January Phonological Awareness Unit Added Today

Just wanted to let everyone know that still shopping the big Cyber Monday sale at TpT that we I just uploaded the January Phonological Awareness Bundle.  Get it HERE while it's on sale. Enter promo code CMT12 at check-out for 28% off today! 



New Hello Fonts Added Today!

Banner Clipart by Cat Lady

I've created 9 new fonts since October and I'm proud to show them off today...Cyber Monday.  If you use and make commercial products for Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook, then today would be the perfect day to snag my Hello Fonts Commercial License at 28% off the non-sale price of $20...today and tomorrow, it's only $14.60....(it shows the sale price at $16, but if you enter the Promo Code CMT12 @ Checkout, TpT will take give an additional 8% discount.  If you just want to use my fonts for personal and non-commercial (not-for-profit) use at home or in your classroom, you can download them in the right sidebar of my blog.  Thanks everyone and good luck today!

~Jen Jones


Super Cyber Sale Starts NOW!

Starting right now...Sunday...10:53AM...everything in my TpT store is on sale for 20% off.  Then, beginning Monday & Tuesday, Paul (the founder of TpT) is also adding an additional 10% off, too.  So, if you can't wait until tomorrow, shop now for 20% off or shop tomorrow and Tuesday for 30% off. Also, check out my phonological awareness curriculum on my partnership site...www.hellotwopeasinapod.com



Announcing....Hello Phonological Awareness Curriculum

I'm proud to say that I've teamed up with a great teacher and friend to create a Common Core aligned, read-aloud (text) based phonological awareness curriculum.   We have written original sets of lessons (one complete lesson is a week in length)...phononological awareness activities...which we call with kids "listening games" to accompany and implement after reading popular Kindergarten and first grade read-aloud titles.    We all know the importance of teaching phonological awareness and it's critical role in reading success is well documented in the reading research.  Phonological awareness (the bigger umbrella term for which phonemic awareness falls under) is the single greatest predictor of future reading success--and phonological awareness being the 16 subskills that comprise it.  Teaching it though on the other hand, often falls to the wayside with other important and well-documented instructional practices as well, like higher order thinking....sort of like, not eating right when we KNOW we should.   I'm not sure why we do or don't do the instructional strategies that have proven to work, but often, we do.  IF one of the reasons is, that we don't know WHAT to do everyday for 10-15 to teach, reinforce and practice phonological awareness skills, then we have created a solution.  We have solved that problem for you.  No need to look any further. 

Last year I did a research study for my Master's program in this area.  I compared two instuctional curriculums for teaching phonological awareness daily to students using two whole in-tact Kindergarten classrooms at my school. (Thank you WCPSS, for seeing the value in teacher practitioner research!) The control class taught phonological awareness for 10-15 everyday using the Micheal Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum and the experimental group taught phonological awareness for 10-15 everyday using the Hello Literacy Phonological Awareness Curriculum.  The results, even after one month were amazing! I will not bore you with my 52 page research study, of which I got IRB-approval and an act of county congress to do the study, but after these results, I could not, NOT WRITE the rest of the curriculum.  I truly believe it could have a huge impact of on our very youngest readers...if folks buy it and use it.  That simple.

Phonological Awareness vs. Phonemic Awareness
These two terms are often used interchangeably in the reading research literature.  It is accepted to use them synonymously. However, there is a difference between the two terms.  Phonemic awareness is just that…awareness at the PHONEME level.  A phoneme is a single unit of sound, regardless of the number of letters in the single sound.  Here are a few examples of phonemic level sounds; /m/ as in made, /th/ as in thing, /dge/ as in bridge making the /j/ sound, or /ed/ as in washed making the /t/ sound. Phonemic awareness falls under the umbrella of phonological awareness, which covers awareness at the phoneme level, the syllable level, the word level and the sentence level.

