I started out with a Level A (which only had 2 words on the page) just to teach them our first strategy, Eagle Eye (look at the picture). This gave me the opportunity to see what they knew about one to one matching, how to navigate through the book and other basic print skills.
Here's a typical lesson for us:
Students come to my table. They start by practicing their name with a dry erase marker. I typed their name in Century Gothic font and placed it in a page protector. They trace it, write it underneath twice and then they turn it on the back where they can't see the model and write it a few more times. We spend about 3 minutes on this. All of my students can write their names, now we are working on writing them correctly. 1 uppercase letter, the rest lowercase - all facing the correct direction and formed correctly. Breaking muscle memory is hard! We are working hard on getting them to transfer this skill onto their regular papers. We're almost there!
When I see them form a letter incorrectly, I write it at the top so they can see the correct formation. This sweet fella was forming his n incorrectly, so I had him practice it a few times.
Another example of writing the letter at the top so they can see the correct formation.
This is a great transition activity, because it takes the students varying times to get to me so they can start as they get to me. We will NOT do this forever. As soon as I see that they've transferred the skill to writing their name on the regular, we will stop this.
Next we move on to our book. We read this book yesterday, so today was a reread day. This book is a Level 1 - A Day at School. I go back over the book and what it was about and remind them of the sentence pattern by saying something like "Oh the book was about what we do at school? What is something WE CAN do at school?" This is very helpful for them.
Whisper reading. This is the elbow piece of plumbing from Lowes. 6 of these cost me about $25. I didn't have the money for the real deal but these work just fine. They love them!
After they retell the story, we do this activity. I wrote the sentences from the story on a sentence strip and they find the page it came from and put the sentence back together.
After the sentences are together, I shut their books and we talk about more print skills. Right now we are working on Capital Letters, Puncutation, How many words are in the sentence, Find a word with x amount of letters, and pointing one to one.
Next we practice our sight word from the story. The sight word in this story we focused on was "can." I give the students paper letters and ask the what word they think we can make with those letters and then they make the word. We "mix and fix" which is where they mix the letters up and make the word again. I didn't get pictures of this today, but I will get them soon. Then they write this word on a white board a few times and we practice spelling and saying it.
To end our lesson if we have worked hard, we get iPad time. I have 1 iPad for my classroom, so I find this one of the most effective ways to use it. These are our favorite apps right now depending on ability level and group.
Abby Sight Words - They have a free version, but it's well worth the couple of dollars for the full version! This one focuses on having them find a specific sight word and there is another part of the app to spell the words.
Abby Phonics - Again they have a lite version, but it is well worth the extra few bucks for the full version. This one focuses in on sounds. It has them match the letters, find pictures that start with the "h" sound etc.
ABC Alphabet Lite - Totally Free and I haven't needed to upgrade it. It focuses on finding a specific letter.
I usually spend about 3-5 minutes on one of these games. It's a great motivator for my students and also educational. I basically go around the table with everyone getting a turn until we are out of time. Everyone gets the same amount of turns.
I finish with a smart skittle and hit my "Don't Worry Be Happy" button and we transition to the next center. And that's our reading groups for now! We will add more as we go!