Targeted Literacy Games- Phonological Awareness Syllalbes

I don’t know about you but the needs of my students this year are vast! Covid has added more students with varying gaps in their literacy journey than ever before. The intervention has to be regular, targeted, and applied in multiple ways. YES!!! Multiple ways of intervention- what this looks like with my groups is 8 minutes of phonological awareness practice using Heggerty (because my students need phonological mastery- they are not there yet. Heggerty is affordable and does not require any other tools or preparation. Science of Reading is a wonderful way to look at the needs of early readers K-2 grade and those with intervention needs. But, whole group instruction alone cannot make the major shifts that students need. Students need time to practice what they are learning in a low-stress environment that is engaging. This is more than the I do, we do, you do the process. It is all the students determining the correct answers with their peers without your guidance or input at all. But, of course, you will loop around and listen in on student conversations in order to hear achievements or needs.

When students play games that reinforce concepts they have been practicing with you it allows them to take control and the power of their learning. It is a scaffold before applying it in their reading skills.

This small group of kiddos is working on the 1,2,3 syllable race game. They clap, tap or point out the syllables of a word based on the picture. They place the picture card below the corresponding number of claps. The race comes from the students choosing which number of claps will have the most picture cards related. They all choose which one will have more before they begin- it creates a race-like competition. I try to reserve 1 or 2 cards to make the game different each time it is played.

The picture above shows the Big Card Game that focuses on picture cards with one or two syllables. The big cards make this game exciting- we even play on the floor to make it more fun! These four fun phonological games (letter sounds, no alphabet association) help students practice 1,2,3 syllables segments and counting syllables. This is very important for students to grasp on their reading journey. You can even extend these games into phonics once students have masted phonological awareness by having students write and break down the word into parts.

I love these games! I love how much my students love these games! They have so much fun and I can see the students make progress toward mastery or even master so we can move on to their next need. Small group games make learning engaging and mastering skills and concepts a piece of cake!


Find the games on my TpT page- print them in color on plain paper, laminate with a personal laminator, cut, and get to playing! The whole setup took me minutes to get the first game prepped. It took seconds to teach my groups how to play it and off they went to success and learning enjoyment.


English Phonemes and Spanish Speaking Students

Do you have English Learners in your classroom? If so- keep reading…

Do you know the letters and sounds that the English language has that Spanish does not?  If so keep reading…

Do you know the top 5 languages spoken in the world?  If not keep reading…

English learners are becoming ever more popular in our classrooms as the big wide world is easier to travel and opportunities are no longer limited to our own backyards. Diversity makes our community sparkle! There are many cultures in our world, currently, the top five languages spoken around the world are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hindi, and Russian. That is just the beginning of the languages that can cross your classroom.

Spanish is pretty common in my area and knowing the common letters and sounds in English that Spanish speakers do not have are helpful in creating both an even playing field in the classroom and in building English literacy. Reading is always important in our classrooms. No matter what grade level are English learners enter our schools they need to know the basics. That includes those letters sounds that are not present in their home language.

Spanish speakers produce the double l- ll as a y sound. In American English, we pronounce it as a single l sound. This affects both pronunciation and spelling so it is important to be directly taught to students who are coming into our classrooms speaking Spanish. Just as English vowels: a,i,o,u, consonants: z,d,j,v,w and digraphs: th, sh. This is a great start to helping our Spanish speakers transition to English reading, writing, and speaking.

Draw parallels, look for cognates and help students make connections. We are trying to help students grasp the language for ease of use while maintaining their home language(s) so having discussions with students about the similarities and difference is vital in both sowing respect and helping us both teachers and students learn from each other.

For more information, LETRS and SEAL have great writeups on cognates and phonemes of multiple languages.

Classrooms are ever-changing in their needs and populations.  Reading is always at the forefront of learning. To ensure that students are on the same page we need to make sure all our students know the English alphabet- letter sounds, how to make the sounds, and how those sounds are presented.  

For more tips follow me here, on Facebook or Instagram at The Reading Curve or check out items on my TpT page



Happy New Year!

Here we are back in the classroom enjoying the new year with our students. Some of you will walk in and get right back into the groove- reteaching some expectations and then hitting the ground running. Others of you will stop and contemplate where you should start…reteaching, special small unit on the season to get us back into the groove with small steps, some will start completely different- new year- new class. Me- well… I’m a bit of everything, aside from reteaching some class norms and rehashing expectations of course🤞. I like to get back on track a week or after returning to the classroom, especially when my students are language learners.

Taking any sizable break means many of my students may not have had the opportunity to practice their academic language skills or hear models of proficient speakers. They are in their home environment and enjoying life with friends and family, as it should be. Back at school, these students may need a little time to remember and practice the language skills that they were working on prior to the break. They may forget tenses, sentence structure, vocabulary, and more.

These Back To School Memes Will Make You LOL - We Get It MOM! | Memes

Don’t let your students get overwhelmed.

So, here we are back to the new year, start with a refresher for a week and get your students back on track in a successful way. Here are three tips for success:

  1. Read the room- have students workin in talking partners and walk the room, reading posters to each other. Make a picture/ word checklist of items to read: posters, rules, chants/songs, directions, class jobs, and anythign else that students can read and recognize that are vital to their classroom independence and their ability to partiicpate in the class discusssions and activitites, When everyone is done- review the spaces with the class to ensure that students are using hte correct words. Choral response allows for oral rehearsal.
  2. Sentence frames: Reintroduce some sentence frames for you students to oral practice alone, then with a partner, then writing their completed sentence frame, and reading it back.
  3. Play games with the pertinent subject matter vocabulary so students feel confident participating in the classroom. And example of this is…I have you, have vocabualry game. Students are distributed 1 card in a random order. Card 1 student stands up and say their statement such as …”I have the definition of addition-counting on two or more numbers. Who has the addition sign.” Card 2 would say, “I have the + addition sign. Who has the equal sign? And so on it goes. You control the information by using the vocabulary you were working on before the break. You can also use tenses/verbs/ sentence order or other information.

The goal is to get your students back up to speed so they feel like they can participate. After any length of time not practicing their English skills that can revert and have difficulty remembering what they have worked on. Just like any other content, for all of our students no matter their language levels.

See my Parts of Speech Game on Teachers Pay Teachers


ELD Best Practices

Teaching language learners takes implementing research-based best practices into the classroom. Strategies and methods that help students learn, practice and use their English skills in every subject throughout the day. English Language Development or ELD is used to help students learn English based on language standards from the state. Those standards include collaborative conversations, building on others answers, presenting and comprehension along with standards that align closely with literacy Common Core Standards.

Student levels are tiered based on their test scores and teacher input. These three proficiency levels are emerging, expanding and bridging. The proficiency levels help teachers understand the needs of the students and what to expect from their independent skills and aid to identify scaffolding methods/needs for student growth. These proficiency levels are not a full picture of student’s capabilities but do help us remember that our student’s social language can be more robust than their academic levels and that support is necessary for growth. If students do not receive adequate support for their needs their language progress may go stall, go backwards and/ or negatively affect their home language skills. Additionally, students who never progress out of ELD coursework and proficiency exams are known as long term English Learners,

“These long-term ELs have been schooled in the United States for six or more years but have not made sufficient linguistic and academic progress to meet redesignation criteria and exit English learner status. Fluent in social/conversational English but challenged by literacy tasks, particularly disciplinary literacy tasks, these students find it difficult to engage meaningfully in increasingly rigorous
course work.”

California ELD Standards, 2012

The goal of teachers is to help our students be the most prepared and able for opportunities that lay ahead of them. We do not want them to lose a language, we are adding not subtracting because two languages are better than one. This is especially close to my heart as my parents gave up on one of my languages and I don’t want that to happen for other children. Learning a new language is tough! Learning a new language in isolation is extremely tough!!! Let’s look at some ways we can help our students learn English both socially and academically in our classroom and tied to content.

