Sunday, September 17, 2017

Integrating the ReadyGEN Literacy Program and Daily 5

In my job as a teacher coach and consultant, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing teachers.  I worked in a school this past fall modeling the ReadyGEN program from Pearson Education for over 6 weeks.  Many teachers ask if they can continue to use what they have learned from "The Sisters" Daily 5 & CAFE program with the adoption of ReadyGEN.  I say, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."  Why would you stop doing what works for your students.  Let me show you how one teacher integrated both programs.

Along with a team that consisted of the principal, reading coaches, support staff and myself, we witnessed a first grade teacher that flawlessly modeled the integration of ReadyGEN and Daily 5. This is a testament to the strength and validity of both programs.    The complete script of Unit 1B, Lesson 6 can be accessed  HERE.

From the beginning to the end of the lesson the teacher kept stating or referring back to the Enduring Understanding: Readers identify information from pictures and words and the CAFE skill, "Good readers brains make connections to stories."

8:45 - 9:05        WORD WORK

The first 20 minutes, students worked on Foundational Skills Instruction/Word Work.  The Daily Oral Language (DOL) format was used to review the ReadyGEN conventions of matching nouns and verbs and students worked at their desks that faced the front the classroom.  Students moved flawlessly to the carpet for Phonemic Awareness practice and back to their desks for Handwriting practice of the letter Rr on a half sheet.  Students were asked to self-evaluate by circling the best sample.  Finally, students were asked to put their office up, and the teacher dictated 5 high-frequency words and students wrote them.  See the photo below of a student's office.


Whole Group Reading Instruction with ReadyGEN always starts with a Read Aloud.  This lesson was no different but first she brought students to the carpet and she referred to the CAFE wall and said, "Good readers' brains make connections to stories."  The Read Aloud was the Text Collection poem, The Elephant"  followed by students partner reading the same poem in their little text collection books.  This connects with the Daily 5, Read to Someone.  Students were reminded that they were making connections today.  Students and teacher did a Shared Reading of the Dolphin and Duck from Time to Sleep.  Students worked in pairs to do a Close Reading and answer the DOK questions.  During Reading Analysis, teacher and students collaborated to complete a 2 column chart to record how dolphins and ducks are alike and different.  Students worked in pairs to search for evidence in the text.  Before leaving the carpet students were asked, "What did the author do so you would connect?"  

For the last 15 minutes, students returned to their desks for WORD WORK/Benchmark Vocabulary instruction.  The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model is an integral part of the ReadyGEN program.  Four vocabulary words were taught one at a time in the context of the story.  The students were asked to hunt for the words in Time to Sleep.  A half sheet from the ReadyGEN Readers Writers Journal was distributed.  Students were encourage to choose 2 vocabulary words and to use each word in a sentence with matching nouns and verbs which brought students back to the Conventions skill of the day.  


Students were directed to Listen to Reading on the Pearson Realize site or to Read to Self using the ReadyGEN leveled texts for Unit 1.  The teachers met with three groups:

Small Group #1: Worked on blend skills with a group of at-risk students.

Small Group #2: Worked with a small group with the ReadyGEN leveled texts.

Small Group #3:  Listened to an individual student read.  During CAFE Conferring with the student, the student said, "These just right books are really working!"

10:45 - 11:20        WHOLE GROUP WRITING

The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model provided the framework for the whole group writing lesson.  Question words and questions were modeled by the teacher and she brought it back to the main idea that readers identify information in pictures and words.  

During guided practice, students practiced changing a fact to a questions.  Students took out their writers notebook and wrote two questions based on the facts about the Dolphins and the Ducks from the book, Time to Sleep.  It was amazing to see students check their own work by reading it out loud to themselves at their desks.  

The lesson was closed with a connection to the leveled texts and the Reading Analysis skill when the teacher asked the question, "What is the same/different about the animal you read about compared to the dolphin and the duck?"  This lesson was so powerful because everything was connected to the Enduring Understandings, the Essential Questions and the Goals of both the module and the lesson.  

The entire ReadyGEN lesson that includes a Foundational Skills instruction, Read Aloud, Close Read, Benchmark Vocabulary instruction, Reading Analysis, Independent Reading, Small Group Instruction and Writing Instruction took 2 hours and 5 minutes plus a 30 minute recess and bathroom break.  So, it can be done in 3 hours a day with plenty of time to teach everything else that needs to be taught.  

I would like to share 2 more documents from this school that were created by this first grade teacher and a second grade teacher.  I simply put their ideas on paper and I am sharing them with you.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Managing and Organizing Your Words Their Way Classroom!

The question is, "How do I manage and organize a program that is based on the individual spelling developmental levels of my students?"

Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling Instruction from Pearson Education is a hands-on approach to word study and teaches students to look closely at words to discover spelling patterns, syllable structures, and spelling-meaning connections needed for reading and writing.  The heart of the program is the sort and the process of grouping words or pictures that represent sounds into specific categories.  

Tip #1: Color-Code Everything!

My Managing and Organizing Words Their Way product on Teachers Pay Teachers includes all of the background knowledge that you need plus sort posters, group posters, basket tags, and word study notebook templates.