Phonological Awareness vs. Phonics
Phonological awareness and phonics are two terms that are also often confused, but there is a clear difference between the two.  The main way they are the same is they both deal with letters and their corresponding sounds. However, phonological awareness is sound only, without looking at print, only listening to sounds and producing sounds orally. Once you add letters for the child to look at when doing the phonological awareness work; the task becomes a phonics task.   Phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, phonics (and fluency) are now housed in the Common Core standards as Foundational Reading Skills.  The lessons created here in this Hello Phonological Awareness Curriculum, are strictly phonological awareness.  We have meticulously gone through the Common Core standards for Reading Foundational Skills for both Kindergarten and First Grade, and identified the skills and learning outcomes that students are expected to know and do in the area of Reading Foundational Skills, related directly to phonological awareness.  In addition to the standards (and skills embedded within them), there are also a few additional phonological awareness skills outlined in Appendix A of the Common Core document for ELA.  The skills included in Appendix A that are not actual standards with numbers but are included in the lessons here are; Counting Spoken Words in a Sentence, Syllable Blending & Pronouncing, Phoneme Alliteration & Discrimination, and Initial Phoneme Deletion.   We have included them in this curriculum, for a total of 16 essential phonological awareness skills.
 We have created the following correlation table to show you how the Common Core standards for Reading Foundational Skills correlate to each phonological awareness skills embedded with the wording of the standards and the ELA appendix for the “general progression of phonological awareness skills (PreK-1).”

We have included the artic word lists we created and used to develop the curriculum in the event that you might want to use these words to develop vocabulary, language and phonics skills in other areas of your literacy block.  Any letter or letters inside these symbols  /  / means that the sound of the letter or letters should be made, not the letter name itself.

The listening games themselves are meant to be quick, verbal exchanges between teacher and students.  That is, the pace should be faster rather than slower. For each skill, the teacher “script” is indicated.  Whatever it says inside the quotation marks is what the teacher should say to the students, using the words listed within each section. 
I've put one lesson (which lasts a week) up for FREE, because I really want you to use it in your class for a week and see how you like it.   We're so sure you'll love it, that we think you'll come back and purchase the monthly bundles.  Check out our page HERE.



...and the Common Core Conversation about Text Complexity Continues - Part 2

Read on to see how I revised my Fifty Shades presentation.....for the better!

If you read my 1st Quarter reflection post, you'll remember that it was mostly about our school's implementation of the Common Core for ELA so far this year, including my staff presentation, Fifty Shades of the Common Core.   Since presenting this to my staff, I have been busy.  I attended a presentation at NC State's Friday Institute by Timothy Shanahan, one of the authors of the Common Core for ELA. This was a very interesting presentation, I really liked it for several reasons.  I mentioned in my last post, Common Core Conversations Part 1, that I was reluctant to go because based from everything I'd read about him and his ideas that he pretty much blew guided reading out of the water. However, I listened with a critical ear and was open for new ideas....my principal's favorite quote, "the beauty of AND vs. the tyranny of OR"...remember that!

Shanahan's presentation was also very affirming for me (realizing that I had presented much of this content to my own staff four weeks before hearing him) many of the ideas and concepts I heard from him, I had already included in my Fifty Shades of the Common Core presentation, so this let me know I was right on track in my own understanding and learning curve of the Common Core for ELA. It also made me realize that we need to rethink the "complex text" delivery of our teaching and outcome expectations of student learning around complex text.   He spent a good part of the day talking about text complexity and the close reading of complex texts-- two BIG take-aways from the Common Core.  After lunch he broke everyone into groups and assigned each group an article to read.  Everyone in the group had their own copy of a "complex text"...our group was assigned a 5th grade text called  "When Is a Planet Not a Planet: The Story of Pluto"  He asked us each to a think about these questions--What will students find hard about this?  & What will you (the teacher) do about it?/What will you (the teacher) do to help kids understand the hard parts?  The sub group we formed in the room decided that wouldn't each read through it all first and then go back and talk about it, we decided as a group that we would read it page by page, silently first and then stop and verbally annotate our thinking out loud as a group.  That's just the way our group decided to do it.  The story was immediately "hard" for several reasons and there were definitely some complicated verbose sentences, grammar issues and language structure and syntax challenges.  There was some obvious vocabulary that we thought students would get tripped up on, but Shanahan's take on pre-teaching vocabulary is, don't. The Common Core de-emphasizes many pre-reading strategies and as he said, there is no need to activate background knowledge about Pluto or the solar system as students need to learn knowledge about Pluto and the solar system from the text and author.  After reading this nonfiction "story" of Pluto, background knowledge of planets or the solar system doesn't really help you anyway, since the "story" (which isn't really a story at all, and this is one of the factors that makes it complex), is that it's more about the how scientists change and revise their hypothesis as they learn new information [one of the BIG IDEAS].  As far as vocabulary, Shanahan says to be ready to explain unknown words, terms and phrases, but do NOT  teach all this to kids before reading the book.  And regarding a book introduction, he believes that all text introductions done the Common Core way is similar to the way articles are presented in The New Yorker--a picture (the cover), a caption (the title) and blurb (a short summary).

