This summer I am focusing on reflecting on what went well, but more importantly what didn’t go so well during my first year of teaching.
Alright friends, so here’s the deal. When I started teaching last August (amongst the whirlwind of other things) I felt a
completely unprepared for reading centers! Don’t get me wrong, as part of my SMU degree I took two great courses, one called Learning to Read & Write and one called Reading & Writing to Learn. So I got all the important info on the 5 essential components of reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension), and even had the chance to tutor an a
t-risk first grader for a semester using the MONDO intervention system. It was a great experience to help a kiddo go from basically being a non-reader (she knew maybe 3 sight words at the beginning of 1st grade) and would not write for ANYTHING! Once we broke down her wall and she started feeling successful, it was onward and upward for her. Oh how I miss that sweet little girl!
Even with the experiences that I had, I still just didn’t feel like I was “ready” to not only provide great instruction at my guided reading table, but to also plan/find other great center activities. And for 23 students instead of just 1??
A moment for comic relief…
I’ll be completely honest… Most of August was spent getting centers procedures down pat. I’m talking practice, practice, practice. If a kiddo didn’t transition quietly or immediately get to work at the new center then it was, “Let’s try it again. I know we can do better!” Over… and over… and over. I am super glad we got the routine down, because it was one less thing to worry about come September.
Once September hit though, I PERSONALLY was a man overboard, and I was drowning fast! Luckily, by early to mid-November I had tried several ideas from colleagues and that I had found online and was able to figure out what worked for me and my classroom. WHEW! I finally had a routine for what I did with kiddos when they were at the guided reading table with me.
But, what was I going to about the other centers? Fastforward to now…
As you can tell, I made it through (and so did my kiddos)! I finally figured out a system for centers activities that I was comfortable with managing, and thankfully my first graders left me with an average of 1.09 years of reading level growth. Yes, exact decimal average… My charter school was crazy about data, haha.
As part of my self-prescribed summer PD, I’m also currently reading “The Daily 5” by the sisters. I bought this book back in October, but never could dedicate the time to it until now. I really want to incorporate center activities next year that are even more meaningful. Now, we didn’t call the word work center “word work” this past year (but that’s what it was), and I had several different activities that kiddos rotated through. We tried Playdough words; pencil, crayon, marker; rainbow words; and several other activities.
One thing I want to be better about next year is tracking mastery of sight words. So I’ve been thinking about the activities that I already did with my kids this past year, and what I could do to start to build in more sight word work to my Word Work center next year. To help build in more practice with sight words I have started creating coloring pages that are color by sight word. My kiddos LOVED sight word coloring pages this past year, and I loved that they were reading the sight words over and over again. So I figured “Why not go ahead and get prepped for next year!?”
Here is a look at my first sight word pack creation! I went with a Fall theme (back to school time frame). I plan on using these as a packet for a week or so at my Word Work center. They have also proven to be GREAT morning work! All of the words used are from the Dolch list of 1st grade sight words. You can grab a copy of it [here
As I’m brushing up on reading centers this summer, I’d like to hear what creative or fun activities you use for reading centers! It doesn’t have to be for a Word Work center. Just leave a comment to share your awesomeness with everyone else! I can’t wait to see what other activities are out there!