Friday, September 27, 2013

Five for Friday - Trackout, Classroom Photos, QR Codes for Teachers, A Podcast and 12 New Hello Fonts

I'm excited to link up this week with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching an effort to post more.  For those of you that blog, sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging, even though I love blogging, I realized that I just need to start blogging about all those things in my literacy life.  The idea behind Five for Friday is to A)to  post (at least) every Friday; and B) to post about five random things from that week.  So, here goes, starting with number one.


Today marks the end of the first quarter...that's right. In a year round school system, that means TRACK-OUT, and that is a glorious day.  It also means the next three weeks off....sort of.  Here's a look at our crazy year-round calendar.  I'm on Track 4.

{Click on the image to get your own up-close and personal copy}
 Next week is dedicated to wrapping up my 3-6 Common Core Reading Packs, and various doctor's appointments before Hello Literacy hits the road for a week of PD back in the Fulton County School district outside Atlanta, GA.  You may remember I was at Barnwell Elementary last spring...well, they have asked me back to do a day on Vocabulary Instruction, the middle Wednesday.  On Monday and Tuesday, I'll be doing 50 Shades of the Common Core for Dolvin Elementary and again on Thursday and Friday for Metlock Bridge Elementary...looking forward to some PD fun!  The third week "off" will actually be spent back at school for our week long Leader in Me training...(days we get to trade out later).


Here's the idea...after you leave a teacher's classroom, say from doing a peer observation, a walkthrough (used for instructional practices data collection), a peer coaching lesson, whatever...and you see something AWE.SOME that you want to tell or ask her or her students...instead of leaving a note on her desk, you would scan the QR Code on your way out the door and leave her a virtual note to fill up her teacher love bucket! What teacher doesn't love positive, explicit, personal (to just them) words of affirmation? Paired with Google Docs?  Creating these to mount outside each teacher's classroom is one of my school projects.


With all the mCLASS, TRC and Digging Deeper Assessments conducted in the first quarter, I barely had time to start my reading groups...I think I had them for a whole two weeks (and now we track out tomorrow)...but I am excited about a few new classroom things that I wanted to share with you...

My Text Types Venn Diagram Bulletin Board inspired by the Reading Genre Posters I purchased from Rachel Lamb of The Tattooed Teacher Blog (and a fellow NC teacher).  We have actually started adding the posters to the board, but not until after we've had some good conversations about the criteria for adding it to the fiction side, the nonfiction side or the middle....lots of good justifying going on there. 

The circles are made out of bulletin board paper. If you look closely, the blue and yellow circles are made of two half'll see the folds I made to get the circles "circular." If you want the title letters I created and cut out (beware, cutting out your own letters for this requires a good pair of scissors and a Redbox) you can have them HERE.  Oh, and if you don't have a lot of wall space like I do, you can make the circles smaller and just print Rachel's poster "multiple pages per sheet" at the Print menu so two posters fit on one piece of paper instead of one full poster.  

My Bloom's Posters were getting a little faded so I made myself a new set of my Bloom's Posters...I think they look pretty good.   If you own this product, or even if you don't, if you heard me'll know that these posters don't just get put up on the wall without some sort of anchor to the learning...preferably a mini-lesson explaining levels of thinking and how to do it, referring explicitly to the "bars of signal strength" as an anology they can all relate to.  Posters, task cards and thinkmarks are included in this best-seller...and it really is my best-seller, I've sold more of these than anything else since I opened my TpT store...and if you're really curious, scroll down and read some of the comments from teachers whose principals have been so impressed by them on their classroom walls.  Seriously though, if any has "increasing higher level thinking" in any shape or form as a goal on your Professional Development Plan (PDP) this year...this download alone will without a doubt help you accomplish this goal with success AND gets all students (and teachers) in your room...speaking and writing at the highest levels of is truly amazing!!

I also had the pleasure of introducing my Shades of Meaning Center to my new batch of 3rd's what the center looks like when they get to it.  It's a cooperative, higher order, vocabulary, standing-up center. The first week, instead of pulling students for small reading groups, I stayed at this center to facilitate "how-to do" this center.  Now, they are good to go and do it without me.  If you've already purchased it, I'll be adding the Center Sign to the packet, if you don't have it, you can grab the center HERE .  I would say this center is appropriate for 2nd - 6th grade and fits into the Common Core Language standards for each of these grade levels.   

Among the many cozy "just right" spots I have for students to read around the room, I have a big blue plushy chair that sits right inside my classroom door.  I made this sign to go above the chair.  Do you like it?  If you want it, click on the image of it.  


