for a subtraction spinner or a mixed operations spinner, I can completely differentiate the activity to cover different skills for different groups.  By changing out a 0-5 addition for a 0-10 addition spinner, I can quickly make a game a bit more interesting for students who are ready for that challenge or vice versa. 

This mixed addition spinner may be just right for one group of students but too challenging for the next group with whom I will be working.

Presto chango . . . by changing the spinner card to a subtraction from 5 card, I can quickly assure that the activity will be neither too challenging nor too easy for my next group of students.

This system is so easy that even my kinders can change these out to differentiate their own literacy and math stations.  No paperclips and brads to mess with, no plastic spinners to put together or to tape and retape, simply change out the card.  Spinners are versatile and cheap.  Definitely one of the BEST tools for differentiating around. I use them for math, literacy, making words, writing activities . . . you name it and I can find a way to use a spinner with it.  So there you have it  . . . my Bright Idea for April.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

More Differentiated Word Family Word Work With CVCe Words and a Giveaway!

There's a new addition to the family!  The Word Family Word Work Galore family now includes CVCe long vowel word families.

And the first of many bundles is the Long A CVCe Bundle (also available individually).

Like the original Short Vowel Word Families, these new sets include many familiar features and a TON of NEW activities and extra fun items.

My entire goal with making Word Families originally was to offer other teachers my weekly schedule and plan for introducing word families.  My personal goal for these units has always been to provide my kindergarteners with developmentally appropriate and engaging activities that would give them TONS of practice with these 'oh so important' word families.  After they have that practice, I wanted to have consistent and familiar printables that they could use to show they're mastery.  The short vowel word set has been such a great resource for me that I also have started a CVCe for long vowels.

I always start out each week by making words with large placards.  I love it and they love it because it's a great interactive, kinesthetic activity to get them thinking about their new word family.  Students who aren't holding the placards, are recording the new words in that week's word family on their recording sheet. 

Just print, cut them apart and have your kinders record the words they make.

Once the placards are used, the word family goes on my wall.  This is the focus wall for word work in my classroom.  It never ceases to amaze me how much my students use this wall as a reference for writing and for completing so many of their word work activities.  My Ball Words (sight words) are placed under my letter cards, and I put my word family words above those.

I also place a set of these words in my writing center for quick, grab and go reference if a students needs them.

There is a set of sorting cards for each family as well.  Before my students use these independently, I always introduce the words and pictures in my small reading groups during Daily 5.  Some students need more reinforcement than others, so some will get to practice these words in different ways several times before I expect them to work with them on their own.  Other students need just a quick introduction and are ready to go.

I always want the activities to be fun and engaging so that my students look forward to each new word.  Paint color chips are a great way to have students practice writing the letter for each box.  

And sorting the pictures by family using my 'Mr. Munchie Mouth' is always always always a classroom favorite.  (Of course, I give him a special voice, he sometimes burps when he gets an especially tasty word family word or sometimes he may even try to nibble their hand a bit when they feed him . . . it's fun  . . . it's kindergarten . . . it needs to be engaging.

One of my new activities I have included in these word families is a Word Family Story.  Students can either read the story independently, or you can read the story with them.  Then on their own, I have them highlight all the word family words in the story, count them up and record that number at the top.  Then, because I have several differentiated versions of this activity, they complete an activity on the bottom of the page.  They might unscramble a sentence and write  it or answer a question about the story depending on their readiness level.  

There is also a write the room activity for each word family.  These are, as well, differentiated so that students can merely write the word, write the beginning sounds of the word family or finish a sentence and read their sentence to a friend upon completion.  I love that all my students get the opportunity to write the room . . . get up and move . . . and yet, complete an activity that is right at their level of ability rather than having it be too difficult or too easy for some and only 'just right' for a few.
Independent practice also means that they can use interesting materials in meaningful ways to produce their word family words.  And because this activity is self-correcting, they get immediate feedback as to whether they are doing it correctly or not.

These self-correcting mats are very versatile.  You can use them with letter beads . . .

 . . . play-doh stampers . . .

 . . . or magnets . . .  the idea is to get a ton of practice . . . so these are great additions to add my Work with Word Stations in Daily 5.

My kinder friends also always enjoy making their words with letter links as well.  They like that it's something different . . . I like that it is developmentally appropriate and kinesthetic while giving them that extra reinforcement and familiarity with these new words and their spelling.

For times when you want to add a homework piece or morning work piece to for these families, each package  also includes an interactive and differentiated word family slide printable . . .

 . . . a differentiated Say, Make and Write printable . . .

. . . a differentiated I-Spy printable . . .
 . . . and a differentiated Color, Count and Write printable. 

Once students have a couple of word families under their belts, I have a few extra pieces that I have included in each set that will help with sorting between families.

These include games and several printables that will help you extend your word work study.

Of course, if you would like to learn more about these word family packets just click on any of the pictures here.

And if you would like to learn about my Short Vowel Word Families just click on the picture below.  

And by the way, I'm giving two of these bundles away, all you have to do is leave a comment below before I wake up Wednesday morning or for a second chance to win, leave a comment on my Facebook post.  Just click the link below to find it.  Don't forget to leave your email address.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Into Differentiated Word Work

Even though there’s still feet upon more feet of snow in Northern Michigan, I’m determined to come back from Spring Break to SPRING, even if it’s just in my classroom. 
Here's what I'm using to get that Springy feeling into my word work.

