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Volume 4 Number 7
I feel we have to approach education with the determination to affect each and every one of our students. The mentality of achieving "success" after reaching one child isn't enough.
The Essential 55 Rules - Discovering the Successful Student In Every Child...
Apple Seeds: Inspirational quotes by Barb Erickson
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    Letters to the Editor
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    Grade One Reading Primer from the Teachers.Net Chatboard
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    Grade One Reading Primer

    From the Teacher Chatboard

    "Praline" posted:
    I teach first grade. This past year I had 16 students. Half of them scored below average on the DRA. I have taught first grade for many years and this is the highest below average rate I have ever had. The students made progress, but just not enough. I had a boy who had already repeated K and he ended the year on a level 10 (DRA). He had started the year on level A. Another could read anything you put in front of him but could not retell anything about the story. He is receiving speech therapy for language processing and further testing is scheduled for next year. Another girl was evaluated and will be receiving sp. ed services for language arts next year. One boy was already in sp.ed services for language arts.

    The other half of the class made a lot of progress. They came from a level 2 or 3 at the beginning of the year to levels between 16 and 24.

    I am tied to the basal reader used by the district which is Scott Foresman. Most of the low performing students have no support at home. Everything has to be done in school.

    Do you have any suggestions for this coming year?

    Mary/PA responded :

    First of all, if you haven't read the following books, I would suggest that you do so. They will help you to better understand the reading and writing behaviors that you observe and to make more powerful decisions about what to do in order to move the children from where they are toward independent, on grade level reading and writing.

    Becoming Literate: The Construction of Inner Control

    by Marie M. Clay

    Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read and Write

    by Patricia Marr Cunningham, Richard L. Allington

    Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use

    by Patricia Cunningham

    The Teacher's Guide to the Four Blocks: A Multimethod, Multilevel Framework for Grades 1-3

    by Patrica M. Cunningham, Dorothy P. Hall, Cheryl M. Sigmon

    Also, find a way to get more reading material for the children. You can use your basal, but it's not enough. The children have to have something new to read every day in addition to reading familiar texts. This material should NOT be at their frustration level. You must have material that is on their instructional level and other material that is on their independent need lots of reading material.

    Teach and practice writing every day. Writing is very important at the beginning stages of learning to read. What the children are able to write is a window into what they are actually attending to when they are attempting to read. Writing is the activity that forces them to think about how words and text work, how to compose their thoughts, and learn about the concepts of print.

    Don't waste the children's time by having them do workbooks and worksheets. These materials don't teach. The children's time is better spent engaged in real reading and writing.

    Teach the children the strategies needed in order to read and write. Teach them what they need to attend to, how to think and what to think about...the meaning of the story, the structure of the language, and what they see on the page. Teach them how to monitor their reading and writing. It is their job to notice when something isn't right. Then teach them how to go back and try something more than they tried before. Teach them how to make predictions about what they are about to read and tell about what they have already read.

    The following is a list of strategies I use to help guide my thinking when I'm observing and planning.

    Reading and Writing Strategies and Behaviors of First Grade Children


    • uses left to right directionality
    • uses return sweep
    • attends to print
    • matches 1-1
    • locates known and unknown words before and during reading
    • monitors by known words
    • monitors by one-to-one matching
    • uses meaning cues from pictures
    • uses first letter as a cue
    • searches for meaning cues
    • searches for structure cues
    • searches for visual cues
    • starts taking risks
    • re-reads after a "told"
    • re-reads to search for additional cues
    • realizes print carries message
    • has early strategies well under control (without lapses)
    • continues monitoring one-to-one
    • continues monitoring with known words
    • does some cross-checking with help
    • begins to use more visual cues
    • verbalizes errors and self corrections
    • links known to unknown
    • uses chunks in word analysis ("word families")
    • uses chunks: -s, -es, -ing, -er, etc.
    • re-reads to confirm and predict
    • re-reads to self-correct
    • problem-solves with more information
    • begins to integrate cues
    • has a good self-correction rate
    • self-monitors consistently
    • cross-checks cue sources
    • transfers strategies to various settings
    • re-reads without teacher prompting
    • uses some visual analysis on text
    • uses all of the strategies above to read increasingly difficult texts
    • problem solves independently
    • constructs own meaning prior to reading new texts
    • improves every time s/he reads


    • uses left to right directionality
    • uses return sweep
    • begins to control appropriate spacing on the page
    • writes many letters without a model
    • records dominant consonant sounds
    • articulates words slowly
    • pushes counters into boxes while saying the word slowly (the teacher draws one box for each sound giving the child support with boundaries)
    • writes known words fluently
    • understands concept of generating words (e.g. if you can write cat, you can write hat)
    • generates words
    • generates story/sentences
    • re-reads sentence to predict next word
    • re-reads to check work
    • reconstructs a cut-up sentence without a model
    • has fluent letter formation
    • is aware of appropriate punctuation
    • has a pool of high frequency words
    • uses a variety of sentence patterns
    • records first and last sounds
    • knows there's a middle sound
    • records sounds in sequence
    • claps syllables
    • uses ending chunks: -s, -ed, -ing, etc.
    • uses beginning chunks: a-, th-, sh-, be-, etc.
    • uses letter boxes - develops an understand of how words look--"Does it look right?" (the teacher draws a box for each letter of the word giving the child support with word length)
    • has strong, fluent writing vocabulary
    • is aware of frequently-used chunks
    • generates good sentence independently
    • begins writing task independently
    • uses correct capitalization, punctuation & spacing
    • has a good corpus of high-frequency words
    • moves to using no letter boxes
    • begins to correctly spell many words
    • generates and links known to unknown words independently
    • does most writing independent of the teacher


    • begins to re-read familiar text fluently once one-to-one matching is established.
    • writes known words fluently
    • reads familiar text fluently
    • has longer stretches of fluent reading
    • begins to notice how "different print" is read (bold, etc.)
    • has writing sprees
    • reads in smooth, phrased manner in familiar texts
    • re-reads fluently during the writing and
    • points only on the "tricky" parts
    • continues writing sprees
    • checks punctuation in reading and writing
    • does processing on the run
    • reads in smooth, phrased, and expressive manner on familiar texts
    • reads some parts of the new book with expression and fluency
    • has fluent pacing in writing
    • uses all of the above strategies

    Word Analysis

    • knows how to write many letters without a model
    • knows difference between letters and words
    • is able to clap syllables
    • with prompting, substitutes onsets of known words to make new words
    • is learning to look at print
    • attends to more than beginning visual cues
    • generates new words from known words without prompting
    • uses chunks at beginnings and endings of words
    • is able to record some medial vowel sounds
    • uses two hands to manipulate words breaking them at easy-to-find breaks, inflections, syllables, and onsets and rimes.
    • sees chunks and uses them independently to get to unknown words
    • knows visual analysis strategies
    • attempts to use visual analysis strategies at difficulty
    • begins to use accumulative analysis on unknown words in text
    • uses accumulative analysis more independently
    • uses visual analysis strategies independently
    • increases problem-solving capacities every time s/he reads and writes

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