Monday, May 11, 2015

Free Sight Word Apps!

The countdown to summer is definitely here...I can't believe how close we are to the end of the year!

I found some super fun free apps that I had to share with you. My little friends have come a long way since the beginning of the year to learn their sight words. These apps are perfect for quick reinforcement of sight words on the iPad. I love finding fun new apps that will help kids learn in an engaging way! You can download each one for free by clicking the links at the beginning of each little section below.  I hope they help make your last few days/weeks of the school year a little less crazy! :)

Sight Words by Photo Touch- this app is very simple and easy to use. It doesn't have any sort of fancy frills to it, but it is definitely great for practicing those sight words without any distraction. I love that it gets more challenging as students get more correct. It is constantly adjusting to the student's ability level!

Sight Words Ninja- now...this one is full of fun! Students get to pretend they are little ninjas slicing away at the sight words. The sight words break apart each time they select the word...and who doesn't enjoy being a little iPad ninja?? I love that this one allows you to easily differentiate by selecting not only certain levels of words, but also specific words at each level.

Endless Reader- the little characters on this one are so cute! I love all the animations that come along with this. I also especially love that students first learn the word and practice putting it together by itself and then see the words within sentences. So important for our little friends to practice words alone and in context!

Thanks to Hello Literacy for the super fun fonts!

Have a great day!

Monday, May 4, 2015

We Love Teachers TPT Sale!

We're sure you are well aware by now, but...YAY for a TPT sale! TPT is throwing a Teacher Appreciation Week sale this Tuesday & Wednesday {May 5th-6th}. Everything in our stores (even the bundles!) will be 20% off. You can get an additional 10% off by using TPT's promo code ThankYou when you are ready to check out! 

Below is just a small snapshot of everything that is on sale in our stores. You can check out everything we have for sale here for Amanda and here for Aylin! This sale is a great way to finish out the year strong or to start getting prepared for next year if you are super organized. :) 

Check out other sellers who are linked up through this fun linky! ...Now off to fill up our own carts!

Happy shopping!
Amanda & Aylin

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Guided Reading for Your Earliest Readers

Depending on the level of the group you are working with, guided reading can look very different!

In the earlier, emergent levels, the concentration of guided reading is on getting students to figure out how to actually read simple words, how to break down more challenging words and overall just figuring out what fix up strategies they should use as they read. There is also a focus on overall comprehension to ensure they are paying attention to what they are reading.

When students are truly reading and moving through more challenging texts, time can be spent on fluency and deeper comprehension discussions. Students should still be reading aloud, but not necessarily every page and with more of a focus on their rate, pace, expression, etc. Since the texts usually have more meaningful concepts, it is easier to have more meaningful conversations about the text!

Your earliest readers, though, who aren't even at a Level A, need a very, very basic guided reading lesson. I love working with all levels of readers, but it is SO important to really set a good groundwork for your earliest readers. Sometimes these earliest readers may be preschoolers or kindergartners, but they also may be your ELL or struggling older students.

The Pre-A guided reading lessons should focus on a few things.  These little readers need to understand concept of print- do they know where to begin reading on each page/line? Not only do students need to know where to start on each page, but they also need to learn 1:1 correspondence with words. At this level, the little readers tend to love to make a real long never-ending sentence for each page/line when there are just two words in the sentence! This is why it is so important to teach these little friends to point to each word on the line/page and make sure that they are only saying a word when they point to one. :)

They also need to understand the difference between letters/words/sentences- this can be very challenging for these earlier readers- everything looks the same to them! You can check out this old blog post for a freebie to help your friends identify the differences.

They are also just learning their letter names/sounds and starting to identify them within words. Simple sight words are also being learned at this stage.  Time needs to be spent reading, writing and making simple sight words and CVC words.

I love giving each of my students their own reading folders full of stories at their level. This builds their confidence and they take great pride in their own folders! I use the running records frequently because once my little readers are ready to move on, I don't want to hold them back! To become better readers, they need to be reading at their instructional level in the small guided reading groups.

Breaking down the guided reading lesson into before/during/after reading helps ensure that you are covering all steps that these earliest readers need! I broke down each part of my guided reading lessons for these little readers below.

