Self Monitoring Thumbs
One of my goals as a first grade teacher is to develop independent learners that can problem solve or decide when it is time to request assistance from others. Self-reliance is a need that many parents talk to me about during conferences and as a result, I've turned to two different strategies in the classroom that allow students to continue their work while informing me of their comfort level of the task. These strategies are known as self monitoring tools that help me to prioritize which students I need to assist first.
Flash Fluency is a strategy I use during guided reading sessions to make immediate adjustments to my instruction, based on my students' needs. To gather the information I need, I give a reading fluency check to one student from the group using a current or cold read text. The student reads for one minute while I keep track of miscues and make observations. It is followed by a quick comprehension check. Once this is completed, I address the student's needs immediately with the entire small group. Since my reading groups are homogenous, one student's needs are generally reflective of the needs of the other students in the group.
Graphic organizers of all sorts are used in every classroom. Guided Reading should be no exception. This strategy is not meant to focus on one type of graphic organizer, but rather on how a graphic organizer can be used to support students in accessing the text to make meaningful connections and form meaningful conversations about the text.
The vocabulary game is a way for students to practice word meaning embedded at the end of a phonics lesson. To play, a word, phrase or meaning is given and students need to write the word from the decoded phonics words. Once they have a word written they seek the approval by me with a thumbs up to signal when they wrote the correct word, or a thumbs down to have them try again. The use of the thumb provides an anonymous check for understanding.