Out of This World Literacy : July 2014
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Interactive Notebooks and the Common Core

Hello Friends!!

I wanted to share a post with you on how we can use INB's to strengthen our students' understandings of the Common Core Reading Standards.

As teachers, we all know that one of the best ways to learn is through active involvement.  Students learn best through creating, making connections, and thinking critically.

Interactive lessons and activities are great ways to keep students actively engaged in their learning!

Most of us are accountable for teaching the Common Core State Standards to our students.  But, HOW we teach the standards is usually up to us, the teachers.

Interactive Notebooks in Guided Reading
I have found that using interactive notebooks to teach the reading informational and reading literature standards is one of the best ways for students to learn. 

Some Reasons Interactive Notebooks are so Effective:

1. Students are actively involved in their learning.
2. All learning is kept in one spot and easily organized.
3. It is easy for students to review, and reflect on their new thinking.
4. The lessons are a great way for teachers to quickly assess if students understood the lesson at the end of class.
5. Students can easily share their new learning with other classmates.


Different Reading Times Interactive Notebooks can Be Used:

1. To introduce a lesson during a whole group mini lesson
2. As support during a guided reading lesson
3. Working with partners
4. Working in centers
5. During independent reading
6. During a literature circle
7. To share thinking at the end of a lesson
Talking About New Learning with Interactive Notebooks

Ways to Use Interactive Notebooks:

1. Teach the lesson to the whole group
2. Support the skill through guided reading
3. Ask students to try the skill during independent reading
4. Have students work with a partner 
5. Conference individually with students during independent reading, asking them questions about their new learning and noticing their work in interactive notebooks.
6. Gather back together as a class at the end of the lesson.  Ask students to talk with a partner about what they did in their notebooks.  Have some of the students share their thinking with the class.

To learn more about teaching the Reading Common Core State Standards through the use of interactive notebooks, click on the product images below:

12 Strategic Actions in Reading

Hello teacher friends!

As many of us are preparing for back to school, I wanted to share the 12 strategic actions in reading.

As we all know, reading is such a complex task.  There are so many layers of thinking going on inside a readers mind before, during, and after reading.  As teachers, It is nearly impossible to assess all that readers are thinking.

Because reading is so complex, and we can't see thinking, we need to teach our students to understand their own thinking.  Unless students choose to share their thoughts with others (through oral or written communication), those thoughts stay hidden.

If we teach students to understand the 12 strategic actions that occur before, during, and after reading, they will begin to self-regulate their thinking.  They will begin to become independent learners who recognize when their brains are processing new information through reading.

One very important and successful way to teach our students to become independent learners who can recognize their own thinking is through modeling our own thinking.

We can read to our students and share our thoughts aloud before, during, and after reading, being sure to model thinking from all 12 strategic actions.

Another way we can teach our students to become independent learners is to teach and define the 12 strategic actions and guide students to recognize these actions while they are reading independently.

According to Irene Fountas and Gay Sue Pinnell's book, The Continuum of Literacy Learning:

The 12 strategic actions are as follows:

1. Solving words
2. Monitoring and correcting reading
3. Searching for and using information
4. Summarizing
5. Maintaining fluency
6. Adjusting reading rate
7. Predicting
8. Making connections
9. Synthesizing
10. Inferring
11. Analyzing
12. Critiquing

*** Once we make our students aware of these 12 actions that happen while we are reading, we can encourage them to recognize this thinking when it occurs during their own reading time!

Thank you for reading my post!  I hope you have found it helpful in your reading instruction!
Best wishes,

Our Family is Adopting!

Hello hello hello teacher friends!!

So I have been extremely busy these last 10 months because I have been preparing to adopt our new son from Uganda!

The road has been long and exhausting.  But every time I think it gets too hard, I remind myself of the happy ending that is soon to come!  And I remind myself that I have been working on this for 10 months, but my son has been waiting for a mom for 7 years!

Because of my adoption agency's policies, I am unable to share any specifics about the process or about our son until we are back home safe in the states.  I will say that he has this picture of our family and he is so, so, so excited to have a mom and dad!

But, I can say that very soon the five of us will be boarding a flight to Uganda!!  My husband will stay for about 10 days.  My children and I will stay for as long as it takes for us all to be able to fly back home.  I have been told this will be at least 2 months, but likely longer.

We are so fortunate that we are able to stay this entire time.  I am going to be homeschooling our children.  And because I work solely on the internet, I can work from Uganda!  The kids are very excited about working in the orphanage and learning about their brother's culture.

As you can imagine, the cost to fly 5 people to Uganda, stay in country for several months, and then fly 6 people back is not cheap.  And the cost along the way has been high as well.  We are nowhere near wealthy, but we just keep pushing our way through the process.  We refuse to use the excuse, 'We can't adopt because we can't afford it.' And for the past 10 months, God has made a way to pay every bill that has come our way!!!  It truly is incredible!!  He is so much bigger than our bank account! :)

Back to School Adoption Fundraiser Bundle!!

So enough blabbing from  me.  I am writing this post to share an amazing back to school adoption fundraiser bundle some of my friends have helped me put together.

You can save 50% off all these resources and help support our family's adoption by purchasing this bundle!

But, hurry, because the bundle is only available through September 30th.

To see the bundle, click on the image below!

It includes 20 back to school and fall resources ranging from grades 1-8.

How Else You Can Help:

We have been so blessed to have to many family, friends, and people we don't even know offer to help support our family's adoption journey!  

If you would like to help, you can make a donation by clicking on the donation button to the right of this page.  All the donations will go straight to bringing our son safely home.  

Even a $5 donation would help so much!!

Adoption Coffee!!

If you are like me and kind of obsessed with coffee, you will want to click on the image below to check out this amazing website.  The creators offer coffee from around the world, and help support adopting families!!

I have bought so many of the amazing coffees offered, but here are two of my favorites!!! 

Thank you all so much for your kind words and loving donations!  We are overwhelmed by the support we continue to receive.  Our family is forever changed in so many great ways.  We can NOT wait to share our entire story with y'all one day!!!

Lots of Love,
Jen Bengel and Family 

A Step-by-Step Guide to teaching Spelling Each Week

Hello friends! 

I wanted show you a fun, engaging, new way I am teaching spelling this year!

I don't know about you, but I am tired of the old traditional ways of teaching spelling, where all the students in the room memorize the same 20 words each week.

There is no differentiation in learning with this method.

What if students already know how to spell all 20 words?

 Or what if the words are just too challenging?

 In either situation, no real new learning will occur all week!


But, there is a way to teach spelling in a way that every student will be challenged at his/her own level! And the focus will be on studying patterns, not memorizing a list of words. Let me show you how by going over the 5 days of instruction in this spelling process:

Day One: Whole Group Lesson and Choosing Spelling Words

Step One: Teach a spelling or word study skill in a mini lesson format to the entire class.  During the lesson, the students will help in making a list of words that follow the particular spelling pattern for the week.


Step Two: Students will choose their spelling words from the list on the class chart.  You can determine how many words they choose from the list each week.  Have them copy their words onto a spelling record sheet that they will use to study with the remainder of the week.  Be sure to check that students copied their words correctly onto their cards.

Day Two: Review and Independent Practice

Step One: Spend some time reviewing the mini lesson anchor chart from yesterday.  Create a new chart of what you notice about the words and what you are still wondering. 


Step Two: provide students with independent activity options so that they can explore their spelling words and patterns.  You may already have several ideas for spelling activities.  Some examples might include, taking apart words by syllables, breaking words into base word and suffix or prefix, or finding synonyms and antonyms for words.  The ideas are limitless!

Day Three: Reflection of New Learning

Step One: One of the best ways to learn is to teach.  So, today's lesson will be all about the students' teaching each other.  Not only does this activity honor and value that what students have to say is important, it is also a great way to hold students accountable for their independent work and new learning.

Step Two: Partner students up and have them teach each other what they discovered during independent practice yesterday.  Once students have finished sharing with their partners, have them share what they heard their partner say with the entire class.

Day Four: Partner Reteaching, Tips, and Practice Test

Step One: Have students partner-up with their individual spelling lists.  Encourage each student to reteach the spelling/word work skill in their own words to their partner.  Then have them share one or two tips with each other that helps them remember the spelling/word work skill.

Step Two: Pass out blank paper for students to complete their spelling practice test.  Instruct students to give the practice test to their partners.  Monitor students as one reads the words and the other takes the test.

Step Three: Have students grade each other's practice tests.  If they missed any words, have them circle them and remember to practice them before the test tomorrow.

Step Four: Gather the class together and have them share the spelling/word work tips they talked about with their partners.  Students can write down any tips they might use to help them take the test tomorrow. 

Day Five: Partner Spelling Test, What's Next...?

Step One: Have students exchange their spelling lists with their partners.  Have students give each other their spelling tests.  Monitor the class as they take their tests.

Step Two: Once everyone is finished taking their tests, have them gather back together for a class discussion and review.  Remind students that just because they took their spelling tests and are moving on to new words and patterns next week does not mean they should forget all their learning.  

Make a class list of all the ways they can use what they learned in the future.

How can they apply what they learned during reading?  Writing?  And other subjects?

Thank you so much for stopping by!!  

You can view a FREE sample of the year-long Interactive Spelling Curriculum by clicking the image below


Or, click on the images below to see the resource available for your grade level!



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Thank you so much for reading this post!  I hope it was helpful to you and your students.  Best wishes!