Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Building Fluency

Reading has so many components and so many factors.  After 20 years of teaching kids how to read, they continually surprise me, and they also follow some predictable patterns, which comfort me. Each child seems to attack reading differently, whether they favor whole word reading, phonetic reading, or a mixture of the two.  My own two kids at home, were perfect examples of different reading styles.  Both my kids loved to listen to stories and we would spend hours curled up reading in the mornings, naptimes, and evenings.  My daughter, memorized books very early on and focused keenly on words as I read them to her in story books.  My son, contrastingly, focused on details in pictures and imagery in his own mind.  We all were great at thinking aloud, as I modeled this from day one (perk of taking all those education classes and the 7 years of shared reading I did with students before I was blessed with my own loves).  We wondered about characters, imagined them in different situations, and read all the books by our favorite authors to compare the writing, the characters, illustrations, and messages.  This, to me, was stage one in their reading development.  My excitement spilled over to them.  I viewed it as fun, so in turn, they did too.  To me, this is an important part fluency building and an essential part of teaching. 

Once they started reading on their own I figured out that they had different attack skills that they favored.  My daughter, a whole word reader, saw a word once and photographically knew it.  But, when faced, with an unknown word, needed help to decode it.  That's when I started breaking down the phonics rules for her. She didn't love how it slowed her down a bit, but once she had enough practice with them, it was all automatic and she could read anything.  My son, on the other hand, attacked things in part, phonetically.  He needed a lot of work memorizing sight words (as a whole).  We wrote sight words with shaving cream, created elaborate matchbox car roads that had sight words at each turn that he had to read before his car could pass, and played a variety of games to cement the sight words for him.  He needed a lot of repetition and he needed the phonics to crack the reading code.  Once you figure out a student's unique pathway then you can help them access reading. That is the beauty of teaching.

What all kids need, though, is practice.  Some devour books and practice is natural because it is something they love to do. Some need it to be more game based and center like.  Most need a combination.  What has worked best for me in teaching reading is a balanced, blended program.  Essential is reading aloud, thinking aloud, students talking verbalizing and synthesizing their comprehension (partner reading, literature circles, discussion roundtables, etc...), strong, explicit phonics instruction through the context of reading, sight word automaticity, and fluency practice.  One of the best tools that have worked for ALL my students (even those with the most challenges) is phrasing.  Even 6 years olds don't want to be held back on what they read.  They often grab books that are too hard for them, but don't let go at library time or free choice reading of that one special book because they love it.  Phrasing is a way of letting all kids have access to core material like articles and close reading passages because it offers practice in small chunks, scaffolding the core for all.  I usually use phrasing for my "lovable" readers as a preteaching tool in small group the week before we start a new close read so that they have a leg up and can access the reading.  This gives them confidence, and the bonus is most of the words are sight words so they are gaining valuable practice with automaticity. 

I decided to take it a step further and make this phrasing activity a center after I work with the kids in small group, and it has worked out great.  I'm in the process of "beautifying" these units to put on TPT and I have just finished my first one.  It focuses on informational text and is centered around arctic animals.  Below is a link if you are interested.  I'll be coming out with a lot more soon.  Also linked below is a sight word center using ladder writing which is great for those kids who need to connect the reading memorization of the word with writing.



Friday, November 21, 2014


I am so thankful for my class and the wonderful school where I teach!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Growth Mindset in First Grade--writing goals

This year I'm fortunate to be at  a school that has high academic expectations, but also looks at positive habits of mind to grow and develop as a person.  I'm also blessed to have an amazing class that is open, willing, and has learned this year to be okay with productive struggle and not being perfect.  It's been a hard road for a couple of them, who resisted at first (crying on the floor and the like ;).  Luckily, I make my fair share of mistakes in front of them!  I've been open and honest about mistakes and let them know that mistakes can help us grow.  Moreover we all make mistakes!

On Pinterest last year I saw a ton of awesome writing goal displays and I tried a few with my last year's class.  It never really took hold because the goals changed faster than I could create a new chart.  This year I came up with the display in the picture.  I'm sure there's other ways that are just as good, but this is working for us now.  I just change the post-it notes as we change goals.  I think little clips would work too, but I eventually want to have the kids write their own goals so I may stick with post its.  The only downside is falling post its (maybe I'll try the kind that restick?"  I wrote them the first round, but I already have some kids wanting to change their goals a week into it (the ones that had quicker fixes like printing size).  I'm having them show me the evidence though with writing samples in their WOW journals (Work on Writing). I can't decide on how many samples I'm going to require them to switch the goal up...any thoughts?

