Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Snowstorm of Snow Poems, Plays, Free Resources, and Activities

Everyone is fascinated by snowflakes. Kids want to catch them on their tongues and make them out of paper. Living in Alaska there was plenty of snow but I still loved to go outside and catch snowflakes, especially with my students. I also loved to read books about snow. One of my favorites was "Snip, Snip. Snow!" by Nancy Poydar. It's about a girl named Sophie who is waiting for it to snow. Everyday she has to wear all her winter clothes because it's very cold but no snow. Although the weatherman forecast snow, she wakes up the next morning and there's no snow. When she gets to school she asks her teacher if they can make snowflakes. While they were cleaning up all the paper scraps from the floor, she looks outside the window and sees snow. Sophie is so excited and finally gets to have fun in the snow. I found a free activity packet from Shawna Devoe to go with this book that you can download by clicking HERE.
If you are looking for some fun Snowflake craft ideas, I have found a few websites for you. You can find some by clicking on the image below. You will find all the directions for making this pretty snowflake.
I also found this great website with 30 ideas for making snowflakes. Just click on the image below.
If you are interested in having your students examine snowflakes as they fall, you can click on the image below to get some ideas and activities.

I  finally finished remaking my Snow Poetry and Plays Packet and added more poems, writing, and literacy activities, plus a 2nd Snow Play. Most of you know how much I love to write poetry and plays as well as use them for building fluency and incorporating the 5 key components of a Balanced Literacy program. You can read the description and download the Preview file by clicking on the image below. The Preview file has sample pages of all the poems and activities in the packet.
If you are interested in Winter Poems and Plays you can check out my blog post by clicking HERE.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Writing: Tips, Activities, and Freebies

Over the last year I have been talking about helping students with the writing process. By now those of you who teach 1st and 2nd grade have been spending lots of time on teaching writing and having your students write. With winter approaching many Kindergartners will begin writing, too. In order for students to write they need ideas. Seasons offer so many wonderful ideas for writing. Whether you have a long winter, short winter, or no winter, kids love to read about winter activities, winter weather, and things that happen in winter. For ESL students and students below grade level writing is a very difficult task. That's why I like teach teaching with themes and teach language standards through the theme or subject.

To begin with, students need to know:

  • What a sentence is
  • How to construct a sentence-Word order
  • What parts does a complete sentence need to have
  • Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling rules
  • Lot of words
You can read a lot more about writing by clicking HERE.
You can download these free Sentence frames by clicking on the image below: They are included in my packet and can be used for whole class instruction with understanding the parts of the sentence as you see in the image below the frames.
Last spring I wrote my first Writing Sentences Using Sentence frames and then added one for Fall and Back to School. I had such a good response and feedback that I just uploaded my Winter Writing Activities Packet.  It is very similar to my other packets except it uses winter words and ideas. I actually added more activities to give students more writing practice. There are some whole class activities to assess students' understanding before students do the activities independently in your writing centers. First, students need to learn the vocabulary words and then learn what a sentence is and is not. Then they get to practice using sentence frames to make 12 sentence and writing 5 of them on their recording sheet. They will need to capitalize the first letter and end each sentence with a period. There are both 3 sentence frame part sentences and 4 sentence frame part sentences depending on the needs of your students.
Then students will match a picture with a sentence that describes it and write each sentence part on their recording sheet.
After that they get to unscramble sentences, write the complete sentence and draw a picture to go with their sentence. Finally, they are assessed with being able to write complete sentences by using winter words that are written in a snowball. There is one for 1st grade and one for second. 
You can read the description, table of contents, and download the Preview file to see all the materials and activities in this unit by clicking on the image below.

I also just uploaded this Winter Writing Activities Freebie Packet which would make a great companion to my unit. Students will label and write about the picture like the one below.
Or write a short story about one of two photos like the one below.
To download your free packet just click on the image below. Please don't forget to leave feedback.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter Edition of Fluency Tips, Activities, and Freebies

Although winter is officially more than 3 weeks away, many have already experienced the cold and the snow. As we head into the holiday and winter season many of your students have been identified as needing more fluency activities to help them become proficient readers. What the research findings have showed is that 44% of American fourth graders cannot read fluently. According to Worthy J. and Broaddus K, effective fluency practice includes practice and explicit instruction. It is effectively accomplished through a variety of strategies and methods including:

  • Whole class readings
  • Performance
  • Oral repeated readings
  • Buddy or paired reading
  • Assisted reading
The components of fluency include:
  • Accuracy and automaticity of decoding words accurately and effortlessly
  • Reading at an age and grade level appropriate rate or speed
  • Reading with smoothness, phrasing, and inflection
  • Comprehending the main ideas
Explicit Instruction includes the following Fluency Tasks:
  • Fluent Letter recognition
  • Fluent Word recognition
  • Fluent Word decoding
  • Fluent reading of connected text
These tasks need to be scaffolded starting at the level of where your students are. Many struggling readers may only be at the word recognition or decoding level which is where their explicit instruction should begin. Explicit instruction should focus on accuracy, rate, and expression. 

