My Love of Books

Once I learned to read at the age of five there was no stopping me. I read the back of cereal boxes and the ingredients in every can in the kitchen. I loved rhyming books the most. It was a special treat when my stepfather came home from the grocery store with Archie and Veronica comic books. The Sunday comics were something I waited for all week. Once I discovered Nancy Drew I wanted to be a detective. She was smart, confident and curious.

In school I usually had the task of helping the struggling readers. I often wondered why the teacher didn’t work more closely to bring along students who couldn’t read as well. I didn’t mind, as I was usually bored with the stories in the designated reader.

The teachers I remember the most are those who presented a book in a way that grabbed my attention. When I read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, I was wanting to know more. I didn’t want the book to end. One teacher introduced me to Shakespeare and I was hooked. She would ask open-ended questions and put us in groups to discuss and act out pivotal scenes. Another teacher introduced me to classics, Moby Dick, The Grapes of Wrath, Beloved, The Alchemist, My Antonia, The Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Pearl, and so many more.

I have always escaped into books. It has been a way to learn of other ways of living, exploring different perspectives, trying out new vocabulary. Books are my friend, a constant I can count on for entertainment as well as enlightenment. On top of my dresser is a basket filled with “To Be Read” books. My guess is that it will always be full.




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What Students Need

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a University Supervisor I have the task of observing and shaping future teachers. It’s a job I love. I try to pass on advice I’ve gained over the years. My work with both mainstream and students with special needs has shown me that for many students school is the best part of their day. They look to their teacher for validation that they are valued for their unique contribution to the class. It’s imperative that their teacher models enthusiasm, interest and compassion. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do when we have problems at home ourselves. I always tell my future teachers to bring their best self through the door of the classroom. If they have issues they cannot put aside, take a day off. Students need their teacher to be completely present, completely invested in moving students forward, and most importantly, happy about doing so.

So what can a teacher do to bring their best self to class? Get enough sleep. It seems simple enough, but looking at a screen before bed can hinder a good night’s sleep. Another useful tip is to exercise just before bed. Light stretching and deep breathing gets your body into a relaxed state. Reading a book before bed is another way to get your eyes tired enough that they close. Many times I have to reread passages not realizing that I was dozing off. Last but not least, say a prayer for everyone you know, especially the students who are in your classroom.



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Children’s Books That Are Inclusive

Children love books they can relate to. They need to see themselves represented in the pages. Books that present differences help students feel less alone, more connected. I have been carefully scrutinizing children’s books that lift children out of a sense of isolation. The following are books I highly recommend. I am not selling or being reimbursed in any way for my endorsements. Check them out to help students learn about the importance of inclusion.

“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” Rudine Sims Bishop

Grow Grit Press  (Author), Jelena Stupar  (Illustrator)



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Moments

True. Make your moments good ones.

I have had lots of time to reflect. The urge to get away to faraway lands is stronger than ever. I remember being asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always answered, “an airline stewardess.” I wanted to see the world. My life took another direction and I became a teacher. The traveling I have done has largely been a result of my daughter living in the UK. My son-in-law has arranged trips to France, Italy, Spain and Netherlands. The memories of those places are sealed in my heart.

When I got to see the opera Carmen in Verona, I was awestruck by the sheer majesty of the arena. We were huddled together in the rain as the performers sought shelter, then came out just as the rain stopped. It was a memory I will treasure forever.

Venice was magical and also a bit sad. The ocean is rising and many of the first floor buildings are under water now. Our gondola host shared his experiences having to duck to get under the overhangs. He pointed out apartments that are now submerged.

A trip to France to see the shrine at Lourdes was at the top of my bucket list. I waited with other believers to get into the baths. The water from the natural spring is said to heal. The real healing for me was within, not visible. I noticed that there were people with far greater needs than myself. As dramatic as it sounds, when I got out of the bath, I was immediately dry. I will always be grateful for the emotional transformation that took place in that holy place.

In Spain I walked around Barcelona admiring the Gaudi House, and the beauty of the city. The best way to learn about an area is to walk around and talk to people. We decided to go into a grocery store, buy food for lunch and sit out by a dock to enjoy a meal together.

I visited North Wales recently to see my family. It remains one of my favorite places. I have seen Snowdonia and now want to return to see how many more waterfalls I can find.

I am making a list of places I want to see. Life is just too short, but I plan to make sure I find a way to see some of them.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




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New Vocabulary Words for Children

Did you know:

•Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. 

•Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. 

•Students do not learn vocabulary words based on their age or their grade. 

•They learn words based on their experiences , (Beck, et al, 2002) 

•Academic demands are high

•Everyday speech consists of only 5,000- 7,000 words. 


Parents and teachers have a role to play in expanding a child’s vocabulary. The more children read and hear books read aloud, as well as listen and engage in conversations, the more they are exposed to new words. When a child asks, “What does that mean?” they should be told an accurate and appropriate definition based on their age and cognitive ability to make meaning of the word.

Children learn new words through experiences, therefore science experiments, videos, art, movement,  fieldtrips, guest speaker are important. Engaging in conversations allows a child to hear and practice new words. Visuals are particularly valuable to expand vocabulary, as most children are visual learners. Using multi-sensory activities helps place new learning into longterm memory. It’s important for new words to be presented in kid-friendly terms.

Here are examples of Common Core State Standards for vocabulary acquisition for Grade 2 (this is only a sampling, check out the full list online :

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.A
Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.B
Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.4.C
Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).


This is a great way to show “shades of meaning.” Teach synonyms in a visual manner. Paint strips can be found at Walmart and hardware stores.

Great Resource


Remember that children acquire vocabulary primarily from experiences. MAKE IT FUN.

In order to teach vocabulary, you must be aware of the three different types or tiers. Tier 1 vocabulary can be classified as everyday vocabulary that we use in life around us. This type of vocabulary is often learned orally at a young age, reading, and daily experiences. 


Tier 2 vocabulary is high utility words found in cross curricular texts. 

• They are academic words that are general enough to be used across all domains, yet are not part of students’ everyday social language. 

Example:  students know “happy,” but may not know, “contented.” 

Tier 2 words need to be taught because they are not used daily and it increases a student’s vocabulary to know synonyms. 


Tier 3 vocabulary is domain or content specific. For example, if teaching about circles, the word circumference or radius would need to be taught. Or if you are doing an ancient civilizations unit on Egypt, the word hieroglyphics would need to be explained. Students’ academic success comes when specific instruction of both Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary is taught.


Have students create their own Vocabulary Journal.


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Childrens books for science lovers

These are great books for budding scientists.

Children are fascinated by animals and nature. Nurture and celebrate their curiosity through books that give them information and new vocabulary. The following are great for inquisitive minds.



One of the most interesting books I have seen to inspire budding scientists.


Another outstanding book to pique the interest of students in elementary classrooms.


The best visual encyclopedia for curious minds.


For the Little Ones, this is perfect.


This one is great for backyard fun.


Absolutely fabulous pictures and facts about the planets.


This one is edited by that wacky “scientist” from Back to the Future. Very well written and FUN


Important facts presented in a fun and easy to comprehend manner.



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Children’s Books for Visualization

The ability to visualize helps comprehension.

When a child is able to form an image in their mind, it helps them understand what they are reading. It provides a context based on the child’s prior knowledge. Teachers can lead students to visualize by reading aloud and having students either draw what they “see,” write about it, or discuss with a partner.

Here are some books to assist with Visualization:



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Anybody Home?

A child’s imagination is unlimited and should be encouraged and celebrated. Reading to children and asking questions like, “I wonder what will happen next,” allows them to construct their own scenarios. Children learn through repetition and exposure to a variety of experiences. 

Books that become familiar are like the foundation of a house. Once a child finds a book that sparks their imagination, they see wonderful possibilities that didn’t exist before.  A trip to the library can open a world of possibilities to a growing mind. Reading aloud is especially important in that it helps children equate reading with caring and enjoyment.  

