Sunday, September 23, 2012


So I've never liked how my TE expects me to introduce reading comprehension strategies at the beginning of the year. They're like... "Hey, you could jut quickly teach one strategy a day for a week and be great! Your kids are definitely going to learn each strategy after reading one story!..." This year, I decidedto do things my way (thank you private school for allowing me the freedom to pretty much do whatever I want)!! Here's to hoping I made the right decision!

Last week we only focused on summarizing (we'll add synthesizing later... one step at a time). After attending a short, but helpful seminar on reading comprehension, I put together a new summarizing anchor chart.

With each step, the kids and I say what we're doing while simultaneously performing a small hand gesture. For "stop," we hold our hand up. We point to our big brains while saying "think about the story," and we cup our hands around our mouth for "say it on your own words." Let me tell you, it's a lot easier to see who is particpiating and who isn't when there's movement involved!

The first story we tried out this strategy on was There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. This is one of my absolute favorite stories to read alound!! I really get into the different character voices and the kids are shocked when I actually yell!! Since it was a short story we didn't need to stop and summarize throughout. We read the whole thing (twice because it's so much fun) and then summarized. I have mentioned that for longer  stories we will stop after reading a few pages. Anyways, after reading, together we recited the steps for summarizing. Then we did it! We used our own words to retell what had happened. Since this was our first go around, I went with a simple picture answer. Again, this story is perfect because the illustrations are simple enough that the kids feel comfortable attempting to recreate them. Plus it helps that I do my own rendering on the board :) Exibit A...

The next day we remembered the steps to summarizing and read another story. Again, it was short enough for us to read without stopping to summarize. This time I had the students write sentences. They were able to tell about what happened using their own words. I know it doesn't show below, but trust me... wer're going to need A LOT of work on retelling ONLY the important parts. I present you with Exibit B...

Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to take a picture of this :/

On Friday, we read Bear's Loose Tooth. This time, we worked as a class to write one fluid summary instead of a couple of sentences that answered questions. Exibit C...

If only I can get them to draw with more effort. I've NEVER had this problem!! Usually first graders love to draw!! But this class, they really like drawing in only one color and leaving out most details. Yikes! Any suggestions? 

On a completely unrelated note... I just finished my Common Core Collection for first grade! Wow!! This is by far the most time consuming project I have taken on! I was excited when I began, extremely fatigued and doubting myself in the middle, and now relieved and proud that it's finished!!

This journal is 88 pages long and the perfect way to showcase your students' skills! I plan on working in this journal all year long, addressing one standard at a time after it's been taught. Our school has a book binding machine so I'll be laminating the covers and assembling them tomorrow. I'm soooooo excited to actually see the hard copy! And as a treat for my beloved followers (and for those of you who somehow happened to make it to the bottom) I'm giving away 5 free copies! If you would like one, please leave me a comment (including email address) letting me know how you teach one  (any) reading comprehension strategy. I'm always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my lessons! So, whatcha got?!

Best wishes,


  1. Super cute! I have my students act out the story of the week in groups for the class. They really like doing this and they remember the story elements better.


    The Busy Busy Hive

  2. Your common core collection looks great! Definitely lots of work involved there!!!

    I try to really FOCUS on one comprehension strategy a month. We do lots and lots of review. We are working on visualizing this month. Which works really well for our apple unit. :-)

  3. You must be so very proud of your work! I like to use poetry and music to build fluency with my students! I also like to make lots of visuals and anchor charts to build reading comprehension skills!
    Owl Things First!

  4. Your unit looks amazing :). When it comes to reading comprehension skills I am similar to you in I like to break it down and focus on one a week even though our reading series will throw two or three into one week. Ibuild the skills through the use of visuals, anchor charts, graphic organizers (when possible) and lots and lots of modeling.

  5. Love it! And I found a new nlog to follow.


  6. Your blog is so stinkin cute! And your new CCSS unit looks awesome! I have used the Daily 5 and Cafe for a couple years now! Boy do we love it! Some of those strategies can be tricky to relate to for our little firsties so this year I created my very first unit proudly entitled, First grade critter cafe, using 38 beanies for all 38 strategies on the CAFE menu! My kids are exploding with connections and excitement every time a new critter comes to work for them at the Critter Cafe! Using Reciprocal teaching strategies incorporating the beanies has made a HUGE positive impact on my students learning!
    I am pretty darn proud of it!
    Would love to use your unit along side mine!


  7. Rebecca,
    I love your idea of using Elephant and Piggie for summarizing using pictures. I just got that book from Scholastic and I'm using your idea tomorrow. I love to have kids work with a buddy to draw 6 pictures of the most important parts of the story. Then, they trade with another set of kids and they compare to see if their most important 6 pictures are similar and to discuss why.
    Have a great Friday!
    Teaching Fabulous Firsties!

  8. Great job! Come join my first linky party:

  9. What a busy girl you've been! I'm crossing my fingers to be one of the 5 lucky winners! One of the strategies I've used to teach retelling/summarizing is Key Words. Initially I'll give them the 3-5 key words (depending on the length of the book) that they are to make sure and use in their retelling. Over time, they help me come up with the words and eventually, they choose their key words independently. It helps if I have a visual for each of the key words, especially at the beginning, but I'm not always that completely prepared! :)
    Growing Firsties