This isn't really part of the classroom photo, but it is a snapshot of a class discussion we were having about "opinions" when introducing my new 3rd graders to the describing and inferring activity, Picture of the Day
Click below to listen to our short podcast captured during our's about 3 minutes.

And last but not least, 12 new Hello Fonts to feed your font addiction. 

The addition of these 12 fonts, brings the grand total Hello fonts to 155. If you already own my font license, you will want to re-download the product from your "My Purchases" tab at TeachersPayTeachers.  If you don't own my font license, you can grab it HERE for the one-time, low price of $20...for use of all fonts.  All of my fonts are free for personal and non-commercial use if you just give credit to me, and a link back to my blog. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ReWordify Could Help Make Text More Accessible for All Readers: Summarizing The Gettysburg Address

Two scores and nine years ago, I went on a school trip to the east coast for two weeks. We visited many historic landmarks...Monticello, Mt.Vernon, Williamsburg, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Gettysburg. It was an awesome trip that I still remember to this day. I took lots of pictures with my Kodak camera including one of me and my friends sitting onto of a cannon at the Gettysburg Battlefield, and that was my Gettysburg memory, until last week. 

 Last week, I found this cool web-based app (application) called ReWordify that I wanted to be sure and share with everyone because it seems like it would have so many possibilities for making more text accessible to all readers.  I haven't tried it yet with my students, but I was really curious if it really worked to increase comprehension, even  my own.  So, I did a little experiment. I cut and pasted The Gettysburg Address into the text box at, and it really worked...I actually think I understand what it actually says and means better than I did least I think I'm better able to summarize it....(no disrespect intended, just my simplified summary)...

"A whole bunch of brave men died fighting for our nation on this ground. Their mission and service here had a purpose and gave meaning to the values our country were founded upon...liberty, freedom and equality...they fought for these and died for these. We are here today to properly honor them and bury them."

There are several options once you are at the site, but overall, it's very straightforward and simple to use.  No sign-in or account is required, which is nice and the results are generated within seconds.  Totally awesome!  Anyway, for anyone interested in using the original Gettysburg Address and/or the "rewordified" version of The Gettysburg Address with your class, click HERE for versions you may copy and use in your classroom.  Have fun rewordifying! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall Ya'll!

 Wow! Where did summer go? I can't believe fall is already here. I don't know about you, but fall is my favorite time of year (maybe it's because I was born on Thanksgiving, true story) but I love fall weather, fall food, fall fashion, and fall traditions! So let's start a new annual Happy Fall Ya'll Sale! This weekend, everything in my store is 20% off. It would be a great time to pick up some of my smaller but recent items or some of my larger oldies but goodies. And for everyone waiting, the next item I will be posting will be my Hello Common Core Reading packs for 3-5 (and elementary 6th). So for those of you asking, the wait is almost over. 

Thank you so much for following and supporting my little 'ol store. I couldn't be any happier making and creating resources for teachers and students...and I absolutely *love* when you come back and tell me how much you and your students are enjoying, growing, thinking and loving everything...your stories are what motivate me to make and create more. 

((((((Hugs!)))))) -Jen

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Scaffolds for Teaching Emerging Readers...1-1 Correspondence

I didn't want to wait too long to share this Print Concepts strategy with you because it's one I've been using for {many.many years...too many to say} that works GREAT at the beginning of the year when students are beginning to learn concepts of print, book handling skills and the life-long reading behaviors of 1-1 correspondence, tracking words from left to right, top to bottom and learning that spaces separate words. Now that we all have our literacy rotation routines and procedures in place, we're all ready to begin guided reading. 

In the picture above, I really took seven different pictures of the actual sentence strips I use to make them all fit onto one slide. In reality, I introduce one strip per day to teach students 1-1 correspondence. You will start out with non-text, non-print objects to get kids moving, tapping, identifying and matching from left to right, in time and in order.  Each day you will vary what it is they tap and identify per "landing spot." This has what has worked for me, but feel free to change it up if you don't have toys or colored dots (you could certainly draw your own colored dots, too). The best part about this strategy is that actually doing it doesn't require a penny. If you don't have sentence strips, cut long pieces of paper.  Ok, use the following:

Day 1 - toys or real objects (not too big)
Day 2 - colored dots (or draw them yourself)
Day 3 - symbols (familiar ones)
Day 4 - numbers (in or out of order)
Day 5 - letters (spaced a bit apart)
Day 6 - more letters (spaced closer together)
Day 7 - whole words...a sentence (with sight words you're working on)

At Day 1, you are really reinforcing that their finger tap must match the toy, on the strip with their voice, not pointing or identifying verbally too soon or too late, but right ON the object, or the "landing spot," right under the object or word.  Proceed through the days in the same manner and by day 7, students will have it down! This strategy works like a charm...every time.

