Sunday, June 29, 2014

1,000 Follower Giveaway worth $1,000 of Free Products!

I'm sooooo excited to be part of Tabitha's incredible giveaway. What a perfect time to win and buy all your Back to School products and products for the whole year! Can you find me in Bundle #4?

I've teamed up with the best of the best TpT sellers for what I'm sure will be an amazing giveaway! 10 winners will each win one of the prize packages listed below. Each package contains a $10 shopping spree to 10 different stores- that a $100 shopping spree and a total of $1000 in products in all!

You can enter right from my page. Best of luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.
Good luck on the giveaway.
Don't forget to checkout all my new Pinterest Boards HERE. Would love to have you follow!.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Great Birthday Giveaway

My friend Katie over at KTP on TpT is having a birthday giveaway. Look at all the wonderful authors donating products. Think of all the great Back to School products you can get for $80.00! Don't miss out!. You can enter below or check out her blog by clicking on the image above. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out all my new Pinterest Boards by clicking HERE.
Here's my most popular one.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Hope you are enjoying your summer vacation!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Building Fluency: Tips and Activities for Beginning Readers

When I first started Elementary ESL students it was before State Benchmark Testing and Annual Yearly Progress. I spent most of my time with the most limited English students on speaking. When AYP came along and high stakes testing, the emphasis turned to all of the language skills of speaking, reading, writing, and listening. At that time I was more concerned with teaching vocabulary and building background for my students until I became part of our school leadership team. I had some wonderful opportunities to go to some outstanding conferences around the country with top reading experts. I realized how important fluency was to reading comprehension, especially when I did Dibels testing every week with my 2nd and 3rd grade learning center students who were reading below grade level.

Fluency is one of the 5 skills necessary to achieve reading proficiency. For students to comprehend what they read they need to become fluent. They need to:
  • recognize words automatically
  • group words into meaningful phrases
  • apply rapid phonic,morphemic, and contextual analyses to identify unknown words
The only way that students become fluent readers is to read. Over the past 20 years research has identified repeated reading as the key strategy for improving students' fluency skills.  Since accuracy and automaticity are a fundamental principals of fluency, teachers who work with beginning readers need to spend a significant amount of time on basic word recognition and word analysis skills. To be effective, teachers need to provide daily opportunities for students to learn to read words accurately.

We all have made sight word cards for our students to practice but I'd like to share a few new pair activities you may want to try with your students in addition to what you already do. Here are a few that I found on the Florida Center for Reading Research website. These are all timed activity to help students increase their speed. Although they are timed activities, they would be great activities without timing to give students more opportunities to learn sight words, vocabulary words, or word families. These would also be great for RTI for struggling readers.

The first one is called Fast Match

To play Fast Match you will need 2 sets of the same words for each pair of students, a timer, pencil, and Time Recording Sheet.
  • Each student places their ten words face up in rows like the picture above. 
  • Start the timer. (you may want to practice this a few times without the timer.)
  • Student 1 looks at the cards and says a word, eg. "water" and student 2 quickly finds the matching word in his row.
  • If a match is made, student 1 picks up both cards, reads them, and places them in a stack.
  • If a match is not made, student 1 reads another word.
  • Reverse the roles, and continue playing until all the cards are matched.
  • Stop the timer and record the time.
  • Repeat the activity attempting to increase the speed.

