Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas: Setting Up for Success on a Cold Read - Warming Up Before Reading

I'm so in love with this Bright Ideas Linky I can hardly stand it! It motivates me to come up with extra, EXTRA meaningful content so that I can be "chin up" around my sooooooo amazing blogging peers.

My topic today is all about having readers set themselves up for word-solving and comprehension success when picking up an unfamiliar book.
Warm up for non-fiction text successfully
During Private Reading (aka Independent Reading) in my Reading Workshop, readers have a selection of 8-12 books that they have shopped for from my leveled classroom library. (My district uses Fountas/Pinnell lettering for our leveling system.)

While students are doing Private Reading I'm conferring and pulling guided reading or strategy groups, so students are truly on their own to read the books cold...and in order to build their reading stamina, I want to equip them to be successful.

So here's a little demo via's my first one so I feel kind of shy about it...if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment! :-)

Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I took and re-took the video maybe 647.38 times and this was the one that I flaked out the least.

When I'm initially teaching this idea, I demonstrate just like I did in the video under the document camera.

I'll also sometimes have students help me come up with words they'll expect in a book I'm holding up. Here's what they came up with for a book about some silly characters in race car driver outfits (I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the book!)...
Vocabulary-driven book warm up

I am planning to do more videos like this...if there's a topic you'd like me to demo in a future post, I'd LOVE to hear it!

Thanks for stopping by today!!! I hope you found this helpful!!!

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There are LOTS of other Bright Ideas for you to read about from bloggers...make sure to check them out below!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vegas Week - Giveaways & Sale!

So I'm sorta dying....

Katie and I met for the VERY.FIRST.TIME. two weeks ago in San Diego...went to Legoland with our boys and saw Lego-Vegas...

And nowwwwwwwwwwww - IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!

I'm OFF to Vegas in a matter of hours for the 1st ever TpT Conference and canNOT wait to meet so many of my inspirations!

Can't wait to hang with my sweet pals from The Primary Chalkboard, too!

And if you'll be in Vegas, I sure hope to meet you!!! Please come say hello!

The Chalkies decided to put together some Vegas week fun for's how it's going down:

I'll be giving those packs away on my facebook page and since it's already Tuesday (I'm scrammmmblin' these days), I'll be giving away the Monday AND Tuesday packs TODAY!!! So check for TWO posts and enter on both. :)

Head over to Primary Chalkboard to check out my Chalkie friends' giveaways AND you can link up your sale, too!

Monday, June 30, 2014

TODAY ONLY Summer Sizzle Sale - 40% off Finding Proof & ELA Crunch Bundle #1

I'm in the zone of unpacking and de-exploding my house while my son and I were on vacation in San Diego last week, but wanted to step on blogger quickly today to let you know I'm having a Today Only Sale...My whole store is on sale, but these two items are 40% off! Won't get better than that!

And....ya wanna win???

If you'd like to win one of my Common Core Crunch MATH packs, you can head over to my facebook page to this post and tag a friend that you think might be interested in this sale. I'll randomly select a tagger AND the one s/he tagged to choose any month (including September which will be finished sometime this month).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mystery Box...Nautical Style!

It is that time again! Our June semi-mystery box is ready to set sail! The summer season has officially arrived and we are celebrating with some nautical awesomeness. Can I get an "Aye Aye, Captain?"

I know what you're thinking, there is nothing we could give you that could top the satisfaction of spending months away from your gnarly underaged crew! 

That is where you are wrong our friends, think about how your summer could improve if you only had this AWESOME new beach bag from Ooh Baby Designs??

No beach time in your near future? No worries! This bag would also be great for hauling your library books, your rock collection, or your WWE wrestling belt.

Our grand prize winner will receive the bag pictured above from Ooh Baby Designs, AND a MYSTERY box full of summer time goodies, AND . . . a shopping spree in each of our stores. 

Click on any certificate below to visit their TPT store ands scope out your potential choices!

We will also be giving terrific prizes to TWO runner ups! Two lucky teacher friends will receive the digital products pictured below in their digital inbox!

Last month's GRAND prize winner won a $200 Tieks gift card! We also gave away two $100 gift cards! 

To see what was included in previous prizes click, here, here, here, here

Simply complete three easy steps to enter the June Mystery Box Giveaway!

1. Follow
2. Comment
3. Rafflecopter

This month's comment question:

Feel free to copy and paste your answer to this month's question in the comment section on each blog. There is no need to retype every time. Please follow each blog while you are hopping through.

While your clicking through the rafflecopter, be sure to "Like" this month's sponsor, Ooh Baby Designs, on facebook!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We apologize to our friends from around the globe, but this contest is for US residents only, please.

Nautical graphics in this post were purchased from Little Llama Shoppe. Teacher clipart images in this post were designed by Melonheadz Illustrating.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Ideas - Parent Communication Using Data Cards

The school year is done and I've been noodling on how I'd like to incorporate and tweak the data cards I created in spring and used for spring conferences to begin working with them in fall.

Student data is recorded everywhere and there were just too many pieces of paper to sort through during a conference. I really wanted a place to collect all the info I had on each student in one single spot.

In the past, I've collected student portfolio data into a binder...but after repeated hole puncher difficulties and pinched fingers from binder closing (mine and my students), I've developed a seeeeeeerious allergy to them

I've moved to a manila file folder system for each student instead.

Bonus: The data page really helped guide me (and keep me on track...hehehehe) through the parent conference. It also helped easily highlight for parents what skills their child needed at the time. Kind of a personalized learning plan.

On a side, but very important, note: I make it a point to share a few sweet anecdotes at each parent conference...this dose of sweetness helps parents know that I deeply care about and connect with their child. It also helps soften the sometimes tricky news that needs to be shared. A "we're in this together and we CAN do it" mentality.

Prior to the conference I made a copy for each parent and they often took notes directly on the page.

Here are some close-ups...

The one below says "Use Making Words" in the left margin...for students with this note, I had compiled some example warm-up lessons from Making Words and did a little demo with magnetic letters for those parents.

We're blessed with many involved parents where I teach and they are always looking for ways to help their children grow....for kids that need extra practice with ordering the letters within words, Making Words is helpful and easily to follow for parents. Win-Win!

The friend below had over 50 health room visits in to get to Spring of 1st grade with "only" ten visits was a win in my opinion. I only listed the number of visits for the few students that had ten or more visits by that point in the year. Our health room staff sticks a "Frequent Health Room Flyer" note in our mailboxes a few times each year.

These are two different friends below...

For the upcoming school year, I will revise the form and use it from the beginning of the year to the end. I'm debating on printing it on cardstock, though I don't know if our copier would like that when it comes to making a copy for each parent right before conferences.

Thanks for stopping by today!!! I hope you found this helpful and I'd love to hear how you share with parents!!!

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There are LOTS of other Bright Ideas for you to read about from bloggers...make sure to check them out below!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bright Ideas - Morning Routines Made Easy

As you know, mornings can be absolutely nutso with interruptions and surprises.

In order to tackle a few routines and make life a wee bit easier, here are a few things that have worked for me.

Here are two routines that really helped simplify my mornings...

Tub to return Book Club Envelopes (along with numbered duct tape on the envelopes)...

and magnetic Morning Jobs board...

(I'm super sorry for the less than stellar images....darn glossy laminate!)

Here's a little bit more on...

We start at the very beginning of the year with the first 3 items...we build muscle memory for those jobs with step by step practice & choral reading on a daily basis.

Once they're pretty solid on those three (and once guided reading and Everyday Math Homelinks begin), we add jobs 4-6 and repeat the process of building muscle memory in similar ways as at the beginning of the year. More about job 4 in a minute...

After a few weeks of deepening all six routines, we add #7. 

And now for this super handy tub...

Each Book Club Group (guided reading) is assigned a, orange, yellow, green, blue...

Each envelope has corresponding duct tape in the upper right corner to make it easy for students to correctly put their envelope in their section. And, when groups change, it's actually pretty easy to take the duct tape off the envelope.

Each group has a section in the tub, in front of the fancy dancy (Ha.) divider. 

To make the dividers I trimmed 12x12 cardstock to the width of old, icky whiteboards (cuz they're hard and I'm a fan of re-purposing stuff), folded the cardstock in half and adhered it to the whiteboard using clear packing tape.

More functional than classy, but oh well.  
One side of the divider says Put in Book Box, the other says Keep in Envelope...that's because we almost always focus on a guided reading book for two days...and on new book days they put their current book in their book box...on reread days they keep it in the envelope.

A student flips those divider signs accordingly at the end of the group time so it's ready for the next day's meeting

What morning routines do you have that help start the day smoothly-ish?

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There are LOTS of other Bright Ideas for you to read about from 150 bloggers...make sure to check them out below!