So... we got the email this week.  The one I dread every year.  You know which one - the one reminding you about copying quotas, and how we all need to limit our copies as much as possible.  I always try to limit my copies by projecting as much as possible and having the students use whiteboards, but I'm trying out some new things this week to avoid making copies.  I thought I'd share...

If you really need to make copies, do you need a class set?  Check out these C-Line Reusable Dry Erase Pockets.  I've tried tons of alternatives, like a piece of cardstock in a sheet projector, a laminated sheet, and a sheet inside a zip-lock bag.  (Teachers liked to reduce, reuse, and recycle before it was cool, right?)  Ummm, those alternatives might work for a while, but then they look ragged and icky.  These pockets are rugged, sturdy enough to use in the classroom, and wipe clean easily with a felt eraser, a tissue, etc.  We've been using this set like crazy for a couple of months, and they still look fabulous (even with the "rugged" use my students have at this point of the year!)

C-Line also has a ton of templates for free, such as the clock above!  (I was trying to remind my green beans that they DO know how to tell time...  #facepalm)  Visit the templates page by clicking the clock below.  I only needed 5 copies to be able to review time all week with my entire class - just sayin'.

Project your tasks as much as possible.  Duh.  But really, do you need to make a class set of copies of the math problems, or can you project the problems on the wall (or, gasp, write them on the board?!?)  We have clipboards, and students move if they need to be closer to the task.  Works for us.

If you have the technology available, use it.  Today my kiddos made Educreations on the iPads (I borrowed them from another class that was on a field trip, so I was able to use 5 today!!) If you've never heard of this, it's a pretty fabulous teaching tool.  Here's the sample Educreation I made to show my class about solving a word problem:  Sample Educreations Task - Comparison Word Problem.

Limit the amount of meaningless test prep busy work.  Again, it's a no-brainer.  The more worksheets you assign, the more papers you need to grade, file, etc.  If it doesn't help you or your students, don't bother making the copies.  Use whiteboards and dry-erase markers, and listen to students explain their work - that will help you see what next instructional steps you should take.  A lot of my assessments are through anecdotal notes, and I've used every "system" to keep up with them.  Good old-fashioned kid-watching on a check-list or in a spiral notebook can really tell you what you want to know - Do they understand the concept? Can they explain it to others?  Can they apply the concept to other situations?  You know, teacher stuff.  :)  Here's one way I got the class up and moving - using Christina Bainbridge's Tick Tock... Classroom Telling Time Hunt.  Minimal amount of prep (and copies.)  Love it!

Use the resources from your school.  I know, I know.  Sometimes it's a pain when you get one. more. thing. from your school to use.  Occasionally Often At times, I get a wee bit frustrated by being given something else to do...  Earlier this year, I was given 6 copies of a test prep reading book, and told to use it without letting kids write in it or have their own copies.

(Admission time - they sat on the shelf in pristine condition for most of the year.)  One day I looked through them and realized that they have grade-level appropriate text (paired fiction and informational selections) with a quick activity at the end.  I set these in a basket with some great Fiction and Informational text questions, and my fan-ta-bu-lous assistant leads all of the students through a text daily during Daily 5.  (She pulls each group for 10-15 minutes, and it really is the best use of the hour that she is with us every day!)  When they finish, they pull a couple of questions and discuss.  Here's my questions...
Again, limited copies!  Print, laminate, and put in a basket or on a ring.  Done!
With budget cuts everywhere, I know we are not the only ones with copy warnings... How do you deal with limited copies?

Disclosure: I received a set of dry erase pockets to review. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own. Affiliate links used to support this website.
I adore the team I work with.  We had a meeting scheduled for today during planning, and a teacher found out her class' special was cancelled.  What's a dedicated group to do?  Meet in the hall, just outside of the classroom door while the students watch a video about Life Cycles...
A few of my teammates....
Me... a couple hours before I went home sick.
Love it!
Today is the fourth day in my (slightly occasional) 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, assessed Fluency, and assessed Comprehension.  
Our focus today is Decoding!!
Decoding sounds scary, so you can call it Phonics if you want.  Basically, you want to see what they already know about letters and sounds so you can target their instruction accordingly.  Here's an example:  I was a Literacy Coach with a 5th grade teacher (who is an amazingly awesome teacher), and she said she didn't understand what else to do for her struggling reader.  She had already assessed fluency and comprehension, and was targeting those areas with little results.  We worked out a plan of attack - fast and easy - the Names test.  After we analyzed the data, she turned to me and said "Donita doesn't understand vowels!  I can fix this with a few targeted lessons!"  And she was off and running...

Truly, once you dig deeper to find out the underlying issues, your student can make great strides in their reading.    

