Tag Archives: Balanced Literacy

On the Blog...Work Smarter not Harder

Surviving December by Working SMARTER not HARDER


Sometimes I find something ( or do something )

that I think…


This is one of those things…

Here is SPELLING for the Whole YEAR  to help you WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

Spelling BUNDLE

Here is SPELLING for the WHOLE YEAR!

Kinder Spelling

I Am in KINDER…see me SPELL!


We use MUST DO’s & MAY DO’s for centers.

MUST DO’s & May Do’s

Must do's & May Dos

Must do’s & May Dos


Have you ever used



I got mine…at STAPLES



I would write the numbers & Content areas



NOW…I can just add the words / skills

& the kids ALWAYS know where to look!

You can erase over the letters


when you remove them..

NOT sticky ucky  GLUE stuff!

I use multiple sizes for interest…


(Don’t ask me how to spell…MRS. McCARTY )

Love Love Love this!

Again…as we begin a NEW YEAR…
a great time to

Balanced Literacy – Week 1 of 8 – READ ALOUDS

How to Fit it ALL IN?

The Guided Reading COMMAND CENTER

FREE from me to YOU!


Happy Holidays from 1stgradefireworks




( I know..I cringe at that word.)
Kids want to SPELL perfectly…every time!

My fear is…students who STOP writing a wonderful story, because they can’t remember HOW to spell a word.

Just one word. And then..they stop writing! UGH! They ask themselves, “What does it start with?” Oh..I dunno…so where do they look? What do they do? Ask a friend…look on your word list…check the word wall…ASK THE TEACHER! NO!!!   I want INDEPENDENT readers & writers! Those DREADED words…


Ugh! What to do FIRST? We have gone over letter sounds, word families, vocabulary, picture prompts, word walls, word lists, dictionaries, pictionaries, and so on..and so on. And still they ask. “How do you SPELL???” So what is a teacher to do?? Then what?
PINTEREST! ( The place where ALL questions CAN be answered!) And so I search…
Spelling Practice
Spelling Practice from Samantha Almaguer  FREE!


So many Spelling WORD LISTS! ( And don’t EVEN get me started on WORD WORK!) Balanced Literacy Word Work And so…what’s a teacher to do? Head to YOUTUBE! Here is a great video from Angie @ Center Station
Still, no answers! AND SO?  What to do? What to do? Create MY OWN! My district has adopted a curriculum. I have 18 boxes waiting for me to unpack! My PD for this new curriculum is 5 days before I have students! I probably won’t have time to REALLY dig into the program. Surface teaching for a few weeks! BUT… My kiddos are ready… BEFORE I AM! And so.. I create! Bookmarks for Sight Word PRACTICE

Here are a few of my newest

SPELLING   creations!

The spelling word lists in this program can be used anywhere, anytime, with ANY program!

Homeschools, interventions, homework, practice pages! Here is KINDERGARTEN
And  Grade  2
All of the lists are printed in black and white. SAVES  ON  COLORED  INK! ( I print mine on colored paper!) I print one copy of SPELLING word list for the student’s desk. A little tape on top..and voila! Instant word wall for writing! (NO MORE …HOW DO YOU SPELL…) The other word list I send home for homework each MONDAY! They have to read & practice each night. Spelling tests on FRIDAY! I give “rewards” for 80% correct or higher! I don’t expect perfection…just effort in their work. I add these word lists to SPELLING CITY on our computers. (If  you don’t have SPELLING CITY….GET IT!) 🙂
They practice EVERY DAY!

They also must use the week’s spelling words in their journals.

They read their journals to a partner. WOW! Spelling, reading, writing, word lists, &  homework! I think we’ve got this! I have also added BLENDING LINES for READING FLUENCY PRACTICE!
Blending Lines
Blending Lines for Reading Fluency

I hope you can use my new SPELLING Packets!

This may help, too!    For more thoughts and talk for November, please visit these great posts. Like what you see, and want to join us? Before posting your link, please email RETTA at retta.london@gmail.com.
Teacher Talk
Leave me a comment !!! Good Luck!
vowel kids

Welcome the VOWEL KIDS!

I would like you to meet my newest friends!

The vowel kids!

This is KATE. ( long a)

 Her twin sister is Anna. ( Short a )

Anna left us for a short “vacation”

…so I can use her picture for LONG A!

Thank you to Nikki from MELONHEADZ for the cutie pies!

We took each vowel family and did some writing!