If interested in the goal chart I'm offering it as a FREEBIE on my TPT store:


Please consider following me on TPT to get first notice of any flash freebies, new products, and sales:)


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Using an Interactive Writing Notebook

I couldn't believe I caught this as I was filming to try to capture good examples of Daily 5 time so we could review and discuss.  Student talk was getting a little loud (I'm sure you can clearly hear the background ;)  Students were working on Daily 5 and this little angel was doing working on writing using her Interactive notebook.  As I walked by I heard her discussing her need for a narrative transition for a story she was composing.  Since the notebook is color coded she went right to the section she needed and thumbed through the pages until she found a mini-chart on transitions.  She even thanked her notebook.  I couldn't have wished for a better reason to use this interactive notebook than my sweet little student showing her appreciation for it;)

I loved the idea when I saw them in a second grade classroom so I created one using my writing program.  We've learned a lot using them.  Here are some tips that I've learned:

  1. First and foremost:  USE WHITE GLUE (not a glue stick).  Unfortunately I learned the hard way and we've had to back track and reinforce a lot.  
  2.  Also if possible color code each text type.  I copied each resource page in the color of the text type (for example any opinion page I copied in blue paper).  I tabbed spiral notebooks with each color code too, which was super easy for my kids.  One of my teammates uses a binder and loves it though.
  3. Don't underestimate the power of the cut and paste pieces.  These have been so valuable for my kids, especially when they collaborate.  A lot of rich dialogue has gone into debating whether something is an opinion statement or an introduction.
  4. Model how to use the notebook.  
I just started individual writing goals for my students and I'll be adding them to the notebook as well.  If interested in the notebook see the link below:
I am constantly adding to the notebook (I've already added 55 pages and I'm going to add goals too) so if you buy it I'll send updates for free as I add them.  I'm teaching using it this year for the first time so I am finding new things all the time to create.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Effective Feedback

 Awhile back our staff was introduced to this great video clip explaining the importance of giving feedback to students that is effective, honest, useful, and productive. 


Since then I have I have used this to guide my class in giving each other effective and specific feedback.  While still a work in progress, we are coming along.  In math students are noting when students are using number bonds in math problems or when they are making a ten. In writing, students are noting creative transitions and ways to hook the reader in.  The video clip is a great starting point.  Maybe it will spark something fun and creative to do in your own classroom:)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

American Symbols -Connecting Reading Literature and Informational Text

Reading informational text wall
 The kids have really gotten used to identifying texts as informational or narrative.  I really think that teaching these blocks explicitly has helped the kids not only in comprehension, but also in writing.  They are beginning to connect the structure of each of the types of texts and that is helping them when they read and write.  We just finished American symbols.  When I looked for good literature books at first grade reading level that connected with the unit on American Symbols I had a tough time.  So I decided to write a shared reading text and a companion (much easier level) student book.  I was worried that the kids would miss the color version in their student book, but they loved it (partially because I think they loved the cute character -thanks Melonheadz illustration:).  With the reading literature component we retold the story, worked on characterization, setting, and vocabulary.  We worked daily a little bit in our fiction block on the reading literature activities.  Even still, during Daily 5 the kids reached for their Bob and Kaya book :)  For informational text time we worked on close reading of articles on American Symbols, took notes, answered questions, and then wrote informational pieces on each symbol.  If interested in the unit see below: 

Sample student papers from the unit.

Shared reading pictures with modeled note taking and vocabulary cards on reading literature board.

Students taking notes while exploring multimedia on American Symbols.

