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.

*Organization

*Coding & Encoding

*Leveled

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.

Example:

Teacher Message
Compliment:  
Noticing:  
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!