Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stamina Reading

I LOVE stamina reading!!! 
My first year teaching I went to an all day class through our district and one of the topics they discussed was stamina reading.  What it was, why it is important for kiddos to do, how it works differently in grade levels and classrooms.  One new teacher raised her hand and told of her struggle with implementing it in her classroom.  She said she taught kinder and her kiddos could not even make it for 1 minute!! I do not know why that has stuck with me, even to this day, but from that moment on I knew I would not only be immediately implementing it into my classroom but that my kiddos would succeed in doing it for WAY more than 1 minute!!

Here is how I use stamina reading in my classroom:

I use stamina reading to not only give my kiddos a chance to re-read familiar books but to also gain stamina (get it, stamina reading!!) in reading independently for a good chunk of time.  
Here is how I build up my kiddos stamina.  
I made an anchor chart my 2nd year of teaching and have been successfully using it since.
(Sorry its a little hard to read and there are no cute pictures but hey it works.)
 It says:
Stamina Reading:
You must: read the whole time & not move places & not be distracting & be quiet
You can: whisper read & read the pictures

The numbers 1-20 are a count up to their final goal of actively participating in stamina reading for 20 minutes.  
20 MINUTES you say!!! 
It is true!!
Kindergarten kiddos can read for 20 minutes independently!!
Every class I have taught has made this goal!!

When I first start stamina reading I go over expectations very thoroughly! I model what I mean by reading pictures (especially since I did not have a single reader at the beginning of this school year) and how if I get through all of my books I can go back and read them again..  I discuss with them their goal of being able to read 20 minutes independently by the end of the school year. We also discuss how when we reach certain minutes that are circled in blue we get rewards.  

For minutes 1-3 my kiddos have to stay in their seats and read books from their book baskets that are on their tables.  (They each pick 3 books prior to the time starting so there is no fighting over books during stamina reading.)  When everyone (I make a big deal how we are a team and everyone has to be successful for that certain amount of time during stamina reading before we can move on to more time) has successfully done their part of being an independent reader during our allotted time I color in that number with a red marker and we move on to the next minute goal.  When the kiddos have successfully read for 3 minutes they get to move out of their seats and sit anywhere in our classroom (hitting our first goal that is circled).  

When they move around the room we go over a couple more expectations.  Those expectations being they have to be arms length away from everyone else, only one person under each table, and they cannot be moving around once they have found their spot.  
The kiddos LOVE being able to move and read around the classroom.  
I give each of them a large ziploc bag of about 6-7 books.  We use Hartcourt Reading material at our school so I put their pre-decodable and decodable books in their ziploc bags plus some other small books I inherited when I moved classrooms.  We currently read one pre-decodable Hartcourt book per week that we practice over and over.  By the time they get their ziploc bag of books there should be at least 1 book that they can read the words independently.  (Once I start doing guided reading with my kiddos I will make them personalized bags so they can practice all the books they have been reading at school during class and guided reading.)

My kiddos just got to 7 minutes so they have earned their whisper phones.
We once again discuss expectations of using a whisper phone and not "playing" with our whisper phone!
(I love whisper phones because the kids can really hear themselves reading!!)
 Look at her using her whisper phone and her reading finger!!!

My kiddos are currently working on getting to 10 minutes so we can have a day where we go outside to do stamina reading!

I haven't yet decided what they are going to be earning at 13 minutes (I try to change it up every year).  At 16 minutes they will be earning popcorn to eat during stamina reading and at 20 minutes a pizza party!!
I always tell them about their final goal when starting stamina reading in our classroom that way they can be excited to not only read that long but get such an awesome prize!!

What I do while they are reading:
I monitor till about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes I start pulling a small skill group or individual kids who need a couple minutes of one on one attention in a certain area. I also monitor students individual reading levels by sitting next to them and having them read me a book.  They LOVE when I do this!

Things to remember:
I also discuss with my kiddos how I am not available for them during this time.  They cannot get up and try to talk to me at all.  I also remind them that it is not time to go to the bathroom/get a drink (of course you have those emergencies but for the most part the rule is followed very well in my classroom).  

