Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Reading Ideas

Hello sweet friends! Today, I'm going to chat a little bit about one of my favorite winter books EVER. It's probably yours too and it's a very popular book!!! The Mitten By Jan Brett is a classroom CLASSIC. We've read this book so many times I'm sure! I wanted to give you a few new ideas that I shared on my Facebook Page


This story naturally presents it's self to practice sequencing. The story has a perfect layout for sequencing ideas. Since I live in Florida, I like to use a different perspective for teaching it. Our students have rarely experienced cold weather. Like we flip out when it's 52 degrees around here. Students have very little real life connection to the attire one would wear in REALLY cold weather. Throughout this story, I am able to give students the opportunity to really visualize themselves in colder weather and how that would feel. We spend a lot of time talking about vocabulary as well. Someone once said to me "I've only used that book for sequencing". One thing that I love to do is to find multiple purposes for a book. For most of my students, vocabulary is something that can throw them off. They are used to using the same words to describe everything. In this story, I point out how we can say "sniffed" over "smell". I encourage my students to use these words in their everyday vocabulary. Students have to do more than just read a word and hear the meaning, they have to APPLY it. 


One way I do this is through my vocabulary freebie. I have done this a few different ways. I place the words inside of a mitten. In Kindergarten, I pull out the word and read it. We would discuss together what the word means and synonyms for the word. I would have students practice using the word. I would only do two words at a time. 

In first and second grade, they could do this with a partner. Students just take turns pulling a word out of the mitten. You don't need a recording sheet for accountability because you will walk around and monitor the students progress. Students love this activity because they are allowed to freely speak and sometimes as teachers we limit that.  I found these mittens at Wal Mart for $1.27 for THREE pair. So fairly cheap. I've also went to goodwill and just washed the mittens. The mittens are a cheap way to get the kiddos more engaged than just pulling it out of a bag. It's the little things that make a BIG difference. 



Thank you for stopping by! You can click HERE for your freebie! 



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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Teacher Discounts and DEALS



I am in LOVE with saving money. It's seriously a hobby of mine! I've compiled a list of ways you can save money in the classroom or for your own personal children!!





Please note some links are affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your purchases.


Melissa and Doug is one of my favorite places to get educational toys. They are fun, engaging and a learning experience for students! My boys had a collection of Melissa and Doug since they were babies! If you sign up for a newsletter, you can earn mega savings!


 Great Gift Idea at MelissaAndDoug.com


Click below to get your coupon!
ABC Mouse has a few special discounts right now. Right now, you can save 38% using the link below!!

Special Offer 38% Off an Annual ABCmouse.com Membership! Receive 12-Months for Only $59.95!


You can also do a FREE 30 day trial.
ABCmouse.com


 Michael's has a teacher loyalty program that educators can receive 15% each visit! Click HERE to get your discount!




The B&N Educator Program provides teachers with 20-percent off the publisher's list price on purchases for classroom use. This discount is ramped up to 25% during Educator Appreciation Days.

There's a company that offers 100% recyclable products by using economy friendly items. The company,  is called Naked Binder. Don’t let the name bother you; Naked Binder manufacturers 100% recyclable binders, pocket folders, tab dividers and labels. In addition to providing non-toxic and environmentally friendly school supplies, they also offer a discount to teachers. To receive the discount code, educators should call at 1-877-446-2533 and provide the name of their school.


The Container Store is another favorite of mine! They offer a pretty neat teacher discount program. Click here to learn more!


Do you use FedExThanks to the FedEx Office Academic Edge program you'll receive 15-percent off nearly all products, including brochures, posters and photos. This discount is available both online and in-store.


National Geographic has special deals for educators as well. Click HERE To find out more! 


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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Teacher Testimony

Whoaaa, it's been a while since I've opened this poor ole blog. I have MISSED this collaboration we share through this blog. Even though I still talk with everyone on Facebook,  this blog has been such a fun little outlet for me over the last several years!! 

One thing that I've always mentioned is that  we all know education can be rough. I've always been the type that instead of looking for everything that's WRONG, I've tried to identify what's right. I spend a lot of time in prayer about this and reflecting on the why.

I've come back to something that I've always said: remember why you are doing this. You became a teacher for a reason. You are in education for a REASON. 



I know I've shared my heart with you all with the Crusade for Safety, and that one single event has shaped me into the person I am today. It's the reason I became an educator. It's the reason I am so passionate about what I do. I'm sure we can all look back and pinpoint certain events, happy or sad, that helped shape us into the people we are today.  All of our reasons are different, but we should have the same common goal: to see students succeed and do whats best for our students.


So this is a shorter post, but I wanted to give us that reminder and share that we are in this together! Keep on trucking, because those little ones depend on you! It can be a challenging world in education, between the politics, little pay and personal challenges, education can be difficult. With all of that said, there's nothing else I would want to do with my life than help children be successful.

Share your teacher testimony with use by using hashtag #Teachertestimony

I can't wait to read you all have to share!