I have created additional practice sheets if you would to use them for practice, home celebration sheets (you know the kind, the "Look Mom and Dad, what I can do! kind) or for assessments.  Good luck and let me know how it goes! You are certainly welcome to make your own or pick mine up, they're already done! Here's one or you can check out the preview here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Assessments to Zalphabets...and Everything in Between!

You may think I've gone MIA for the last two weeks...and in a way, I have, if you count assessments and meetings...because it seems that's all I've been doing for the past two weeks since Open House.  As some of you may remember our school switched from Aimsweb to mCLASS this year and since we're schoolwide Title I, there's a whole other host of  red tape requirements necessary for keeping our funding.  In all seriousness, it really is all in the name of accountability which is a good thing, but can really be time-consuming.  I have to keep reminding myself..."it's what's best for kids...and growth...and progress...etc." The rollover to mCLASS is pretty much statewide in North Carolina (paid for by the Department of Public Instruction, which is paid for by Race to the Top, etc, etc.) and tied to Standard 6 of the Teacher Evaluation Instrument and feels very much "big brother-ish." Let's just hope we cross all our t's and dot all our i's. By the way, I have updated my Universal Screening Assessment Binder with mCLASS headers if you are interested in organizing all your student probes. This binder works for DIBELS, AIMSweb and mCLASS.

So, here's a few snapshots from the last two weeks...

Here I am two Sundays ago, presenting my "Signal Strength Bloom's Posters" while being one of sixteen teachers here in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill) to receive a Creative Freedom Award sponsored by Duke University.  Here I am talking with some teachers and the representative from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Among the gifts that came with the award is a one year site license for my school for the electronic field trips to Colonial Williamsburg...among other things, the kids can write to John Adams and he will write them back. 

This is the 2nd grade PLT that meets every Tuesday morning from 8:00-9:15 (while TA's cover their classes from 8:45-9:15) we have an opportunity to collaborate, monitor SMART goals, create assessments, and 95% of the time, answer the 4 essential questions (c/o the DuFours)...

What is it that we want students to know? 
How will they show that they know it?
What will we do when they don't know it?
What will we do when they do? 

And in other meeting...this one was our Best Service Meetings that we held all day on Friday with each grade the name says, it's a meeting to determine eligibility for "the best service" for students in the most need of intervention.  We meet with each grade level in the conference room, on their planning time, throughout the day.

With all the stress of the beginning of the year (although tomorrow starts week 5) my sweet hubby brought me this...a candy and card stuffed bouquet of flowers...isn't he the sweetest? 

Oh, and here's what popped up when I entered "mCLASS implementation" into YouTube...

Does that tell you something?  Seriously, like this is going to help me? Zero help right now is about where we're at with it...we have benchmarked, we have TRC'd, we have run a few reports and we think we're liking the Small Group Advisor and Item Advisor, but that's as far as we are....

This weekend I got to spend some time with my Mom, who actually lives in town, and we see regularly about once a week, but time with her is always special.

And these are the NEW Common Core Lucy Calkins Units of Study...they arrived literally on Friday afternoon, so tomorrow I get to label and distribute...who wants a writing workshop coach?  So excited to begin book studies with this new series...we fought hard for these and they are finally here. 

Needless to say, with all vast amount of assessing the interventionists have been doing the the last four weeks, we have not started reading groups (core or intervention) but when we do I'll be ready.  I made myself a brand new set of Alphabet posters this year with clipart from a new designer I LOVE. 
Here is a peek at the's fresh off the laminator and stretched across my living room floor...

click on the image to see a preview

...I can't wait to hang it up in my room.  If you're using it with Pre-K and K, I would put them up backwards and as you introduce each letter to students, have them guess what picture could be on the front.  Then when you put it back up on the wall, they have an "anchor" for that letter. There are several other "goodies" in the set, so be sure to check it out.  

And last, and definitely least, I have updated by profile picture, on this blog and my TeachersPayTeachers store in honor of the new "round" profile buttons that will be debuting on TpT tomorrow.  My family said it was time to update, so you get a fresh me.