Tip #2: Review the Program Assessments and Progress Monitoring

Review your grade level Spelling Inventory, the Spell Checks and the Qualitative Checklists. Familiarize yourself with the individual spelling features to assist you during observations.

Tip #3: Organize for Success

Image result for file box with colored folders

There are five developmental spelling stages.  First make a master copy of all the sorts for each of the 5 spelling stages and store them in sheet protectors in a large binder.  Next, before starting the program but after administering the first student inventory, determine which spelling stages you will be focusing on throughout the school year.  For instance, by grade 3 most of your students will not need Alphabetic Letter Name.  Then, designate one color of file folder for each stage you will be utilizing in your class.  Print a class set of each sort for every stage you will be utilizing and label each folder.  For example, WWP16 means Within Word Patterns, Sort 16.

Tip #4: Create a Words Their Way Weekly Routine


Every teacher needs to set up a 5-day weekly routine that always includes sorting, writing and reading the weekly words in context.  

Tip #5: Empower student ownership of the program and their spelling development with Student Word Study Notebooks

Students store their weekly word sorts along with with their Word Study Notebook in their Word Study Folder.  The Word Study Notebook spiral records students' sorts, and weekly reading and writing assignments.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Depth of Knowledge DOK Resources

Everyone is talking about RIGOR.  The Common Core Standards call for a more rigorous curriculum, instructon and assessment.  Rigor is the kind and level of thinking required of students to successfully engage with and solve a task.  Rigor is not about difficulty, it's about complexity of understanding. 

What does rigor look like in a classroom?  Two widely accepted measures of cognitive rigor are Bloom's Taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels.  Bloom's Taxonomy focuses on the verbs and indicate the level of performance or the level of higher-level questions.   Depth of Knowledge focuses of complexity of content standards to successfully complete an assessment or a task.  When you unpack the standards, first look at the verb and align it with Bloom's levels for the level of performance.  Then look beyond the verb to determine the level of understanding required to meet the standard.  

Karen Hess created a Cognitive Rigor Matrix that integrates Bloom's Taxonomy with Webb's Depth of Knowledge for analyzing teacher lesson planning and assessments.  In my district, we have been "mapping" out the learning events in our UbD units to ensure a balance of lessons and assessments across all levels from simple to complex.  Teachers are seeing that they can "tweak" some of their lessons and assessments to make them more rigorous.  For example, 

DOK 1 Describe three characteristics of metamorphic rocks.
DOK 2 Describe the difference between metamorphic and igneous rocks.
DOK 3 Describe a model you might use to represent the relationships that exist in the rock cycle  

All three tasks begin with the word describe but each task is at a different depth of knowledge. Check out what comes after the verb!  What comes after the verb is more important than the verb itself.  

I have updated my DOK posters product on TPT.  The Depth of Knowledge Resources now include:

You can see the bunting flags in the photo above.  The flags that I made for the vocabulary words are appropriate to each of the four DOK levels and they are color-coded.  I have included the photo below of a different set of vocabulary flags because I wanted you to see how they actually look before you hang them on the board.  These are actually vocabulary cards that are coded by grade level to align with Marilee Sprenger's book titled, Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words That Make or Break Student Understanding.  

Specially Priced at $2 for a limited time.

Please check them out at

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Increase Cognitive Rigor in Your Classroom!

I have just revised and reposted my product, Increase Cognitive Rigor in Your Classroom to TPT.  My BLOOM’s and Depth of Knowledge posters and accompanying double-sided bookmark provide a quick reference for teacher lesson planning and for student questioning and choice of tasks. I have also included a Bonus Product: Students with BLOOM with Higher-Level Questioning described in the previous post.

This product includes:

BLOOM’s Taxonomy Posters
WEBB’s Depth of Knowledge Posters
Bookmark with the BLOOM’s Taxonomy Posters on front and WEBB’s Depth of Knowledge Posters on back.
Bonus: My BLOOM with Questioning Product

This product is based on the research of Anderson and Krathwohl’s Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge and the Cognitive Rigor Matrix of Karin Hess, Dennis Carlock, Ben Jones and John R. Walkup. I want their research to be accessible to you when you are planning your lessons and delivering those lessons and to your students during the learning process.  

Check these out at 
if you think you can use this product in your classroom.   

Statements to remember when planning future lessons that are rigorous:

Plan with Blooms but assess with DOK (Depth of Knowledge.

Determine which CCSS your lessons meet but also evaluate where each lesson falls within the four levels of the Depth of Knowledge.

When you can, plan tasks at the DOK 3 Level because DOK 3 incorporates DOK 
Levels 1 and 2.  The same goes for question.  Quickly ask questions at Levels 1 and 2 
and move quickly into questions at Levels 3 and 4.

Plan your progression of lessons throughout a unit or topic across all four DOK levels and always reference your lessons with the Big Ideas and the Essential Questions of the unit.

Post Webb’s Depth of Knowledge chart with possible tasks at each level and students could determine their own grade by the tasks that they choose. 

Plan where learning could possibly have a breakdown and move to Level 3 questioning and tasks and provide scaffolding if necessary. 

Assess students by providing options from each of the DOK levels.