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    Term 3, Week 10

    September 13th, 2010

    Did you revise all your key words last week?  I hope so, because this week it’s assessment time!  There is no substitute for one-to-one reading assessment with each child. The only way to find out how each learner is doing with their reading, is to spend some time with them individually.  Use the list of words you downloaded last week.  It’s much better if you cut these into word cards so that they are given in a random order. (After all, you’re not checking whether the child can recite the page – you want to know if they can recognise each word on its own!) 

    In addition, ask each learner to read their book to you.  This will show you each one’s reading fluency.  Ask a few comprehension questions to ensure that the child understands what is being read.  This is particularly important if they are being taught in a language other than their home language.  If a child is struggling to learn to read, do three simple checks:   

    1) Have eyes and ears checked to eliminate sight and hearing problems.
    2) Check whether the alphabet sounds have been mastered.
    3) Check that the child understands the language.

    Of course there are many other specific learning barriers, but the above 3 checks will often take you to the root of the problem.

    Level 1

    In the classroom this week: Assess Level 1, List 2 Key Words.

    In the computer lab this week: 

    Talking Story – Level 1 Advanced, “On the see-saw” continued.

    Level 2

    In the classroom this week: Assess Level 2, List 3 Key Words

    In the computer lab this week:  

    Talking Story – Level 2 Advanced, “Slowly, Sylvia, Slowly”.

    Level 3

    In the classroom this week:  Assess Level 3, List 2 Key Words.

     In the computer lab this week:

     Talking Story – Level 3 Advanced, “Alfie finds a home”.


    Term 3, Week 1

    July 7th, 2010

    We’re back at school after the looong winter holiday.  Don’t take a few weeks to gear up – get off to a cracking start!  Your children are well rested and ready to learn.  Take full advantage of this first week and capitalise on your children’s eagerness.

    Level 1

    In the classroom this week: Send home the following information:

    1. Grade1 Term3 Letter to Parents 
    2. Level 1, List 2 Key Words 
    3. Individual assessment of key words from the end of Term 2

    Read the parent letter carefully before sending it.  You may want to make a few changes to individualise it.  You could also copy and paste it onto your school letterhead. 

    You are also sending home the second list of key words that Grade 1 children should learn.  If you have systematically followed the Talking Stories blog advice, then by now you will be delighted with the progress your Grade 1 children are making!  This term you should continue sending home Talking Stories reading books for children to enjoy with their families each week.

    In the computer lab this week:

    Talking Story – Level 1 Intermediate, “Bath time”.

    Level 2

    In the classroom this week: Send home the following information:

    1. Grade2 Term3 Letter to Parents
    2. Level 2, List 3 Key Words
    3. Individual key word assessment from the end of Term 2

    By sending home a copy of their child’s assessment sheet you are providing clear information on individual progress.  This also enables parents to give focussed help to their children where necessary.

    You are also sending home the third set of key words that Grade 2 children should learn.  Remember to keep sending home a reading book each week this term.

    In the computer lab this week:

    Talking Story – Level 2 Core, “The sweet machine”

    Level 3

    In the classroom this week: Send home the following information:

    1. Grade3 Term3 Letter to Parents
    2. Level 3, List 2 Key Words (2 pages)
    3. Individual key word assessment from the end of Term 2

    Your children should be able to read quite confidently by now.  Strengthen their LOVE of reading this term.  Encourage them to visit the local library, and remember to keep sending home a reading book each week this term!

    In the computer lab this week: 

    Talking Story – Level 3 Core, “Chickenpox”


    Term 2, Week 7

    May 22nd, 2010

    Level 1

    In the classroom this week: Individual assessment of Level 1, List 1 Key Words.  These are the words you sent home at the beginning of Term 2 and that you have recently revised in class.  One by one, call children to your desk and tick the words they can read. Do this in a supportive and encouraging way, never chastising children for not having learnt the required words.  Always try to be encouraging and to eliminate stress when doing this kind of assessment.  Stress and fear are the two greatest inhibitors of learning.

    In the computer lab this week:

    Talking Story – Level 1 Core, “Where is Pravesh?”

