Mrs. Thomas' Newsletter

October 2013

Important Information:


  • Tip(s) of the Month- When your child is stuck on a word ask him or her to try these things: think about what word would make sense (they may need to reread the sentence and think about it), spot the vowel, think about Vowel Town, chunk the word, and try the "vowel bump" (if they can remember how to do it...this strategy is hard for many of my younger students). The strategy that seems to help my students the most is "chunking." This involves having students cover up part of the word with their fingers. I have them cover up the last half of the word and read the first part. Then they cover up the first part of the word and read the last part. When they are able to solve both parts of the word, then I ask them to put it all together. Your child should know how to use this strategy, and may just need a reminder to try it when he or she is stuck on a word.
  • I continue to appreciate all of the support you give your child at home with his or her reading. Almost everything we do in life seems to revolve around reading. You are your child's most influential teacher so by modeling for them that reading is important, you are making a huge impact on their attitude and effort toward reading, which is one of the biggest factors toward improving reading skills.
  • We have babies in my room...sea monkey babies that is!! You may have heard your child come home and talk about the sea monkeys in my classroom. To go along with the jungle theme in my room, I decided to get a class pet that fit with my theme (yet was easy to take case of and not a distraction). So far we have three babies that have hatched and are waiting to see if there will be any more. The three sea monkeys we have are growing a little more every day! :)
  • Your child may be working in a different reading group as of November. At the end of 1st quarter, the classroom teachers turned in new reading levels for students. Miss Drake (the Teacher Associate) and I decided to regroup our students based upon these new levels so that students would be working on a level of text that would be "just right" for them. Your child may have been transferred to Miss Drake's class, or they might be working with a different group of students in my class. Some students were also released from Title IA Reading.
  • In November, students will be choosing new group names. For October (and for the purpose of this newsletter) the names of your child's group remained the same as last month. Remember to please ask me if your child cannot remember his or her group name.
  • It was great to meet many of you at parent teacher conferences! If you were unable to attend, I sent home a folder with your child so that you could know how he or she is doing. If you did not get the folder, please let me know so I can reprint the information for you.

Please scroll below to find the name of your child's group

Kindergarten- Fruit Loops & Lucky Charms

We worked on 1st quarter letter sounds this past month (m, n, p, b, v, f) and some 2nd quarter letter sounds (i, a). We also began working on 1st quarter sight words (in, of, see, to, and, a, I, the, like, am). In order to learn new letter sounds and sight words, we played various games and did hands-on activities in class. We also reviewed old letter sounds on a daily basis so that we would not forget them. During the month we continued to work on bubble gum stretching words in order to hear all sounds in a word and also practiced the ABC Point and Sing song for 1:1 letter correspondence. We read some sight word reader books during the month too. In the upcoming month I will be assessing students to see which letter sounds from Lists 2-4 that students need to practice. We will begin focusing on those letters only and then also continue working on sight words from Lists 1 and 2. We may begin using the Pathways to Reading program too.

1st- Zebras

Toward the end of the month our group transitioned from the Pathways to Reading program to the Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention program (F&P LLI). The reason why is that I felt the students were not learning phonics skills at a quick enough pace in order to reach the end of the year target of reading at a level H by May. Prior to this switch, we had worked on the Pathways to Reading phonics concepts of (-ck, c or k?, and -th) until the majority of the group reached mastery. We then focused on the digraphs (-sh and -ch). In the F&P LLI program, we started working on level C text. At the end of first quarter students should be able to read level C text independently. Currently, students are able to read level C text with instructional support, but are not yet independent. Some of the components of this new program will entail: rereading books (both at home and at school), phonics/word work, writing about reading, previewing books, reading a new book, discussing and revisiting the text, and completing a graphic organizer.

2nd- Blow Pops

Our group read books this month ranging from a level D to F. I found the level D text was too easy for students in this group, but level F was somewhat challenging for some students too. Level E text seemed to be the appropriate balance of text that was not too easy, yet not too hard. Students at this point of the year in 2nd grade should be reading at a Level I. This group is focusing heavily on self-monitoring while reading. We are trying to recognize when we do not know a word and then using a variety of strategies to solve it. I am encouraging students to: spot the vowel(s), use Vowel Town for support with difficult vowels in words, think about what word would make sense, and cover up suffixes to solve the base words first. Some of the phonics concepts we studied this past month were: -ile, -ide, consonant clusters, and silent e. We are also working on activating schema before reading, making predictions, recalling events in the story, and making text-text and text-self connections.

