Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fun with Place Value

Place Value comes in at a close second to subtraction with regrouping on the concepts that are the most difficult to teach to my RTI population. Often, these sweeties need a more concrete/visual/kinesthetic approach to math. So, here are a few of our favorite activities from our place value unit. I hope you find something useful for your classroom!

1. I really needed to make the value of the numbers more visual. Of course, we started out with base ten blocks and the usual stuff, but I wanted a way for them to really "see" and understand numbers in their expanded form. Before we started this, the students were reading numbers like 873 as 8-7-3 NOT eight hundred seventy-three. When they wrote that number in expanded form, they may have written 8+7+3 = 873. So, I whipped up these expanded form cards. We spent a lot of time building and deconstructing numbers. I just printed out this set on 3 different colors of copy paper. This made a HUGE difference with my students. You can grab this set for free {HERE}

2. Once we were rockin' and rollin' with reading numbers, understanding basic place value, and modeling numbers in different ways, we did some REAL rockin' and rollin'. We played Place Value Musical Chairs. Each student picked a numeral. We started out with 4 kids and 3 chairs. We cranked up some Christmas music and the game began. When I cut the music off, they had to sit in an empty chair representing the hundreds, tens, and ones of a number and hold up their digit card. The kid who was "out" got to choose if they wanted to ask or answer questions about the number that the other students had created. If they chose to ask, they had to come up with questions to ask the rest of the class about number. If they chose to answer, the group posed questions to them about the number. It was a BIG success! Everyone was involved and engaged! 

3. Once we had a handle on Place Value Musical Chairs, we expanded the game to include 7 kids. When the music ended, 6 kids would create two 3 digit numbers. The kid who was "out" had to compare the numbers and use his/her body to create the >, <, or = symbols. 

4. Last, we played Roll and Compare Place Value by The Primary Techie. The game uses a sound signal for students to roll a die. We used some giant foam dice. Then, the spinner lands on a place to record the number they rolled. They build two 3 digit numbers. Finally, they compare the numbers they have created. This is a great assessment and WAY more fun than a plain worksheet! You can find it on TPT {HERE}

These are just a few of my favorite things that are VERY inexpensive or even FREE for teaching place value. I hope you found something useful! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Number Reversals

Oh my goodness, if I had a nickel for every time a parent has said to me, "He/she still writes some letters and numbers backwards. Does he/she have dyslexia?", I could apply for early retirement! Written letter and number reversals have absolutely nothing to do with dyslexia! So, why do some kids persist in making these reversals?

1. It could be a fine motor skill issue.
2. It could be immaturity or even a later birthday. These skills are often developmental.
3. My personal theory is that practice does not make perfect. Practice can make permanent. Children are learning to write at a very early stage of development now. Handwriting instruction has been terribly neglected since other skills have taken priority over it. Some children have written their letters/numbers backwards for so long that it has become a habit to do so. 

So, what can we do? As an RTI teacher, I see a lot of students with issues like this. My assistant and I have had a great deal of success with a few simple strategies. 

Try placing salt in the bottom of an empty pencil box or travel soap container. Let them form the letter/number with their fingertip in the salt.
Let them rub a fingertip across fine sandpaper.
Write it in the air. Use your finger as an "air pencil".
Shine it on the wall with laser finger pointers.
Line the kids up. Let them form the letter/number on the back of the kiddo in front of them.
Tickle write it! (My kids LOVE this one!) They use their own finger to form the letter/number on the wrist/forearm area of their other arm.

I implemented a new resource this year, and absolutely LOVE it! We used this resource on my SMARTboard during our reading warm up time before small groups begin. I purchased this animated PowerPoint from The Primary Techie. Here is a video of her explaining several cool ways to use this program. You can purchase your own copy of this product {HERE}

We noticed that many students who were struggling with b/d and number reversals were writing in a way that had multiple pencil lifts. For example, rather than making a b with one continuous motion, they were writing a "stick" and then adding a "ball". They often forgot the order of those elements. We showed them how to flow write a b and a d. The motion feels completely different. MOST of their errors DISAPPEARED! 
Now, that we have addressed their letter reversal issues, we are about to tackle number reversals. I searched high and low on the Teachers Pay Teachers site for number formation products. I found so many that were cute or had great poems. However, if the poem for teaching how to write a 3 says, "Go around the tree and go around again to make a 3!", they can follow those steps and still do it backwards! I needed something that specifically taught directionality. 