Fairy Tales offer an opportunity to go outside reality and explore a creative world where animals talk, a lesson is bestowed and magical things happen.  My granddaughter in the photo above is looking for fairies or leprechauns. That beautiful gift of imagination grows through books.  Here are some books that are fantasy and fairy tales. Check with your local library to see if they are available.  

Elliot is in third grade and he has magical powers.
Sisters on a magical adventure
Celia’s grandmother tell her stories about fairies and Celia tries to save the woods from demolition.
It is exhausting being a unicorn. Read this just before bed.

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Saying Goodbye to Future Teachers

End of SpringTerm

I have been an online instructor for a university for almost seven years. Each term I change my course based on what I feel would enhance the learning for my students. I learn so much from them. I love sharing my experiences and insights. This last term I decided to try a new course. I sent out an email to my course developer who put me in touch with a colleague who set me up with a course I have long wanted to teach, Children’s Literature. Whenever I try something new I get a bit anxious, and once I get into it (believe me, I research), I feel like Wonder Woman. On top of it all, I was given autonomy to make any changes I feel are necessary. Being brand new, I hardly changed a thing. To have that level of trust and responsibility given to me is life affirming. I went well above and beyond and made more work for myself than necessary. But oh, what a good class!

I now need to say goodbye to my students as they have completed the term. I received feedback from them stating how much they learned from the course. I wish the course was longer. We could have covered so much more in depth. Goodbyes are hard, but I know the students will make a difference in the lives of their own students. That’s the best outcome ever.




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The Power of Books

Begin your collection of children’s books. Make sure you check out your local library book sales, thrift stores, yard sales, online sources.

So good she just couldn’t put it down….

Last night I fell asleep reading a thriller (my new favorite genre). Mind you, it was 1 a.m. and I was hopeful I would finish the last third of the book. There is something hypnotic about eyes moving across a page, even if it is a thriller. When a parent reads to a child the child learns to equate books with pleasure and comfort. Changing your voice to match the personality of a character captivates a child. They learn to imitate the reader. So much of what children learn is through imitation. Parents who read books leave an imprint that promotes a love of reading.

It is important that children select their own books to allow them to explore their interests. Books are the passageways to other cultures, places, experiences. The books they choose must be at their reading level. It’s good to use the “Five Finger Rule.” If a child makes 5 mistakes when reading a page, that book is too difficult. Direct the child to a book that is appropriate for their reading level yet honors their choice. If they insist on a book that is too hard, offer to read it to them. It’s always best when they find a book they can read themself.

These days children are doing much of their reading on devices (iPads, phones, laptops). You may think, “at least they’re reading,” but a Harvard study showed that,

“...the use of digital devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, interferes with the circadian clock, the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. Use of light-emitting devices at bedtime also makes one more alert, so it’s hard to fall asleep.” (https://www.thetechedvocate.org/4-reasons-printed-textbooks-are-better-than-digital/)

Put your Ipad or phone in another room before bedtime. Resist the urge to allow children to use a device prior to bedtime.

Make sure a child has access to books. Local libraries, thrift stores, Little Libraries, garage sales, online read aloud websites, and book swaps are ways to accumulate your personal library. Check out these:

Storyline Online: https://storylineonline.net

https://manybooks.net

https://openlibrary.org

https://www.gutenberg.org


Start early. Read aloud! Children will imitate you!
Introduce children to books and have a variety of rhyming books.



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Children’s Books That are Awesome

I have been looking for children’s books that have a good message during these difficult times. I think
I’ve found some winners.


All about feelings and emotions


This delightful story of persistence and self-acceptance highlights the value of practice, friendship, and a good attitude.


30 great breathing exercise to bring about calm and mindfulness.


The book is about empathy, compassion and gratitude.


It offers creative strategies for children to set goals and have a positive outlook.


Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway



Student Engagement

Student engagement is a vital component in any classroom. Over the past year, remote learning has become a reality for most students around the world. As many students return to in-person learning, or any number of hybrid learning environments, here are some ideas to keep engagement rates high and help maintain student learning in any environment.  

Virtual, In Person, & Hybrid Learning Environments

  • Organizing Content
  • Nearpod: Software to create lessons with informative and interactive assessment activities.
  • Netboard.me: collect, organize and share any web content.  Create Web pages with texts, links, documents, videos, photos, presentations, etc.
  • Prezi: with a basic subscription and a profile that states you’re in Education, you get PreziNext and PreziVideo for free. Access to designer templates, millions of reusable presentations, etc.
  • Slidesmania: Free PowerPoint templates or Google Slides themes for education. You can find simple, formal and even fun templates.
  • Sutori:organize, plan and center  instruction. The collaborative nature and ease of use makes Sutori the perfect companion for student and teacher presentations.
  • Symbaloo:  is a cloud-based application that allows users to organize and categorize web links in the form of buttons, offering its PRO version to all educators at no cost.
  • Creating Digital Lessons

EdPuzzle: Video lesson creation software with lots of usable content.

Kahoot: A game-based learning platform that brings engagement and fun to players at school, at work, and at home.

Pear Deck: Facilitates the design of engaging instructional content with various integration features.

Squigl : Content creation platform that transforms speech or text into animated videos.

  • Management and Brain Breaks

Go Noodle – GoNoodle is a fun website with a variety of brain breaks and indoor PE fun right in one place!

Whole Brain TeachingThe teacher breaks up information into short chunks, using large hand gestures, varying the intonation of her voice by speaking loudly and then softly, quickly then slowly. The greater the variance, the more likely students are to recall and use the information. It activates various parts of the brain, locking information into long-term storage. 

Class Dojo – Encouraging and supportive behavior management device.  Teachers can encourage and support students for any skill or value — whether it’s working hard, helping others, staying on task, etc. 

Additional Resources

Virtual

DEVELOPING RAPPORT

Why Build Rapport with Students?

To create an environment that is safe and engaging for all learners: 

To create an inclusive Classroom Community:

  • Mapping Your Heart – view this video to learn about Heart Mapping, invented by Georgia Heard, as one strategy to begin building an inclusive classroom community.

Strategies to Build Rapport with Students:

Building rapport with students from the beginning of a placement allows Teacher Candidates to make connections early and start forming relationships, even in the Virtual Teaching & Learning Environment.

  • Spend time getting to know your students – 
  • Create a Classroom Community: Be intentional when creating and nurturing your class community – 

Maintaining Rapport

Equally important as building rapport with students is maintaining that rapport. Here are some suggestions to maintain connections with students virtually:

Linked Resources

Emergent Bilingual Students

Effective Practices that Support Emergent Bilingual Students 

  1. Identify your students’ language backgrounds and Proficiency Levels (please see page 18 of the ELD Standards Framework) 
  2. Provide effective Integrated ELD and Designated ELD instruction 
  3. Use appropriate and planned scaffolds to support academic language development and content knowledge
  4. View SOE Module #6: Supporting Emergent Bilingual Students for more effective practices and strategies.

Build Connections with Families 

  • Access students’ “Funds of Knowledge” via a Family Survey or Inventory, such as this one from the Learning for Justice website: Family Interview.
    • Connect learning to students’ lived experiences.
  • Ask students to share any extenuating circumstances you should be aware of regarding their learning.
  • Encourage families to have conversations in their home language to aid academic language development.

Provide Opportunities to Build Academic English 

Check for Understanding!!


After you teach a lesson, even a mini-lesson, always make sure you scan your group to insure they have a clear understanding of what you have taught. Moving on without a check does a disservice to students. Form a small group to reteach the lesson. The hand method is a good visual that goes a step further than “thumbs up, thumbs down.”


Check
For
 Understanding
 Strategy
Description


3‐2‐1/
Fist
 to
 Five/
Thumbs
 Up,
Thumbs
Down


4‐3‐2‐1 

Scoring 
Scale


Students 
communicate 
their 
level
 of
 understanding
 to
 teacher 
using
 their 
fingers


ABCD
Whisper
Students 
should
 get
 in 
groups
 of
 four 
where
 one 
student 
is 
A,
the
n next
 is
 B,
etc.
 Each
 student
 will
 be
 asked 
to 
reflect 
on
 a 
concept
 and
 draw
 a
 visual
 of
 his/her
 interpretation.
Then
 they 
will
 share
 their 
answer 
with
 each
 other
 in 
a
 zigzag
 pattern
 within
 their 
group.

