Friday, October 31, 2014

An Easy Way to Improve Fluency

Reading fluency is crucial for young readers because it bridges the gap between word recognition and text comprehension. Fluent readers do not have to spend as much time decoding the words so they are able to focus their efforts more on comprehending what the text means. Reading fluency is a huge struggle for many young readers.  Since reading fluency is the building block to comprehension, less fluent readers often fall behind their peers.   Significant improvement in reading fluency can be achieved with just a few minutes of practice each day.  

I have seen great gains in fluency using Super Speed 1000 from the Whole Brain Teaching Website. This activity and many others are available as a FREE download when you register on their website.  I love that this activity integrates both the Dolch and Fry word lists so the kids get exposure to as many words as possible.
In my classroom, we use a slight variation from the official rules that come with the download.  I have my students paired up by ability and personality.  The students work together as a team to beat their previous record.  The partners take turns reading the words back and forth for 60 seconds.  Each time the pair beats their record, they get to start one line further down at the beginning.  The official directions are a bit different, but I have found this procedure to work well with my class.  

This is a short video showing two of my students doing the Super Speed Reading Fluency activity.  My students are using the paper version of the game which is designed for partner practice.  The partner game promotes social interaction and goal setting in a fun, fast-paced game. There is also an electronic version of the game that is great for whole class practice.  
There is also a Super Speed Game for math facts.  Each of my students have a folder with the papers needed to play both games inside.  

Here is a short video of my students playing the Super Speed math game.  We play each game twice a day.  Since each game is only one minute long, we are able to practice both math facts and the top 1,000 words in five minutes.
If you are looking for an easy to implement way to improve reading and math fluency in your classroom, I encourage to visit the Whole Brain Teaching Website, register with your email address, and download the FREE Ebook(s).  You won't be disappointed!
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Have you heard of tsu?

Yup, you read that right.  It pays you for your content.  Here is a break down of how it works:

"Tsū’s algorithm automatically tracks, measures, and distributes revenue to the appropriate user and their family tree. At a high level, 90% of revenues are distributed to users. To maintain the platform, tsū receives 10%. To see how this breaks down, let’s take a look at 4 users, all with varying start dates on tsū.
User A invites user B, who invites user C, who invites user D
Part 1
– $100 of earned revenue is generated based on the content user D shared (photos, videos, status updates, etc.)
Part 2
– 90% of earned revenue go to the users. In this case, $90 of the $100 is shared with all the users.
– tsū takes 10% of the $100 for platform fees. In this case $10.
Part 3
– User D, the original content creator takes 50% of the $90. In this case, $45.
– User C gets 33.3% (1/3) of the original $90 generated. In this case, $29.70
– User B gets 11.1% (1/3 of 1/3 = 1/9) of the original $90 generated. In this case $9.99
– User A gets 3.70% (1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 = 1/27) of the original $90 generated. In this case $3.33
– This is what we call the rule of infinite thirds"

It is sort of like pinterest, in you have to be invited to join, so naturally friends I am inviting you! Here imy shortcode if you would like to come and join me in this new Social Media adventure!

It has a very Facebookish feel to it.  It is really easy to navigate, and they don't limit who sees your posts.  If someone is following you, they see your posts.  If you are friends with someone, they can see your posts and you can see theirs.  You can read more about it HERE!

It is free to sign up and is all the rage!  Come join know  you want to!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Milestone Freebie and Giveaway!

Hi Friends!

Bonnie Kathryn here...

Halloween is Friday. Oh no. Halloween is Friday.

So, that probably means you are about to pull your hair out because it might be getting a little frightening scary crazy wild they are perfect little angels.

Don't Fret. I have a FREEBIE and a giveaway to help you escape the madness.

I recently celebrated a milestone on TpT. I have a new CVC interactive bundle and I pulled five little books to make a milestone freebie for you guys. You can download it here!


Did that little sampler leave you wanting all of the books? Well, I am giving away the whole set to one frazzled lucky reader. 

How do you play, you say? 

2. Comment below with what number follower you are AND leave your e-mail. 
3. A random number generator will chose someone to win the whole bundle on Halloween. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Going Batty for Bats!

Hey everyone! 

So, we've been learning a little bit about bats this past week and I'm here to share a few of those ideas with you.  It seems that all kids love learning about bats.  My kids are always 100% engaged when we start learning about topics that they're interested in.. naturally. 

In our reading curriculum we're learning about vowels and their sounds, so of course I found a super cute song on youtube that goes perfectly with our bat theme.