Stamina reading not only allows your kiddos to get more practice reading previously taught text but it also teaches them to love reading and enjoy have time to get into books.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Story Map... a Kinder kind :)

So about 2 weeks ago I decided I NEEDED to make a story map anchor chart.  Look at what I was working with...
(Knuffle Bunny is an adorable book and my kiddos LOVED when the baby "talks"! They thought it was hilarious and definitely a story they could relate to (lost toys)).
So I made a REAL anchor chart...
As you can see it is much improved.  My kiddos love to verbally fill it out and know the objective for reading a narrative text.  
Now that I have an appropriate and useful anchor chart I wanted to get my kiddos even more involved.  They are not ready to independently write but they can draw!! I first started out with just the title and the characters.
 We read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!.  It is a hilarious story and only has two characters and dialog, nothing else to distract the kiddos.  After we filled out the Story Map chart we passed out our own papers and got to work drawing the characters.
The kiddos did a really great job drawing the characters and we even talked about labeling them with their names!
The next day we moved onto focusing on setting.
We read The Napping House (where everyone is sleeping until something wakes them up). This is a great book to focus on setting because it stays the same till the very last page.  
The kiddos told me what the setting was and what I should draw to show it.  
Here is how some of the kiddos turned out:

Since my kiddos did such a great job on both characters and setting when we focused on them individually, I decided it was time to combined them and do both.  
We read the story Caramba (about a cat who should fly like the other cats but cannot).  We filled out the Story Map anchor chart and then we moved on to our own.
We drew the characters together on the SmartBoard.  Then we talked about the setting in the story again (outside in grass, the shore, or the ocean).  The kiddos could choose what they wanted to draw to represent the setting for the story.  Here is how one turned out:
 (I thought I took more pictures of some of the other kiddo's work but I cannot find them.  I will take more this week as we continue to work on setting and characters of each story we read.)

Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I got my act together and here is a couple ideas of what I use almost daily on my SmartBoard notebook.  

The first thing my kiddos and I do in the morning (after bellwork) is phonograms (Sequential Processing).  At my school we have been discussing and working on making objectives kids friendly so they know what they are going to do and why.  My co-worker/friend Kristen and I made one on our SmartBoard for our phonograms.  (Check out her blog:  
We start each morning with the question, "Why do we learn phonograms?" with the choral response "So we can read and write!".  Then I go over everything we are going to do and we begin.  As we complete each part we check them off.
My kiddos LOVE it!  They know what to expect and can make the connection of why they are learning phonograms.  

Here is the screen we use when learning how to write a new phonograms.
I write on the top 2 lines, explicitly describing how I am writing the capital and lower case of each phonograms while the kiddos practice in the air with their finger.  Then I pick kiddos to come up and practice capital/lower case of the phonogram while the rest of us write it in the air with our "magic finger"!
Having the black, red, and blue lines is very helpful so when I am describing how to write it or asking a kiddo to fix their work I can use the colors as a helpful visual.  (Ex: Start at the top black line, go diagonally down to the bottom blue line, diagonally back up to the top black line... etc).  They LOVE getting to come up and practice on the SmartBoard.  

After we get done with Sequential Processing I read an Expository Text on the SmartBoard based off the phonogram of the day.
Expository Text
The kiddos and I discuss what expository text is, what the topic for the days expository text is (pointing out that it is a word that begins with the same phonogram as the one we learned for the day), what we already know about the topic, answer questions while we read it, and what we learned from it when we are finished reading it.  It's an easy way to introduce expository text at the beginning of the school year without overwhelming them.  Once we get through all of the single phonograms (26) we go back and re-learn each one putting lots more emphasis on words that begin with that phonogram and independently writing it perfectly.  We also revisit each one of the expository texts but this time at the end they have to write 1 sentence using the topic and a fact they learned.  Last year my kiddos liked reading the expository text better the second time around because they were familiar with it and excited to pick and write their favorite fact from each text.  

