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Monday, September 23, 2013

Inspired and a Freebie

For those of that were just hanging off the edge of your seat all day today, wondering what I had in store for you with my new bundle of Melonheadz clip art that I bought from Educents, you need to wait no further.

I spent most of my Sunday afternoon making an avatar for each of the students that I pull for small groups.  I tried the best that I could to make them look like the actual students themselves and what I think that they wear.  Seriously was a lot of fun!  I have a couple of ideas on how I would like to use them, but will blog about that later.

I have been sitting on a freebie for a while and keep meaning to put out there.  It is another set that goes along with my theme this year.  I have had vowel posters in my room that were kind of out-dated.  I wanted to make my own this year and have them use the colors that matched.  So here they are!

Click on either picture and it will take you to the link.  These are not available on my TpT store, only for my blog followers!  Enjoy!

Tomorrow, back to my professional book post.  I have kind of left that poor book all alone the last couple of weeks!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I can't believe that we have been in school for a month.  After a month of testing and meeting and talking with teachers, I finally have my schedule finalized (for the most part).  I currently serve about 25 first through third grade students in half hour time slots.  I also have a reading teacher who is at our school daily for an hour and she is able to see 9 students.

Testing is always necessary at the beginning of the year, but very time consuming.  We have always used Aimsweb for a quick assessment at the beginning of the year.  In the past, our school has always given the Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) to students in grades 2-5.  However, our district is making a push to move away from those into using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System.  Some of our teachers have been using this for a few years.  They have some former, retired teachers come in and give the assessments to their class.  It is wonderful information and I feel like heading in this direction is a good thing. You get so much more information from this assessment than you do a QRI, especially if you as the teacher are able to give the assessment to your own students.

Our district has laid out a time-table for teachers and other school personnel to get trained on how to give the assessments.  Right now the only 2 who have officially been trained are myself and the all day kindergarten teacher.  The awesome thing about the teachers in our building is that they are ready to make that transition and want their students to be given that assessment.  The un-awesome (if that's a word) thing is the time that it takes to give the assessments.  One assessment can take up to 20 minutes with a 4th or 5th grade student.  Then, depending on how the student does with that level, you may have to give another higher or lower passage to find their instructional level.

Do you use this assessment in your school?  I would love to hear how other schools or buildings manage to "sweep" (give the assessment to) an entire grade level or school for that matter.  What kinds of assessments do you give at the beginning of the year?  Who does them?

Switching gears.  I saw this last week, but finally bought mine this weekend!  I found this great deal at Educents.

I am becoming quite the Melonheadz fanatic!  So this is what I saw on Educents!  I knew that I had to buy it!

Seriously, really cute stuff.  I think I am probably a little late to the party (shocker), but their stuff is really adorable.  I have been using My Cute Graphics which is all free.  The artist really supports teachers. Between My Cute Graphics and Melonheadz, I feel like the products I make for teachers, and the materials I make for my reading program can't be beat!

I will show you what I made with the Melonheadz bundle tomorrow (yes, don't be shocked, I am going to blog 2 days in a row)!  I am really liking it!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Lot of Nothing

Wow, to say that I have been busy would be an understatement!  I can really understand how hard it is to get back into things full time and then also find time to do something other than sit in a corner and rock back and forth!

Kewanee was a blast, and I even managed to get a few things done on Labor Day!
Tuesday found me after school was over with the following routine:
1.  Pick up youngest from after care.
2.  Take youngest to Religious Ed.
3.  Pick up oldest from after care (couldn't pick her up earlier because she has running club)
4.  Get oldest dinner at Jimmy John's.
5.  Oldest eat dinner and start on homework.
6.  Pick up youngest from RE.
7.  Take youngest to cheer leading.
8.  Take oldest to softball.
9.  Pick up youngest from cheer leading.
10.  Get youngest dinner.
11.  Youngest homework and ready for bed.
12.  Pick up oldest from softball.
13.  Help oldest with homework and put both to bed.
14.  OH YEAH, don't forget to prepare for the presentation that you are giving to your staff in the morning (with the copy machine being broken before I left so I couldn't make copies)!

Now you may understand the whole sitting in a corner, drooling, and rocking back and forth (forgot to mention the drooling)!  Luckily, I have a great husband who does more than his part running the kids from here to there.  We don't believe in overextending our kids, but it seemed that Tuesday was the day that worked for everything!

