…From Assessment to Action – Part 2!

You’ve given PALS… now what? Let’s explore using the NEW Emergent Reader Electronic Lesson Plan (ELP) as a way to organize a week’s worth of differentiated small group instruction for your emergent readers in the areas of Phonological Awareness, Concept of Word in Text, Alphabet Recognition, Naming, & Letter Sounds, and Beginning Consonant Contrasts.

Step #1. Identify emergent readers.

Look at your PALS-K data and your anecdotal observations. Emergent readers are students who…

  • Are not yet automatic with letters and sounds
  • Are developing rhyme awareness, syllable & word awareness, or beginning sound awareness
  • Scribble, use letter-like symbols, random letters, or some initial consonants when writing
  • Pretend read or are not yet accurate when pointing to memorized text
  • Identify no, few, or even many words in context
  • Identify no, few, or even some words out of context

Step #2. Create differentiated small groups.

 Some of your emergent readers may be Developing COW-T and some of them may have Rudimentary COW-T. The very first page of the New Emergent Reader ELP can help you determine which COW-T stage is a better fit. Click on the “eye” to view the COW-T Stages document.










Use the COW-T Stages document to determine groups based upon those who have Developing COW-T and those who have Rudimentary COW-T. If you have any students with Firm COW-T, look into using the Beginning Reader ELP with those students.

Step #3. Use the New Emergent Reader ELP to create a week-long plan for each group.

There are four planning pages. You choose:

  1. A text, a COW-T stage, and focus letters
  2. A phonological awareness instructional activity
  3. Words for COW-T instructional activities
  4. Alphabet or beginning sounds instructional activities

Then you can print four Lesson Plan pages:

  1. Week’s Lesson Plan
  2. Personal Reader Text
  3. Word Cards
  4. Word List

There are three documents to help you differentiate instruction:

  1. COW-T Stages
  2. Personal Reader Routine
  3. Literacy Workstations











On the last page, you can print:

  1. Each individual lesson plan page
  2. All four lesson plan pages
  3. Teacher pages for selected instructional activities
  4. All supporting documents (100 pages)

Step #4. Implement your lesson plan.

Familiarize yourself with the instructional activities which you have selected for the week. As you teach, think about the feedback you give to your students. Specific feedback will help students learn more quickly.

PALS Resources

Note that you will need to open the New Emergent Reader ELP with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. If you do not yet have it on your computer, see directions for downloading it in your PALS account. Here are all the resources on the Resources tab in your PALS account:

Plan Instruction page, Emergent Reader section:

Webinars page, Recorded Webinars section:

FAQs & How-to Documents page, Electronic Lesson Plan (ELP) section:


More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

…from Assessments to Action!

Here are 3 steps (and a little bonus) to get you into your VKRP reports and on to using your data.

#1.  Access your VKRP reports

You can access your reports from the VKRP landing page in your PALS account.  You will find VKRP Reports under the View Results column on the right side of your screen (see below #4 – Classroom-Level Reports; #5 – Student-Level Reports).

  • The Classroom Overview is a great place to start. It shows scores for your entire classroom in math, self-regulation, social skills, and literacy. (You can sort any column by clicking on the header.)
  • Once in the Reports Dashboard you can access other reports from the menu on the left side of the Classroom Overview screen (see below). To see student level reports, you can click on individual students’ names or scores.
  • For a quick overview of the VKRP reports, visit your VKRP Teacher Manual beginning on page 23 or watch the first section of the VKRP Reports & Resources Overview 2017 video .

VKRP classroom overview report

#2.  Explore your data — Look for patterns in the data

Now it’s time to think about what you see.  On your Classroom Overview Report, you can easily see who is At or Above Benchmark (in green) or Below Benchmark (in red). Your VKRP Teacher Manual includes a section on interpreting your reports beginning on page 29.

Ask yourself…

What’s happening in the classroom?

  • Where are students doing well?
  • Where do students need support?
  • Is support needed for the whole classroom in any area?

What about individual students?

