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Recharge, Reflect & Regroup: Summer PD

Teacher Resources for Summer PD

If you are like most teachers, you need the summer to recharge your teacher batteries!  I know I do.  It doesn't take long and I am thinking about the next group of students that will be walking through my door for back to school.  

Teachers recharging for the summer
Thank you Teacher2Teacher for the graphic!

I just got back from a vacation to Colorado that helped me recharge.  Whether you go somewhere or stay home, a teacher needs a bit of time to slow down a bit, think of something other than school, and get re-engergized.  When I have done that, I am more in a state of mind to reflect on the past year and regroup for the changes I want to make in the upcoming year.   Actually, my brain likes to start this about April!  Anyone else like that?  I kind of have to bring that in because it is a bit early to start that!

Teacher Resources for Summer PD Who's Doing the Work

If you have been reading blogs, following teacher Facebook pages or been on Twitter lately, then you know about this book.  I found this book to be a quick read  and full of easy to implement ideas.  The premise is having students do the thinking and problem solving instead of the teacher doing this for them.  As students work through how to solve problems in reading, they tend to show more growth than students who appeal to the teacher getting her to give prompts on what they could try to solve it.  I especially liked the chapter on shared reading and will mainly be using it to tweak this time in my classroom.  

Teacher Resources for Summer PD Kids Deserve It

This book came in while I was away on my trip.  It is about building engagement in your lessons and relationships with your students.  These are two areas that are very big in our school's new evaluation system.  You may also recognize this book from social media right now.

Teacher Resources for Summer PD The Reading Strategies Book

The Reading Strategies Book is full of ideas for teaching different reading skills and strategies.  I like that there are visuals included for the lessons.  I am a visual learner for sure!  Having pictures of actual anchor charts and other teaching aides is a big bonus!  I want to go over this book a little more this summer.  I would like to mark a few more of the ideas to try out this next year.  Jen Serravallo has short podcasts that you can listen to also.  Just search her name for the pod casts.

Teacher Resources for Summer PD Next Steps in Guided Reading

If you teach guided reading groups this is a great book for you!  Actually, one of these is the guided reading book, one is dvds where you can watch Jan Richardson teach lessons, and one goes with the dvds.  Great ideas and again, because I am a visual learner, I enjoy watching the dvds.
So these will be my summer professional development from home this year!  We start back in early August (summer goes by way too fast) so I've got ideas going and lists forming.  So how about you?  What teacher resources are you reading this summer?

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Updates:  If you have purchased these resources, be sure to go and download them again as they have been uploaded.  Just click the pictures below.


RTI: A Successful Journey

I know there are many feelings about RTI...some have good feelings and a lot of teachers feel negatively about it.    An article was recently published about RTI and how it was found that RTI did not accomplish all that was promised that it could do.

Education Week published an article reporting that their research showed that RTI did NOT live up to its promises.  Click here to read that post.  

I don't doubt that in many schools RTI is not working.  Those schools may not have enough appropriate staff to implement it,  the teachers may not have enough time built into their schedules for RTI, the school may not have provided enough training... The list goes on and on.  I have heard from so many teachers how long the process is, the disorganization, and no consistant structure in their model of RTI.

But I would like to show you how RTI CAN be successful.  How students CAN learn with the appropriate interventions.  And that in our school, students DO make significant progress that transfers into the classroom learning.

This has been on my mind for a while now and I just felt the need to speak up and demonstrate how effective RTI can be.

Effective RTI:
~  Works well if you have someone willing to take charge of implementation and improving the system every year.  Along with the RTI coordinator, appoint a committee to help you implement the methods you agree on for your school.  The committee is also there to help you with ideas and for the decision meetings.  Your committee will help build buy-in with your teachers.  You will NEED buy-in to make the process smoother and easier.

~  Needs to be systematic and regulated: We follow our states recommended guidelines of implementation.  They recommended 3 tiers of increasing intensity, 2 targeted interventions at a time, and weekly progress monitoring for Tiers 2 &3

~Has set RTI times built into your daily schedule.  It usually does not work as well to expect teachers to just fit it in somewhere each day.  At my school we have a 30 minute time slot for K-1 students, grades 2-3 students and grades 4-5 students.  This ensures that interventions do not get put off and forgotten.

~Should follow a continuum of skills for each grade level.  After you have decided what skills the student doesn't have that is keeping them from success, those will be the interventions to go back in to fill in their learning gaps. 

~ Involves parents.  We send the parents of each tier 2 & 3 student notification letters.  In these letters, we inform the parents what tier their child is in, what interventions they will be receiving and what assessments will be given.