Kids go batty for this song... oh, and they're learning too! 

I read some nonfiction books and fiction books about bats.  Here are some of my favorites:

I highly recommend reading both books to your kiddos! 

I love making little books for my kids to take home.  It gives them ownership of their learning,  they can retell the information by looking at the pictures, & their families can see what we're learning.
You can find my bat book {HERE}.

In the book, kids will learn about echolocation.  Kids love learning about this, so I always play the echolocation song. It gives them  a better understanding of what this word really means & they always ask me to play it again It's amazing how kids remember this word!  

We also did a bat craftivity.  One of my amazing parent helpers cut the bats out in advance.  The kids decorated with a white crayon & googly eyes.  Then they wrote one bat fact.  I hung them upside down in our classroom.  

  Grab the Bat Fact writing paper {HERE}.

Check out my blog for an amazing giveaway going on right now!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Only 8 Days Until November!!

Hello all!  I'm SUPER excited to be writing my first blog post for this amazing collaborative blog.  I'm so blessed to be apart of this amazing group of passionate teachers.  My name is Ciera Harris and I blog over at Adventures of Room 129.  

A little about myself... 

I've been teaching now for 7 years.  I teach at a 2/3 school so the only grades we have in our building are 2nd and 3rd.  I loop as well so I have the same group of kids for two years.  I love looping and really getting to know the kids and the parents.  The second year starts off like the year before never ended.  We can jump right into learning since we all know one another - its fantastic!  

I'm a mom of 3 (under the age of TWO)!!  Yes, can you figure that out?  HA!  I have 22 month old twins and a 7 week old.  I'm actually still on maternity leave until November 3rd and am getting very anxious about going back.  My twins are hilarious.  I love every second being with them.  And they are cute to boot so that makes it even more fun!  

Check out this adorable video I took the other day of my little one Kennedy make 'cute' and 'squishy' faces.  LOVE it!

Here are a few pictures of my family:

Seriously adorable right!?  I would totally be a stay at home mom (if I could afford it!).  

So I wish I had an updated classroom idea or post I could write today, but being out of the classroom for the past 7 weeks makes it hard to come up with classroom related blog posts.  So instead I'm going to vent about my anxiety about coming back to the classroom.  With the twins, I took off 4 entire months.  They were on a schedule, sleeping through the night..  They felt more independent in a way.  But with my new one (Emmitt by the way) - he's still very scattered..  No schedule, waking up all the time..  I hate taking him to a daycare like this.  I was ready to go back after having the twins but I don't have that same feeling this time and I'm not sure why.  So I'm trying to 'inspire' myself in a way by making resources now that I know I'll use when I get back to class.  

So I introduce to you...

These are so cute and so fun!  They all cover concepts my class has previously learned so they'll be great for small groups or centers.  They all include coloring in some aspect which my kids will love!  Making these, these past few days, has made me feel a little better about going back and seeing my other family.  

If you like what you see, click on any of the photos to learn more!  

Thanks for reading my little post.  I'd love to read your comments to get to know you lovely readers!  Make sure to check out my personal blog over at Adventures of Room 129!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's Time to Wake Up!

Happy Hump Day, Friends! We've almost made it through one of the craziest months of the school year! Wooohooo! 

As I was chatting with my bloggy friends from across the country, I realized that there's this crazy "rule" {for lack of a better word!} that students show up to school before the bell even rings! 

In my district here in the Bay Area {as with many districts in the area} kids are not bussed to school - they show up at bell time! When my friends told me that they need to open their door up to 45 minutes before the bell rings...I gasped! "What are you supposed to do with the kids?" I asked.  Well, apparently, you're not allowed to teach anything new OR grade anything! Say, What?!? 

So as with most things, necessity is the mother of invention! 
 Meet Wake Up Workouts - Before the Bell Activities! I am SO pumped about these new tasks/activities/time fillers! 
lucky to be in first wake up workouts
So, an idea was hatched! I created simple themed activities for each month! The kids can simply grab a stick and scratch paper and go to town!  It's a mix of language arts and math skills presented in a fun way! 

Here's a peek at the October Wake Up Workouts! 
lucky to be in firstlucky to be in first
lucky to be in firstlucky to be in first
lucky to be in first
To prep your workouts, you simply print, cut and glue onto a stick! I chose to laminate my set so they last a little longer! Then, I found a tin I had shoved in the back of a closet and added the "title!" 