  • Do students below benchmark have anything in common?
  • Do any stand out as needing more support?
  • Why might that be?

#3.  Access VKRP Resources from your Reports

Based on your data exploration – you are likely asking yourself: What can I do to support my classroom as a whole?  What can I do for individual students?  VKRP reports include a Recommended Resources section based on your classroom’s data!

classroom overview available resources

Resources are recommended at two levels:

(1) Classroom-level; for example if 50% of more of your students were below the benchmark in Numeracy, your classroom as a whole would be recommended for Numeracy resources (see example),

(2) Student-level; for example an individual student may be recommended for self-regulation resources based on their data in that area (see example 2 below).student overview - focus resources

BONUS:  Also available at the student-level are family- friendly reports that help you walk families through how their children performed across readiness domains and what the scores mean. You can also provide them with family resources in the areas of math, self-regulation, and social skills that include fun and easy ways to support their child’s development in these domains at home. The family reports and resources are also available in Spanish. Some teachers choose to use these reports as helpful guides during conversations at parent-teacher conferences.

Now you know some steps for making the most of your VKRP data!  More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.




Building Positive Engagement by Connecting With Your Students

Your students are learning more with each passing day, and you’ve been learning too – about your students’ unique interests, abilities, and needs! The value of getting to know your students as individuals and continuing to nurture your relationships with them throughout the year cannot be overstated. Although it’s true that simply building strong relationships with each of your students will not teach them math and literacy skills, the way they feel about you will influence their confidence and engagement across learning domains. Each interaction you share also provides students with a model for how to interact with peers and other adults. It’s no surprise that students who have strong relationships with their teachers tend to experience better outcomes both academically and socially!

iStock/Steve Debenport

Building warm and supportive relationships with your students is one of the best things you can do to help ease their transition into Kindergarten, but it won’t happen overnight! Here are some tips to keep in mind as you continue to develop yours:

Show them respect.
Demonstrating respect toward your students will help them learn to do the same toward you and their peers. A few ways to do this are:

  • Acknowledging students by name and making eye contact when you address them, both individually and in large groups
  • Kneeling or sitting down and gently leaning in toward your students during interactions to show that you are actively listening and interested in what they have to say
  • Using a pleasant, calm tone of voice
  • Avoiding interrupting or talking over students

    Source: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Encourage them to share their perspectives.
Taking time to show your students that you value who they are and what they have to say will help them strengthen their social skills and feel more comfortable expressing themselves. A few ways to do this are:

  • Letting students take the lead in conversations and activities
  • Asking them about their thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, and life experiences
  • Showing your interest by following up with questions to keep the discussion going

Match your efforts to the needs of individual students.
When you are struggling to make a connection with students – particularly those who are experiencing academic or behavioral difficulties – putting extra time and thought into relationship building makes a big difference. A few ways to do this are:

Source: iStock/kate_sept2004
  • Partnering with parents to gain inside knowledge about their children’s interests and experiences so that you can jumpstart your relationships with students who may be harder to reach
  • Keeping calm when things go wrong. Just as we tell our students to stop and think before they act, it’s important to remind ourselves! How you respond to students during challenges will determine whether they feel comfortable in the future with sharing openly, seeking assistance when they need it, and taking academic risks
  • Acknowledging and praising students’ strengths and positive behaviors so that your relationship isn’t solely focused on dealing with problems

When you invest in your relationships with individual students, you’ll also be making an investment toward improving the overall climate of your classroom and learning experiences for all. So, let your warmth be contagious! Establishing a precedent of trust, respect, and mutual enjoyment in your relationships with students this year will benefit them now and for many years to come.

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

Family Connections Build Strong Foundations!

As kindergarten teachers, you are the first contact that many families have with their child’s educational career—they are so lucky to have you! Taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with families helps them to stay positively engaged in their child’s education, which has long- term positive impacts for children.

As you reflect on children’s progress over the kindergarten year, families are eager to hear about what their children have learned in kindergarten, and what they can continue to work with them on over the summer. Your final conversations with families this year may be the most important in setting students up for success in first grade.