The next activity is called I Point, You Say. You will need 1 set of word cards and 1 copy of the word list, laminated, pencil, and Time Record Sheet. 
Word Cards
List of Words
  • Place high frequency word cards face up in rows on a flat surface.
  • Place the list of words and time in the center.
  • Provide each student with a Time Recording Sheet.
  • Working in pairs, student 1 picks up the list of words and student 2 sits in front of the word cards.
  • Student 1 starts the time and reads the first word from the list of words.
  • Student 2 looks quickly for the word card and points to it.
  • If the student is correct, student 2 reads the next word on the list.
  • If incorrect, student 1 provides assistance.
  • Continue until all the words are read and identified. 
  • Student 1 stops the timer and student 2 records his time on his sheet.
  • Reverse roles and attempt to increase speed and accuracy.
Here is a sample of the Time Record.
The last activity I want to share with you is called Fast Words:
To play Fast Words you will 2 copies of the word list and laminate, a timer, Vis a Vis Markers, Time Sheets, and Timed Reading Progress Charts for each student.
  • Place 2 copies of the target word practice sheets, Vis a Vis markers, and timer in the center.
  • Before timing, students practice reading the words to each other.
  • Student 1 sets the timer for 1 minute and tells student 2 to begin.
  • Student 2 reads all the words across the page while Student 2 follows with his Vis a Vis pen marking any words that are read incorrectly.
  • If all the words on the sheet are read Student 2 goes back to the top of the page and continues reading.
  • When the timer goes off, Student 1 circle the last word read and counts the # of words read correctly.
  • Student 2 records the number on his Time Sheet.
  • Reverse the roles and repeat the activity to increase speed and accuracy.
  • After both students have recorded their # of words correct per minute they will fill in their Timed Reading Progress Chart.

For those of you that use the Fry word lists, I have put together a free packet of all these activities and the 1st 50 Fry word cards, word list cards time sheets, and timed reading progress chart. Just click on the image below to download your free packet.
I hope that you will check out all my new Pinterest Boards and follow me. 
Here are a few of my new ones for Reading, Literacy, and RTI.
Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. I would love to hear about your fluency activities in the comments below.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Teacher Tips: Creating a Classroom Vision

Although it's only June, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips and ideas to think about over your summer vacation. For some, you are beginning your first teaching job, others may be changing grade levels, and some of you will be going from the classroom into a resource position. When I started my last teaching position, it was something I had never taught before in public school. I was hired as an Elementary ESL Resource Teacher/Specialist. In the mornings I was at the lowest performing Title I school in the district running a learning center. In the afternoons I traveled to 4 other schools to provide instruction for the most limited ESL students who were only served by a tutor. I also collaborated with the students' teachers to provide strategies on teaching them in the classroom. I taught students from Kindergarten through 6th grade sometimes with multiple grades at the same time. It was the most challenging and yet the most rewarding job I had in my 33 years of teaching.

At my morning school I had a learning center and 4 tutors to supervise, who had been there for years. When I walked into my room for the 1st time I wanted to cry. Each tutor had a desk surrounded by file cabinets with nothing on the walls. It was so cluttered there was hardly room to move. It felt like an office, which it had become, not a place for students to learn. I knew immediately that it had to change and that the tutors (3 were men) were going to be very unhappy. This was not a good way to build a new team. My QAS (Quality Assurance Specialist) said to me, "Arlene, what is your vision for your learning center?  Before you make changes, decide on your vision first and then share it with your tutors and have them help you create it." That was the best advice she could have ever given me. So here is the my tip to all of you.

Tip #1: Decide what your vision is for your classroom. 
  • What do you want it to look like, sound like, and feel like?
For me, I wanted my classroom to be like a family, where there was a lot of interaction and it felt warm-a feeling of belonging. It had to be student centered!!!!!!! There was no need for each tutor to have their own desk and file cabinet. We could all share and open up the room by adding more tables, book shelves, and centers for students. Actually, the tutors worked in other classrooms and the learning center was designed for me to teach the most limited students in small groups from 9 am to noon. I wanted lots of visuals and bright, happy colors. I wanted to hear the sounds of happy students engaging in meaning conversation. I wanted to see students helping each other and working together. Once you have a vision you can decide how to make it happen.

It took awhile to make it all happen but it was truly worth all the hard work. Although I moved rooms over six times in 9 years, I created my vision each time. It became a warm welcoming place where there was respect and kindness. Although I am retired, I still miss the students and the love that we all shared.

I hope that this tip was helpful and that you will share your classroom vision in the comments below. Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.

I hope you will check out all my new Pinterest Boards by clicking HERE and follow. Here are just a few of my new ones:
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Time for a Great Giveaway!

