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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Be Aware and Please Take Loving Care of Our Earth

Earth Day is one of my favorite themes to use in the spring. It is celebrated on April 22nd but I love to do activities related to this for several weeks. Friends of the Earth is a Common Core packet that has been carefully designed to meet the needs of your primary learners. It will help to raise student awareness of the importance of recycling and taking care of the earth.
I have included both literacy and math stations that will build the academic language of your students and promote student engagement. Writing activities are also included and scaffolds have been provided to ensure student success. It also addresses the needs of your English language learners.Many of the printables serve as a record of student understandings and can be used for assessment and homework. Check it out and see if it looks worthwhile to you. When I was a Common Core coach the kinder and first grade teachers used this and got beautiful results.

Students even make a simple necklace using straws to add some bling! If you would like to purchase this packet it is available in my TpT store. Be sure to pick up the headband freebie too! Help our children learn to care for the earth and each other. What do you do to celebrate Earth Day?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Day is Around the Corner: Grab this to get started

Don't you love this time of the year? The weather is getting warmer (okay I live in Southern California) and your students are actually showing some progress and becoming much more independent. Whew... I bet you thought it would never happen and before you know it you will be hugging them all goodbye and telling them to have a great summer. Before it all slides past you why don't you do a mini unit on Earth Day instead of  just spring? You can teach a lot of different skills but also give them some understanding of recycling, reusing, and reducing. I think this is worthwhile and goes along really well with any unit you do on plants. Today I am offering you a freebie that might force encourage you to try this next month. You can pick it up right here if your kids will have fun making a little crativity. It's a headband that you can sponge paint and add a little info to. No fuss just easy to put together. Who doesn't want to wear the Earth on their head as an accessory? 
This packet is finished and it has been carefully aligned to the Common Core (naturally). I think it is one of my best products. I even included some writing that has been differentiated for young students. This product can also be used in a TK classroom since it has many literacy and math activities to keep little ones engaged. I have provided response sheets for many of the stations so you have a record of their understandings. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Attention... Doing Intervention

Can your students blend and segment? 
Sorry that I have not been blogging lately but with report cards and conferences I was busy with school 24/7. As I created assessments and checked off the skills my students were suppose to have mastered I realized that many of my students were not picking up on many phonemic awareness skills. They are all English language learners and they are just not ready to blend or segment.They were unable to hear subtle differences in sounds. What does a teacher do? We are assessing our students on these skills earlier than ever and often they struggle with these demanding skills.
So how do I help them achieve these goals? I knew I needed to create some materials that would help to scaffold their learning. I want to share some of these ideas with you.
First, I needed to stay organized and pull students who needed additional support. My middle group needed to refine these skills so I needed good materials to build on their understandings. 
I found the perfect box at Target that had 2 drawers that snap together and hold so many games and cards. I labeled each game and placed them in slider bags that I purchase at a fantastic store called Daiso where all items are $1.50. They have gorgeous, brightly colored containers that I have trouble resisting. Check it out!

Here is what the contents of my box looks like. Cards can be quickly turned into a fishing game with self adhesive magnets and a couple of magnetic rods. Students love all variations of this game. Check out my FB page for pictures of this. Each activity is in its own slider bag.

GREAT TEACHER TIP: I created a small set of cards that I keep in my box to use as a quick reference. I love this resource and find myself grabbing it all the time. I have lists of words sorted by vowels, or the number of phonemes in a word. I can add to these cards easily as my kids acquire skills and make it increasingly more difficult. Maybe I will actually get to blends and digraphs. I'll keep you posted.
 These are segmentation mats that I made to use during small group instruction. My students love them and I have had so much success using them. I give each child in my group the same picture card that goes in the box provided. We say each phoneme in the word together and slide a gem onto the blending line into a space. Once we have finished this I ask students how many sounds they have heard. This is very effective because it is so concrete. Sometimes I use seasonal erasers (small ones from Dollar Tree) to jazz things up!
This is an idea that has been around forever but if you have never seen these sliders then you might like this concrete idea for segmenting a word. As students make each individual sound they slide one bead to the right. Each bead is a different color. This is similar to moving small tiles but it is all contained and easy to store. I have a class set of these and students stay far more engaged using them.
The little, laminated book is for recording words when doing basic cvc words. Students use a dry erase marker that has an eraser on the back

During my assessments it became clear to me that often my ELL's did not hear the difference between vowels and needed far more practice with this. I started out with the OCR letter- sound cards under each vowel to scaffold their learning. It worked like a charm and they got so much better with this skill, over time. You can have them clip the medial vowel with a small clothespin or use those glass gems. Students are far more interested in practicing this skill when they have materials to interact with!

I also created cards that had pictures and we went through the same process, listening to each sound and placing a gem on the medial sound we heard. The more we practiced the better their listening skills got. They felt so proud of their successes and this greatly impacted on their spelling and writing. Wowza! I was on a roll and spending big bucks on printer ink. Sometimes you gotta have color!

You knew I was going to pull out spinner games... right? These are glossy and brightly colored but I sorted them by vowel so they would be much more successful with lots of repetition. I also created a response sheet to give them practice writing cvc words. They loved these games and I just had them use a pencil and paper clip to create a spinner. Easy-peasy... 

 From these spinner games I moved on to creating the same activity, just using paper. This is perfect for additional practice, completed independently.
What is it about mystery words that create some much enthusiasm? This is a game we did collaboratively in groups of 4. Students share a mat and each child has their own "riddle" to solve by using letters that match the sound cards. Once the children in the group agree that the word has been done correctly, it is recorded on a response sheet. This was a huge hit in my classroom. Remember to allow your students to work collaboratively to co-construct their knowledge.

These are flip books that I created to reinforce those cvc words and have more practice writing these words as the children listen carefully to individual sounds. I ran these on both sides and let my students color them in.

I have many other materials that I created but I will save that for another blog post. Do you have any other activities for intervention that really work for you? I hope you leave a suggestion. I am always looking for the next great suggestion. I also need to post a freebie since it has been far too long!