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So far Jolene Mathew has created 2 blog entries.
23 02, 2017

Seven Tips for Teaching Guided Reading with Confidence

By | February 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments


Image for tips for teaching guided reading

When I use to ask students about their favorite part of school, what do you think the overwhelming response was from them? Recess? Nope. Lunch. Guess again. Guided reading? YES!!!! Actually, they would not say guided reading. They would tell me things like spending time at the table with you reading. Gush! My heart would absolutely melt! Spending time reading with the teacher was their favorite part of school!

Now honestly, I can say, I sincerely lacked confidence in teaching guided reading when I first taught kindergarten many years back. Pretty much, I was thrown into a classroom that was formerly a storage room a week after school started because the enrollment was high. I was told to teach guided reading with only access to a room full of leveled readers. Thankfully, I had that! I discovered that I LOVED teaching children to read, even though I was not the best at it initially. For sure, I was a work in progress for a while. I can’t say I was an instant pro at it my first year. Hopefully, I did not scar those students from my first year of teaching kindergarten for life haha! I know I can’t be the only one to think that about their first year of teaching! It was not until my third year of teaching kindergarten that I finally felt confident at teaching children how to read.

To save you some trial and error, I want to share some of my teaching strategies with you that will hopefully help you to teach guided reading more confidently. 

Guided Reading Level Mastery Checklist

1. Regroup Frequently- Evaluate where students are frequently, and regroup based on those evaluations. Now I am not talking about giving them 100+ formal assessments. Teach, of course! Performance assessments are your guide and work seamlessly during guided reading as you teach. Checklists and running records are both great performance assessments to give you the feedback you need to adjust your reading groups as needed. That way, students are always being challenged at the appropriate level. Having a list of clear guidelines on when students should move up to another reading level helps a bunch too. You will still have to evaluate things like beginning sounds if they have not mastered those, but many things can be assessed through performance during a reading lesson to help you make decisions on regrouping.

Guided Reading Name and Alphabet ActivitiesAlphabet Activity

2. Build Up- It would not make sense to teach a student on paragraph writing if they did not know how to write words, nor would it make sense to teach a student how to read level C readers if they don’t have a firm foundation with the alphabet. Teaching effectively means finding out where the student is and guiding that student from there. If they know most of their alphabet letters and sounds and have a firm foundation with print concepts, give them level A. If they only know a handful of letters and sounds, that preschool level AA is going to help that sweetie a bunch! The child is going to build confidence, even if you have one or two children that have to spend the whole year on that level. I tell you, you will see growth when you continue to build from where they are. In my professional opinion, building up from where a student is with their reading development is by far the most effective strategy you can utilize when it comes to teaching reading. If you are doing that, students are going to flourish in reading.

Spend most time reading

3. Let them read. -Don’t fluff it full with other junk. From the research I read, they should be reading. Sure, you will need to include some things that support the learning of reading such as sight words and word work, but make sure the bulk of the time is spent on actually reading. Keep those other activities short and sweet.

Examples of Word Work ActivitiesExample of a Word Work Activity

4. Support Your Readers- Having that small group time to focus on word work activities to build up phonics skills, teach sight words, stretch comprehension, and to build and write sentences is very valuable to supporting the learning of reading.  Keep these activities short and sweet, of course. For example, one day, you may have students identify the missing letters out of three words. Another day, you may have the students mix and fix them. During word work, students may sort words that end with the b & d sound. Another day, they may build some CVC words. Since these activities are only focused on a small bit, they can be completed within a few minutes each. The goal is to support the reading, not take over the reading lesson.

Example of technology being used during guided reading

5. Keep it engaging- When completing sight word and work work activities, keep it hands-on and visual to keep your students engaged. Technology is also another engaging method to use. If you actually have enough tablets or iPads, I actually have a resource that includes digital formats. (It also includes everything printable too, so a teacher can be hybrid with it.)