We brainstormed words ( see the word box) 

that have our phonics pattern for the week.

 Then we did an interactive writing .

( see my BALANCED LITERACY packet, 

if you haven’t done INTERACTIVE WRITING)

The kids decided on her story. And then…


Meet the vowel kids

Meet the Vowel Kids

They were so cute! Best editors ever! 


After we finished…

they critiqued. 


They decided yellow was too hard to read.


They said that handwriting is very important,

 if you want others to read it.


They said spelling is important. It can change the meaning.


And lastly, writing large and spacing our words,

makes it easier to read. 

WOW! They were listening! 🙂

And so …each week for the next 4 weeks

I will introduce another friend.

Long e, Long i, Long o, and Long u.


We will chat, create, and write!

I Love my JOB!

If you are looking for more

writing ideas..

Stop on by!

Daily Language Practice

Balanced Literacy

Write ON!


Balanced Literacy

Helping kids EDIT their WRITING

Are your students ready for CENTERS?

How to add games for independent centers!

We have been in school for 4 weeks. I know…we began JULY 31! I spend 3-4 weeks working on whole class routines & schedules. Then we spend a week or two working on centers ( without me actually taking reading groups) so I can monitor HOW they are doing during independent centers. AND THEN????

We begin INDEPENDENT CENTERS without the teacher!!!  WHAT???  Yes!! 

Release the KRACKEN!

Release the Kracken

Release the Kracken

And yes..we begin small group reading.

I used to call it GUIDED READING.

But I have added Guided Reading Skills & Strategies.

Sometimes, we work on words. Sometimes we work on skills. 

Sometimes we read. Sometimes we write. 

I use my assessments to guide my instruction. 

I know WHO needs WHAT.

So what are the other kids doing?

MUST DO’s & May Do’s.

And this week..enter their FAVORITE CENTER SO FAR!

( Yes…in their WHOLE LIFE…as they say!)

Here is the FUN game for centers!

And they are LEARNING!    WIN!  WIN!





294 domino cards for short vowel practice. Domino games can be differentiated by vowel sounds, picture cards, or word cards. Fun activities for student learning. Games help students stay engaged while practicing short vowel CVC word families.

They LOVE THIS! They beg for more time! Get your WORK done so you can PLAY!

YES!  I love it when a plan works!

And so here we go!

Small groups for me..independent centers for them.

WIN! WIN!  All around. Check out the video!

Shared writing

2020 is a New Decade | We get a “Balanced Literacy” DO-OVER – Week 6: Shared Writing

And a FREE BALANCED LITERACY Resource to get you started!

2019 is the Year of BALANCED LITERACY!

But wait! THIS IS 2020!

Did I miss it???  NO!

2020 is a new decade!

We get a BALANCED LITERACY  “do-Over”!

Ready to UPDATE your literacy block? 

Balanced Literacy: Here is your NEW YEAR PLAN!

Why? What? and How?

Balanced literacy has been defined as  “an approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001)

It is an approach to teaching. NOT a curriculum. It is HOW we teach our students to be independent readers and writers. It is NOT what books we use to teach them.

Balanced Literacy has been defined in “components” or  “pieces” of literacy instruction.

This 8-week series will focus on the components of a complete BALANCED LITERACY program. We will focus on clear and concise definitions. Definitions that educators can discuss in collaboration.

A “common language” where we can learn from each other and with each other.

The 8 components we will focus on are:

  1. Read Alouds
  2. Shared Reading
  3. Guided Reading
  4. Independent Reading
  5. Modeled / Interactive Writing
  6. Shared Writing
  7. Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop
  8. Word Work

Each week we will focus on one area of Balanced Literacy and share experiences,  teacher tips, and resources to support and expand our Balanced Literacy repertoire.


This week:   Shared  Writing.

Week 1:  We discussed Read Alouds.

Week 2: We discussed   Shared Reading.

Week 3:  We discussed Guided Reading.

Week 4: We discussed Independent Reading.

Week 5: We discussed Interactive Writing.

This week we jump into


Let’s talk about Shared Writing.

Before we write, we read, discuss, preview new vocabulary, and make connections about our thoughts and ideas.

Shared writing is an instructional approach to teach writing to students by writing with them. The idea is to teach writing through writing. The process of writing is demonstrated by the teacher through a ‘write aloud’ process. The teacher acts as a scribe while the students contribute ideas.