My goal for these stations is to provide my kinder friends with a ton of practice on skills they are either beginning to master, have mastered or have mastered and need more challenge.  This is why they are differentiated.  This is also why they are very interactive and hands-on.  The need lots and lots of practice for these skills to stick and before I hand them a response sheet.   There are 20 (I know I got a little carried away) different stations and, while I just can't show you all of them, I thought I would give you a sample.

Flower Digraph Sounds Sensory Table Fun.

If you read my blog, you know I love all things that give my kids a reason to play  work in the sensory table.  I know many of you don't have the luxury of a sensory table, and I don't want you to get discouraged by that. Just grab a lower sided container of some kind and fill it with something fun.  I am actually going to be changing mine out with Easter grass here petty quickly, but for now its neon noodles.

There are a couple of ways you can use these Flower Digraph Sounds Sorting cards.  I like to hide them in my sensory table and have my students sort them into cute little buckets (or little Terracotta pots-I couldn't find mine for the life of me when I was setting up my stations so I'm out to get some more before I get back).  

Flower Digraph Sounds Sort

Of course, if you absolutely can not have anything remotely similar to a sensory table or tub, you can always spread these digraph flower cards on a table or better yet the floor and let them sort them there.  Anything to get them moving and out of a chair. 

Flower Digraph Sounds Sort

Once they have had lots of practice, then, of course, they can take and work on some of the extra practice sheets included in this set.
Flower Digraph Sounds Sort

My students love any kind of BUMP game I can come up with and so I always have a game in my Word Work AND math stations.  Because I have a bunch of students who have already mastered all 220 Dolch sight words, I created three different kinds of Bump games this time around.  All three of them are editable by the way so you can add your own words if you prefer.  

Springtime Digraph Bump-Editable

I'll use this digraph one for students who have mastered their sight words.
Springtime Sight Word Bump-Editable

This sight word one for my students who are still working on their ball words.  I can make 11 different levels easily because it's editable.  (Differentiating BONUS!!!!)

Springtime Blends Bump - Editable

And this blend one is another one that my high fliers will be using.  

Springtime Segmenting - Self-Correcting and Independent.

Yes, I still have kids that need a great deal of practice, daily practice, hands on practice that lets them move with segmenting.  This one is self-correcting and independent.  (Independent is my favorite word in kindergarten.)  Giving them something seasonal and fun to use as the segmenting manipulative will make this activity even more engaging.  So I found some flower foam beads that I had laying around that we will use to mark the number of sounds in each word.  But, of course, you can use snap cubes or buttons too.
Springtime Segmenting Fun -Independent and Self-correcting

So they look at the picture, move a flower into a box to represent each sound in the word, then open the card to see if you got it correct.  Easy peasy and they LOVE it.

Spring Critters Write the Room Fun

My favorite kinesthetic activity hands down is always a good ol' fashioned Write the Room Activity.  This one needed to be differentiated because the readiness levels in my class are so extreme, but I know that all my kids LOVE to write the room.  So I couldn't do one that would only be 'just right' for a small group of students.  So look at all the response sheet options I have for this activity.  There are two different sets of cards to post and a bunch of response sheets for each set of cards. 

Spring Critters Write the Room Fun

I will definitely be able to extend this activity for many uses.

Blooming Blends -  Self-Correcting and Independent and Differentiated
I have students who are rock stars at blending and others still getting their feet wet.  These Blooming Blends activities are perfect for them to practice what they know at their level.  For students who really just need to get those first sounds, I have a mat that lets them use magnets and then write the blends.  For students who have expanded beyond that and need a greater challenge.  
Self-Correcting and Independent and Differentiated
They can write the entire word.

They can write the entire word.

Springy Mixed Up Sentences

Mixed up sentences give them lots of practice with reading.  It's a favorite of my students. They love feeling the accomplishment of know those familiar words, and when they can put them together to make a sentence . . . BONUS feeling of success!!!  So I have a set a easier sentences for my kiddos who are still learning and another set for my other kiddos along with a couple of different response sheets.

Flower Power Pocket Chart Game

Flower Power is a fun game that reinforces rhyming and helps my students identify words that are in the same word family.  Students hide two flowers behind 2 rhyming words.

Flower Power Pocket Chart Game

In the meantime, the other students have hidden their eyes and now have to choose 2 rhyming words that they think the flowers are hidden behind.  

Flower Power Pairs-Match and Record Rhyming Fun
This is also an activity that I will be placing in a sensory table for my students to sort and match up rhyming words.    

Flower Power Response Sheets
After they have practice this activity several times, I have several different response sheets that I can choose from in order to extend my students' learning at their own readiness level.

Signs of Spring Sight Word Linking Fun

There are seriously a TON more items in this packet.  I always have letter cards in my word work packets because I always have move in kiddos that are not fluent with letters, but also because I like to use these letter cards to give my other kids another way to practice making/spelling their sight words.

Signs of Spring Sight Word Linking Fun

Another hands-on, engaging way for my kinder friends to practice their words.  They love using these links this way and I love that they are sooooo engaged when they are doing it.

Ok so that's a little taste of what is including in this set.  It's huge.  There are some editable pieces, some black/white pieces, self-correcting, kinesthetic, hands-on and definitely differentiated activities to keep my students thinking 'SPRING is COMING.'

You can get this pack up on sale this weekend during my spring cleaning sale.  Actually, you can pick up ANY of my items this weekend on sale during the sale.  So if you'd like to see more on this pack, click on any of the pictures above and you can see all the other items included.

And in the meantime . . . THINK SPRING!!!!


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