Shanahan also got us (my principal and I) really thinking about how ALL kids read and access complex text.  Based on an email conversation I had with guided reading guru, Jan Burkins last month, I believed that our school was accomplishing the teaching of text complexity best through read-alouds -- text talk lessons in K-2 and novel studies in 3-5, while continuing to preserve guided reading, doing it as we've always done and teaching students at their instructional level in a small group setting each day.   However, Shanahan's presentation got us thinking about  this question, "When do kids really ever have an opportunity to read complex text (themselves...not have someone read it for them, "reading by proxy" he calls it) and really struggle with it?" That really got us thinking because for those at-risk readers who AREN'T reading on grade level, what are they actually doing during the reading aloud of a complex text?  Well, from what I've seen, they are fake reading, fake following along, passively reading, reluctantly participating and acting or over-acting involved as to not draw attention to the fact that they aren't really reading nor do they have any idea what's going on with the storyline, but all the while "looking like a reader" in a whole group reading setting.  Right? I've seen this countless times before.  I'm not saying the "text complexity standard through read-alouds" is a bad model, in fact, it's probably great for about 70-80% of your class.  However, it's the 20-30% of your class that is the percentage that is holding your class, and most likely your school, back from closing the achievement gap. When in fact, they are the subgroup that we need to be targeting the most...and targeting them means rethinking the differentiated delivery, the text, the task and outcomes for this group of students.

So, I left that presentation with a plan.  Not sure how it in your school or district, but in our school and district, we are Title 1 (our school is now school-wide Title 1)...of which the biggest benefit is extra personnel (reading interventionists) to serve those kids that need extra support in reading, where that extra support in reading does not replace the daily dose of small group instruction that each child receives daily from their own classroom teacher.   So, as a reading interventionist myself, I wondered how it would go if, for the group of 6 3rd grade students I serve who read on a 2nd grade reading level, who also get a dose of guided reading from their own classroom teacher at their instructional reading level, then come to me, and instead of getting another dose of guided reading at their instructional level, got instead a dose of guided reading at their complex text level?  This way, they get their instructional dose, as they always did and continue to get, AND they get a chance to read complex text with my support where all six of them are held accountable to actually reading the complex text and working out the hard parts with my scaffolded support...really struggling through it, getting through the hard parts after determining WHAT makes it hard and hard to understand.  Their classroom teacher still does read-alouds with books in the 2/3 stretch band so they are still hearing and "reading" through read-aloud.  This plan was beginning to sound very smart.  I mean teachers are hard-wired to help, in fact, most teachers swoop in a help students too much during guided reading, so scaffolding students during the reading complex texts wouldn't really be too far a jump, right?

 I went to the library on the Sunday after Shanahan's presentation and I spent about 30 minutes looking for text (in the 2/3 stretch band) that I felt would be engaging and relevant to the six students in my "3rd grade but reading at a 2nd grade level" group.  Then, I found two books about Thanksgiving. One called, The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving, a very traditionally told story of how the Pilgrims came to America.  Then I found a book (a graphic novel) called Two Bad Pilgrims. Both books in the 2/3 lexile stretch band.

