I was thrilled to recently receive two Common Core products from Tools for Teachers by Laurah J! I got to use both the January version and February version of her Common Core Read-and-Write Activities in my classroom. I teach third grade students in a low-income district located on the outer-ring suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. I have students reading at a variety of reading levels in my classroom and I have quite a few struggling readers, along with two students with reading IEPs.
One of our goals as a classroom this year is to become better readers so my students can pass the Reading OAA (state test in Ohio; if they don’t pass, they must repeat third grade). It has been tricky trying to find some resources that are leveled for my students, without putting too much work on me as the teacher in finding the resources. I wanted resources that would be on the same topic, but varied for the students’ ability levels, and that is exactly what Laurah has created. If you have a classroom full of nine year olds who read anywhere from a first grade to fifth grade level, these Common Core resources will be perfect for you. I like how the products are labeled appropriate for grades 3-5, which is absolutely true. I was afraid to use the stories with my lowest readers, for fear that they would get discouraged by the length of the passages or the tough vocabulary, but when they read along with me, they were fine! I let my higher readers read the passages on their own, or partner-read the passages, which worked well, too.
My favorite aspect of the product, besides the wonderful leveled stories, is the fact that they come with activities that are Common Core aligned. Learning about the structure of text, for example, is a Common Core skill that all students need to learn. The Saint Valentine story was excellent for this because Laurah provided key words that the students should look for while they are reading. I encouraged my students to highlight any words as we re-read the passage, and they were very good at finding the “sequencing” words. I would have never expected this from my lowest readers, but they did an amazing job and were even able to start to answer the questions that came with that story on their own. The questions provided a word bank to help the students with their answers, which was very helpful.
In addition to the Saint Valentine story, I also really liked the Martin Luther King, Jr. story. This non-fiction text aligns with reading and social studies curriculum for my grade level. It is also a great story to keep in your teacher binder (I have a holiday binder in which I organize stories and activities by month so they are easy to find) for when January rolls around and you say to yourself, “What am I going to do for the MLK holiday this year?” My students loved connecting this text to other stories we read about Martin Luther King, Jr. in our class during the past few weeks. I had each of my leveled groups complete the biographic poem, which came along with the story, and I displayed my students’ work in the hallway. The other teachers in my grade level loved the idea of a biographic poem. It is a great way for students to go back and re-read the text to find details, as well as it is a great way for them to learn about adjectives when they are describing MLK and his life.
I am so excited to use the rest of the stories that came along with the January and February common core activities! The stories are well written, the activities are thoughtful and meaningful, and using these resources in my classroom has promoted higher level thinking among my students.
-Mallory R., Ohio 3rd Grade Teacher
Thanks so much to Mallory for taking the time to try out these products with your kiddos!