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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blind Sort Mini-Lesson

Welcome! I know it has been a little while since my last blog post, but I am sure everyone can relate to the amount of work we all have in the beginning of the school year. I am especially busy this year because our school is in transition from Imagine IT to a balanced literacy model.  

Lucy Caulkin's Reading and Writing Workshop
Our school has been following Lucy Caulkin's Reading and Writing Workshop, as we move toward balanced literacy. In this format, word study does not look the same as I have taught it in the past. I used to meet with each group during literacy centers and have students sort words at a small table while we discussed the features of that group's words. It was taught in a more isolated fashion, with students of different levels having different mini-lessons. Although I still meet with students and target their developmental levels, there is a big push in this new design for a common word study mini-lesson each day. Instead of pulling groups during a designated word study time, I pull students during different times of the day based on their needs. For example, the other day I pulled 3 kids for a quick picture sort comparing short i and short e.  Although I have 5 kids in my Letter-Name group, only 3 were struggling with this skill. In addition, I created a short vowel anchor chart with all of the short vowel patterns and make the kids refer to it during writing and morning work (individualized Cut, Paste & Spell). So even though I am not rotating through word study groups, I am still using targeted word study, it just looks a little different and is more integrated.  I like that.  I can already see how this will be a more efficient model because I am able to have a larger writing block. 

Whole Group Mini-Lesson
In order to move toward this model, I have returned to introducing the words from all of the groups as a whole group lesson on day 1. This is especially important for the students in the lower levels to be exposed to words in the higher levels. However, I wanted a routine for the whole group lesson, so I am working on what that looks like. I needed a way to work in the blind sort, so I began to do it whole group and I love it! I led the class in a blind sort with short o, long o spelled o_e, oa, and ow. I wanted to make sure all the kids were on task, so I gave them all an index card and had them write the categories and columns. This could also be done by folding it into 4 sections and having students write a pattern in each of the four squares, which I have done before (it all depends on how small a child can write). Next, I had the patterns printed on chart paper and as I called out the words, students pointed at the category on their index card where they thought I should write it. After their prediction, I wrote it on the chart and told them to think about whether they got it correct. I then modeled blending the word by underlining the pattern as we repeated the word as a class and continued to the next word. I hope someone can use this. I am known for talking too much, so if this blog post is too long, here is a graphic that may help you put it all into perspective. I am definitely a big picture person and need something like this!

You can download a copy of these directions here: Blind Sort Mini-Lesson Directions

Have a great Thanksgiving!