Here is a summary of my issues with nonsense words:
Issue 1:  They are not real words.
Issue 2:  Students are being tested in isolation.
Issue 3:  For years, in Kindergarten, students didn't have to read a single word, and they could still be considered benchmark (now the goal is 44 sounds and 7 whole words read at the end of the year).
Issue 4:  It only looks at points scored to determine benchmark levels, not how students are actually reading the words.
Issue 5: It forces teachers to "teach to a test" in kindergarten.

This year, my district did away with Dibels!!!  Guided Reading Level was our only required data collection.  If students were below a level A, then teachers were to monitor letters and sounds.

At my school, we do walk-to-intervention.  It is 30 min of time where all the teachers at that grade level (plus support staff) teach students in small groups.  They focus on specific skills based on the data.  However, they are required to have students apply the skills into books.  We are not just teaching in isolation.  Last year, we would use our Dibels data and guided reading running records to help form groups...BUT WE WENT ABOUT IT WRONG!!

I'm embarrassed to say this is how our data meetings went.  We focused on the numbers!
"Brad Pitt* got 22 sounds and no recodes."  "Ben Afflack* had 34 sounds and 2 recodes"  "Bradly Cooper* got 14 sounds and no recodes."
We would enter students in a spreadsheet and then split students by how they sorted out by score.  (I'm embarrassed to write that sentence).

But, when we know better, we do better....

This year, in November a group of kindergarten teachers wanted to use the nonsense word test for a group of students that knew all their letters and sounds, but were still struggling with reading.

The teachers administered a one minute nonsense word test and brought them to the data meeting.  Teacher's brought them unscored!! We didn't even look at Dibels cut scores at our data meeting!  Instead we sorted students by how they were reading words.  

Group 1:  At least 75% of their assessment included recoding words
Group 2:  About 50% of the assessment was recoding words and 50% sounding words out
Group 3:  About 75% of words was sounded out
Group 4:  About 50% of the assessment was sounded out, but the other 50%  was read letter by letter
Group 5:  Primarily reading letter by letter, but accuracy was high
Group 6:  Primarily reading letter by letter, but accuracy was low

Sample of Scoring

This worked so well.  The teachers immediately embraced it because for the first time they were using the data to help the students, not just record a score.

Since we started this in November, our data is showing that students are improving and moving to the next level.  Teachers are able to help students based on what they really need and groups are going much better because students are in groups where they need the same skill.

Vocabulary associated with Nonsense Words
1)  recode:  students read the whole word, they do not sound it out 
2) correct letter sounds:  the number of correct sounds students correctly identified.

*Not the real names of students at my school  :)

Updated on 3-27-15!!! Lots of new sorting mats and picture cards to help with word building!

Please make sure to download the new updated of the following (it is included)!

I use ice cube trays (from the Dollar Tree) to organize letters at literacy workstations :)

I'm not sure I've recovered yet from Spring Break!! We went on a cruise and had a blast!!!!  We met my sister-in-law and her family...we spent lots of time at the beach and just hanging out :)

Easter Ideas! Lots of thanks goes to The First Grade Parade for this idea!!!  I bought the bunnies at Michaels.  Then I used smooth rocks from the Dollar Tree.  Students make up CVC words for their literacy work station partner!

These storage containers were 49 cents at Michaels.  I've been using them to hold letters :)  I found bags of smooth stones, and vowels are in red and consonants are in blue. 

Over spring break, we were totally spoiled in terms of food!!!  I think my favorite were the barbecue tacos!!!  YUMMY!!!

I'm so happy I found these popcorn containers at the Target Dollar Spot!  I've had them for two years and they still look brand new!  The kindergarteners have been working on blending!!!  

I hope everyone has a great, great weekend!! I know I'm ready for it!!!

Chapter 4 of Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites is sponsored by Queen of the First Grade Jungle!

This has been my favorite chapter so far!!!  I LOVE games!! Students LOVE games!!! It is like they don't even realize they are learning!!

I tend to use games more to review and practice.  I need to find more ways to include games into learning!  I also want to make sure that my games are helping students think at higher levels!
I have lots of bundles with games that are great for both guided reading and literacy workstations.  My rule is that I teach the games during guided reading and then they move to a work station.  

I love field trips.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are from field trips.  The highlight was when I was in 5th grade, I went on the train to Washington DC and spent five days at our nation's capital.  So far, this has been my favorite chapter of the book study!

In my district, for years and years, each grade level had specific field trips they took.  In the past few years, field trips have been cut from the district budget.  Our PTO has stepped up, and now funds field trips.  Each grade level makes their request.  In my teaching career, these are the field trips I have attended:
-state capital
-zoo (multiple times)
-movie theater
-one room school house
-pumpkin patch
- University art lab

Here are some of my take aways from Chapter 3.

Here are links to a few virtual field trips, depending on what you are studying!

The San Diego Zoo Virtual Field Trip has animal cams and even includes lessons hosted by zookeepers!

Colonial Williamsburg has a varitety of virtual field trips for students including topics on the economy during the 1700s, the Revolutionary War, and jobs during the 1700s.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History allows students to visit the entire museum!

I love, love, love this linky party.  The bad news is right now I'm helping with State Assessments, so my group time with students is limited :(

This is an oldie but goodie that I like to use when students are practicing sight words.  I staple colored paper together to make a flip book.  At a literacy workstation, students look through magazines and newspapers searching for their sight words!
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