Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary



10% of all sales from any store on Teachers Pay Teachers will be donated to Sandy Hook Elementary.  While there is no way to replace what has been lost in this tragedy, hopefully Teachers Pay Teachers can play a small roll in the healing process.




Monday, December 10, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Liebster Award!



During my Thanksgiving break I decided I should also take a break from my computer.  From Wednesday morning through Sunday night I didn’t check my blog or write any new posts (though one posted on Thursday that I wrote Tuesday night).  So imagine my surprise to log on today to find that Jayme from Trendy in Third nominated me for a Liebster Award!!

Now, if you’re like me, you might be asking what a Liebster award is.  After doing a little research I found out that it is given to new bloggers with 200 followers or less.  There are also a few rules:

Rule 1: Post 11 random facts about yourself.
Boomer


  1. I have a dog named Boomer. 
  2. I’ve been married for 2 years.
  3. I love my job!
  4. I’m originally from Oregon.
  5. I ran my first marathon this past July.
  6. I think I will run another marathon next July.
  7. I have my teaching license in three different states.
  8. My first year teaching I was only three years older than a few of my seniors.
  9. I wish I was more creative.
  10. I love the outdoors.
  11. I love spicy food.


Rule 2: Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.

1) What grade do you currently teach? Have you taught any other grades?
I currently am a K-8 Reading Specialist, but I used to teach 9-12 English/Language Arts.

2) What is your favorite thing about teaching? Least favorite?
I love working with students!  It is amazing to see how much they grow (intellectually) in a year!  I don’t know if I have a least favorite part… when I taught high school English the grading could be a little grueling at times, but nothing is too bad.

3) If your school was donated $25,000, what would you want your principal to purchase?
Oh boy!  I would probably like a few classroom sets of ipads with some money left over for purchasing apps.  If I thought longer, though, I might have a different answer.

4) What is your favorite TV show?
Breaking Bad… and just a reminder that I am an English teacher NOT a Chemistry teacher  :)

5) If you could go back in time, what era would you choose to visit?
I would love to go back to the 1920s.

6) What is your school mascot?
The Lumberjacks

7) How many kids are in your class?
I do reading interventions so I work with students in groups of 1-5, but I work with about 50-60 students overall.

8) What is your current obsession? 
Teachers Pay Teachers

9) What is your idea of relaxing after a crazy day of teaching?
I love curling up with a good book while my dog curls up next to me.

10) Do you have a favorite holiday treat or drink?
I enjoy a good hot toddy (although I don’t know if that is a ‘holiday’ drink)

11) Heels or flats?
Both – it depends on the outfit.


Rule 3: Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.


  1. What do you prefer: dogs or cats?
  2. What do you love the most about your job?
  3. If you weren’t in your current career, what job would you want?
  4. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
  5. Have you ever done karaoke?  If no, would you ever?
  6. What is your favorite holiday?
  7. What is your favorite movie?
  8. What is your favorite book?
  9. What is your favorite website?
  10. Why did you start your blog?
  11. What is your favorite part of blogging?


Rule 4: Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
Rule 5: You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.


  1. Mrs. Orman’s Classroom 
  2. Kindergarten Squared
  3. Terry’s Teaching Tidbits
  4. The Crazy Pre-K Classroom
  5. It’s About Time Teachers
  6. I Dream of First Grade
  7. Devoted to Vocabulary Development
  8. Caught in the Middle
  9. Middle Grades Maven
  10. Teacher Talk
  11. Lessons From the Middle


A big thank you again to Jayme at Trendy in Third.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ideas for the Classroom: Bear Hunt



This short two-day Thanksgiving week was going to be great.  I just knew it.  I was in a good mood.  My students were in a good mood.  What could go wrong? 

Well, pretty quickly Monday morning I realized that many of my students hit Thanksgiving overload.  They had done so many fun Thanksgiving activities in class, that coming down for reading intervention to find yet another thanksgiving activity left them less than enthused.

Glancing around the room for an idea as my disappointed second graders sat in front of me, I pieced together this game that I am calling “Bear Hunt.”   I used it all this week (all two days!) and my students love it.  Here it is:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TPT: Cyber Monday Plus Tuesday Sale

My Teachers Pay Teachers store as well as many others will be throwing a sale for Cyber Monday Plus Tuesday.  I'll be offering 20% off on items like:

You'll automatically get 20% off all items in my store on Monday, November 26th through Tuesday, November 27th.  PLUS type in code CMT12 at checkout and get an additional 10% off!  That's a 28% discount!!!