Connecting Literature to Social Studies

Students putting together an opinion piece as a pre-writing activity.
In conjunction with our Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities unit we did the literature unit Bud's Day Out from the first grade Houghton Mifflin anthology.  We connected the concepts of rules and responsibilities to the story by discussing how the dog Bud didn't follow the rules.  We covered character traits, setting, retelling, and we connected the whole unit with opinion writing.  The kids had so much fun deciding whether Bud was naughty or just being a dog. Their writing was priceless and they brought up so many points that I hadn't thought of in their opinion pieces.  I created a unit for these activities, and if you're interested it can be accessed below:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Connecting Social Studies to English Language Arts

We are culminating our Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities units this week coming up and the kids have gotten a great concept of the social studies unit of why we have rules, who makes the rules, what are rights, and how responsibilities impact rule following.  We also bridged the concepts to laws and we will move right into American symbols/citizenship.  The best part is we really focused on teaching the opinion and informative text types in writing in this unit (with heavy focus on opinion).  Even though our set writing block was narrative, the kids were able to navigate both.  I think it worked because we clearly defined the text types and kept referring to them on our writing wall, which displays all three text types (across one topic).  I also feel it worked because we teach informative text reading (social studies or science) and fiction reading (narrative text) in two blocks.  The narrative text was Bud's Day Out, which was a story about a dog who did not follow the rules.  The informative text was a mix of the Rules and Rights articles/mini-books from the unit and the Social Studies text.  Again, the connecting texts help the kids make meaning and cement it.  In the Rules, Rights, Responsibilities unit we also read mentor text opinion pieces.  This was great because usually kids don't get a chance to really read opinion text.  We just expect them to write it.  The kids wrote yesterday about what they felt the most important rule was, and I was really amazed at how they had internalized the parts of opinion.  Yay!  If interested in the unit, below is a link.  I'm trying to get the narrative unit out too... I'll keep you posted!



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Putting it all together for first, second grade, or BOTH!

Managing a combination class can be tricky, but this year with some careful planning and amazing team teachers, I feel that everyone is getting what they need.  The fabulous second grade teachers at my school take my five second graders for math and the science or social studies unit they are doing.  It is an amazing help that I am so thankful for. Here’s my daily schedule and a little debriefing below:

Daily Schedule

8:15  Daily PE rotations (Mon-Thursday)

8:40  Math (Second grade goes to 2nd grade teachers classes for math –truly a blessing!  Since we are working with Eureka Math (Engage New York) this is super helpful because both grades are getting the program in full.  Because Eureka is not the most teacher friendly program in the world (but is full of awesome methods) I create Power Points for each day (some available at my TPT store).  I click through each slide and they keep us moving and on track.

9:55  Daily Math (A variation of Daily 5) where there are rotations:  math writing, independent practice, and math with a partner (usually learning games) *This is my time to pull kids/groups that need remediation or advancement.

10:20  Recess

10:40  Fiction (Narrative) Text Instruction:  This is when we cover all the CCSS Reading Literature standards.  I connect the Fiction to the Non-Fiction texts for the kids.  For example, in first grade our connected text for Rules, Rights, Responsibilities is Bud’s Day Out in our Houghton Mifflin anthology.  I do a CCSS based mini-lesson and then students finish work from the mini-lesson (I circulate to make sure there are no misconceptions that need to be corrected) and then I release to Daily 5 time for the early finishers.

11:10  Non-Fiction Text (Informative Text) Instruction- I pull both groups together across a social studies or science topic. I create informative articles at a higher level (good for some of my advanced first graders and my second graders –those kids can read it as an independent text).  For those who need more scaffolding I use the texts as more of a shared/instructional reading text.  Both groups do activities based on the CCSS Reading Informational Standards and the CCSS Writing Standards.  I use my close reading units that I created.  Right now I’m using Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities and then I’ll move into Being an American, both close reading units that are tied to writing (available at my TPT store if you are interested in looking at what they are).  Integration is the key here.  After the mini-lesson, work is given, monitored and as kids finish the students do Daily 5.  This is my time to pull reading, writing, and skill groups for remediation or advancement.  This is also the place that I really check in with my second graders to see if they need help with the science, math, or social studies that they get in their second grade partner class.   Although some topics in first and second grade overlap there are a few, like biographies and letter writing for example, that need to be explicitly taught to the second graders.  I do this through units that I’m creating and specifically targeted guided reading texts that I either created or found.

11:45  Writing (Mini-lessons and workshop writing done through mentor texts).  This is easily done for both grade levels because both grade levels have all the same three text types to cover.  The only thing that differs is the rubric that they are held accountable for (which is based on CCSS for their grade level).  I hit CCSS language standards in this area as well. I teach all three text types at once, so that the kids can get a full year's practice in each type.  In fiction and non-fiction text blocks I do units that practice all three types of writing so this block of writing is for specific modeling of things like introduction writing, similes, description, etc.  I use an interactive notebook to teach a lot of the components (in my TPT store). 