These meaningful conversations with families about their child’s progress over the kindergarten year can really help to motivate families to engage with their child in learning activities over the summer and help reduce the “summer slide.”

In this blog, we provide some recommendations for sharing information with families about their children’s development over the year.  Using the information that you gathered from the VKRP assessments in the fall in combination with PALS data and your on-going observations of your students throughout the school year is a great way to share with families where their child started, how they have grown and where they might still need more support.

Using PALS Data: End-of-the-Year Tips:  Part II: Sharing with Families

Put PALS scores to work for you when talking with families!

Source: iStock/Steve Debenport

Sometimes, when talking with families, we just focus on whether students met the Summed Score Benchmark. But PALS tells much more than that! We know that giving families specific information helps them to understand their child’s literacy growth and strengths, and helps to identify how they can assist their child.

Click HERE to learn how you can use students’ PALS reports to create a personalized overview for families including current skills, areas to work on, and ideas of activities they can do together at home to continue learning in the areas of literacy. 

End of Year Math Wrap-up and Summer Fun for Families

You have laid the foundation for students’ mathematics skill development. You have likely witnessed students’ moving from just learning to count at the beginning of the year to now being able to “count on” from numbers besides 1 and “skip count.” At the beginning of the year, students may have struggled with simple addition and subtraction problems, and now there are students who can use multiple different strategies to solve complex computation problems.

As you reflect on your students’ math skills at the beginning of the school year when they completed “The Party Assessment”—Where have they grown? Where do they need more support? and Are they meeting first grade beginning of the year benchmarks? This is important information to share with families so they can help their child continue to grow in their math skills over the summer.

Source: iStock/Nadezhda1906

The VKRP team has created a family-friendly handout that highlights what math skills students have been working to master in kindergarten and what they will be working on in first grade. We have also included fun math activities that will support children’s continued skill development! Click HERE to download and share with families.

Summertime Self-Regulation and Social Skills Activities

From taking turns and resolving conflicts to following directions and persisting on difficult tasks, your students have developed skills this year that will serve them well for years to come! These final weeks are an ideal time to review their scores from the fall self-regulation and social skills assessment and reflect upon whether children who had room to grow have made the gains needed for success heading into the next school year, and whether children who entered with stronger skills have remained on target.

Whether your students’ needs for this summer are to gain or maintain,

Source: iStock/wavebreakmedia

there are enormous benefits to engaging families in continuing to foster their self-regulation and social skills! The VKRP team has created a handout for you to share with families that details the social and self-regulatory skills their child has worked on this year, and how they’ll be building upon them in first grade. We’ve also included directions for some summer games and reading activities to help spark conversations and learning about emotions, friendships, and body awareness! Click HERE to download, print, and share!


Being a teacher is no easy task and the entire VKRP Team & our PALS colleagues want to take the opportunity to THANK YOU for your hard work and dedication to Virginia’s youngest citizens!

We wish you a happy, healthy, and FUN summer!

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

Using PALS Data: End-of-the-Year Tips

Part I: Sharing with Colleagues for First Grade Transition

Spending time analyzing, reflecting, and sharing data can feel like “one more thing” during this busy time. We have found that it is one of “the things” that can make a huge difference in supporting the successful transitions of our students.

Step 1. Reflect as a kindergarten team.

We suggest looking at Class Performance by Task reports, found on your Reports tab in the Information for Grouping section, as a kindergarten team. This report displays all task scores, with Identified students separated from students who met the Summed Score Benchmark.

Consider your own class, as well as similarities and differences across classes. This is a time, as a team, to reflect on what worked well with this class, and what areas may not have gotten as much attention or may not have resulted in as much progress for students. This type of reflection is the foundation for high quality instruction. Here are some essential questions:

  • Where are class strengths? Rhyme? Beginning Sounds? Lower-case letter recognition? Are there patterns to students who are below benchmark? Is it the same in all classes?