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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Reflection

Hey Friends!post signatureUsually around this time of year I post my Crusade for Safety posts to remind us how important safe driving can be. This year, I want to share a different part of that story and how it relates to education. Safe driving is still a very important topic, and I encourage you to read my past posts on my Crusade for Safety campaign I do every August.



As we roll into the end of August, the pressure is on. The paperwork is starting. We are assessing our students, and noticing where we have a lot of work to do. How does this relate to the Crusade for Safety you might ask? Well, the Crusade for Safety is why I started teaching in the first place. You see, when I was in that horrible place in my life, several wonderful teachers went above and beyond to make sure I was successful in school. I was really struggling. My memory was shot, and I wasn't really learning anything. I begin to hate school and started to make excuses of why I couldn't go. Math wasn't my strong point and I had this sweet math teacher that essentially didn't give me the option for it NOT to be my strong point. This was a really crucial time in my life because I was in high school and making decisions about what I wanted to do. Through all of the car accident stuff, my father was also diagnosed with the nasty C word-Cancer. Without the support of the wonderful staff of Auburndale High School (GO BLOODHOUNDS), I'm not sure where I would have ended up. The kind of difference they made me in ME is one I wanted to make in others.

Reflection

The other day I was starting to feel overwhelmed and then I remembered the date. Dates are always big to me. I remember the dates of everything, the good, the bad and the sad. I knew the anniversary was coming up of our car accident. I didn't think it was a coincidence that I was feeling overwhelmed and realized the time of year at that very moment. I knew it was God. I knew it was God reminding me, Ashley, Why are you doing this? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your goals? Who do you want to help. How do you want to make a difference?

So this is a shorter post then others I've done, but I wanted to basically say, if you are feeling overwhelmed, my advice to you is this: stop and reflect. Why are you teaching? What are you trying to accomplish? You don't have to be religious, and we don't have to have the same beliefs to understand that reflection is a healthy life habit. Education is tough, but so are you. So as we roll into another year of this "Crusade for Safety", I want you to think about two things: Be safe while driving AND remember why you became a teacher.

Y'all, you can do it. We are in this together.




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reading Intervention In the Upper Grades







 Hey Friends! This last year, I switched to fourth grade. My group of students were on a variety of reading abilities. How I did ran my reading intervention  groups literally made all of the difference in my students progress. My schedule was so jammed tight just like all of you. I knew I had to fit in intervention and had no IDEA how. My schedule felt so blocked and I was determined to figure out a way to have a separate intervention time. This is the BEST I could come up with. For me, the BEST intervention happens at a separate time than our regular reading block. I believe that intervention does not replace the guided reading instruction and they should be done cohesively. 





I would switch off between reading and math intervention, depending on my students needs. To start, I assess my students with running records to determine their instructional reading level. Once I determine their level and independent weaknesses, I determine which section the student would benefit the most from out of our intervention binder.  We had a variety of needs, like most of you. Some students needed to focus on word work and decoding strategies while others needed straight comprehension skills.  I also focus on each component of reading so that my students are able to continuously practice those skills. Even in the upper grades, students need to be able to understand why they are doing what they are doing. By teaching the five components of reading, you are giving students the foundation they need in order to be successful readers.






When students struggle with fluency, there are so many ways provided to practice. Through activities like "I Say, You Point" students practice difficult vocabulary/sight words in isolation. Fluency is so important because it helps students transition from just word recognition to comprehension. Once students can read the word accurately, with the correct expression and rate, they are able to cognitively begin to sink deeper into the meaning of the words within the text. Students have to be able to read words accurately, quickly and with expression in order to move on the next phase. That's why the Read It Right activities are so helpful. They give students the opportunity to practice similar words that they will come across in text.

One of the biggest struggles in fourth grade, was getting students to think while read and activate their self monitoring strategies.  This is why I firmly believe it is imperative that we teach self monitoring from the primary grades on up. 



Vocabulary

Vocabulary is probably one of the most skipped over components of reading. We often feel like once students are strong with phonics, decoding and fluency, then comprehension will naturally follow. However, we are forgetting that if students do not understand or have a deep connection to a word, they can not apply the comprehension strategies.  Research suggests that students need 12 organic interactions with a word before they truly understand it. So how to we increase our instruction in vocabulary while still hitting the other components? The first step is EASY. When you are teaching phonics strategies, do NOT just focus on the phonics feature. Be sure to address the words meaning and how it relates to every day life. Do not JUST teach vocabulary in isolation. Embed vocabulary in everything you do. 

Another way to increase vocabulary is to model for students how to use different words. I write down three or four words that I use ALL the time. I purposely think of DIFFERENT words or synonyms that mean the same thing to use instead. By showing students a technique for using different words, students can actually apply this idea. Students probably have four to five words that they use over and over each day, encourage them to make their own "replacement list". 



My students enjoy playing a game called "Word Detective". Students are given a card and have to offer clues to their partner in order for their partner to be able to determine the word. 



Figurative language is a skill that naturally opens the door to teaching vocabulary. 





What seems like an activity focus on spelling, can easily transition into a vocabulary experience. Encourage students to use different words in different scenarios. 




