Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Random Name Generators

Hey everyone!  Back in April I remember seeing Shannon from
write a post about using various random name generators.  She has some really cool ones that you can use in your class.  Click on the picture and check them out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Active Learning and Engagement Strategies

I was recently given the opportunity to review a copy of Active Learning and Engagement Strategies by Paula Rutherford from
Let me say, this book looks wonderful!  It is full of strategies and exemplars from previous books published from Just ASK Publications.  It is a quick and easy reference tool to use when you are designing lessons and want to select a strategy depending on your goal.  It has extensive self-assessment, guidelines for structuring small group work and setting up cooperative learning, an extensive array of products and perspectives to use in creating real-world assignments and assessments.  If you click on the picture of the book, you can see a 15 page sneak peak of what this book entails for teaching and learning in the 21st Century.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Useful Websites for ELA

Hi everyone!  I have a list of useful websites piling up, and thought I would pass them on.  This first one comes from one of my teamies who recently left our school to become a middle school librarian.  Click on the picture below to see the best websites for Teaching and Learning from the American Association of School Librarians.

This next link is for Reading Rockets.  If you have never checked out this site, it's well worth your time.  There are a ton of resources for Common Core State Stanards ELA.

Now this link was suggested to me at a recent workshop for Common Core State Standards ELA for Close Reading.  It also has other resources worth looking at.

This next link has been around for quite some time.  I have used it for literacy stations in my classroom.

Moving on, this link was also recommended at my recent training.  It's another one great for CCSS.

Last, but certainly not least, here is Eric Carle's website.  You can show students an animated version of Eric Carle narrating his own book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  This one got me thinking that maybe the next time I want to introduce a book to students that perhaps I should look on the author's website for more resources.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Technology Tailgate & a Few More Too!

I recently came across the blog Technology Tailgate.  Have you heard of it?  If you haven't check it out!  There are so many great tips on this blog.

Here are a few posts that I found really useful (click on the pictures to take you there):
Using Google Voice Search for primary students to search topics
Creating Google Forms

Also Valerie over at 

recently blogged about SEN Teacher.  This is a cool website for making your own "I Have... Who Has" cards.
You can check out her post here:

While I'm on the topic of Technology, Tori over at 

has posted some great tips recently for Smart Boards.  You can check out her posts here

and here

Have a great one!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Leader in Me

This summer my school has been participating in a book study on the late Stephen R. Covey's book, The Leader in Me.  I was saddened to learn that he died at the age of 79 at the beginning of this week, due to complications from a bicycle accident that he was in back in April.
I highly recommend reading this book!  It is such a motivating book about teaching kids 21st Century Skills.  I am super excited to implement the 7 Habits into our school!  This last spring, our entire staff had the privilege of going on a field trip to another school in our city that uses the 7 Habits.  After leaving that school, our staff felt very enlightened and ready to take the 7 Habits back to our school.  We are in full gear, preparing to make this school year one in which we find leadership qualities in all of our students.    

Our school has also purchased copies of this book to share with the students.
In addition, some of us have begun to make our own 7 Habit Tree banners from Vistaprint such as this one:
If you are not familiar with the 7 Habits, here is a brief description:
Be Proactive I am a responsible person.  I take initiative. I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods.  I do not blame others for my wrong actions.  I do the right thing without being asked, even when no one is looking.
Begin With The End In Mind I plan ahead and set goals.  I do things that have meaning and make a difference.  I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school's mission and vision, and look for ways to be a good citizen. 

Put First Things First I spend my time on things that are most important.  This means I say no to things I know I should not do.  I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow my plan.  I am disciplined and organized.
Think Win-Win I balance courage for getting what i want with consideration for what others want.  I make deposits in others' Emotional Bank Accounts.  When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives. 
Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood I listen to other people's ideas and feelings.  i try to see things their points of view.  I listen to others without interrupting.  I am confident in voicing my ideas.  I look people in the eyes when talking.
Synergize I value other people's strengths and learn from them.  I get along well with others, even people who are different than me.  I work well in groups.  I seek out other people's ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with other's we can create better solutions that any one of us alone.  I am humble.
Sharpen The Saw I take care of my body by eating right a, exercising, and getting sleep.  I spend time with family and friends.  I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school.  I take time to find meaningful ways to help others.

I have also started my own Pinterest 7 Habits Board with more ideas {here}.

Our school district has had all administrators go through a 7 Habits training, and it looks very positive that my entire district will be moving towards becoming 7 Habits schools.  I am curious to know if your school uses the 7 Habits and would love to hear your experiences.  

Rest in peace Stephen Covey and may your legacy continue on.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guided Reading Tool Bag

I have recently shared several strategies to use during Reading.  Today, I wanted to share a great way to organize all of these ideas.  It's a teacher's reading tool bag.

This is a bag that one of the presenter's from my workshop had brought for demonstration purposes.  She said that this particular bag was actually a gardening tool bag that she had gotten from Big Lots.  It has pockets all around the outside to put things such as flash cards, I have who has cards, index cards, etc.  Inside there is plenty of room to put in fluency bags, a guided reading binder, and more.  