  • Do students who have all or most letters and sounds apply them in spelling and COW?

Step 2. Share with the First Grade Team.

Remember that in first grade, the PALS assessment shifts from a focus on foundational skills to applied reading skills. Yet, the information you have on a student’s foundation is critical as first grade teachers plan their instruction early in the year. Use your reflections as a kindergarten team to create a valuable summary for the first grade teams that includes:

  • The overall strengths and weaknesses of the class. How much do they know about letters, letter sounds, rhyme, and beginning sounds? How well are they applying what they know in spelling and COW?
  • A “watch list” – particularly those students above the Summed Score Benchmark, who did not score the maximum (25 points) on COW tasks. For these students, recommend that first grade teachers assess COW in the fall, even if these students are not required to take Part B.
  • Data from any high-performing students who were administered PALS 1-3.
PreK Teachers

In this blog we focused primarily on ways to consider your data and prepare supports to aid your children’s transition to first grade. Another transition is that of PreK to K. Many of you have PreK in your building and/or have children coming from state-funded preschool programs. These students have PALS data, and exploring their scores can help you determine how to support their transition. Therefore, you may consider asking PreK teachers to share the following reports:

  • Class Summary. Similar to PALS-K Class Summary, this report displays all of the task scores for each student. The green circle indicates that the student’s score is within the Spring Developmental Range for that particular task.
  • Individual Task Growth. Similar to PALS-K Individual Task Growth, this report displays growth graphs for each PALS-PreK task in relation to Spring Developmental Range and maximum scores.

As soon as the student is on your class list in the fall, check the Student Summary: All School Years report. If your student participated in a publicly-funded PreK program anywhere in Virginia, the data will appear on this report.

Collaboration with grade-level and vertical teams builds a more supportive learning environment for our students.

Join us next week for Part II: Sharing with Families.

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

Computation: Exploring the Progression of Skill Development

Mr. Williams is reading the book, Caps for Sale, about a peddler and some monkeys, to his kindergarten class. He recognizes that the book presents a great opportunity to practice addition and subtraction, as the monkeys take away and give back some of the 11 caps that the peddler is trying to sell. Today, he decides to focus on different problem types. Instead of just working on “result unknown” problems, he is going to challenge his students by also asking some “change unknown” and “start unknown” problems.

As you know, by definition, adding is combining numbers, or sets of objects, to make a larger number or a larger set of objects. Subtraction, of course, is the inverse of addition.

There are three ways that we see children’s abilities in addition and subtraction grow during the kindergarten year. These are:
• The difficulty of the problem types they are able to solve
• The complexity of the strategies that they use to solve problems
• The size of the numbers they are able to work with

First, let’s explore, the difficulty of the problem types children are able to solve:

When students are first beginning to add and subtract, they typically work with the easiest problem type called a “result unknown” problem, where we know the original number, and we know the amount that is added (or taken away), but the result is unknown. So, in our example above, Mr. Williams might ask his class the following, “If the peddler had 5 caps and the monkey gave back 6, how many would he have altogether?”

The second problem type is a “change unknown” problem where the original amount is known and the result is known but the amount to add (or subtract) is unknown. Here Mr. Williams might ask the following, “The peddler has 4 caps on his head, but he has 11 altogether. How many caps are the monkeys hiding?”

The third type is “start unknown” where the result is known and the amount to be added or subtracted is known, but the “starting” number is unknown. Mr. Williams asked his class the following, “The peddler had some caps, then the monkeys gave him 3 more. Now he has 11. How many did he start with?”

Across the year, you have seen students’ ability to solve different problem types grow. In the beginning of the year, they were able to solve only result unknown problems. But, by the end of the year, students will be able to use their growing computation skills to answer change unknown and start unknown problems. It’s important to note that students might still rely on concrete representations and manipulatives to help them out.