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

Here's a quick and easy way to assess decoding: The Names Test.  (Cunningham, 1990; Dufflemeyer and Colleagues, 1994)  If you want to read the research, here's a link from The Reading Teacher.  It's easy, research based, and fast!  Here's the low down:

  1. Print the Names Test Directions.
  2. Print the List of Names.
  3. Print the Scoring Sheet (1 per student).
  4. Tell the student to pretend they are the teacher calling out the roll.  They are to do their best to pronounce the words.  Do not help them.  If they struggle, just say "Do your best."  Record checks for correct responses, and write the incorrect responses.  Give them a sticker or a high five, and send them back to their work.  :)
  5. Score the assessment.  Here's my favorite version to use of the scoring sheet, since it puts the names in the order your students will say them.  Use your favorite colored pen to circle the phonetic elements they missed.  Tally them up.
  6. Analyze the information.  Where are most of their mistakes?  That is your target area.
Honestly - the first time you do this, it *might* take you 10 minutes.  After that, you won't need to print new materials, so it will be shorter.  Over the years, I've got it down to about 5 minutes, including analyzing the data.  You only do this assessment with struggling readers, so it doesn't take all day... - Sometimes I like to treat myself at work and just do one thing at a time. Oh, wait, I'm a teacher.

     Now, target your instruction to hit these areas.  To make it faster, form some strategy groups that you hit several times a week on the phonics skill - vowels, anyone?  There are tons of resources available for phonics with lower grade students, but you'll need to be sure to alter these to make them more appropriate for the upper grades students.  Oddly enough, they don't get excited about cute graphics as the younger ones do, and they might run from the room if you give them a copy of Miss Wishy Washy.
     I've put together a few resources for y'all, and they are all classroom tested, designed by me during the years spent as a literacy specialist/literacy coach in grades K-5.  I've also bundled them all together - save a few bucks!  This weekend, you can get the bundle for 15% off the already low price for all 5 sets.  Each set is a week of interventions with lesson plans, materials, activities, and printables.
Bundle Pack #1
Next time, we'll be answering the FAQs.  See you then!!
I *may* have already told you that I'm loving my home laminator... No?  Consider yourself told.  Here's what I'm laminating this week:
12 Fiction Passages, 12  Non-Fiction Passages

Love these, from my buddy Casey!
For a few of my darlings who need help with CVCe word patterns
Also... here's my new mini-me!  What do you think?
Thanks to The Library Fox for my custom graphic!!

Good morning!!  I recently received a free pair of glasses from Firmoo, which is an online eyeglasses store. Since I don't wear glasses right now, I went ahead and got a pair for my hubby.  He usually wears contacts, but needed a backup pair of glasses.  

Here are the glasses I got for the Mr:

 Here is the Mr. wearing them: 
My guy in his new glasses - great for a backup pair!
The ordering process was fairly straightforward.  We got the prescription information from the optometrist, went shopping online, and filed in the eyeglass prescription online.  I wasn't sure about a lot of the jargon, but the website had little help buttons everywhere directing me to the proper part of the prescription, so it was pretty easy.  

Y'all know I'm fairly cheap frugal a penny pincher broke, so when I get an opportunity for free stuff for my family, I'm in.  Last time we bought glasses for the Mr., it cost over a hundred bucks.  I'm sold now... the frames are sturdy, it took about 2 weeks to arrive, and they were cheap.  they were high quality and nicely durable (not flimsy like those cheap pairs). They also came with a nice case, a cleaning cloth, a double-sided screwdriver with extra screws, and a little bag that the case can go into. 

Also, they have a First Pair Free program, where you can pick a pair of free glasses (pay shipping only). Check it out here: If you're interested, here's the link to their website:  Enjoy!!

Note:  Firmoo did provide a free pair of glasses for me to review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  Yada Yada Yada.
Welcome!  I'm not here today...  I am uber excited about where I'm guest-blogging today, though!  To read about how to dye colored rice for word study (and a freebie!) visit Christina's blog at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge.

I've been MIA lately... Usually I avoid the three-letter descriptions, but I've been buried in them lately.  IEP, LEP, PEP, and (my favorite) EASi (pronounced "easy" - but it's incredibly complicated!)  I'll be back to the Struggling Readers in Grades 3-5 series soon, after I tie up a few loose ends.

One of those lose ends is my Math Training I've been attending this year.  It has been helpful in helping me understand the intricacies and common misconceptions in teaching 2nd grade math - fascinating stuff for a Lit. Geek like me.

I'm being observed for the next 2 days in math with my students engaging in Math Talk in small groups.  I whipped up this little math talk prompt card for students to use when asking questions, and thought I'd share.  Click the pic below for a free copy.  :)

For the record, I'm still loving the new laminator, and even laminated sets of these for my class and my math buddy's class, too!  For those of you with laminators, do you find yourself making spur-of-the-moment projects at home often?
Yay!  April is here, and it was over 70 degrees today in NC.  It's a happy day to link up with Farley!

My hubby plays guitar.   I may have mentioned this before - and I am loving it.  We have music in the house all the time, and it's definitely a good thing for our kiddos - they are very musical.

I bought a laminator, and I love, love, love it!  It's a Crofton from Aldi (love that store!) and it was marked down to $12.99.  Laminator love... a beautiful thing.  Here it is in action:
laminating my Context Clues task cards
laminating Tick Tock time cards from Christina Bainbridge
Truly, I was able to spend some time reflecting this weekend on the blessings in my life - there are many.  I need to remember to focus on my blessings.  :)

I want a vacay, and need a manicure... though I suppose they could both go in the "wants."

My advice for future TpT sellers - proofread everything!  Have others proofread.  Mistakes happen, but they are embarrassing.

Remember Farley's rule of 3!  Enjoy!!
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