Let’s Get Reading!
August is always the most exciting, overwhelming, and EXHAUSTING time of the year for teachers. So many mixed emotions.. but we don’t need mixed emotions about teaching. Teaching reading can be easy as pie. Read on to hear how I have always started reading in my second grade classroom.
With one caveat… go slow, be REPETITIVE and start EASY to establish strong routines to carry you through the year.
Phonics at first should be a review of what your kiddos learned in first grade. Remember, the summer slide is a real deal and you do not want to overwhelm students. I start with short vowels, and then move to BASIC long vowel patterns. Remember, you will dive deeper into these concepts later.
- Week One – Short Vowels
- Week Two – Long A (basic patterns: a, a_e, ai)
- Week Three – Long E (basic patterns (e, , ea, e_e)
- Week Four – Long I (basic patterns: i, igh, ie, i_e)
This should be a REVIEW and something you will continue to review. Students do NOT need to master these skills right away, but you want to address them at the beginning of the year so they are easier to readdress throughout the year.
- Read It, Write It: Students NEED to be able to read their words. Practice chunking the words, reading the words, whispering the words.. using the words again and again and again! You cannot practice this too much. It will help with both reading fluency and spelling.
- Word Sorts: Word sorts are a fabulous way to help students to recognize PATTERNS in words to help them with decoding. I make sure to do at least one word sort a week.
- Unscrambling & Fit It Activities: Once students have mastered a pattern, you can be sure that they are transferring their skills by having them work on finding and correcting patterns in sentences that are either misspelled or words that have been scrambled. This will help students solidify their work with these words, and help them to focus on not memorizing words, but looking for patterns.
- Games: I also love to introduce games to my students during this time. I use the same few games all year, so that students are very familiar with the rules and routines and are able to play them on their own or as a quick warm up for the rest of the year.
I like to start EASY with comprehension. We start with a standard that most students master right away: the 5Ws. Who, what, where, when, why and how. Again, being consistent is best. I use the SAME graphic organizer ALL MONTH so that students know EXACTLY what I am expecting. We do the first few graphic organizers together, so that students know exactly what I am looking on later on in the month.
This is my FAVORITE time to read aloud the best back to school books. Some of my favorites include:
- My Mouth is a Volcano
- Be Big
- Enemy Pie
- Ruby the Copycat
- We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
- Do Unto Otters
- The Sandwich Swap
- The Recess Queen
and so many others…
I do NOT do any small group reading or comprehension for the first month. Instead, we focus on routines for independent work so that in September, we are ready to roll.
Instead, each day I alternate between reading a text aloud and working on oral comprehension for the 5Ws and then on the alternate day we fill out the graphic organizer (at first we do it together, then we gradually work toward filling it out on our own).
To make students feel successful and learn routines, we start EASY with grammar. Are you noticing a pattern? Easy, repetitive and guided.
We start by focusing in on nouns.
- Week One: Nouns
- Week Two: Collective Nouns
- Week Three: Irregular Nouns
- Week Four: Pronouns
Again, we are not focused on mastery of any topic in August. We are working on routines, setting students up for success and reviewing skills that should have been introduced in first grade.
I keep my routine for vocabulary words the same all year. On Monday, I introduce the words. Students work on a graphic organizer Monday-Thursday to write the word, write a definition, draw a picture and add a sentence. On Thursday, we review multiple choice questions together. On Friday, they are tested.
During my whole group lesson each day, I ask students if they need any reminders on what the words mean. If they do, I have a different student define it for them. This ensures that words are kept in student friendly terms.
I start with 3 vocabulary words at the beginning of the year, and work our way up to six. If there are more than six words each week, students will not retain them in a meaningful way.
When the week is over, I add the vocabulary words to our word wall. Then, we add them to our writing or refer to them during read alouds throughout the year.
I always do the first test with my students. That way, they are used to the testing format for the rest of the year. After the first test, we grade the second test together and it does not count. By the third week, they should be used to the format and routine and from then on, I count their work. I ALWAYS have my students grade their own work. You can read more about setting up a self-assessing classroom on my blog here.
Did I mention the importance of things being EASY, repetitive and guided the first month? This is KEY for setting up your classroom to be a well oiled machine throughout the year. If you are changing up directions or routines too much, students will get confused and you will struggle to set up your small groups with minimal interruption in September.
Get my entire first week of plans, printable and materials FREE by clicking here. If you are looking for laid out plans, worksheets, assessments, anchor charts and games for the ENTIRE MONTH of August, you can snag those by clicking here.
What questions do you have? Drop them in the comments below. Happy Teaching!