2nd- Skittles

Our group read books this month ranging from a level F to G. Level F text seemed to be the appropriate balance of text that was not too easy, yet not too hard. Students at this point of the year in 2nd grade should be reading at a Level I. This group is focusing on using a variety of decoding strategies to solve unknown words. I find that most students are only sounding out a word as the primary means for solving it. I am encouraging students to: spot the vowel(s), use Vowel Town for support with difficult vowels in words, think about what word would make sense, and cover up suffixes to solve the base words first. Some of the phonics concepts we studied this past month were: contractions, consonant clusters, digraphs, and silent e. We are also working on reading fluency, writing, activating schema before reading, making predictions, recalling events in the story, and making text-text and text-self connections.

3rd Grade- Blueberries

Our group worked on reading Level J books during the month. The target for third grade students at this point of the year would be to read Level M text. Students worked on reading accuracy throughout the month and became more proficient at self-monitoring while reading. Some of the phonics concepts we studied during word work were: consonant clusters, -ow, -ou, adding -ed endings to words, -thr, -ough, -dge, -ine, -ain, -ee, -ing, and -ile. Another major focus this month was reading comprehension. We worked on using text evidence to support answers and rereading text in order to find important details in the story that can help us make inferences. We also worked on writing about our reading and sequenced events in a story. Students in this group are also receiving computer instruction with the Edmark Reading Program. Students will be studying 150 words from the Dolch Word List and basal readers, three word endings (-s, -ing, and -ed), extensive comprehension practice of words, phrases, and stories, visual memory of words, left-to-right reading/tracking, thinking, and visual discrimination skills, while making an association between oral language and print.

3rd Grade- Watermelons

Students in this group worked on reading Level M books during the month. The target for third grade students at this point of the year would be to read Level M text. While many students in this group can decode words at this level, some are not yet ready to pass Level M because of their reading comprehension. We spent a heavy amount of time working on comprehension this past month. We worked on thinking and discussing the text before, during, and after reading. We also worked on the definitions of the comprehension terms: schema, inferences, connections, predictions, asking questions, summarizing, and clarifying (word meanings, ideas, and phonics). Students were encouraged to use these comprehension strategies as they read the books. During the month we worked on decoding multisyllabic words by using the "vowel bump" strategy. During word work, we also studied -oo, -ph, and compound words.

3rd Grade- Cantelopes

Students in this group worked on reading Level N books during the month. The target for third grade students at this point of the year would be to read Level M text. Some students in this group had already passed Level M for their classroom teacher, which was a reason we decided to begin working on Level N. I found that students were reading accurately at this level, but could use further instruction with decoding strategies for solving multisyllabic words such as using the "vowel bump." During word work we also studied: contractions, -aw, -ough, -ost, -ong, ending consonant digraphs, adding -ed endings to words. Another primary focus of our group time was reading comprehension. We worked on using text evidence to support answers and rereading text in order to find important details in the story that can help us make inferences. We created an anchor chart together with key vocabulary terms for comprehension. Students learned what these words meant: schema, inferences, connections, predictions, asking questions, summarizing, and clarifying. Students were encouraged stop every few pages to share their thoughts about the story we read.

4th Grade- Grasshoppers

We continued to work on Pathways to Reading phonics skills (c or k?, -ck, -wh, -th, -sh, -ch, -ng). Instruction had to be differentiated because there were some students within the group who needed additional practice with these phonics concepts, while others were ready to move on to other phonics concepts such as multisyllabic words. Some of the vowel practice activities we worked on this month were: Say on Own/Cover It, Find It, Say It/Cover It, Spot the Vowel (ladders), Spot the Vowel (cards), Cross the Wild River, Two Vowels Go Walking, etc.... We read words, sentence strips, and books with the phonics concepts we practiced during Segment and Write. We also learned the steps for becoming a good speller. Students tapped out all of the sounds in a word, spelled the word (utilizing Screech Guides), and then used point and say to check their own work. Fourth grade students at this point of the year should be reading Level P text. Our group did not read any leveled text during the month, and rather, studied specific phonics concepts. We practiced these concepts through spelling and reading decodable text with these patterns.

4th Grade- Butterflies

Our group continued to work on key vocabulary words within each story we read. Some of the comprehension skills we worked on this month were: following directions, finding details in text, making inferences, and sequencing. We spent a couple of weeks on making inferences because this was a skill that was difficult. We learned that to make an inference, you have to use both your schema (background knowledge) and text clues. We worked on rereading the text in order to search for text clues that could help us and showing text evidence that supported our inferences. This group also worked heavily on self-monitoring and reading with accuracy. Fourth grade students at this point of the year should be reading Level P text. In order to pass Level L text and above though, students must be able to read with 98-100% accuracy. We worked on using the vowel bump strategy to solve multisyllabic words in text.