Sunday, 16 October 2016

Contests to Enter!

It's been quite a while since I've written in my blog!  I can't believe that we're almost one fourth of the way through the school year! I've had lots of wonderful blog ideas swirling in my head- but somehow never sit down to write them.  Hopefully it'll get easier.

I want to let you know of some contest opportunities to enter to win some amazing prizes.
The first is a chance to win an Amazon gift card- $50!!!

I love Amazon and am never at loss for something to buy there!  Here are three things I purchased there this week.
I just got 6 new tablets for my classroom.  I already have one of these red dish drainers for the other six I have, but I felt like it would look less crowded to have another one for my new tablets.  These work great for storing them and charging them.  

I bought another set of these spinners.  I LOVE THEM!  These are so much better than using a paper clip and pencil.  I've had my other set for almost two years & they're very durable!

No comment needed- can a teacher ever have TOO MANY desktop file holders?
And NO- these are not affiliate links.

I could add a bunch more pics of recently purchased items from Amazon (let's not even start on books!).
Anyway- enter the contest now!  You could be the winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now- how about a chance to win a TpT gift certificate.  I know most of us could definitely use that!

You have an opportunity to win one of 4 gift certificates!  You could win a $50 or $25 one.  I'd be happy with either!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hopefully I'll be back sooner with a more exciting blog post- right now I'm still trying to keep my head above water!  Good luck on the contests!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

TpT $75 Give Away!

Wow!  How did almost three weeks fly past since school started?  I've had all kinds of blog posts swirling in my head, but somehow they've never made it to the point of getting written!

I'm just popping in to let you know that you have an opportunity to win a $75 TpT  gift certificate right now!  I know I still have a lot of items on my wish list and could use this right now! 
Here's the scoop on how to enter.

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 9/13/16 and is open worldwide.

Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Teacher Pay Teachers $25 Giveaway

Win a $25 gift certificate to TpT!

I'm just popping in to let you know about an opportunity to enter a giveaway for a $25 TpT gift certificate!  This would be the perfect time to get some extra money to spend there since most of us are heading back to school soon!

Here is the information!
Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 8/6/16 and is open worldwide.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Florida and Two Giveaways

My Florida Trip

I am having a hard time getting back in the swing of things since returning from Florida.  I had a wonderful time at the TpT conference and also vacationing with my husband and grandkids!
I arrived in Florida alone a few days before the conference to meet up with my good friend Jeanie, from 
Mrs. Humphries Class.  We had a great day at the Magic Kingdom before the conference started.

We got to ride a lot of rides and of course enjoy a Pineapple Whip Sundae.

It was so STINKIN' HOT!!!

I am used to hot, as in dry heat hot, but that humidity really took it out of me!
 We had a morning meeting and breakfast outside that started at 7 a.m. and I almost melted!

This was my second TpT conference and it did not disappoint!  As a matter of fact, I'm ready for the next one.

My husband and grandkids showed up on the last day of the conference.   They spent the day at a Disney water park while I was in meetings.  

The day after the conference became all about fun with the grandkiddos!

We were able to fit in all 4 parks in three days thanks to hopper passes!  We had the time of our life and I'm so thankful for the time we got to spend in Florida with them!


I have two giveaways you have an opportunity to win!  YAY!

Giveaway One

Wow, wow, wow!  Check out this Thirty-one summer survival bag and goodies.


Prize: Thirty-One Summer Survival Bag (Thirty-One bag, sunscreen, flip-flops, beach towel, and cup TOTAL VALUE - $70)
Co-hosts:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway ends 7/28/16 and is open worldwide.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Two

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 7/30/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Reading Strategies Goal 4: Teaching Fluency

I'm back! 
Today we are continuing our study of  

Today I'll be covering Goal 4- Teaching Fluency: Reading With Phrasing, Intonation, and Automaticity.

If you're just joining this study now & would like to read about goals one, two, and three- you can click below to read those.

Goal Three: Supporting Print Work

Teaching Fluency

One reason I really enjoy teaching first grade is that I get to see students progress into becoming fluent readers.  I love working with them and watching their development.
In the introduction of this goal a statement was made about fluency that I really thought was spot on.  Students who are reading fluently with phrasing, expression,  etc. are demonstrating their understanding of the text they are reading. When a student is struggling with getting the words out and are reading word by word, it is often hard for them to gain meaning from what they are reading.

