Sight Word Strategies

I'm joining my Weekend Warrior friends to share how I tackle sight words in my classroom!

Long ago our school received training from "From L-to-J" and we began using it with sight words.  We weren't totally convinced about the approach.  It wasn't until last year when I moved down to first grade from second grade, that I began to explore how I could use what I learned to help get my kids reading and ready for second grade.  I knew sight words would be the key.

So I set out my plan.  I was going to get my kids to learn how to write the first 100 Fry's words in first grade.  I planned on doing this with parent support at home.  I sent out a letter and let parents know that we would be focussing on learning how to write our sight words and that would help their child become better readers and writers!  Parents were extremely accepting and excited about this idea!  Instead of doing traditional spelling tests, I would select 10 words at random from the 100 sight words.  The words are written on popsicle sticks and I select the words during the actual test.  The kids get really excited when a word they know comes up.

At first it was kind of scary.  Almost the entire class failed the tests.  We had lots of talks about how this is going to be difficult but that at the end of the year they would learn all their sight words.

I will admit that around November last year, I was really nervous and worried that I had made a mistake.  But I decided to stick with it till the December and then re-evaluate.  Well, around December most of my class was scoring 60% and above on their tests.  This was huge! That meant that on average my class knew how to spell at least 60% of those 100 sight words.  My kids were seeing their sight words everywhere! They kept pointing them out in all the books they were reading.  Parents noticed a huge difference in their child's reading at home!  What I was most thrilled about was the writing aspect.  My first graders were happily writing during writers workshop. Their ideas flowed without problems because they weren't stuck on those sight words. By the end of the year most of the class scored 80-100% on these tests.  Many scoring 100% repeatedly!

I posted about this on Instagram and got so many questions about these tests.  I wanted to share some of them here with you:

1. Does my school support this?
It was an idea pushed by our admin a few years back :-) We have new admin now, and I ran the results of this by my principal and she loved the idea.

2. Do I have to follow a reading program?
Yes, we follow the Journeys program.  This sight word spelling doesn't affect our phonics instruction in any way.

3. Do I teach phonetic spelling?
Yes, I do two rounds of phonetic instruction that includes spelling every day.  Once during interventions using a program called SIPPS and again during my reading core time.  I also like to focus many lessons on invented/phonetic spelling in our writer's workshop time.

4. Did all your students do well with this?
A few children needed modifications.  I would test them on the first 25 words for a quarter instead of all 100 words. I then gradually expanded the list so it wasn't so overwhelming.  I found a different time to test those children.

5. How do children practice when they don't know which words will be on the test?
This is a huge aspect with the L-to-J theory.  The thought behind this is that when children have a list to study (let's say all ea, ee words) they just memorize those words for that week and most of the children forget them the week after when you move onto the next spelling pattern. The trainer referred to this as "Permission to forget" so when the children don't know what words are going to be on the test, they have to practice all the words.

I suggest to parents that their child practice between 5-10 words per day.  Practicing all 100 words every day would probably be overwhelming for any child.  I suggest different ways to practice that might be more fun than just flashcards.  I also correct the words on each test so that the children can use those words to practice.  Since they know that those words can be pulled again on any upcoming test, they actually practice them.  I send this letter to parents at the beginning of the year, I also mention it during meet the teacher and parent conferences.

6. Where is the list kept?
I put them in a page protector inside every child's homework folder so that they can't be lost.  Last year I handed them out and they got lost within the first week.  I ended up taping them onto the back of their folders.  This year, I made sure to purchase folders with prongs.  Much easier!  The kids have access to them during writing time and have them at home every day.

Do you have any sight word tips and tricks that you count on? Please grab the button below and link up with us!


Five for Friday September 25, 2015

It's time for some Five for Friday fun! 

 1. I was strolling along at Barnes and Nobel and found a new Pete book and... it was SIGNED!  Only one of them was signed and it was buried at the bottom of a pile.  This is one time I'm happy to be a type A person that checks every book cover to find the most perfect one LOL!

2. Sheet protectors are like magic!  I gave my kids some math facts in a sheet protector and they suddenly wanted to practice their math facts! They said that they loved erasing the facts at the end.  Only children would get joy out of erasing their hard work ;-)

 3. I'm obsessed with my new Origami Owl key chain!  My friend Cassandra @Mrs. 3rd Grade made this happen!  I wanted to have something in it that represented different aspects of my life.  I didn't know how to incorporate my Blog/TpT life and the super creative Jennifer @Blessed Teacher had the brilliant idea to engrave my name onto a back plate! I LOVE it!