Capacity
Matrix
The
 capacity 
matrix 
is 
a 
charting
 technique
 used 
to 
break
 down
 topic
 areas
 into
 steps 
for
achieving 
a
 specific
 result. 

It
 identifies
 tasks,
 knowledge 
levels,
 and
 understanding 
of
 the
 topic
 area.

Circle,
Triangle,
Square
(Circle)
 Something 
that
 is
 still
 going
 around
 in
 your 
head, 
(Triangle)
 Something
 pointed 
that
stood
 out 
in 
your 
mind, 
(Square) 
Something 
that
“Squared”
or
 agreed
 with
 your 
thinking.



Clickers


Electronic 
surveying 
devices
 that 
give
 instant
 feedback
 and 
data


Decisions,
Decisions
 (Philosophical
Chairs)
Given
 a
 prompt,
 class 
goes
 to
 the 
side 
that 
corresponds
 to
 their 
opinion 
on
 the
 topic,
sides 
share
 out
 reasoning,
 and
 students 
are
 allowed 
to
 change 
sides 
after
 discussion

Entrance/Exit
ticket
Each 
student
 will
 be
 given 
a
 ticket
 to
 complete
 before
 leaving 
the
 room
 answering:
What 
is
 the 
most 
important
 thing
 I
 learned
 today?
 What 
questions 
do I
 still
 have?
These 
tickets
 can
 be
 given 
to 
the 
teacher 
when 
exiting 
the 
room 
or
 upon 
entering 
the
 next
 day.
 The 
teacher 
uses 
this
 information
 to 
guide 
the
 instruction.

Every
Pupil
Response
Each
 student
 receives 
a
 pink
 and 
yellow
 card.
 Each 
color
 represents
 a
 specific
 response.
 Students 
raise
 the 
card 
to
 provide
 the
 correct 
response 
to 
a
 teacher
 directed 
question.

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
a
 concept, 
students 
sort 
or 
write 
various
 examples/non‐examples
 

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
examples/non‐examples,
 students
 determine 
concept
 


Fill
 In
 Your
 Thoughts


Written 
check
 for 
understanding
 strategy
 where
 students
 fill
 the
 blank.


Description


Students 
use 
this
 strategy
 to 
help
 them 
remember 
information 
that 
is
 important
 to 
them.
 They 
will
“flag”
their
 ideas 
on
 a 
sticky 
note
 or 
flag 
die
 cut…


Students 
demonstrate 
their
 knowledge
 of
 transformations
 of
 functions
 by
 physically
 moving
 their arms 
and
 body


Draw 
your 
handprint. 

In
 each
 finger,
write
 one 
thing
 you 
learned
 today.


A
 kinesthetic
 activity 
where
 students
 in
 the
 class
 physically
 move
 to
 create 
a
 histogram,
where
 each
 student
 represents
 a
 data
point 
rating 
their 
view
.

Give 
One,
Get 
One
Cooperative 
activity
 where
 the 
students
 write 
response
 to 
a
 prompt,
meet
up
 with
 another
student
 and
 share
 ideas
 so 
that
 each 
leaves
 with
 something
 to
 add
 to 
their
 list

Onion
Ring
Students 
form 
an
 inner
 and
 outer
 circle facing
 a
 partner.
The 
teacher 
asks 
a
 question 
and
 the
students 
are 
given 
time 
to 
respond
 to 
their 
partner.
 Next,
the
 inner
 circle 
rotates
 one
 person
 to
 the
 left.
The 
teacher 
asks 
another
 question 
and
 the
 cycle 
repeats 
itself.

Pop
It
(Bubble
Wrap)
Students 
write
 what 
they
 want
 to 
know 
about
 a
 topic 
on
 a 
dot
 sticker.

 Place
 each
 sticker
 on
 the
 bubble
wrap.

 When 
a
 topic 
is 
covered,
 the
 student 
pops
 the
 bubble.

Project
Study
Group
Analyzing 
incorrect
 responses 
in

 multiple 
choice
 questions
 


Student
 Data
 Notebooks


A 
timed
 writing 
in 
response
 to
 a
 question 
or 
prompt
(can
 be 
used
 before,
during,
 or
 after 
instruction)


A 
scoring 
guide 
using
 subjective
 assessments
 that 
is
 generally
 composed
 of
 dimensions
 for 
judging 
student
performance.


Students 
take 
turns
 leading 
discussions 
in
 a
 cooperative 
group
 on
 sections 
of 
a
 reading 
or 
video


Slap
It
Students
 are 
divided 
into
 two 
teams 
to
 identify
 correct
 answers
 to
 questions
 given 
by 
the
 teacher.
Students use 
a
 fly
swatter 
to 
slap 
the
 correct
 response
 posted 
on 
the 
wall.


Check
 For
 Understanding 
Strategy


Timed 
Pair
 Share


Triangular 
Prism
(Red,
 Yellow,
Green)


Word
 Sort


Description


Given 
a 
prompt,
students 
pair
 up
 and
 share 
their
 perspective
 for
 a
 given
 amount
 of
 time,
taking
 turns
(A
 talks,
B
 listens,
then
 B
 talks,
A
 listens)


Students 
give 
feedback 
to 
teacher
 by 
displaying
 the 
color
 that 
corresponds 
to
 their 
level 
of
 understanding


Given
 a 
set 
of 
vocabulary
 terms,
 students 
sort
 in
to 
given 
categories 
or 
create
 their
 own
 categories
 for
 sorting


Take
and
Pass
Cooperative group 
activity 
used
 to 
share
 or
 collect
 information 
from
 each
 member 
of
 the 
group; 
students 
write
 a
 response,
 then
 pass 
to
 the
 right,
add
 their
 response
 to 
next 
paper,
 continue 
until
they 
get
 their 
paper
 back, 
then
 group
 debriefs.

Whip
Around
Teacher 
poses 
a
 question
 and
 students

 list
 three 
items. 
All 
students 
stand.
 Teacher 
randomly 
calls
 students 
to 
share , 
if
 their
 topic 
is
 called
 they
 sit.
Teacher
 continues
 til 
all
 students
 are
 sitting.






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What If?


I teach an online course for future teachers in a master’s degree program. I was grading journal post last night when I read a student’s journal entry detailing her fears about interacting (or failure to interact) with parents. She was candid in describing possible scenarios. “What if a parent had a horrible school experience and hates teachers?” “What if the family doesn’t value education?” “What if I don’t make a good impression?” “What if I cannot connect with them at all?”

I asked myself, “What if I give her the wrong advice?” I found myself falling into the trap of fear and doubt that she carried. I’m a veteran teacher with 20 years experience dealing with parents. I know better. I know that being my authentic self is all I can be, and it’s good enough. I love teaching, and this student is obviously worrying herself sick over ‘what ifs.’ Her anxiety was reaching toxic levels. I thought about the most honest and heartfelt (hopefully helpful) advice I could give her. I told her to highlight the student’s strengths. I encouraged her to send notes home with the child

to report effort, acts of kindness, and any improvement. They send a clear message that you are noticing their child’s growth, and you care about their child. It will help build a bridge that may undo preconceived notions about the teacher or the school. This is crucial if they’ve lived their life with negative memories of a bad experience. A student that goes home happy and feeling supported is bound to share that with their parents. A teacher’s job is to make sure they get to know their students, let them know you value them for who they are.

Too often parents are not part of a student’s support team. That is a signal that the teacher needs to give even more of their heart and time to that student.

It’s good to give a glance at the what ifs, but more important is to be proactive in how you will connect with your students. What if you make a real difference? What if the parents want to decide to become involved? What if that student remembers you all their life?


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Relatable Books For Children

A good book can spark imagination, teach us, and take us on a journey.

I love to share resources for children by topic. Kindly share with me if you have collections of special interest and I will add them. 😉 Teaching children to read and to Love reading is my passion.


