Mrs. Allen Reads

All Things Literacy

Intervention Updates

Wow! I can’t believe April is more than half over. This school year is flying by! Here are a few updates from intervention.

  • As we head into the 4th quarter if you are interested in meeting with your interventionist to discuss progress, please let them or me know and we can arrange a meeting.
  • We will again be offering our FREE summer reading program. We will be focusing on kindergarten and first graders. I am putting the finishing touches on the flyer this week. K & 1st teachers if you have a parent meeting coming up and want to recommend the student receive summer support let me know and I will get you a flyer.
  • AIMSweb benchmark testing will soon be upon us, the window is May 8th-May 26th. For the spring assessments we will be doing reading, math and writing. I will be sending out a signup genius for the one-on-one testing in reading and math. You will receive your materials for the assessments given in the classroom by Thursday, May 4th.

Any questions or concerns please let me know. Have a great day!

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Great Read Aloud

Looking for a great new read aloud? This book would be a great read aloud for any grade! This is the story of Leroy Ninker, a small guy who wants nothing more than to be a cowboy. He meets a horse named Maybelline and his life is changed forever. I really liked that this simple story had a lot of feeling. Kate DiCamillo does not disappoint with this one. If you want to check it out its on the read aloud shelf in my room.

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A Tiny Change

Recently, after reading this blog post from The Two Writing Teachers, I have been thinking about students and their purposes for reading and writing. We know that people are more engaged when they have a personal connection to the work they do. Obviously giving students choice about what they read and write is important. I think that if we want to help students be even more engaged we to help them connect the work they do in school to their lives. How do we get them to be more reflective?

Try this! During your share time instead of asking a students: WHAT did you read today? or WHAT did you write about today? try this tiny change: WHY did you read that book today? WHY did you write about that topic today? 

I’ve tried this in my own life and have been shocked how a simple change in the question can help you to reflect on your choices and a reader and writer.

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Intervention Updates

This week in intervention some of our 3rd graders began working on the test prep section at their level. The first lesson they worked on taught about strategies for reading and answering multiple choice questions. Subsequent lessons will focus on writing about their reading and using text evidence. Check out the video below of two 3rd graders discussing a multiple choice question.

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Writing Celebration Ideas

Are you close to finishing a bend or unit and want to celebrate your writers? Are you looking for celebration ideas that are easy but meaningful? In The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo there is an appendix with ideas for publishing and celebrating your writers. The ideas range from simple to complex, but are all valuable ways to honor students growth as writers. The great thing about this section is that she gives all the ideas ratings on cost, planning time and school time needed. This is a great reference!

Check out this example! Chalkabration – students use colorful sidewalk chalk to write out a part of their writing that they want to share. Maybe they write out a lead they are really proud of, a section where they described their character internally, or whatever! Here is one example:


If you’re interested in checking out The Writing Strategies Book it’s down in my room. I also know Jeannette and Lynn both ordered copies.

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Intervention Updates & Some Thoughts on Wait Time

Intervention Updates: February is rushing past! Our winter intervention plans are up and running. We finished our first round of progress monitoring last week, many of our kiddos are showing great growth. I want to say thanks again for being so awesome and supportive! Intervention would never work without some of the most amazing teachers I have ever met!

Wait Time: After finishing Who’s Doing the Work last week I have really been trying to apply some of this to my work with my intervention kiddos. My focus has been on trying to increase my wait time when a student is stuck on a word. Even just waiting an extra second or two longer than I normally would, has blown me away. I think sometimes our lowest readers develop the habit of waiting for a teacher to swoop in and save them when they get stuck, by giving them even just a little extra wait time they have to do more of the work themselves.

If they need a prompt, instead of giving them the strategy, I try to say, “What are you going to try?” or “How are you going to figure out that word?” This helps them to think about the strategies they know and try to decide which one to use.

The other little prompt I have been using (at school and with my first grader at home) is when a student says “I don’t know.” I respond not with telling them the answer but with “What would you say if you did know?” I have found that MOST of the time they have a pretty good idea!

Check out what the Two Writing Teachers have to say about wait time in a writing conference here.

What ways can you use wait time to help students do more of the work?




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Book Review: Who’s Doing the Work?


I recently read Who’s Doing the Work?: How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris.  I highly recommend this book! Here’s why:

I selected this book because I sometimes feel that my intervention kiddos are very reliant on teachers (mainly me) to help them problem solve when they get stuck. Another reason I picked this book up is that I have often wondered about the practice of pre-teaching so much of a text that there is no real challenge or  opportunity for students (in intervention and the classroom) to use the strategies we are trying so hard to teach them.

This book has changed how I approach my reading instruction. I’m trying to do less and prompt my readers to do MORE. Pushing my kiddos to rely on themselves first, the text second and me last. This book advocated for strong teaching in real reading contexts (read aloud, shared reading, guided reading and independent reading). And offers easy, accessible ideas for transforming your reading instruction into “next generation reading instruction”. This quote from the conclusion really resonated with me about what this book really meant:

When children inhabit a world where teachers let them do the work, they learn from their productive effort, become empowered to take charge of their reading lives, and, very often, surprise us with what they can do! – pg 144

This book currently resides on my professional learning shelf. If it sounds interesting to you come and check it out sometime!

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Some Great Resources for Teaching Writing

I recently came across 2 great writing resources I wanted to share!


First is the Two Writing Teachers Blog (link). This blog is a treasure trove of ideas, resources and giveaways! Subscribe to their blog, I promise you won’t be disappointed! Check out their post today about authentic purposes for writing and friendly letters here.


Second, there is a new book coming out by the author of our last book club book, Jennifer Serevallo, called The Writing Strategies Book. I’ve ordered a copy, it should be here early next week. I am super excited about this book! Check out the video tour from the author here. And the Two Writing Teachers review (plus a chance to win a free copy) here. It promises to be a great resource for teaching writing workshop! If you have seen or read The Reading Strategies Book, this one is similar but all about writing.

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Intervention Updates

As January goes into full swing we are again doing our benchmark reading assessments with AIMSweb. Thank you to everyone for signing up for time slots! We hope to make this as painless as possible for everyone. We will be seeing our groups and pushing in as much as possible, working around the AIMSweb testing. We plan to be done assessing by 1/20 and hold intervention planning meetings the week of 1/23. Thank you to everyone for all your support! If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to let me know. Have a great day!

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Celebrating Writers

Before break, Shannon’s writers celebrated the end of their personal narrative unit. To celebrate their progress as writers, Shannon invited another class to join her class. Students had their writing laid out on their desks with a small stack of sticky notes. Students walked around, read other students writing and were able to leave compliments on the sticky notes for the author. This was a great way to celebrate all their hard work! It was a great atmosphere in the room. I really liked this idea because it shows that celebrating writing doesn’t have to be a big, loud production but still values and honors students’ growth as writers.


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