As a classroom teacher, I hate to throw stuff away.  The only exception is if I've accidentally watched a few minutes of the show Hoarders.
  someecards.com - We are NOT hoarders! We are repurposers!
It has helped me to move in and out of my classroom this year - I've been able to let a lot go.  In my house, I now have a crazy insane amount of plastic eggs, and I need to get them out of here.  Here are a few useful ways to repurpose the eggs:

1.  Christina Bainbridge's Comprehension Eggs - I love, love, love these!  I actually send the list of questions home with my kiddos to use at home when discussing books.
2. Eggs Full of Sound - I put a variety of household objects in plastic eggs, and they have to find the egg with the matching sound.  Some great examples are: rice, screws, uncooked pasta, and toothpicks that have been cut in half to fit.  In NC, 2nd graders learn a lot about pitch, volume, and vibrations in science.  I give a basket of numbered eggs to each table and ask them to find the match and then describe the sound when you shake the egg.  This is a great way to encourage them to be careful listeners during science. My confession - Since I usually forget what is in the eggs, here's my "cheat sheet:" put the same objects in eggs # 1 & 8, # 2 & 7, #3 & 6, #4 &5.  Remember to tape the eggs shut.  :)

3. Rachelle's Classroom Management using Eggs  - I absolutely love this idea from What the Teacher Wants!  Best part - it encourages them to be on task and reinforces the desired behavior.  Fabulous.

4. Counting Change - Tomorrow, my students will each find an egg full of change.  Their morning work will be to find the amount and show how much change they would get from $1.00.  All week, same assignment, different eggs.  :)

May all your "Cold and Flu Season" dreams come true...
Whoo-hoo!!  I'm celebrating a few milestones with y'all today...  I reached a milestone in followers on this blog and in my TpT store, so I made a paid item free, just for y'all.  :)  Visit to download these for free!


While you are at my TPT store, do a bit of fun Spring Cleaning - clean out your wish list!! I'm throwing a sale for 15% off everything at my TPT and TN stores on Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy! 


Thanks for the a-dor-a-ble button, Krista!
I'm joining up with Latoya at Flying into First Grade for a super cute linky.  

This week we are doing.......  The NOUN Game (name your favorite person, place, thing, and animal.)
Here are mine.....
  
PERSON
My hubby.  We met 17 years ago, and got married 13 years ago.  My favorite thing about him?  He makes me laugh every day!  For me, that is huge!!  We also have 2 amazing kiddos.
PLACE
My favorite place is the beach.  I love to visit the beaches in North Carolina anytime during the year - not just summertime.  My favorite thing to do at the beach is sit on the sand, watch my kiddos play, and do absolutely nothing.  It is so relaxing, and helps feed my soul. 

THING

My favorite thing is also my favorite food - pizza!  If left to my own devices (and a closet of elastic-waist pants!) I would have pizza every day.  Well, I would shake it up every so often with a calzone, but I would definitely need to learn to love exercising if I wanted to stay in the clothes I already own.  
ANIMAL
I am on Team Dog.  I have nothing against the folks at Team Cat, but I really love, love, love dogs.  We are hoping to get another dog soon, so I'll keep you posted!  Here's a deep thought for the meantime...  :)

someecards.com - It is never okay to send me a Facebook friend request from the profile you've created for your dog.

Feelin' lucky?  Hop on over to Smedley's Smorgasboard for the 1000 follower giveaway.  You could win my Earth Day packet...  Just sayin'.  :)

Today is the third day in my series to empower teachers, Supporting Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5.  If you are new to the series, or want to see what the hype is about, click on the button below to visit the other posts in this series.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!

So far, you've created an Assessment Binder, made your list of struggling readers, and assessed Fluency.
Our focus today is Comprehension!!