  Noting that text to text comparisons are important in the Common Core, I checked them both out so we could compare the perspectives and views of the individuals told in both books.  (Both books were non-fiction).  I began by reading only the first chapter of The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving...covering the voyage on the Mayflower.  Then, I put it down and passed out photocopies to each of them of first four pages of Two Bad Pilgrims.  [You can photocopy up to 10% of a book without violating copyright laws....and this way each student had their own copy to hold, read and annotate.]  I asked each student to read the first page silently, several times, mentally noting tricky parts, tricky words and hard to understand sections.  Since this is a graphic novel, this also presents an additional challenge, although a quick structure to teach and move past, nonetheless, there isn't the traditional left to right, return sweep with words...word boxes and speech bubbles are all over the place.  Mind you, and this is big, you [the teacher HAS to read the book or section first] not to pre-teach, but to anticipate the complex spots and sentences.  For me and this group of students, the tricky spots were mostly with the language, not necessarily the hard words, but the way the author uses language...reading anchor standards 4, 5 and 6...all the ones about author's style and craft.

For example, here are the spots from page 1 (just page 1) that led our text-based discussion:
1) the graphic novel structure
2) narrator: the story is being told by the professor ABOUT the boy pilgrims who interject
3) vocab: university, pilgrimology & goody-goodies
4) Sentence "Perfect, prayerful and obedient." You have to know that those three words go with the  goody-goodies referred to in the sentence before, and that goody-goodies refers to the nouns Pilgrims from the first sentence....lots of complex noun and pronoun strings students have to understand and connect together.
4) "medium-bad" compared to good, medium bad is still actually bad
5) The first two sentences are the non-examples of what the book is really about
6) vocab: nearly - meaning almost
7) "Of course" after "from our parents"...spent several minutes discussing what the author meant by using the words, "Of course!"...Tyrese finally said, "well kids only repeat what they hear from their parents, they learn it from their parents, so if their parents are saying it, they are going to say it, too!"...(Brilliant!)

As you can see, there were at least 7 text based teaching points on this one page alone, this page took about about 20 minutes to work out.  The next page about 15 and the 3rd page about 20 as we made the organizer below.  As you can see there is SO much text to talk about! Here is the graphic organizer we made just to organize the information on page 3.  

After we finished reading the first chapter of Two Bad Pilgrims together, we had spent about three days on it, but their understanding was very solid and they begged to keep reading it.  I told them I was going to turn it back into the library and they all wanted to race down to the library to check it out.  Not only were THEY reading text at a complex level for their grade level, they were engaged and struggling, they felt so accomplished and was actually proud of their "struggling"...because they persevered and got it....they CARED about what they were doing...ultimate example of RIGOR right there. 

With all this said, and the lesson and reading group structure changes I made after Shanahan's presentation, I added nine more slides about text complexity and differentiated ways to serve students in addition to an instructional text level dose of guided reading daily  to my Fifty Shades of the Common Core presentation to create this revised file.  I presented the revised presentation to Knightdale Elementary on October 31st. I will be presenting it again  Dec.5 in Pittsboro County, NC, on January 5th in Arkansas and on March 10th at the NC State Reading Conference.     

One last note, I was excited to find (and I hope you are too) something called the Basal Alignment Project. How many of you, like our school, have old Houghton Mifflin anthologies sitting around collecting dust?  Well, this project has created (over 200 lessons so far) text dependent lessons using stories from these anthologies.  The project is housed in Edmodo, so if you don't have an Edmodo account, you'll need that.  The directions for joining the Basal Alignment Project group are HERE. You'll want to scroll to the bottom of the page under the Steal Those Tools section.  For those of you who just want to see what one of those lessons looks like, here's one I downloaded, I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I linked a lesson here just to show you...Raising Dragons from the 3rd grade Houghton Mifflin Anthology.

