Monday, August 3, 2015

Reading Street Projects

Why does education always have to go from one extreme to another?  When I started in my district,  we were able to teach (almost) anything for Language Arts (both a good and bad thing) but were severely lacking in district provided resources.  Now, we are adopting (with fidelity) Reading Street for reading and Units of Study for Writing.  We probably have too many resource and not enough flexibility. 

Since a big part of my job is to support the 4th grade classroom teachers, I've been trying to figure out how to make the vocabulary and language more organized and visual. 

I first looked at the vocabulary lists.  There are two lists:  Amazing Words and Selection Vocabulary.  

The way I understand it, Amazing Words (also called Oral Vocabulary) are the more difficult set of words, just above grade level.  These are Tier II words, words that will appear in other academic contexts.  Don't quote me on this though and please leave a comment if you know! 

For these words, I tried to create a slide with the word, several pictures, and a definition.  Mary Ellen Vogt talked at ILA about the importance of including both the visual and the definition.   Pictures are worth 1,000 words but they can also mislead you.

I also included a little visual for the week.  I put it on everything for that week.  My hope is that it will help students mentally organize each week's concepts.  For example, when they think about route, they can visualize the pioneer girl and remember when they read On the Banks of Plum Creek. (This week features the pioneer girl clipart from MelonHeadz.  It's a freebie!)  

I created one additional slide for each of these words.  Mostly it is a phonics question copied from the Teacher's Guide but occasionally I made up my own question. 

Selection Words are also Tier II words but are chosen because they play an important part in the reading selection of the week.  We have these vocabulary cards called Envision It! that has a great color photograph that illustrates the vocabulary word.  This is a perfect example of how just a picture can mislead you though.  If you just see the picture, you may guess that the word is "cat" or "arched" back.  By adding the context, you can relate the picture to the meaning. 

I developed these words more than the Amazing Words.  I created slides where students discuss and write about their Selection Words.  Each word has 5-6 slides.  I don't think that the classroom teachers will do every slide every week but I think it will be useful to review these words in small group.  My idea is that they will fill out an organizer like this for each word. 

My final project is a digital "focus wall" for my ESL students each week.  It is very simple, but I hope it helps them understand what they really need to focus on that week. 

Since this program is so new to me, I just made Unit 1 materials.  I need to figure out which set of words is more useful to explicitly teach.  Hopefully, I will tell you how this goes and any changes I made to this system.  Again, if you teach Reading Street (ESPECIALLY 4th grade) please leave comments and feedback about these projects. 

Since this last week was such a mess, I didn't manage to make too much.  However, I was determined to link up with 4th Grade Frolics again for Monday Made It.  It got me working! 


  1. I know what you mean, but I've moved in the opposite direction. I went from a school that was very big on "programs" and scripting the instruction to one where we have a lot of freedom. There are pros and cons to both but I am definitely more happy where I am now.

  2. We adopted the Wonders series last year and I have really mixed emotions. They wanted us to jump in with it and now I'm hearing for us to pull back. I don't ever follow the scripts...shh! I use it as a supplement, but not as my core. Love the slide you made. The kids are going to love that for sure!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. Hi so happy to have found you... I am also teaching these series for the first time and I feel exactly the same... Last week I prepared slides on oower point ... It helped