We have all had a lousy day. Relatable text is important for children to make text-to-life connections.


Lucy is teased for being different. She finds courage to be herself.


This book helps children learn our fears are greatly exaggerated.



“No more carrots, fruit or peas, I’m going to live with dog family!” says a little girl who’s had enough of her parents forcing her to eat her dinner. But what if life with the dogs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? “Dog Family” is a loveable story about one little girl’s adventure as she discovers the importance of family love.

CAUTION: FOR OLDER STUDENTS

The powerful, unforgettable graphic memoir from Jarrett Krosoczka, about growing up with a drug-addicted mother, a missing father, and two unforgettably opinionated grandparents.In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father. Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.



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Active Engagement Strategy

Use Think-Pair-Share at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:

•Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge

•After watching a film clip to gauge a reaction

•After reading a short text to begin a discussion

•Before students begin an assignment, such as an essay or a set of word problems, to gather ideas or formalize procedures

Ask a question. Be aware that open-ended questions are more likely to generate more discussion and higher order thinking. A think-pair-share can take as little as three minutes or can be longer, depending on the question or task and the class size.

Teacher can pre-select pairs.




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Spelling

Rote memorization is not an effective way to learn and remember.   How many kids forget their spelling words as soon as they finish the test?

BORING!!!

We need to give kids an active role.

Just a handful of kids’ needs are met when the entire class has the same word list!     

         NOT FAIR                                             NOT GOOD TEACHING

There is another way– Use WORDS THEIR WAY

●Use of multi-sensory learning
●Students are actively engaged
●Students learn word patterns 
●It’s fun

The Primary Spelling Inventory, or PSI, can be used in kindergarten through third gradeThe Upper-Level Spelling Inventory, or USI, can be used in upper elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary classrooms. If a school system wants to use the same inventory across all elementary grades, they can use the Elementary Spelling Inventory, or ESI. 


ASSESS First, then FORM GROUPS based on needs, TEACH needed skills, ASSESS

Stages of Spelling Development

Pre-Phonetic (Before a child learns letter/sound combination they will try to write letters they have seen)


Phonetic (child is learning letter/sound and will try to sound out words).

Making Learning new spelling words FUN and MULTI-SENSORY

Remember that the fun activities are NOT in place of direct instruction of a skill. They are meant to make the learning enjoyable  so it is stored in longterm memory.

**We learn through experiences



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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

 A 2019 report confirmed that experiencing traumatic things as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health effects.

What do we mean by Adverse Childhood Experience?

Sexual abuse

Abuse (physical or mental)

Exposure to domestic abuse

Exposure to substance abuse

Mental illness, parental discord, crime

Death of parent

Imprisoned parent

Impact:

Neurobiologic Effects of Trauma :  Disrupted neuro-development, Difficulty controlling anger-rage, Hallucinations, Depression,   Panic reactions, Anxiety, Multiple (6+) somatic problems, Sleep problems, Impaired memory, Flashbacks, Dissociation

Health Risk Behaviors : Smoking, Severe obesity, Physical inactivity, Suicide attempts, Alcoholism. Drug abuse, Repetition of original trauma, Self Injury ,Eating disorders


What Can a Teacher Do?

•Create a caring classroom

•Greet them when they enter

•Class Meetings- Compliments 

•Morning Message on the board

•Friendship Board- Messages of Encouragement

• Sprinkle Praise- Highlight Accomplishments

Convey that you care-get to know your students

If you suspect child abuse:

Tell your principal immediately

You are a mandated reporter- Call Child Protective Services 

Keep confidential notes in a safe place-date and time




Reading Buddies

Children need to practice reading skills by reading aloud. This helps them develop fluency. A child can read to a sibling, a pet, their toys, and even plants. Their reading becomes enjoyable when they have someone or something to share in the experience.

When I taught second grade I set up an experiment. My hypothesis was that plants that are read to do better than those that aren’t. I had the same type of plant (pathos) in opposite sides of the classroom. One plant was read to daily and one was not. Students clamored to be the reader. They kept a notebook of their discoveries. It may have been happenstance, but the plant that was read to flourished in contrast to the plant that did not have a child read to it. I’m not a scientist, but I am a reading teacher with a creative mind. My experiment was a success! It got students reading and writing.

I imagine that a sibling or a pet would love the attention. Anything that encourages reading is a good thing.

————————

Don’t Be Afraid to be Silly

It’s good medicine to laugh. It’s even better to have a belly laugh. This is a great way to begin the day, a meeting, the school year. According to Psychology Today, “A hearty chuckle releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins are part of the reason laughing is so contagious. Laughing also has many health benefits such as increasing blood flow and improving mental and physical resilience. In fact, it’s not unlike a vigorous workout session.”

Interesting facts:

“The eminent psychologist on laughter, Robert Provine, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, agrees that laughter isn’t really about humor. He contends that it’s more about relationships. Cutting-edge humor straight out of Comedy Central is great, but people actually laugh more in conversation and through interaction. Provine has unearthed a few facts on laughter including:

  • Laughter bonds people through prosocial behavior
  • It’s a contagion
  • Women laugh 126 percent more than men
  • Mating would be nowhere without it
  • Men want to generate laughter and they need women who will laugh
  • Women are commonly laughter appreciators”

Here are some research-supported tips for using humor to increase retention:

Do

  • Use humor to enhance classroom joy
  • Use humor to develop a sense of community
  • Use content-related humor
  • Use age-appropriate humor
  • “Sandwich” humor between instruction and repetition

Avoid

  • Sarcasm
  • Cruel or inappropriate humor
  • Forced humor
  • Off-topic humor
  • Too much humor



The Rabbit Hole



The first use of the phrase falling “down the rabbit hole” comes to us thanks to the great Lewis Carroll who introduced the term in 1865 in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In the story, Alice literally falls down the hole of the White Rabbit, taking her to Wonderland.

I began searching the internet for resources to give my online students who are in a Masters level course to earn their teaching credential. I have weekly resources for them that coincide with the week’s topic. I took a look at a topic that generally has them confused, the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics. I wanted the clearest information that would be easy to understand. Boy, did I go down a rabbit hole!

I could tell students a thousand times how important it is to know the sounds that make up words, and they always refer to phonics instruction. Most students are able to learn both the letter and the corresponding sound, but for some, the two skills do not stick. That is why it is important to teach sounds first. A child who can recite the alphabet but doesn’t have knowledge of the sounds, will not be able to read. There are important distinctions between phonemic awareness and phonics.

Phonemic awareness refers to the sounds in words. Not the letters, the sounds. The word cat has three phonemes: /c/a/t/. You can practice phonemic awareness in the dark because it does not include sight, just sound.

Phonics is awareness of both the letters and their sounds.

If child cannot read, you must go back and teach sounds. It is the only way they will be able to decode.


So, here’s what I found:



Connect With Students

We all know when someone cares about us. Students come to school hoping they will be liked and accepted. A teacher that takes the time to know each student creates a solid foundation of trust. Learning is often connected to experiences and emotions. When a child feels secure, learning can move into long term memory.

From the start of the school year find out what your students are interested in. What do they want to know more about? Use an interest inventory. Share your hobbies, favorite sports, songs, movies. Take time to establish an atmosphere of security and respect.

Class meetings are a good way to teach social skills, establish community and foster open communication. Regularly check the status of the class. Encourage problem-solving with teacher guidance.

Give sincere compliments. Model how to show appreciation.

Teachers, I hope you have a safe, productive, positive school year!

———————-

Scaffolding

Always tap into a student’s prior knowledge, building on what they know. Help them make connections by using visuals, engaging in partner share, review previous lesson. Moving forward to new subject matter requires assessment to determine if there is a need to reteach.

Know your students! Some can take leaps while others require review and rehearsal. There is much to be gained by assessing exactly where your students are.

Toot Their Horn


Students flourish when they are recognized and appreciated. There are so many ways to help a student feel great about their success. I like to honor each improvement with a visual representation of their accomplishment. When done selectively, this is a way to boost self-esteem in students, particularly those who don’t generally get recognized.