Guide to Creating Text Dependent Questions by the authors of the Common Core

I really think this post is jam-packed with good information, a lot to take in I know, but there really is so much good stuff to share! Let me know how your text-dependent reading lessons are going and how all students read complex texts at your school. I'd love to hear.  More important to consider is this question...

Happy Reading! 
Follow on Bloglovin


A-Z Books for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving: A Mini Research and Vocabulary Project

My Veteran's Day A-Z Book 
GET IT HERE (elementary)
GET IT HERE (middle school)

Anyone teaching today and looking for a last minute activity that's fun and tied to the Common Core? Are you a homeschool looking for a funducational holiday learning activity today?  I decided to whip this up at the last minute for anyone looking to teach about Veteran's Day.  The book can be completed as a class, as a center, or independently, in class or as homework, over a day, or a week...that is all up to you! Students will need access to Veteran's Day information, books from the library or information from the internet.  Students will have have fun learning about Arlington Cemetery (the Aa page) and other important, perhaps unfamiliar words and phrases, related to Veteran's Day.  Many common core standards for reading, writing and language are covered in this activity including, expanding vocabulary of unfamiliar words and phrases, writing to inform (explanatory writing), the learning of abstract nouns like liberty, justice and honor. Every page also gives students an opportunity to draw a picture (non-linguistic representation) The completed book is 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 and requires no cutting to assemble, just folding and stapling.  Kids will have fun and be proud of their completed book.

Here is an elementary example of one of the pages.

Here are the words for ELEMENTARY Veteran's Day A-Z book: Arlington Cemetery, battleship, corps, decorated, eagle, flag, general, hero, intelligence, jeep, k-ration, liberty, medal of honor, navy, overseas, parade, quartermaster, rank, stars & stripes, tank, uniform, veteran, The Wall, XO (Executive Officer), yellow ribbon, zulu.

Here are the words for MIDDLE SCHOOL Veteran's Day A-Z book: Arlington Cemetery, battalion, corps, democracy, equality, freedom, glory, honor, inalienable, Joint Chiefs of Staff, K-ration, liberty, medal of honor, NATO, officer, patriotism, quartermaster, rank, soldier, treaty, unit, veteran, The Wall, XO (Executive Officer), yellow ribbon, zulu.

Whether you call it a vocabulary project or whether you call it a mini research project...kids will have fun learning and doing!  Appropriate for 1st - 5th.  I did create a middle school version of the Veteran's Day A-Z book if anyone is interested.  Here is the link to the middle school version of the Veteran's Day A-Z book.

I am also created one for Thanksgiving. Again, appropriate for 1st - 5th and a great activity to fill the few days we have school right before Thanksgiving.  

Here are words in the ELEMENTARY Thanksgiving A-Z book: apple pie, blessings, colonists, drumstick, eat and family, gratitude, harvest, indians, journey, kitchen, leftovers, Mayflower, New World, Oceanus, Plymouth, quill, recipe, stuffing, Thanksgiving, understanding, venison, wishbone, axe, yams, zucchini. 

Here are the words in the MIDDLE SCHOOL Thanksgiving book: agriculture, blessings, colonists, democracy, expeditions, First Encounter Beach, gratitude, harvest, Indian corn, journey, kitchen, Lincoln's Proclamation, Mayflower Compact, New World, Oceanus, provisions, quail, Roosevelt, Samoset, Tisquantum, understanding, voyage, William Bradford, ax, Yorkshire pudding, zucchini

Thanksgiving A-Z Book
GET IT HERE (elementary)
GET IT HERE (middle school)



Continuing Conversations about the Common Core...Close Readings of Complex Text - Part 1

It has been a very busy week for Hello Literacy...Friday before last I had the pleasure (although I was relunctantly grateful for the ticket, to be honest) of listening to Timothy Shanahan, one of the authors of the Common Core for ELA, speak at North Carolina State University...realizing that there are different camps on guided reading out there and that Burkins & Yaris are big proponents of guided reading (at a students' instructional level) I went into the day thinking there was no other way to teach all students texts of great complexity other than through read-alouds.  Listening to Shanahan really got my principal and I thinking about our current models of differentiation, and how students are served, how many times students are served, with what are they being served and in what instructional focus vein is the service being provided. And I really am still talking differentiated Tier 1 instruction.