    Here’s a great story that children can interact with… also on the theme of the main character hiding:
     Here, Clifford!
    Then help Clifford to make some words:
    Make a Word Activity

    Level 2

    In the classroom this week: Individual Assessment of Level 2, List 2 Key Words.  You need to sit with each child and ask them to read each of the words in order to assess whether each learner has mastered their key words for this term.  Parents need to be alerted immediately, to provide extra support where needed.

    In the computer lab this week:


    Talking Story – Level 2 Core, “Can I live with you?”

    Here’s a story about another bird who was looking for a friendly home:
    The Ugly Duckling - You can even print this story out for children to make into their own books.

    Level 3

    In the classroom this week:  Individual assessment of Level 3, List 1 Key Words.  Level 3 learners have had a lot of key words from Levels 1 and 2 to revise this year.  This is the first set of Level 3 key words.  Please take time to carefully assess how many words each child can recognise.  Your children should by now be well able to sound out unfamiliar words.  If this is not happening, check whether they are confident with their alphabet sounds.  If not, please take remedial action straight away.  Do everything in your power to ensure that no child is left behind! 

    In the computer lab this week: 


    Talking Story – Level 3 Core, “The peacock and the nightingale”

    This story is written in the form of a folk tale.  If some of your learners are struggling with the amount of text and the level of reading required, here are six more folk tales at an easier level.  These can all be printed out for reading at home too.
    FOLK TALES


    Reading Assessment

    May 5th, 2010

    Are you worried about national and provincial standardised testing?

    Children need practice at working under test conditions.  They also need to be familiar with the style of assessment that is often used for standardised testing.  Help your children to prepare for these situations by setting up your own formal assessment day:

    1. Separate desks.
    2. Tell children that today is a special day with a special task to do.
    3. Explain that this task needs to be done completely on their own so that you can see if you have taught them well enough, and if there are some things you need to go over again.  (Note the emphasis on how well you have taught rather than on the learners’ ability.  This takes the pressure off the learners and helps them to feel more relaxed.)
    4. Ensure each child has a sharp pencil.
    5. Emphasize that they may not speak to each other during the session.  Children should put their hand up if they need something.
    6. Talk the children through the test and explain what must be done at each stage.
    7. Provide plenty of reassurance and create a warm, supportive atmosphere in the classroom even though you are conducting a test.  (The greatest inhibitors of learning are stress and fear.  Try to eliminate these.)

    I have created Level 1 assessments in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.  Use them in any way that suits you, or adapt them as required.

    English Reading Assessment

    isiXhosa Reading Assessment

    Afrikaans Reading Assessment


    Last week of term!

    March 22nd, 2010

    This week allow your children to have free choice of any Talking Stories in any language.

    Watch what they choose.  This will give you valuable information about whether you are targeting their level correctly.  My experience is that teachers often underestimate the capability of their learners.

    Let your children have fun in the computer lab and on the interactive whiteboard this week… but that doesn’t mean using the computers as a babysitter!  Be involved.  Guide their choices.  Walk up and down and ensure the learners remain on task.

    Make your own end-of-term award certificates! 

     Children learn best by positive reinforcement.  This week you can make a unique certificate for every child in your class, with a different message of congratulations for each one.  Keep your comments specific and genuine.  Every child is gifted in one way or another.  Recognise this gift and boost your learners’ self-esteem by acknowledging what they are good at.  Doing this exercise will also be beneficial to you as a teacher – it helps you focus on the individual needs and talents of every child in your class.  Use this really easy online tool, with lots of different borders, pictures and suggested comments:
    CREATE CUSTOMISED AWARD CERTIFICATES


    Term 1, Week 9

    March 7th, 2010

    Level 1

    In the classroom this week it’s assessment time! 
    This week you are going to check whether your children know all the alphabet sounds that you have covered this term.  Download the assessment sheet here:
    Alphabet Sounds Assessment
    Work one-to-one with each child and tick every alphabet sound that they recognise.  Send a copy of the assessment home, so that parents can help their children with those sounds not recognised.

    Keep this assessment sheet safely filed in your classroom.  At the end of term 2 and term 3, use the same sheet again.  Instead of ticks, use circles and then crosses on the different dates.  This will help you to keep track of progress throughout the year.

    In the computer lab this week:

     Talking Story - Level 1 Beginner, “Can you help me?”