A medal that a student can wear on the playground lets other children know of successes. It can be worn home so parents can also acknowledge improvement.

We all like to be recognized for our successes.


Independent vs Dependent Learner

This book should be on every teacher’s desk as a resource for promoting an inclusive classroom. It is important to remember that dependent does not mean deficit. We want all students to work to their full potential. Here is just one sampling of the valuable guidance from acclaimed author, Jaretta Hammond:

Dependent Learner

Relies on the teacher to carry the cognitive load most of the time

Unsure how to tackle a new task

Needs scaffolds to complete a task

Sits passively until teacher intervenes

Poor retention of information

“I don’t get it.”


Independent Learner:

Relies on the teacher to carry some of the load temporarily

Uses strategies and processes for tackling a new task

Will attempt new tasks without scaffolds

Has a way to get unstuck

Has learned how to retrieve information from long-term memory

“Oh, I see how is related to…..”


Continuum of Phonological Skills


Children learn phonological skills from infancy. Phonological awareness involves a continuum of skills that develop over time and are crucial for reading and spelling success, because they are central to learning to decode and spell printed words.

Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of sentences and words. Examples include being able to identify words that rhyme, recognizing alliteration, segmenting a sentence into words, identifying the syllables in a word, and blending and segmenting onset-rimes.


***Remember that Phonological Awareness is an umbrella term that covers sub skills. It deals with SOUNDS, not letters. When students know sounds, you can then introduce letters. PHONICS combines sounds and letters.


Quick Check for Understanding


After you teach a lesson, even a mini-lesson, always make sure you scan your group to insure they have a clear understanding of what you have taught. Moving on without a check does a disservice to students. Form a small group to reteach the lesson. The hand method is a good visual that goes a step further than “thumbs up, thumbs down.”


Check
For
 Understanding
 Strategy


3‐2‐1/
Fist
 to
 Five/
Thumbs
 Up,
Thumbs
Down


4‐3‐2‐1 

Scoring 
Scale


Students 
communicate 
their 
level
 of
 understanding
 to
 teacher 
using
 their 
fingers


ABCD
Whisper
Students 
should
 get
 in 
groups
 of
 four 
where
 one 
student 
is 
A,
the
n next
 is
B,
etc.
 Each
 student
will
 be
 asked 
to 
reflect 
on
 a 
concept
 and
 draw
 a
 visua l
of
 his/her
 interpretation.
Then
 they 
will
share
 their 
answer 
with
 each
 other
 in 
a
 zigzag
 pattern
 within
 their 
group.

Capacity
Matrix
The
 capacity 
matrix 
is 
a 
charting
 technique
 used 
to 
break
 down
 topic
 areas
 into
 steps 
for
achieving 
a
 specific
 result. 

It
 identifies
 tasks,
knowledge 
levels,
and
 understanding 
of
 the
 topic
area.

Circle,
Triangle,
Square
(Circle)
Something 
that
 is
 still
 going
 around
 in
 your 
head, 
(Triangle)
Something
 pointed 
that
stood
 out 
in 
your 
mind, 
(Square)
Something 
that
“Squared”
or
 agreed
 with
 your 
thinking.



Clickers


Electronic 
surveying 
devices
 that 
give
 instant
 feedback
 and 
data


Decisions,
Decisions
 (Philosophical
Chairs)
Given
 a
 prompt,
class 
goes
 to
 the 
side 
that 
corresponds
 to
 their 
opinion 
on
 the
 topic,
side
share
 out
 reasoning,
and
 students 
are
 allowed 
to
 change 
sides 
after
 discussion

Entrance/Exit
ticket
Each 
student
 will
 be
 given 
a
 ticket
 to
 complete
 before
 leaving 
the
 room
 answering:
What 
is
the 
most 
important
 thing
 I
 learned
today?
 What 
questions 
do I
 still
 have?
These 
tickets
 can
be
 given 
to 
the 
teacher 
when 
exiting 
the 
room 
or
 upon 
entering 
the
 next
 day.
The 
teacher
uses 
this
 information
 to 
guide 
the
 instruction.

Every
Pupil
Response
Each
 student
 receives 
a
 pink
 and 
yellow
 card.
Each 
color
 represents
 a
 specific
 response.
Students 
raise
 the 
card 
to
 provide
 the
 correct 
response 
to 
a
 teacher
 directed 
question.

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
a
 concept,
students 
sort 
or 
write 
various
 examples/non‐examples
 

Example/Non‐Example
Given 
examples/non‐examples,
students
 determine 
concept
 


Fill
 In
Your
Thoughts


Written 
check
 for 
understanding
 strategy
 where
 students
 fill
 the
 blank.


Check 
For
 Understanding 
Strategy


Flag 
It
 Function 
Aerobics


Handprint
 Human 
Graph
 Interlocking
 Paper
 Plates


Description


Students 
use 
this
 strategy
 to 
help
 them 
remember 
information 
that 
is
 important
 to 
them.
They 
will
“flag”
their
ideas 
on
 a 
sticky 
note
 or 
flag 
die
 cut…


Students 
demonstrate 
their
 knowledge
 of
 transformations
 of
 functions
 by
 physically
 moving
 their arms 
and
body


Draw 
your 
handprint. 

In
 each
 finger,
write
 one 
thing
 you 
learned
 today.


A
 kinesthetic
 activity 
where
 students
 in
 the
 class
 physically
 move
 to
 create 
a
 histogram,
where
 each
 student
represents
 a
 data
point 
rating 
their 
view
.

Give 
One,
Get 
One
Cooperative 
activity
 where
 the 
students
 write 
response
 to 
a
 prompt,
meet
up
 with
 another
student
 and
 share
 ideas
 so 
that
 each 
leaves
 with
 something
 to
 add
 to 
their
 list

Onion
Ring
Students 
form 
an
 inner
 and
 outer
 circle facing
 a
 partner.
The 
teacher 
asks 
a
 question 
and
 the
students 
are 
given 
time 
to 
respond
 to 
their 
partner.
 Next,
the
 inner
 circle 
rotates
 one
 person
 to
 the
 left.
The 
teacher 
asks 
another
 question 
and
 the
 cycle 
repeats 
itself.

Pop
It
(Bubble
Wrap)
Students 
write
 what 
they
 want
 to 
know 
about
 a
 topic 
on
 a 
dot
 sticker.

 Place
 each
 sticker
 on
 the
bubble
wrap.

When 
a
 topic 
is 
covered,
 the
 student 
pops
 the
 bubble.

Project
Study
Group
Analyzing 
incorrect
 responses 
in

 multiple 
choice
 questions
 


Quick
 Writes 
 Rubric
 Say Something


Student
 Data
 Notebooks


A 
timed
 writing 
in 
response
 to
 a
 question 
or 
prompt
(can
 be 
used
 before,
during,
 or
 after 
instruction)


A 
scoring 
guide 
using
 subjective
 assessments
 that 
is
 generally
 composed
 of
 dimensions
 for 
judging 
student
performance.


Students 
take 
turns
 leading 
discussions 
in
 a
 cooperative 
group
 on
 sections 
of 
a
 reading 
or 
video


Slap
It
Students
 are 
divided 
into
 two 
teams 
to
 identify
 correct
 answers
 to
 questions
 given 
by 
the
 teacher.
Students use 
a
 fly
swatter 
to 
slap 
the
 correct
 response
 posted 
on 
the 
wall.


Check
For
 Understanding
Strategy


Timed 
Pair
 Share


Triangular 
Prism
(Red,
 Yellow,
Green)


Word
 Sort


Description


Given 
a 
prompt,
students 
pair
 up
 and
 share 
their
 perspective
 for
 a
 given
 amount
 of
 time,
taking
 turns
(A
 talks,
B
 listens,
then
 B
 talks,
A
 listens)


Students 
give 
feedback 
to 
teacher
 by 
displaying
 the 
color
 that 
corresponds 
to
 their 
level 
of
 understanding


Given
 a 
set 
of 
vocabulary
 terms,
 students 
sort
 in
to 
given 
categories 
or 
create
 their
 own
 categories
 for
 sorting


Take
and
Pass
Cooperative group 
activity 
used
 to 
share
 or
 collect
 information 
from
 each
 member 
of
 the 
group;
students 
write
 a
 response,
 then
 pass 
to
 the
 right,
add
 their
 response
 to 
next 
paper,
 continue 
until
they 
get
 their 
paper
 back, 
then
 group
 debriefs.

