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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adventures in Reading

This summer I began my journey toward earning my Masters Degree in Reading. During our summer practicum, we were given a one-on-one student and a small group of students. Our task was to assess the students and then plan and implement intervention accordingly. 

To start our summer practicum, we gave a series of interest inventories and attitude surveys to find out what our students were interested in. We also gave an Informal Reading Inventory (IRI.) To be specific, we gave the Johns (2010) Basic Reading Inventory (BRI).

(Sidenote: The GA's got to meet Jerry Johns, the author, at the ALER conference in November! We were ecstatic because to us he was a celebrity! That's him on the cover)

My one-on-one student created this chalk art with me to help describe the types of books he likes to read. He didn't get too diverse with his genres of books so we delved into a few specific series. 

Below is the room that I was working with. College students call it "The Pit" but the students thought it was cool. My Star Wars student thought it looked like the Jedi Council Chamber.

On the left side of the room is the materials for the one-on-one student who's theme was Adventures in Reading (AKA Star Wars). The right side of the room was for the small group of students whose theme was Mystery- Reading Detail Detectives

Below are some of the activities and games we played.

Interest Inventory Cup Stack

Take an empty Pringles can and some leftover cups and you have a wonderfully multi-sensory reading interest inventory game. I wrote questions on the cups and then had the students stack the cups as they answered them. Then, I covered the Pringles can in construction paper and then created this label based on some other sight word and math related cup stacks seen at Chasing Cheerios.
Click on the picture to download the label.

Sight Word Cup Stack

The same concept works for sight words. It was great for my students who love to build and construct. Sometimes I wrote the words on the bottoms of special patterned cups when I could find them. It also worked to find the cups in the dark with flashlights. The student would put the cup on the flashlight and the light would glow and illuminate the word written on the side of the red cups. (He thought it looked like a red mini lightsaber!)

Lite Brite Letters

Have an old Lite Brite hanging out gathering dust somewhere? Use it for making letters. It doesn't matter if you don't have the black sheets or all the peg colors. For students who have a sensory aversion, this is a no-mess way to make letters sensory-safe. The lights add an extra visual effect to the letters as well. The students must really focus on the letter formation when adding each peg one-by-one. (Be careful when using this with students who are perfectionists, this will not turn out perfectly!) 

Jedi Sight Word Mastery Ranking

The focus skill that my Star Wars student needed intervention with was sight words. Each day, I would tally the number of times he correctly and automatically identified his focus words. Together we determined the number that corresponded to each level. I got a little extra Star Wars inspiration with the rankings! At the end of each session, we would count the tallies for each word and move any words up the ranking.

Master- (highest level) 20 correct readings
Knight- (middle level) 10 correct readings
Padawan- (lowest level) words are placed here when introduced

Feeding the R2D2 Trashcan

With some creativity and supplies I had around, I made the cutest and most motivating sight word game from scratch. 


  • old trashcan (I used one with a push-step opener)
  • bowl the same diameter as the lid of the trash can
  • card stock scraps in grey, blue, and red
  • 2 sheets of white computer paper
  • duct tape
  • black marker
  • contact paper

The hardest step was to first place the bowl on the lid of the trash can and tape the whole thing with duct tape. Then the trick is to cut out all of the details based on a google image and then cover the whole thing in contact paper to keep it easy to clean.

How to use it in a game?

I have used this R2D2 trashcan in many ways. My favorite way to use it was as a final assessment of the sight words. I wrote the sight words by hand on grey circles of paper that I called R2D2's discs. The student had to read the word, run to R2D2 and "feed" him the disc.

 How to Use Action Figures in Reading

I found R2D2 and C3P0 action figures at Walmart over the summer and wanted to use them in my intervention somehow. I ended up using them with large post-it notes to help with tracking. The student was very confident in reading the names of the Star Wars characters but hesitant with the sight words. The student would push R2D2 below the words as he read them. C3P0 would stand above the sight words to help signify either the structural analysis of the word or certain letters. The student made all of the markings with the green marker.

Sight Word Bowling 

I found this bowling set at Walmart in the summer. It was the quickest and most simple game to edit the words to. I wrote the words on paper and taped it the front of the bowling pins. When the student knocked down the pins, he had to read the word and use it in a sentence.


Hedbanz is a silly game that can be found at most stores in the board game section. The object of the game is to guess what is on the card on your forehead by asking clues of your opponents who can see your card. I used this as a problem solving and critical thinking game to help my students think of the details that help describe and define. After they correctly guessed, I asked them to determine the most important detail that helped them decide.

Jengo Fett Jenga

Click on the image to print the label for the outside of the game.

I bought a standard Jenga or Jumbling Tower game. I printed sight words and covered the top with contact paper. You can also just use scotch tape! 

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