12:25  Lunch

1:10  Phonics -I pull both groups at one time – currently for first grade I’m instructing short vowels and second grade long vowels (for example:  short a/long a).  We brainstorm together, do a collaborative activity, and then for word work I use the fluency vowel units I have on TPT.  The short vowel unit even includes CCSS language standards as well.  I put the independent phonics work in the Daily 5 tubs for word work that the kids complete after my second Daily 5 block after the Fiction block.  To manage the different Daily 5 tubs for each grade level I use two different colors or you could also label them by grade level.

1:35  Daily Five-During this time of the day the students choose either Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to a partner, Word Work, or Reading Technology (where they listen, read, or respond to a story).  I pull small groups during this time to give individualized instruction in reading and writing.  Often, we all start out with a fluency read block where we build stamina with independent reading from their book bags and then they go to choose.  If you haven't read the book The Daily 5, it is a great read, and has forever changed my classroom.  It builds independence, responsibility, and choice in a structured, manageable way.

2:30  Clean up/Daily Gratitude “I am grateful for _____”

2:45  Dismissal

There are things I still have to add in like daily goal setting, but I want to gradually work that in.  I am so grateful that the kids are so amazing and for the wonderful second grade teachers who take the second graders for math, science and social studies.  The use of effectively using integration of writing and reading across all disciplines makes achieving the common core standards doable.  I also incorporate technology throughout the units and the writing block.  Such things as iMovie, Power Point, and Story Kit are three great resources that I use to have kids show their knowledge.  I hope this helps anyone with either grade level or both imagine their day.  

Here's a link to some FREE lesson plans:


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Room!

Well, change is good... my new classroom at my new school is coming along.  I went with teal and black and white polk-a-dots as the accent.  I do have one bright pink wall near the entry way just to bring a pop of color into the room.  I found a great, inexpensive rug at IKEA and tons of teal bins in the same color at Dollar Tree. I'm excited and getting ready for the new year!  I spent a ton of time leveling and sorting books.  I leveled until level L and from there organized by topic, favorite authors, and genres.  I also went through and pulled a ton of books out of my classroom library to use as mentor texts for writing.  This took a TON of time, but I feel so organized and can now go right to my box that has great mentor texts for openings, transitions, or similes for example.  I also pulled books for all our social studies and next generation science units.  This way those books will be easily accessible when I work on the unit.  Since I'll be teaching a 1/2 combo I also organized my guided reading sets so that I could be really strategic in my planning for my groups.  I plan to hit content and standards explicitly through the guided reading so every minute has to count so that I can address all common core standards for each grade level. One week until my new little guys come to check it all out...7 days and counting:)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Interactive Writing Notebook

I'm so excited because I just finished creating an Interactive Writing Notebook for my new school year.  It is based on my writing program last year, and it will serve as a great resource for my students.  My son's 4th grade teacher had something like this and we, as parents, loved it.  Our son referred back to it, and we could really see his learning.  Also, last year, my kids used our anchor charts and writing wall SO much.  The problem was that we quickly ran out of wall space and they wanted to use charts that we had already cycled out.  I think this notebook will serve as their own little mini-book of personalized anchor charts.  Here are some pics and the table of contents from the unit and a link to check it out if you are interested!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Short Vowel Fluency

I just finished the short vowel fluency unit that I'm going to use to start my year next year with my first graders.  Since I'll have a combo I'll start long vowels with my second graders.  I love the way this unit turned out and below are a few pages from the unit.  The unit combines phonics, fluency, and common core language skills.  I'm going to use these units as focus lessons for phonics, but also as work work and a work on writing option for daily 5.  If interested check out the link below to find the entire unit on TPT. 


