Friday, October 31, 2014

Supermarket Saturday Linky Party: Fall Resources

I have the perfect learning resource to share with you this week if you are in need of high-interest reads for CLOSE READING.  While this is not FALL-only, it is the perfect tool to utilize during this time of year, especially if you have students that are obsessed with sports and learning about athletes.

Every year one of the questions that I ask students on our first days of school Interest Inventory is "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I can honestly say that a solid 75% of my boys say they want to be "a professional football player or NBA star."  I am not a dream dasher, and I refuse to tell them they won't become what they are dreaming about, however, it is essential for them to understand that one does not become an NFL superstar on a whim!  ...and so I created this resource.

This All About Athletes: Informational Close Reading Fun Pack is crammed with passages that your student-athletes will love tackling.  This 35-page NO PREP Close Reading Informational Text BUNDLE is the perfect reading tool for your upper elementary or middle school students working to enhance comprehension with high-interest informational passages about current athletes. Inspired by my son-who is obsessed with all things NFL and NBA, this BUNDLE is sure to motivate your male hard-to-inspire readers!!!

This NO PREP BUNDLE includes:
-9-one page texts with four-evidence based questions per selection with ANSWER KEYS
Estimated Lexile Measure is 1080.

Selection Titles:
-Robert Griffin III
-Cam Newton
-Russell Wilson
-Andy Dalton
-Colin Kaepernick
-Blake Griffin
-Kevin Durant
-Joakim Noah
-LeBron James

Also included are 4-NO PREP graphic organizers to help students identify:
-Fact and Opinion
-The 5-W’s of Informational text
-Cause and Effect
-Compare and Contrast

Sometimes it is that one tool that encourages that breakthrough in learning and understanding. These selections will make that happen. This is a perfect tool for centers, small group, or whole class close reading strategy work.

While I am now embarking on Girl Scouts with my daughter, soccer and football have just ended in our house, and now my husband will coach my son's third grade basketball team.  My son is obsessed with all things LeBron James.  If you have a household or classroom full of upper elementary to middle school athletes like mine, this is a must have resource.

Check out these other FALL learning tools from my friends at the Lesson Deli...

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Girl Scouts, anyone?

So coaching soccer just finished for the fall last night and I embark on my next challenge in motherhood...girl scout troop leader!  Has anyone else out there taken the plunge into this land of promises, laws, petals, pledges, and adventures?!  Holy Moses!

It all started a few months ago when my running buddy texted me...

Rachel: Is Lilah doing Girl Scouts?  The meeting is tonight at 7PM.
Me: No!  We aren't signing up for one more activity at our house right now!
Me (after 5 minutes of reflecting on the fact that my daughter loves crafts, playing with friends, and adventures): We will meet at your house and walk to the school together.

After the meeting...
Me: A few hours ago we were having nothing to do with girl scouts...
Rachel:  Now you are a troop leader!  HAHA


Tonight...17-five-year olds are heading into our elementary school art room and ready to begin their little journey, and take on the task of earning their Daisy petals over the course of the next ten months.  I have to say that a cafeteria full of rowdy 6th graders is a bit less intimidating to me than a bundle of chatty kindergartners. Do any of my middle school friends feel the same way?

Like any seasoned teacher, I walk into this adventure with lots of preparation, mounds of art supplies, sacks of snacks, and a bag of candy in case things go awry!  I have purchased some crazy binder from Amazon, taken a trip to the Girl Scout store of which I had no idea existed, spent lots of time on Pinterest, and I believe I am as ready for this as I will ever be.  Here is a look at our night...

I felt like I was preparing for a science fair project, but all the other troop leaders informed me that I needed this!

We are making Promise necklaces to learn the Girl Scout Promise-I wouldn't be a reading teacher if I didn't connect it, right?

Activity bags for Promise necklaces...check!
If you are reading this, say a few prayers for me tonight that I don't get eaten alive by these sweet little ladies!  If all else fails, I have Kitkats!

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Supermarket Saturday Linky Party-Halloween Resources

If you are looking for an upper elementary to middle school weekly linky, you have come to the right place.  As teachers we are always looking for seasonal resources to utilize in our classrooms and they can be tricky to find-especially for time-strapped teachers.  So, be sure to stop by my blog every Saturday to find the best tools to implement right away in your language arts classroom.

