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How to Choose the Right Literacy Resources on a Budget

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If you are anything like me, you've had a career long journey of hustling hard “this year” so you can “use it it again next year”. 

It's the lie we all fall victim to. I've taught for eight years thinking that every year it will get easier.. and it doesn't. But only because I am always finding ways of making my classroom and my teaching style better! 

One thing I've been super guilty of, is getting overwhelmed with planning and defaulting to either a) the resources that were right in front of me or b) the fastest and cutest thing I could find on Teachers Pay Teachers. These resources checked all the boxes, but very rarely could I use them from year to year.

Don't lie. You know you've been there. We all have. 

But what I've found to be one of the most effective “strategies” for saving time, fitting it all in, reaching all of my students, etc. is to be very INTENTIONAL with the resources I am using in my classroom. 

So today I'm going to share my secrets for choosing the RIGHT literacy resources on a budget! 

Tip #1 Does the content fit the needs of your students? 

To truly understand the needs of your students, you need to know two things: 

1- What does your standard say? What does mastery of that skill look like? 

2- Where are your students at? Are they ready for that standard or do they need to master a foundational skill first? 

 

In my membership, The First Grade Literacy Academy, I teach how to get very clear on your standards. It’s so crucial for the success of your classroom and your students.

 

Too often people buy things on TPT because they look cute or match the “theme of the week” (trust me, I’m guilty of this too). 

 

But if you really want to choose the RIGHT resources on a BUDGET, you need to be intentional and ONLY buy what directly aligns with your standards.

Tip #2: How is this going to work in your classroom? 

Are you going to be using this resource for: 

  • whole group
  • small group
  • stations
  • interventions

HERE'S THE SECRET: Can you modify it to make it work for all four? Can you differentiate it for different levels of learners? 

In The First Grade Literacy Academy, I teach how to use a simple Standards Based Planning Framework:

Step 1: Understand your Standard 

Step 2: Identify Assessment

Step 3: Whole Group 

Step 4: Stations & Interventions

Being able to take a resource and teach in a whole group setting, then repurpose it for stations and interventions is truly the secret to “fitting it all in”.

Tip #3: Will this resource be engaging for your students? 

Simply put, we are constantly battling for our students’ attention and focus. You could have an amazing resource that is aligned to your standards and meets the needs of all students…

BUT, if it’s not engaging, it won’t be successful. 

You have to start thinking out of the box. 

 

How can you give your students “hands on” activities during your literacy instruction? 

Could they look at real photographs and apply comprehension strategies such as inferencing? 

Could they take a bag of objects and try to find the main idea? 

Could they take a set of words written on popsicle sticks and put them in ABC order? 

Could you play a Pixar short film and practice making and confirming predictions? 

When looking for literacy resources I have three simple guidelines: 

  • Will the content fit the needs of me and my students?
  • How is this going to work in my classroom? 
  • Will this resource be engaging for students? 
 
 
Do you teach in Texas? Every resource I create is directly aligned to our Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). 

 

Check them out here

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Kristen Sullins

Kristen Sullins

I am a current first grade teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to focus on and plan new ideas for my guided reading and guided math stations, warm ups and interventions and all things organization.

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