Kids can simply grab an activity and take it to their seat! 
lucky to be in first wake up workouts
Since my class shows up at the bell, I plan to use these activities for quick 5 minute fillers, occasional morning work activities for the class, or even brain breaks! 

My goal was to bundle ALL of the months at once and post them separately in my store, too! However, because I got engaged in the middle of this project {yay, us!} all work promptly came to a halt so I could celebrate with JB {and our awesome friends!}! I managed to get OctoberNovemberDecember, and February posted {not sure why I skipped January!} in my TpT Store.

I plan to post the rest of the sets * soon* and add to the bundle! SO, right now, A Year of Wake Up Workouts is on sale for HALF PRICE {since it's not complete!} As soon as I add the other 6 sets, the price will go up! Grab it while it's crazy cheap! 

Want to see if Wake Up Workouts will work for your classroom? Head over to TpT and grab the Anytime Wake Up Workout FREEBIE! If you can use this goody, I hope you'll leave some love! 
Have an awesome week! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parent Conferences - are you ready?

 Hi there!  It's Lisa from over at Second Grade Stories.  Wow - just when I thought I had a handle on all the craziness from September, the end of October shows up.  From goal setting, to budget ordering, to Halloween to bats and pumpkins and spiders, it seems like another crazy time of year is upon me!  This week we have two early dismissal days for parent conferences.

I have to tell you - I actually look forward to parent conferences.  Yep, I do.

I enjoy meeting with parents and really getting to sit down and talk about student progress and all the great things going on in our classroom.  Open House goes by so fast that I never seem to have time for more than a quick "hello" and "take a look around."  Parent conferences, even though they are short this first time (just 15 minutes each, yikes!) really give me a chance to get to know all my kiddos' families.

We work on a trimester schedule, and have conferences at the end of October, and then again in March.  I like that fact that these first conferences are early enough to be able to deal with issues if they arise and to really share the positives about how everyone is doing.

After more years of conferences than I'd like to admit, I've developed some tips to help make parent conferences go smoothly - whether you're a beginning teacher scared out of your mind at meeting all these parents (that was me!), or an experienced veteran who has seen it all before. 

Let the parents start the talking.
This is my most important tip.  Especially if your conferences are short, it's important to give parents the chance to ask any questions or bring up any concerns they have at the beginning so you can address them, rather than waiting until the end and having them leave feeling like they didn't get what they needed.  I usually start by saying, "Is there anything you'd like to ask about first before we start?"  Most of the time parents reply by saying they just want to know how their child is doing.  That opens the door for you to share what you planned on saying.  But if they have a specific question or concern about something, they'll be thinking about it through the whole conference, waiting for the time to ask.  Better to see how everyone is feeling first, then move through the meeting.
Be prepared and organized.
I know this goes without saying, but it's hard to summarize every bit of student progress in 15 minutes.  I use a quick reference sheet for each student that shows benchmark scores, math tests, spelling tests, strengths and needs in each area.  I just write a few quick notes so I don't forget to touch on anything - and I send this sheet home with families.  I also have a sheet with sticky notes for me so I can touch on the top 2 or 3 things I want to make sure I share.  I keep a file folder of student work samples, tests, etc. next to me on the floor so I can reach in and pull out what I need.  Do not try to share and talk about everything - you'll get through the first few items and then realize you only have 5 minutes left and haven't talked about the most important thing you want to share!

I also keep a supply of colored pens and sticky notes on the table where we meet.  This way parents (or myself!) can jot a quick note to help remember something.  In addition, I also keep another sticky note for each child where I jot down any major issues we talked about, things we said we would do, etc.  These work as a great reminder for me of what we talked about and helps me keep track of anything I need to follow up on after the conference.  I also make sure I sit where I can see the clock.  This lets me keep track of how much time we have left so I can make sure we have covered everything.
Make a good first impression.

I used to really obsess over having everything perfect in my room for conferences - every display exactly right, nothing looking worn out... then I finally realized that while parents may  take a quick glance around the room, their focus is in the space where you re sitting - and where they are waiting outside to come in.  No one is going to notice that the "D" fell off my word wall for the fifteenth time today.  Make the outside of your room - or wherever parents are waiting - look inviting.  Put out a display of student work, books you've enjoyed reading together in class, or even a sample of some work stations or centers you have been doing.  Not only does it give parents something to look at while they are waiting but they'll get an idea of hat goes on in your classroom each day.  I also like to put out extra copies of important notes and papers for the year - school calendar, info about my class website, directions to sign up for Remind101 or VolunteerSpot, most recent newsletter ... anything that might have been sent home in the past couple months that you want to make sure families received. (and yes, I know the papers in the picture are from Open House - I'll be putting those out to make sure n one missed anything, along with a few new ones.)