It is so important to do a picture walk and really talk about the text before getting the little readers to read. Finding sight words and discussing what is in the pictures will help set up the students for a successful first read! Though these texts are super basic, there still is plenty to talk about beforehand.

The word work/vocabulary focus of each guided reading group can easily be adjusted based on each groups' needs. Some of these earliest readers already know their letter names and sounds, but struggle with putting them together, so that can be a focus of the word work portion before reading the passages. Others still don't know their letter names and sounds, so time may be spent just practicing those sounds.

During reading, each little reader needs to be reading on their own. Each child can whisper read while you listen in to each student and guide them when needed. This doesn't mean tell them the word-- this means help them by asking questions/providing prompts to get them to figure out the word!

Though these are super basic stories, as I said before, they still have something that you can discuss afterwards. I love the pictures my little readers end up adding to each of these pages! Going back and finding sight words by highlighting/circling/underlining is a great way to wrap up the lesson and review the words that were focused on for the day.
Thanks to Teaching Super Power for the fun graphics and From the Pond for the fonts!

If you are have little readers who just aren't quite able to read a Level A yet, you can check this pack out here!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Guided Reading

As I often mention, I spend nearly my entire day doing guided reading groups, and I love it! I love that I get to work with so many different readers and a huge variety of levels, from Pre A-R (that's a lot of levels!!!), throughout the day. 

I learn so much about each child as a reader through each guided reading lesson. I find out which strategies my readers are using to figure out challenging words. I see them interact with the text and have good/bad reactions to something a character does. I watch them build words or break down words during our word work time. Most importantly, I watch them grow as readers! My daily goal is not only to help all my students become better readers, but also to help them become confident readers. 

I use a variety of sources for my guided reading groups. From Reading A-Z online stories, to actual books, to my own passages. There are so many different leveling systems out there...if you pick up a random book, it may have some sort of number or letter on it. I use this correlation chart from Learning A-Z when using a variety of resources for leveled text. I can see just how each level correlates. I love that it has everything laid out in one spot. You can download it here!

This chart from Fountas & Pinnell via Heinemann has also been super helpful to guide me as to where my students should be at what point in the year. Though it can be daunting at times, it is also good to have an idea of where students are at and just how far they have come throughout the year. You can also download it here!

My Guided Reading Passages Packs have been a HUGE help for all my readers. Each leveled pack includes 15 passages, lesson plans and running records. I love using them as an extra way to see how all my readers are doing.

The lesson plans have been so helpful in allowing me to always be prepared for our guided reading time. Not one second is wasted on should we do next!

My little readers take such pride in their own Guided Reading folders. They love having their very own set of stories that they can read each day.

I just love how their pictures come out at the lower levels- I have some amazing artists!

I also love how much my little readers engage with the text. They aren't just reading- they are truly paying attention to the text and commenting as they read.

My higher readers continue to impress me with their ability to break down 3-4 syllable words- they use their fix-up strategies whenever needed to figure out a challenging word.

These running records have helped me learn and document more about each reader. I'm able to identify exactly what word pattern is stumping them or which sight words they keep switching. I use these weekly to help figure out if they are ready to move on or need to continue with the same level.

I have each level individually on TPT- you can check them all out here! Or...if you are like me and work with kids with lots of different levels, click the links below to see all my bundles- you can save 20-30% this way! :) In the previews of each of the smaller bundles, I also included a freebie sampler  for you to try out- you can try a leveled lesson plan, passage and running record!

Thanks to Teaching Super Power for the fun graphics and From the Pond for the fonts!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

AudioBoom in the Classroom

Spring is officially here in Chicago (I think!!!)  I have been on spring break this past week and it has been fabulous to catch up on life, do a little cleaning and spend extra time with family and friends!

In first grade we are continuously working on becoming fluent readers. There are so many different ways to help promote fluency in a first grade classroom and one of my newest and most favorite ways is using audioBoom!

AudioBoom is a free platform that allows anyone to record and share podcasts.  In my first grade classroom, we simply use it to record ourselves reading a story and then share it with others by creating a QR Code (all done on AudioBoom) so that students can listen to each other's reading.

Asking students to work on fluency and read a book several times so that they are reading it in a "just right" voice is not something most 6 and 7 years old want to do.  HOWEVER, tell them that they will be recording themselves and then classmates will be listening to their have a class full of excited readers!

