Guided Reading: Think you’ve seen it all? Check out these FREEBIES!!

LOVE Genia Connell’s post Guided Reading Organization Made Easy!  Check out the pics and video below.  Want to see more?  Find a Universal Lesson Plan template, free binder cover, and book organization materials on her post- click here!

Great idea for collecting student work!  

Maybe take pics once the work is complete to upload and save!

For observing and noting student behaviors…


Click the pic below to get the indicators A -Z for FREE!!!


Do you have materials and ideas you’d like to share?  Leave a note below!



Mastery Teaching! Start Where Your Students Are

If we want our students to succeed, we cannot afford to leave to chance what happens when they do not learn.

How to Support Struggling Students (Jackson & Lambert, 2010)

As a continuation of my post on The Seven Principles of Mastery Teaching, we will look more closely at the first principle, start where your students are.


When determining the competencies students bring with them to the classroom, we usually tend to focus on academic performance.  Beyond that, we also may explore their background and culture.  Although this information is valuable and necessary, there are some other noncognitive characteristics that can provide insight into student potential and possible success.

In the book, Beyond the Big Test by William Sedlacek (2004), eight attributes are defined as predictors of future success that may not be typically looked at when determining where students are.

1.  Positive self-concept: leads to the determination to succeed

2.  Realistic self-apprasial: accurate assessment of strengths and weaknesses

3.  Successful navigation of the system: accessing resources to achieve goals

4.  Preference for long-term goals:  setting and achieving goals and persevering in spite of obstacles

5.  Availability of a strong support person:  particularly in times of crisis

6.  Leadership experience:  ability to organize and influence others

7.  Community Involvement:  any type of a community (group)

8.  Knowledge acquired about a field:  a particular field of study (or subject)

Some of these competencies are more relevant as students progress through grade levels, but do allow us to notice, value, and build upon  characteristics that usually go unrecognized.   More importantly, being aware of these strengths and informing students of them can offer an open door to challenge students in areas in addition to academic performance.  For students who struggle academically, here are areas where they may be able to succeed, and that feeling of success and achievement could positively impact their academic performance in the long run!

Want to read more?  Here is Sedlacek’s book!


Food for thought,


The STATIC-FREE Classroom!!

 NEVER put static labels on students…and NEVER EVER create static groups!!

The DIY RTI classroom must be a dynamic  space where flexibility is the rule rather than the exception.1111

Let’s compare the definitions of static and dynamic.

Static:  Having no motion; being at rest; quiescent.   Fixed; stationary.  Social characteristic of  a society that has reached a state of equilibrium so that no changes are taking place.

Wow…sound like any classroom you’ve ever seen??  Me either!!  No changes taking place must also refer to growth right??  What an awful disservice to children everywhere!

Dynamic:  Of or relation to energy or objects in motion.  Marked by intensity and vigor.  Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress.   From the Greek dunamikos meaning powerful. 

Need I say more??

The performance of your students will vary continuously by skill, subject, and even by days at times.  You must create a dynamic environment that is flexible and changes according to the needs of your students.

Long gone are the days of the Redbirds, Bluebirds, and Yellowbirds grouping. Flexible grouping allows your students to be appropriately challenged and reduces the chance that you may label students’ ability or potential. It is vital that you permit movement between your groups and especially across subject areas. Just because a student may be below-level in Reading, doesn’t necessarily mean the same will be true for Math or other subjects. Remember students talents or personal interests can have a huge effect on their readiness to learn something.

Even your above-level students can benefit from flexible grouping. Just as they can profit from working with their intellectual peers, they can also gain experience from acting as a leader in a mixed group. Peer tutoring is a beneficial strategy in any classroom.

So keep those definitions in mind when you are tempted to take wide path, which is definitely easier, but detrimental to those minds that rely on you to do what’s best for them!

Happy grouping!!

How do I organize my classroom for small groups??

Well that’s a loaded question…but let’s start with some basics!

First and foremost…you MUST have your table in an area where you see the ENTIRE classroom….all the little nooks and crannies where students will be working in their centers.  This way students will know that although you are imageworking with your group, you are also being mindful of what THEY are doing!

Next, in your area around your table you MUST make and keep it organized!  When you only have 15-20 minutes for each group, the last thing you need to spend time doing is looking around, or moving around the  classroom to get your materials.  No time for that!!

Make sure you have a place to hang or place anchor charts for students to be able to refer to as they are working.

You MUST have a sign, special hat, or symbol to remind students NOT to disturb you while you are working with a imagegroup…unless they are bleeding or the building is on fire.  This will also require you to have a procedure in place for students to do when they have a problem in their center.  This may be the “Ask three before me”, or center captains who will help with computer or other issues they may come accross.  Aslo for behavior issues, have alternative seatwork for any students you have to tell to leave a center.

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and create some form of a center chart that will show where each students will go each day ahead of time.  Even if students are choosing (which does improve motivation) let them choose before starting your groups.

Have some to add?  Leave a comment below!!


6 Ways to Ensure Quality Literacy Instruction

One of the main requirements of RTI is effective core instruction.  Think about it, if students are not getting effective Tier 1 instruction   more students may qualify for Tier 2 than really need it!   So how do you ensure your reading  instruction is quality?

Richard Allington is an extensive researcher and RTI guru.  In his article, What I’ve learned about Effective Reading Instruction from a Decade of Studying Exemplary Elementary Classroom Teachers  (2002, Phi Delta Kappan), Allington discusses the results of hundreds of classroom observations and interviews with teachers and students.  From this he found common features of  what exemplary literacy instruction looks like.  He summarizes his findings in what he calls  the 6 T’s of Effective Literacy Instruction.Book-Suggestions-from-GoneReading

They are…

  • TIME:  For at least half of the school day, students are actually reading and writing- a 50/50 ratio to other activities.
  • TEXTS:  Students needs a rich supply of books on their independent reading level, citing the motivation for reading was dramatically influenced by reading success.
  • TEACHING:  Active instruction…modeling and demonstration.
  • TALK:  Student  questioning/talk that is purposeful and problem-solving between teacher and students and among students.
  • TASKS:  More substantive and challenging project-based tasks that provide student choice.
  • TESTING:  Student work based more on effort and improvement than simply achievement.  Also, no test preparation!

Want to read the full article?  Click here What I’ve Learned About Effective Reading Instruction