April 29, 2013


One of my fellow blog friends (Gabrielle at Teaching Special Thinkers) is having a giveaway.....and there is a chance to win a TON of free stuff!!!  Click the picture below and it will take you to her fabulous blog where you can enter to win!!

If you enter.....check out the loot you could possibly win:

  • 25 dollars to Teaching Special Thinkers TPT store
  • 52 Products for Grades K-2
  • 40 products for Grades 3-5
  • Special Education giveaway pack
Time to stop reading.....and go enter!!! :)

April 28, 2013

Hootycreeks and Exit Slips

Man oh man, am I feeling refreshed!  Here in Kansas, the weather was gorgeous!!!  I guess Mother Nature finally wanted to cooperate.....or perhaps she was tired of listening to all of the Kansans complain! Anyway, I spent my relaxing weekend gardening, planting shrubs, working on TPT products and  baking the world's best cookies!!

These little round joys of delight are called Hootycreeks.  They. Are. AMAZING!  They have cranberries, oats and pecans in them....so I like to pretend they are healthy.  And I may or may not eat them for breakfast....

Besides eating my body weight in cookies, I worked on ELA exit slips for my kiddos.  If you don't currently use exit slips.....you totally should!  Exit slips provide an extremely quick (what teacher doesn't like quick??) way to see if your students are comprehending what they have read.  This strategy is perfect for giving you (the teacher) immediate feedback and it will also help you students by providing them a way to think about what they have learned.  And as a bonus....exit slips work perfect for all text types!

Here is what the front side of the exit slips looks like:

The exit slip uses a simple 3, 2, 1 strategy.  When you are ready to wrap up your lesson spend 3 to 5 minutes and have students write 3 things they learned, 2 new words they discovered and 1 remaining question they have.

The back side looks like this:

On the back side you can ask students a specific question about the lesson, or choose from the list of questions below.

You can get this FABULOUS exit slips strategy for FREE at my TPT store.  Just click on the picture below!!

Hope you all had a great weekend!!! :)


April 27, 2013


Happy Weekend y'all!!!   I wanted to write a quick blog post to shamelessly promote a giveaway for one of the blogs I follow.  Christina Mauro at Mrs. Maruo's Kinderverse is giving away over 30 products from some fabulous sellers on TPT.  You MUST go check it out.....seriously!



April 24, 2013

Website Wednesday

I am always on the hunt for a great game website to easily incorporate into my classroom.....and I think I found a great one with Grammaropolis!

Students can easily practice parts of speech with this interactive website.  Kids of all ages can play games, watch videos, read books, take quizzes and listen to songs over nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections.  I mean---what more could you want?!?!

Most of the items on the website are free, however some require a paid membership. 

Check it out and see what you think :)


April 22, 2013

Monday Funny

I hope everyone had a great weekend and an even better Monday.  Enjoy the Monday Funny!!


April 17, 2013

Website Wednesday

Do you ever have kids ask you questions that you just don't have an answer for.....

I sure do!!  I am hoping other teachers experience this too---or I may find myself back in college, haha :)  Let's face it--kids are naturally curious and their growing minds always come up with great (and some cra-zay)questions!  The most recent question I had was, "Mrs. Orr what would a cross between a wiener dog and a Yorkie be called?" Any answer for that one????


Anyway.... kids can put their inquisitive thoughts to good use on the website Wonderopolis.

Wonderopolis is a fabulous site that presents a "Wonder of the Day" every day of the year!  For example today's wonder was: Where is the Big Dipper?  Some past wonders have been: Does every rose have a thorn?  How do you paddle board? What is martial arts? Why do monkeys love bananas?

All of the past wonders are saved to the site---so you can scroll through and discover almost anything!  The site is user friendly and has the wonders organized by category--so you are just a click away from making your brain grow!! :)
Each wonder has informational text to read about the wonder, a way to "try it out", great visuals and wonder words!  I love, love, love the wonder words part---perfect for word walls, practicing decoding/word attack skills or even word work!

The best part is that kids can nominate their own wonder!!  How cool would it be for a student to see his/her question get picked for a "Wonder of the Day!"

Do some exploring and see what you think. And, hey, if you don't like it---at least your kids have a place to ask crazy questions! :)


April 16, 2013

Flash Fluency

Being a successful reader is comprised of multiple things---fluency being one of them! If a child is trying to read from point a to point b and decodes every word in between ....I can guarantee that child didn't retain a thing!  Thus---fluency is important!!  Ideally, for older students reading should be automatic.  AND--when older students encounter a word they are unfamiliar with (which they will), they should have word attack strategies to decode the word.........

Now, unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world; which means we do have struggling older readers (if you don't, I want to know where you work, haha!).  One great way to help struggling readers, is to help them become more fluent with their reading. 

By fluent-- I mean for the students to become more automatic (not prosody or expression--that is for another post another day).  There are several ways to make students become automatic with their reading.

1. Practice Dolch sight words
  • Dolch sight words are 220 words which students should not sound out--but simply know by sight. 

2. Practice Fry's 1,000 high frequency words
  • Dr. Edward Fry compiled a list of the most frequently used words students would encounter while reading. The 1,000 words are divided into lists of 100--which start out easy and get harder. 

3. