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),

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-