Literacy Resources, Teacher Tips

Active Engagement Strategy

Classroom Assessment Techniques

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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Literacy Resources

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, Teacher Tips

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




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Literacy Resources

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.

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Journal, Teacher Tips

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



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Literacy Resources

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:



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Teacher Tips

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!

———————-

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Teacher Tips

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.

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Teacher Tips

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.


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Diversity in the Classroom, Literacy Resources, Teacher Tips

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…..”


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Literacy Resources

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.


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Teacher Tips

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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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Literacy Resources

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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Literacy Resources, Teen Brain

The Teen Brain

Teenage Brain Under Construction Workshop

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 Books, Literacy Resources

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, Literacy Resources

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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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Diversity in the Classroom, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Learning Apps, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Book Reviews, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Journal, Literacy Resources

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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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

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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Children's Books, Diversity in the Classroom, Literacy Resources

Book Videos

Outstanding story about overcoming fear.

 The Emperor’s Egg video

Learn about Emperor penguins in this delightful, informative book.





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Literacy Resources

CLOSE READING

Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader’s attention to the text itself. The skills gained from close reading help students locate information more easily and develop comprehension.

Strategies for Close Reading:

•Use Think Alouds    

Model it often. For example,

I might say, “I see a word I don’t know. I’m going to circle it or write it in my personal dictionary and find out what it means.”

Make connections as you read. “I think the Empire State Building must be as tall as a roller coaster I saw once.”

Ask questions: “What evidence or proof do we have that bats are nocturnal?”

1.Sequence: Which event happened first? Which happened last?

2.Character Traits: Name one character. What is one trait you infer that character has? Explain why you think that.

3.Motive: What is something that person does? Why do you think that person does that?

4.Summarize: Summarize the story in four sentences. Tell about the characters and what they do.

5.Main Idea: What do you think is the main idea of the story? Why? 



What I love to Use:





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Literacy Resources

Teaching Vocabulary

•Students must learn 3,000 words per year by 3rd grade. •Only 400 words a year are directly taught by teachers. •Academic demands are high •Everyday speech consists of only 5,000- 7,000 words.  The books that young children are able to read are intended to help them practice their reading skills rather than build their vocabulary. While we can use these books to build the vocabulary knowledge of young children, it takes some effort and thought on the part of the teacher, tutor, or parent. 

Young children do not build their vocabulary by reading books but rather by having books read to them.



:Strategies to Teach Vocabulary Words

1. Read the story.

2. Contextualize the word within the story. 

3. Have children say the word.

4. Provide a student-friendly explanation of the word.

5. Present examples of the word used in contexts different from the story context.

6. Engage children in activities that get them to interact with the words.

7. Have children say the word. 


•For students with special needs, it is important that the teacher introduces a new word and provide VISUALS

Build on prior knowledge

Define in kid friendly terms and provide examples

Use games, songs, multi-sensory activities.

Use Semantic Mapping:



Vocabulary words fall into 3 tiers:

Tier One: Basic words that rarely require instructional focus (door, house, book)

Tier Two: Words that appear with high frequency, across a variety of domains, and are crucial when using mature, academic language (coincidence, reluctant, analysis).

Tier Three: Frequency of these words is quite low and often limited to specific fields of study (isotope, Reconstruction, Buddhism).


****Robert Marzano has written several books on Vocabulary Instruction. Here are his strategies:

Step one: The teacher explains a new word, going beyond reciting its definition (tap into prior knowledge of students, use imagery).

Step two: Students restate or explain the new word in their own words (verbally and/or in writing).

Step three: Ask students to create a non-linguistic representation of the word (a picture, or symbolic representation).

Step four: Students engage in activities to deepen their knowledge of the new word (compare words, classify terms, write their own analogies and metaphors).

Step five: Students discuss the new word (pair-share, elbow partners).

Step six: Students periodically play games to review new vocabulary (Pyramid, Jeopardy, Telephone).


Resources:

Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck
Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Lindsey Carlton and Robert J. Marzano
Words, Words, Words by Janet Allen
Teaching Basic and Advanced Vocabulary: A Framework for Direct Instruction by Robert J. Marzano






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Literacy Resources

Reading FLUENCY

Repeated readings help students with fluently. Make 2 copies of a page of text . Put them in clear plastic sleeves. Set timer for one minute. Go over errors.

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression

•A fluent reader reads smoothly and is interesting to listen to.

Ways to Foster Fluency:

Repeated Readings

Readers Theater

Shared Reading

Parner Reading

Choral Reading

Books on Tape

Echo Reading


How can we foster reading fluency?

  1. Paired or “Buddy” Reading. The easiest and best way to help your child develop fluency is to sit with your child and read! … 
  2. Reread Favorite Books. Another way parents can help develop fluency is to build a tall stack of books that your child can read quickly and easily. … 
  3. Record It.
  4. Reader’s Theater (select shorter passages for early readers)

10 Strategies for fluency

  • Record students reading aloud on their own. … 
  • Ask kids to use a ruler or finger to follow along. … 
  • Have them read the same thing several times. …  Check out Six Minute Fluency
  • Pre-teach vocabulary. … 
  • Drill sight words. … 
  • Make use of a variety of books and materials. … 
  • Try different font and text sizes. … 
  • Create a stress free environment.





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Literacy Resources

Early Literacy Resources

Check out this video to help your child with phonemic awareness. Many struggling readers lack knowledge of sounds (phonemic awareness).

Children have better success with phonics once they have experience with phonemic awareness.  Phonemic awareness may be the component that will help fill that gap.  Children must be able to segment words into individual sounds to read in any language that uses the alphabetic principle.

Phoneme isolation is the ability to isolate a single sound from within a word. Phoneme blending is the ability to blend individual sounds into a word. Phoneme segmentationis the ability to break a word into individual sounds.

Blending is linked to reading, segmenting linked to writing. Therefore, blending should come before segmenting, as you want to get children starting to read some words before they need to start writing them. Also, blending is a slightly easier skill to master as it relies more on listening.

https://aacliteracy.psu.edu/index.php/page/show/id/5/index.html






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Journal, Literacy Resources

The Joy of Read Alouds

Children that are read to learn that symbols on the page hold meaning. They learn to hold a book, care for a book, how to read from left to right, and how to turn pages. Most importantly they associate books with pleasure.

For struggling readers the anxiety of having to decode is eliminated. They can relax and enjoy being read to. It sparks imagination and visualization.

Children that are read to begin to learn Concepts of Print and equate reading with comfort as well as enjoyment. Read aloud to your child every opportunity you get.

Concepts of Print refers to the awareness of ‘how print works’. This includes the knowledge of the concept of what books, print, and written language are, and how they function. It encompasses a number of understandings that allow the reading process to take place including: understanding that print conveys a message.

Concepts of print include: 

  • Reading from left to right (Different languages have different concepts of print. For example, Arabic and Hebrew read from right to left while English, Spanish and French all read left to right).
  • Reading from top to bottom
  • The fact that letters and words convey a message.  
  • Print is what we read.
  • The “return sweep”, to move from one line to the next
  • Illustrations in a book correspond to the print
  • Every book as a front, back, and an author

Research tells us that students who are read to are more successful in early literacy skills. For students who lack this support, it is essential that teachers provide read aloud in the classroom.

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