In working towards the goal of reading  fluently, students need to be developing in:

Being able to read phrases and not just word by word
Reading with expression- using their voice to convey what is written 
Using emphasis to match what is written (words that are written in bold print or in all capitals)
Reading automatically (not having to stop and decode)
Reading at the correct pace- not too fast and not too slow

Our school has used a program for years to determine if a student is fluent or not.  They are timed on 3 passages and given an oral reading rate based on how they read these passages.  This determines their fluency rate. I am not a fan of this method. There might be other components of this program that our school has not used.  I feel it only measures a part of what is needed to be a fluent reader.  I have students every year ( thankfully not a lot) that can read all the words on the paper automatically, but when I ask them to tell me about what they read, they don't know.  I personally think a running record gives a much better insight into a reader's fluency and comprehension.

Jennifer gives so many wonderful strategies for developing fluency in our students.  There are 21 strategies in goal 4.  The majority of these are ones we can use with levels D through Z.  She states that we don't really expect fluency in levels A-C because they are working on one-to-one matching at this point (matching one spoken word for each word that is written).

Have I Seen It on the Word Wall?

Our goal in teaching sight words is that they will be able to recognize them automatically.  I wish we could just show them the words, talk about them, practice them a few times and BAM they know them!  For some kids, this is what happens. For some kids, the more they read, the more they increase (on their own) in recognizing and reading these words.  For a lot of kids this just isn't so.  These kids can read the words in isolation during the week we are focusing on that list, but forget them at a later date.  In first grade we do a lot of activities to increase student ability in reading sight words.  We play games, we practice reading fluency phrases, we build the words, etc.  

In strategy number one Jennifer says to teach the readers to ask themselves if they've seen the word before they try using a different strategy.  Students who are good candidates for using this strategy could benefit from doing a warm-up read of the word wall before their independent reading for the day.

One activity I use in my classroom that my students enjoy is a word grid.  I call them Superhero Words.   I have them made for all of our Fry's sight words each week.  My kids love reading them & trying to decrease the amount of time it takes them to read through the grid.  I put a grid in each week's homework packet for them to practice at home during the week (as opposed to just giving a list of words). 
Here is an example of what a grid would look like for the first 10 words from the Fry's first 100 words.

The same 10 words repeat over & over in a mixed up order.  I have found this beneficial in helping some students with automaticity.

I have made an editable grid for you to snag HERE.
You can type in 10 words (along the top row and in 2 squares in the 2nd row).  As you type the top row you will see the words you are typing fill in other squares on the page.  On the second row the two squares that are for the last two words are somewhere in the middle of the row- you'll need to type in one and see if the words show up in other grids.  You can use this grid over and over.  Just save it separately with the words you typed, then use it to type in different words later.  This is a super easy activity to prep- type in whatever words you need to practice. 

A few prompts Jennifer suggests you can use when working with students on this strategy are:
Is that word you know?  Check the word wall.
Don't try to sound that one out.  Check the word wall first.
I see that one on the word wall.

Fluency Phone for Feedback

I love fluency phones. I own several and the kids love using them.  I have commercially made ones, but I've known many people who have made their own using PVC pipe.  If you watch, you can find them on sale.  Lakeshore recently had them for $2.99 each.

Students can use these phones to quietly read and listen to themselves.  You can prompt them to listen to themselves and if they sound choppy to reread and see if they can sound more like they talk. 

Here are some prompts you can use with this strategy:
As you listen to yourself read, do you think you think it sounded smooth or do you want to to go back and reread?
You really listened to yourself there- I noticed you went back to smooth out your reading.

These phones are fun too.  I may or may not have "received" calls on them from a popular famous singer, actor who asked questions about my students who were sitting with me at that time. The kids LOVED it! 

It's too early to be getting excited about school starting, but The Reading Strategies Book is really getting my wheels turning & I'm feeling excited about implementing some new strategies to spice up my reading instruction!

Have a great week!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Reading Strategies Goal 3: Supporting Print Work AND a $75 TpT giveaway!

We have now reached week 3 of our book study of
The Reading Strategies Book Your Guide to Developing Skilled Readers.
If you haven't purchased this book yet, go grab it fast! This book is full of wonderful strategies to use with your students.  It's easy to pick up and implement new strategies right away.  I have picked up quite a few strategies to try when we return for the new school year!

If you'd like to check out Reading Strategies Goals one and two you can find them here:

Today we are going to look at Goal Three: Supporting Print Work

For students to read and be able to understand what they're reading they need to use three sources of information..  They need to be able to understand what the letters mean (does it look right?), they need to use their knowledge of language & sentence structure (does it sound right?), and they need to think about the meaning (does it make sense?). 