Secondly, let’s look at the complexity of the strategies students use to solve problems:

In this VIDEO, a teacher is working with a student on a change unknown problem. She shows him 3 bears and tells him that there are 6 altogether. She wants him to figure out how many bears are hiding in the cave. Watch how the teacher supports this student by giving him manipulatives to use and using her fingers. The student struggles with the first problem, but in the second problem, we see him use several strategies to come up with the correct answers. Across the school year you have likely seen your students increase their repertoire of problem solving strategies.

Lastly, consider the size of numbers your students are currently working with:

And now, think back to September and your students’ capacity for working with numbers. Over these many months in your classroom, your students have grown in their ability to work with larger and larger numbers which will continue as they transition into first grade.

Source: iStock/michaeljung

Click HERE to access the comprehensive VKRP Computation guide that includes even more information about children’s development of computation skills, along with strategies and activities to use to support their development.

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

Promoting Social Skills

Students’ interactions with their peers are important not only in their development of positive relationships, but also in their emerging attitudes toward school. A student who frequently gets in arguments with their classmates, for example, is less likely to look forward to going to school than a student who has mostly positive experiences with their peers. This week, we focus on the role that teachers can play in encouraging positive peer interactions by 1) supporting friendship skills, and 2) promoting problem-solving.

Supporting Friendship Skills

Children cannot develop positive peer relationships unless they have a basic understanding of the skills needed to relate to others. These include taking turns, waiting patiently, sharing, listening to others, and being flexible (among many others!).

One way to introduce and promote social skill development is through the use of the “Super Friend” visual cue. Using the concept and story of a superhero, students are taught the characteristics (i.e., social skills) of what it means to be a “Super Friend.” This strategy not only provides a fun and concrete introduction to friendship skills, but also serves as a quick and easy way to cue students of these behaviors when they need a reminder throughout the day. For ideas on how to integrate “Super Friend” throughout your classroom, see the Introduction to Super Friend Activity Guide.

Promoting Problem-Solving

Kindergartners are in the early stages of developing their ability to control their emotions and behaviors. So no matter how many “Super Friends” you have in your class, there are bound be some peer challenges. In addition to supporting friendship skills, it is important to help students recognize what to do when running into problems with peers.

One way to help guide students through peer conflict is by using the “Solution Kit” – a variety of problem-solving strategies in the form of visual cues. Similar to “Super Friend,” these visuals can serve as a tangible, quick, and easy way to remind students of different strategies for solving problems in-the-moment when they need them most. For ideas on how to integrate the “Solution Kit” throughout your classroom, see the Introduction to the “Solution Kit” Activity Guide.

When it comes to preparing your students for future success, social skills are as important to focus on developing as academic skills. Cooperating with others and managing disagreements are critical skills for working in groups and maintaining safe and positive school communities, and taking the time to work on these skills with your students will provide benefits now and for years to come!

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1.

Geometry: Shape Recognition and Properties

Recognizing shapes and their properties is an essential skill we use daily in our lives. In kindergarten, learning this skill is not just about identifying shapes in an isolated way, but really seeing how they connect to the physical world we live in.

Source: iStock/Jnovack7

For example, during an outside walk, students can find triangle shapes on the playground, rectangular-shaped windows on a building, and circular utility access holes.

Recognizing shapes helps children describe and organize the world around them, which is an important skill they’ll use later on in other content areas such as biology, chemistry, engineering, and so many more.


Shape recognition is all about being able to distinguish between different shapes, and associate shapes with their names. For example, when a teacher shows a student a group of shapes and asks, “which one is a hexagon”? if the student can point to the hexagon, we can gather that she recognizes that shape.

As students become more experienced at recognizing different shapes, they will begin to pay attention to, and eventually be able to identify, a shape’s properties. As you know, shape properties are the key mathematical characteristics of a shape—the number of sides, length of sides, number of angles, and size of angles. For example, the properties of a square are that it has four sides that are all the same length and that it has four right angles. No other shape has that combination of attributes.

