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5 For Friday

Wow!  It's already Friday!  This week has gone by fast.  My week of vacation is over and summer school has started already and it is time for Doodle Bugs fun linky- FIVE FOR FRIDAY!  Link up and join in the fun!

1.  Spring Flowers

Since I had some time off before summer school started on Tuesday, I finally got some spring flowers planted.  I love colorful flowers!  

2.  Power Yoga

Product Details

I just got this yoga dvd in the mail.  This is not your relaxing, stretching yoga!  Jillian puts you through a work out with this one!  Loving it too!

3.  Sight Word Balls for Summer School

Did I mention that we are back in school already??  Yes, okay I did...I guess I am just in disbelief how fast that week off went!  Some of my groups have been working on sight words and using the sight word ball to make it more fun.  Where ever your thumbs land, those are the words you read.

4.  Curious George

5 For Friday

My incoming kindergartners and first graders are doing a Curious George unit in summer school.  Who doesn't love Curious George?  We are going to be doing a lot of fun stuff!

5.  Field Trip Time


Once a week during summer school, each grade level group gets to take a field trip.  This week we went to Jump Around.  What a lot of bouncy, jumping, get out all that extra energy fun!!

Moving Students Through the Tiers

using data to drive decisions

Last week was our Decision Meeting for RtI.  We have this all member committee meeting twice a year- once in January and once in May.  We hold it after our RtI cycle has been completed.  

A quick review of our RtI process is students are universally screened using the DRA 2 reading kit.  I also screen kindergartners on phonemic awareness and letter/sound identification.  Those students not reaching benchmarks are automatically placed into RtI groups.  As head of our RtI committee, I place students by grouping them with others of similar needs:  similar reading levels, similar areas of low skills, intervention needs, etc...

Students that are in Tier I stay within the classroom to work on areas of need or for enrichment.  Tiers II and III go out to work in small groups (Tier II) or one on one (Tier III).   Tier II for us is about 10 weeks long and Tier III lasts for about 12 weeks.  

Each student starts with 2 and only two interventions to work towards mastering.  When a skill is mastered, the student moves on to the next skill.  

Decision Meeting

At the end of the cycle, I have scheduled classroom teachers to come to our meeting (one classroom teacher at a time) to meet with the committee.  We discuss the progress made by the student, the RtI teacher talks about how the student performed for them, and the classroom teacher gives us input as to how the student is now doing in class.  Then we look at the data:
*  what was the student's DRA score before RtI and after?
*  was there any improvement in that DRA score?
*  are they now on grade level?
*  did their weekly progress graph show improvement?
*  do they have other supports:  Title 1, Reading Recovery, tutoring, etc...

You can click here to read my post and see the graph we use to show the results of weekly progress monitoring.

using rti data to drive decisions

As you can see, our decisions are driven by data.  We take into consideration all that we can to help us make an informed decision on each child.

When we first began this RtI process, even though we had a rubric to go by, my team had a very difficult time moving students in and out of tiers.  They are so caring that they hated to remove supports from the students for fear that they would stop improving.  I began at each meeting reminding everyone that we needed to use the data and our rubric to help us make informed decisions.  We needed to remove emotions from the decisions.  That has helped us so much!

using a rubric to help an RtI committee make decisions

This rubric is a work in progress.  It is very simplistic and data driven on purpose and my committee uses it as a guide, not a hard and fast rule.  Once they started using it, decisions were made more efficiently and without quite so many emotions.  Discussions when not using a rubric could become heated and long at times- all because as teachers we care so much about the success of our students!

This is our results from this past data decision meeting and we were very happy with the results.  All of the green and the blue represents students who improved with their reading skills enough for it to transfer over into their DRA levels!!  The few students who didn't show improvement have either been assessed for special education, moved up into another tier or had other helps recommended.  

At our school, we are concentrating on grades K-2 with RtI.  That means we serve K-5, but we are trying to catch K-2 and intervene early.  We feel it is much easier to intervene and catch students up on reading skills in those grades than in the upper grades.  It does seem to be working very well.  Our numbers in RtI for the upper grades has really dropped this year!

Our RtI is just that- our school's way of implementing RtI.  It works quite well for us.  It may not work for everyone.  How much into RtI is your school?  Is it implemented completely different than ours?  I would love to hear how your school does it and how it is working for you.  I am always looking to tweak our program and improve it any way I can.  Thanks!!

