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Mittens, Cold Animals, and No Snow!

It's official- we love books about lost mittens and random animals who couldn't possibly fit into the mittens but crawl into them anyway!!  We like to read about them, talk about them, compare the stories on charts and write about them.  

 Students read the first mitten book and discussed the animals involved in the  squeezing into the mitten.  The other mitten book was a read aloud to partner with their individual books.  

After comparing the two stories, the students got to write about how the books were alike.  

Stories about snow have been the only snow we have gotten this winter so far- boo to that.  But we have a chance of snow today!!  It was warm and humid yesterday with temperatures around 70 degrees.  And now maybe we will get some white stuff!  Our weather is crazy, but I think the kids will love seeing the snow if we get lucky today.  :)

Lesson Plans and Common Core Organization

organizing the common core in a binder
Common Core Standards Binder Organization

Binders strike again!  I keep so many of my school things in binders.  Just makes my life easier.  :)  I used to keep my lesson plans in the old lesson plan booklet that the school provides for you.  But I put that to the side and am keeping my plans in my planning binder.  I keep sight word lists in there too just to be sure I am incorporating those words with the books we read.  

The photo above is another binder for common core.  I teach several different grades so I needed something to keep my standards for those grades organized.  So now I use my lesson plan binder PLUS my common core standards binder.  I have each binder tabbed now to the grade levels and it makes writing out my lesson SO much easier.

organizing lesson plans
Lesson Plan Organizer
You may recognize this binder.  I have used it before.  I tend to tweak things every year, so I am using it for lesson plans now!

The common core organizer has been very helpful to me as I can write in the dates that I teach each standard.  There is also a place for the percentage that mastered the assessment for each standard.  

But what I like best is that I can write in notes for myself like what books I used to teach with or what activities I used.  Then I have that for next year's planning!  Anything that saves me time is GREAT!  And a plus is if my administration wants to know right now if I have taught a particular standard or how many times- it's right there!  No having to look through all my lesson plans to find it.  

I have ELA Documentation Checklists available for grades K-5 if you need them!  Just click HERE.  

Enjoy your day being organized!  :)

Learn Me Good

I LOVE big books and I cannot lie!  Okay,  I love books big and small.  And I love talking about and sharing good books with others!  

Have you read this book?  A teacher friend of mine recommended this book and at the time it was free on my iPad with the Kindle app.  So I thought I would download it because you can't lose with free, right?  Turns out it's a very funny and enjoyable book!

The author, John Pearson, lost his regular job and became a third grade math teacher.  He chronicles his days with his third grade students...students much like those that are in our classes or have been in our classes at one time or other.  So funny!!  My family just looks at me when I am reading this because the stories he tells make me literally laugh out loud.  We've had these kids so we completely understand what he is going through in his first year of teaching.  

This book is no longer free on Amazon, but if you want to download it, it will cost you $2.99.  He also has a sequel, Learn Me Gooder.  It is also $2.99 and may be my next download!

Another book I am thinking about downloading is Tony Danza's I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had.  Have you read this book?  It just sounds like a book that a teacher would appreciate.  One where someone finally gets what we do and that we pour ourselves into our students and this job of teaching.  

I like non-fiction books and when I find one about teachers I am automatically interested.  Do you have any for me to add to my list of Books To Be Read?  I want to hear about them if you do!  :)

Valentine Fun Time And We Have A Winner!

Thank you everyone for entering my Blogiversary and Birthday Giveaway!  I wish I could award everyone with a binder.  :)  But Rafflecopter picked a winner and it was Courtney P.!  I just know she is going to LOVE her binder from My Binding.  

Thought I would show you what I have been working on:  Valentine Fun Time!  Valentine's Day is coming soon and I know lots of parents and teachers will be working on fun things for the day and for the parties.  This set is a fun set of Valentine's things.  I did include some writing paper for any writing you want to have the students do, but the rest is fun stuff!

These are treat bag toppers that are so popular with everyone right now to put on top of the goody bags kids get.  Two different designs with Valentine fun on both sides!

Straw toppers are also very popular and fun!

These are Valentine armbands!  I wanted something a little different than just regular Valentines and these are fun for the students to wear and read!

I know I like to have cute little displays and these Heart People make a super cute bulletin board.  I included paper to fit behind the hearts for whatever your students write about.  

I know this is not what I usually post about, but I decided to switch it up a bit.  If you like the Valentine Fun, you can find it at my store by clicking HERE.  Hope you enjoyed just a fun post today!  And congratulations again to Courtney!

I am joining up with Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade for lots of Valentine ideas.  Go link up!

Joining Saturday Sayings!