I know that it has been a really busy likely just finished report cards for the end of the first quarter, are exhausted due to writing the most thought-provoking comments, you have had more preparation for fall conferences, and on top of it all, you are heading into a week filled with out-of-control enthusiastic kiddos that can't wait to dress-up, and head out for a Friday night filled to the brim with candy collecting!  You get to be reminded of costumes for the entire week and candy is already coming out of students' ears!  Am I right?

I truly adore Halloween and all things fall, but this time of year can get CARRRRRAAAAAZZZZY!
To make your life a bit easier for at least this week, I have your entire week of language arts planned out in this one Halloween-inspired reader's theater fun pack.  The Happy Halloween That Almost Wasn't... is the perfect DAILY 5-inspired reader's theater for this festive time of year.

Your students will love reading about the characters of Parkersburg Elementary School and how their Halloween traditions and celebrations were cancelled, then reconsidered due to some thoughtful 6th grade brain power.

This 24-page fun pack includes:
-5 1/2-page, 11-character script
-reader response questions
-context clue word work
-a summary strategy organizer
-3-post-reading journal prompts to enhance writing
Estimated Lexile Measure: 770

In order to squeeze in some informational text and close reading, I just added a BONUS informational text pack with reader response questions and word work.

Finally, the pack is complete with a Halloween-Themed Shirt Making How-To Craftivity and a recipe for a "Spooky Snack Sack."  Your students will be motivated to create their own costumes with this clever old-shirts-and-from-scraps craftivity!

Your students will have a blast and forget that they are learning.  Click on the image to get this SUPERMARKET STEAL for $1...

Check out some of these other great resources from my Lesson Deli friends...

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Five for FRIDAY Linky

I have not done this in a while, but as this is my most favorite time of year, I thought it would be the perfect time to is a peek at my week!  Hope you are as excited for Friday as I am!

This past weekend we headed to this great place called Shaw Farm.  It is the ideal place to take a family in Cincinnati.  Fall makes me obsessed with all things on a farm.  My littlest is obsessed with tractors and my oldest wanted to pick out their own pumpkins. This place has a 3-acre corn maze that my oldest and I will be heading back to take on.  It is about a 3-mile challenge that is is ready to tackle.  I can't wait! 
To go along with my loving all things pumpkin, here is a close reading freebie you might like to snag. This 7-page pack includes word work and close reading tools to help your students understand pumpkin harvesting.  A timely resource!
I don't know what homework time looks like at your house, but I captured this pic of my three kiddos getting down to business after school.  My littlest is obsessed with coloring, so he is happy to hang with them for a little while, until the Twistables start flying and he decides to start standing in chairs.  It was a moment that made me smile, so I snapped it. 

 I finally finished this unit this week.  If you are looking for an amazing novel to teach your kids about writing memoirs...this is an awesome book.  Gary Paulsen is an amazing storyteller and will have your kids engaged from the first chapter.  This novel unit is the perfect tool to go right along with it!
Tonight is our homecoming parade for our town!  My kiddos are very excited to wear their uniforms to school, walk in the parade throwing candy, and attend the varsity game.  My son gets to be a part of the player tunnel and my daughter gets to cheer with the varsity cheerleaders for the first quarter.  Life for them is good!

Hope you had a great week!

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Harvest of FREEBIES Blog Hop

Thanks for hopping over...

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year!  I love the cool, crisp mornings that heat up in the afternoons, the fun of all of the Halloween festivities, the anticipation of my children's costume choices, and everything PUMPKIN!  I know many others who share this same sentiment about fall as well.  With this love of fall, the harvest season, we have decided to create a blog hop to share a "Harvest of Freebies" for you to take back to your classroom.  I have created TWO freebies for you to utilize with your upper elementary to middle school students...

The first, Pumpkin Harvesting, is an informational close reading text with word work and reader response questions.  I utilize close reading passages with my students that are struggling with comprehension and having challenges going back into a reading selection to cite evidence to determine correct responses.  While we work on these skills throughout the year, I am always in need of high-interest passages that I can use for whole class, small group, or independent practice.

This Pumpkin Harvesting Close Reading FREEBIE will help your students:
  1. better understand/reinforce CLOSE READING strategies
  2. identify how to harvest pumpkins
  3. determine the meaning of unknown words using context clues
  4. cite evidence from the one-page text to support responses. 
 Click the image to grab FREEBIE #1:

One of the favorite things my family loves most about fall is a small festival we go to each year.  It is called the Harvest Moon Festival.  The festival is at one of our favorite family parks and it has fun for everyone.  We paint pumpkins and trick-or-treat bags, watch puppet shows, make S'mores, and eat too much Kettle corn.  Rather than just wonder about why it is called the Harvest Moon Festival, I decided to do a little research about it this year.  As a reading teacher, I chose to turn the fun of this festival and my research, into a reader's theater FREEBIE to share a little bit about its meaning as well as create a resource that an upper elementary or middle school teacher can utilize as a Daily 5 resource.

