Learning Update


This week, we continued practicing the important addition strategy: counting on. We learned how to use our red quilt cards to increase our fact fluency.

Picture 1

We also spent time studying subtraction stories that involve objects being taken away. Our first graders learned to represent this thinking with a circle drawing, break-apart stick, and minus sign right through the circles that were taken away:

We emphasized that a subtraction equation always begins with the total and then we figure out the missing partner. An addition equation solves for a missing total.


We added to our accuracy strategies this week. Flippy the Dolphin is a great strategy to use when readers are stretching out a word. Readers can first try the short vowel sound and if that doesn’t sound right, they can FLIP IT and try the long vowel sound. Most importantly, when they have a good guess of what they think their tricky word is…they need to be careful. Careful Caterpillar reminds readers to make sure that all of the word parts match with their guess.


We learned how to finish our stories with a special ending. Our endings help “tie a bow” to our stories and help the reader know that our story is finished. Sharing special thoughts or feelings at the end of our story is a good way to finish.




Ready to Read

imagesThank you for completing the reading survey. If you haven’t had a chance to complete it yet, it’s not too late! Here is the link: reading survey. This is a look at the week ahead.

First Grade: We have learned a total of seven reading strategies. These now include using smaller word chunks to figure out longer unknown words (Chunky Monkey) and always self checking to make sure that the reading makes sense (Wise Old Owl). We are ready to start applying these strategies with different books. This week we will practice a book that is just one level above your child’s reading level. This will give plenty of opportunity for us to problem solve unknown words together. After lots of practice and discussion about the story, this book will come home on Friday in a special Book Box. You can encourage your child’s reading by listening to him/her read this book to you at home. While reading, he/she should point under the words while reading. This ensures that words are not skipped or added. This is just the first book of many which will come home from our reading class. These important books should be stored in the Book Box so that they can be practiced frequently.

Second Grade: After our review of decoding strategies and vowel sounds, we are starting our first book together. We will practice using good problem solving skills with unknown words and also work on strengthening comprehension. We will also spend time reviewing details from the story and discussing characters. In our group, we will look for clues in what the characters do, say, and act. On Friday, this book will come home in a special new Book Box. Please make sure that our reading class books are stored in this box so that they can be practiced regularly. After your second grader reads this book to you, ask about the interesting facts that we have discovered while reading.

Enjoy this reading time with your child! 

Strategies for Reading

Picture-2-150x119First Grade: Students worked hard to master letters and sounds last week and many were able to “graduate” to beginning sight words. Having quick recognition of these words will help when reading first grade books. This week, we will add three more strategies to our reading toolkit. Click here for a picture and description of all of the decoding strategies. Along with using picture clues (Eagle Eye) and the first sound of words (Lips the Fish), we will learn how to use the rest of the sentence to help figure out a tricky word. This strategy is called “Skippy the Frog” and readers skip a tricky word, read the rest of the sentence, and then try to use this additional information to figure out the word. We have discussed how a reader always checks his/her guess, to see if the letters and sounds match with the word. We will learn about rereading the sentence (Tryin Lion) to figure out a tricky word and also about how to stretch out the sounds of a difficult word (Stretchy the Snake).

Sometimes, readers need to use multiple strategies to figure out tricky words, a very difficult skill for beginning readers. The old standby, Sounding Out, doesn’t always work! If your child gets stuck on a word, guide him/her to use a strategy that will be most helpful. If you can see that a great hint is in the picture, prompt your child to use Eagle Eye. If he/she needs to read the rest of the sentence to learn more information, prompt with Skippy the Frog. By giving these great hints, you can help your child become more comfortable using different strategies.

readingSecond Grade: Readers are continuing to work on quick recognition of sight words and differentiating between short vowel sounds. Being able to hear and identify the correct sounds in words is important for both reading and writing. Second graders are also doing word sorts with the H Brothers (th, wh, sh, and ch). This decoding work is so vital for reading in second grade as longer words begin to appear more frequently in their books. Having a strong foundation in letter combinations will help your child figure out those tricky words. You can reinforce these skills by helping your child recognize these sounds in spelling words and in his/her just right books. When we finish this review, we will be ready to start our first book together.

Happy reading!

Flippy the Dolphin & Reading to Learn

Hoping that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with fun and lots and lots of reading 🙂

First Grade: This week, we have been expanding our knowledge of vowels and their sounds, long and short. This information is important because good readers are flexible in finding a vowel sound that sounds right in a word. When stretching out a word, readers should try the short sound first. If the word doesn’t make sense, readers can “flip the vowel sound” to try the long sound. This is a very complex skill! We practiced this at the letter level, then at the word level, and then finally at the sentence level in books. We will continue to work on this new strategy, Flippy the Dolphin, throughout the rest of the year. Check your child’s understanding of vowels by asking him/her to tell you the 5 vowels (we learned a song to help with this!) and also the short and long vowel sounds.

Second Grade: Readers have been continuing to work on quick recognition of common sight words and also on deepening comprehension. We have been using word patterns that we know to help us read new words. Our brain is a constant pattern seeker. Learning becomes more solid when the brain recognizes frequently occurring letter patterns in words. For example, we know the sound -ou makes in the word “out”. This -ou pattern can be applied to read the words, “proud” and “found”. Along with having quick recognition of words, we are continuing to work on understanding characters and their importance in our books. We are discussing why characters make the choices they do and the lessons that we can learn from the characters. Our focus is shifting from learning to read to reading to learn. As your child reads a just right book to you, stop several times during the story to ask How? and Why? questions about the characters. I promise that you will have some wonderful discussions!

Happy reading!!

Reading Goals and Strategies

It was so nice to meet with all of you at parent/teacher conferences! Please feel free to email me if you have any follow-up questions about your child’s reading.

First Grade: Students have learned more useful reading strategies to help when stuck on tricky words. With the strategy, Chunky Monkey, readers look for a chunk or a small word inside a bigger word. Our students are especially looking out for H Brother chunks (th, sh, ch, and wh). Tryin’ Lion is a great strategy as readers reread and “try the line again.” Wise Old Owl is the captain of the strategies, always checking to make sure that the reading makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, Owl calls on the other strategies to help. Encourage your first grader to tell you about the different strategies and also to identify strategies as they are used. Several books have gone home and should be stored in the Book Boxes. Set aside reading time every night to allow for important practice.

Second Grade: Students have focused on one reading goal in either Comprehension (understanding the reading) or Accuracy (reading the words correctly). By identifying a specific reading goal, students can target that skill to become better readers. Those students who are strengthening Comprehension are reading to remember the details of the story. Books with many people or animals can be confusing, so we are spending time after reading to describe the characters and their actions. Readers who are working on Accuracy are using strategies such as using smaller chunks to figure out longer words or fixing up when their reading doesn’t make sense. Second graders are taking home some great library books at their just right level. Continue to set aside time every night to read and practice these books together.

Happy reading!