Friday, March 29, 2013

Five for Friday

I'm not gunna lie, I'm usually not a fan of linky parties...but seeing is how I'm sitting in my apartment working on my Master Teacher paper (on a Friday night), I figured the alternative would be better. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs to give you my "Five for Friday". 

Most bloggers are probably posting pics of happenings in their classroom, but I think I'm going to just give you a little something different!

Our blog designer, Ainsley is helping us design our new app. I'm pretty excited about it...She's super good at making my ideas come to life and I'm jealous of her font selection. Here's a little sample of what the homepage of our app will look like:

I was woken up today by mass texting going on within my family. It's a rumor that my  cousin will be going up to the majors, the LA Angels to be exact. Luckily for me, they will be playing the Cincinnati Reds this week (when I'm on break) which is pretty close to where I live. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will get to see him play. {This was my 30th birthday present from him, along with some horrible gum that I chewed for 1 minute before I had to spit it out}.

I am not a big fan of OAA test-prep, but that's another story. I am however a big fan of really great responses...They may not get points for accuracy, but they should get points for making me laugh. Here are a couple recents!

Nordstrom Rack is opening in Columbus in Fall of 2013. Yes, I will be waiting on opening day. 

The first FIVE people to leave me some love (and e-mail address) will receive one of my digital downloads at TpT for FREE! Be sure to tell me which download you'd like! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Class Pics

Most people post pics of their classroom at the beginning of the school year, which seems like the logical thing to do...But seeing is how I'm FINALLY getting around to adding stuff to my walls, I thought I'd share what I've done so far (with three months remaining). This year my reading intervention room is in what is supposed to be the music room. I don't really have "bulletin boards," rather I have six large sound-proof boards...When I was a classroom teacher I would have KILLED for these boards, but this year am having a hard time coming up with boards that work for all my K-4 students AND getting things to not fall down is a super challenge.

I realize the pics aren't the greatest, but I'm going to blame Steve. He finally gave me back my camera...with an uncharged battery and no charger. Fail.

All of my kids LOVE to read non-fiction books, but most of them don't understand how to use the information appropriately to deepen their understanding. Each time we talk about a characteristic, we copy a page from the book we found it in and hang it up on the board with a "label". If you'd like to use the this template, you can download it here! (I just printed the pdf on cardstock, laminated, and cut them out).

I've realized that many of my 3-4 students don't understand why they are reading. I usually get the response, "Because my teacher makes me." I decided to back track a little and help out my K-2 students. Each week I select a short story to read aloud, and together, we determine the author's purpose. It's hard to see, but I stapled three pie pans to the board. Under each pie pan, there is a definition...After reading a book, I copy the title page and place it around "persuade, inform, or entertain". You can download them here!

Each year I've had to make new comprehension posters to fit in the classroom space I have...I am hoping this is the last time I will have to redo them...Everytime we talk about a strategy, we add words or pictures to represent what it means. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tanny McGregor's book, "Comprehension Connections," I highly suggest reading it...It's where I got most of my ideas for teaching comprehension. Download them here!

If you have any pics of boards in your room, please send me the links...I still have three more to go!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sound Pictures

If you follow our website you know that Katie and I use the term "Sound Pictures" often to refer to letters because technically, letters are "pictures" for sounds and the term "sound pictures" cues kids into the nature of what letters do...they stand for sounds. 

We also use the terms "Advanced Code" & "Code Variation" to describe when two or more letters represents a sound and when one sound in our language can be represented more than one way.  (For further info on advanced code and code variation, visit our Reading Activities II Page at

Here is a one pager that demonstrates what I am talking about: Vowel Code Variation

The power of using controlled word lists that are organized by sound to improve reading decoding is undeniable. 

I'll demonstrate with two quick videos...

Video #1: Cold Read

This is my second grade friend Aaliyah working on words that contain the Long E sound. Watch her first attempt at these words and then read on...


Video #2: After Highlighting the Advanced Code

You can see in Video #1, Aaliyah truly struggles to read accurately.  Her word attack strategies were poor, she often guessed and I certainly did not prompt her to read the words from left to right. I gave her no corrective feedback at all.  Now watch what happens no more than 5 minutes later after I highlight the advanced code and all the code variation (spelling patterns) for the Long E sound.

Big difference huh?  By simply using a controlled word list and highlighting the advanced code, her accuracy goes up, her word attack skills improve and her confidence is higher!   

That is what we like to see. 


The advanced written code causes more reading problems than you can possibly imagine.  By teaching it explicitly and systematically to your students  you can truly can see remarkable reading gains in a short amount of time. It also helps to have such a hard worker like Aaliyah.  I heart her!