Fun Guided Reading Strategy Posters

Click here to learn more about the guided reading bundle

6. Teach Reading Strategies with Memorable Characters- Children love characters. We know that a popular world renown cartoonist has proven that! I like to include the popular Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye reading strategies, and I also have created some more characters for the other reading strategies students use for decoding the text. One character, my son helped me come up with the name, is Left-to-Right Gecko. This is simply teaching children the print concept of reading left-to-right.

7. Have fun! Young students love spending time with their teacher. (Remember my story at the beginning?) Just be authentic. Enjoy that time with your students. Laugh, be goofy, and make it a fun place to be. You will make a big impact just by being engaged with them as they read.

I hope these teaching strategies help you to soar with your guided reading instruction. Make sure to sign-up for email on the right, so you can receive more posts like this from me. Also, I have a guided reading sample of level B freebie.

Guided Reading Level B Sampler

Click here to get it

Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class!

Jolene  🙂

23 07, 2016

Assessing Students’ Technology Work

By | July 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Assessing Students' Technology Work

Hi everyone! Today, I want to talk tech. Specifically, I want to talk about assessing students’ technology work.

I know many years ago when the technology was not as advanced as it was today, I was told by administration that I needed to incorporate more technology use in the classroom. How many of you have been there and been like with what software? I am sure I can’t be the only one! Here was me. A teacher told to do that and only given special software for students with IEP’s, in ESL classes, and one other software that was only good for whole instruction with a projector. What was I suppose to do for the rest of the students when it was time for them to use the computer? I was clueless and not as talented with creating digital anythings back then, and they did not offer us much more guidance than throw equipment at us with those limited software I just mentioned and preach to use the equipment. I was happy for the tools in my classroom. Oh yeah! I wanted to make the most of them. For sure! I did use a few free games at the time, but finding resources that offered a way for me to truly assess a student’s work on that computer was not there. My technology use in the class became a center for reinforcing skills, which was still good. I am no way complaining about that because my first year teaching had one of those green screen things, lol! Also, we don’t have to grade everything, and students do tend to stay more engaged on the computer. However, for something so engaging for student learning, it just would make sense to have a way to pop in and actually be able to assess their work on the computer to know they are spending quality time learning on the computer. (If anything, to make sure they are staying where I told them to go on the computer while I was busy with a reading group, lol!)

AND I think that is what I really like about using Google Apps for learning in the classroom. Their work is saved automatically, so you can pop up every now and then to make sure they are on track and having quality learning moments on the computer or tablet. Sure there are a lot of apps out there, but you can’t really go back on many of them to actually see the student’s work. That to me is a big drawback with lots of them. I mean, they do have their perks too. Students often are given automatic feedback on their work with many of those apps. They need that too. I would not say abandon ship on using apps with no assessment features. They have a place too. I just think there needs to be a balance struck there. We need to be viewing students work regularly to keep up with where they are and where they need to go. Sure, we got those big state tests, lol! 😉 Maybe the software actually gives you a vague teaching report too. However, us true teacher breeds know it is that day-to-day performance assessment that should be at the heart of how we drive instruction for the next week to come. I don’t know about you, but my best assessment comes from viewing authentic student work, not some vague report. This really gives me the best insight on what a student needs from me, so I can give them the best instruction possible. With students utilizing more and more technology in the classroom, Google Apps used in conjunction with Google Classroom, is really a great tool for performance assessments. After all, students don’t even have to save their work. It is saved for your viewing automatically.

Imagine students doing quality word work with digital magnetic letters, and you being able to go back and view how they did! Like so cool, you can’t even do that with real magnetic letters and dry/erase cards usually. All possible with Google Apps! See this video to see this in action. I am then able to go back and see student work on there!

Here is the link to my this resource and other resources created for Google Classroom use

Imagine students working with grammar and vocabulary digital cards, and you are able to go back and see their progress! Totally possible now! There really is so much students can now do digitally with you being able to assess their work, and Google Apps is a great resource for that! It’s going to help you be a better teacher because you are providing engaging work that can also be assessment driven!

What tools are you using to assess student work on the computer/tablet? How many of you are going 1:1 this year? I would love to have a conversation below in the comments! 🙂

I have joined in with a link up.

new logo 2-01

Jolene 🙂