I love utilizing reader's theater scripts in my classroom to excite my students about different topics.  They are also the perfect tool to enhance fluency and comprehension.  My students LOVE to perform and are so enthusiastic every time they have the opportunity tackle a script.  This 9-page resource allows for students to engage in a high-interest passage while they: read to someone, listen to reading, focus on word work, read to self to check for understanding, and focus on writing. 

This Harvest Moon FREEBIE includes:
-clear directions for seamless implementation
-CCSS covered
-a 2-page, 6-character script so multiple groups can perform
-context clue word work
-reader response questions
-a post-reading journal prompt to enhance student writing

Click the image to grab FREEBIE #2

Use these tools in collaboration with one another to enhance student work with fictional and informational text.

Be sure to click the pumpkin to collect another freebie!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

iPad App for Elementary to Middle School and an AMAZING iPAD GIVEAWAY!

At one point in time for a number of years we had a computer lab where students were taken once a week to do various tasks on desktop computers-weekly assessments, research, and publishing of written pieces.   Students were excited to have this opportunity, classroom teachers might have been just as enthusiastic or maybe a little flustered to add one task to their already "crammed to the limits" weekly schedule.

While many schools may still have these "labs," many schools have done away with this idea due to the need for classroom space or because due to budget cuts, no one is able to manage the computer lab.  In my building it was a space issue.  We needed the lab to be turned into a classroom because our student population had grown.  Those of us "techy" teachers panicked a bit thinking of how we would possibly teach the technology standards to our students when we only had two classroom computers...Enter laptop carts and iPads...

Technology use in the classroom setting is more important than ever for our students.  With standardized testing taking place on computers and the many different classroom tasks shifting gears with our students needing to be able to navigate text on a screen versus paper, it is essential that we as educators are providing these essential opportunities for our students.

So, how do you get and keep your students connected?

In my building we had laptop carts.  Each cart contained about 30-mostly-working laptops that we utilized for weekly assessments, research, and publishing our writing.  And over the last few years, iPads have been introduced.  Because I have school-aged children that are utilizing these essential tools on a daily basis at their school, I wanted to find some different apps that I could use with my own kiddos as well as find classroom apps that would meet the needs of my students. A FREE app that I LOVE...

As a language arts teacher who teaches spelling AND a mom that reviews spelling words with a third grader nightly, Vocabulary Spelling City is an AWESOME app to have!

Here is how I utilize this app and how you can prepare to utilize this AMAZING app...
  • Register at
  • Only register for the FREE version, if you want to update later you can, but the FREE version is perfect for spelling and vocabulary work with students.

  • Go to List Management and type in your spelling list for the week-if you utilize Reading Street, Journeys, or Wonders, you can import your list directly from the Publisher Lists.   

  • If you are utilizing this as a parent, you can do the same or for extra practice, students can type in their lists on the site (great extra practice)

  • Students can then click on the Unit to take a test where they are given the word and they type in the correct spelling.
  • Not only does this give them practice listening for the word, but it also gives them practice typing, which I find all my students need practice with.
  • Once you have created or imported your list on are ready to utilize the app.
  • Students will utilize the URL to find all of the lists created by you as their teacher
  • Download the app to iPad.
  • Login to the app.
  • Pull up the list you created using the URL.
  • Begin your fun review.
Once you have completed the above steps on the website-your students can use the link to connect to play the games below.
  1. Missing Letter is a fun game for kids of all ages. Even the youngest learners can practice letter recognition by trying to find the missing letter that completes each spelling or vocabulary word. 
  2. Alphabetize is an activity that can be used to practice putting words in alphabetical order, a vital early literacy skill. Students love to play ABC order activities and games. 
  3. Spelling TeachMe is a great activity to introduce a new word list to students. Each word is read aloud, spelled letter-by-letter and used in a context-rich sentence. 
  4. Sentence Unscramble helps students practice sentence structure as well as using words in context by unscrambling words to form a complete sentence. 
  5. Word Unscramble is a popular word game that is a variation on other word games such as text twists, jumbles and anagrams. 
  6. Read-A-Word is an activity that gives students practice recognizing new words. Can you find the words that you hear? Try Read-A-Word and find out! 
  7. Test-N-Teach gives students the opportunity to learn as they practice. Students do their best to build a monument to good spelling. The better they spell, the better their monument!

