Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Teacher Giggles

From We Are Teachers
And from the internet...

Why science teachers shouldn't be given playground duty...

Because we could all use some giggles from time to time!
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Write On with Your Bad Self!!!

Let's talk about writing rubrics. I know I like knowing what to expect in life. Especially when it comes to my grades. So not only are rubrics a great guide for grading, but I think if you have them (your expectations) posted on the wall it will help students to think about what they need to do to earn a good grade, or to meet expectations. Think of it as a guide for your students. Yes, we often see rubrics in higher education but they can be utilized even on the primary level.
I also saw another neat one a teacher created~
They have writing prompts for 3rd-11th grades so even if someone is teaching fifth grade they can use 3rd or 4th to differentiate for the students.
They have task templates that are excellent for teachers to use to develop their own prompts!  There are also rubrics there to score writing. The best part?.... it is free! :)

Or You've Got the Write Stuff, Baby! I could do this all day...

Here is a great video of a writing continuum in action in a Kindergarten classroom. This teacher has 1-10 but I would maybe think of scaling it down to 1-5 for the young ones.

I also want to share a neat writing rubric I saw in a Kindergarten classroom. At this school every teacher has something similar in the classrooms at all grade-levels. Do you like what you see? You can get it for FREE here! 

It shows not only the writing expectations, but also drawing and coloring.

 Here are some writing resources that I hope you find helpful!

RAFT strategy from

I also recommend the Mid Del writing prompts.

There are 2 writing videos on YouTube I love to share with teachers:

I also encourage you to look at the Literacy Design Collaborative.

Over a year ago, I gave a writing presentation at the school when I was the Literacy Coach. It was focused on 3rd grade plus, but could be modified for any grades. I have not yet converted it from a Power Point into a video but when I do I will post it on my YouTube Channel.

 The outline of it is:

-Survey teacher's on their writing bias
-Discuss results with them
-Go into writing strategies:
1. Pre-Writing
2. Drafting
3. Revising
4. Editing
5. Publishing
-Then discuss writing purposes:
1. Narrative
2. Descriptive
3. Persuasive
4. Personal, formal letters, thank you notes, inivitations
5. Creative writing (my personal favorite!), poems, skits, lyrics
(we will do a lot of share/discussion with the above purposes)
-Writing evaluation and reflection
-Use of writing prompts
-Mini-lesson ideas to use after guided reading

And finally, for ELL students I always recommend using a visual (like a magazine picture, photo or clip art) for a writing prompt since that correlates with what WiDA assesses and can help make those background knowledge skills strengthened. Always relate what they are learning to real life. Make it meaningful!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Making Messes with Red, White and Blue!

My favorite time of summer is coming! The 4th of July! I wanted to start looking for some 4th crafty ideas to help decorate around the house and I thought I would share what I find. I don't want my blog to be just focused on solely teaching reading, but also on things I love like being a mom, crafting, scrapbooking, my crazy family, teaching in general, gardening, photography, webby stuff, recipes, life tips and reading/writing. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, I did it to document my crazy, chaotic life as a mom. Then it evolved into teaching, then literacy and now it is back to being a beautiful mess. My life is a beautiful mess. :)

This would be a very quick and easy craft. I don't know about your family, but my parents (the grandparents) love getting anything with a hand or (stinky! hey, he's a boy) footprint on it!

If you have little ones, you could easily use plastic tumbler or decorative pieces instead of glass. I think it would easy to use an empty Ragu or pickle jar for this. You could add glitter, too!! 

This is a garland of fabric stars. If I tried to use a sewing machine, I would have holes in my thumbs. But I could use my fancy patterned scrapbook paper (very cheap at Hobby Lobby) to cut or punch out stars and then string them. I think I can do this one! :) Happy dance!

SassyDealz has a very creative idea of using forks dipped in paint to make fireworks! Genius!

For those of you who stocked up on flip flops during the Old Navy sale, Passion for Savings made these very easy-peasy patriotic flip flops by adding ribbon to them. 
Looking for some more ideas? 
They have over 15 fun and frugal 4th of July crafts HERE.

Here are some more links to get your craft on!


All Kids Network

Monday, June 16, 2014

Parts of a Parent Reader

Ways to Help a Student

I love these graphics that explain ways to assist students 

who struggle. 

Writing Instruction

Malaika Bryant (2010) wrote, "Often without even realizing it, primary teachers lead their students through pre-writing activities every day."

 A pre-writing activity we often employ in grades PreK-5th is the use of graphic organizers to organize information and for brainstorming purposes.

 Interactive writing: The teacher and the students take turns writing the text. It is a collaborative effort. 

Modeled writing: The teacher models good writing habits. After the teacher has read a passage or a book aloud, he/she will incorporate some aspect of it into the writing model. The teacher models style, punctuation, techniques and structure. 

By completing an author study, students can also learn that the author can be a model for writing purpose and structure. 

 Journals: Journals can be used for free writing, reflection writing, as dialogue, or for anything. I believe students should be able to use them for creative purposes and not for a grammar grade in the elementary levels.

 Four Square Writing: Many schools employ the Four Square Writing books. Here is an example of the writing activities the students do look like:
Constructive Free writing: Teachers are encouraged to allow at least 30 minutes of constructive free writing opportunities daily. This often follows DEAR or silent sustained reading time so students can reflect on what they have just read. 

                                                        Source: Kate Rivara

 Six Traits Writing: The six traits are made up of voice, ideas/content, sentence fluency, word choice, organization and conventions. Voice means the author's purpose is clear and the author's personality is felt. Content is the topic, or essence of the paper. Sentence fluency is when the writer learns to use strong sentences often. Word Choice is about selecting the right words, adding descriptions, and looking at the verbs you want to use. Organization gives the writing purpose and structure. Conventions are the rules we follow in language, grammar and punctuation.