My friend, Tori over at Tori's Teachers tips is having a great giveaway! She's giving away $10.00 to spend in her TpT store plus $10.00 to spend on TpT products and some amazing products from her friends that you don't want to miss. I'm in Bundle #2 and giving a way Winner's Choice to any one item in my TpT store. You only have today and tomorrow to enter my bundle but you can still enter bundle #1 today. All you have to do is like her FB page by clicking on the pic at the top of the page and enter. There are five days of celebrations! Hope one of my followers is a lucky winner today.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Poetry Matters: Connecting Poetry and Punctuation

 I found that when I used chants to teach, my students would be chanting all day. It's like a catching tune or song that you can't get out of your head. I wrote a fun chant, "Where's the Teacher?" which has lots of different types of sentences and said, "Ah Ha"- I can connect punctuation and poetry. This is just one of the many poems, chants, Mini book "Fall Leaves" and activities as well as a fun fall play "How Will  I Know When it is Fall" you will find in my all new and revised  "September Poetry, Chants, Fall play and Activities"  packet. There are also fun Back to School poems to teach during the 1st few weeks of school. You can check it out by clicking on the picture below and downloading the Preview file to see all the materials and Activities in this packet.

After I wrote this chant I realized that it would be a great way to practice punctuation. (CCSS ELA for 1st and 2nd grade). So I decided to offer this free poem and punctuation activity to my wonderful followers. Just click on the poem "Where's the Teacher?" " to download your free poem. Graphics are by Dillydabbles.

Here are a few new Pinterest Boards to follow.
Check out all my new Pinterest Boards HERE

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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 Thanks for making a difference for your students.

What are some other ways you can use this chant?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th Freebie!

Are you superstitious? Many people go to great lengths on Friday the 13th to avoid black cats, walking under ladders, or breaking a mirror. Did you know that there is actually no origin to the phrase, "Friday the 13th?" Believe it or not there will only be one Friday the 13th in 2014 and it will occur during a full moon. So, I thought I would bring a little good luck your way by offering a product for free today.

Although Spring is almost over I wanted to pick a product that most of my followers and viewers would be able to use. So I decided on "What Happens in Spring?" It will only be free until 9:00 pm this evening EDT! Just click on the picture below to download your free product. I hope you will leave feedback and would appreciate any new followers who like the kind of products I create.

I have also added lots of new Pinterest Boards you may be interested in following. Here are just a few. I hope you will check these and all my other new boards and follow me as I will be adding lots of great materials in the coming weeks! Thank you.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Hope Friday the 13th 2014 is a lucky day for all of you.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sizzling with Free Summer Reading Programs and Literacy Activities

Looking for some great ideas and free resources to help stop the "Summer Slide" for you kids? We all know how important it is to keep our kids reading and writing all summer long so I have put together a few for you to check out.

Scholastic has a wonderful  on line reading program with printables that you can check out and register for by clicking on the picture below.
You might also want to check out Reading Rockets which has a wonderful list of activities and websites with free reading and writing activities as well as great tips and ideas for parents about other summer activities to do with your kids. You can check it out by clicking on the picture below. has a 10 week fun program to help kids beat the summer slide. There are lots of fun literacy activities for each of the 10 weeks and all you have to do is register. It's free. To find out more you can click on the picture below.
I just revised my Hooray for Summer Literacy Activities for Grade 1-2 that you may want to check out.
There are 8 different literacy activities to include a Summer Word Sort, Summer Noun Sort, Summer Word Syllable Sort, Summer Compound Word Match and Writing Activity, Making and Writing Sentences about Summer and a few more fun activities. When you download the Preview you will get this free activity.
How about another literacy freebie? Just click on the picture below to get your free "Hooray for Summer" Making Words and Sentences.

I have just added a new Pinterest Board just for parent you may want to follow as I will be adding lots of information for Back to School just for Parents. Just click on the Picture below.
I also have one just for teachers you might want to follow.
I am revising all my boards this summer to bring you lots of great resources. Hope you will follow me on Pinterest.

Thanks for making a difference for all the students in your classroom this last year. I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing summer vacation and take some time for yourself.

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