Then, I remembered that when I taught first grade nearly 20 years ago, we sang a song about each number. The song didn't teach directionality though, so I tweaked it meet my needs. Each number has specific directions sung to the tune of "HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH". We are going to project the pdf onto my SMARTboard and use our tactile strategies from there. We will also use laser pointers, our fingertips, or the SMARTboard pens to trace and write our numbers as tickets to our small group tables. Here is a sample page from this free resource. 

If you would like to check out this free strategy, grab your copy {HERE}. What strategies work for you? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Officer Buckle and Gloria: Freebie and More

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann is one of my favorite stories. I identify with boring, rule loving Officer Buckle. I also have a soft spot in my heart for German Shepherds. When my husband was just a toddler, his life was saved by a German Shepherd named Champ. His family was visiting family at a lake house. He wandered out of the house while they were busy preparing lunch. They began searching for him everywhere. Then, they heard his little voice saying, "Move, Champ, move!" Champ was blocking him from getting into the lake and pushing him back towards the house. That precious dog refused to get out of his way!

I have a new book study for this classic story in my TPT store. You can check it out {HERE}.
If you have never heard the story of boring Officer Buckle and his charismatic dog, Gloria, you may enjoy this video narrated by the John Lithgow. 

Last, but not least, here is freebie from my book study. I hope this character analysis map will be useful to you. Grab yours {HERE}.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sounds of C & G Freebies

My RTI sweeties are working our way through learning phonics rules and sounds. Research shows that memorizing sound patterns is one of the best ways to help struggling readers or students with dyslexia. We are about to tackle the hard and soft sounds of the letters c and g.

If these sounds are tricky for your young readers, you might want these 3 freebies. The first one is a song that I have always used for teaching the hard/soft sounds of c and g. I can't for the life of me remember where I first heard it. I have used it since my first year in the classroom. It has always been helpful! I am planning to have my students use a highlighter to look for c/g followed by e, i, or y on the word sort pages before cutting and sorting. I hope these will be useful to you, too. You can download them by clicking {HERE}.

If you need more activities for the sounds of c and g, you might like my latest TPT product. It includes a decodable reader called "Carnival Games", an assessment, a reading/spelling center, and 2 of my students' favorite style card games. One is called "Cinderella's Castle" and practices the hard and soft sounds of c. The other is called "Goldilocks in the Cottage" and practices the hard and soft sounds of g. My kiddos beg to play these games! You can check them out {HERE}.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November's Pinterest Pick 3 Linky

November gives us so many opportunities for thankfulness. On Election Day, we are reminded of our freedoms. On Veterans Day, we are thankful for those who serve or are serving in the military. On Thanksgiving, our hearts nearly burst with counted blessings. 

I am thankful for my sweet friend, Ashley from Just Reed who invited me to link up in November's Pinterest Pick 3 Linky. Here are 3 of my favorite finds for Thanksgiving! 

How stinkin' cute are these scrapbook paper turkeys?!? You could work on patterning, creativity, fine motor skills and NOT have to get out any paint. No paint (or glitter) required makes anything a winner in my book. :)
Click on image to view the original Pinterest link. 

These little turkey snacks were just too cute not to share! They would be cheap and easy for some parent volunteers to pull off, too! These would be fun to enjoy while you watch my #3 pick. 
Click on image to view the original Pinterest link. 

Lastly, November would not be complete without reading 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. I absolutely adore this story. This read aloud version has background music that reminds me of a Charlie Brown cartoon. I am looking forward to seeing the new Peanuts movie this month, too. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Little Boo and Waiting

I LOVE discovering great new children's literature! These two new titles are absolutely fabulous! Let's look first at Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli. It is a the perfect tale for a unit on fall, Halloween, plants, pumpkins, or character education. Little Boo starts off as a seed who is discouraged because he isn't scary. The wind lovingly guides him on his journey into becoming a pumpkin. Little Boo learns that sometimes we have to wait for the things we want the most. 

Here is a video that will give you a quick picture walk through the book. It will give you a good preview of the text's level and the sweet illustrations. It is available in paperback from Scholastic's book clubs this fall. 