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Phonics Through fluency

So I tried a few new things with phonics last year, and I think it worked out really well.  I needed to add more fluency practice into my day and I did not know where to put it.  So, I thought of phonics.  After introducing the phonics of the week and sorting words by phonics chunk, nouns/verbs, singular/plural  etc... I decided to add fluency to the mix.  I wrote passages that had the chunk that we were studying.  I wrote several versions with the chunk inside so that the kids would have 4 new passages a week (Friday was review/test day).  I also wrote 2  versions of each passage (one at a lower level and one at a higher level).  I wanted the kids to have as many opportunities with the words as possible.  During word work (Daily 5 time) later they would also have the opportunity to find the phonics chunks in texts.  I also was having a hard time fitting sight word practice into the day.  So I had the kids sort out the phonics chunk and pull out and sort sight words.  This latter part, the sight words, gave me more than I bargained for.  Since the kids were reading the passage, pulling out the sight words, and writing the sight words daily they became SUPER at writing and reading those sight words, and I loved that it was all in the context of a story.  We added other things like phonics games in word work Daily 5, but for the most part the fluency routine and sorts were the bulk of it.  This class I had did remarkable on our end of the year fluency and I think teaching phonics this way was part of it.  If interested I added some links to the units on TPT.  I just bundled the long vowel units in 2 versions (1 just a few no prep games/centers and 1 with a large variety of centers/games).  I'm going to write units for the short vowels this summer so I can start my year with it.  Below is one story from the oo unit that one of my students highlighted.  They then wrote the words in the sort.  I like the written sorts because it really helps them with their fine motor and writing fluency.

New Beginnings

Well, after 18 years in the same classroom I've not only moved classrooms, but I've moved schools.  I'm excited and nervous, but also a little sad because I'm leaving behind a whole history of families and lovely people I've come to know.  Change is good (and quite a bit of work), but I'm so thankful for my sweet daughter who has patiently helped me unpack boxes, sort and resort books, and to my whole family who has listened to me ask whether I should do a black and white polka dot or chevron striped accents (my husband and son looked at me like I was from another planet) and traveled to many Dollar Tree stores to find storage bins.  I'm also thankful for my team partners, new and old.  You know you have a true friend when she offers to go pick fabric out with you for your walls.   I'm excited and feeling blessed!!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Phonics Unit

Just finished the long i word work unit...PHEW!  One more to go and then I'll bundle them for TPT.  These units have been great for my first grade super stars.  The kids love the games (especially Roll and Read and Slap it!) and they love the little phonics characters.  Because all of the reading is differentiated, each student has access, which is so important for their success.  We are cycling back on long vowels now, and the kids needed it!  With so many spelling and phonics patterns swirling in their heads I'm so happy I went back and used the last few weeks and these units to review the long vowels so that they are nice and firm for the kids in second grade.  I'm definitely going to use them at the beginning of the year for my second graders in the 1/2 combo I'm going to teach next year.  If interested the link is below.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Goal Setting

Yesterday I tried a new spin on goal setting with my class, and it worked GREAT!  I could sense the need to change things up a little with spring fever going strong so I did a mini-lesson on goals.  We then decided to set a daily goal based on something we could do in class. Most of the kids chose a behavior goal, but some chose learning goals also.  I gave them a quick 3-5 minutes to write their goal, and they turned them into me.  If they felt comfortable I read them, and I told them that at the end of the day we would revisit them and see if we met our goals (I wrote one too).  I also told them that I would pick a few randomly at the end of the day out of the pile, and if those people met their goals then I would reward them with a raffle ticket for our school behavior plan.  I was so impressed with their goals. Below are a few of them:

During the day, it was AWESOME because they kept reminding each other to keep working on their goal.  Even my student on a behavior contract met his goal (this was way more motivating to him than anything else I've tried this year...go figure!).  A the end of the day, they reflected on how they did.  The added benefit was that at the end of the day the reflection put a calm spin on a rushed Friday afternoon.  I loved this activity so much. I'm definitely going to try it again on Monday!


New Common Core Reading Literature Unit -Days With Frog and Toad -The Hat

I just finished writing this unit and we started working on it in class this week.  The kids LOVE the story!  It is the perfect unit to end the year because the Frog and Toad series has so many options for books.  I am teaching the main comprehension strategies with this unit for The Hat, and the kids are reading up the other Frog and Toad stories like crazy during Daily 5 time.   I also added poetry analysis and a fun little structured poetry writing activity.  Some fun game additions that we play with this unit are "Jeopardy" type game with the comprehension questions, and we play "Build a Tower" with the questions that they write in the unit.  I got all the CCSS RL standards in this unit except for CCSSRL5, and they are labeled to make planning easy.   If you are interested in checking it out see the link below.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Comprehension Fun!