4. I was putting together this substitute handbook flip book and found this little nugget in my crafting stash!  It's called a bone folder and it helps you make the most perfect creases.  If you are a nut about this kind of stuff, you will love having one!  You can find them at craft stores :-)  This one in particular is made by Martha Stewart and I picked it up at Michael's.

5. The other day I felt like having a smoothie and I remembered I had this little card right here:
McDonald's was giving them out on Teacher Appreciation Day, unfortunately I don't think they are being given out across the country. I sure hope they do so one day!

Make sure to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching!


Five for Friday - September 11, 2015

I'm back with a little recap ;-)

1. I haven't been the best with blogging this year, so I was very proud of myself when I was actually able to get my classroom tour up and I even linked up for #2getherwearebetter with Ashley and Angie, and Blog Hoppin'!
2. My kids were not drinking much water so I decided to do something about that and picked up some of these bottles from The Dollar Tree and personalized them.  My kids adore them! They wear them wherever we go.  I made sure to grab the kind with a strap so prevent them from getting lost. They are drinking lots of water now and they even bring a little snack to school inside the hidden compartment underneath.
3.  I'm kind of obsessed with label making! I printed up a bunch of labels from THIS SET to have them ready to go.  They sure are coming in handy :-)
4.  Target saved the day! I ran out and bought lots of folders for next year at 50% off. I know they clearance them out much cheaper later on, but last year I  waited a little too long and didn't get a chance to grab anything :-( This year I jumped on it.
5.  Meet Lola! A niece of a friend found this little one roaming the street by herself :-0 They were looking for a home for her and I just couldn't say no!! She got her check up and the vet says she is one healthy, happy little Chihuahua weighing in a 1.2 pounds :-) We LOVE her! She loves to snuggle and hops around the house.
Today being September 11th, I am going to be talking to my firsties about 9/11.  How do you approach the topic?  I talk about it in first grade terms and then talk about our real life heroes.  I'll be using this September 11th book by Creativity to the Core.

  What have you been up to? Make sure to link up for Five for Friday and share your week's happenings!


IKEA Bookcase Turned Bench

I have always wanted a cute reading bench in my classroom but never had the room for it. I decided to tackle that this week and finally make room!
 We got the Kallax shelves from Ikea and some cheap pillows!

My husband assembled everything and I put it in the perfect spot:
Threw the pillows on it and it was just perfect!

I added my book bucks and I'm just in love! The kids love sitting here.
The buckets are from the Dollar Tree and the labels can be found HERE.

I moved my room and was worried I wouldn't be able to fit my bench somewhere. Where there's a will, there's a way :-) This is what it looks like in my new classroom:

My only wish was that I could have found the five cubby shelves instead, but at that point in time they were not manufactured by IKEA. I believe they have since brought them back though!
I would love to one day make a corner bench but I definitely don't have the space for that right now. Maybe one day :-)

Classroom Tour {2015-2016}

One of my favorite things I like to do is browse other teachers' classrooms!  In person, or online, it's all the same to me! I just love to do it!  I'm linking up with Ashley and Angie for #2getherwearebetter and with Blog Hoppin' for a classroom reveal- Melonheadz style!

Last year I went with a woodland theme and this year I went with a kidlette theme.  I'm loving our classroom and most importantly, the kids are loving our room! 

Warning...I got a little camera happy :-)

Let's start with a view from the entry way.  If you were to walk into my room, this is what you would see. 

Let's zoom to north wall and take a peek at my library.
I redid my bin labels to help my kids put their books back where they belong.  I love these bookshelves so much! My bestie passed them on to me when she moved to a different school.  I love to display books by our author of the month on the top ledge.

Link to bin labels HERE

This year I redid my author of the month wall.  First of all I cut out my title using my Cricut.  I then added a large poster from A Year of Many Firsts. The books I'm displaying on the wall, are the actual books! I just stuck some push pins into the wall and displayed the actual books we are reading.  If you take a look to the side you see pigeon holding a book by our author of the month :-) I switch his book out each month.  To learn more about how this works, click HERE.
Link to Author Poster HERE

I'll zoom out again to view the entire library area.

This is one of my favorite new additions to our classroom! I went to Ikea and picked up two of these bookcases.  I turned the long one on it's side to create this reading bench!  The pillows also came from Ikea.  I then picked up these white buckets from The Dollar Tree and stuck some labels on them.  My kids get so excited to read on the special bench!
Link to these labels HERE

Let's talk some more about these posters! Everyone that walks into my room points them out right away.  I wanted posters that I could refer to all the time and that would be large enough for my kids to see from any angle in the room. Mission accomplished! I added a title, some chevron accents created with my Cricut, and some flower pom pons and I was good to go!