ELD/EL Best Practices:

  • Visuals (pictures, sketches, photographs)- If students see it they will more likely understand what you are trying to say or teach, We can’t go everywhere on a field trip but pictures help to expand the world to your students and increase their knowledge and vocabulary, Example Show a picture, Say and repeat the name of the item in the picture, add a label, use a sentence frame for speaking and writing.
  • Class/ Teacher made Charts/ Graphic Organizers- Make posters to teach adding titles, pictures, labels, facts, sketches see GLAD/SEAL for more information. These are to stay up and are used for reference so students can easily find the information they need.
  • Sentence Frames/ Starters Help students organize their thoughts, give them the frames to put into their vocabulary and they will feel more successful. This is a scaffold so their is a gradual release needed or all your students will sound and write like robots for the whole year.
  • Repetition
  • Preview/Review/ Practice/Practice/Practice
  • Choral Response- repeat after me, say it with me, say it together. Students with different sounds in their native languages need practice making the sounds (phonemes) that are produced in English. My name is not the same coming out of the mouth of my Azorean grandmothers’ as it is from my English speaking in-laws. We need to hear and practice speaking over and over again as we learn languages.
  • Wait Time/ Think Time.
  • Connect Language Skills in all Content- teaching in isolation doesn’t help us connect what we are learning abstractly to the real world. Students need to see, hear, touch, taste and smell (if possible) what they are learning. I taught a group of Silicon Valley kids about the subway system in NY- that was a waste of time and added frustration for what?! My poor students didn’t get much out of those boxed lessons until I made local connects to things they could see in their real world. What a difference! Language should be connected!
  • TPR Total Physical Response see: https://www.tpr-world.com/mwhat-is-tpr.html and https://www.ef.com/wwen/blog/teacherzone/total-physical-response-efl-classroom/ Total Physical Response or movement helps students connect the meaning with a movement and that muscle memory helps us to make connections and working memory for later use.
  • Games/Cooperative Work/ Hands on Learning – these promote low affect filter so students don’t feel scared to make mistakes and try out their English skills. Also games are fun! When learning is fun is it really learning? YES!!!
  • Cognates– adding in words that are similar in student’s home language can help make language connections and see similarities. Cognates are words that look and sound similar with the same meaning as the English version.
  • Incorporating cultural aspects and viewpoints on learning and behaviors/ Cultural Dimensions- the more you know about your student’s background the more you can incorporate that into their learning and your lessons plans.
  • Model (You do, We do, They do) or watch a sample ahead of time so students know what to expect. When students guess at what you want chances are you won’t get what you think you are asking for from your students.
  • Readers/ Writer’s Workshop- this helps build vocabulary both academic and social as well as adding idioms to their vocabulary and meaning. Writer’s Workshop also allows students to rewrite get specific feedback on their writing.
  • Explicit Instruction- don’t leave students guessing. Let them know what you are teaching and why you are teaching it and what you expect from them and give them the tools to get it done.

There are really many best practices. The above best practices can be used in all curriculum/ subject matter. I have my students respond in complete sentences. That means they start with sentence starters/ frames to help put their words in order and give me a complete thought. This also means that I have to help students be successful, after we work out the sentence they say it again without my support. This activity is simple but can take time. I let students know why I am asking for complete sentences, keep my expectation high and have scaffolds in place like sentence frames, practice with them, and allow students to get help and make mistakes- space and time. But, I don’t correct the students in their social conversations. They need room to explore and practice their skills with a low effective filter

Connect strategies to your students real content, life, and world so learning is meaningful. Give students the space and time to practice, make mistakes, reteach, practice again and so on. And remember we learned language first by listening and mimicking, it is important that students listen and speak the academic language you are wanting them to learn.


California., Ong, F., & California. (2002). English-language development standards for California public schools, kindergarten through grade twelve. Sacramento, Calif: Dept. of Education.

 Kaplan, E. (2019). 6 Essential Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners. Edutopia

Irby, J., Lara-Alecio, R., Tong, F., Guerrero, CA., Sutton-Jones, K., Abdelrahman, N., (2018). Implementation of Research-based ESL Strategies with Lower Grade
Middle School ELLs in the Science Classroom: Findings from an
Experimental Study. Volume 22. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1178995.pdf

Du, X., (2009). The Affective Filter in Second Language Teaching. Vol 5. Issue 8. http://files.onthewebquest.webnode.com/200000022-762bb77278/krashen%20hypothesis.pdf


ELD versus ESL

Our classrooms are becoming very diverse and this may include students that are coming from areas where English is not the native or secondary language. These students may need to spend time learning English by transferring the language skills they have or by learning the fundamentals and academic language together, Not all students come to our classrooms at the same level, and the same is true of students coming to our classrooms from other countries.

Depending on student grade levels and areas where you teach students who need to learn to comprehend, speak, listen, read, and write in English may be put in one of two different types of classroom/classes. These are often referred to as ELD and ESL classes.

Generally students in the younger elementary classes or students in schools with high levels of second language learners attend ELD classrooms. These are classes where teachers have studied working with language learner populations within their credential coursework. In ELD classrooms, students are kept in the same class all day. ELD stands for English Language Development and that occurs in every subject matter throughout the day. Teachers use research backed best practices to engage students and embed language development within academic curriculum, This includes frontloading vocabulary, adding pictures, using sentence frames and building background content together.

According to ColorinColorado.org the definition of English Language Development is:

English language development (ELD) means instruction designed specifically for English language learners to develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English. This type of instruction is also known as: English as a second language (ESL) English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)


But I am making it more specific. I find a lot of information on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, forums, and otherwise using the term ESL but find that that term usually relates to stand alone classrooms of middle school and higher grade levels. What occurs in a stand alone classroom is not the same of an integrated, self-contained classroom. Integrated classrooms have students with varying levels of language proficiency, cultural backgrounds, and learning needs. This does not apply to English learners solely but does include second language learners. ELD classrooms teach all subject matters throughout the day, the students in the class stay in one classroom all day.

ESL classrooms tend to be a stand alone classroom where students are gathered by their proficiency level to study how language works and may be rooted in a subject matter outside of English. The same researched based practices are in place in either style classroom. The classes are typical in middle school and above due to numbers of students. It can also be a forced elective for students who have not tested out after elementary school. All grade levels have ELD standards in California.

Whether students are in ELD or ESL classes it doesn’t reflect their learning background. Sometimes we find students who are not strong in either their home language or English. Other students will be strong readers in their native language and will soak up English like a sponge. Our classrooms may be filled with those types of learners and many in-between. Knowing researched based best practices will help in both ELD and ESL classrooms. This includes making sure we pronounce our students by their name. See this article from Curriculum Associates about name activities.

There are benefits to both camps of helping students learn English. I will not be arguing a side. I have taught both styles. What I think is important to remember are the basic fundamentals:

  • We are adding a language not losing one- make connections to students home languages, encourage them to practice all their languages and teach families how important it is to save their cultural identity and language.
  • Call your students by their names- the name they choose, the way it is said, the pronouns they use— it’s their name and their identity and we as teachers don’t get to change that. It may take awhile but practice helps and it makes your students feel seen and heard.
  • Languages take time to learn so allow for a lot of practice! A vast majority of us learned to speak before reading and writing, this is important to remember when we are learning/ teaching a second language. Students need to speak a lot, that means using sentence frames, collaborative conversations and hearing stories, videos, conversations, choral response and rereading over and over again.
  • Make connections as much as possible to native languages using cognates, prefixes, and root words.
  • ELD and ESL and ESOL (English to Speakers of other Languages) all teacher students English. Language is only one part of the whole child…make connections to your students.
  • Language is power. Education is power. They both open many doors so they are important to teach to our students, not to change our students.

Remember if you are teaching students in elementary school, in a self contained classroom you are teaching ELD and incorporating researched-based strategies into all subject matter from reading to art, science to p.e., math to social studies and everything else, Look for strategies and curriculum using strategies.

Find some of my ELD curriculum and strategies below on TpT.


What Multicultural Acceptance looks like within the Classroom

Many teachers around the globe have classrooms that are increasing more globally diverse. Students are moving from around the globe to new places and bring with them a wealth of cultural information that may be new or different to their new home region and school. As teachers our goal is to get to know the student to make them feel comfortable and safe. In doing so it means we need to get to learn the cultural background of students and how those cultures see education, the role of the teacher and classroom, and how communication is used. By bringing in those aspects students can see themselves in the classroom. Plus including learning about your new students language, foods, special festivities and more into the classroom year round as well as on special occasions. When students feel that they are welcomed and embraced in the classroom, the will feel that they are part of the classroom fabric, woven into the importance.

I remember when I was in classrooms where the students looked and sounded like me. We all knew the same two languages. We ate the same foods. We attended the same cultural festivities, cultural grocery stores and had the same pictures around our homes of our parents motherland. And then one day I no longer went to school with like cultural students. No-one in my class spoke my other language, had a clue where the Azores was located or ate what Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá. I was effectively a lone representative. But, my class was full of students from backgrounds different from each other and very different from our teachers. So, it was a very interesting learning experience. I didn’t just learn about the academic goals my teachers had set out, I learned about the many cultures of my peers. However, this wasn’t from my teachers. Very few of my teachers tried to learn or incorporate the difference and similarities of the students in the class. I didn’t feel that I mattered as much because they didn’t know me. They didn’t really know me and my teachers didn’t know how to see me. I didn’t feel that I was part of the fabric of the classroom, nor do I think many of my peers did either, no matter how hard our teachers tried to make learning fun, hands, on and meaningful. The teachers were great in many ways but if I had felt seen it would have been better.

As you are planning your new school year I encourage you to consider learning and adding cultural background of your students into the classroom. Adding background and voice help to students make the classroom inclusive and equitable. Here are some examples of ways to incorporate students backgrounds into the classroom without making the student the sage on the stage at all times.


  • Student surveys
  • Family Surveys
  • Look up country backgrounds at : https://www.hofstede-insights.com/product/compare-countries/ These impacts can effect how students learn and behave in the classroom.
  • Amazon and libraries to fill your classroom library with books on places represented by your students as well as books in native languages of your students and bilingual books of native language and English,
  • Allow students to engage in learning strength based on their cultural backgrounds
  • Support students to learn with methods that are different than those they come to your class already knowing
  • Allow students to teach or correct but not always feel the need to be the teacher of their culture- become a resource and a partner for your students
  • Cultural representatives: as guest speakers

Also something to note- we cannot always tell the backgrounds of our students just by looking at them or hearing them. Not everyone is a English Language Learner or wears their culture on their sleeve via clothing etc. Be sure to ask rather than assume. My teachers would be have been able to help me more if they would have asked instead of assumed. Be the asking teacher.


End of the Year Letter Assessments for Pre-K, Kinder and 1st-Grade students

It’s that time of the year…assessment time. Really teaching early literacy it’s always assessment time. We are constantly checking our students needs and reevaluating how we are meeting those needs to help them move forward. For me, I’ve been working on literacy intervention for various grade levels and have students still barely aware of letters as markers of sounds.

I worked to create a little booklet that is used to help track students success with letter identification and their ability to write a the letter I saw. If they can read and write it they know it and that is success. I made a little booklet that allows for students to practice identifying the letter names. Once they can identify all the letters on the page, I fold the letters back so they are not visible, then have students write the letter I say. If students have then both correct they get a stamp or sticker next to their written letter to show off their mastery.

If students don’t make it, we practice on the letter they need help with. This tracks their success level for assessment. It also encourages students by having a growing list of letters they can identify and write. Students I work with will often run back into the class and straight towards their teacher to show off the new stamps or stickers they added to their book and quickly tell their teacher what letter it is. The excitement and pride is very visible! Teachers can take this further and use it during literacy center to identify letter names, letter sounds, write letters, and use the booklet as a resource to help them with letter identification for other work. Students can also take it home to read to their families.


Find it here for $1.00 and use to end this school year and begin future years.

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Springtime, Rhyme Time

Welcome to Spring! The days are beautiful, the sun is out and the flowers are blooming. And our students are getting ready to head back to the classroom. Reading, writing and literacy are going to need some extra effort to bridge the gap that may have formed over the COVID time. My students are some of those in need of help this spring in the area of rhyming.

Do you have that problem too? Some of my reading students in grades 1-2 cannot rhyme! This skill is usually honed in Kindergarten, but many of students who are learning English haven’t grown up with English nursery rhymes and rhyming stories. But rhyming is very connected to the language and needs to be taught. The more kids know about rhyming the more they can understand about word families/CVC words and lead to easier reading. The lack of vocabulary and the playful way we use words starts far before kids start school.

So, my students are working on making CVC words, talking about what they mean and that they rhyme. We talk about what part of the word must rhyme. Rhyming listening, speaking and writing are a great and necessary skill to practice this spring. I made a few pages to help my students as a review of all the work we have been doing speaking and reading rhymes. After we work on rhyming we want to make sure students can find and use rhymes. The pages I created for my students allowed them to practice finding rhyming words, choosing the correct ones to make sense of the sentence and then reading the sentence again. This way we can get our students applying what we have been working on together.

4 pages:

1 match the rhyming words page (they don’t all rhyme just two each)

2 find the correct rhyming word, fill in the sentence, and read it

1 write a sentence with two rhyming words and draw a matching sentence

Check-it out on my teachers pay teachers page by clicking the link here .


Back to School Face to Face from the Virtual World -Tip

If you are like me you are preparing to go back to school face to face. This might be making you stressed out! You have lots of classroom organization and design to get to since we didn’t start in the fall. Of course there is also fear, nerves, and more. Then add on to that the shift in how to you instruct. This is a crazy time! Now, put those feelings aside, but only for a moment, and think about the nerves and anticipation of your students.

Your students are starting school in a weird way- they already know you online. They don’t know their classroom, they may not feel connected to their classmates, they may feel like they are walking into a new space. Those first day of school butterflies are coming in strong! How can you make a difference and help your students and their parents ease back onto the campus? I have a solution!

Setup your classroom, get all your students desks ready (this is a lot of work), and then record yourself giving your students a classroom tour. Show them where the desks are located, where to put their materials, where they sit, and so on. This is also where you can go over the new procedures- like how to go to the bathroom (asking/walking there etc.), entering/exiting the classroom, turning in work and so on. Students and families want to know what to expect and the rules. So they can understand the management in these new times in the classroom and on the school campus. This will help you and them!

Things to consider recording:

*video the classroom

*record a welcome message

*procedures for bathroom use, washing hands, lining up

*how to enter/ exit the classroom

*where their materials go

*where they sit

*where the teacher sits

*the schedule (especially if it has changed)

Consider sending it through email, parent messaging system, your class website, Flipgrid or as a Youtube private video for your families. I also highly suggest sending it to your office manager/secretary and Admin so if parents request it or refer to it they can help send it out. They can also spread the word to other teachers at your site or themselves for that matter. This will make your students and their families feel more comfortable about their return- because we all know they want to be in your presence! They want to be in your classroom learning with you in person. This can help them get right into the swing of things to let the in person community building begin.


St. Patrick’s Day- Language Focus

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up quickly and you’re probably ready with empty shoe boxes, gallons of glue and green glitter and STEAM ideas to share with your young students. It is a magical day or week filled with wonder and hopes of catching the sneaky little mister making a mess of the classroom and maybe finding his pot of gold too! What a fantastic and whimsical day!

But, you know me…I’m always trying to find another way to add in a language focus to help English Learners build vocabulary and language structures to participate in class and move their skills forward. So, of course St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be any different!

One of my favorite activities is drawing and labeling- seriously, draw it and label it. It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s impactful the three “big components” in every lesson. And, it can be taken from a whole group activity, and reprocessed individually in a journal and even used alongside a presentation. My students love this language practice activity, no matter the theme.

In this case make a drawing of a leprechaun or a leprechaun trap like the one below and have your students label it. If you are in distance learning they can record a video presenting their work and showing their diagram on Seesaw, Flipgrid, or other.

It is simple:

  1. Draw as you talk
  2. Label your pieces as you go
  3. Have student repeat the labels/ vocabulary words
  4. Have students create their own or give them a copy of your drawing without the labels- allow them to label and color and present to their team, Seesaw video, class or to their parents as homework.

Students can use the language and diagrams from speaking and writing. The words can be used in sentence frames to support those with more trouble grasping the language or how to use it correctly. It a simple and yet immersive way to add in language focus to your themed lessons. It also leave plenty of room to expand it to future writing and speaking for example, If you were a leprechaun what would you look like?” Draw, label, and record yourself explaining your diagram.

Enjoy this activity,



Jamboard Journal

The Google Education Suite continues to build innovative and helpful programs such as Jamboard. I love to use this application with students of all ages, especially with my English Language Learners/ English Second Language Students. There are so many ways get students to engage! Writing is vital to students language development but finding a starting place for everyone’s needs is tough.

One way to meet students where they are in their language journey is by building from their social language. Students love to chat with one another about their weekend or with activities they wish they had done instead of what actually occurred. Starting with social language means students are a bit more confident with what they have to say and how they say it. This is a great place to notice areas for expansion.

This is where Jamboard from Google comes into play. Adding in questions and pictures will help elicit information from students. Each page adds a chance for students to add onto their thinking. At the end of the pages students have given you a ton of real time assessments. You can see where they are successful and where they need support- vocabulary, sentence starters, incomplete sentences, tenses, no writing, and so much more. You can also take the information to Writer’s Workshop or a writing center and students can take information from each page and create a paragraph or two.


I made this free Jamboard and you can find it on my TpT site or the link above.

Check it out!




Four-Square Check-Ins for SEL & Classroom Community Building

I wrote about this before, four square check-ins. I start these at the beginning of the class session to get students engaged and to build community. Everyone listens, students practice speaking in complete sentences and adding information to their opinion.

It is a fun way for students to speak about their emotions. The question, ” How do you feel today?” but the answer is based on one of four pictures. It is a creative move and students get to think outside the box to express themselves.

I created slides for months March- June, to represent a variety of themes. Check them out @ https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-and-Summer-Check-In-Google-Slides-for-SEL-Community-Building–6647352


St. Patrick’s Day Creative Writing

Do you decorate your classroom with leprechaun traps in hopes of catching that sneaky one and so your students can get that pot of gold? I know you do! The kids absolutely love it! What a time of year to build some STEM into daily instruction and to build a trap. It’s a fun and I dare say magical time of year! What pairs well with some magical traps but some creative writing.

I created this St. Patrick’s Day Creative Writing based that allows the class to brainstorm adjective, prepositional phrases, other grammatical aspects of sentences based around the noun. Brainstorm together and students then use the structure to build some creative and comical sentences. I created this in color and black/white for use digitally or paper. This can be dropped into Seesaw or used on Flipgrid or other sites. Find it on the link below for $1.00 on my Teachers Pay Teacher’s store and begin enjoying the humorous sentences your students will create. Use these as examples and build more using vocabulary from class and building leprechaun traps.

This creative writing piece is fun and easy to add to your virtual or face to face classroom. Build in presentation skills which are apart of the Common Core, English Language Arts, and English Language Development Standards. Students can illustrate and share their favorite sentence and those can be collected and turned into a class book. Or students can record themselves showing off their illustration and saying their creative sentence on Seesaw or Flipgrid and those put into a slideshow or movie for the whole class to screen. Fun, written and oral language practice and an example to add to student learning portfolios.




Game Play!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are all doing well and with wishful thinking, I am hoping you are preparing to go from online teaching to soon to be in-person teaching again. Although schooling should always strive to advance and change with the times to meet the needs of the diverse students and needs, face to face teaching brings about a connection that can help amplify learning and create a safe environment for students. Face to face and technology work best together not as replacements for each other. I see this true of the youngest group of students, our language learners.

All students entering Preschool-1st grade are learning language at a rapid rate, whether they speak English at home or not or several languages. These grades build a lot of social, structure, and academic vocabulary. And everything can be learned from and turned into a game!

Games are fun! Games create a spirit of relaxation and reduce the filter so students allow themselves to engage more without worry about how they sound. They want to play, and have fun with their class. When learning English as a native or second language speaker adding games help to build connection, vocabulary, rule following, collaboration and pure enjoyment.

This is also an environment that builds self-esteem. Students try out new phrases, new language, trying and more. So, play games. Enjoy your time together while learning with games. Board games, slideshow games, Bingo games, alphabet games, Barrier Game and more bring learning to life and allow children of all ages to practice their skills – math, language, and more.

Whether you are preparing to be face to face again, or to continue in a virtual or hybrid world please add in games to your regular routines. Scaffold for language and early learners by giving them the necessary vocabulary tot participate, model game play and go over the rules with drawing/pictures/visuals as well as verbal and modeling. In this way your students can contribute and enjoy game play.


This a Boom Learning Game I have in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Although this game is an online game it can be played as a whole class on Zoom or Webex or others. The teacher can set teams and have rotating representatives give the answers. This can build team collaboration and can with teacher pre-teaching can build sentence stems for verbal language support. Online or in-person build that language before playing and everyone will enjoy the game and get far more out of it!




Reading, Writing and Speaking -so many activities and so much learning!

There is no time like the present to get our students engaged and writing. But, first they need to know what they are writing about and how to organize that information. Below are three different lessons/units to help build your students’ skills. Take a look!


Reading Potholes

Learning to read can be a difficult process for many children. If the issues persist through time they obstruct learning and they tend to grow like potholes. We as teachers can runover the issues over and over again without realizing their is a gap or pothole in student’s learning. As children get older their gaps or potholes get larger and start to interfere with reading comprehension, reading analysis, and the ability to apply the information to other areas.

The best that we can do as educators and parents is looking for the areas that are causing issues and filling those in potholes. We often see in middle school that students lack comprehension and fluency both keywords that signal there is a problem and it may be deeper than just reading too quickly. The underlining issues causing potholes in reading have to do with the foundational skills of reading. Phonics, concepts of print, structure of writing may be the core problems taking away older students from understanding their reading. Just think about comprehension, how can you understand the meaning of a word or sentence if you don’t know the letter sounds in a word in the sentence, so then you don’t know it’s meaning, now how can you understand the sentence. Let’s look at an example, The ckrt is lutgeryb and prtmbg for the dogs. What? Simple sight words and single letters making their short sound are easier for students to remember and decode. When special letter groupings come together or unfamiliar words are added to a sentence then struggling students may abandon trying to figure it out. Not only do they no recognize the spelling groupings, and words but they lack the tools needed to figure it out.

How can this happen? Life, schedules, moving around, learning English, illness high absenteeism, low literacy at home, little exposure to vocabulary, lack of intervention help, child’s level of self-confidence, matching level of intervention to student needs, and inconsistent support all can contribute to a student’s needing aid and getting stuck in larger reading potholes. These potholes can spread past reading and dig into other areas of literacy and self-confidence.

How do we remediate these issues:

Build self-confidence, reteach foundational skills, model, directly instruct, and build vocabulary with consistent support for students. Finding the areas of need and building upon those with teaching, practice and application in a systematic manner can help our older students fill in their reading potholes.

Think about your struggling students, think about areas where reading and writing match, like missing sound spelling pairs (phonics), endings, and so on. Find where those skills match using the above image. Determine if it is in the area of Phonemics or Decoding or Fluency or one of the other areas? Then give an assessment on that specific area to determine which are lacking and begin to fill in those gaps with targeted and explicit instruction.

Currently I work with some fifth graders that have needs in the decoding arena specifically vowel digraphs, r-controlled, and matching sounds to spelling. While the second grade students I work with are in need of phonological and phonemic help specifically rhyming, and with phonemes… identification/segmentation/blending/addition/deletion/substitution. Once the area(s) are determined then the work can begin. If you give all students a variety of reteaching you may hit upon the correct needs but you may not as well. Find the specific areas for each student and build targeted intervention to fill in those literacy potholes.


When Older Students Can’t Read by Louisa Moats (2002)

OUSD (Accessed 2020), https://www.ousd.org/cms/lib/CA01001176/Centricity/Domain/133/Building_Blocks_of_Reading_Proficiency_with_Assessments.pdf


Hero Elf Writing Activity

Yes! It’s holiday time and that means we need to spread cheer and teach empathy to our students. How can we do that…with the hero elf. Hero Elves help cheer people up or help them make a good choice.

Your students use the graphic organizers and rubric to write a letter to a Hero Elf . This writing activity come with graphic organizers, a letter page and space to draw and color to the Hero Elf spreading cheer to match your students writing.

Hero Elf Writing Graphic Organizer

This activity is joyful and helps students think of others. To get past their own self and see that we all need a little help from someone why not a Hero Elf?


Check out this activity on on my TpT site : Hero Elf Writing Activity, 25 pages for $2.00


Fall Readers

It’s that time of year when your early readers are starting to make jumps in their reading levels. They understand the difference between a letter and a word and how to use pictures for help with word choice. I work with first graders who are having trouble with with letters, sounds, and reading. I create easy readers so my students can practice their concepts of print, sight word use and practice making those picture to vocabulary choices and yes comprehension too. Because I work with many levels of early readers, I have to have assorted levels to meet the needs of my groups.