Download Poster & Explanation from Common Core HERE

With such a big focus on Tier 2 vocabulary in the Common Core, we knew we needed to ramp up our vocabulary instruction of Tier 2 words.  Remember that we've been using the Marzano 6-step process for the last three years to teach content specific words from math, science and social studies.  Here's the post about Tier 3 content vocabulary instruction.   

For the more explicit teaching of tier 2 words AND an angle on tackling text complexity so that ALL students would have access to complex texts regardless of instructional reading level, we took a two pronged read-aloud appoach to accomplishing both of these important aspects of the Common Core.  Specifically, grades K-2 would do this through Text Talk vocabulary lessons, based on the reading research of Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown. Through that text lesson, teachers would explicity teach 3-5 new words per week from the book based on the vocabulary lesson format outlined in their book, Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. (Remembering that the text complexity stretch band doesn't actually begin until grade 2). Grades 3-5 would do shared reading novel studies...where all students have a copy of the text (from the grade level text complexity band) and a vocabulary notebook in hand.  Through whole group lessons, teachers would read and think aloud while students would read and think along with the teachers.  We don't do round robin or put students on the spot to read in front of their peers, but all students read silently together or silently along with the teacher and are held accountable for the reading and thinking of the text.  Teachers and students stop and think aloud and conversations ensue when the text gets tricky or challenging.  Unfamiliar vocabulary words are taught (quickly), added to Vocabulary Notebooks, shades of meaning are discussed on words and phrases used out of context or another context, figurative language is discussed, author syntax and language structure choices are discussed and for the most part, students are scaffolded through complex text with the support of the teacher, on close-r readings of the text than previous years where a read-aloud or novel study was more about comprehension--now it's about comprehension too, in addition to paying closer attention to the 3 anchor standards of Author's Craft...standards 4, 5, and 6.  And for the most part, all students are engaged and active.* (More on this sentence in my next post).

Here's are some pictures from around our school of the schoolwide template we use (teachers and students) and model for the Vocabulary Notebooks. No matter where you go in the school, the 3 column template is used throughout...Word, Student Friendly Definition (not the dictionary definition) and Non-Linguistic Representation.  

And here is an example of the same template used by students in their Vocabulary Notebook, which all students, K-5 have. 

Not sure if any of you have read the book, The Influencer (and I highly recommend it, especially if you are an administrator)...when working toward change...it talks about finding the one or two "vital behaviors" that will make the change happen (easier!), where the one or two vital behaviors are like the first and second dominoes in a long line of dominoes ready to be knocked down. It's really a great analogy because if you can just pinpoint, one or two things or "vital behaviors" to DO differently, it will make the rest the change or the end result you are seeking, happen.  This is how Vocabulary Notebooks have been for Lake Myra...a huge change in awareness, importance and urgency in words. Period. Students have even begun to track their word learning growth using vocabulary graphs. 

Vocabulary Graph HERE....
(a smaller part of a larger project on student Data Notebooks)

  Although words alone will not help students master all the standards of the Common Core ELA, they certainly give students a significant heads-up on comprehension.  When students know what words mean, they have a greater chance of understanding the meaning of the text...when students have a better understanding of the meaning of the text, they are better able to be critical readers of the text and the role its message has on their lives.  Vocabulary knowledge gives students access to the text and access is key. Period.  

Now, the text.  In my next post, I will address a new model of teaching all students to "actually" read complex text AND get thier daily dose of guided reading...thanks to some thought provoking discussions at Shanahan's presentation.  I will also address how this model worked for us last week when I tried it out before making adjustments to my Fifty Shades of the Common Core presentation at Knightdale Elementary last Wednesday.  So stay tuned....

Follow on Bloglovin

Back to Top