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Instagram Fun!

Have you discovered Instagram yet?  I am just learning the ropes, but would love to have you join me and some other fabulous teachers on Instagram!  Follow us and then link up on Tuesdays for some Teacher Talk.  I just know it will be lots of fun!  Especially if you are there too.  :)
InstagramSo here's what you'll do:
1. If you have a blog, share your instagram username on your blog and use this image to tell your followers about #teachertalktuesday {just right click on the instagram button and click "save as"}. We are hosting a linky party to kick off our "Teacher Talk Tuesday!"  Link up at the bottom: with a blog post, sharing this image,  your user name, and a couple of your favorite Instagram photos, if you want!
2. If you don't have a blog, PLEASE still join us on Instagram on Tuesday for #teachertalktuesday

Here is a little Instagram 101:
*It is like Facebook, but with only pictures (used mostly on smart phones)
*You can make your profile private if you want
*You can make write a caption under your picture and comment or like photos
  I would love it if you would follow me!  conversationsinliteracy is how you will find me on Instagram.  Here is one of my photos on Instagram:  my pink piggies that I will be posting about soon.  

I also just uploaded one of my azalea bushes that is beginning to bloom.  A sure sign that spring has arrived!

RTI Visual Lessons and Resources

visual lesson plans

We are starting to see the light at the end of the RTI tunnel!  My third grader in Tier III and my first grade group in Tier II have been working hard and making progress.  By learning sight words, improving our phonics skills, and making our reading sound like talking we are improving fluency.  

This week we will need some work on automatically recognizing sounds in words.  So we will be doing some word sorts to help this out.  My third grader needs some work with bossy r words and double vowel teams.  

The first grade group will work on short vowels and long vowels.  It still trips them up a bit on switching out vowel sounds.

visual lesson plans and resources

These are some of the resources that I will use this week to help my groups  increase their reading skills.  Click on the picture to download my plans and to be able to click on the resources.  

This week is another assessment week for me.  Our state assessment is winding down this week.  But I am doing reading assessments and I hope to be finished soon.  I will tell you more about the assessments we use on Wednesday!

Thank you again, Deedee, for having this visual plans linky!!  It is so fun to see what everyone is teaching each week and to be able to take a look into everyone's plans.  I love that!

Letters to My Students

My students and I are writing letters.  They are writing to me and I am writing to them.  And they are loving it!  In fact, they are asking for it each week.  They look forward to it!

What a lovely thing...students wanting to write...students looking forward to writing...students wanting to read what was written to them.  Reading and writing that students LOVE participating in!!

Shouldn't be a surprise.  The letters are personal- what they want to say to me and and what I respond back to them.  

Take a look at this early on letter.  Our third graders have to write a letter on the state test.  So I was having my second and third graders write letters each week to me to learn the correct letter form and to get some practice in on staying on topic.  They would sometimes just write in response to what they were learning from reading.  Sometimes they had to write to answer a question about their reading.  This letter writer had the correct form and content but really didn't stretch himself any with his ideas.  Just short and sweet to compare how seeds are scattered.

After students write to me, I reply back to them.  This is the part they love the most!  They cannot wait to see what I replied back to them.  I tell them if they ask me something, I will answer them when I reply.  You can see that I don't write a lot in response, so it doesn't take me long to write back.  They don't care, they just like it that someone wrote to them.  :)  So simple and yet so powerful.

Look at this letter!  This letter is written by the same student that wrote the first letter above.  And it is only one week later- look at the progress!!  He did stretch himself this time.  He has many more ideas to explain to me about that he is learning.  This letter continues on to the back of the page even with all he wanted to tell me!  He wrote about what he previously learned plus new information.

I do have some guidelines for the students.  In a regular classroom you might not need these guidelines.  But because my students are struggling, I try to utilize every minute we have with authentic activities that will increase their literacy skills.  So I have them always write in response to what we have read, and not have it be an open letter to me.  That is because my students need practice communicating what they have learned, staying on topic, and even writing to answer specific questions about their reading.  Like in the first letter, the students had to write to me to compare two different kinds of seed.  

 I got this letter writing with my students from another blogger and I can't remember who it was.  If it was you, please let me know so I can credit you and link back to you.  That blogger had the letters going home to parents and the parents writing back.  That doesn't work as well for me since my students don't stay with me.  I am not there at the end of the day to be sure the journals go home and to remind them to bring them back.  So we just write back and forth in my room.

This is an experiment that I will have to continue and improve for next year!  I found it so beneficial for the students and something they looked forward to doing each week!

3 Favorite Areas of My Classroom

Latoya has another Let's Get Acquainted party happening today!  This week's topic is the three favorite places in your classroom!