Did I say I love fall yet? I love fall!!!! I like to infuse the season into reading, writing, and speaking activities. It helps student to understand the world right out of their front door and it is something we are all experiencing at the same time. This makes it easier for my students to add to the conversation and apply the vocabulary to our activities.

This week I made some easy fall readers for my groups including levels A-D. I story per level, fall themed and with a comprehension page to go along with the story. This will go with the other warm up activity included which is a check-in page which allows me to gage their moods and sometimes changes the way I approach my readers that day.

Come check it out and add this little set to your reading groups this week!

Check it out here!


English Language Development- a unit!!!

English Language Development is near and dear to my heart. It is also a subject that can frustrate teachers. There are so many methods to integrate language strategies that build engagement. Many methods have been around for ages and are used with literacy, classroom management, mathematics and on and on. The strategies aren’t new, but telling a teacher they need to teach English Language Development can spark anxiety and cause teachers to forget their use of strategies. Strategies include sentence frames, choral response, graphic organizers, sketching and writing, using literature to practice foundational skills and using media to focus on piece to make inferences and so on. These practical skills are used daily to express, enhance and guide language. The same needs to happen in English Language Development.

How do we use these the great strategies and put them together to be effective for learning language in an engaging method for students and systematically for teachers? As progress is being made to answer that a pandemic occurs. But, now here we are in the middle of a pandemic and the stress to meet the needs of our language learners feels even higher. I thought about many ways to aid teachers during this time and recently created a unit using some of those engaging language practicing strategies we spoke about earlier.

Yay! A premade unit developed for my 1st and 2nd grade teachers out there. Lots of verbal practice, engaging activities, colorful photographs and resources to support the themed learning. Yes! It is fun, it is engaging and it is themed based! Yay!!!! Check out pictures from the unit below…

An engaging language development unit for 1st & 2nd grade

Using describing words is vital to growing writing but first students need the describing words vocabulary. Words! Students need word in order to use them, students need the chance to learn new words or transfer them from their native language to English.

Noun games- students need sentence parts to build sentences. They need nouns and adjectives and practice finding them and manipulating them. These games and graphic organizers help learn them.

Applying our built vocabulary to sentence frame to build language. Also to apply in reading to help understand and build text fluency when reading. Everything starts with building a background together and verbal practice- the stories and animal background do both.

A premade unit that is themed based for English Language Development using engaging strategies that build engagement and language practice for applied use…yay!!!!!!Here it is for you. The bundle includes the resources and costs only one dollar more than the six-week unit alone. Take a look and enjoy! Click the link to see it at Teacher Pay Teachers.


EL Strategies

I often work in areas with high levels of second language learners, and my family are second language learners so I am always eager to find ways and grow language and reasons why it gets halted. Often times we think English Language Development can be taught with the supplemental text book guidelines that are 1-2 sentences long per daily lesson. This is NOT enough. Language learners need practice, daily practice, and throughout the subjects. Language Learners need to build upon what they know translating from their native language to English and building new content. They need to organize the information practice it, and apply it.

I have created a cheat sheet for adding in English Language Development strategies to lesson plans. I created a template, a strategies cheat sheet, a sample lesson and a grouping page to help other teachers who sometimes feel like they are struggling to meet the needs of their second language learners. I sometimes think my students are higher levels because their social interactions seem above their level, a common mistake, so this can help keep me and maybe you too, focused, on using strategies to build language, both receptive and expressive.

Sample template of a ELD lesson for a story reading

You can find this completed template, blank template, a list of strategies/ definitions, a and group sheet on my Teachers Pay Teachers site here. If you would like more help with adding EL strategies into your daily lessons plans in all your content areas send me an email and we can work together to create some focused and specific plans.




Freebie! Self-Correcting Google Slides for 1st Grade on Context Clues

I love to use games of all sorts in the classroom. Self-correcting games allow student to make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, correct their learning, practice their skills, and grow their self-confidence while gaining knowledge. These self-correcting Google Slides can engage students while they practice their skills either asynchronously or in literacy centers. I made this game to practice using context clues, both pictures and adjectives. Check out the video below:

Grab the freebie in my TpT store by clicking here.


ELD Strategies and Methods with Jamboard

ELD stands for English Language Development- meeting the needs of students that are learning English as well as the core content areas can be a challenge. Building language helps empower our students. One way to do that while we are working in a remote or face-to-face environment is to use Jamboard. Jamboard is a application found on the Goggle Suite. Teachers can pose a question, add a picture and allow students to post a virtual note to share their ideas. Teachers can use that to check for understanding, check for background knowledge, use it again in the middle of the unit to check for understanding or the end for assessment.

You can add multiple pages and have students add to each one. Or one page per student as a project. By using this Jamboard idea before a unit you can determine what the children already know and what you need to learn together.

Some more ideas include:

For ELA you could use this Jamboard for language arts is to use it as a You can even use to post what they know about a book- characters, setting, plot, solution, or as a character analysis. This would be a fun way to for students to name character traits, build a family tree, or for social-emotion discussions.

For math you could have a problems and solution and have students agree with the solution or not and write their correct version. You could have them describe the steps of a problem.

There is so much that can be done!! Try it out and let me know what you have done.


Fall Writing for Kinder and First Grade

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year! And I love to share the season with my students. We don’t get many leaves changing color in our part of California so I bring that to my students. It is critical. We need to experience the world as large and amazing as it is, there is no way our students can know it all with out us teachers bringing experiences to them. I like to bring in realia and artifacts- leaves of different colors, watching clips of leaves falling in parks with squirrels collecting acorns and food, bringing in local harvested foods and discussions on what a scarecrow is and does is so powerful. Whether for my English learners or my English only students, it is powerful!

Students need to do more than see and experience fall though, they also need to write about it. Giving students the ability to practice writing with tracing, word banks and all the verbal practice gives students the power and ability to write their words. Drawing lets students who need to draw it out first to organize their ideas do so, or feel confident to show their learning in a different way.

I created writing pages to go along with my fall readers and reading experiences. They can be stand alone as well to go with the fall experiences, stories, video clips, art activities and others that you provide live on virtually. These pages can be found on my TpT site for $1. That’s it- 8 pages for $1 to give your early learner the power of writing down their fall learning and experiences. What a cute personal book this would be for your students! It can be a journal, a morning writing, a center activity, a closing assessment for a fall unit, a memory book and word book to help students practice their fluency. So many options for you Kinder and 1st graders! Check it out here !

Enjoy fall and all of its experiences my friends-



Fall Back to School Sight and Rebus Book Bundle

Ok, so it’s back to school time. Well it’s week 6 already!!!! This year is challenging but full of learning and making new strides. For example, I have recently started with reading groups. I have three groups Mondays and Wednesdays that are Emergent Readers and Tuesday and Thursdays two groups in the Early Guided Reading Stage. That’s a lot of reading groups and a lot of learning to be had!

In order to attempt this I decided to make digital easy readers starting with Pre-Primer and Primer Dolce Sight words. Start with the basics: sounds and movement that matches the sound and letter names. Then add sight words. This way you can help students connect the sounds they are hearing during the daily practice with the sight words. And now to the heavy lifting—-guided reading books. Everything gets built up for connections and comprehension. Sounds- Sight Words- Reading books based on sight words. Repetition and fun are a great way to help young learners connect to sight words. One more step would be adding vocabulary/pictures to unfamiliar words. Word with pictures can help students visualize which helps memories form and stay!

5 Book Bundle https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Back-to-SchoolFall-Sight-and-Rebus-Reader-Book-Bundle-Digital-and-Printable-Set-6025175

So far so good with my students- we used the digital version to read together during guided reading. The repetition and pictures helped to build the self-confidence of my quiet readers. This was great! Quiet and timid became participating students reading the words with picture cues to success. It was great!!!

Check these book out on TpT! 5 Books with vocabulary cards, sentence frames, drawing/writing page, printable booklets and slides. These 5 books should be apart of your guided reading groups for early learners. Books include: I see Fall, Apples, Thanksgiving, School, and School Supplies.

Thank you for reading and check out my site!


Engaging English Language / Grammar Practice Asynchronously

How do we do that?

Let’s Say hello to Boom Cards and welcome to asynchronous learning that gives students engaging and fun practice and sends teachers feedback of student work. This information helps to guide next steps in the lessons. What is not to love about that cycle?