Expect changes in your RTI program!  Your RTI should not look exactly the same the 5th year you are implementing it as it did the 1st year.  You (or the RTI coordinator) should be tweaking and improving it every year.  Find what works and change what doesn't!  Let's be honest.  You have to start somewhere and then with some trial and error you fix what doesn't work.  When we first started RTI, my administrator didn't know how to implement it and neither did I.  The first meeting we had after the folders were turned in was not a success.  Teachers had not filled out the paperwork completely or correctly.  Some hadn't finished giving the interventions.  It was not good.  So it was back to the drawing board on how to make this easier and better and how to communicate better what we needed the teachers to do.  And we did.  One huge tip- decrease that paperwork down to as small amount as possible.  Classroom teachers do NOT have time to spend hours filling out paperwork!

Celebrate the successes!  RTI was developed to help students that have been struggling.  The number of students in our program needing interventions over the last few years has decreased tremendously!  We attribute that to focusing on catching students early.  If you are a student in kindergarten or first grade and you are below grade level at all in reading, you automatically go into Tier 2.  Another way RTI is showing that it is effective and working in our school is that we have fewer numbers of students in the upper grades qualifying for RTI!  Once we get them going and out of RTI, most of those students are holding that progress and not qualifying to go back in to the program.

The graphs and pages in the pictures can be found in these RTI Data Intervention Binders.  There is one binder each for kindergarten through fifth grade.

I hope this overview helps you to see how RTI CAN be an effective way to help students be successful!  Please take a moment to let me know how RTI is working in your school.  

A Chattering Wolf

Using iPad app Chatter Pix in the classroom

We have been having a lot of fun with folktales and character traits lately!  Students are learning to use dollar words when they describe the characters and to use evidence from the story to prove why they think the character is behaving or feeling that way.  We've made some cool videos to go with these activities too!  You can play the video farther down in the post.  

Using iPad app Chatter Pix in the classroom

One new tool we are using to help us with this is ChatterPix.  The students can choose a picture from the gallery or take a picture of themselves to use.  For this activity, the students chose a picture from the book we have been reading, The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall.  After choosing the picture, they draw a line for where the mouth should be and record themselves talking.  ChatterPix for kids counts them down to when to begin talking, which is very helpful.

The different ways you could use this app are almost endless!  Another easy way to use it is for students to practice building sight words and then use ChatterPix to record themselves reading their words to show how well they are doing.  Also, students can record a cold reading passage, practice the passage and then record themselves again to show progress.

parent communication is easy using the Seesaw app

After recording their answers, I shared the videos out to parents using the Seesaw app.  Click here if you have not read how to use Seesaw in your classroom.  It is super easy and fun to share pictures, videos, and notes with your students' families!!

folktale books and resources for the classroom

I really enjoy using these books in our folktale unit!  So many great lessons like character traits, how characters change, lessons to be learned from the stories, what makes a story a folktale, etc...

character traits anchor chart for folktale Red Riding Hood

We like to use Dollar Words to stretch our vocabulary!

folktale and character traits activities how characters change

 Here, we learn about characters can change from the beginning of the story to the end.
wolf craftivity for The Three Little Pigs folktale

The students enjoy making wolves and pigs to go with our writing.  Makes cute displays too!

folktale activities

Click here or on the pictures to see the resource.  What ways do you use ChatterPix or ideas that you have for using it?  

CVC Word Work Activities

how I use paint strips in the classroom for sound boxes

Short vowel, cvc, words are an important foundation to build for students.  Students who struggle are often the ones who have not gotten a good handle on their short vowel sounds or are unable to switch vowel sounds from long to short or short to long.  We use a lot of different activities to build that base for students, hopefully strengthening those sounds.  I like to do activities with hands on activities.  Some of these use paint strips!

How I use paint strips in the classroom for sound boxes

Paint strips just make nifty little sound boxes.  Colorful buttons, pom poms, Bingo chips, etc... are great for sliding into the boxes to hear the sounds.  Just ask for the paint strips.  The store clerks are always so nice when I ask if I could have a few for my class!

how I store guided reading materials

I like to laminate some of the paint strips so students can write on them.  Then we keep them in our guided reading material baskets.  Not only do we use them to stretch words out for word work, the students use them when they are writing in response to their reading.  Some of them need the scaffolding of the boxes to help them stretch and hear the sounds as they write.

using paint strips to stretch out cvc words

An easy word work activity with almost no prepping is to use the paint strips and cvc picture cards.  Students choose a card, stretch out the word and write the letters in the boxes.  I like to have vowel charts sitting on the table to help them remember what sound each vowel makes.

using cvc puzzle activities

This activity is super easy and the kids love to work at puzzles!  They put the puzzles together- great way for them to physically place the vowel in the middle for cvc words.  Then they can write the words underneath.  My students need that extra step of writing the words after building them.  An important step is to take the puzzles away and have the students read the cvc words without the picture clues. 

cvc word work activities

Super simple- use your cvc picture cards again, but this time have students build the words with magnetic letters.  Remove the cards again and have students read the words to each other.

rolling letter cubes to build cvc words

One of my students' favorite activities is rolling cubes!  I use them in a lot of different ways.  I always have them record the words and then I want them to read the words.

chunking cvc sounds for onset and rime activities

So far, we have gone through activities to take students from hearing individual sounds and attaching those sounds to the correct letters to reading and saying individual sounds.  But we want to move students from individual sounds into chunking the sounds together.  For some struggling readers this is a hard step to recognize chunks

using word sorts for cvc activities

One great activity that we do a LOT of is word sorting.  We start out with me guiding them to what ways we could sort the words, but I like to get to the point where students have the words and must figure out what ways they could be sorted.  Much higher level thinking to do the blind sort!

reading linking charts for cvc activities

I like to use a lot of charts in binders in my room for students to read.  Some students just need that extra, daily practice to become automatic and fluent with short vowel sounds.  Again, I want them to see and read in chunks.

