Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them, “Today we are going to see a short video clip about the signs of spring. Can anyone tell me what they think a “sign of spring” is?”
“Nicely done Carson; you explained it very nicely when you said a sign of spring is something you see to let you know spring is coming. Boys and girls I want you to think carefully about this next question. Does a sign of spring just have to be something you see?”
I select a student who has his/her hand raised following classroom procedure.
“Why do you say no Sara?”
“Okay. Sara says you don’t just see the Canada geese come back but you hear them too. She is right when she said that she hears the geese as well as see them. In fact hearing them is what makes me look up in the sky to see them. Does anyone remember what the term is for the geese flying from one location to another when the season change is?”
I allow the students to call it out if they know it.
“That’s right; migration. Well done scientists.”
“Let’s go ahead and watch our video.”
The video is from the Scholastic Info website as part of the supporting instructional materials to go along with the Weekly Reader magazine. It is just a short two and a half minute clip of various signs of spring, which includes a time lapsed shot of a pea plant sprouting.
Where is Spring? March 2014 on Scholastic Let's find Out website.
Once the video clip is over I sit down in front of the students with the day’s book in hand.
I use the video for two purposes. Firstly to give the students a quick piece of background knowledge so they think of spring as more than just flowers blooming and secondly to get the word ‘spring’ firmly planted in their minds. The video mentions the word ‘spring” so much that the students should become very familiar with the beginning sound by the end of the clip.
“Today’s book is called How Do You Know It’s Spring? This book is written by Ruth Owen. Looking at the cover I already see some signs of spring. Can anyone give me one sign of spring that they see?”
I select a student to respond.
“Your right Kallee; I see flowers. What else can we see?”
I keep selecting student until all of the signs of spring on the cover of the book are mentioned.
“As I open the book I see it has a table of contents. What does this mean?”
I allow all of the students to respond at once.
“Excellent! This book is non-fiction. A non-fiction book is going to do what?”
Once again I allow the students to all respond at once.
“Yes; a non-fiction book will give me information. Let’s go ahead and read our book and see what kind of information we get.”
During reading I will stop and discuss vocabulary words such as temperature and thermometer (from previous Polar unit), blossoms (from our Apples and Pumpkin unit), and new descriptive vocabulary words such as showers, muddy, etc.
I also discuss the fact that the book uses labels. “I see this book uses labels. This is another sign that this book is a non-fiction book as the labels help share information with the reader.”
When I have finished reading the book I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug.
“Can anyone give me a brief summary of what this book was about?”
I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.
“Thank you Connor; you are right. The book is about the many different signs of spring that we can see or hear. Can anyone give me one of the signs we saw in the book?”
Again I select a student following the correct protocol.
“Nice one Carson; flowers beginning to bloom is perhaps one of the easiest signs to see. What would be one of the easiest signs to hear?”
“I agree with you Rachel; birds singing in the trees and by our pond in the garden can be easy to hear.”
“Who can recall why we read this book today?”
“Yes it is the first day of spring Owen. Now here is a tricky question, which unit are we studying right now?”
I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol.
“Well done Connor. Space is right. I thought that would be a hard question but you did a nice job of remembering what we have been studying over the past week.”
“Can anyone tell what the word “space” and “spring” have in common? In other words how are they alike?”
“That’s right Ava; both words have s and p at the beginning. Can anyone tell what it is called when two letter are put together to make one sound?”
“Right Kara; it is a blend.”
“What blend sound do the letters s and p make together?”
I allow the whole class to make the sound at once.
“Good work team. Well today I would like you to come up with some /sp/ blend words.” While I talking I am opening up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard so that I am able to record the students responses as they give them to me.
Once the SMARTBoard screen has opened up, I get the tin holding the fair sticks and say, “Boys and girls, I am going to use the fair sticks to call upon you to give me a word which has the /sp/ blend. Right now I want you to put on your thinking caps and get ready to be /sp/ specialists. Here we go.”
I pull out a fair stick, read the name and call upon the student to respond with his/her /sp/ word.
I record the student responses on the board. If a student is unable to give me a word with the /sp/ blend they are allowed to call on a friend for assistance. This allows them to feel like they are still making a contribution to the board and helps build teamwork.
After everyone has had a chance to respond I say, “Those are all great /sp/ words. When you go to station one today you will find two sheets.”
I hold them both up for the students to see.
“This sheet has several images on it. Some of the images have the /sp/ blend and some do not. It will be your job to sort through the images and place them in the correct box on the recording sheet.”
“Remember I will be using a checklist to go over your work to see if you followed the direction correctly and also understand the work we are doing. Did the student write their name on their recording sheet? Are there at least four /sp/ blend pictures on the recording sheet? Did the student try to label the items? Is the student’s work neat and tidy?”
After I have gone quickly over the checklist I ask, “Does anyone have any questions?”
Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;
“Table number one let’s go have some /sp/ blend sorting fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.
Blending is a skill easily overlooked. As proficient readers we already ‘know’ the entire word and can easily break sounds apart and effortlessly put the word together again. Since it is effortless for us we often fail to recognize the difficulty beginners face in combining individual sounds to form words. Beginner readers do not ‘know’ the end result (the word). Therefore, choppy segmenting of sounds can prevent them from being able to combine sounds together and form the word.
To read proficiently, the student needs to learn to blend individual sounds smoothly together into words without choppy pauses between the sounds. The ability to seamlessly combine individual sounds together into the fluid word is not only vital for developing correct phonologic processing, it is also critical for developing eventual fluency. Recognizing consonant blends leads to smooth blending which is one of the subskills vital to developing correct phonologic processing, the foundation for proficient reading.
To avoid potential difficulty it is important to directly teach smooth blending skills from the beginning. The student needs to automatically engrain the skill of smooth blending. Also remember, it is always easier to develop correct techniques in the initial stages then try to ‘undo’ engrained bad habits of ‘choppy’ ‘segmented’ sounding out. Take the time to develop smooth blending from the very beginning.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.
“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”
Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.
Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me a word which has the blend /sp/ as its initial sound.
“Today’s exit ticket is you have to tell me a word that has the /sp/ blend at the beginning. I want you to think back to all the /sp/ blend words you thought of on the SMARTBoard and the items you sorted at the work station. Now you might want to think of more than one /sp/ blend word because once someone has used that particular word it is…?”
The students are very used to hearing me say this now and will chant back, “Off the Menu!”
“Now I am going to give you about ten seconds to think of your /sp/ blend words.”
I hold up my arm and look at my watch as I “time” their thinking. I also pretend to be thinking so the students stayed focused on thinking.
“Okay your time is up. I hope you thought carefully because here we go.”
I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.
Once a student has told me his/her /sp/ word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.
The exit ticket process provides me with a quick assessment of which students have "caught what was taught." Students should be able to easily come up with words using the /sp/ blend because we just used this blend in the lesson activity. If students have difficulty I can meet with them in a small group setting, such as reading work stations, and go over the blend again using a game or an early emergent reader.
I use the Sp Blend Sort Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.
Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the point that I am looking to see if a student can differentiate between a blend and an initial sound. For example a student may select to put the image of a sock onto the /sp/ recording sheet. This shows me they can isolate the initial sound, but they need more practice at identifying blends as a pair of letters which make a specific sound.
Write a spring haiku poem about a tree.
For math my students work on using a variety of 2D pattern block shapes to create a flower.
Students created tissue paper flowers to add to our classroom tree.
For science my students label the parts of a flower and give me one fact about what a flower needs to grow.