Whoo-hoo!  Y'all know how much I enjoy Literacy, particularly helping teachers help their students...  Let's get started!!  
someecards.com - Dear News Media, 'Did Beyonce lip-sync?' is not news. 'The kid who didn't know a single letter in September, but is now reading' is news.
Just a reminder from the other day: We are going to engage in a bit of "Digging Deeper" with each student on your list.  We want to use this time to be a detective and find out why they are struggling readers. There are 3 main reasons the majority of struggling readers in upper elementary have difficulty reading:
1. Fluency - they take a long time to read and don't have the stamina to read for very long.
2. Comprehension -  they don't understand what they read.
3. Decoding - they have trouble with word attack skills. 
Step 2 - Assess Comprehension:  I bet you thought they were finished after you assessed fluency.  No way, Jose.  If you already have the materials and knowledge to do a running record, now is the time!  {Go on ahead, and meet us as step 3!}  If you like doing running records (which I highly recommend, but understand that you are busy, remember!?!) you can download Reading Assessments online for free from The Teachers College! 
logo
Reading Assessments
You can download and print assessments to determine reading level (GR levels A-Z), Letter/Sound identification, and Concepts About Print.  I'll use this for those kiddos who hang out on a level for so long that they can read the book from our AlphaKids kit, even though they are not proficient at that level.  They also have writing assessments available.

2 quicker ways:  If you are using MAZE assessments (from AimsWeb - paid), they can be fairly reliable.  This is super quick (3 minutes) and can be group administered.  You can check the comprehension of your class in 3 minutes.  If you have a bit of time, you can create your own MAZE assessments from CBM Warehouse.  However, I'd like to bring your attention back to EasyCBM.  Remember when I showed you this picture?
See that circled part?  That is grade level specific multiple choice reading comprehension assessments.  These can be printed out and group administered or the students can take them online.  (Assuming you got fancy and entered in your students.)  Whatevs - just print, make copies, and assess.  Again, the directions are on the website, and so is the Scoring Guidelines Table.  If they are in the "red zone," then they need help with comprehension.  Then again, you probably already knew that.


Remember, we still need to assess decoding skills before we can make our instructional decisions.  Next Thursday, we'll assess decoding!!

If you need help implementing a Comprehension intervention, check out Intervention CentralFCRR, or any of the other amazing resources available.
Today is the second day in my series to empower teachers, Supporting Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5.  If you are new to the series, or want to see what the hype is about, click to visit the other posts in this series.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!

You've got your Assessment Binder, right?  That was your homework from Part 1.  If not, no biggie - you can get it together as we go.  The main part now is that you have your list of struggling readers.  This is truly important, because you are going to go through that list in a quick, methodical process to pinpoint an area of need.
Our focus today is Fluency!!
Can you tell I'm a Literacy geek?  Can you feel the excitement?  That's because it's time to get started!!

Without giving you information overload, we are going to engage in a bit of "Digging Deeper" with each student on your list.  We want to use this time to be a detective and find out why they are struggling readers. There are 3 main reasons the majority of struggling readers in upper elementary have difficulty reading:
1. Fluency - they take a long time to read and don't have the stamina to read for very long.
2. Comprehension -  they don't understand what they read.
3. Decoding - they have trouble with word attack skills.

I know that I'm oversimplifying - that is on purpose.  If you, as the upper elementary (or middle school) classroom teacher, assess in these 3 areas, you will usually be able to pinpoint the greatest area of need.  Classroom teachers are the busiest people I know, and I would never waste your time.  Time is precious, people.  We could be on Pinterest instead, for goodness sake!  :)  Obviously, there are students who have needs much greater than these 3 areas, such as a learning disability, developmental delay, or English is not their primary language.  You can still use this system to find areas you can help these students effectively.  Also, the data you collect in these 3 areas can be useful when discussing Special Education testing, modifications, etc.

Step 1 - Assess Fluency:  Fluency is the fastest to assess, and very straightforward.  Using Dibels (free to download the assessments, paid if you want to make reports), AimsWeb (paid), or EasyCBM (free) you can assess the fluency of your struggling readers in 3 minutes each.
{If your school already assesses fluency, then skip to step 2!  You're all set!}
For this example, I'm going to use Easy CBM.  You'll see why when we move to step 2, Assess Comprehension.  Sign up for a free teacher account, and you'll get to this page:
If you want to be able to print nice looking reports, click students, and you can add them quickly.  You can even group them to be able to run different kinds of reports if you want to get all fancy like that.  If you don't care one bit about printing reports, just click measures.  You'll get this screen.
From here, select your grade level (it actually runs K-8 and assesses in reading and math).  Click on the measures you want to download.  Print the student copy and the assessor copy of the first 3 fluency passages.  (That way, you won't need to come back   Make copies of the assessor copy.  Slide the student copy into a page protector.  Put the assessor copies in a folder or group them together in a page protector in your binder, so they are always accessible.