Boom Learning Game from Curve Your Learning

Synchronously teach whole group and reteach and fine tune to small groups then move to asynchronous independent practice with Boom Cards. Use that Boom Card data to create your next lessons (move groups, add/subtract/reteach/model/add practice/move forward). How perfect is that method!

Easier said than done, that is a given!!! But giving it a try may lead to making your life easier while still focused on students levels to move forward. But, why not let it be easier this time. Why not let your students practice with games that give you feedback? Is it a center- yes. Is it a game-yes. Does it provide student level practice-yes. It is practical content-yes. Can it reinforce learning- yes!!!! So… why not use it?

Find this game and more —– Curve Your Learning’s Boom Store


Math Building Background for 1st-Graders

Check out this set of math strategies to build background together. Students come into school with all sorts of varying levels of knowledge on subject matter. By building background together you all start off from the same point which allows for more student participation, more understanding and less fuss. For any language learners in your class this set will help them with their their listening and speaking and English Language Development skills.

This set includes a fun game beginning- games help students apply their skills with a low affective filter -no pressure!!! When kids feels safe producing language they will make gains quicker and apply their skills in their daily practices.

Labeling, labeling, labeling- add labels and sketches to anchor charts, math pages, digital or in person. This helps students connect to the terms- back those labels and pictures up with real world items, concepts and movie clips. Build that background together and students will have more confidence, more language to apply, high ability to participate alongside their peers.

Check out this 1st-grade math background builder here.


Teacher Self-Care

A lot of SEL talk is being thrown around to make sure students are coming to school virtually or in person so they can focus and learn. Schools are focusing on mediation, positive self-talk, mindset, diversity, digital citizenship and mood management and more. Schools are student centered and providing support for parents with those same topics but someone is being forgotten at schools: THE TEACHERS. Teachers need to learn to save themselves. They, teachers, need to be first sometimes so to be the best for their students and lives. I created a clickable page with resources and tips for Teachers.

Partial view of the Teacher SEL Page

Join my email list by clicking here to get your SEL page freebie!

Enjoy- Liz


Back to School Community Building SEL Activity for 1st Grade!!!!

I love first grade! It was my favorite grade to teach because I enjoyed watching their light bulbs go on when they learned to read. That brought me so much joy, now as a coach I drop by my first-grade classrooms whenever I get a chance so I can have some of those moments back in my life. This week I am back at work and the last two days have been about focusing on building SEL activities for back to school. SEL stands for Social-Emotional Learning this means positive self talk, empathy, respect for differences, being mindful, mood regulation and even digital citizenship. I got so excited about it I created my own activity!

Speaking in language comes first, so building language is vital. This helps students speak fluently with both their words and descriptions which are two huge components of both literacy and school success. Yes, a game is involved, yes, your class may ask you to play it more than once!!!! Try it out, I made a few but the rest are up to you.

Draw, write, speak, listen, and learn about one another with this Back to School Community Building Activity found here.

This is me! The first activity is coloring, drawing and labeling information about oneself. There are two of these pages so students can choose one.

Check it out and let me know how it goes!

Happy Back to School and Happy Community Building


Designing Learning to Build Background for Diverse School Populations

Schools today have an influx of students from around the world. Children of all ages come with their own educational and cultural backgrounds. We can no longer expect that all students in the classroom have a shared understanding. To have the same understanding pf topics (vocabulary, images, themes, expectations) and meet state standards, we must start on the same page together. To do that, we have to build the background together, starting from scratch!

Let us get these kids talking using the correct vocabulary so they can participate. We aren’t looking for perfection. Students should be made to feel comfortable with mistakes and learning from those mistakes. My fifth graders weren’t participating in math, not raising hands, not finishing group work, or exit tickets. Not my English Only, not my Second Langage Learners, just 3 (the same 3) of my 32 students were actively participating in their learning. I had to make a shift!

The key was building their language. Did my students really know the terms? No!!! Not the names, not what the terms represented, nothing…and they were in fifth grade!!!! Once I started pre-teaching concepts/terms/vocabulary and giving them a sneak peek and practice of what they were going to learn the following week, the class changed!!!! Instead of the same 3 hands in the air, I consistently had 13-17 wanting to solve the problem (and not always the same 13-17).  Students were willing and able to share their answers, how they got those answers, present teamwork projects, and this carried into other subject matter. It was just what they needed!!!

To build background together here are some things you can do:

Preteach! Before diving into new concepts, pre-teach the vocabulary, watch a clip on the new ideas, and let students encounter new topics with hands-on discovery. Do this before any worksheet is ever introduced.  This pre-teaching occurs at the end of a unit as a segway.

  1. Label everything- the room, the school, and each project, content topic, themes. If you have various languages represented in the room label in multiple languages. This helps connect the idea that language is everywhere as well as making a classroom feel comfortable for non-native speakers and their families when they are visiting.
  2. Word Areas- like word walls, but they change with time and are placed on pictures or realia. Word is placed on anchor charts, student work, posters, etc., to aid with concepts. Math terms on the math wall with images and definitions. To go with word areas are sentence frames that help children speak in complete sentences!!!! It gives students structure, so they know how to organize their thoughts and vocabulary. It boasts students were are beginning language learners, and more complex frames build variety in more proficient speakers. Keep these where students can access them, such as near the board, at their table centers, desk, and on the subject matter word areas.
  3. When you learn a new topic such as fractions, don’t dive right in. Stop and create vocabulary learning time. I use 3 days to a full week to introduce new topics, discover what terms they are familiar with as a whole class, and introduce new terms and concepts. We labeled anchor charts, created KWL posters, defined terms with dictionaries, watched video clips to clarify, and orally recited the terms.
  4. TPR: Total Physical Response or Movement so children with limited English can understand the concept. As well those students who are more kinesthetic can remember better. So children can get away from just a pencil and paper. I would make up movements with my students to help us remember a word or concept. I would often see students using those movements when verbally describing or during the test-taking time. Movement helps the brain remember, according to Eric Jensen, from Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd Edition.
  5. GAMES!!!!! I love to teach and reinforce concepts with games, and my students are all for the idea. Such games as Kahoot & Quizziz are fun, motivating and give me an excellent assessment of what they are grasping. I have, who has gets students to pair definitions with terms or symbols. Board games, Dice Games, Card games, Escape Rooms, and Treasure Hunts all work with some adjustments to reinforce vocabulary and concepts we are learning.
  6. Listening and Speaking occur first in language, and that doesn’t change in any grade level. If we want more proficient writers, they need to listen, speak, and read more. If we want more proficient readers, they need to listen, speak, and read more. If we want better speakers, students need to practice speaking and listening. Listening exposes students to new words, word fluency, opinions, conjures up images and feelings, and is a necessity to have something to write or speak about. Speaking helps students of all ages share their thoughts, practice their language, ask for more information or help, explain, and prompt. All these are pieces that are key to reading and writing. For our students of 1 or many languages to be better readers and writers, they need to practice with speaking. Math Talks are an excellent way to develop literacy during math time. Students have to explain their thinking with words and images in complete sentences (think sentence frames). Students have to either agree or disagree and give their reasoning why (again think sentence frames).

Sample Schedule:

Monday: KWL for new important terms that go through the concepts for the unit. Pre-teach new vocabulary- student share and practice repeating and drawing in the air with a finger the words. Show pictures or items with the term, have students repeat the term.

Tuesday: Define terms, and add movement to them, add to KWL, add new terms, video clips of the concept. Sentence frames to aid with pair sharing what they know and what they don’t about the terms/concepts/vocabulary. Play I Have, Who Has.

Wednesday: Create anchor charts, hand out labels, have students label while you teach, and when you come upon the term, they add the label. Create personal posters/labels in their interactive notebooks/ journal.

Thursday: Start teaching the unit: begin with the basics and have students tell you what they know (have learned this week) with verbal sentence frames. Begin Math Talks with a hands-on demonstration of or picture/ realia descriptions.

*Keep reinforcing skills after the concept has been taught and assessed through games year-round. This helps to continuously reinforce needed skills. Games are applications and fun!

**All learners are language learners, some of my lowest language producing children were English Only speakers.  Students need the opportunity multiple times a day to speak their thoughts, to extend their vocabulary, to share ideas, to add to what others are saying for clarity, to ask for help, and on and on.  Speaking, on topic, is vital!