So check out my store: Margaret Vaughan - iHeartLiteracy and load up your wishlist now for Monday & Tuesday!


Quote of the Week: Oscar Wilde


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food For Thought



In Dr. Alec Couros’ short post Tips Up or Tips Down?, Couros recounts a missed learning opportunity with his son. 

The post is a powerful reminder that we as teachers and parents need to foster and deepen our students’ curiosity.  Technology can provide simple answers in an instant.  However, often more important than the answer is how we use our minds to find, discover, search, and create.  Technology is great, but when it replaces thinking it can become more of a hindrance than a help in the process of learning.

Again, Tips Up or Tips Down? is short, but it is well worth the quick read.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading Research Monday: Toxic vs. Positive Self Talk


One of our students was having a rough week last week, in his reading group.  I volunteered to take the student out into the hall so we could talk and walk around a bit to cool off.  Working with all ages of students from preschool through twelfth grade, I have encountered many reasons why kids break down: dad got a DUI, mom hasn’t been home for three days, a best-friend turned on a student, someone is bullying, a dog died, grandma is in the hospital, it’s just a bad day… the list goes on and on.  I knew the first grader I was working with had difficulty with his parents and I was expecting to hear his usual, “My mom was being mean.”  I wasn’t prepared for his reasoning this time.  When I asked him what was wrong, he turned and looked at me straight in the eyes and yelled, “I’m a jerk!”  He kept repeating it, “I’m a jerk!  I’m just a jerk!  There’s nothing I can do about it!  I’m a jerk!”  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Freebie: Thanksgiving

Today's Friday Freebie has a Thanksgiving theme for the upcoming holiday.  On this I Am Thankful For sheet, students are able to trace over the pre-written words, complete the sentence, and a draw a picture.






The sheet comes in color (as seen above) and in black and white.  You can download it for FREE here: Thanksgiving: I am thankful for.

Enjoy!


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Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Freebie: Comprehension Sentence Starter Cards

Sometimes my students who struggle with comprehension simply don't know where to start.  That's where these free Comprehension Sentence Starter Cards come in. The cards can be used independently, in small groups, in large groups, or in literature circles. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

TPT: Common Core Literacy Centers Packet

This Common Core Literacy Centers Packet includes 8 different centers with 160+ pages for your kiddos.  My students enjoy playing/learning at these centers.  They especially love "Puzzle Words," "Rolling for Words," and "Small Word Finder."

I use these activities with 1st and 2nd grade students who are on level and with several of my 3rd and 4th grade Tier II and III intervention kiddos.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Freebie: Non-Fiction Text Feature Scavenger Hunt

This week's Friday Freebie is a Text-Feature Scavenger Hunt for Non-Fiction.  This two-page scavenger hunt works great with so many subject areas.


Using the scavenger hunt really allow kids to explore their math, history, business, health, etc. textbooks.  Doing so helps students build a better understanding of how to read all parts of their non-fiction books.  Also, students will gain an understanding of how and why their non-fiction books are structured the way they are. 

Hope you and your students find it useful!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Reading Research Monday: The Positive Effects of Preschool

This recent Planet Money story on NPR instantly caught my attention:  Why Preschool Can Save the World. The episode discusses “decades-long studies that found preschool made a huge difference in the lives of poor children. And [they speak with] a Nobel prize-winning economist who says that spending public money on preschool produces a huge return on investment.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Books: Lark

http://www.harpercollins.com/harperimages/isbn/large/3/9780061122873.jpgAuthor:  Tracey Porter
Age Level:  12+
Pages: 180

Overview:

After sixteen year old Lark is kidnapped, raped, and left to die, her friends Nyetta and Eve struggle to cope with the loss of their friend and problems in their own lives.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Freebie: Fluency Tracking Sheets

Since I mainly work with students in Tier III interventions, it is vital that I track their progress, but all students benefit from timely monitoring of their progress.  Formative assessments provide teachers with so much information.  Are the students on track?  Are they growing?  Are they growing at a rate that will allow them to get on track with their peers? 

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then we as teachers know that something needs to change.  If I look at the results of progress monitoring and see a stagnant line, that tells me I need to change the interventions my kiddos are getting.  Obviously these particularly strategies are not working with these particular students. 

One area that many of my students are working to improve is their reading fluency.  To help track their fluency progress, I created four Fluency Tracking Sheets



The four sheets have different ranges of words per minute on them, making them useable for any grade level.  They are great visuals for seeing how students are progressing.  They're available for free on TPT.  You can get to them by clicking: Fluency Tracking Sheets.