We had to really dive deep into the comprehension strategies and take apart the standards. 

I essentially need to reteach my student how to THINK while reading. Through interactive read alouds, guided reading and intervention time, I focused on explicitly teaching my students how to reading was thinking. Students need to understand the difference between word calling and reading at this stage. Often, they think because they can read such large words, that they are successful readers. As teachers, we need to continue to explicitly teach them so that they can take their awesome word calling skills and dive so deep into the text that they get lost.

Comprehension Anchor Chart 

Visual aides are so helpful even in a small group setting. There are several  ways to use these anchor charts. You could display them while teaching or have students create a guided reading or intervention notebook. They could keep the anchor charts to refer back to. This way, they always have a reference point if they need to refresh their memory, 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-for-Third-and-Fourth-Grade-3188924

 So how do you get your students so deep into a text that they are LOST in it? How to you motivate those readers that are struggling? The key is your intervention time. You see, presenting the material in a different and engaging way is a #GAMECHANGER! 

The FIRST thing I teach my students is to always visualize themselves in the story as they are reading. How would YOU feel if this EVENT was happening to YOU? Has this ever happened to YOU? How did YOU feel? If students can make connections or thinking about how they can relate to the story, the comprehension will increase automatically. I taught my students how to fall in love with reading.  This encouraged the lower students to WANT to read and by wanting to read, their readability will increase.




    Here's a glance inside my guided reading plans I used during guided reading time. I wanted this time to be different than intervention so that my students aren't bored and look forward to coming to see me!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-for-Third-and-Fourth-Grade-3188924


Now we will take a tour of the  fourth grade intervention binder






Each section has an anchor chart to review before teaching the skill.




We included passages levels N-P in this binder and are working on adding more!
Assessment is KEY to any instructional program, so we've included assessments for you to track your students progress.

 Teacher tips and instructional guides are included so that ANYONE can use these binders. We often have our paras or parent volunteers use the binders with one or two students.




I've included data sheets after each section so that you can track your students progress over time. 



Click below to see our Fourth Grade  Reading Intervention Binder 




https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Intervention-Binder-4th-Grade-2101612



Here's a look inside our Fifth Grade Reading Intervention Binder





https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Intervention-Binder-5th-Grade-2563856


Click the image below to check out our Fifth Grade Reading Intervention
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Intervention-Binder-5th-Grade-2563856

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Building Your Classroom Library on a Budget


Hey everyone! Here's an oldie that I'd thought I'd bring out that was shared on my friend Denise's Blog. 



Classroom Library


I don't know about y'all but my classroom library is always growing! My classroom library is like a hobby for me. In my free time, I love going out and searching for nice books! The trick is, finding a deal and using the resources that you already have! 

One way I've grown an extensive library is using  Scholastic Book Clubs.  I use the online ordering system and parents can order books directly from the website. I tell my parents that it really helps our classroom when they purchase from Scholastic and typically it is less expensive than going to the big box stores.

Different Kinds of Print

 I love using different kinds of text in the classroom so the children are exposed to anything and everything. I like for my students to be able to recognize text in the real world and WANT to read it.



There are several ways to do this. I have started making Printable Books to use in the classroom. These are books I can use as interactive read alouds to introduce or review a subject.

My  printable Graphs book was a huge hit this year in my classroom. Before we started our Graphs unit, I used this book as a read aloud. Then I put in my math book bin! 

Here are a few more pictures of my Printable Math Books





 One of my printable Science Books
In this  interactive read aloud, students learn weather standards and how weather affects the way we live. 






 I have a large collection of magazines, brochures and menus as well in my classroom. These offer students the exposure to real world text. I received a lot of my magazines by going around to different libraries and asking to look through their discard pile. They usually throw out magazines after a few years!! 



Another trick is that I always save the books that come from kids meals! These are a great addition to the classroom library! This helps me with my diet as well! I always order kids meals if I am forced to eat at a fast food place. The toys go straight into the treasure box and the books into my library! I also ask my family and neighbors to save these books. They also go great for the treasure box!




One thing that I do is purchase high text coloring books. I usually find them at the dollar store.  I do this especially for those students who we are trying to get  to WANT to read, read ANYTHING. They do often ask to color them, but if you set the routine from the beginning and discuss that we do not color in these, you  should be fine. My first year of doing this it was hard, but I didn't set the routine. Now that my routines are in place, it's fine.  Some teachers let them color in them as a reward. I am thinking about trying that this year. It does actually work and you can get the students engaged in the reading process through high text coloring books. The purpose of this is to reach those students that have absolutely NO interest in reading.  These books make it fun for the students and they look forward to reading them (and let's be real-coloring them!). 






Another tip, I  check out our local Goodwill. They typically have books  3 for a $1.00! I only purchase books that are in great condition and am always finding great deals at Goodwill! My husband laughs at me for this..until I tell him I *could* go by them brand new for $8.00 a pop ;) That gets him every time haha! I also go to garage sales, look on FB sale group sites and watch for teachers who are leaving the classroom.








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