Once QR Codes are put on the books, place them in a special spot in your classroom  so students can listen to each other read throughout the school day.

Getting Stared with audioBoom

1. Sign up for a free account at Then download the free app, "AudioBoom" to your iPad.  Sign in and get started!

Once students "upload" their recording.  I go onto my account on the computer by going to and click on your username and scroll down until you see "my posts."  Click on it and you will see all of the uploads.  From this screen, you can also turn it into a QR Code to put on the book.   Fun stuff!  The kids enjoy hearing themselves and their peers read.

Tips and Tidbits:  Other things can pop up on this website (like sports broadcasts) so I make sure to hand it to my students already in the "record mode."  Also, I can't quite see how to turn the reading into a QR Code on the iPad so I always do that part on the computer.  It doesn't bother me to switch back and forth between iPad and computer but if it bothers you it might be worth figuring out how to do it all on one device.

Happy Saturday,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March Madness: Sight Word Basketball

March to me means a few things...most importantly it means that spring should be arriving, but it also means St. Patty's Day and March Madness Basketball! I love all the fun festivities that come along with St. Patty's Day. I also like to pretend that I follow March Madness very closely, but truthfully, it's just always on in our house this month because my hubby is obsessed with watching all the games. So, I technically also "watch" all the games...but really I only get into the reallllly exciting ones and more or less tune out the rest. :)

But, I do like to use the theme of basketball in my classroom, especially during the month of March because my little friends go crazy for it! The first thing I have my little friends do is actually practice making the sight words with their magnetic letters. Once they've done this successfully, we get to play sight word basketball!

This is one of those activities where after the first time you play it, everyday afterward your little friends will ask, "Can we play sight word basketball today??" I don't know about you, but I'm all for any game/activity that will get my little ones excited and ready to learn each day, so though we do not do this everyday by any means, I do keep it in a frequent rotation to keep them engaged...and learning those sight words, of course!

I got the basketball "hoop" from the Target Dollar Section {of course} several years could easily use a basket of any sort- this one is just even better since it has the basketball on it! Then I have those soft mini basketballs for my little friends to use. All they do is pick up a b-ball sight word card, read it and then attempt to make a basket. That's it! They repeat this until all the words are gone and they can't get enough of it! When we don't have time to fully play sight word basketball, I just use the basketball themed sight word cards to do quick checks of their sight word knowledge.

You can download the sight word cards  freebie right here...hope your little readers also go wild for March Madness! {Pre-primer and Primer Dolch Words are all included!}

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

GeoBoards in the Classroom

Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size. 

Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.

Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

In both kindergarten and first grade we want to help students to understand that objects are made up of a shapes.  As well as we want children to see a shape and its defining attributes. For instance, we want to instill in children that a three sided, closed object is a triangle no matter if it is big or small, blue or yellow-it is still a triangle because of its defining attributes.  We can tell students this and even show them...but what better way to teach students than to let them explore with shapes and orientation on their own through structured play.

Whether you have GeoBoards or iPads in your classroom, you can take advantage of my latest pack to help your students explore with shapes in a fun independent center.

GeoBoards allow students to use rubber bands to create shapes by dragging them and putting the rubber bands on pegs.  The only difficult thing is, you are giving a bag of rubber bands to your first graders!  Don't get me wrong, many of my students can handle these; however, there are a couple (I will not name names...) that the rubber bands sometimes always seem to break or go flying!  And of coarse, it is always an accident...always. 

The solution to flying rubber bands?!?!  A FUN FREE APP of coarse! :)  GeoBoard, by The Math Learning Center is an engaging app that gives students the opportunity to explore shapes.  This app allows students to make drag rubber bands to make shapes and create images made by shapes.

To accompany this free app, I created a math pack called GeoBoard Mania!  This pack gives students the opportunity to explore shapes and to be challenged by combining several shapes together to make new designs.  Students have to be persistent in order to get these designs and my students LOVE the challenge of this.  There are several printables to hold students accountable for their word during center time.  

Whether you are using regular GeoBoards or have an iPad in your classroom and want to try GeoBoard, by The Math Learning Center try this pack to challenge and push your students!  Click HERE or on the picture above to take you to this pack! 

Happy Sunday!

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