Monday: KWL for new important terms that go through the concepts for the unit. Pre-teach new vocabulary- student share and practice repeating and drawing in the air with a finger the words. Show pictures or items with the term, have students repeat the term.

Tuesday: Define terms, and add movement to them, add to KWL, add new terms, video clips of the concept. Sentence frames to aid with pair sharing what they know and what they don’t about the terms/concepts/vocabulary. Play I Have, Who Has.

Wednesday: Create anchor charts, hand out labels, have students label while you teach, and when you come upon the term, they add the label. Create personal posters/labels in their interactive notebooks/ journal.

Thursday: Start teaching the unit: begin with the basics and have students tell you what they know (have learned this week) with verbal sentence frames. Begin Math Talks with a hands-on demonstration of or picture/ realia descriptions.

*Keep reinforcing skills after the concept has been taught and assessed through games year-round. This helps to continuously reinforce needed skills. Games are applications and fun!

**All learners are language learners, some of my lowest language producing children were English Only speakers.  Students need the opportunity multiple times a day to speak their thoughts, to extend their vocabulary, to share ideas, to add to what others are saying for clarity, to ask for help, and on and on.  Speaking, on topic, is vital!


More Favorite Teaching Tools …Writables

This week when I ventured to Target for grocery and household needs with mask on and a time limit I quickly walked past and snatched two of my favorite teaching tools, a dry-erase board and poster. Anything that we can write on as teachers I find to be a necessary teaching tool. We write while students look on and listen and that creates an inprint on their brain. Having erasable individual boards gives a place where students can pracitice their thoughts or formulas and them try out their skills with low pressure. Writables are the best for teachers and students, individually, whole group, small group, team work and solo presentations-they are worth it! What do I mean by writables? I mean chart paper, dry-erase boards, sticky notes, and any erasable surface.

So, as a walked in I bounded right to the dollar section at Target. I swiftly picked up one eraseable poster and one dry erase board. I will use these virtually when meeting with teachers and students and when we get back to in-person status I will use them with small groups. I have a larger lined erasable poster that I use outside my room to post important information for teachers. I update it monthly with dates and focus information. I love using posters!!!

I cannot leave out my favorite of these teaching tools, CHART PADS! I use these to create learning centers to draw, write, and teach new content to imprint concepts. Creating large graphic organizers and anchor charts let’s our students build content knowledge, organize it and then find it to reference from when applying the information. Color coding these pieces helps children see and organize the information for easy recall and finding. Chart paper is also a fun way for my small groups to share information for presentations.

Some of my favortie teaching tools are found in the dollar section at Target or at the Dollar Store- Dry-erase boards and writable posters. Chart Pads are more expensive, I get mine from Staples and Office Depot, but they are worth the cost because they help students, of any age, own the information they put on it. Posters, Chart Pads and Writeables allow us to practice without fear, present with authority, and build a classroom where information is all around.


Distance Learning Breaks for Kids

Back to school this fall may look different for your household then last year. You may be starting the year with distance learning. Whatever your feelings about distance learning is make sure you make the best of it with your kiddos. In these hectic days don’t just go from course to course, math to writing, typing to filling out a packet stop and let your kids take breaks. Daily breaks at home during the school day are necessary for a healthy body and a mood.

Brain Break: In the classroom we often stop and take short 2-3 minute breaks throughout the day, to stretch and move the young bodies so they are crossing their mid-lines (opposite arm and leg) to build brain connections as well as getting wiggles out! I liked to use the site https://www.gonoodle.com/ because it has fun dancing and movement that connect to learning. But sometimes you need to step away from the laptop so fun breaks include playing eye spy, going on a 5 item treasure hunt, going on a room by room field trip, coloring, hopping a trail around the table, and this silly movement activity: touching right hand to the left foot, left hand to right foot, clapping, stamping,twirling,sitting,standing, hopping in a sequence 5 times in a row in various speeds. Counting fallen leaves, steps in the snow or butterflies in the garden. Or simply rip out a piece of notebook paper ball it up and through it in a trash can until it makes it (this is good for fine motor and focus).

Recess: 2 recess breaks everyday. 10-15 minutes of unstructured play in a safe area. A fenced front or back yard with supervision will allow for running, jumping, hopscotch, basketball, stretching and enjoying the sun. Imagination runs wild during recess and it should be no different at home. Sidewalk chalk drawings, painting with water, outside toys, even reading under a tree.

PE or Physical Education is a 20 minute a day activity or 40 minutes every other day. Keep up the schedule so your kids can have a healthy body and it helps with mood. Physical activity can help change an upset or depressed mood or aid in getting the blood flowing to finally break through on a tough math problem or to get passed writer’s block. Movement is great for mind and body so get set you child up for a fun activity. You can play basketball together, toss a ball, jumping jacks, dashes, running, bicycle riding, skipping, jumping, going for walks, push ups, stretching, yoga, challenges, family hiking, family swimming (always keep a close watch), balloon race/egg on a spoon race, timed race, use your video game console and workout with the Just Dance game. Bouncing ball switching between hands, throwing a small ball in an empty trash can, soccer drills…or many more activities.

Soccer kicks Image by Chuck Underwood from Pixabay

Whatever you do make a plan for movement and brain breaks throughout your child’s distance learning day. Make a list of things for the week so you and your child know what to do and when. These can be great and easy ways to make the distance learning day better and more “normal” than just sitting in front of a laptop or packet and just getting through it until dinner. Let’s make these days fun, and it gives you time to breath or work or take your own brain break.

Have a great Fall 2020!!!


5 Back to School Hacks for Distance Learning

Yes, it’s true school is coming back and it’s going to be different for many kiddos this fall. Many students will meet their new teachers via Zoom or on a Webex meeting or maybe even through Flipgrid or chat- nothing old fashion about this fall. Let’s get through this the best we can and make the year a great one in spite of the weirdness that is Covid-19 back to school. So let’s get started…

  1. NEW OUTFIT!!! Everyone showing off their new school outfits on their first day back. Let’s keep the tradition and find that awesome yet comfy back to school outfit for your kiddo. Glam it up for that first meeting and let your little star make a great first impression to their class. Shop online at Target, Old Navy, Amazon, anywhere and get it delivered straight to your door. Or grab those masks and sanitizer and set a short time to get in, pick an outfit and go in style.
  2. While you are out go down the school supply section and pick up something new to help your student feel ready for school. Pencils, erasers, notebooks, maybe a fancy backpack to place their supplies in daily when the school day is over.
  3. Junior and High School Student will miss out on the lockers in the fall, but stocking up on a locker supply or two will help them get in the right groove of school organization. They have fuzzy locker carpets, picture frames and more how can you pass that up???? Stop and take a look.
  4. That leads me to the SCHOOL ZONE, a daily space made for school. A space for each child to spread their materials and decorate their space. Place a cork board near their space to pin work due and pictures will create a personal space. Add a name tag to the table just like the classroom, a space just for your child/student. Keep pencils and supplies in an easy access area. Place those locker decorations and new school supplies and they are ready for a great start!
  5. Schedule is routine and kids need routine. Place a schedule board or printout of their day where your child can see their daily routine. They can check to see what class is next, when homework is due, and what is coming up in the future. Time management is a large skill children learn during their their school days. Make it apart of their distance learning school day as well.

Back to school shopping was always my favorite as a kid and as a parent. I love the new materials, freshly sharpened pencils and a new backpack—it was the best! As an adult student and educator please please please do not let me pass up some colored pens and sticky notes- they are always on my back to school list!!! Let’s add some “normal” to distance learning with these five hacks.

Interested in daily brain breaks, recess activities and p.e. activities for distance learning? Then check out my post on distance learning break for kids.


One of my all-time favorite teaching tools…

Colored pens and markers make the classroom and coaching sessions differentiated.  I know what you are thinking differentiated?  How do colors of ink make things differentiated?  Well, there are three ways and counting.


*Coding & Encoding


Organization:  This means that when we are meeting our groups of students or teachers, we want to have the right materials and information at hand.  We do not have time to look around for needed items. We need it together and ready to go.  Using colored pens to stay organized – meetings, groups, curriculum, notes, everything is colored coded.  Even my staff meeting notes are colored-coded by new information, must do, add to the calendar, and discuss further.