When students start to identify shapes by attributes rather than their general appearance, it signals a big shift in their thinking. They are moving from visual reasoning – where they focus on a shape’s overall appearance, to analytic reasoning, where they’re able to see similarities between different examples of a shape. Five-year-olds have typically made this shift, and understand that shapes have sides and angles and that the number of each of these is what defines a shape. For example, if you ask a kindergartner how they know that a shape is a triangle, most will be able to tell you, “because it has three sides and three angles.”


Provide opportunities for students to compose and decompose shapes.

Composing shapes is about exploring how shapes can be fit together to create larger shapes.  Decomposing shapes is about exploring how larger shapes can be split apart into smaller shapes. Students’ understanding of how to compose and decompose shapes draws on their understanding of characteristics of shapes and how shapes are related to one another. It also provides the foundation for understanding that three dimensional shapes are composed of two dimensional shapes. Allowing children opportunities to practice composing and decomposing shapes leads to the development of this important skill.

Tangram puzzles provide a great opportunity for students to practice putting shapes together to create a picture. This requires students to rotate, combine, and change shapes, to complete the puzzles.

Source: iStock/anaken2012

In this video, an instructor shows how to make tangram puzzles from paper. Another fun way to incorporate tangram puzzles into daily routines is to cut up sandwiches during snack or lunch time into tangram puzzle pieces (encourage parents to try this activity with their children at home)! Click here to access instructions and fun tips for creating sandwich tangram puzzles. Finally, PBS Learning Media© has a fun interactive and free game, Cyberchase that digitally explores the features of the tangram. Click here to access the online game Cyberchase.

Click here to access our comprehensive guide focused on the geometry skill of Shape Recognition and Properties. In this document, you can find many more strategies and activities to support your students’ geometry skills.

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1

Shared Reading: A Powerful Practice to Support Literacy

We know the importance of providing our students with a strong diet of literacy fundamentals: phonological awareness, alphabet/sound knowledge, concepts about print, and concept of word in text. A challenge we sometimes face, however, is that students show skills in these areas during isolated activities, but we don’t see them making the leap to using those skills in the context of more naturalistic reading situations. In fact, many of our students need intentional and explicit support in taking what they know and applying it in the context of reading. One technique to foster connections is Shared Reading.

Source: iStock/FatCamera

What is Shared Reading?

Shared reading is a process of actively involving students in naturalistic reading opportunities such as storybooks, charts, big books, diagrams, morning message, etc. We are going to focus on a particular approach in which you:

  • Read and reread an enlarged text, such as a big book or chart.
  • Focus on particular skills within an overall text.

Why should I do Shared Reading?

To offer students explicit support in building a bridge between what they know and how to use what they know. 

How do I do Shared Reading?

  • Day 1: Introduce and read the text, pointing to the words. Engage students with the book’s story and content.
  • Days 2 and 3: Reread the text together and use it to focus on particular skills.
  • To see an example of a teacher implementing Shared Reading, click here.

What kind of text should I use for Shared Reading?

  • Books with interesting, enlarged print, such as print in various sizes and colors, or print within pictures
  • Patterned, predictable, or otherwise easily memorized text
  • Big books, charts, sentence strips on a pocket chart, or a refrain from read aloud or a song 

How do I choose a particular text for Shared Reading?

  • Different texts lend themselves to different goals, so first, consider your instructional goals (e.g., if students need practice applying knowledge of particular letters/sounds, choose a text that contains those letters as beginning sounds).

What are the best instructional goals to have during the Shared Reading?

  • It depends on what your students need! Shared reading is best done as a supplement to a systematic literacy curriculum because you know what you have already taught. This knowledge allows you to observe areas in which students are not yet consistently using what you have taught them, so you can tailor the shared reading experience to their learning needs.
  • Click here for some examples of what you might observe and how you might enact instruction.

What else should I think about for Shared Reading?

Planning and Organization:

  • Use the same text with the whole class, then the following week, use it with small groups.

    Source: iStock/monkeybusinessimages
  • Use personal readers (individual notebooks) for text-only copies.
  • Use the same materials in workstations/centers after using them in shared reading.
  • Connect what students already know to what they need to learn.
  • With your teammates, create a list of available texts and a chart with text features (e.g., particular beginning consonants, multi-syllabic words, rhyming words) to use in planning future shared reading lessons.