Whip
Around
Teacher 
poses 
a
 question
 and
 students

 list
 three 
items. 
All 
students 
stand.
 Teacher 
randomly 
calls
 students 
to 
share , 
if
 their
 topic 
is
 called
 they
 sit.
Teacher
 continues
 til 
all
 students
 are
 sitting.







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Books For The First Day of School

I have put together a list of books for your child’s first day back at school. These books are best for ages 3-8. It’s a good idea to read aloud and discuss with your child their hopes and fears about a new school year. Be proactive and do this before school begins. The books I have on this post are useful, and I have used many myself in various classrooms. They are always a big hit with students. Parents, this is a good opportunity for you to prepare your child for school in the fall.

Another delightful Pigeon adventure from the wonderful author Mo Willems.

. Great for ages 3-5.


Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say good-bye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day. Lift the flaps and find out what surprises are in store for Little Critter on his first day of school! Ages 3-6


With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen the class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher or parent, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family away from home. Great for Ages 4-7


Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!) Ages 5-8


Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave? Ages 4-8


The first day of school is right around the corner! And everything is bigger for Bigfoot — especially back to school problems like getting a haircut, trying on new clothes, and finding new shoes that fit! Told from a giant (and very hairy) point of view, Back to School with Bigfoot deftly tackles the worries kids face as that first day of school draws closer, and ends on a colossal high note!

Ages 4-8


This is a humorous book that will calm the jitters of the first day. On the first day of school, new classmates are asked to share what they would most like to happen in the upcoming year. Some kids’ hopes are familiar while others are off-the-wall. Whether it’s looking good on picture day or skateboarding at school, everyone’s wishes are shown in humorously exaggerated illustrations.  Ages 6-8

 Miss Mingo, a flashy flamingo, starts off the year by inviting all creatures big and small to share something special about themselves. Did you know that Cricket hears with his legs, Snake smells with his tongue, and Frog enjoys eating his own skin? Visit this multi-species classroom for a nonfiction storybook filled with learning — and laughter.







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Guided Reading

Guided reading is an instructional practice or approach where teachers support a small group of students to read a text independently.

You select books that students can read with about 90 to 94 percent accuracy. Students can understand and enjoy the story because it’s accessible to them through their own strategies, supported by your introduction.

They focus on meaning but also use problem-solving strategies to figure out words they don’t know, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts or ideas they have never before encountered in print.

You should choose Guided Reading Program books for students that:

  • Match their knowledge base
  • Help them take the next step in learning to read
  • Are interesting to them
  • Offer just enough challenge to support problem solving while still supporting fluency and meaning
  • You work with a small group of students with similar needs.
  • You provide introductions to the text that support students’ later attempts at problem solving.
  • Each student reads the whole text or a unified part of the text.
  • Readers figure out new words while reading for meaning.
  • You prompt, encourage, and confirm students’ attempts at problem solving.
  • You and your students engage in meaningful conversations about what they are reading.
  • You and your student revisit the text to demonstrate and use a range of comprehension strategies.






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The Teen Brain

Facts You May Not Know: Their Brains are under construction and not fully formed.

  • Your brain does not keep getting bigger as you get older
  • Your brain doesn’t finish developing and maturing until your mid- to late-20s. The front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last brain regions to mature. It is the area responsible for planning, prioritizing and controlling impulses.
  • Many mental disorders appear during adolescence
  • (schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders—emerge during this time)
  • Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.

Recognize that there is an emotional connection in learning.  If students think you care and are invested, then they will care and be invested. Also, be aware that they can’t always control their emotions and don’t always know why they make the choices they do.

•Recognize there is a physical connection to learning. The brain essentially uses glucose and oxygen as food.  Adding kinesthetic activities to instruction circulates oxygen and glucose in students’ brains, increasing the efficiency of student learning. Plus, moving around & talking are WAY more fun than taking notes.

•Teens need more sleep than children and adults

•Although it may seem like teens are lazy, science shows that melatonin levels (or the “sleep hormone” levels) in the blood naturally rise later at night and fall later in the morning than in most children and adults. This may explain why many teens stay up late and struggle with getting up in the morning. Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.


•There is another part of the brain that is fully active in adolescents, and that’s the limbic system. And that is the seat of risk, reward, impulsivity, sexual behavior and emotion.

•So they are built to be novelty-seeking at this point in their lives. Their frontal lobe isn’t able to say, “That’s a bad idea, don’t do that.” That’s not happening to the extent it will in adulthood.



References: 

•“The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.” National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Health. 2011. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

•Bruer, John. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2  Jan. 2014.

Dearborn, Grace. “Rebels with Applause: Brain-Compatible Approaches for Motivating Reluctant Learners.” Conscious Teaching. 2013. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Giedd, Jay. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.


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Children’s Diverse Fairy Tales

No big changes from what you would expect from a telling of The Little Mermaid, but it is set in the Carribean with vibrant island colors and a notably dark-haired and darker-skinned Little Mermaid. I love the illustrations by Nivea Ortiz, they are vibrant and keep little ones who aren’t reading independently yet enthralled.


A funny re-telling of the classic fairy tale Princess and the Pea. Set in Peru and with a dash of Spanish words throughout the rhyming text tells the story of a prince who is being prepped for marriage and his mother who is making sure that only a real princess makes the cut. The queen is absolutely a monster-in-law, but the sweet prince makes up for her and then some. This book is a fantastic read-aloud, and I can’t give it away, but there might be a funny twist at the end too.

There are no twists or changes made to the classic tale and the text is short enough for a circle time read. Children adore the rich colors used in the illustrations and I love that there are no big changes to the story, simply a different lens and location.
A retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that takes place during Chinese New Year. Goldy Luck is asked to take some food over to her neighbors but when they aren’t home curiosity gets the better of her and she gets into all kinds of trouble.
A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that has a sick Auntie with spots and it’s up to Little Red to get her what she needs. Instead of a wolf, there is a Hungry Lion who has no clue what he’s getting himself into!  Kids love this book, the illustrations are hilarious and the story is fun. I don’t think it’s particularly African, in the way that Rachel Isadora’s books successfully incorporate cultural references in a much deeper way, but this is a fun read that has a brave little heroine and is definitely worth reading and finding a place for it on your bookshelf.
This is a story about respect and how there is a difference between being comfortable in other people’s houses and crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Beautiful book that celebrates these lessons and the West African culture of Ghana.
In this version of Stone Soup a fisherman gets tricked into helping to make soup. This book is told from the point of view of the fisherman but the illustrations show a different point of view. (China)





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Children’s Books for End of the School Year

 Each page offers a blessing, beginning with “I wish”.  “I wish you more ups than downs.”  “I wish you more give than take.”  “I wish you more we than me.” It conveys a message of caring. I like the diversity of the children on each page, and the endless opportunities it offers for follow-up activities.  It’s such an incredible way to provide one another with meaningful wishes as you say goodbye.
This book takes the standard fairy tale, and flips it in reverse! The story starts at the end, and works its way backwards to the beginning.  While the book is amazing as a stand alone, It’s a great end of the year trip down memory lane!
This story focuses on James, who decides that he is going to be on his VERY BEST behavior on the last day of school.  He lists all of the the things he WON’T do on the last day of school so he can get the final gold star of the year and impress his teacher.
 It is a fun-filled story about the life of a second grader, Billy Miller.  If you only have time to read part of it, the first section of the book is called “Teacher,” where Billy deals with the insecurities and anxieties of starting a new grade with a new teacher.
Four, three, two, ONE! The last day of school is finally here. For Ivy and her friends it’s time to take down pictures, clean shelves and say good-bye. But there is also time for one last surprise. Your students will enjoy this follow-up to First Day, Hooray!