Assessing Fluency using EasyCBM:  This info came from their website, on the link called Training.  A video is included as well.  Overall, it only takes 3 minutes per student - 1 to explain the directions and get them to relax, 1 to time their reading, and 1 to score the assessment.
Any of the Fluency measures you use should come with a Scoring Guidelines table that lets you know what falls outside the norm.  The EasyCBM table is here.  If your student falls in the "red zone," then Fluency is an area of need.

Remember, we still need to assess comprehension and decoding skills before we can make our instructional decisions.  Next time, we'll assess comprehension!!  See you Thursday.  :)

If you need help implementing a Fluency intervention, check out Intervention Central, FCRR, or any of the other amazing resources available.  Sometimes it's hard to find fluency interventions specifically for the upper elementary grades.  Here are a couple of mine, posted on Teachers Pay Teachers:





If you have any questions you want answered in this series, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  I'll do my best to address everyone's questions throughout these posts.
One of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had professionally was to work as a Literacy Coach in the upper elementary grades.  The main reason for this is that I was able to work side by side with teachers using an "I do.., We do..., You do..." approach.  First, a bit of background as to why this is important for professional educators:
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!
While literacy interventions are sometimes available for teachers in grades 3-5, they are often underfunded or eliminated due to budgets.  This leaves the classroom teacher in a difficult position.  Mainly, upper elementary teachers are given a "band-aid" approach (do these lessons with your struggling readers from the reading basal, send them to a specialist for 20 minutes a day, or haphazardly pull from different resources, all while progress monitoring them), but without giving the teachers the knowledge and tools to effectively help their struggling readers.  The assumption is made that they really should have learned to read before they reached 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  In middle school, this becomes an even bigger assumption, as students are expected to read in all content areas, and the social studies teacher can't understand why they are struggling in their class.

Let's all just take a moment and acknowledge why this is a problem for these kids: if they aren't proficient readers, they will become further and further behind as they progress through school. This sets them up for a huge struggle throughout their school careers.  Just sayin' that it's important, and all teachers need to be empowered to do what is best for their students.  That's my soapbox, so now y'all know how I feel.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!

This post is the first in a series to empower classroom teachers, especially in the upper elementary grades.  In this series, we will take several baby steps together to empower you, the classroom teacher, to identify the needs of your struggling reader and implement an effective course of action to help these students without reinventing the wheel at every turn.  No worries - I'm with you every step of the way.  :)

Today we will tackle your assessment area.  I know, I know, I know.  You have so many binders and folders, and they clutter up your work area.  Trust me - this will save you time in the long run!  Here's what you will need:
  • A binder with dividers and page protectors or another organizing system with dividers, hanging files, etc. This is to organize the assessments so you can assess when needed rather than having to search for 10 minutes so you can assess for 5 minutes.  Whatever you choose, make it work for you! 
  • Data.  We have mountains of data nowadays, don't we?  It doesn't need to be kept in your assessment area, but it should be easily accessible so you can track progress later.
  • A list of the students who are struggling readers.  This might be reflected in benchmark assessments, standardized tests, report cards from prior years, or your own professional judgement.  Yeah, I said it.  You should use your professional judgement.  You are a highly qualified professional educator, or you wouldn't be teaching students.
Spend no more than 15 minutes on this.  You have other stuff to be doing - honestly!  This is all about taking small steps to make a huge impact on your students.  Make it colorful or unique so you can find it easily.  The kiddos can help you keep up with it, too.  Occasionally I need to ask my students, "Has anyone seen my orange binder?" and they tell me it's under a pile of papers on my desk.  {sigh}  Anywhoo, making it unique will help you out, especially if you are like me - more than slightly disorganized!!