As an Academic Coach, color-coding helps locate information on students and classrooms and what I am aiding with about each.  Notes left for teachers, students, or administration can be color-coded, just like staff notes.


Teacher Message
One to grow on:  

Coding & Encoding: When teaching in a whole group, a small group, and during presentations, color-coding allows for our brains to capture the information and make connections.  Color coding in front of students on the whiteboard, chart paper, under a document camera, and on a sticky note put information together using color helps our brains see and embed it for future use.  We also use those colors to encode the information or make a code so students of any age can prioritize the information.  This graphic organizer uses colors to break the information into groups: facts, description, locations, types, interesting details, parts of…, are just some of the color-coded labels.  All details belong to the central concept like gravity in this poster, or the Lincoln Memorial, any other piece of information being taught. 

Leveled: You probably already color code for leveling- your classroom library, reading groups, writing groups, and math groups.  Color-coding makes it easy for students and teachers to get the materials they need.  Students can gain independence by color-coding areas items, including schedules. 

Let’s face it, colored markers and pens are fun!  Students love to write their final version in various colors and posted around the room for all to admire.  We love the colors, and they love the colors!  My favorites right now are Flair Pens, Ultra Fine and Fine Tip Sharpies, Pilot’s Color-coded  Bottle 2 Penn, and Paper Mate’s InkJoy pens.  And of Mr. Sketch Scented markers!


Elementary Literacy Bundles all about Getting your Students EXCITED about Writing! The Reluctant Writer’s Bundle

How hard is it to get those shy writers to produce any work at all? We all have those students who write about anything and everything!!! But, what about those that want to but can’t and won’t? One step in the right directions (Do you like that?) is having students exposed to books about shy or uncertain writers as well. Step two would be to expose those same students to books about students who do write, how they get it done. Non-abrasive books with characters that are similar in age will help your students put themselves into the stories. They will connect and try to write using the same tactics. It also help other students learn how to motivate their friends and classmates. No one wants to see someone struggle. And the writing struggle is real, folks!

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills (book not included)

I created a Literacy Set Bundle with Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills. Rocket gets helps and inspiration from nature and friends to add words to tree and then to his story.

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

The Word Collector bu Peter H. Reynolds uses a story about a boy creating a collection of words and sharing them with the children around him. Both of these books help children see how to get creative to find words and topics for their stories.

Both Elementary Literacy Sets come with graphic organizers, vocabulary cards, words cards, a dictionary page, Barrier Games (for listening and speaking opportunities and sentence frames that aid with language production), alphabetical order page, anchor chart pictures, KWL page, reading passages and more. These sets are great for small and whole group activities, English Language Development Activities, and interactive notebooks. Both literacy sets have reading, writing, listening and speaking components over their 18 pages of engaging learning fun!

Come check them out in my store.

Have a great Tuesday,



Monster Math Kindergarten Review

Today’s new Boom Game: Monster Math Review. These Kindergarten concepts were made into a self-correcting digital Boom Game. Preview the game by clicking on this link. This self correcting digital game is a great way to fortify some Kindergarten concepts before the coming year or to start off the first grade year strong. Concepts include counting, comparing, addition, subtraction and base 10 math. There are audio prompts leaving this game completely independent for your early learners. You can find this game on my Boom Learning store by clicking here.


Happy Terrific Tuesday To You All!

A little alliteration to start off your Tuesday and hopefully it is a good one. Here in Gilroy, it is Sunny and the weather plans on being a scorcher! We are still stuck inside but are trying to make the most out of it. My boys are getting a bite to eat and riding around the neighborhood and I am waiting for the evening to get my long walk in and maybe some bike riding.

Click here for the Monster Math Freebie 2 pages of Monster fun !

I am excited to share some of the things I have been working on with you while we have been quarantined. One is my Monster Math…I love teaching whole group-small group-independent through out my day! This let’s me make sure I am giving everybody the same standards based lesson, then differentiating based on their needs. If they can’t apply the skills, knowledge, or behaviors themselves then reteaching it is. In this way every assignment is an assessment and formative. I made a math review to help my cute little Kindergarten Classroom “monsters” with their counting, comparison, addition, subtraction and number operations in base 10 at the end of the year. Or, introduce your first graders to the new school year with this Monster Math Review. This can be used during those independent work times to assess students levels or sent home for homework. Click here for the full 32 page Math Review (16 pages in black and white and 16 in color).

Example of work
Monster Math Review- Number and Operations in Base 10- Count,Cut, Glue, and Cross Off Activity
Kindergarten Math Review Monster Math

Come check out my TpT shop here for lots of fun learning pages to support active, engaging, and fun learning in your classroom. See you there!


Today’s Big Item

Today, I decided to create my binder/ planner. I love the Happy Planner that I have for my district job but I wanted something for my curriculum work. Since Hobby Lobby was opened two weeks ago I was able to walk through the aisles in search of a planner for Curve Your Learning. I want to be able to put in my learning, track my work, keep my resources and so on. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I made it.


I printed out a title, used my trusty laminator to thicken the top and back pages, punched some holes, added some rings and now I am satisfied. One down and more to go. I have so many more ideas to make my own planners and binders.


Here are some school truths:

SEL is vital!

Literacy is crucial!

ELD/ESL is imperative!

And these have always been…maybe your student population changed, life sure has changed, but people have always needed support learning, practicing what they have learned, learning about differences and similarities, appreciation, respect, and expressing themselves properly. All of these may leave a teacher to feel overwhelmed because they think they need to figure out how to fit these all in- individually, SEL, ELD/ESL, Literacy.

But, never fear there is enough time to get them all in and sometimes they work altogether. Trying to teach every subject and focus individually will take more time then we have in the week, month, school year. We have to take advantage of our class minutes and teach multiple subjects and skills together. The way to do this is to capture our morning meeting or classroom meeting time back!!!!

I love to have my classroom meetings after recess time. It allows my students to calm down from their outdoor playtime and transition to class focus. We are able to go over any behaviors that occurred on the playground, and I help student talk through ways those situation could have been handled- this discussion with teacher prompting and student feedback is SEL, modeling what could have been done or proper things helps students envision for their next recess. This allows for your second language learners to practice their speaking skills- this is a great time to bring in sentence frames- they can turn and talk to practice with a partner before sharing with the class. So far we have SEL and ELD and literacy is adding in the a reading and writing portion. Adding an agenda to the board when starting the class meeting- sharing the pen (for a portion) with students, and reading it back together those verbal skills that are needed with reading.

Literacy is reading, writing, speaking and listening. These four components are entwined with ELD/ESL (English Language Development/ English as a Second Language) but need more structured support. How can we add this into our classroom meeting? Here is another example:

-Pass out a SEL current even article from ReadWorks, Time for Kids, Scholastic News, Studies Weekly, Newsela or one of the other sites (several are listed here), and work through it with your students. Have them turn and talk to a partner, to read through the article.

Step 1: Let the class know you are going to read an article and what the topic is about to make connections to their life, to what they are learning in class, and to each other. This will help to build the background and aid students in connecting old and new information.

Step 2: Before reading introduce some vocabulary, have students practice reading and naming the vocabulary, add a hand motion when practicing each word for kinesthetic memory.

Step 3: Partners can scan the article for words they need help with so before they read you can go over the words and give them another scaffold to success.

Step 4: Have the partners read the article together so they can help each other. Go around and listen to the groups reading- take those ELD notes to support English needs, take literacy notes to support reading needs (These may overlap of course). *You can give a itty bitty mini lesson on a need you see for example… “Class, when you see a period it means full stop, outstretch your arm and place out your hand.” Read a sentence and show them the period and stop then read another sentence. Keep it extremely short!!!

Step 5: Either ask for volunteers to read the article or read it aloud and have the class read it with you aloud. This way they can practice without any embarrassment and hear the proper pronunciation and pacing from you, an experienced reader.

Step 6: Talk about what the article means, ask students to think about how they can relate it to their friends, school, family etc. Give them think time and verbal sentence frames to use when answering.

Step 7: Send it home for homework to read with a pet, family member or to a doll. Answer a question or two out the reading so they can apply writing skills.

Now you have kept the topic SEL based, using literacy, and ELD scaffolding.

This is keeping your classroom student based and working for the needs of your students in the way that is best with out fully stressing the teacher out.

Keep it real!!!!

Keep it connected!!!