To learn more about teaching the advanced code and to download the FREE Advanced Code Word Lists I used with Aaliyah (one for every vowel sound), head over to the Reading Activities II Page  at 

We hope our resources help some of your students too!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bunny Whisker Engineering

Each month I try to have some type of engineering/following the directions activity for my reading intervention kids. Translation: Trying to get kids to focus before a long break is impossible.

I found this pic on Pinterest and had most of the materials needed...So I thought I'd be perfect for my K-2 students. 

I created a following the directions passage that K-2 students will be able to read.

I am just going to have my kindergarteners read the passage and create the whiskers, but my firsties will read the passage and have to list the steps in sequential order from the second page of the PDF. (This skill was something that most of them had difficulty on during an assessment last week).

For my second graders, who are LOVING learning about parts of speech by doing Mad-Libs...I created a short story for them to practice with a partner.

I'm sure most of you are already on spring break right now, but if you're like me...You might need something to keep their attention towards the end of the week. I'll snap some pics and try to get them up here. For now, you can download this for FREE!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not Sure What To Call This Post

If you've been a frequent visitor of the blog, you might just notice a little change. Well, it's actually a big change! I'm sure you're disappointed that you won't be seeing this mug on the opening screen anymore...

Our designer, Ainsley thought we'd get more followers if we took it off our blog. She's probably right. For those of you who are interested, you can head over to her blog to see her other masterpieces...Or if you are looking for a designer, she's your girl.
Check out her blog!
I haven't been able to post for the past few weeks while she was making changes so this post is going to be rather random! Let's see...

A few weeks ago I made a "Hard Day Survival Kit" for a first-year teacher that I've been mentoring...I pulled some items together that I had {laying around} in my classroom and made something that looked like this:

I took an empty container and placed this card in it, along with a bear, some hand sanitizer, a candle, some M&Ms, and some stickers...I could kick myself for not taking a pic of the basket...But I'll leave you with a printable in case you'd like to pass it along to a colleague who's having a rough day {or week, or month, or year!}

A few days ago I came across quite possible one of the best apps I've ever seen! It's a classroom library organizational app that allows you to keep track of all the books you own by simply scanning the ISBN bar code. Genius! I'm not sure how many times a teacher has come up to me asking me if I had a specific book...My response is usually something like, "Ummm, I'm not sure. What does the cover look like?"

It's also got a neat feature where you can have students "check out" books to take home and it will send them e-mail reminders when it's due. My goal is to have all of my books scanned by spring break, but I'm sure I'll still be working on this over summer vacation!

Speaking of apps, Steve and I are working on creating an app that looks very similar to our Advanced Code Flash Cards. We are about 85% of the sure to check back soon for the finished product.

Last, but not least...Some readers have been asking to see my sub plans for when I'm out. This year has been nice because when I'm out, I don't have to get plans ready. {Huge benefit of not having a regular ed classroom!} So here are my sub plans from last year when I taught first grade. I tried to keep them as simple as possible so that my super-fantastic teammates could fill them out if there was an emergency.  Most of the time I would type everything in and send them to the sub before I was out.

That's it for now. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness (Prefix & Suffix Game)

It's tourney time! Check out our new Prefix and Suffix Basketball Games aligned to the new Common Core.  A fun way to practice reading decoding and fluency with multi-syllabic words, especially in March.  The games can be used with both small and large groups.   

Included in this download are THREE games to help students hear prefixes and suffixes and games to practice reading the common prefixes and suffixes, directions included.

Game #1 BINGO: A multi-syllabic twist to the classic Bingo game. The teacher reads a word aloud and the players must determine which prefix or suffix it has. Players place a game marker over the word until someone gets a BINGO.

Game #2, GAME TIME: Divide the players into two equal teams. Each team takes turns drawing a Foul Shot (easy words), Two Pointer (more difficult words), or Three Pointer (the toughest multi-syllabic words). Players may decide which card to read so everyone experiences success. If the word is read correctly, they tally their points on the score card sheet. After the 4th Quarter, players add up their totals. The team with the most points, wins!

Game #3, HORSE: A classic head to head HORSE game.  Each player receives a “Horse Game Mat” found on page 17. The first player draws a Foul Shot, Two Pointer, or Three Pointer card. If they are able to read it correctly, the next player MUST draw from that same pile. If they are able to read it correctly, it becomes the next player’s turn...but if they do not read it correctly, they must color in a letter on their “Horse Game Mat”. The first player that has to color in all their letters loses the game!

Get into the spirit of March and practice reading those all so tough multi-syllabic words. 

To preview and/or download our game, head on over to our TpT Store! Please make sure to leave us some love and GO BUCKS! (Yes, we're from Columbus, Ohio!)