5 For Friday- It's Summer Vacation!

As of 12:15 on Tuesday, I am on summer vacation!!  Whoo hoo!!  But before I get too excited, I need to remind myself that summer school starts next week.  Next week??  That is not much of a vacation!  But summer school is only 19 days.  I can do 19 days, right?

To celebrate being on summer vacation, I thought it would be a great time to join Doodle Bugs Five for Friday.  Go link up after reading my post, by clicking on the picture above.  So much fun to take a peek into everyone's week!

Monday was our huge RtI Decision Meeting.  It is a long day full of decision making on each student in our RtI.  I had taken this load of files home to work on to be ready.  I will post about our meeting this Sunday if you are interested in how our decision meetings go.  :)

After Monday's long day, Tuesday was easy.  Especially that it was our last day and it was a half day.  Now that I am on vacation, I have time for this chair!  I like to sit out on my back patio and see the beautiful trees.  It is so peaceful out there.  Great way to begin the day!

It was barbecue time today!  Actually this isn't the first time.  I love to grill!!  Yummy, yummy pork loin tonight!

Look what I got in the mail today!!!  I am so is my grandma's cookbook.  My grandma passed away 6 years ago.  My uncle decided to mail me this.  Grandma was born in 1913 and got married in 1937.  This cookbook was copyrighted in 1939! And as you can see, she used it all those years.  She has written recipes ALL over it and taped many inside of it.  As I looked through this treasured book, I remembered many of the recipes as things she made when I was younger.  What a keepsake!!  I had no idea my uncle was sending it to me- fabulous surprise!

And finally, my summer reading list-  I love to read and usually have a few books going.  I read the Bible daily, then I also have a book just for fun and usually a professional read.  I just finished Killing Lincoln.  Great book!  Our librarian got me started on that one and now I want to read Killing Kennedy.  I just started Unbroken and it is really good too.  I feel like I need to read as quickly as I can to get in all the books I would like to!

Now, go join up and tell us about your 5 for this week!!

End of the Year Ideas Pinterest Boards

Are you nearing the end of the school year?  We are almost there!!  It is fun to do something different when you get all the testing over with just to re-energize your class and keep it interesting.  

I have been collecting some ideas from Pinterest for some great end of the year activities and I thought it would be great if we share our boards so we can collect even more fun ideas!  

Angry Bird Countdown to the end of the year.  Pop a balloon for each day and there is an activity inside.  Created by: April Wolfe  from

This has got to be one of the cutest ideas!!  The Angry Birds!  It was created by April over at Wolfelicous blog.  Each day a student pops a balloon and the class gets to do the activity listed inside.  Now that will keep students motivated to come back each day.  :)

My next idea to spotlight is coming from Miss DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice.  This is really a twist on the balloon idea and uses QR codes instead for those of you ready to jump into the QR code craze!  I am wanting to try these QR code ideas.  

A,b, c book on how to survive 5th grade!  Put on desks for next years students!! - end of year activity

This book of advice will make a fun writing activity for students at the end of the year.  It comes from Kelly Ehmer.  I think it would be so much fun to read what students think is important for the next year's students to know!

Summer Bucket List and End of the Year Count Down

I really like this collaborative board pinned by Rosanne Bito.  It's bright and colorful and everyone can contribute to it.  Plus, I like the count down in the middle.

These are just a few of the fun end of the year ideas that I have found.  Follow my End of the Year Activities Pinterest board by clicking here.  

Then leave the link to your end of the year idea board in your comment below so I can follow yours too!  I love seeing what you find- there is so much out there to be discovered!

Field Day Fun!

                                                       The fun from Field Day!!

Today was our day for Field Day!!  What fun!  We used to do a field day that was all competition.  Then points were added together to determine first, second, and third grade places and those students got special ribbons.  Everyone got a participation ribbon.  Then with staff changes we turned field day into a day of all non-competitive events and everyone got participation ribbons.  But there was no recognition for individuals since nothing was competitive.

Now we have had more staff changes and have switched field day again!  We have several events that are non-competitive like tug-of-war & 4 square.  But we also have competitions too so those kids can be recognized for their talents.  And we have added some inflatables!!!  What an incredibly fun day!!