Effective literacy teachers present the demonstration, explanation, and models needed by naïve writers in order for them to understand how and why to incorporate genre and text structures (and such transcription skills as punctuation and spelling) into their own writing behavior.  ReadWriteThink.org


During shared writing, the teacher transcribes the entire text while engaging students in a rich discussion about how the text should be composed.

  • Shared writing is taught to small groups or a whole class in briskly paced, 5- to 20-minute lessons.
  • Plan lessons for types of writing that present particular challenges to your students.
  • First, develop and extend children’s background and language knowledge on a topic or experience of interest.
  • Establish a purpose for the writing and an intellectually engaging opportunity for students to apply new learning.
  • Write the entire text yourself in front of students (using chart paper or document viewer) while requesting input from students regarding aspects of the writing where they most need to expand their expertise.

Stop for a moment and VISUALIZE what you have read.

  • During the writing, model processes needed by your students. Have a small whiteboard available, for example, to demonstrate to students how to say a word slowly and write sounds heard into “sound boxes” (Clay, 2006) before writing a phonetically regular word into the text for them.
  • Demonstrate in-the-moment revision during shared writing as necessary to construct a strong draft. Reread the text to students from time to time to discuss what needs to be written next or to monitor whether or not the text conveys information clearly.
  • Do not deliberately make errors during shared writing. Model the immediate construction of a high-quality draft.
  • Read the completed text to students.
  • Post the text in an accessible spot in the classroom, and provide opportunities for students to read or use the text multiple times over the next several days or weeks.


Some tips to keep in mind for shared writing:

  • I use large paper that looks just like the paper the children use during writing workshop. I write on chart paper or perhaps a SmartBoard so the whole group can easily read it.
  • The children are engaged and involved in telling the story (or essay, song, poem, or other kinds of text).
  • I restate/scaffold children’s language by modeling rich language and coach them when they are the storyteller.
  • Over time, children see each step of the writing process modeled:
    • Coming up with ideas
    • Planning across the pages, rehearsing how the text will go
    • Drafting words and sentences
    • Revising
    • Editing
    • Publishing
  • Over time, children see qualities of good writing modeled:
    • Meaning
    • Organization/Structure
    • Genre
    • Detail
    • Voice
    • Conventions
  • TwoWritingTeachers
Shared Writing

How to Take Care of a Goldfish. The Daily Cupcake

The Daily Cupcake

Shared Writing

Shared Writing – MAth Anchor Chart – Kindergals


Tools that may be helpful for shared writing:


Mr. Sketch Smelly Markers

Mr. Sketch smelly markers

Teacher Books that may help with Shared Writing:


These literacy posts may help in YOUR Balanced Literacy journey.

Balanced Literacy

Read At Home

Flexible Seating

Read Alouds

Reading at Home

So…Leave me a comment… What does  Shared Writing look like in YOUR classroom?

2019 is the year of Balanced Literacy! Brag Tag FREEBIE!

2019 is the year of Balanced Literacy! Brag Tag FREEBIE!



Spooktacular Giveaway


Whew!   Our

“GROWING READERS in a Balanced Literacy Classroom” – Blog Series – is COMPLETE!

The blog series can be accessed HERE.

Growing Readers

Growing Readers in a BALANCED LITERACY Classroom

Finally, I hope you have learned a little, enjoyed the collaboration, and found some new tricks & tips to use in YOUR classroom!

I know I did!


In addition to the blog series


to keep the celebration going…  


I am giving away 5 of my


Balanced Literacy

What is a BALANCED LITERACY Classroom? This resource will show YOU!


This is a HUGE Resource BINDER!
(Binder NOT included) 154 pages are in a zip file.

All of the pieces needed to create a BALANCED LITERACY classroom are included.

Descriptors, samples, pictures, and resources. 
Printables in color and B/W.

Balanced Literacy consists of:

Read Alouds
Shared Reading
Guided Reading
Independent Reading
Modeled / Interactive Writing
Shared Writing
Guided Writing (Writer’s Workshop)
Word Work

All of these are resourced in a BINDER format. Components are defined for collaborative discussions, suggested uses for the classroom. and examples for adding to YOUR own lesson plans. Daily use of elements through curriculum integrations ensure consistency for students.


5 winners!

Spooktacular Giveaway

Spooktacular Giveaway

The Spooktacular Giveaway starts Sept. 21 and winners will be chosen Sept. 29.

Enter HERE

or click here…

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good Luck!