Favorite Place #1

Of course, since I am a reading teacher, all of my books would HAVE to be one of my favorite places!!  LOVE MY BOOKS!  My kids do too.  The first two pictures are baskets of books for the kids.  

This shelf holds some of the books that I pull from to do lessons from.  These are sets of books.

Favorite Place #2

We love, love our tables where we work.  My tables are wipe-off tables.  Cuts down on a lot of paper!  And is very motivating for the kids.  They love the idea of being able to write on a table!

Favorite Place #3

My third favorite place is my penguin rug and the two rocker chairs beside the rug.  Kids want to be able to sit in those chairs!!  And who doesn't love stretching out on a nice rug with a good book to just enjoy reading?

Go link up now and show us your favorite places!!

RTI Reading Intervention Visual Plans

Happy Sunday!  It's time for visual lesson plans.  Thank you Deedee at Mrs. Will's Kindergarten for this linky!  I love the visual plans idea!  After reading my post and downloading the plans, click on the Peek at My Week picture above and head over to find out what other teachers will be doing this week!

This is going to be a full week with lots going on.  Our third, fourth and fifth grades are into week 2 of state testing.  Add in reading assessments and regular classwork and you have got one long week ahead for everyone.

rti reading intervention lesson plans

As you can see, we are full steam ahead with RtI reading interventions.  Each group meets for 30 minutes per day each day of the week.  Both my third grader and my first grade group are working hard to improve their fluency.  

Part of improving fluency is becoming automatic with sight words.  We have been working on our Dolch lists and the students have been moving right along to new lists!  They love it when we use the Smartboard to practice the sight words so we do that a couple of times per week using the resources listed below.  

visual lesson plans

We will also work on improving fluency by practicing reading phrases.  I want students to hear how we chunk words together in phrases.  Some of my students have gotten into a habit of reading. word. by. word.  We will also do modeled repeated readings where the students try to make their reading sound like talking.

One of the resources listed above is a freebie:  3 sounds of ed.  You can download the plans and click on the hyperlinks to each of the resources and to the freebie too!

Don't you just love my daisy papers behind my visual plans?  They are from the wonderfully talented Barbara, at Ruby Slippers Blog and Design.  Click here to find them at her store!  So many colors- cute, cute, cute!

Enjoy your week and I hope it isn't as jam packed as ours is, but I am going to guess that it probably is!  Here is to a good one!

Pirate Palooza Product Swap!


It's The Magical Product Swap time!  I have partnered up with the amazing Lisa from Learning is Something to Treasure.    Lisa has a fabulous blog that you will want to check out after you read my post today.  Plus, Lisa is showcasing something from me so I would love for you to check it out!  :)

Lisa has gotten together a great group of Pirate books!  This is a great way to start of your Pirate Theme and what better time than after all the testing is complete.  Your students can have lots of fun, but still be learning!

Lisa has created the cutest pirate unit!  And she has PACKED this unit with lots of math and literacy fun! One of the math activities is number order.  Lisa has included such cute & colorful graphics that make the activities even that much more fun!

After practicing the math skills in center type activities, they can apply their skills to a pencil paper activity.  Lisa has also included addition and subtraction activities to her pack.

There are also all kinds of fun literacy activities in her Pirate Palooza unit!  Which of course I just love!  One is this short i and long i word sort.  If you have been reading my blog for very long, you know how much I like word sorts!

There is also the pirate arrrr sound sort:  ar, art, arm.  I don't know about you, but the ar sound trips up some of my students.  They will love this treasure chest and gold coin sort to help them practice!

You can click this picture of Lisa's Pirate Palooza to be taken to her store so you can check it all out!  What a fun and learning filled unit!  Thank you Lisa for allowing me to review it!

Now that you have checked out Lisa's Pirate Palooza, please head on over to her blog and see what she has going about one of my activities!  She would love for you to drop by and say hello!

iPads Have Arrived! Now What?

My iPads have arrived!  Yay!!  I am so excited about getting these for my Title students.  I can just imagine how excited they are going to be to get to use them!

I have my own personal iPad for at home, so I know how to use it and what to do with it.  But I need your help for the ones at school!

I ordered 6 iPads for the students to use and one for the teacher- that's me!  I have a few ideas for things for me, like the app for running records.  But I need to know more of what I need!

Please help me out!  I have 3 categories of what I KNOW that I need to KNOW.  Feel free to let me know what ELSE I need to know that I didn't think of!  :)

*  apps specifically for the reading teacher-me!

*  apps specifically for literacy for grades K-3

*  how to set up and maintain these 6 iPads

I really don't know how it would be best to sync (?) 6 iPads so that I only have to buy an app once, but have it on all 6 student iPads.  If you know how I should do that, please, please pass on your secrets!