During Instruction:

  • Model your thinking with explicit language. For example, for the word “fast,” you might say, “I see an F at the beginning of that word. F says /fff/. Oh, I know, that word is ‘fast.’ Let me read up to it to double-check.” Then reread the text as you point to the words until you get to the word “fast.” Then you might say, “Yes, that is ‘fast.’ Fast starts with /fff/. I see F at the beginning, and I said that word when I pointed to it.”
  • Repeat your focus on a specific skill 3-5 times during reading.
  • Allow students to speak up. Let students point to the text while you comment. Or, ask students questions. A balance of literal questions (e.g., “What does this word start with?”) and higher-level questions (e.g., “How did you know that word was ‘lion?’”) is important.
  • Give students specific praise. Saying something like, “Yes, you knew that L says /l/ and lion starts with /l/ and that’s how you knew the word was lion.” Have students check that they are correct by reciting the text while pointing to the word in question.

Shared Reading is one way to share books with students across the kindergarten day as you focus on the identified needs of your students.

For further information:

To read more about Shared Reading, click here.

To watch a webinar, Integrating Emergent Literacy Instruction Using Shared Reading, login to your PALS Account (Resources tab, Webinar page, Recorded Webinars section).

Research Articles:

Button, K., & Johnson, M. (1997). The role of shared reading in developing effective early reading strategies. Reading Horizons, 37(4), 261-273.

Piasta, S.B., Justice, L.M., McGinty, A.S., & Kaderavek, J. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83, 810–820. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01754.x

Zucker, T.A., Ward, A.E., & Justice, L.M. (2009). Print referencing during read-alouds: A technique for increasing emergent readers’ print knowledge. The Reading Teacher, 63(1), 62-72. https://doi.org/10.1598/RT.63.1.6

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1

Using Calm-Down Strategies

In a previous post, we discussed strategies for helping your students  1) identify and 2) measure their emotions using the Feelings Chart and the Feelings Thermometer. This week, we shift our focus to the third and final step – helping students 3) manage their emotions.

Source: iStock/Little Girl Posing

After recognizing what it is that they are feeling, students need to know what to do with these feelings. Have you ever tried to reason with one of your students after their drawing accidentally gets ruined? How about when they have just been told that there isn’t enough time to play their favorite game? Most likely, it didn’t go so well! Just like adults, it’s hard for children to control what they do and say when their emotions become too strong. Calm-Down Strategies refer to different ways for students to calm their bodies when they are feeling (or starting to feel) overwhelmed by an emotion. Read on to explore some example strategies.

Calm-Down Strategies

  • Help student slowly count to ten.
  • Work through some deep belly breathing:

Breathe in for 2 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, breathe out for 3-4 seconds, repeat.

  • Use the Turtle Technique:

Guide students through four calm-down steps alongside “Tucker Turtle.” Materials can be found here. (For a refresher, see Introduction to the Turtle Technique.)

  • Progressive muscle relaxation:

Talk student through tighten and release of different body parts one at a time (e.g., clench and release toes, then legs, then thighs, etc.).

  • Calm-down phrases:

Say aloud or repeat a phrase that provides comfort and reassurance (e.g., “I’m right here with you.”, “We’ll get through this together.”).

  • Mental imagery:

Ask student to picture and describe aloud a favorite place or memory.

  • Take a break:

Provide a “calm-down spot” where students can take a break and regroup, or give opportunity to take a quick walk.

  • Alternative activity:
Source: iStock/Nadezhda1906

Provide opportunity to draw, color, listen to music, read a book, etc.

  • Fidget toys:

For those who could benefit from sensory input, have items available to channel their energy into (e.g., play-dough, stress ball).

Remember! Calm-Down strategies aren’t just for when students are at their limit. In fact, it is just as important to use these strategies when you notice an emotion starting to build in order to prevent it from becoming too strong!

More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1