There are many cute binder covers you can download or design for yourself for free, but here's another, just in case you need something in a hurry!  :)  There are 2 versions, one color, one black and white.  That way you can print it on colored paper (or have your kiddos color it for you!) if you don't want to print in color.  Click the image to download for free.
Do you teach struggling readers in grades 3-5? Click through to this blog post series walking you through the steps of assessment, planning, teaching, and reflecting as you support those struggling readers! Some freebies and cheat sheets for teachers are included!
In this series, we'll assess fluency, comprehension, and accuracy, then figure out what to do with all of this information to best help your kiddos.  Up next, the Assessments for Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5, Part 2.

If you have any questions you want answered in this series, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  I'll do my best to address everyone's questions throughout these posts.
I'm enjoying a bit of time away from school - it's one of my guilty pleasures that I have time off in strange spots of the calendar since I'm at a year-round school.  My daughter is on the same schedule I am, and we've been having girl time, painting nails:
Check out the SPARKLES!  We'll see how long this lasts...  ;)
watching movies:
Love it!!  :)
and taking naps:
someecards.com - I wake up every day planning to be productive. Then a voice in my head says
Source
Also, I've been trying to tackle the dreaded To-Do list.  Really.  Not a whole lot has been accomplished from that list, but I'm making headway.  Here are links to a couple of TPT projects that have been sitting in my "To Be Continued" folder for a lo-o-o-ng time...  Feels good to check something off the list.  Enjoy!!



If you like the the Shades of Grey Chevron Papers I used, you can get your own here:


And a quick confession for y'all...
someecards.com - Sparkle has always been my favorite color.
Source
Phew!  Am I the only one who felt that February just would. not. end?  I've got a ton of excuses for you as to why I've been MIA lately, but first I wanted to share what I am doing CuRrEnTly:

If you haven't visited Farley yet, you should.  Fo sho.  

I love, love, love a quiet house.  The kind of quiet where I can sleep as much as I want without mommy guilt, laundry, groceries, etc.  I can rest, read, and relax.  With everything that's been going on lately, my hubby and parents have treated me with this weekend of decadent quiet.

The support I have gotten from my family and my friends has been amazing.  I had a recent health issue that required lots of doctors' visits, lots of tests (*not multiple choice!*), lots of stress, and lots of pain, all within the span of 3 weeks.  Tests are done, results are in, everything is treatable, and I feel much better!  My amazing hubby took over everything so I could mommy from bed or the couch.  We played tons of board games.  Here's my son's favorite:
Here's my daughter's favorite:
I am incredibly blessed to have such amazing people in my life; my hubby, my son and daughter, my parents, his parents, our brothers and sisters, my amazing coworkers - particularly my 2nd grade teammates, and my true friends who were always there with a letter, a phone call, or a cup of coffee.  

I want a cleaner house.  Specifically, cleaner floors.  I love my home; it is comfortable and can be brought up to "company" standards without a lot of trouble.  Part of it is that we don't have our dogs anymore, and I really relied heavily on them to "clean" the kitchen floors since I tend to avoid sweeping!!  :)  Maybe I'll be getting another dog sooner than I had planned...

I need to get my rear in gear.  I have 20 unfinished projects for my Teachers Pay Teachers store and Teachers Notebook store on my computer.  Maybe I'll spend a bit of this quiet day working on them... but I'll probably go back to bed.  ;)

Like: Junior Mints.  Did you know that Junior Mints are really super-duper hard in the minty middle at first?  You would break your teeth trying to eat them.  Over time, they become perfect, and that's when they go on the grocery store shelf.  (If that's not true, blame Augusten Burroughs, 'cause I learned that in one of his books.)
Love: Joy.  I experience joy daily through the eyes of my children, the simple act of eating a good meal with family and friends, and in really taking time to stop and center myself on what is important in my life.

Hate: Jealousy.  Nuff said.  Be sure to acknowledge the amazing things your coworkers, family members, and friends are doing... be happy for them!  :)  Don't forget Farley's rule of 3!!  Love ya'll!
Back to Top