I hope you find them useful too!


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ideas for the Classroom: Word Spinners


Back in August when I entered my new classroom for the first time, I spent most of the day going through the piles of resources in the room.  Most seemed unorganized.  I found several intervention resource series with at least one book missing, piles of miscellaneous worksheets, papers shoved in corners, a tub of reading games, and a box of random items.  I'm sure there was some order to the room that made sense to the person who was there before me, but I was lost.

I immediately started organizing things by priority.  The last box of random items fell to the bottom of the list.  Recently, however, I reopened that box, and found a packet of black arrow spinners, and I started wondering how I could use them.

Spinners are fun. I loved them when I was a kid, and it makes learning seem more like a game.  There is excitement in and anticipation when you get to spin something.  Where will it land?  What will I get?

So after thinking about my kiddos needs and what they were struggling with, I came up with these CVC spinners.

Basic Spinners


They are pretty simple and easy to make.  All you need is:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ideas for the Classroom: Alphabet Game

Many of my first grade intervention kiddos need help with letter naming and letter sounds.  For a fun way to help them master these skills I made "The Alphabet Game," which is extremely customizable for whatever your kiddos needs are.

Here is the basic set up:


Sunday, October 21, 2012

TPT: 1st Grade Common Core I Can Statements

My school is converting to the Common Core starting in January.   To prepare for this I made 80+ ELA Common Core "I Can" Statements for 1st grade.  (Other grades will be coming soon!)

They come in five designs including:
  1. Polka Dots
  2. Plaid (Argyle)
  3. Pink & Green
  4. Retro
  5. Plain
You can customize the plain statements any way you like to fit your classroom.  Examples of the four other styles are below.

Polka Dots
Plaid (Argyle)
Pink & Green

Retro



Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Freebie: Daily 5 & CAFE Posters

This week's Friday Freebies relate to the Daily 5 and CAFE created by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.
These two resources are posters that can act as headings for the ideas presented in the Two Sisters' books.

First are Daily 5 Posters:
  1. Read to Self
  2. Read to Someone
  3. Listen to Reading
  4. Word Work
  5. Work on Writing
There are five individual posters and one smaller poster with all five activities on it

Second are CAFE Reading Posters:
  1. Comprehension
  2. Accuracy
  3. Fluency
  4. Expand Vocabulary 
 




 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reading Research Monday: Parents' Influence on Student Performance

Today's Reading Research Monday isn't directly related to reading.  It is related to school in general, but implications for improving reading ability can be easily inferred.

Research

Published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility on September 5, 2012, Does Capital at Home Matter More than Capital at School?: Social Capital Effects on Academic Achievement examines how parents influence student performance. The study analyzes results from 10,000 12th graders.

Co-authors Dr. Toby Parcel, Dr. Mikaela Dufur, and Ph.D. student Kelly Troutman found that parents have more influence over student success than schools do.  Parcel summarizes their findings by stating:

The effort that parents are putting in at home in terms of checking homework, reinforcing the importance of school, and stressing the importance of academic achievement is ultimately very important to their children's academic achievement.

This new study is supported by many other sources including: Pamela E Davis-Kean's The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement: The Indirect Role of Parental Expectations and the Home Environment, and the Michigan Department of Education's What Research says about Parent Involvement in Children's Education in Relation to Academic Achievement.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

TPT: Short Vowel Word Work Activities


To help build early literacy skills, I created Short Vowel Packets for each vowel.  The packets mainly work with CVC words and common word families like -an, -et, -ip, -ot, and -ug, but a few other non-CVC word families like -ill, -ock, and -uff are also included.

Here are a few FREE sample pages from the Short A Packet:




Each packet includes:
-Two Vowel Posters
-Five Word Work Activities and Games:
1) Circle It
2) Highlight & Rewrite
3) Word Sort
4) Matching
5) Roll 'em & Read 'em

You can purchase each vowel packet individually or bundled together for a discount.  To see a preview of the packets or to purchase them, you can find them here:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Books: Everybody Sees the Ants

Everybody Sees the AntsAuthor:  A.S. King
Age Level:  14+
Pages: 279

Overview:

Caught between daydreams of ants who taunt, tease, defend, and support him and real dreams of saving his grandfather from Vietnam, Lucky Linderman tries to survive his freshman year of high school.

Friday, October 12, 2012

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