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  Tracey Porter
Age Level:  12+
Pages: 180


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!


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


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.


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


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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