Custom word lists may be entered by registered members (registration to save lists is free!) on for use in the games and activities on VocabularySpellingCity’s app.  If you are looking to simplify spelling review time, REGISTER NOW!  You will LOVE this app as well!

No longer will you be draining yourself trying to come up with cool spelling game ideas for your classroom or review ideas for your own children because the fun is right here!  Now that you have an app idea that you need to grab, be sure to enter this giveaway to win your very own iPad mini.  You can use it in your classroom or keep it all to yourself, but be sure to download this app to check out with our students!  Good luck!

"This giveaway is only open to teachers (classroom and homeschool) who are living in the contiguous United States. The winning entry will be verified and proof of eligibility may be required. Please see the complete terms and conditions at the bottom of the giveaway for more information."
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Novels and Stories that are for the DOGS

While I have blogged about novels and finding the perfect one more than once, I find that throughout the school year it is a challenge.  It is essential that we keep books in our students' hands and their brains active with great literature.  I am one of those teachers that could wander around the library or discount bookstore for hours in search of the best books to motivate my students.

Like everything else, different years bring different students.  Some years bring motivated to read students, while other years I have students that love to disclose that they have never "really" read a book from beginning to end by themselves.  Nothing will send a teacher to the bookshelf faster than a line like that...  While I tend to read about 5-10 novels with my students a year in small groups and through whole group instruction, I struggle to read the same ones over and over.  Again, each year brings different students, what worked with one group is not the perfect text for another.  Some years my students are highly motivated and are willing to tackle any text I present, other years I have to work a bit harder and find a new title and create a new novel unit.  I do love when this happens because I LOVE a challenge.

My favorite upper elementary to middle school authors are without a doubt, Sharon Creech, Gary Paulsen, and Jerry Spinelli.  There are other authors I share with my students, but these authors have really nailed the ability to reach this adolescent group.  If you have not read ANY of their books because you are a newer teacher, have been living under a rock, or have to follow some other reading resource, Google this bunch in order to find a few titles and race to your local library to read them as quickly as possible.

Because our Reading Street series at the 6th grade level has a snippet from Old Yeller as one of the very first texts to share, I find out a great deal about students that have dogs.  FYI-the chapter that is included in Reading Street is not the end, it is where Old Yeller protects Little Arliss from getting attacked by the she bear. I quickly learn that most of my students are pet people and adore their four-legged friends.  This is helpful in connecting my students to more books.  A favorite that I love to share with my students to extend their text-to-text connections with dogs is the novel Love That Dog.  Have you ever read this book?  To be honest, the first time I picked it up and paged through it, I put it right back down.  I read a few pages and I couldn't figure out how or where to utilize it with my students.  Then I attended a workshop where the presenter shared it as a read aloud, and it hit me that this was the perfect book to share with reluctant writers, poets, and dog-lovers.

This novel by Sharon Creech is written in a journal format from Jack's first-person perspective.  He hates poetry and the fact that his teacher is trying to make him write it on a consistent basis.  Finally we learn that the reason he doesn't want to write a poem about his "pet" is because his dog, Sky, was hit and killed by a speeding, blue car.  It is an amazing book about how a boy shares his sadness through his writing and over the course of the year, comes to love poetry.  If you have students that are not fans of poetry, this is a must read.

Here is a unit that I created to go along with this text.  It is the perfect resource to get your students writing and analyzing poetry.  They are responding to Jack in the novel as his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, in journal format and will be analyzing each poem that she shares to enhance their understanding of poetry.  Your dog-loving students will not want to put this text down.
Check it out here...

Some other great dog texts and novels that I have shared with my students are:
This is the story of a dog that was an Iraqi war dog who was befriended by Major Brian Dennis.  Your students will love reading or hearing this story of how far a desperate dog will go to find his TRUE owner.

This is a novel about Gary Paulsen's road to becoming a musher.  Your students will love reading about his adventures through the Minnesota woods with his crazy pack of sled-pulling dogs.

Dog poetry written by "real" poets and dog-loving kid poets. 

If you are like me and have dog-loving students, get these books for your classroom library or into student hands from a local library.  I promise you will have enthusiastic and inspired readers! 

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