Reading Intervention Planning

This year I had the opportunity to attend a Joyful Literacy Reading Summit in Saskatoon. We learned all about helping struggling readers thrive through a games-based approach. I spent the next couple months trying to implement my newfound knowledge into my teaching, as it positively applies to my work as a Student Support Teacher. So far the kids are loving the games and our Grade 1 reading scores are improving!

With my brain full of great ideas and seemingly not enough hours in a day, my first step was to read Putting on the Blitz by Janet Mort. The text offers ideas about setting up meaningful interventions and there are great game-based resources and examples to learn from. My task was to try and figure out how this would work for my students and within my environment with the resources allotted to me. The next step was to approach my room and resources with a different lens. I had to figure out what I already had in my room that could be used to create game-based phonics and phonological awareness interventions. Suddenly fly swatters were looking like tools for learning in our Sight Word Splat instead of for their intended use! However, I did also have to purchase resources and took advantage of great finds at the Dollar Store, as well as, the Teacher Tax Credit. It is amazing what resources you can find when you look at things with a different perspective.

With significantly less  money in my pocket, my next step was to pull everything together and create a phonics and phonological awareness intervention year plan. This year plan utilizes the games that I have already created in my classroom, as well as, the Florida Center for Reading Research’s Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading curriculum. If you are a primary teacher and especially if you are a primary Student Support Teacher, I highly recommend taking the time to utilize this resource. It does take a lot of time to create – printing each game on cardstock, cutting, laminating, labeling the resources in Ziploc bags, and filing – but in the end you have hundreds of age-appropriate lessons, games, and assessments that focus on phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. The best part is that it is research-based and the kids are highly engaged by the games! They ask me to play them again and again!

The intervention plan is flexible in regards to the proposed timelines and activities – the students’ understanding will dictate the speed in which you proceed or review concepts and your classroom resources and game creations will vary from my own but can easily be incorporated into this plan. There are Saskatchewan curriculum connections. And since reading intervention is one piece of the literacy pie for my Grade 1’s, I have included guided reading plans with reading strategies and resources.

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I find that having this intervention plan posted in my room allows for easy planning in my Weekly Planner, which can also be adjusted to meet your planning needs. This planner helps when you need a substitute teacher due to an unforeseen event, such as illness. At a quick glance, my substitute teacher is informed about our daily activities, where to find the materials, who I am teaching at what time, and the behavior and academic needs of my learners. So far I am finding that the two resources work nicely together.

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May your literacy and intervention planning be as joyous as your play-based teaching!

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Extra-Curricular Activities, Interning, and the Essence of Time

My belief has always been that life is about others and not ourselves. Thus, I have always been an avid volunteer and even though I get tired, or feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or wonder “why am I doing this?” there are always those moments that show you just how important your time is.

As an intern, I believe the program allows us to gracefully enter into full-time responsibilities. Therefore, to keep myself busy and not coasting through the first month or two (as this will never be a reality once I have my own classroom), I decided to help coach/mentor Cross Country, Bantam Boys Volleyball, and the SRC. I believe that although I am giving my time, it is not selfless because you always benefit from being kind to others. This post is not to say that giving up your lunch hour or weekend is easy but what I am saying is that this volunteer time matters and there are benefits to doing so for both myself and the students. This week alone, I had three “this-is-why-I’m-doing-this” moments!

Moment number one: This weekend I had one student attending Cross Country Provincials after getting 6th place at Districts. It was so nice to see him thrive in athletics and to build a relationship with him in an environment that he enjoys. Furthermore, at Districts he was nothing but kind; congratulating people as they finished the race, shaking his competitors’ hands before starting, and hugging the kid that encouraged him to continue are just a few of the GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP things I saw him do. Note: I saw him do these things but never told him to.

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Moment number two: This week several students on the SRC gave up their lunch hours to help organize and wrap up recent fundraisers. Students were not required to volunteer their time but chose to take responsibility for the work and make their school a better place. It is easy to forget how much kids really care about their school and what is going on around them but they DO CARE and most of them are willing to put in EXTRA EFFORT to make their environment the best place possible.

Moment number three: This weekend the Bantam Boys Volleyball team placed first at the Gravelbourg tournament. However, it is not the standing that touches me. It’s that this group of boys LOVES what they are doing and GIVES IT THEIR ALL. It is nice to see them in an environment that they enjoy and thrive in. Not only do they try hard, but they are very nice to each other if someone makes a mistake. With fair playing time and younger students learning it is not uncommon for older students to get frustrated but instead, these boys support one another and allow each other to grow. After the tenth set out of eleven this week, I was surprised to have a kid come off the court and say “I don’t want it to be over. I LOVE VOLLEYBALL SOO MUCH! Why does the season have to be over in October?” The others nodded in agreement. I couldn’t help but think, “aren’t you tired?” as I smiled at his enthusiasm. And that was my third “this-is-why-I’m-volunteering-my-time” moment this week. Because what happens on the court (or on a committee) may not follow a curriculum. It is not school work and it may not be considered formal learning. But on the court (or on a committee) the students ARE LEARNING – to get along, preserver, focus during boring games, support one another, work hard, achieve greatness, bounce back from a mistake, react/problem solve quickly, be lifelong learners, be engaged citizens, use metacognition, and the importance of an active lifestyle –  and they ARE ENGAGED! My time matters and to any other teacher, community member, or parent who volunteers their time: your time matters, too!

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