Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Quick Tips for Teaching Vocabulary in the Classroom

There are so many aspects to include in teaching literacy each and every day. One thing that should be present in each and every literacy activity is vocabulary. I personally feel like vocabulary is something that you are most likely already teaching at any given time because I find that it happens naturally as you are having discussions with your little friends. But, I also think that it needs to be explicitly done and it is important to make a big effort to include teaching vocabulary on a daily basis.

The Common Core Standards address vocabulary right away in kindergarten and continue to address them up through all the grades. The reason for that is because understanding the meaning of words majorly helps overall comprehension of text. Also, once the meaning of words are known, they will be more likely to actually be a part of everyday conversations in the classroom, on the playground, at home, etc.

The CCSS even dedicates an entire section to Vocabulary Acquisition and Use- again, beginning in kindergarten!

I compiled a list of quick tips that you can use to ensure you are teaching vocabulary in your classroom. As I mentioned before, you are likely already doing most of these....but here are just  a few ways to keep vocabulary study present in your daily activities!

Thanks to Hello Literacy for the fonts!

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Non Fiction Text That Kids Can Actually Read!

Using non fiction text with students is a must in any classroom. It makes them better readers, prepares them for a type of text that they will always read (no matter their age), but the best part- kids LOVE it! My little friends become so engaged with the real photographs and learning new facts about the topic.

The Common Core heavily emphasizes the need for informational text to be included on a regular basis. Students are both supposed to be reading non fiction text at their ability level and be able to respond to the text showing their understanding. Now, this is where I struggled. I rarely find text that are appropriate for my youngest readers that are also interesting. I have plenty of NF text that I read to my little friends that they love, but I wanted text that they could read on their own, at their level. Mainly I've found that text is too simple or too hard for my little readers. Which is why I created these passages!

I like to use a combination of my own passages and text that I can read aloud to my little friends. I use the other NF text as a way to supplement what we learned in the passages. This way we are comparing what we learned from the different texts.

I used my passages with my little readers and they loved them! They enjoyed learning new facts about all the different animals. I even focused on the same passage for the entire week with them and they still liked it by Friday...always a good sign. :) Each student has their own folder for the week full of pages that we complete as the week goes on. I first introduce my little friends to the main topic by displaying the main passage. We then create the K, W portion of a K, W, L chart. They also then write down anything they already know about the topic, write a prediction for something they may learn and a question they have about the topic.

The next few days we focus on responding to specific comprehension questions about the text, identifying key details, non fiction text features and vocabulary words. Each day we spend about 15-20 minutes rereading the text and completing the graphic organizers in their folders. We are addressing plenty of CCSS throughout the week!

On the last day, we focus on writing. We come back to our K, W, L chart and add any new things we have learned. We also create a "Can, Have, Are" chart together to help my little friends with their writing. These charts are a great way to ensure all students (no matter their ability level) will be able to write a few sentences about the topic.

The full 5-day format really engages my little friends and gives them multiple chances to show me they understood what they read! These passages can also be used as a one time comprehension check too if you are simply looking for ways to add more NF into your literacy block. You can even send them home for homework! In the classroom, these activities can be done in whole group, small group or even independent work during reading workshop (for your higher readers).

As I mentioned before, it is important for students not only to be exposed to NF text in read alouds, but they should also be doing the reading at their level as well. I have Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd Grade Editions. The packs include 15 passages written at a readable level based on the grade level. In the kindergarten edition, the Lexile level of the passages 30-120. In the 1st grade edition, the Lexile level of the passages is 300-500. In the 2nd grade edition, the Lexile level of the passages is 500-650. My little friends have been successful in reading and responding to these NF passages. Makes my reading teacher heart happy! :)
Thanks to Teaching Super Power for the fun graphics and Hello Literacy for the fonts!

 If you are looking for engaging NF passages that your little friends will actually be able to read, you can check out my Kindergarten Edition1st Grade Edition and 2nd Grade Edition and grab a freebie sampler in the previews of each level. If you have a wide variety of levels in your classroom, check out the K-2 Bundle too!

Have a great day!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Makeover Madness: TPT Seller Challenge Week 1

Being a seller on TPT for 2.5 years now has been amazing! Since I've been a teacher (9 years gone already!), I have more or less been constantly creating things to use with my little friends. After using the products with my little friends, I then began making them "TPT ready" so that others can also help their little readers.  When I look back at my original products 2.5 years ago, some make me cringe a little...I just didn't totally know how to make them "TPT ready" yet at that point, but I've spent many a hour trying to make my products match my own style- both content-wise and prettiness wise. :)

I tend to spend more time working on new products just because I can never keep up with my little readers and what they need, but I also try to spend at least a little time updating old products as well. I generally do not change the content of my products when making edits, because I wouldn't have it up on TPT if I didn't think it was superb content wise! But, I do like to update backgrounds, fonts and graphics to make them the most kid-friendly as possible.