Hey Everyone!  My friend Tammy, over at Forever in First, has asked me to join her on her weekly Saturday Sayings...I am honored that she asked and excited to join in!  Her reflective Saturday Sayings get us all to reflect on our teaching and thinking.  After you read my post, be sure to click the button below and visit her too.  There may be other friends joining in on the fun!

I was one of those kids...I have always loved to read...Read every night... Loved to share books and talk about them...But unfortunately, not all my students feel this way.

You see, I am a teacher of struggling readers.  They have not always had an easy time or even an enjoyable time with reading.  

I feel like I have a job that is two-fold.  I must teach them all the skills:  phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and the list could go on and on so that they can be successful readers.  But the other side of this coin is don't I also have a  responsibility to teach them to LOVE to read?  Won't loving to read help with the that long laundry list of skills that must also be mastered?  

I think so...No, I know so!  I could easily be trapped in the thoughts of my students are so far behind that we have no time to waste.  We must work, work, work.  I could easily be swayed by the fact that I need to teach these sweet little guys to read in only 3o minutes per day.  

But I think we need to turn that around to I will provide quality literature, authentic writing opportunities, and real reasons to read and enjoy books.  Then we can get down to the business of learning all those skills that go with it.

I have a confession to make...I can easily be sucked into the line of thinking "I have so much to teach"  and "They are so far behind".  But I have a couple of stories to share that  remind me that my goal is not only to help my students read, but to instill the LOVE of reading which will help learning to read become easier.

I have a second grader who went through reading recovery last year.  He improved his reading, but just didn't get a fire going.  This year for some reason it has CLICKED!  This child who couldn't have cared less about reading anything is reading and ENJOYING everything he checks out!!  His teacher has noticed it- he volunteers now to read in class and his mom posted a sweet picture of him reading a letter to the family from Santa- her favorite moment of that Christmas night.  :)  Now, I don't think it was just me who did this.  I think he had a lot of internal motivation and reading recovery helped him take off.  And watching him take off with this new love and enjoyment for reading is exciting to me!

Another student is a twin.  The other twin has never struggled with her reading, but this one has.  She has improved, but never got the reading bug.  This year all of a sudden, she is interested and LOVING books!  She reads all the books she can from her favorite authors and then switches to a new author.  She also enjoys talking to me about what she is reading.  If she could, she would just sit and read and talk about her books.  I JUST LOVE THAT!!

With all the pressure coming from state testing and common core, it would be easy to teach just to be sure they pass the test or to demonstrate that they learned the skill.  But I think I will keep the thought that I want my readers to be readers long after they leave my class because it is something they enjoy doing.  Now, I just have to figure out how to pass these 2 students enthusiasm to all our students!

Then & Now Linky!


Mrs. Mc at Buzz! Buzz!  Buzz!  is having a linky party!  Yay, how fun! :)

We are supposed to show one of our first products that we put on TpT and then one of our newest products.  I haven't been on TpT for very long...just about half a year.  But I must say, I have learned so many things!  Just like with blogging, you start out brand spanking new with quite a learning curve in front of you.  Then as you navigate your way, you learn and improve.

When I started TpT, I started out with sight words.  I believe in building reading fluency and helping students be able to read sight words automatically.  Now, I don't spend tons of time on this- just a few moments a week.  But it truly helps the students and their fluency to be able to recognize their sight words quickly.  

sight word practice

sight word activities

I have to tell you that my students LOVE doing these quick slides on the Smartboard!  The characters are cute and they seem to enjoy them.  I use them about once a week with my reading groups.  But when I am doing RtI groups, I use them a lot more often to build up their bank of sight words.  They are not set up to loop through automatically as that way tends to get ahead of the struggling readers.  You just click when ready to advance the slide.  You can also use these slides on an individual computer for a literacy center.  I know some teachers like to print the slides and bind them so students can practice them anytime at their desk or even send them home!

sight word activities

sight word activities

build sight word fluency

The next step up is using the Dolch sight words in phrases.  I made those too about the same time I made these!

My latest at TpT is my Short Vowel Activity Pack.  I make things I actually can use or do use with my students.  I have had several students that struggle with the short vowel sounds and remembering them.  So I made a whole packet of fun activities that will help the students to practice the sounds but not be skill and drill.  I plan on using these activities with my RtI groups.

Short Vowel Activity Pack

With this latest one, I have the students make a foldable, play Roll A Word, and picture sort short vowel pictures.  They all do making words lessons (a very important activity),  make a short vowel book with short vowel words, and play Bingo!  Learning that is fun, fun!

I have enjoyed making things on TpT that might help other teachers and students.  It's been a short trip down memory lane for me, but a fun one.  If you are on TpT, go get linked up and join us!