The presentation went well, and I spent the rest of the day assessing students in grades 4 and 5 on the Benchmark Assessment System from Fountas and Pinnell, and then 1st grade students on our district 227 sight words.

Thursday was our Benchmarking Day.  We use this day to "sweep" the whole school by doing various assessments.  Grades 2-5 did a fluency assessment from Aimsweb, 1st grade did a letter sounds assessment from Aimsweb, and Kindergarten did various assessments from Aimsweb and ISEL (Illinois Snapshot of Early Literacy).  It took all day, but it is wonderful getting all of that data on students.  That means I am one step closer to finally knowing my caseload so I can finally start working with my little ones!  Had dinner that night with my fantastic group of lady friends.  They seriously keep me going and make me laugh all the time.  Just wish we could get together more often (some have worse schedules than I do)!

I spent Friday making up students that were either absent on Thursday or we skipped for some reason or another.  After school, I volunteered at my daughters' school for their Fun Fair.  I was only supposed to stay from 6:30 - 7:15.  I finally got home at 8:45!  Totally for a good cause and my girls had fun!

Softball game for my oldest and Septemberfest parade for my youngest.  Seriously can't wait until we can do something together as a family again!  Also, sorry to say I watched Notre Dame lose to Michigan.  Great game though!

Ahhhh, caught up (just a little, you don't even want to see my laundry pile)!

So I am taking a moment to be in the moment and think about what I am doing Currently.

Pretty self-explanatory.  Thanks to Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this great linky.  This monthly self-check helps keep me "in the moment" which was one of my back to school goals!

Have a great week all!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Beginning Sound Books

For those of you who read my Kewanee post, we had a wonderful time.  We were delayed a day because of a huge storm that happened at the same time we were ready to leave.  My oldest was in the basement for most of the evening, so we knew we should not chance it for her sanity (and ours)!  After many delicious pork chop sandwiches and rides that I used to do many times over which now make me dizzy, we are home and enjoying a beautiful day before the week begins (along with the busy schedules).

I was able to finish my series on beginning letter sound books.  I have noticed for some kindergarten students, that many repetitions with books at an emergent level are necessary.  This is especially true of children that come to school with little or no literacy background.  So, I created emergent readers that will help reinforce the letter sounds that children are reading.

Our school uses a program called Jolly Phonics.  I think it is a wonderful program!  It teaches children the sounds of letter and letter combinations in a specific order.  It gives the students a story, a song, and a motion that go along with each sound.  I used this order when thinking about the sequence of the books and the progression of the level of difficultly in them.  Here is the order they use:
I just stuck to beginning sounds (for now).  Now that the series is complete, I am making a bundle of all the books on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Here is what comes with each book.  This is an example from the letter S book.

This page gives you gives you ideas about how to use the book along with how to use the Running Record.

This page gives you the CCSS standards that correspond with the book.  Vowel books have one more standard addressed than the consonant books.

This page gives you resources to look up if you are new to giving Running Records.  This page also describes the criteria I use for establishing different levels of reading (independent, instructional, frustration).  I also describe my rationale and the order of the Jolly Phonics sequence.  Here is a look at the whole book.

The book also comes in black and white.  I plan to laminate and bind (maybe with some fun duck tape or Washi tape) the color version and use them again and again.  The black and white copies I will make and have the students keep them in their book boxes for Daily 5.  Each book in the series varies in number of pages.  The progression also introduces the students to more advanced sight words as you go through the series.  The vowel books have long and short sounds in them.  Each book is a an "A" level according to Fountas and Pinnell.  That means that these books are very patterned and the pictures closely match the text.  There may be new vocabulary in the books as well.  There are 2 exceptions.  The F Letter Book and the Q Letter Book are both level "B" according to Fountas and Pinnell.  Either the pattern changes more frequently, or the books have a return sweep that (more than one line of text on a page) that the students must account for when reading.

This is what the Running Record looks like for each book.  This is a great way to see if your students are ready to: tackle harder emergent readers, have a good grip on the sound associated with the book, understand 1:1 matching, and use picture clues to solve new words.  It's a multi-functional assessment!

That's it!  22 books are in the bundle.  If you bought each book individually, it would cost you $44.00.  I am listing the price at $35.00.  I am also putting the bundle on sale for an additional %15 off for the next 24 hours!  Click on either picture below and it will take you to the bundle.

I am also offering the first book in the series the Letter S book for free for the next 24 hours.  Pick it up and try it out!  Click below for the freebie!

Hope you are enjoying your Labor Day!