So this week I have been on a mission to find a bag like this.  Unfortunately the Big Lots where I live didn't have any.  I checked Hobby Lobby, but they only had mini ones.  I hit up Jo Ann Fabrics and Tuesday Morning without any luck either.  Next week I plan on being in Albuquerque and will check the Michael's and some of the Big Lots there.  If you have a similar bag, I'd love to hear where you bought it and how you use it.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Magic Panel Foldables

So today I wanted to share a really cool foldable that I recently saw.  I haven't actually had a chance to make one yet, but it's on my to do list.  This one is called a Magic or Mystery Panel Foldable.  While I was doing a little bit of searching for how to make this one in particular, I came across an awesome site!  It's Mrs. Palumbo's site.  She even has a powerpoint with step by step directions for making a Magic Panel Foldable.  Mrs. Palumbo has tons of resources on how to make all kinds of foldables.  Be sure to click on her name and check out her website too!

Click on the above picture to get your own copy of these directions.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reading Instruction Ideas

I'm back again today with another idea to use while you are reading with your students during guided reading, in small groups, or during shared reading.  It's important to keep variety in the way we have our students read in class.  The following strategies can help liven up the way your students become proficient readers.

Click on the picture (I made it at wordle.net) and get your own copy of different strategies to use while reading with your students.  Copy the strategies off onto card-stock, laminate for durability, and then place them on a ring for easy access.

Now I'm off to get ready for my yard sale that we're having this Saturday!  Have a great day everyone!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fluency Bags

At the NM Reads to Lead workshop that I recently attended, the wonderful presenters just kept giving us idea after idea!  This next idea that I'm sharing is for making class sets of fluency bags.  To do this each child needs:

  • 1 gallon sized zip lock bag
  • Reading passage with word count at the end of each row
  • High-frequency word bank
  • Leveled readers at students' instructional and independent levels
  • Fluency graph 
  • Decodable passage or book
  • Timer
After you have constructed each fluency bag to meet the reading levels of each student distribute them to the class.  Here are some suggested scenarios to tell your students when using them:
  • "Partner up, and you'll play One Minute, Please!, reading from the passage in you fluency bag."  (Each week, give a new passage to each student at his or her instructional level.)
  • "When I say go, Partner One will read for 1 minute."
  • "Ready, go!"  (Begin timing for 1 minute.)
  • "Now it's time for Partner Two to read; ready, go."  (Begin timing for 1 minute.)
  • "Count the number of words read correctly in 1 minute for your partners, then record the number on your fluency graphs."
Variations to the fluency bags can include subject matter; reading passages can be added to the fluency bag (e.g., science, social studies, literature stories).  Vocabulary cards or lists for science, social studies, or other subjects can be included in the fluency bags too.

What a great way to have your students practice their fluency!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Word Building Folders

I'm back with another idea from my recent workshop!  This idea is for making individual Making Words Folders for you class.  It's easy to make and so useful!.  All you need are file folders and small size post-it notes.

First you will need to write each letter with a sharpie on the folder.  Then you will want to put the post-it notes on top.  You may need to make more than one post-it for commonly used letters.  It was also recommended to use four separate colors of post-it notes.  This way when a student builds a word most sounds will be different colors and can be more easily distinguished.  Click on the picture above for more detailed instructions on how to make your own class set of Making Words Folders.  

With that same idea, you can also color a tongue depressor and have kids practice beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words.  Or you can get linking cubes and practice chunking the sounds in a word by snapping different colored cubes together to represent each sound.  Another simple idea was writing short words such as "me."  Then fold over the end of an index card and put a "t" on the fold.  Now the word is met.  You can make it more difficult and write larger words such as silent e words for example "mad" becomes "made."

There were so many more ideas from this workshop.  If all goes well, I hope to have another idea for everyone tomorrow too!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Literacy Wheels

At my recent ELA training the presenters talked about Literacy Wheels.  They are made with cd's, and are used for discussing story elements in fiction as well as nonfiction. You write on them with sharpies and can even jazz them up a bit with decorations.  You put your finger in the center and spin it.  Wherever it stops, that is the story element you discuss.
Aren't they just too neat!  Click on the pictures above to see how to make these literacy wheels and more from Kathy Bumgardner

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I recently attended a CCSS training on ELA for reading coaches.  During the 2 day workshop we got some really great strategies to use during reading instruction.  One idea was to use a retell glove. It is a great way to ensure that students are comprehending what they read.

You can use a gardening glove or just make a paper one and laminate it for durability.  This is what each part represents:  
Thumb:  Stick people- Represents the characters in the story.  
Who is this story mostly about?  Who are the characters in this story? 
Finger one:  House- Represents the setting of the story.  Where and when did the story take place? 
Finger two:  Lock-  Represents the problem in the story.  What is the problem in this story? 
Middle finger:  Key  Represents the solution to the problem in the story.  How is the problem solved in this story? 
Pinky finger:  Ladder-  Represents the beginning, middle, and end of the story. 
Back of hand in middle:  Heart-  Represents personal connections to the story.  Does this story remind you of anything that you know about?  Does this story remind you of anything that you have experienced?

Click on the above picture for directions to make your own retelling glove.

Another great idea is to use a cube or beach ball and program it for students to answer questions.  Here's a sample cube:

 Comprehension cubes can provide endless ideas for discussing various story elements.