Strategy Group Reading

I’m always on the lookout for terrific articles and essays to use with my upper-grade students during strategy group lessons.  Here are a few of my favorite sources:

Here are some other great sources Dawn found and passed along to me:
What else do you love for finding things for kids to read??

Got Fonts??

You know I love freebie fonts — they make a boring old document into something special and exciting.

So — head on over to here and download some wonderful free fonts.  You get 123 free fonts — yep, you read that right — 123 of them.  You have got to be able to find something that you’ll use and love in that huge array.  Go — now.

Tidiness Counts

I was browsing through the blogosphere and happened up on Hello Literacy.  Let me tell you she is one amazing woman.  I want to be her when I grow up!!  She ran an amazing piece about classroom design that my interior design junkies simply MUST click through and check out.  In it, she had this little tidbit:
Well designed classroom spaces make students feel important, and teaching students how to care for and clean up those areas teaches them pride in their workspace, giving them a sense of accomplishment, safety and a warm classroom culture.
Keeping your classroom neat and organized sends a message to children that everything is special and important.  If we value keeping the books in the classroom library straight and orderly, then students will see the value in books…if we don’t care what the classroom library looks like, with books backwards, upside down, out of place and disorderly bins, then students won’t care either, sort of like this one below.

Organizing to Get the Job Done

I was working with some of our new teachers the other day.  We were talking about ways to organize our work so that the job can get done without losing our minds.

I shared my teaching folder, like this one:

And then when I was browsing around Pinterest, I saw this
Each drawer is labeled with a day of the week, and in each drawer I keep copies for the day and/or things I need to copy that day, picture books I will use, notes to go home, and other random things that I will need to give out or complete. I just open up the drawer, and everything I need is right there!

She really has a great idea.  So I thought I’d share this with them too.  What’s your brilliant organizing your stuff idea?

Fluency Work: Word counts for passages

I have a small group of students who are working hard on fluency.  Which means that I am working very hard on fluency as well.  Seriously, while there is excellent research out there about what makes good fluency instruction, there is a serious lack of good material with which to teach it.

So, I was thrilled when I discovered this little trick:

Go online (anywhere you like) and find a passage that the kids can read and will love.  They have got to love it — they’re going to be reading and re-reading it till they get sick of it.  Copy the passage onto the computer’s clipboard (use the edit menu and choose copy)  Then go to the Reading Passage Generator and paste the passage into the box.  This lovely little online tool will do a word count for you so you can time the kids and get a words-per-minute count easily.


Eric Carle Love

I love, love, love Eric Carle.  And lately with the new Pottery Barn collection popping up everywhere, I’ve really been lusting after Eric Carle (well, not Eric himself, but…).

I think I’ve always loved his incredible artwork… the children’s stories that accompany that artwork are just a bonus for me.  Although — now that I think about it — many a kindergartener and first grader has learned the sight words my, is and this with Eric and me as we went looking for some runaway cat.  And Brown Bear and Polar Bear have surely been the cause of the mastery of “see” for at least a few children.

Anyway — head on over to 1Plus1Plus1equals1 for some amazing Eric Carle prints — these are full color printables of Brown Bear, the ever Hungry Caterpillar, the red bird and more.  And, what’s more, they’re all set into early learning activities books for you.  They load as simple PDF files — easy to save to your hard drive and use when you need/want them.

So now, I can skip Pottery Barn and save a bundle with using these beautiful prints.  Sweet.

Printing on Post it Notes

I was blown away when I found this little trick.  If you’ve been in one of my Professional Learning workshops recently, you know I’ve been using this like a mad-woman.

You can load actual post-it notes onto a template and print on the post it notes.  Let me give you the heads up:  if you need very many of a single post it, you’re probably better off going to Vistaprint and ordering something (do the freebies, of course).  But if you only need a few – this is the ticket.

Go here and download the templates.  There are two templates — one for 3×3 post its and one for the smaller mini size (I forget the exact dimensions).  Download both of them.  They’re simple MSWord documents, but with the web, you never know when they’ll disappear.

Print out a copy of the template.  Then start typing into the template what you want to say on the post-its.  Load the pre-printed template with post its.  Figure out which way to load the thing into your printer (this is the hardest part) so that they print the way you want them to print.  And print.

Voila!  Pre-printed post-its.  I’ve found a ton of uses for them — what can you think of??  Drop a comment and let me know if you do something cool with them.

Using the NOOK

My third grade readers are starting to work with the NOOK reader in our reading support group.  This is a new learning area for me, so I’m still working through what the issues are and what the teaching/learning potentials are.  I thought I’d jot my thinking as we go here.


There are technical challenges with the NOOK.  The children have to adapt to the touchscreen.  I really expected that this would be a no-brainer.  The inverse of this has been the biggest struggle that my husband and I have had with the Kindle — we keep expecting it to be a touchscreen and its NOT.  I figured these young digital natives would zip right into the touch screen.  I was wrong.

They had trouble with controlling the page turning, with touching the screen when they didn’t mean to touch it and then having it do something they didn’t want it to do.  The motor planning and fine motor control just weren’t there.  I had to do one whole lesson on controlling the touch screen and keeping track of where you are on the page/screen.

On the plus side — boy are these things motivating!! We were only half done with the lesson when the children started begging to come more often.

What else does the NOOK hold?  We’ll see.

If you’re using e-readers or other technology, you might want to check out Franki Sibberson’s workshop.  I can’t go due to a conflict with another training, but if you go, tell me how wonderful it was — please!