We had the bounce house, slide, and bungee run.  Needless to say, the kids had an absolute blast!  The weather was wonderful-warm and breezy.  And I think there was something for everyone- games to compete for fun, competitions, and inflatables for fun only and no competition.  

How do you do field day?  I really like the way we do it now.  I didn't like doing away with competitions entirely.  Those students deserve to shine in those areas too.  But I also like that now we have some fun competitions for those that don't feel as successful at that.  And of course, who wouldn't like just a day to play on inflatables????

RTI Reading Intervention Plans and Mother's Day

visual lesson plans

Oh My!  We only have 7 days of school left!!  I have a lot to get done in these 7 school days.  First I still have 3 days of RTI to complete...whew, it has been a long cycle this time.  When students are absent or we miss school for snow days, the RTI days must be made up.  So I have 2 students left to get finished that have had absences.  

Then my youngest son graduates this week!!!  Whoo hooo for him!  It seems that it was just yesterday that he was a little baby.  And now he is graduating.  We have his baccalaureate this week plus his graduation ceremony.  


Tomorrow is Mother's Day!  My family has a lot going on this month so we are celebrating it all tomorrow:  Mother's Day, my youngest's graduation, my oldest son's birthday, my parent's anniversary, and my brother's birthday!  Wow, one big celebration tomorrow!

Next week is our huge, all day long RTI decision meeting.  I have graphs to go over and data to input into data graphs for the team to have.  We use data to drive our decisions on whether students should continue in RTI and on what tier if they continue to stay in it.  I am beginning to feel a bit stressed on how all this will get accomplished!

Okay, now back to RTI...  :)  We will finish up our last cycle on Wednesday.  If you download the plans, the resources I am using are hyperlinked for you so you can find them on TpT.  

Happy Mother's Day to my mom!!  This is her for her senior graduation picture.  Isn't she cute?  Loving those cat-eye glasses!!

I am also joining up with Latoya's Let's Get Acquainted linky.  This week we are answering 3 questions about ourselves:

1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?  I think being a teacher has always been in my blood.  I used to make my little brother play school with me.  I tutored a young boy when I was in high school.  He had some behavior issues that interfered with his learning.  I really enjoyed that.  

2.  What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?  Anytime I see start seeing things click for kids and that ahhh haaa moment that the light bulb comes on that they are understanding- I love that!  I also had a student years ago that came to me having trouble reading.  After conferencing with his parents, who were very concerned, we made a plan to help him.  Years later he told his parents that he didn't understand when kids had trouble reading because it was so easy.  They told him how he used to have trouble and how I helped him.  He was shocked and so appreciative to me for helping him.  It is wonderful to hear from students like that years later when they can understand a little better how you have helped them.  

3.  If you were not a teacher, what would you be?  Even though I knew for a long time that I should be a teacher, I thought about other things first.  I always thought it would be so cool to be an astronaut!!  I have always wanted to see what the world would look like from that point of view!  But my heart is in teaching and I can't imagine doing anything else.   

IRI Reading Assessments

IRI reading assessment

Last Wednesday I showed you what reading assessment we use for grades K-3.  You can read about that DRA reading assessment post here.  

We used to use the DRA 2 all the way through grade 5.  And while I really like the DRA 2 and do believe it to be pretty accurate, it can be pretty time consuming for the older grades because all of the comprehension is written.  

We have now switched over to the IRI- Informal Reading Inventory.  There are several different ones to choose from.  This is the one we happen to use.  

In grades K-3, we still have that focus on the students' fluency.  They must pass the oral fluency part of the DRA to be able to complete the remainder of the assessment.  But once students get into older grades, the focus should be shifting more from the fluency to the comprehension.  At our school, we have made a cut off of once they pass a DRA 38 (end of third grade) they then are assessed using the IRI.  The IRI has a fluency component to it, but the students are not timed.  If they pass the fluency part, they are then asked a series of comprehension questions ranging from main idea to inferencing to vocabulary.

IRI reading assessment

  I took all of the IRI reading passages made copies and filed them into hanging files.  This makes assessing so much easier to pull the level you need and the form you need.  Each grade level has 4 different passages or forms to choose from.

IRI reading assessment

This is an example of a grade 4 form B reading passage that a student would read.  The passages that the student reads from are coded so that they do not know what grade level they are reading at.  