As educators we sometimes see students who rely on only one of the ways of gaining this information, or possibly use this information incorrectly.

I've had many students who rely completely on visual.  They painstakingly try to sound out every letter. Reading this way affects students fluency, which will affect their understanding of what they've read. Students need to be taught phonics skills and then be given the chance to use these skills by reading them in actual books.  I've seen many students in my years of teaching grow quickly and acquire skills not explicitly taught to them, just because they spend a lot of time reading.

The author gives 23 strategies under this goal to help students.  I love how she lists the strategies, gives the reading levels to use the strategies with, texts types that will work with the strategies, and the skill associated with the strategy.

Check the Picture For Help

This is a strategy probably most kindergarten and first grade teachers use consistently. The strategy is to use the pictures to help you figure out the words.  I've found this is a great help to our young readers and it is often a very simple strategy to get students to use.  For level A & B readers there are many books they'd be unable to read without a picture to help them. 
 I start out the school year doing a running record on my new first graders.  I always start with a Level A book (unless I have other knowledge that the child is already reading).  The books follow a predictable pattern.  
A cat is big. 
A dog is big.  
There are often animals in these books that students are not be able to decode the written word that names them, but with checking the picture they are able to do so.  Such as, 
A giraffe is big.   
Without a picture of a giraffe, they would most likely NOT be able to read the sentence.   The author states this strategy is an essential strategy at Levels A & B, but is also an important strategy to be used with higher reading levels along with other explicitly taught strategies.  I really like the language lesson she gives in the book.  She lays out how and what to say in walking the kids through how to look at the pictures in relation to reading.  The skill used in this strategy is integrating sources of material and it can be used with any genre or text type.

Taking the Ending Off

This next strategy teaches kids to cover up the common endings (like -ing, -ed, -er) to be able to read the first part of the word.  Then they can put back on the ending and read the whole word.
This strategy is best for students that are reading levels E- Z+.

I have used this strategy for many years with my students.  I really feel like this lesson is beneficial after you've done some lessons on word endings/suffixes.  
This year I created two new language units to use in my classroom, one on prefixes and one on suffixes.  After doing the lessons from the units I was amazed and how much my students improved in catching the prefixes and suffixes in words and were able to read the root/base word separate from them on their own.  I was one happy teacher!  
The author gives a prompt in the book,"When you get to a long word, you can sometimes take the word apart.  One way to take it apart is to take off the ending." 
This was always a difficult strategy strategy to get my kiddos to see in past years.  
The skill used with this strategy is decoding and it can be used with any genre or text type.

Here is a page from the suffix unit that I am giving to my readers.  
You can click the picture to download it.

If you are interested in either my suffix of prefix units, you can see them in my store by clicking on the pictures below or the words suffix and prefix. 

Now, on to the giveaway!

This one is a big one!  A chance to win a $75 gift certificate to TpT! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 27 June 2016

Life Happens and a giveaway!

Well, I had intended to try to blog about some school related things this past weekend.  But, as my title suggests, other things took the front seat.

I live in the area in California where the huge fire called The Erskine Fire is happening right now.  The last few days have been a blur.  My house is fine and I never was in grave danger (only a few scares).  I feel incredibly blessed, but also extremely sad for all the people who lost their homes- 250+ at last count. My son-in-law's mom's house burned down.  My sub, who covered all the weeks for me while was on the jury trial 2 months ago, her house burned done (second time she's lost her home to a fire here).  So many sad, sad stories.

What has been wonderful is the outpouring of support and care from my community and beyond.  People have brought truckloads and truckloads (and truckloads) of water, clothing, food, baby care items, hay for animals, pet supplies, etc.  I am amazed and blessed at the goodness of people. Volunteers coming out to help.  The Red Cross is set up at my school.  A lot of community members are going through the process of becoming a Red Cross volunteer (myself included) so we can help out there.

Nothing like going through an experience like this to remind you of what is important!

Book Study

Now, on to other things.  Have any of you read the book The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo?  Can I just say- AWESOME book!  I am part of a group of bloggers that will be blogging about this book each week until we go all the way through it.

You can read about the first goal here:

An Apple for the Teacher

I will be blogging about goals 3 & 4  two weeks in a row.  Check back to hear what I have to say about these goals (good things!).

Now, time for a giveaway!


Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by:  An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 7/1/16 and is open worldwide.