Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why You Should Read Children's Books As An Adult

As a teacher, it is important to practice what you preach. So if we are pushing our students to read everyday, so should we. Donalyn Miller, the author of "The Book Whisperer," suggests setting aside just 15 minutes per day to read. We all have 15 minutes somewhere that we can fit reading in. Also, as adults we suggest books to our friends and colleagues if we have read them before. Every day we are trying to suggest books for our students, but how many of them have you read? Even as adults we should still be reading children books and here are the reasons why:

1. It's fun
2. It keeps your imagination active.
3. It strengthens your relationship with the children in your life who read.
4. It sets an example for the children in your life, making them more likely to become readers.
5. It clues you in on cultural references that you may have missed (both current and classical).
6. It's fast. Children's books are usually shorter than adult books, so if you don't think you have time to read, you DO have time to read children's books.
7. It allows you to read across genres. Children's books aren't limited.
8. Its like time travel--it's an easy way to remember the child you once were, when you first read a book.
9. It's often inspirational--reading about heroes and bravery and loyalty makes you want to be a better person. And couldn't we all do with some of that?
10. Did I mention that it's fun?

Source: Jen Robinson's Book Page, 2005.

We are always trying to make our students lifelong readers and instill a love for reading in them. If we are reading more, and reading more children's books, it will become easier for us to suggest books to them. We will be able to connect to our students more because of this and form bonds over books that we might discover together.

Check out "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller for more information about "awakening the inner reader in every child."

The Book Whisperer

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Remind 101

With our new multi-measure evaluations in PA, one of my goals was to boost parent communication. I used to send out mass e-mails which was time consuming and not everyone checks their e-mails regularly. But do you know what most people do check regularly? TEXT MESSAGES! Now I'm sure you're thinking, "I am not giving out my cell phone # to parents." Well guess what, you don't have to! There is a new app called Remind101. Once you download it to your smart phone you can set up classes and have parents subscribe via a personalized code. Watch the video below to learn more:

Remind101 from remind101 on Vimeo.

What are some of the features?:
  • Private; Teachers never seen parent #'s and parents never see teacher's #
  • Easy to Use; students or parents sign up by sending a text message or e-mail.
  • Sends messages; you can easily send a message to every parent in each class.
  • Scheduling; you can easily schedule a message to be delivered at a later date.
  • History; it keeps a history of past messages sent.
  • Free; it is free to sign up for an account.

Why do I think Remind101 is so great?
3 Words: FAST, SAFE, EASY:

Want to learn more? Visit Remind101 to see more of the great features!

When teachers and parents work together, our students will be more successful!

Happy Texting!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Currently

Better late than never! Even though its almost August, I thought I would add my July Currently from Oh' Boy 4th Grade. These "Currently" posts are a great way to link up with other blogs and find lots of great ideas! So here it goes:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning Objectives and Essential Questions

With our school's transition to the Common Core Standards, we have decided to start posting Essential Questions and Learning Objectives for Reading and Math. Learning Objectives are very important because the provide the students with what they need to learn or the "right stuff." Essential questions are great because they are phrased as higher order questions to really get the students thinking about what they will be learning. When higher order questions are used, students are more likely to understand and retain information.

There is a slew of posters out there made for you already on teacherspayteachers. The ones our school chose have both the essential questions and learning objectives for Reading and Math. See Below:


First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

The next part most people are wondering is, "How do I post these in my room?" My opinion is, you do what works best for you. For the more visual learners though, I have posted some examples below.

I am very excited for this transition because my students will always know what they are supposed to be learning and where to find it. Having every teacher do this as well ensures that we are all covering our standards, even if we are teaching them in different ways.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Words of the Week

I don't know about your schools, but ours is very large. I get quite the workout when I go and pick up my primary students. When I first started teaching I felt like I was losing a lot of time transitioning in the hall to pick up my students, so I wanted to maximize our time together. This is where my "Word of the Week" comes into play!

When I was tutoring in the America Reads program, a teacher taught me that you teach your students where to stop in the hallways. This helps with managing your class (i.e. prevents those huge gaps in line, allows you to keep an eye on all of your students, and makes them wait for you when you have to stop and briefly talk to another teacher) Therefore, I placed these "Word of the Week" posters at all of my stopping points along the way to my classroom. The reasoning is two fold. One, it allows me to manage my groups better. Two it maximizes their learning time with me because of the words I place on the posters for them to practice reading. The words I use range from simple sight words to different types of syllables.

Below is an example of my posters:

I took the template and taped it to a large piece of construction paper and then laminated it. Masking tape is all you need to hang these puppies up! I laminated the word cards for durability and put velcro on the back of them so I can easily switch them out from week to week.

Click here to download my "Word of the Week" template.

Click below to download the word cards that I use:

Preprimer Words
Primer Words
First Grade Words
Second Grade Words
Closed Syllables
Open Syllables
Vowel-Consonant-e Syllables
Vowel Team Syllable
Consonant -le Syllable
R Controlled Syllable
Mixed Syllable

Some wonderful colleagues of mine made all of the Preprimer, Primer, First and Second grade word cards. They were nice enough to share them with me and gave me permission to post them on my blog. So a special thank you goes out to Connie LaCoe and Stacey Shaffer!

So next time you are walking down the hall to take your class somewhere or pick some one up for small group instruction, ask yourself how much time did it take you and how could you better utilize that time?

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

No Hassle Rewards

The Title I Reading classroom is a very unique setting. Its unlike many regular education classrooms because its a small group setting where the students are only there from 30-45 minutes daily. This makes behavior management different than the average elementary classroom.

So what do you do? Well like any teacher, you create and steal ideas until you've designed what works best for you! I used the "Whole Brain Teaching" method of points. When the students do something good, they get a point. When they do something they're not supposed to do, I get a point. The object is to beat the teachers in points by the end of the week to earn their reward.

Rewards can be tricky, too. I don't always want to give the students material things, but I also don't want to take instructional time away. So I made these "No Hassle Rewards" that the students work for each week. Some of them we can do while instruction is happening. Others just take 5-10 minutes on a Friday to complete. Check out some examples below:

Click here to download my "No Hassle Rewards".

Happy Reading!

"Phantastic" Phonics Phones

What did I do on my day off today you ask? I made phonics phones! Phonics phones are essential in any primary classroom. They're great when teaching phonics and phonemic awareness.

As a reading specialist, I work with many students who have deficits in these areas and the phonics phones always help them to hear themselves better during instruction. Did you ever notice that many times students can blend together a word when you sound it out for them? In many cases its because they can't hear the sounds well enough themselves. The phonics phone helps them amplify the sound.

Test taking situations are another great use for phonics phones. It helps many of our reluctant readers slow down and listen to what they are reading. It allows them to clarify meaning while they are reading.

So here's how you can make your very own phonics phone:

Head over to Lowes, Home Depot, or your friendly neighborhood hardware store. Pick up 2, 3/4" PVC elbow joints. I just bought a whole bag. It was cheaper that way. Then pick up a 3/4" PVC pipe. These come in 5' and 10' sections so you will have to cut it down to 3 1/2" sections. The friendly people at Lowes or Home Depot can do this for you as well if you don't have access to a hack saw.

( P.S. Don't mind the leftover henna on my hand from a wedding I went to last weekend)

Next? Put them together. Attach the elbow joints on either end of the pipe and viola! I made mine a little bit prettier, too by adding some colorful duct tape that I picked up at Target.

Easy, peasy, lemon my students like to say. Now I have a set for my students to use! The colorful duct tape makes them more alluring to my students as well. And it is helping them to be better readers when they use them. Win, win!

Happy Reading!