Main Idea Circle Maps

circle maps

Do you use circle maps?  I really like to use circle maps with my students and they seem to really enjoy them too.  They are simple, yet seem to keep them focused on the topic they are reading for.  Click here to read my previous circle map post if you missed it.

We are right in the middle of really focusing on informational text.  I like to read a mentor text first with my classes and teach the comprehension skill.  Then they get a book that is on the same topic or similar to read and practice the same skill. 

So I read Dinosaur Dinners- it has never changed over the years, kids still love dinosaurs!

circle maps

We decided that whatever the main idea was we would place that in the center circle.  Then supporting details would be written in the outer circle.  For some reason, this circle shape seems to help them remember that we can only add to the circle if it goes with the main idea in the middle.  I have done main idea other ways, but the circle map tends to help the students the most in my experience. 

circle maps

Now it was the students' turn to put the skill into practice!  

circle maps

This book is from Reading A-Z.  These books really come in handy!

Here are some of the circle maps the students created:

circle maps

circle maps

Using circle maps for main idea and supporting details

Did you get entered to win a binder in my blogiversary/birthday giveaway?  The giveaway ends this Saturday so don't wait- click on the button below.  You just might win!

Book Leveling

book leveling
Are you looking for a quick way to level your books?  Teachers ask about book leveling sites all the time.  Scholastic Book Wizard is a quick and easy way to do it.

You have several options to choose from depending on how you like to level your books:

*  Grade Equivalent- 1.0- 12.9

*  Guided Reading- A-Z

*  DRA- A, 1- 80

*  Lexile Measure- 200L- 1600L

I like to use the Guided Reading (A-Z) measuring system.

Product Details

So let's say I got a new book, Snowmen At Night- LOVE the Snowmen books!  And I need to get it leveled for my baskets.

Click on the leveling system you want to use.  I would click Guided Reading, type in the name of the book, and click find book.  

book leveling
This is such an easy way for me to level my books, stick a leveling sticker on it and in the basket it goes- so simple.  

If you need a quick way to level your books, you might want to give Book Wizard a try.  Clicking on the Book Wizard pictures above will take you right there!

Blogiversary & Birthday Giveaway!

Hey everyone!  Just a few weeks ago was my one year mark of having my blog.  I cannot believe a year has already gone by.  I have learned an incredible amount in this past year from you all and made a lot of bloggy friends!!  My birthday was also a few days ago ( we will skip that number!) and I want to celebrate with everyone!!!

I want to share with you in celebration, so I am giving away a comb binder!  I have one of these myself and let me tell you they are GREAT!  So, so handy to have one of your own.  

binder machine

binder machine

The binder is from My Binding at and is so easy to use!  Slide your paper in, push down on that lever and done!  When you are ready to put on the comb, the machine has a lock to hold it in place.  Couldn't get much easier than that!  
You really should check out My Binding.  I just got a laminator and cannot wait to start using it.  :)

binder machine

These are just some of the ways I have used my binder in my classroom:  student personal dictionaries, reading journals, class made books, letter identification cards, kindergarten assessment binder, etc.... There are thousands of ways and reasons to use it!

Now, what are you waiting for?  Enter to win this great binder and leave me a comment about an idea of how you would use a binder!  I love getting new ideas!  :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best Books For Boys Linky!

I am soooo excited!  Courtney, over at Swimming Into Second, is having a linky that I totally can relate to!  Showcasing books that boys like!  I know I have now written 3 sentences that end with exclamation points, but I cannot help myself.  Boys make up a big percentage of my Title 1 reading classes and of course books are what I love!!  

I have found over the years that boys love books.  We just need to find the ones that fit them, which means different books fit different boys.  But there are lots of books out there that most boys will like.  Here are a few of the books that I have found that boys will look at and read over and over.

My younger students love all of the Fly Guy books.  What is it about this fly that they like so much?  Who knew a fly could be so funny and interesting!

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My own boys loved, loved science experiment books.  I cannot tell you the number of times we were in the kitchen concocting some kind of recipe or experiment!  So much fun and memories from doing that- and maybe a little bit of a mess.  But that's okay!

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Joke books have been another favorite of my boys. Anything silly that they can get a laugh out of is good!

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Now, I know that Captain Underpants may not be considered excellent literature, but boys don't care (girls too).  They love the silly antics that go on these books and they totally get the humor (even if we sometimes rather that they didn't)!

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I have also found that boys love to read informational books, especially about animals.  Sometimes the scarier the animal, the better!

I hope you enjoyed this list of books for boys.  I have found that anything silly, slimy, or scary will usually work to grab their attention!!  But really, and especially when they are young, if we are excited about books, they will be too!

Now be sure and link up and share your favorite books for boys!

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