Are you singing a certain song right now? It’s the last day of school! Gilbert is excited about summer vacation. First there’s a class party, and Mrs. Byrd will give out the end-of-the-year awards. But will Gilbert even get one? Patty’s the best speller. Philip’s the best reader.



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Diversity in the Classroom

Every Voice Heard — We are a Family

A school culture that promotes diversity in the classroom teaches students something that’s important: how to live and work in a society where every individual is unique. Diversity in the classroom teaches students to appreciate different perspectives and draw stronger conclusions. Challenging students to consider different perspectives can also teach them how to interact with their peers on a social level, and equip them with skills they’ll use for the rest of their life.

*********If it’s difficult to change your existing curriculum, use the opportunity to ask students why different perspectives aren’t included and challenge them to apply critical thinking skills.


  • Shut down discrimination whenever you hear it. Speak out against slurs and derogatory comments.
  • Use language that promotes positivity and doesn’t reinforce existing stereotypes (for example, the phrase “boys will be boys” shouldn’t be used to justify sexism or aggression) .
  • Respond effectively to inappropriate comments or actions. Take infractions seriously and inform parents when necessary.
  • Encourage students to include all of their peers if you see division forming along racial or economic lines. 
  • Remove existing markers of inequality in your school. (For example, make sure students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs aren’t singled out and made to feel different.)

Resources:

  1.  https://www.embracerace.org/resources/16-ways-to-help-children-become-thoughtful-informed-and-brave-about-race?gclid=CjwKCAjwhMmEBhBwEiwAXwFoEYMKMfRZlLSr6Mz-KZLe-9Xmjo_XnbUBZR4Z3wNolDKmth–f4kujBoCsecQAvD_BwE  
  2. https://www.embracerace.org/resources/young-kids-racial-injustice
  3. https://www.gcu.edu/blog/teaching-school-administration/4-ways-celebrate-diversity-classroom
  4. https://www.naturespath.com/en-ca/blog/15-activities-kids-learn-different-cultures/
  5. https://blog.brookespublishing.com/8-ways-to-show-young-children-that-diversity-is-a-strength/
  6. Printables:  https://www.teachervision.com/subjects/social-studies-history/culture-diversity
  7. Activities: http://www.sbhihelp.org/files/Diversity88Ways.pd






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Children’s Books on Diversity

Our world is a tapestry and each of us contribute to the whole. These are books that celebrate our unique identities that are more alike than different.

Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. This book takes the reader around the world, showing how we may all be different in so many ways, but we have so much in common as well. The sweet message is accompanied by vividly colorful illustrations showing diverse people, families and homes
Written by Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Donna Farrell. This book, inspired by a true story, follows a young boy who moves to a new school where everyone speaks a different language. One of the other boys in school doesn’t want to accept him, but he soon learns an important lesson of friendship and kindness from his peers reminding the reader how beautiful cultural diversity can be.
Written by P.K. Hallinan. This sweet story shows why we should strive to gather a rainbow of friends. Diversity is beautiful. The adorable illustrations and simple rhyming text introduce the idea that we have lots of different kinds of friends, and they are all special.
Written by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. This book uses simple text and colorful photographs to introduce young readers to the many different shades of color that skin can be. This is a great toddler children’s book about diversity.
Written and illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka. This story celebrates the wide range of skin colors in the world, as well as all the beautiful colors found in nature. The lyrical text is combined with beautiful illustrations highlighting all the beautiful colors.
Written and illustrated by Calida Garcia Rawles. Lida and Lisa are first cousins who do everything together. When they play dress up one day, they start to see the differences in their appearances. Their wise grandmother helps them see that they can be different and still the same.


Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia. This rhyming book shows a diverse group of babies who are all happy in their skin. The sweet illustrations and rhyming text show readers all the ways that our skin is similar.



Written by Carmen Parets Luque. All families are different, but all families are special in their own way. The author introduces readers to the many different types of families in the world through simple text and creative illustrations of stick figures and buttons.

Written by Carmen Parets Luque. All families are different, but all families are special in their own way. The author introduces readers to the many different types of families in the world through simple text and creative illustrations of stick figures and buttons.

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Children’s Books for The First Day of School

I have put together a list of books for your child’s first day back at school. These books are best for ages 3-8. It’s a good idea to read aloud and discuss with your child their hopes and fears about a new school year. Be proactive and do this before school begins. The books I have on this post are useful, and I have used many myself in various classrooms. They are always a big hit with students. Parents, this is a good opportunity for you to prepare your child for school in the fall.

Another delightful Pigeon adventure from the wonderful author Mo Willems.

. Great for ages 3-5.


Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say good-bye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day. Lift the flaps and find out what surprises are in store for Little Critter on his first day of school! Ages 3-6


With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen the class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher or parent, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family away from home. Great for Ages 4-7


Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!) Ages 5-8


Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave? Ages 4-8


The first day of school is right around the corner! And everything is bigger for Bigfoot — especially back to school problems like getting a haircut, trying on new clothes, and finding new shoes that fit! Told from a giant (and very hairy) point of view, Back to School with Bigfoot deftly tackles the worries kids face as that first day of school draws closer, and ends on a colossal high note!

Ages 4-8


This is a humorous book that will calm the jitters of the first day. On the first day of school, new classmates are asked to share what they would most like to happen in the upcoming year. Some kids’ hopes are familiar while others are off-the-wall. Whether it’s looking good on picture day or skateboarding at school, everyone’s wishes are shown in humorously exaggerated illustrations.  Ages 6-8




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Childrens’ Books That are Relatable

A good book can spark imagination, teach us, and take us on a journey.

I love to share resources for children by topic. Kindly share with me if you have collections of special interest and I will add them. 😉 Teaching children to read and to Love reading is my passion.


We have all had a lousy day. Relatable text is important for children to make text-to-life connections.


Lucy is teased for being different. She finds courage to be herself.


This book helps children learn our fears are greatly exaggerated.



Kids will learn to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, lend a helping hand, and inspire others to do the same.


A book to teach about emotions and anger management.


Nurturing your child’s creativity might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child and to the world.


This is a story about loving yourself and respecting others.


This book introduces children to the practice of using mindful affirmations for support and encouragement when they need it. 

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Childrens books on character building


In My Friend is Sad, elephant Gerald is down in the dumps. Piggie is determined to cheer him up by dressing as a cowboy, a clown, and even a robot! But what does it take to make a sad elephant happy? The answer will make even pessimistic elephants smile.


Edward has loads of toys but doesn’t share any of them with his little sister, Claire.

“They’re mine!”he says. That is, until one day when Edward finds himself in a predicament. With a little help from an unlikely ally, he learns that if he can share with others, they’ll share right back with him

Mike Reiss’s wickedly funny verse and David Catrow’s remarkable gift for comic illustration make this one book you’ll want to share—again and again!


Ruthie loves little things-the smaller the better. So when she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground one afternoon, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers. 


Listening with my heart reminds us of the importance of being friends to ourselves. It also touches on the universal themes of friendship, empathy and kindness. Includes mindfulness and self-compassion activities.


Help kids develop coping strategies to manage frustration and anger.


8 stories help kids see why telling the truth is so important in developing their integrity, and earning respect.


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Comprehension Strategies

The following are strategies for understanding what you read.

Visualization is Powerful ●Tell students to form a movie in their head as they read.

●You can lead them into this by having them draw as you read aloud.

●Use think alouds.

However, NONE of these comprehension strategies is taught in a single mini-lesson. It’s impossible to teach visualization in 15 minutes. Rather, plan and deliver numerous mini-lessons across the year that target the array of sub-skills that will prepare students to visualize independently.