As part of our common core reading literature unit featuring the David McPhail book, Lost, the kids wrote text-based questions about the story.  The twist was that they had to cite the  page number that the answer was found on.  They wrote them on index cards and we played an awesome game called Build a Tower with their cards.  The great learning came when students were crafting their questions.  Some of the questions were inferential and it was hard for them to come up with the page number that the answer was found on. This was great because it led us to a great discussion on the two types of questioning.  Through some redefining and refining the students came up with a clear difference between inferential and text based questions.  These first graders AMAZE me!

Below is a picture of the game and below that is a link to the unit we used if you are interested.

and the companion informative text unit on bears

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More Phonics Fun!

The kids have really been inspiring me to create some new instructional routines and practices to make their learning fun for them.  Again, I'm feeling so blessed with this sweet group of students.  They let me know what they really enjoy and I can see it in my last round of testing of their reading.  The games and reading skills we have been reviewing and practicing have made a huge impact on fluency and writing.  Below are a few more pictures of some fun the kids have been having by reviewing the long vowels.  Although long vowels were already introduced earlier this year we are taking a week or so to review each of vowel spellings in depth within fluency passages, games, and writing.  I want my students to have a very strong comfort level with long vowels before heading off to second grade.  I've created units that do this and they can be spread over several weeks, used for homework, center work, Daily 5, or in a multitude of ways.  The way we've been using them is I create a packet for each student that houses the fluency, the sorts, trace, read, write, questions, and a few other of the pages in the unit. We do a whole class review and student engagement activity like "Find Your Partner" or "Guess my Word" that gets them moving and talking.  Then the kids work independently or in pairs while I pull groups.  The kids love the characters and I try my best to gear the stories to things that might interest them.  I knew I had a hit when I overheard one of my students asked their table mate, "I wonder who the Phonics Friend" will be this week."  Some of the pages are in the homework as well.  I then put out some of the other activities like write the room, read and roll, puzzles, slap it, etc... in center boxes for Daily 5 word work.  It's been working great and the word work box for Daily 5 is quickly in the lead for the kids' favorite Daily 5 activity.  Right now I'm working to try to get all the units up on TPT ...I'm almost done with long a.  We started with long e, which you will find the link to below, because I had a chunk of students who needed a refresher on ea.  I also have phonics units on oi/oy and oo.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Making Phonics Fun

I've been searching for ways to increase student engagement this year along with maintaining rigor and covering the Common Core standards.  It's been sort of like a puzzle to see what has worked and been successful for my fabulous first graders.  We've tried A LOT of new things, and this group of students I have this year are awesome, adventurous, and it makes for a "laboratory" full of ideas.  Here are some of our favorites!  The kids love playing Slap it!  There are many versions, but ours is best played with 4 in a group.  So much fun!
The next video and photo shows a Guess My Word game.  The word pages are differentiated so that all students can play regardless of language or reading level.  Having the different versions of the I have a word page helps a ton.  The kids love it because they get up and walk around having their friends trying to guess their words.
This kids love reading about the "Phonics Friends".   They get interested in the characters, and they love highlighting and sorting words from the stories.  To the left is an example of one of the oo stories in the oo word work packet.  I always include several versions of the same story to accommodate all learners.  I even put simple pattern text mini-books in the units for emergent readers.
If you are interested, the following products explain these fun phonics activities in more detail and include many more ideas and resources.  They are centered around the combination of learning phonics through reading and Common Core Reading Foundational Skills.

OO Word Work
Long e Word Work

Oi/Oy Word Work

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lesson Plan Freebie-First Grade

Here are our plans for the coming week.  We've been running two literacy blocks (one for narrative/literature and one for informative text) all year and it has been great.  We tie the informational literacy block into our science or social studies standards.  The kids are really familiar with the features of both text types and we're getting it all in (which can be a challenge).   The Spring Word problem are arranged into a weekly packet (differentiated by student level) for independent or partner work.Links to the products we are using are found below.
first grade lesson plan freebie

free first grade lesson plans

first grade lesson plans week long plans

Hope this helps...
oo word work
Lost! Common Core Unit
Spring Common Core Word Problems
Who's Greater Freebie
Bears Informational Text/Science Unit