Monday, November 26, 2012

Time for a Sale and for Traveling

It's time for the annual Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Day Sale.  Actually it will begin on Monday, November 26th and continue through Tuesday, November 27, 2012.  Many sellers are participating including ME!!!  Everything in my store is 20% off and when you enter the code CMT2012 you get an additional 10% off my sale price which equals a 28% discount.  I will be EXTREMELY busy over the next 2 weeks presenting at conferences, but will hopefully get some new pictures on my blog of the ideas I am showing at these conferences.  Here's where I will be:

Great Lakes PreK-3rd Grade Conference - November 26-27, 2012
Illinois Conference for Kindergarten Teachers - November 29-30, 2012
Michigan Conference for Kindergarten Teachers - December 3-4, 2012
New England Conference for PreK-K Teachers - December 7, 2012
Ohio Literacy Conference for K-3rd Grade Teachers - December 10-11

And I will have the privilege of being around some amazing presenters:  Dr. Jean, Kim Adsit, Heidi Butkus, Vanessa Levin, Donna Whyte, and Jack Hartmann along with many other engaging presenters. But most of all, I will be surrounded by awesome, dedicated teachers just like YOU.

If you are attending any of these conferences, I would love to see you at my sessions.

Have FUN shopping and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features to Young Children

I wrote a blog post last March that continues to drive daily traffic to my blog.  What was it about?  It was titled Teaching Nonfiction Text Features and the Common Core.  Nine months later, I am amazed at how many teachers visit that post and my Pinterest board.  I am a numbers girl, so it got me thinking that this was a need for early childhood teachers.  Thus, I set out on my journey to create a couple of songs, Power Points, and multimedia files along with a specific unit to teach these features.  And after working on this project for at least 3 months, it is ready!
I have included sample pages that show visually how to use these pages in the unit.  Teachers can pick and choose which features to discuss and cover all from the perspective of the students.  And just for fun, I suggest that teachers create a nonfiction text features book about themselves along the way as a model.  And we all know that our students love that.

These are just a few sample pages that are included with this unit.  The students are able to create a nonfiction text feature book about themselves along with creating class books, nonfiction text feature guides, and recording sheets for research or literacy centers.

You have 2 choices of multimedia files and Power Point templates along with 2 mp3 songs.  If you want to add your students information to the Power Points, then finish the sentences and insert the song.  If technology is not your "cup of tea" then you have the option of playing the multimedia files and letting your students use created cue cards to present their information.

I aligned this unit with the Common Core State Standards for 1st and 2nd grade students.  It can be modified to use parts with kindergarten students as it is based on "All About Me" and can be bumped up to add more details for 3rd grade students.
Click HERE to view this product on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Here is a quick peek at the multimedia files, songs, and Power Points provided in this unit.
Graphics by:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

FREE Christmas Emergent Reader Set

I presented at the Tennessee Kindergarten Conference in Nashville on Friday.  We had discussions about the Common Core and teaching our kindergarten students to use capital letters and punctuation in their writing.

To help your young students be successful in using capitalization and punctuation, they must first learn to recognize it. I created 3 book sets to help your students locate capital letters at the beginning of the sentence, including the word "I" along with locating the period at the end of the sentence.  And to make it fun, they get to color their books too.

Young children sometimes need anchor supports to complete these tasks independently.  I created "I Can" cards for each book.  Copy and laminate these cards and place in your literacy center.  Teach your students to refer to the "I Can" cards as a way to teach following directions.

Click HERE to download your FREE copy of these books for your literacy centers.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Report Cards and Parent Teacher Conferences

Friday, November 8, 2012 is Fox 23 Day and welcome to the viewers who watched this morning.  The subject of today's segment was "what do parents do with the information they received from their child's report card."

If your child is struggling in any area, you need to meet with your child's teacher (if you haven't already) and come up with a plan of support for your child.  You need specifics on how you can help your child.  If you don't understand the terminology - ask.  Sometimes teachers get caught up in the "school" words or buzz words.  Just politely say - could you explain that to me?  They will appreciate your honesty and it will remind them to break it into more specific parts and to explain it better.  You, your child, and the teacher are a team.  It will take all of you to make the plan work.  If your child knows that you all are a team, he/she will be more successful.

Report cards vary greatly from district to district.  Some districts give a number system or letter system that is assigned to specific standards within a subject.  So instead of receiving an A, B, C, etc. in reading, the standards based report card could be broken down into these standards.

Recognizes high frequency words (sight words).

Use different strategies when coming to unknown words.
These strategies could even be separated into:

*Uses picture clues when reading.

*Uses phonics decoding skills when reading.

*Uses context clues when reading (other parts of the sentence, paragraph, etc.) to figure 
out unknown words.

*Reads familiar text fluently (appropriate pace, not to choppy, like natural speaking rhythm).

*Reads familiar text with expression (doesn't sound like a robot with a flat monotone voice) when reading.  This can show the students are comprehending what they are reading.

