Need a fun and fast way to boost your students' vocabulary? Here's a Mystery Word of the Week free download (from my Teachers Pay Teachers store)  you can print and use today! Enjoy!

Free Mystery Word of the Week from Hello Mrs Sykes on Teachers Pay Teachers

I love the discussions I have with students about our military. I am married to an Army son, and the military communities in NC are pretty amazing.

If you need a fast word work activity for November 11, click the link to download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Enjoy! 🇺🇸

When you have students who are in upper elementary classrooms reading several years below grade level, your phonics instruction needs to be systematic and focused. Today we will look at several students* reading far below grade level, and we will walk through how to address their needs.
* All student names have been changed, in case you were curious.

Older struggling readers need something different - Miss Wishy-Washy is *not* the way to help! This blog post is a quick guide to the exact tools, tips and resources I use with my struggling readers in upper grades.

Hello! I'm sharing a secret weapon I use to engage my students in their word work in third, fourth, and fifth grades. Each week I set out a Build a Mystery Word activity, which my kiddos love! This activity allows them to practice phonics, spelling, context clues, and critical thinking. Take a peek:

To see it in more depth, please click the picture below to view in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Enjoy!

Want to boost the vocabulary of your entire class with only a few minutes a day? What if I told you with little prep work! Here's the solution: use the Mystery Word of the Week clues to spark daily discussions of words.
Need an easy way to improve the vocabulary of your entire class in less than 5 minutes per day? Use the Mystery Word of the Week clues to spark engaging discussions of words. Perfect for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Blog post from

An effective teacher is always learning, even over the summer break. While you are on vacation, why not catch up on your professional readings? Here are a few suggestions. What did I miss? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments so we can all stay current on best practices in literacy!

If you're in the US, school is almost over, and gifting is on the brain. Here's a simple gift idea. Investment of time... fifteen minutes. Added bonus? You are about to clear off a shelf (or a box, a sterilite drawer, or whatever!)

If you are like me, you collect childrens' books for classroom libraries, etc. Some books may be well loved, or ones that you ordered from your book club catalogs, but forgot to use, or they weren't books that were checked out from your classroom library very often. This makes your shelved cluttered. Today's tip: Let them go... to the students! Here's how it usually goes down for me: set out an old box of books. Say nothing about it, until a sweetheart asks about them. Then tell them to pick one book they are interested in, and see you for a label for their name, because they can keep the book. Forever and ever.

Seriously, no Pinterest involved. Grab some old labels and hand-write a little note. These were mine last year! I had 3 5th graders tell me they read the books over and over during the summer. Love it!

Are you out of school? Did you Pinterest the end of the year, or was it as harried and hectic as mine was? Do you even give student gifts?
I notice many of my struggling readers in grades 3-5 have a language deficiency. Their teachers are beside themselves as they look at their writing, and come to me asking what do I do? Here's my answer: practice speaking in complete sentences.

I bring in photos from magazines or project an interesting picture, and ask students to describe what they see in complete sentences. A small group is a supportive environment for risk-taking, especially for your English Language Learners. I usually spend a couple of 20 minute small group lessons on describing the pictures using complete sentences. Model how to describe the pictures using complete sentences. If you expect elaboration and details from your students, be sure to model that as well.  From there, move on to...

Practice Writing Sentences

Those pictures you've been practicing talking about? Use them again, and this time have them write their thoughts in sentences. Remind them about the format of a sentence - it needs a noun/verb, a capital letter, etc. They can write anything that they said yesterday, someone else said yesterday, or their new thinking about the picture.

We use the familiar pictures to make it easier to think of what to write about when they are struggling to write complete sentences. It makes a *huge* impact in helping students meet and sometimes exceed the writing expectations. The best way to become a better writer is to write, write, and write some more. If you spend time on this, I know you will see huge gains in your students who were struggling.

If you sell resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, then you *NEED* these websites.

This post is sponsored by and The Nature Conservancy.

Field Trip to Peru

If your students are like mine, they haven’t seen much of the world outside their hometown. As a teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to integrate the curriculum goals from my state in a meaningful way while opening the world to my students. One exciting (and free) opportunity to explore biodiversity of a coastal ecosystem is an upcoming virtual field trip to Peru! Join on March 16th at Noon EST for a Free Virtual Field Trip to Peru!
Click the image to learn more, see the resources, and register for this free event!

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