The table where we sit to meet has adult sized chairs, and plenty of sticky notes, scrap paper and pens/pencils.  I keep my candle warmer going off to the side of the room and I only keep what I need for that particular student on the table in front of me.  That eliminates clutter and distractions and keeps the focus on one child.
Do you feel ready for conferences?  Even though preparing for those two days is a lot of work, I always leave those nights feeling like I have learned a little bit more about each of my kiddos and knowing everyone is on board to work together for a successful year.

And since I KNOW how stressful conferences can be, I'm sharing all my conferences forms and notes with you.  There is a conference form for each child, a schedule (I post mine in the hall - with just initials and have one for me with names), reminder notes, sign in sheet, and follow up notes.  It's a Powerpoint file, so you can add text boxes to say whatever works for you.  Click the image below to download the file.
(If you need the file in pdf only, click HERE
Good luck with your conferences!
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Hallo-Wiener! FREEBIE, too!

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year! It's just so FUN! And there are SO many fun things you can do! Though I admit my most favorite is Christmas...Halloween has an advantage
because it's just a little less stressful and's just FUN!

On of my favorite Halloween books to read to my kiddos is Dav Pilkey's Happy Hallo-Wiener! It's also a favorite of my kiddos -- they get a kick out of the Halloween costume Oscar's mom makes for him: while he wants to have a fierce, scary costume, he ends up having to wear a HOTDOG costume!! He is mortified...the other dogs make fun of him...and he is bound to have a miserable time trick or treating. Kiddos love the way the story turns around & Oscar ends up the hero.

We are really working on order of events this time of year...sequencing the story and using words like first, next, then, after that, last, or finally. I've created a fun graphic organizer for my kiddos to use. Just click on the pic below to download a copy directly from my dropbox!

If you haven't read this book yet, you should definitely look for a copy. I did a quick search and found this read aloud that could be used in the classroom. I'm thinking it'd make a great workstation or center! Just click the picture of the book below. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations...and some colorful resources!

Hello everyone! Kelly and Kim here from Kelly and Kim's 
Kindergarten Kreations. 

This is our first time blogging with all the other wonderful contributors to this blog. We are excited to be here and hope you enjoy our ideas.

We would like to share a little about ourselves. We are both kindergarten teachers that share a love of all things technology. We are always pushing ourselves to better our skills and we love the challenge!
We work very well together planning lessons and running our TpT business. It works because we have similar beliefs in what we do. 
We love organization! We really should buy stock in Sterilite, haha!! 
We love teaching the children new things and seeing that ah-ha moment as it happens! It really makes the teacher heart happy!
We believe in high expectations. All children can learn and all children should be given that opportunity to shine!

We have been having so much fun in our classes during our Colors All Around unit. We have been reading a lot of great books like The Day the Crayons Quit, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear, Bear Sees Colors, and so many more!! However, our most favorite book is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. We are sure you could all say the exact same thing. There is just something about that laid back cat that reminds us, "It's all good!" 

First, we read the story aloud and afterwards we watch the video below. The children are so in love with Pete!! They ask us to play the video over and over and over again!! Of course, we are happy to!
(Funny it is labeled in Spanish, but it is the English version...who knows!)

After reading, the children got to make their very own Pete the Cat to take home. Can you say, "over the moon with excitement"? This describes the children to a "T"!! Their cats were singing in the class, the hall, and probably on the bus too!

Here a child is coloring her Pete the Cat pieces:
Next, they cut the pieces out:

Lastly, they put Pete together!

The Final Product!!

Our children have been working very hard to learn new sight words, including the color words. Here you can see a child reading sentences using the color words to match Pete's shoes.

We also put the book into our reading center so the children can enjoy reading Pete the Cat over and over again. We changed our listening center over from CDs to iPods and it has been the best thing ever. You can read about how we made the transition by visiting our blog here

You can also check out a fun Pete the Cat food activity we like also. 
We blogged all about it here.

We also have a fun freebie for you!
You can download your copy of the Pete the Cat pattern here!

We hope you and your children have as much fun as ours did!

We will see you next time, but hope you'll also come visit us regularly at