RTI short vowel Intervention binder

Having the boxes, scoops, and arrows as visuals are helpful to students.  

Reading cvc sentences for fluency

I don't want my students to only work with individual words.  Reading connected text is important.  We work hard to build that fluency in sentences.  Students need to be able to read smoothly and accurately.

Building fluency with short vowel paragraphs

Building on that connected text, students should be able to read small paragraphs.  But I stress to my students that reading fluently is so we can understand what we are reading.  After all, that is what reading is all about- understanding the text!


A Closer Look At Characters

Character Trait Changes and Development Anchor Chart

I don't know about your students, but mine seem fascinated by the changes characters can go through in a story!  We have been having some great discussions about this.  I use that roller coaster visual to help them "see" the changes and it really helps.

Books for Character Trait Changes and Development

We started off with Finklehopper Frog- great story about a frog wanting to fit in with his friends, but he gets made fun of and feels left out.  I always love those moments when my students react the way they do when a character is mistreated in a story.  They are so empathetic and look as if it almost hurts THEM when the character gets their feelings hurt.  LOVE that!  

Word Choice Anchor Chart Dollar Words

We stop part way through the story and brainstorm some character trait words.  I do a lot of talking about Dollar Words and Penny Words in my classes.  I teach the students to be mindful of word choices.  Again, the visuals truly help- dollar vs penny.

Word Choice Anchor Chart Penny Words

It is funny how quickly the students realize when they use a penny word and want to switch it out for a dollar word!  They also like coming up with new dollar words that we haven't used.  Great for their writing and vocabulary development too!

Books for Character Trait Changes and Development

After we constructed our character changes anchor chart together, we were ready to do a little more independent work on our own.  Chrysanthemum follows the same pattern of character changes that Finklehopper Frog does, so we tackled this one next.

Character Trait Changes and Development Activity

I had the students fill in the visual roller coaster first.  Then they went back and used that visual chart to help them prove the evidence.  Being able to provide evidence is a huge step!  The students inferring and deeper understanding is amazing.  They surprised me at how some of the understood that when Chrysanthemum went home, her parents tried to push her up the coaster hill with their encouraging words and actions, but each time she went back to school and was made fun of, Chrysanthemum would slide back down into that valley.  They totally understood that back and forth until there was a change at school with the other characters' behavior! 

Character Trait Changes and Development Activity

You can grab a chart like these by clicking here or on either of the two above pictures if you are also working on character changes.  Hope your kids love it like mine have!

Story Retelling Puzzles

Story Retelling Puzzles-Includes recording sheets

Alternative Seating & RTI Interventions

Alternative Seating Hokki Stools

I've got some wiggly little ones.  I bet you do too!  Several of my students have a hard time keeping their pockets down on the chair and not moving all over the place.  After a lot of research into alternative seating, I decided to give it a try and see if it helps my distracted students.

Alternative Seating Hokki Stools

These are Hokki stools and so far I am loving them.  They are curved on the bottom, which allows for some movement while sitting.  I will say the very first day my most wiggliest students were moving on these stools like crazy.  I wasn't sure that I had made a good decision.  I wanted to help my distracted students, not make the distractions worse!  Now as the new is wearing off, I think it is going to be a good fit.  Everyone but the most wiggly is doing well with them.  For those that just cannot sit still and want to spin, guidelines will have to be set.  These seats are going to give students more room at my table, help them to sit tall and not lean on the table, and provide an appropriate way for them to still get in some movement while staying in their area and continuing to learn!

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Our new alternative seating will be getting a good work out during RTI.  A new resource for RTI time is this Blends & Digraphs Intervention Binder.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

I love to use sounds linking charts with my students, whether it is an ABC chart, cvc charts or this blends & digraphs chart.  We read it forwards, backwards, row by row, I call out a sound, etc...  Readers who have difficulty often need to go over these sounds daily for them to become automatic.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

My goal is to move students from individual sounds to chunks of sounds.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

I want the students to put the sounds together in chunks and for some that takes practice.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

During RTI, some students need to practice these sounds everyday.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Moving students from practicing words right into sentence reading is important.  I want them reading in context.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Then students can get in some practice with their fluency and comprehension.  

CVC Interventions Binder for RTI

The Blends and Digraphs Interventions Binder is a companion to this CVC Intervention Binder.  Just click the pictures or colored words to be taken to see them.