Who doesn't love EVERYTHING that Kevin Henkes writes?!?  His newest book, Waiting, is different from his other works, but it will become a classic, too. There is limited text on each page, but much of the story must be interpreted from the illustrations. It is the tale of 5 little toys who sit on a windowsill. Each one is waiting for something different to happen. None of them anticipate meeting someone new who will change the way they view waiting. I found a wonderful interview with Kevin Henkes on his latest book and how it was inspired. You can read it {HERE}.

Waiting can be so challenging for all of us! Children can find it especially challenging. I would highly recommend reading Little Boo and Waiting to the young children in your classroom or in your life. If you do, you may like this little freebie. {HERE} is a Venn diagram for comparing and contrasting these two beautiful stories.
I just added a book study for Little Boo to my Teachers pay Teachers store. It is full of activities, a nonfiction reader, and assessments related to the text. You can check it out by clicking the picture below. 
I hope that you have found a new title or two to check out soon! Happy reading! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella FREEBIE

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Do you ever feel like Cinderella? I may not be covered in ashes and soot, but I do go home from school covered in ink smudges and feeling exhausted. In honor of all of the hard work you do each day, I just uploaded a new freebie to my store.

I love all of the different versions of Cinderella stories. I have activities for most of them in my fairy tale unit that's available {HERE}.   When I wrote that unit, I had never read Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella. It is absolutely delightful! You can grab a free comprehension activity for the book {HERE}.

Jan Brett's work is masterful --as always! She used many breeds of chickens in her illustrations. She even traveled to Russia to study their architecture and traditional clothing. Jan used both of those to create a marvelous authentic setting for her chickens. 
This video from Jan Brett's YouTube channel is fantastic! She will show you the live chickens that she used as models for her characters. She explains lots of interesting facts about the chickens and her trip to Russia. If you are interested, you can also have your students follow Jan through a directed drawing of Cinders. I hope you enjoy it! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Use Clip Art to Create Bulletin Board Sized Art

Well, I am back at school and prepping my room for Open House. I shared this picture on Instagram today and some of my followers asked me to share directions and the letters. Ask and ye shall receive, folks! :) 

At the bottom of this post, you will find a downloadable link for these welcome letters. You can print them as is, or you can enlarge them to any size you choose. If you want to make them (or any other image) MUCH larger, here is a quick picture tutorial for how to make that happen. Enjoy! 

I love sharing with you all! Hope you have a great start to your year! Grab your own WELCOME letters {HERE}

Monday, August 10, 2015

Documenting Small Group Observations with Ease

As a Title I/RTI teacher, one of my main responsibilities is progress monitoring. Keeping up with all of that data can be overwhelming. In fact, sometimes little things that are just as important go undocumented. This year, one of my goals is to implement a system for documenting observations during small groups. 

Too many times, I have left a meeting about a student, and thought, "Crud muffins! I forgot to ask his mom to remember to send his eyeglasses each day!" or "I forgot to mention that Kaitlyn may have sensory needs. She's been chewing on pencils or buttons." The main reasons I forget are that:
1. I was too busy just sharing the data and the more minor issues get swept under the rug.
2. I didn't write it down when it happened. 

It is my goal this year to write down one observation on each student one time a week. I think that is attainable. If it works out, I will have 4 - 6 observations to contribute at the next RTI meeting on that child. Now, I am not planning to write down full out anecdotal records. I am not required to write those, and I will keep those of you who are in my thoughts and prayers. :)   I am just planning to jot down one quick thought about one student at the end of each session. 

Ideas for documentation:
-child specific improvements
-child specific struggles
-behavior issues
-changes in social behavior
-possible side effects from meds
-anything that the counselor/psychologist/classroom teacher/parent may need to know

Here is a quick demo that I whipped up. There is a space for writing in the names of the students in your small group. The weekly dates for the 2016-2017 school year are already filled in. All you have to do is jot down your notes. 