*Understands what has been read. (This is a comprehension skill.  Some students can read beautifully but when you ask what they just read, they can't tell you.  Or maybe they can't sequence the story or remember details of the story.)

And this is just for reading!  The same applies to math.  There are so many different standards that are within counting, adding, subtracting, multiplication, algebra and all of those typical skills we did when we were in school.

So how can you help your child over the next 6 weeks with all of the holidays coming near?  If your child is struggling, he/she needs to read, read, read.  If your child is not struggling he/she needs to read, read, read.  In order for students to become better readers, they must read everyday.  And the research is out there.  The more they read, the better reader they become.  Your child should be reading a minimum of 20 minutes at home each day.  The goal is to have your child to eventually read for the entire 20 minutes.  But if they are a struggling reader, it may take time to build up to that, so it is fine to take breaks in between. Jog in place, do some jumping jacks, play a follow the leader game and let your child be the leader!  Reading should be a pleasant event with the goal of your child loving to read. 

Children can increase their reading level by listening to their parents read to them.  The more they listen to stories and discuss what is happening, the higher their vocabulary skills become or the more words they become exposed to.  So you, as a parent or family member are crucial to your child's reading success.  Take pride in that fact and find some time during this busy upcoming holiday season to sit down and read with your child.

Children need to use different strategies to learn to read.  Some of them were named in the report card skills above.  The following information is the slide of the song that you heard on television this morning. These are a few strategies to encourage your child to use.  I know that as parents, many of us were taught to "sound it out" to read.  Phonics is an important strategy to use but it is not the first strategy that children use when they read.   The brain searches for patterns and for reading to make sense.  And young children will look at the pictures to figure it out.  That is ok.  We eventually want to build other strategies as more effective ways to read, especially as the texts get harder and there are fewer picture clues. Try using these strategies with your child over the next few weeks.  When they come to a word they don't know, stop and wait for a minute (I know that seems forever) before you rescue them.  Ask them which strategy will help them figure it out.  Go through each strategy with your child.  When my students figure out the "unknown" word, I always ask them which strategy they used.  They need to learn which strategies help them the most.  That is just as important as reading.
You can purchase this multimedia file at Teachers Pay Teachers .  Click HERE for the multimedia file.
Click HERE for the mp3 song version.  

Look at the picture.  (Does that give you any information about what the word could be?)

Skip over it.  (Keep on reading through the rest of the sentence.  Go back and read it again, seeing if you can figure it out this time.)

Get your mouth ready. (What is the first sound of the word that you don't know?  Can you think of a word that would fit there that starts with that sound?  Try and read it with that word and see if it makes sense.)

Look for the chunk. (Do you recognize any part of the word?  Have you seen a word that looks like that it?  If the word is caterpillar, can you read the "cat" and the "pill" part.  Try to read the sentence with those parts and see if that helps.  If the word is lake and you can read cake, can you take the "c" off and add the "l" sound to figure it out?)

Sound it out.  (At this point, I usually say what letter/sound or phonics patterns do you know in this word.  I tell them to slide through the word by saying the sounds.  Some words do not follow the phonics rules (there are many).  Sometimes they need to flip the vowel sound.  If they think it should make the long "e" sound because the word is bread, I have them flip to the short "e" sound and see if they can figure it out.  Ideally, they should be able to figure it out by the previous strategies above."

Does is make sense?  (This is the END result of reading.  Are their choices making sense?  If your child says the wrong word, don't instantly correct them.  (This is HARD for us to do.)   Let them finish the sentence.  Most times they will hesitate and back up to read it again.  PRAISE them for this and tell them that is what good readers do.  If it doesn't make sense, we read it again.
And here is the rhyme that I taught on air today for how to remember if it is a "b" or a "d."  There are many ideas out there for helping with these reversals of letters.  Reversals of these letters are common until 2nd grade. Some use the word "bed" as a way to help children remember with the "b" as the headboard and the "d" as the end of the bed.  Some teach that you can make a "b" with your left hand and a "d" with your right.  This one can be difficult if your child gets confused on left and right. I had a teacher at a conference where I was presenting give me the analogy for the letter "d."  I wish I knew her name so I could give her credit.  If you are that teacher reading this blog - comment at the end, so I can give you credit.  She said that she said the first circle is the door knob and the line is the door.  You can't open the door until you turn the door knob.

So here are the corny rhymes I made up to teach your child.  And yes corny, cheesy, rhyming songs help the brain remember, especially if you add motions/movement with it.

Letter b 
You can't trick me at all.
First the bat, then the ball.
(Use your hands as the visual that the straight line is the bat, and the circle is the ball.)

Letter d
You don't fool me anymore.
First the doorknob, then the door.

Thanks for stopping by!  Become an empowered parent and team member for your child's education.  YOU are one of the most critical ingredients in their recipe of success.  We teachers thank you for your time and investment.  You are greatly appreciated.