LEARN TO MAKE CONNECTIONS

text to self – This reminds me of my own life…

When picking text to self books, it is important to look for books that have a theme that kids can relate to. Family, sibling rivalry, pets, school, or feelings are a great place to start. The characters also need to be realistic, especially for older kids. 


text to text– This reminds me of another book I’ve read/movie I’ve watched…


text to world– This reminds me this time in history/what’s going on in the world right now…

Excellent Resources:

●Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. ●Keene, E. & Zimmerman, S. (1997). Mosaic of Thought. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

●Tovani, C. (2000). I read it, but I don’t get it: Comprehension strategies for adolescent readers. Portland, ME: Steinhouse.

MY FAVORITE:





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Books That Teach Kindness

Monique is all about being different and transforms herself in this book wearing clothes from her mother’s old trunk. It’s a great one to teach about being an individual and finding that thing that makes you unique.  




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Children’s Books About Animals

This animal encyclopedia includes 500 amazing animal facts that offer hours of engaging learning. Alongside full-color pictures on every page, you’ll find weird and wonderful details about Magnificent Mammals, Creepy Crawlies, Amazing Amphibians, Feathered Friends, and more. This standout among animal books for kids is ideal for any boy or girl who is wild about animals! 


Enter the ring to witness an epic battle of brawn between an ant and an elephant! A chimp vs. a crow in a showdown of wits! An emporer penguin vs. a pygmy mamoset in a contest for cutest creature! Some of the victors might surprise you and all of these animals will amaze you! Stats, fun facts, photos, and in-depth profiles about each contender will help you pick winners for more than a dozen mighty matchups. A March Madness-style bracket at the end of the book allows readers to choose the ultimate champion! Perfect for sports fans and animal crazy kids ready to go to the mat for their favorite species. Animal Smackdown is the next best thing to actually seeing these animals go head-to-head! 


This beautiful picture book follows the journey of a young gray wolf who garnered nationwide attention when he became the first wild wolf in California in almost a century.


Children are given a well-rounded understanding of these beautiful creatures: their anatomy, feeding habits, and behavior. The following sea turtles are featured: * The herbivorous Green Sea Turtle * The beautiful Hawksbill Sea Turtle * The petite Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle * The king-sized Leatherback Sea Turtle * The unusual Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Get this book at this special price. *** Your child will love it –


If you love kittens and cats, you won’t want to miss this fun cat facts book! It tells you all about some of the strange, odd and weird things wild cats and pet kittens and cats can do. If you’re longing to get a kitten or a cat, or you already have a cat, and even if you’re an experienced pet owner, you’ll get some surprises when you read this book.


The latest exciting title in DK’s popular Where on Earth? series maps out the habitats of the world’s mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, and more. Whether it’s plotting the range of a lion, following the flight paths of birds, tracking great white sharks in the oceans, or exploring the migration of the monarch butterfly, you will see exactly where and how more than 100 extraordinary animal species live. 






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Great Ipad Apps For guided Reading

http://commoncoreconnectionusa.blogspot.com/2015/08/reading-comprehension-passages-and-ipad.html?m=1

******Use the above link to access a great resource for early readers. The best part is that it will highlight words as they are read.

Here are GREAT RESOURCES, some have a free trial period.

Bookshare: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

Lexia: https://www.lexialearning.com/core5

Razkids: https://www.raz-kids.com

Skybrary: https://www.skybrary.org/school

Headsprout: https://www.headsprout.com

Lightsail:https://www.headsprout.com

Newsela: https://newsela.com

Rewordify: https://rewordify.com

Thinkcerca: https://rewordify.com

Activelylearn: https://www.activelylearn.com






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Easy Kids Chapter Books

When a child is ready for chapter books it is the beginning of a journey of the imagination.The following are some I have read aloud to students and seen students choose them for independent reading.

16-book collection brings together all the classic children’s novels from the one and only Roald Dahl. Matilda, Going Solo, The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, Boy Tales Of Childhood, Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator, The BFG, The Witches, The Twits, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, James And The Giant Peach, Danny The Champion Of The World, Billy And The Minpins


Boxed set includes books 1-3 in the series:

The Last Kids on Earth
The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade
The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King 


Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.


From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. Pax is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come.


In this fun fantasy, a young dragon gets tricked into drinking enchanted hot chocolate that turns her into a human.


Bad Kitty really needs a bath, and she is forced to take one in this hysterical new illustrated how-to for young readers. 


Unusual characters attend this school where their wacky science teacher has built an interactive, robotic dinosaur exhibit that accidentally come to life.







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Summer Reading For KIds

Keep up your child’s reading skills by encouraging them to engage in summer reading. I have collected some books that are fun and good for a read aloud or independent reading. Keep a record of the books they’ve read to share with their teacher in the fall.


This is part of a series. The books are about two kids who are an apprentice to a vet who treats imaginary creatures. You can imagine all the crazy adventures that follow as they help unicorns, lake monsters, and sasquatch. So much imagination packed into each book.


In this collection, witness unforgettable kids who, against all odds, survived sinking ships, shark attacks, the most destructive hurricane to hit North America, and the bombing that launched the United States into World War II.


When Kyle Keeley learns that the world’s world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, Kyle is determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out. 


Ranger is the kind of dog you want, especially if you are on The Oregon Trail.


In this heartfelt story about change, Kelly Jordan’s lilting text and Jessica Courtney-Tickle’s lush art captures the essence of cherishing a favorite place. This is a story about change.








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Free Little Library

Share the love of reading.

I’ve wanted a free library ever since I saw one a few years ago. It was conveniently placed in a yard near the entrance to the beach parking lot near my home. It inspired me to investigate the cost of making one. Inside that little library there were a variety of paperbacks and several children’s books. I even spotted one that I donated a year ago to the elementary school. I have made a few trips in my golf cart to stock that mini-library with books I have read and exchange them for one that caught my eye. This weekend I will be stocking our own! My husband found a kit online and I ordered it. He is following the directions and waiting for the stain to dry. I hope that children of all ages will stop and take a book with them to enjoy at the beach or the dog park.







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Childrens Silly Books

With vibrant language, artwork and a wild, silly plot, Too Much Glue is sure to appeal to all children who love to get messy.


When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time.


It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story — and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood or even Chicken Little, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters.


From the creators of Dragons Love Tacos comes the story of what happens when a grumpy old man and some mischievous squirrels match wits—with hilarious results.


If you think Superman vs. Batman would be an exciting matchup, wait until you see Shark vs. Train. In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do YOU think will win, Shark or Train? 


Really. I mean, how could a book eat people?
So if you’re just dying to know the history of this literary monster, all you have to do is turn the page…






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Childrens Books on Nature


The bird named Joy promised to come back every year. This brought happiness to the barren, lonely mountain, and over time, many wonderful changes took place.


The reason for a flower is to manufacture seeds, but Ruth Heller shares a lot more about parts of plants and their functions.


A gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. 


Readers follow a beautiful story of life’s journey―a journey that brings change and growth. A journey of a tiny dandelion seed who was afraid to let go.


 Butterflies for Kids answers all your questions with fascinating facts, photos, and illustrations. Learn about the butterfly life cycle, their unusual behaviors, and impressive migrations.


A Nature Book for Kids About Forest Habitats (A Rhyming Counting Book with STEAM Activities)


A sweet adventure story about three intrepid young female explorers who set out to conquer the outdoors in their local forest.






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Childrens books on bravery

These books are great for teaching bravery and courage in adversity. As part of an affiliate program I may receive a small commission. Thank you for looking.

 I Will Be Fierce is a powerful picture book about courage, confidence, kindness, and finding the extraordinary in everyday moments.


“Right Now, I Am Brave” is a mindfully written self-help guide to aid children with facing their fears and living bravely during uncertain times.


 This is a book to inspire young readers to embrace their inner light–no matter what they’re facing–and to be brave.


 You might think of super hero when you hear COURAGE, but all of us can do small and big acts of COURAGE everyday! 


The best book for teaching kindness and confronting bullying.


 What Makes Me Brave? will teach your child about the need to feel brave, even when they feel frightened and alone.


The perfect tool to teach children how to respond to bullies. I Can Stand Up to Bullies provides parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers the opportunity to speak with children about this important topic.





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