Leave me your ideas and favorite apps PLEASE!  I would appreciate it so much.  You can leave me a link to your blog post on ipads too if it will help me with those 3 things.

Thank you, thank you for helping me out!  I feel like I got this great new car, but can't take it out of the garage yet!

Skittles: Let's Get Acquainted!

It's time to get acquainted again!  Thanks to Latoya over at Flying into First Grade for this fun linky! 

This week's topic is the Skittles game.

Red:  Favorite Ice Cream Flavor-  I LOVE coffee flavored ice cream!!  It is my all time favorite. Smooth, creamy yumminess!!

Orange:  Favorite Memory From College-  My favorite memory from college would have to be meeting my husband!  I also remember having lots of fun running around with friends.  

Yellow:  Favorite Sports Team-  I am from Missouri so it wouldn't be accepted or right if my favorite team wasn't the St. Louis Cardinals!  I might not be allowed to live here if that wasn't my favorite team.  :)

Green:  Favorite Fast Food Place:  Hmmm, I like Fazolis as a fast food.  When my boys were little they could have made a meal just on the free bread sticks alone!  They LOVED those breadsticks and I must admit I did too!

Purple:  Wild Card- Anything about yourself-  About a week ago I participated in my first Color Run!  Oh my how fun was that!  Our group from school actually walked most of it, but it was a complete blast!  And we became a total mess!

RTI Intervention Lesson Plans

The weeks are moving right along quickly!  I see the students making great gains, but at the same time I am feeling that I have so much that I want to accomplish with them before the end of the school year.

RTI is clipping right along too.  My third grader is in tier III and is over half way to the end of his 12 week period.  My first grade group is well over half way through their intervention period of 10 weeks.  They are mastering skills and moving on to new ones.  They get so excited when they move on to something new!

I pull from a lot of resources for my RTI groups and try to make the activities as fun, but meaningful as I can.  

Click on the pictures if you want to download the plans.  The resources are hyperlinked for you to find them easier. 

I will a lot of times use all of the activities over the course of a week.  Or sometimes I pull activities from different resources and use different ones on different days.  The students like anything that that seems like a game.  We rarely, rarely do anything that even resembles a worksheet.  After practicing the sounds or patterns, then it is very important to take that next step to transfer and apply those skills to actual reading.  

Students may be low in fluency, but we don't just practice fluent reading to raise that skill.  There are underlying reasons for that lack of fluency.  They may need letter sounds, sight words, learning to break multi-syllablic words, etc... Analyzing how students did on their universal screening will tell you what they need to work on to improve their overall reading.

I am linking up with Mrs. Wills again for her Peek At My Week visual lesson plans.  I love doing this.  Thank you, Mrs. Wills!

Get your visual lesson plans together and go get linked up!  It's a great way to connect with other teachers and see what is happening in other classrooms!

Pinwheels and Chunk Charts

onset and rime activities

What child can resist a colorful pinwheel?  Such spinning, whirling fun!

I have some students that are struggling to blend the sounds of cvc words together and needed another way to practice.

chunks and beginning sounds

When we study a chunk, I make a chunk chart on the easel.  I write the word and then students write the word.  Then I transfer these chunks into a 3-ring notebook so we can continue to cycle through the different chunks for review.  

onset and chunks

So now, here we are needing a bit more practice and a fun way to do it.  What better way than pinwheels!  I glued on chunks in the middle and beginning sounds on the outside.  Students then get to blow or spin the pinwheel to get the beginning sound.  They then write the beginning sound on our board and read me the new word.  I like to write the chunks in red so they stand out a bit more to them.  

Students love them and are getting in some much needed practice in blending those sounds together.  Plus, putting the pinwheels in a vase makes a pretty display and makes them much easier to store.  I am all for that!

Stranded on an Island!

Latoya's got another fun Let's Get Acquainted linky party this week!!  This time it's all about being stranded on an island and what 3 things would you have to have with you!  Fun fun!

Okay, first let's come to an understanding that my island will have power and wi-fi.  Otherwise, I wouldn't need my iPad, right?  My family teases me all of the time that I have become addicted to my technology tools and to blogging. But if I am stranded on an island, I am going to want to blog about it right??  And I did make a sacrifice by choosing my iPad and not my laptop where all of my photos and graphics are stored.  :)  Plus, it has all of my books on it.  I can be entertained, play games, and look up ways to survive and ways to get rescued!  

Second thing on my list that I am just really going to need is my Keurig coffee maker.  Love my flavored coffees!  And if my pretend island has wi-fi, it also has power to plug in my coffee maker (and to charge the iPad).  

Last and really least is my tube of Chapstick!  I have to have this every day, several times per day.  My lips have become addicted!!

Now your turn!!  Figure out your three favorites and get linked up!!

Free Resources