Sometimes I need a little extra motivation to actually work on editing products as opposed to working on new ones, which is why I love the #tptsellerchallenge that is going on right now.  Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate,  Sparkling in Second & Peppy Zesty Teacherista have a great TPT summer challenge going on to motivate all us sellers! This week the theme was Makeover Madness- choosing a product and making it over.

I chose to makeover my Non Fiction Pack. This is a big seller of mine and I use it constantly with my kindergartners and 1st graders. It addresses all the CCSS for Informational Text with posters, graphic organizers and little journals. Though I did not change any content, this pack needed a new look- so I added new graphics, backgrounds and fonts to make it match the style of my other packs!

It went from this: 

To this: 

You can check out the updated pack here

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Favorite Things About Summer!

I just love summer! My last day was last Friday and though I'm only halfway into my first week of summer, it is already amazing. I'm linking up with Teaching Trio to share a few of my favorite things about summer.

1. Vacations- I'm so lucky to have a hubby who is also a teacher and let me tell you, we definitely take advantage of being off together during the summer. We spend lots of time together, whether it's getting things done around the house or exploring places around us. We also LOVE going on vacations and summer is our best time for this. We've got two trips lined up including some beach time and some camping/hiking time. I'm very excited for both trips! I'm sure i'll be posting pics on Instagram, so come follow along if you aren't yet!

2. Working out- I try my hardest to exercise regularly during the year, but I tend to have some really good weeks/months and then some really not so good weeks/months. Which is why summer is so fantastic- I get to wake up well rested and begin my day with a workout! I like to do a variety of workouts from running to yoga to weights and summer really gives me the time to do all of them. I even get to swim laps since our neighborhood pool is open- woohoo!

3. Creating- Also something I try do keep up with during the year, but doesn't necessarily always work out that way based on having other things come up! Summer is a wonderful time for me to actually sit for a few hours and work on creations- whether it's TPT products or things for my house, I love having the time to really dedicate to being creative. I've got a few TPT products in the works that I've been using with my little readers this year but haven't had the chance to get all TPT ready- I'm excited to get them all done! 

Now it's your turn- share 3 of your favorite things, related to anything...link up with Teaching Trio!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Telling Time to the Hour and Half Hour

Tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.

Telling time in first grade is something that I feel like I am constantly spiraling back to.  As soon as I think ALL most of my first graders can tell and write time to half-hours, I find that someone is looking at a clock that says, "8:30" and saying, "9:30."  That tricky hour hand!  Also, telling time is such an easy skill to apply to real life so I like to push my students to be able to tell time to the nearest five minute interval by the end of first grade.  As a result, I go back and review telling time often after it has been introduced.  

Spiralling is great but in order to keep kids engaged as we go back to the same topics it is important to introduce new ways for kids to practice this skill.

QR Codes are a fun and engaging way for students to practice a wide variety of skills including telling time to the nearest hour and half hour.  Below are some of my favorite "go-to's" when teaching telling time.  

To grab this set of QR Code Clocks please click HERE! Along with QR Codes, I also use different websites to reinforce skills already taught.  Below are some of the websites I use with my firsties to keep them practicing telling time to the hour, half hour and to challenge some to the nearest 5 minute interval. 

Stop the Clock: My kids love this game because they get to race to match the digital time to the analog clock.  I enjoy this game because it challenges them.  

Clock Splat:  I like that in this game you get to choose from 3 levels-hours, half hours and quarter hours.  Being able to choose the level makes it easy for all students to feel successful playing this game.

ABCYa Learn To Tell Time: This game is a great introduction to telling time.  Students can practice on both digital an analog clocks.  Students can check their work easily and levels get progressively harder.

Clock Works: Students can practice telling time at all levels (including to the nearest minute.)

Finally, below is a free app I use with my first graders.  In this app students can set the clock to different times and you can also "stop" the clock on specific digital times.  My first graders enjoy it and it is a great extra way for them to their clock skills.  You can check out this app by clicking here

I hope you were able to find at least a couple of new ideas to use when teaching time from this post!  If you have any other favorite games, or ways to teach telling time I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! 

Happy Wednesday!

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!
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