Sight Words
My kiddos love to play games on the SmartBoard.  One game I found last year was a "button" sight word game.  I found it on SmartBoard Exchange (  It is a totally FREE!!!! site that lets teachers exchange what they have made of the SmartBoard.  You can pick by grade level and/or topic.  If you have never gone to this site GO!!!!  
Anyways, I changed this one to the words my kiddos are currently working on.  
 I start the game by pressing a button.  Everyone thinks in their head what the word is.  Then I pick a student to say the word.  If they get the word correct everyone says the word together and that kiddo gets to press the orange button that takes you back to the button page and then press a different button (if they get it wrong everyone says the word together, they repeat it after, and then get to choose the next word).  

As I come across more SmartBoard resources I am using and loving I will blog about them too!!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, September 3, 2012

I LOVE my SmartBoard!!

Every teacher friend I have has a SmartBoard and uses it on a daily basis.  (If you do not have a SmartBoard I am so sorry!! At least 80% of all my lessons have an element where we use the SmartBoard! I really do not think I would be as an effective teacher without this amazing tool.)  Since the SmartBoard is such an important part of my teaching life I wanted to show you show you some of my favorite sites I use and some of the SmartBoard Notebooks I have set up to use with my kiddos.  

Favorite sites:
Class DoJo

The Class DoJo website allows you to keep track of all the positive and negative behavior that is occurring in your classroom.  You can view it where the kiddos can see both their negative and positive behavior points or the view that shows the scores combined (every negative point takes away a positive point).  We keep track all week and then on Friday afternoon if the students DoJo has more negative points than positive points they get to go to Responsibility Club. (Responsibility Club is where kiddos with positive behavior get to go to one classroom where they can choose any activity they want to do (coloring, blocks, games on the SmartBoard, etc).  The kiddos who had more negative behaviors have to go to the classroom where they have to make up work they did not finish through out the week or extra worksheets they have already done.)
 The site even allows you to change all the setting to what positive/negatives you care about in your
classroom.  I did not like "disruptions" so much as I like "talking excessively".
You can change the icons and make as many of each as you want.  To top it off, the site allows you to email each parent the students behavior as often as you want (I do weekly so every Friday afternoon my parents receive an email).  

The people who run the site seem really great too.  They have a section entitled "New Features" that allows you to see what they are working on to improve the site and allows you to give your own suggestions.  This is my first year using DoJo and already I see my kiddos enjoying it and it making a better impact than my previous green, yellow, red light system.
(Side bar-- My kinder-team and I made a DoJo reward system.  When a kiddo reaches so many positives they get a reward (stickers, pencils, big chair, all the way up to eating lunch with the teacher).  

Have Fun Teaching
I go to their YouTube channel to find all my favorite videos.
They have an alphabet/phonics video, a video for each letter of the alphabet with its name, phonogram sound, and words that begin with it.  They also have sight word videos and counting videos.  On the side bar they have categorized it into subjects or grade level.  My kiddos watch the letter of the day that we learned video and the alphabet video each day during snack.  They LOVE the upbeat music and really get into singing along!
They also have their website you can check out and see what they are all about.

Storyline Online
This site has I think around 20 books that are read aloud by celebrities.  They show the book's illustration as they are being read.  My kiddos love to listen to these stories over and over again!

Online Stories
Barnes & Nobles has a section on their site for Online Stories read by the author.  I think they try to put a new one up every month.  It's really fun for the kiddos to watch because they see the author and how the author intended for the book to be read.  My kiddos wanted to watch The Pigeon Wants a Puppy every day last year they loved it so much!

So these are SOME of my favorite sites.  As I find/use more great sites I will blog about them too.  I am also going to make a post about some of the things I do on Smart Notebook.  (I just realized my home computer does not have the program so none of my files will open up, sad face!!)

SUPER side-bar... I wrote in an earlier post about the alphabet crafts I have my kiddos make each day.  My lovely friend put them up to buy in her TeacherPayTeachers site.  Go get them!!!

Happy Teaching this week!!