 ~Examples of Best Practices~

 -Incorporating writing into all content areas. For example, students can write story problems for Math or write each step they took to solve a problem. 

 -Letting students see the teacher as a writer. 

 -Have reading and writing go hand-in-hand. 

 -Implementing Writer's Workshop or Literacy Centers. 

 -Making writing activities meaningful and relevant.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!!!

Very cute Father's Day gift!! I found this on Pinterest. Happy Father's Day!!!

Sharing is caring! :)

Here is an example of multiple ways to teach number sense.

Here is a fun idea for letter recognition. Use plastic fishing worms for students to practice making alphabet letters with. They can even work on making their names or saying the letter sound. You can even make sight words!

Write sight words on bubble wrap and have students work with a partner (or use during small group) for them to pop the word after they read it correctly!

Have students sort letters using different font types and sizes under the correct column.

Think about having a poetry area in your classroom. It is important to expose your students to all kinds of text--not just books! Maps, magazines, charts, poems, dictionaries, etc. I always put a picture dictionary in my writing center so my students could look up words when writing. 

Moving my Weebly (Wobble)!

Hey friends! I am slowly going to move info from my Weebly site ( back to my blog here. It will be so much easier for me to maintain one thing. Plus, blogger has made it where I can add pages to this blog, so that is pretty awesome!!!

I never meant to go "MIA" but the past few years have been busy to say the least! I completed my Master's Degree in Curriculum/Instruction and Reading. I took on a new job with the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a Literacy Coach. They cut the coach funding two weeks ago so now...on to bigger and better things! :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anchor Charts to anchor our teaching!

I love, love anchor charts! When I was in the classroom I used them often with PreK and up students. So I thought I would share some here with you.

Think about charting words with your students using a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast book characters or two different versions of the same story (ex. two different tellings of Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

 I saw this on Pinterest and re-created it last year for my students I pulled for reading groups. We talked about what it took to become Rock Star Writers!

Here is another chart I had in my reading room as a Reading Specialist. It is important to have rules just like a regular classroom especially since you have groups for such a limited time.

I love the technique of Paired Reading. So students would choose questions off the chart if they had difficulty forming a question to ask their partner.

I was working with teaching ordinal numbers and story sequence. So we read The Mitten and I had character cards for us to sequence whole group.

It is important for students to realize they can look at the pictures to find clues to decode the text.

Writing process! Sometimes just a simple chart with steps on it helps students to remember a process.

I love this one! I think as an instructional coach I could even use this when teaching adults in a certain subject. I think it is critical for students to learn to self-monitor and assess themselves.

This gives students a "heads up" of what you may ask. Some of our students who have trouble staying on-task or those who have anxiety would benefit from having a glean of what they will be expected to know or retell.

While this chart is very detailed, it would be for third grade and up. I also think if  you go over it daily for a few weeks then students will automatically use it as a reference tool on their own.

And check out this neat Math idea for adding. It is too good to not share! This would be a great center activity!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A post from November (originally) :)

I cannot believe this academic year is going by so fast. This past week we had training at the OSDE in several components of literacy: phonics, phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, ELL, lower and upper primary writing, MAX Teaching Reading and Writing program, and the Duke TIP program. We are very fortunate to receive wonderful professional development about once a month that we are able to bring to the teachers and administrators in our area.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is high expectations. We all know we should have high expectations for our students. But it is easy for us to forget this. Never ever limit your students. I had three summer sessions in the Great Expectations program and that is the one thing I really took away. It made all the difference. I noticed when I did not put a cap on my student's learning, and I stopped assuming he/she could or could not do something, my students excelled.

If I believed in them then they wanted to succeed and make me proud. They took ownership for their own learning!! I had a class about two years ago that was PreK and 100% ELL. Most of the students had no English exposure at home. This was their first time away from their parents. I challenged these kids like no one's business. I had them reading and writing after Christmas Break. They continue to be a high level class. I never used the excuse about my ELL population being high and thus limiting what they could do.

I had my PreK students going into Kindergarten reading on a Fountas and Pinnell level H-Q. No joke! And they comprehended the text. The Kindergarten teacher came to me to ask me how she could challenge this class. I saw these results even previous to this in the other grade levels I taught.

I did not see a student as a student of poverty, a student with a learning issue or any label at all. I told them every day they were smart and they would go to college. I became their biggest cheerleader.

Times are tough in education. Education is fluid and always evolving and we must keep up or sink. It is easy to get stuck in the gooey fluid and forget about our kids. Again, we need to be the biggest cheerleader in their lives. We only have them for that one academic year. It is up to us to either make them love learning and actually be sad when there is a school break or to have them dread coming to school and have no motivation to learn. It does not matter what the home life is like. We must make those hours in our classroom be their place of comfort. In turn, your students will outperform any grade-level expectations.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just sayin'

I really do! Last night my son got one of big books that was made of a hard cardboard, set it up like a tent and fell asleep under it! :) Imagination and childhood--gotta love it!!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happiness. All about happiness.

I am a happy camper. I have had the wonderful fortune to become a Reac3h Instructional Coach with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. This is such a blessing. The nerd in me is excited to have a chance to learn more and get great training. I always told my students that every day I learn something new and that you never stop learning. Education gave me freedom in my life and I will always value it. So in the future I hope to post on here more often as my schedule allows and share great ideas with you. 
Happy 4th of July!!!!