    Level 2

    In the classroom this week: Assessment week is here!  Did you remember to recruit a parent helper to assist you in this very important task?  Download the key words assessment sheet here:
    Key words Assessment Level 1 lists 1-3 
    The only way to do this assessment effectively is by sitting quietly with each learner, one at a time, and ticking off the words as they read them.  It takes a long time, and that is why I recommended that you get a parent to help you.  It is extremely important to send home a copy of the assessment sheet.  Parents need to know exactly how much help their children still need in recognising these high frequency words.  If you do this well, you will be building an excellent foundation for reading progress.

    In the computer lab this week:

    Talking Story – Level 2 Beginner, “This is my body.”

     Level 3

    In the classroom this week:  It’s assessment time for Grade 3s as well!  This week you will do the first Key Word Assessment checklist.  It’s the same as the one used in Level 2 this week, so you can download the assessment sheet from Level 2, above.  This should be mainly revision.  Next week we will assess more of the revision key words.  Let’s be sure your children are up to speed with the alphabet, as well as the level 1 and 2 key words, before we launch into the key words for level 3!

    In the computer lab this week:  

    Talking Story – Level 3 Beginner, “A surprise for Daniel.”


    Term 1, Week 3

    January 24th, 2010

    By now your children will have settled down and your baseline assessments should be completed.  I hope you feel as excited as I do at the prospect of young children learning to read!  You have new Talking Stories resources to help you, and if you use them well you WILL significantly raise the levels of reading in your class.  This is going to be your best year ever in teaching!

    Let’s get cracking with this week’s work:

    Level 1

    In the classroom this week you will begin teaching the alphabet, doing one letter each day.  Start on Monday with the letter ‘a’.  By Friday you will have got up to the letter ‘e’.  Click HERE or on the “Alphabet” tab at the top of the page, to find pictures that will help you teach each letter sound.  You will also find a link to the amazing animated pencil, which is brilliant for teaching letter formation.

    Send worksheets home to encourage parents to help with teaching each alphabet sound! Click on the days of the week to find a selection of pages for each alphabet sound:
    Monday   Tuesday   Wednesday   Thursday   Friday

    In the computer lab this week you need to teach your children how to log on and double-click on the Talking Stories icon in order to open the programme.  Take your time to teach this well.  Encourage the children to help each other.  This will save you a lot of time in every lesson in future.

    Level 2

    In the classroom this week you need to assess each child to see whether they recognise all of the alphabet sounds.  It is impossible to make progress in reading without this crucial building block.  Don’t make the assumption that children will know their alphabet by the time they get to Grade 2.  If you need to reteach the alphabet, then use the resources for Level 1 above.

    Alphabet Assessment Sheet - This should be done one-to-one with each child.  Ask a loving parent or volunteer to help with this in class.  Tick each letter that the child knows.  Children should be able to recognise the letter sound (‘a’ as in pan), and not necessarily the letter name (‘a’ as in pane).

    Homework:  Send home Key Words Level 1, List 1 .  If your children were using Talking Stories last year, then this will be revision. You could also send home a simple wordsearch each day.  Click on the days of the week below for wordsearches that focus on words beginning with the first five letters of the alphabet.
    Monday   Tuesday   Wednesday   Thursday   Friday

    In the computer lab this week you should revise logging on with your new class.  Run through the computer lab rules that you established last week, and show the children how to open the Talking Stories.  Let them explore one or two of the Level 1 stories, just for fun.  Let the children choose – you want them to learn how to find their way around the programme, using the menu.

    Level 3

    In the classroom this week you will be revising key words that your children should be able to read by now. 
    Level 1, List 1 
    Level 1, List 2 

    If there are any children in your class who are still struggling to recognise alphabet sounds, then take time to work with them as a group.  Put in place some support so you don’t lose these children!  We want everyone to love reading and to make progress in literacy.  Use the resources for Levels 1 and 2 above to assist these learners.

    Homework this week is to learn to read all the key words that you have revised in class.  You could even use these key words for a spelling test on Friday!  Send the key word sheets home so that learners can cut out the individual words and learn to read them.  HINT: If they don’t cut out the words and muddle them up, then often they simply learn to recite what’s on the sheet, without actually reading each word.  So make sure your kids cut the sheets into individual words!

    In the computer lab this week

       Children will open and read the Level 3 core story called, “The Pink Umbrella.”  Let them enjoy following the Talking Story at their own pace and completing one or two of the activities.  We will continue with this story next week.