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The New SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader Series- In the Fall

SECRET STORIES® READER- In the Fall
I’m so excited about this that I couldn’t wait to share it!
I sometimes feel like a broken record when I say that the SECRET STORIES® is not a program, but easily accessible, reading and writing tools to be used throughout the instructional day, and across all content areas. In a nutshell, the Secrets™ simply provide learners with logical explanations where otherwise there would be none!
That said, it’s rare that I create something specifically for their use, since pretty much anything kids can read or write will work just fine!
However, there are times when shining a spotlight on specific skills, or groups of related skills can be extremely helpful- especially for targeted reinforcement and assessment-  and there’s no better time or place to do this than in small, guided groups!
With the help of some amazing teachers from Stonewall Elementary in Virginia,  I’m releasing a new series of SECRET STORIES® Guided Readers with highlighted SECRET STORIES® sound patterns!
The SECRET STORIES® are in RED and OUTLAW WORDS are in “prison-garb” font!
In addition to the targeted phonics Secrets™, the Outlaw Words words are also identified within the text and printed in “prison-garb” font!
The outlaw words are the “SECRET STORIES® equivalent” of traditional sight words, with the only difference being that they can’t be sounded-out! And so they must go to Jail! (Word Jail, that is!)
The Word Jail is similar to a typical Word Wall, except that it houses only the worst rule-breaking offenders!  We put these ‘worst-of-the-worst’ words in Word Jail so that we can “remember what they so that they don’t get by us again” when we’re reading or writing!
For more details on how to create a Word Jail for Outlaw Words captured in your classroom,  check out the series about them on my VLOG, or click below to watch the video below!
Each reader includes three different version of the story: a highlighted color version, a black and white ‘easy-print’ version, and a teacher copy- which has all Secrets™ highlighted (not just those targeted) for quick and easy visual reference when introducing new Secrets™and reinforcing older ones during guided group time.
 
Notice the “Mommy e” in PINK, as well as the vowel that she’s telling to “say its name!” 
This first reader, In the Fall, will be followed by additional readers to be posted by the end of this week, so stay tuned!
Okay, so back on track….
While it is critical that learners are equipped with the reading and writing tools they need to “crack the codes” in text, it’s equally important to realize that the Secrets™ are simply the “keys” that unlock the door to world of reading and writing.
Making meaning is the true goal of the game!
We read and write for a purpose… and that purpose is not to accurately decode words on a page! While learners do need to know the Secrets™ to gain easy and early access to text, what develops them into fluent readers and writers is what happens after that!
Teachers spend so much time trying to teach kids HOW to read, that often there’s not enough time left over for thinking about WHAT they’re reading… which pretty much defeats the purpose of WHY we read in the first place!
Below is an example of Deanna Jump’s Guided Reading 101 (from my guest post on her blog) with some key SECRET STORIES® posters to show how easy it is to help kids sound out words with those tricky letter and phonics sounds….even in Kinder! Download the free poster SECRET™ phonics poster sample set and see for yourself!

Until Next Time, Katie

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Imagine you’re a beginning learner in Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade, and you’re told about the grown-up reading & writing “”secret”  al, and the sound they make when they get together in a word…
A and L love balls!
ALL balls… 
Footballs, baseballs, basketballs, volleyballs… 
ALL balls, ALL the time!!
Armed with this new reading and writing tool, you naturally begin looking for opportunities to use  it, not in a workbook or on a skill sheet, but in real life, just like real grown-ups do!
Take a moment and look around wherever you happen to be. Do you see the al Secret anywhere?   Maybe on a newspaper headline, or on a magazine cover?  Now imagine the text-rich environment of your classroom where opportunities for spotting this and other Secrets are literally EVERYWHERE!
Secret Stories® Phonics— Spotting the "PH" Secret

I’m often asked to create Secret Stories® practice pages and skill packs targeting individual Secrets, but aside from the few I’ve done for the “core” Secrets (i.e. Secrets of the Superhero Vowels®, Spotting Secrets, and Beethoven Blends) I’ve never felt this was necessary.

The best way to hone new skills is to use them, and the best use of the Secrets is for real-life, learner-driven purposes…. which abound in daily reading and writing! Applying the Secrets on workbook pages can’t compare to applying them to the reading and writing activities that are ongoing across the curriculum and throughout the entire instructional day!

And besides, there are so many outstanding and creative resources already available that offer natural reinforcement the Secrets! And since I’ll be doing a few guest posts for Deanna Jump this month on her blog, I thought I’m going to use one of her “Chit Chat” units as an example.

Katie Garner Guest Post on Deanna Jump's Blog
One of the best ways to build learner-automaticity with the Secrets is to provide rich, daily literacy experiences and activities that spur learner-interest so as to inspire use of the Secrets. Activities like Mrs. Jump’s Chit Chat (or any other flexible “open-ended” learning activity/framework) provide an ideal springboard for use of the Secrets for multi-purpose learning!
 
A consistent, yet flexible format makes for easy differentiation!
The consistent, and yet flexible format of the activities makes it easier for beginning learners to “multi-process.” The open-ended format encourages learners to simultaneously apply the Secrets they know, in conjunction with the individual letter/sound skills targeted (i.e. writing additional words that “start with the letter B” and contain one or more Secrets).
Combing both skill sets for one purpose allows learners to more fully engage with the activities while reinforcing their natural integration (i.e. use of the individual letter sounds and Secretssimultaneously, rather than having to wait to acquire/apply one before the other.) The result is natural, and thus, easy differentiation for a variety of skill-levels and instruction.
Mrs. Jump’s “Chit-Chat Morning Messages” on TpT!
These non-fiction Chit Chat units (below) 
are rich in content and naturally motivate learners application of the Secrets…

 

Rich, informational content, combined with vivid photographs and realistic illustrations inspire learners to read and write!
Connecting high-interest, non-fiction concepts to what learners already know and understand inspires them to “dig deeper” by reading and writing even more— sparking an interest in further reading, or planting a seed for an exciting, new writing idea, appropriately leveled, non-fiction text activities provide learners with unlimited opportunities to put the Secrets they know to use!

Secret Stories® are literally hiding behind every corner! 
More than anything else, what I love most about using the Secrets to read and write across the instructional day is that it clearly demonstrates the power that comes with owning these tools of our language! The Secrets give those who know them power over text!
For beginning learners, the ability to figure out new words on their own, as well as to write the words they want to use in their stories (regardless of whether or not it is on a sight word wall to copy) is an empowering feeling. And it’s this “power over text” that ignites learners’ desire to read and write MORE!  
 
The better we are at something, the more we like to do it… and the more we do it, the better we get…
and the better we get, the more we love to do it….
The worse we are at something, the less we like to do it… and the less we do it, the worse we get….
and the worse we get, the less we want to do it….
 
Get the idea?
Secret Stories® can be found around every corner and on every page of any book OR TpT activity! Anywhere there is text, there are an abundance of opportunities for introducing new Secrets and revisiting/reinforcing old ones!
Can you spot the Secrets on this page of Mrs. Jump’s Non-Fiction Chit Chat unit below?
(HINT- I’ve included some “secret: visual clues to help you spot them!)
Check out this “Spotting Secrets” resource on TpT that gives kids lots of fun practice! It even has thumbnail-sized visuals of some of the Secret Stories® pictures that kids can take home to share on the top of the practice pages!
Free Phonics Posters by Secret Stories
or to view the complete Classroom Kit versions, see the picture link, below.
 
Until Next Time,
Katie :-)

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