Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

Independent Consultant sharing my learning with others. Please scroll way down to follow me!!


October 2015

Grade One Writing – Ecriture en premiere annee

I was invited into a classroom to work on writing in a grade one room. The teacher really wanted her students to start writing more than labelling few words at a time. Merci B.S. for sharing your students with me  🙂

I suggested that we start with a simple text that had a predictable pattern as a model. I also wanted to reinforce the gradual release of responsibility as I modeled this lesson. I told the students I wanted them to feel more comfortable in writing a sentence so we were going to work on it together. I chose the following book to start my lesson:chauve fraiseI read the book to the students. They understood the simple pattern before I was finished the book. I told them which attributes of the book I liked, as I wrote them on an anchor chart to use for future reference. We went back through the book again to check and see if the book actually had all the attributes that I had mentioned.

fraise j'aime

Next, I modeled  a piece of writing that I had written, using the same format. I added the pictures as we read. The children practiced reading the story aloud several times.

chats fraises

Together, we decided on a topic to write about . They wanted to write about food, so after some discussion they chose carrots. At this point the children were quite comfortable with the format. They gave me the simple title. We looked at our attribute chart and I asked them how I should start the piece of writing. They told me what to write, and I printed it out, reinforcing the punctuation as I wrote each line. The children took turns illustrating. Again we practiced reading aloud.

fraise carrots

At this point we told the class that we wanted each table group to create a small book just like in the book 1,2,3 chauves-souris…and just the way we had written about the cats and the carrots. We had each group pick a topic. They had to decide who was going to write page 1, 2 … Each student was given a blank page with simple lines at the bottom. They were to follow the sentence pattern and then illustrate it. We asked them all to stick with the food topic. Next time they can change the topic.

When each group was finished their writing and illustrating, the books were stapled together with a cover page. The children practiced reading their little book aloud in small groups and then presented it to the class. Some groups read the entire book together while others chose to read page by page individually.

The result? 4 new books to add to the class reading basket.A great basket to put in the hallway for parents to look through at conference time.

   Assessment was simple-did the picture match the writing, was printing an issue, could the student read their own writing, how well did the group cooperate.

printing fraises livres fraises


fraise 1fraise 2Fraise 3fraise 4fraise beaucoup



Puppet Reading-(simple yet brilliant)

One of best parts of my job is working in classrooms with teachers and students. Everywhere I go, I learn something new.

I recently visited a classroom where the teacher showed me her student’s reading puppets. Each student has a “puppet buddy” which is kept in their take home reading bags. The puppet goes home every night and comes back to school everyday. puppet 1

The puppets were made from scrap material so no two were alike. The fronts and backs were not the same.(put out a call for left over material, find a friend who sews and whip them up on a weekend) The puppets are faceless which leaves creativity and imagination intact. Students are able to draw how the puppet is feeling or what it is wearing on paper and store it in the reading bag.


Students are given the option to read to the puppet-they hold it up and read aloud. The puppet listens carefully. This is particularly great for students who have nobody to read to at home and need to practice oral fluency.

puppet 3

The second option is to have the puppet help the student read. The puppet helps the student track the words and read along with them.

puppet 2

The students were very excited to show me their puppets and how they use them. What a great way to build engagement in reading 🙂

Thank you J.C. for inviting me into your classroom and sharing this creative idea.

No More Phonics and Spelling Worksheet

   no more

By Jennifer Palmer, Marcia Invernizzi, Curry School of Education, Edited by Nell K. Duke, Edited by Ellin Oliver Keene

This was one of my great finds of the summer. I read it twice. It made me reflect on my practice. I made notes as I went along….I’ve been trying to be more concise and colourful in my note-taking…


Here are some of the thoughts I collected. The authors say plainly no more work sheets. Children need to be doing more thinking than the teacher is. (Usually with worksheets, the person who created the worksheet has done most of the thinking, but that’s another blog post!!) Children need flexible groupings for spelling, the groups need to change based on need and growth.

If you are struggling with the concept of spelling tests, read this book!!

So what can you do when you’ve thrown out the worksheets for the year? This book suggests assessing your students word knowledge regularly.  Use the Words Their Way Assessment or the Monster Test. Decide what your students need and do word sorts (open and closed), play games, have a word study notebook, have a good word wall, use lists, poetry, songs and chants. Connect the word study to what they are learning in school and to what they are reading.

I have struggled for years both as a teacher and as a parent with the concept of spelling tests…I have tried so many kinds until I gave them up for good. There are so many questions!!! What are we actually testing- spelling ability or memory recall? Do students retain the knowledge once the test is over? Should students be spending more time at home memorizing lists or should they be simply reading and writing? Is this a worthy use of my time or my students time? Am I giving weekly test because parents want them? Aren’t there better ways to assess how my students are spelling than through a weekly test?

The more I read and research, the more I say NO to worksheets NO to the weekly test.. In simple terms, in order to spell we need to understand letter sounds and words. We need to know the parts of words and how they fit together. We need to understand word meaning.

For more information on this topic read No More “Look Up The List” Vocabulary Instruction

The Reading Strategies Book


I’ve been reading the Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. This book was first recommended to me by my colleague L.H. and by  Aimee Buckner ,whom I had the great pleasure of working with , this summer at our school division’s “Back to School Ignite” session.

There are many things I like about this book. The layout is really practical. Jennifer starts with a concise introduction explaining how to use it. The introduction is followed by 13 goals influenced by the work of John Hattie, to help students improve their reading, by setting clear goals for students. Within each of the 13 goals there are answers to questions such as “how do I know this is right for my students?” accompanied by suggested strategies. There is a side bar on each page titled “who is this for?” which tells you which Fountas and Pinnell  reading level the strategy is intended for, what genre(s) it addresses ,and suggests what skills students might need.  There are also book recommendations and colourful photographs of anchor charts to co-create with students.

This book is a must for every school’s professional library, but I would highly recommend it as a support for beginning elementary school teachers as well.

I will be posting lessons I try from it!!

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