Link to Posters HERE

If you look at the top of the last picture you will see my READ marquee letters.  It only took driving around to 6 different Joann's to find that letter A.  They add so much to my library.  The best thing about them is that they are battery powered so I don't have to deal with any cords!

And this is what they look like when it's dark.

 Now a view from my desk to my east wall. Yes, I have tons of cabinetry! And yes, each and every cabinet is jam packed after teaching for nearly a decade.  My mission this year is to give lots of it away so that I can actually take advantage of having so much storage. My husband is making a cameo appearance while he is supposedly "hiding from the camera" :-)

We are not supposed to put anything on our cabinets, but I COULD not help myself and used them as my word wall.
Link to Word Wall Headers HERE

Here is the rest of the cabinet wall.

All the way to the left you will see my student mailboxes.  I use these to store student work.  Once a week I send home a week's worth of work.  So far I'm noticing that more parents are getting to see their child's work this way.  In the past I've seen that my kids have work from weeks ago in their backpacks!  I was looking for a solution and this seems to have done the trick.  I also put a folder at the bottom of each drawer to help me build an ongoing portfolio.  Now whenever a last minute meetings pops up, I can pull the portfolio and have lots of student work for the meeting. These will also come in handy for parent conference.  Next to the mailboxes you will find my paper trimmer, hold puncher, tape dispenser, and pencil sharpener. It's my little command center.

Link to Mailbox Labels HERE

Next you will find more kidlettes :-) The small tower holds my commonly used items.  The toolbox holds items that would typically be found in a desk and on the far right you see my weekly drawers.  In the weekly drawers I like to store my copies for the week.  Whenever I don't have time to get to something, I place  it in the sub bin so that I don't have to make copies for a sub.  Do you see my awesome lamps? I found them last year at Walmart. 
Link to Melonheadz Labels HERE

Here you see the right side of the countertop.  There is something so beautiful about seeing a whole row of book bins!  I just wish they were black! My students use them during read to self time.

All the way at the end of the row of book bins is where I keep my subject drawer bin.  In this bin I keep my copies that I make ahead of time and organize them by subject.  That way I can copy a few weeks ahead of time and have a place to keep all those copies until I'm ready to move them to my current week's bin.

Link to labels HERE

I'm not one to waste space, so I put up my classroom rules right by the door.  It's a great way to review the rules every day when we are getting in line and it's located by my clip chart.
Link to rules HERE

 From my desk looking forward.
From here you can see my whiteboard and more displays.

To the far right you can see my student display board.  I got this chalkboard paper from Joann's and hot glued some pink bows onto clothespins.  The clothes pins were just clipped onto the paper. On the small board to the left is our Instagram photo display.  I'm planning on putting my student's pictures in the squares! What a creative idea from Ashley!
Link to Instagram Display HERE

Next to the student work display you will see our objectives board.  We are required to always display our objectives.  Last year I displayed them using scrapbook paper.  After I saw the way that A Cupcake for the Teacher displayed my headers and Debbie Crocket's posters, I decided to make the switch to rings.  I put my week's objectives on the rings and all I have to do is flip them throughout the week to find the day's objectives. You can see a video of that below the next picture. Above my objectives you can see this beautiful alphabet by Ladybug's Teacher Files! I love the brights on black!

Link to Alphabet HERE
Link to my editable Objectives Kit HERE
Link to Common Core Posters HERE

All the way to the left side of the wall is where I placed our clip chart.  The title was created with my Cricut.
Link to clip chart HERE
 A view from my desk to the entry way.

A view from the north wall to the entry way.

Another angle of my west wall.  This is where my Smartboard is located.  This amazing carpet was also given to me by my bestie. I picked up those little stars around the board from Target.

Looking over to the left of the Smartboard you can see the grammar wall.  I am loving these banners by Amy Groesbeck.  They add a little something to my bulletin boards!
Link to Banners HERE
Link to Grammar Wall HERE

On the other side of the Smartboard you can see our schedule and our math wall.  The math practices still need a title, so please ignore that blank space above them :-)
Link to Schedule HERE
Link to Calendar Freebie HERE
Link to Mathematical Practices HERE

So that is a peek at my room!

Have you linked up for #2getherwearebetter and Blog Hoppin'? Make sure to check out all the awesome classrooms today and link up your own reveal!

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