I made a full color and a b/w edition. If this would be useful to you, click {HERE} to download your copy. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

6 Steps to Creating and Scheduling Your R.T.I. Groups

When I was first assigned to teach 2nd Grade R.T.I., I was given free reign over my schedule. I literally sat and stared at a table filled with the master schedule, class rosters, and papers covered in scribbled out thoughts for more time than I would care to admit. How could I possibly make this all work? I would plan one schedule and then find a conflict with a lunch time, or too many tier 2 students, or the two classes combined would be over my limit. I wanted to pull my hair out! At the end of the day, I threw it all in a tote bag and took it home. That night, a system was born that has worked for me ever since! I know that your program will not be identical to mine, but maybe one or two of these ideas can save you two handfuls of hair! :) 

Before you get started, you MUST be sure that you fully understand your program's requirements. Are their max numbers of students who can served at one time? Are there minimum time requirements for reading and/or math? Are students seen daily? For me, I see my students daily in one hour blocks of time. Originally, I split it 30/30. Then, I decided to devote more time to reading. So, I have a 40 minute block for reading and a 20 minute block for math.

I will not lie to you. This step will take a while to get right, but it is the most important part of your planning. Remember you are setting up how your room will run for the next 180 days. Make sure you can live with it. 

I started by giving myself a planning time first thing in the morning. My students are not at school, settled in, and ready for services until 8:30 anyway. So, I blocked that out for planning and set up. Next, I started making one hour blocks. I made sure to pad them with 5 minute transitions wherever I could. After all, I do need to go to the restroom or answer an email here and there. I filled up every possible minute with instructional time other than that. Take a look at this schedule from last year as an example. I pull from 2 classrooms at a time for one hour. There is only one exception. One group comes for reading, leaves for lunch, and returns for math. 

I identify my current roster and potential students in three ways.
  1. The first grade RTI teacher keeps all of the data on her students in an Excel file. At the end of her school year, she emails the file to me. I can easily see who is currently served in RTI and also who exited or withdrew from school at some point during the school year. 
  2. I attend all of first grade's end of the year RTI meetings. This gives me a chance to listen to the information shared on each child. I also use this opportunity to ask each first grade teacher for the names of students who are NOT currently in RTI, but they have concerns about. Maybe there was not a slot available or they are concerned about the dreaded "summer slide". I keep a list of the names given to me by the classroom teachers.
  3. Our administration is very empowering. They give all of the RTI teachers administrative access to data. So, I can log in and evaluate MAP data, STAR data, AR records, and more. I look for students who are not being served, but could potentially need services based on low data. 
Our administration also releases class rosters to us before they are given to classroom teachers. I use my 3 lists (current RTI, exited RTI, teacher concern/low data) to add this vital information to each roster. I created this roster for Mrs. Sample's class to give you an idea of how it looks to the classroom teacher. We can easily see which children are already qualified for services. Exited children need to be monitored carefully as they may need to return to RTI. The "monitor for need" category helps because teachers know who to watch out. My team has been wonderful about contacting me and saying, "Yes, I agree with the first grade teacher's concern. Opal Buloni is struggling in second grade. I am sending you her current data. Can we see about adding her to tier 2?"

I use each roster when I create this schedule template. I list the teachers in alphabetical order. Next to their name, I put their # of current tier 2 kids/# of current tier 3 kids/# of exited + monitor kids. This figure is vital! My aide and I are not allowed to serve more than 14 students at one time. I also don't like to have more than 7 at each tier level either. Last, I create a column for each session block.
My next step makes my head spin a little, but again it is necessary work. I take the master schedule for the school which includes each teacher's specials time, lunch time, and recess time and begin right clicking and filling the space with gray to shade out times when that class is unavailable for RTI services. 

For example, on the chart below, Mrs. Frizzle's class had a busy afternoon. They had specials from 11:20 - 11:50 which knocked them out of my 10:40 - 11:40 and 11:40 - 12:20 sessions. They had lunch from 12:50 - 1:15 followed by recess from 1:15 - 1:30. Therefore, they could only attend RTI from 8:30 - 9:30 or 9:35 - 10:35.  

Once all of the conflicts are eliminated, I start looking for pairs of teachers who are free at the same time while keeping a close watch on my student totals. I start with the MUST HAVE slots. Look at the purple and green sections for an example. The purple teacher was the ONLY one available during those blocks. So, she automatically took that slot. There were only three classes available during the last slot. Falker and Snape took the green slots because the other choice could have put me over my limit if a new student enrolled who needed services. Planning the other three was easier. I examined the numbers and whenever possible I asked the teachers for their personal preference. 
When I get the schedule to this point, I am ready to type it up and share it with administration and my team. I usually given them their time slot and roster at the same time. 