EngageNY uses the MAPP approach to help build student's fluency: Modeling, Assistance, Practice, and Performance. Practice includes not just reading texts (whisper reading independently or pair read) but poetry and readers theater. Researches state that poetry is extremely beneficial in not only building fluency but also with phrasing, and inflection. 

Over the past several months I have created 3 Fluency Activities Packets: one for Summer, Back to School, and Fall. I have incorporated these research findings into my units to help meet the needs of all your students in your classroom. I have had many buyers ask if I would be creating one for Winter which I just uploaded a few days ago. It is definitely the longest one as I've tried to add more words and reading texts. There are so many winter words to incorporate and use with both high frequency and decodable words when reading sentences and connected texts. It begins with a variety of word fluency activities and assessments.
Followed by phrase and sentence fluency activities and assessments.
Ending with reading texts, poems, readers theater partner reading, and assessments.
You can check out the entire packet by clicking on the image below to read the description, table of contents, and download the Preview file. I have put it on sale through Sunday morning, November 30th.
If you are looking for just a Winter Words Fluency Game for your students you may like my fun and free Winter Edition of "Don't Get Skunked."
 You can check it out by clicking on the image below. It includes all the winter words that are in my Winter Fluency Activities Packet and a few more.

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Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

All about Turkeys: Free Resources and Free Reading Activity Packet

I love Turkey and Thanksgiving. Turkeys are one of only two birds that are native to North America. They have been around for a very long time, even before Christopher Columbus discovered America.They are actually quite intelligent and social. I did a lot of research to learn as much as I could about turkeys for my new thematic unit called  "All About Turkeys."  I put together some websites where you can also get free resources about turkeys.

The first one has lots of information for kids and teachers about turkeys and some free printables. You can access it by clicking on the image below.
National Geographic also has some interesting information about turkeys which you can access by clicking on the image below.
You will find 20 interesting facts about turkeys by clicking on the image below.
I found this wonderful book from Scholastic at Amazon. There are more books below this one. To access it just click on the image below.
My new Turkey Unit has several reading texts about turkeys including one about the history of the presidential pardon of a turkey at the White House. There are also Picture/Fact Cards about Domestic Turkeys, Wild Male and Female Turkeys, and Baby Turkeys called Poults. There are 2 different Compare and Contrast Writing Activities to choose from.
Students will decide whether statements are Facts or Opinions in both a whole class activity as well as one about the text about the presidential pardon. All the texts are differentiated at the 2nd and 3rd Grade levels.
If you would like to check out all just click on the image below. You can see sample pages of all the differentiated reading texts plus many other activities in this packet when you download the Preview file.

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Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. 

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Early Bird Fall Special and Freebie

Did you get up early today? Even though I stayed up really late last night I got up really early and decided to have an Early Bird Fall Fluency Special Sale today. My Fall Fluency Activities Packet will be 50% today only. ( This product is now $2.00 off the original price until November 9th) It is jammed packed with 114 pages of great fluency activities and assessments. It is great for RTI and ESL students, too. It starts with word fluency activities and assessments as you can see below.
Then phrase and sentence fluency and assessments. 
Then finally Fluency Cards, Poems, 1st and 2nd Grade Reading Texts, and Readers Theater Scripts and Assessments.
Just click on the image below to check it out and get a free activity with the download.
If you would like to read more about my Fall Fluency Packet just click HERE.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. 

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Friday, October 31, 2014

November Poems and Free Activities

I can't believe that we are at the end of October! November is filled with wonderful holidays and celebrations. So I cooked up a November Poetry Unit with 10 original poems about Election Day, Veterans Day, Football, Native Americans, Pilgrims, Turkeys, and Thanksgiving.

Look at the poem below. There are so many ways to use this for teaching the 5 components of a balance literacy program.  It is the first poem in my new November Poetry packet. I see compound words, proper nouns, and plural nouns. You could also use it to teach syllables as there are 1, 2, 3, and 4 syllable words. There are lots of verbs and adjectives to find and short a words. Look at the words season and weather. Learning the different sounds of ea is a great phonics lesson. After learning the poem,  ask students about things that happen in November. This is a great way to check for understanding. As a writing activity, I included one in my packet.

Poetry is a great way to help students build fluency, even when you have struggling readers or ESL students. It is a great way to get all your students to participate. When students read aloud they develop expression, phrasing, and most of all fluency. For your struggling readers try  Echo reading.  First you read a line or stanza and then they read it. You can start by having students echo a line and then a stanza. Repeated reading helps develop fluency. You can also Choral Read the poems. Another strategy is Pair Unison. This is where the teacher and student read the poem together. You can also send the poems home so that parents can read them with their child. The more fluent they are the more confident they will be.
Here are the 10 original poems included in this packet.
Here are the Poetry Writing Activities in the packet. Students will write 3 different types of poems: A "How to be" Poem, A "5 Senses Poem" about Thanksgiving, and Acrostic Poems. There is one for Turkey, Veteran, and Pilgrim. When you download the Preview file you will see sample pages of all the Poems and many of the literacy activities for each one.
There are also 3 different literacy activities and Informative text, Opinion Piece, and Narrative Writing Activities with Graphic Organizers. If you would like to check it out please click on the image below.

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