IRI reading assessment

As the student reads from their paper, the teacher has a page that looks like this.  You basically do a running record on them and figure their score.  If they pass, you ask the comprehension questions listed at the bottom.  They even write in the answers for you!  Students just answer out loud rather than writing all of their answers down like on the DRA.  I must tell you that this has saved the upper level teachers and myself a huge chunk of time!!  And don't let the one page test fool you, it is not an easy test to pass.  Some of the comprehension questions can be a bit difficult.  I also like the fact that each question is coded to what type of question:  inference, detail, sequence, etc... Then you can go back and analyze the tests to see what type of questions your class as a whole is low in.  

Reading assessments are so important and can give you such important data.  It is critical that we choose a good assessment and then use that data to drive our instruction.  I have already had a teacher come down to get the scores for the students she may be getting next year.  She wants to look over the data over the summer so she knows what her class is going to need right from the start!!!  Yay!

Fabulous Feedback & TpT Sale

The fabulous Christina at Bunting, Books. & Bainbridge is having a feedback linky to honor the wonderful feedback we have gotten on our materials at TpT!  What a great idea!  Be sure to click the picture above to join in the linky.

I received this wonderful feedback from Smiling in Second Grade on my I Am An Expert:  How To Writing Unit.  And what I like about her feedback is she was specific in what she liked and what parts helped her.  And of course she was just so nice!

This lovely feedback comes from ekstromj.  Again, it is so nice and helpful to us to hear specifically why you like the materials and how they benefit your students.  

Check out my Spring Literacy Centers on TpT

My last fabulous feedback is courtesy of Teaching With A Mountain View.  If you are a regular visitor to my blog you know that RtI is near and dear to my heart.  I am so happy that this unit is helping her intervention group!

Check out this Short Vowel Activity Pack at TpT

If you are one of these three people who left me such fabulous TpT feedback, please email me.  I have a surprise for you for taking the time to let me know what was helpful to you!!

You have probably heard that TpT is celebrating all the wonderful teachers out there with a Teacher Appreciation sale!  Whooo Hooo!!  Be sure to remember to use the code to get all of your savings and leave some fabulous feedback too!

Many, many thanks to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for making the sign!!!  Click on her name to be taken to her wonderful store!!

During the sale you will want to check out these fabulous stores of my friends and mine.  You can click each picture to be taken to their stores to see their wonderful creations.  Thank you, thank you Bridget for taking the time to make these cute badges!!

RTI Intervention Plans & Memory Makers

visual lesson plans

It's visual lesson plan time again!  So thankful to Deedee for the chance to link up with her and share my lesson plans.  Be sure you link up too!

I am down to make ups on absences for first graders in RTI.  And about one more regular week for my third grader.  We are getting close to winding RTI down.  Then it will be time to have our big meeting and look at the data to see if students showed improvement and just how much.

Visual Lesson plans

These are the resources that I will be using for both of my RTI groups.  Click on either picture to download.  In the download there will be links you can click on to be taken directly to that resource.

Memory book

We are winding down the school year fast!  I cannot believe just how quickly this year has gone by.  We will be out in just a few short weeks.  

school year memory book

Now is a great time to do some activities that help your students to look back over their year and that they have done!  This Memory Maker Keepsake Booklet makes a great remembrance of the year and something their parents will want to keep.  Each student can make their own memory book of the school year and record:

2 different book covers- one in color & one black and white
Me & My Personality
My Teacher
My Principal
My Best Buds
My Favorite Book
Happy Birthday
My School
Field Trip Time!
2 Who’s Who in My Class- one with labels and one without
My Favorite Project
All About Me
Special Class Memories
Summer Time!
Future Plans
Letter of Advice to Next Year’s Class
What’s For Lunch?
Letter to My Teacher
Autographs Please

Not only do the students get to record their memories of who their friends were, what they liked to eat for lunch, where they went on their field trip, etc...  I also included some forward looking pages like their future plans- they record what they want to be, how much money they think they will make, where they will live and so forth.  I also included a letter for them to write to give advice to the next group.  Years later when they go back and read these they will get a good laugh at what they were like when they were little!

Click here or click on the Memory Maker picture above to check this activity out if you think your students might love this end of the year memory book!
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