Well, I hope this has been useful. I pray it's not as clear as mud. If you have any questions, I would be happy to help! Also, if you have suggestions for making it easier, I would love to hear them! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Character Education with Books by Helen Lester

Sometimes teaching character education or addressing sensitive issues can be tricky! That's why I love to incorporate literature as often as possible. Reading about a rat who is being bullied because of his speech disorder is a lot less stressful that getting lectured about being kind to others. Helen Lester is my favorite author for character education. I think of her as the Aesop for our generation. She uses animals in bad situations to teach a moral lesson that can be easily understood and applied. See? Modern day fables at their best! 

I have already written about my love for Listen Buddy and A Porcupine Named Fluffy. You can see their videos and grab some freebies by clicking on the titles above.

I also ADORE Wodney Wat. There is so much that you can do with this book! It is wonderful for those critical first days of school. Wodney cannot pronounce his r's correctly, and his classmates tease him day in and day out. Then, Camilla Capybara arrives and they are all bullied. Wodney becomes a hero when he saves everyone through a hilarious game of Simon Says. Here is a fun video read aloud of the story if you'd like to know more. 

Let's face it! In every class, there will be at LEAST one kiddo who has to be first. He or she will cut in line, take the sharpest pencil, or the grab the best seat at the lunch table whenever possible. Doing so will be a BIG source of classroom conflict. When that situation arises, reading Me First would be a great idea! Pinkerton the pig ALWAYS has to be first! So, when he hears a voice calling, "Who would care for a sandwich?" His answer is, of course, ME FIRST! However, he ends up meeting the SandWITCH who demands that he care for her until he learns his lesson. It is a funny but meaningful tale! Check it out below! 

Hurty Feelings is an awesome choice in a very TOUGH situation --- over sensitivity! We all have had sweet ones who wear their feelings on their sleeves or cry at the drop of a hat over something that others don't view as a big deal. A hippo named Fragility had the same problem! Even when the other animals are complimenting her, she misconstrues their meaning and gets offended. They start avoiding her because they are afraid that she will throw another fit. Then, Rudy the elephant shows up and gives Fragility a hard time. She learns to stand strong. Hopefully, the lesson will transfer well. The video below has blurry images, but it was created by a class who narrate the story and that makes it so sweet!

I have added three new Helen Lester comprehension scoots to my store. They are available for $1.50 each, and since TPT lifted their minimum check out requirement, you can grab them whenever you need one. They are also available in this newly added discounted bundle. You can check it out {HERE} or by click the pic below.
I hope these titles will help you navigate through some difficult situations! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Let's Make a Deal Game Freebie

My sister and I grew up watching Monty Hall on Let's Make a Deal. We loved all of the crazy costumes that the people wore, the fabulous prizes, and we especially loved the ZONKS! We laughed and laughed when we heard the whomp, whomp, whomp and saw the zany gag prize that the contestant had won. We even invented our own version of the game to play with our cousins!

Now, I play it at home with my own kids. It is one of their favorite things for us to do! {We are a little crazy! That's just how we roll!} Here is how we play at home. The Hubs is the emcee/host and I am his lovely assistant. The kids are given a few minutes to scavenge their rooms and create a costume. While they are doing that, we select the prizes/zonks. Some of them are placed in gift wrapped boxes. Some we tape to the window behind the curtains. Some we put in sealed envelopes in the Hubs's pants pockets.

Then, the fun begins! In order to earn a chance to choose a prize, they have to do what we ask. Sometimes we ask them questions related to what they are reading or studying in school. Sometimes we ask them to recite their scripture memory verses or answer catechism questions. Sometimes they have to pass parts of a clean room inspection. If they do, they can choose from the prizes offered by the emcee. He may say, "You can have what is in this box OR you can choose what's behind curtain #2!" We all shout out what we think they should choose. It could be a tangible reward (cash, candy, etc.), an activity/event like inviting a friend over to play, or a ZONK! Here is a sample reward and ZONK page:

I also added in 12 classroom rewards because this would be SO MUCH FUN to play in class! 

So, if you would like to play, you can snag 18 home reward cards, 12 school reward cards, and 12 ZONKS {HERE!} I would love to hear from you if you play!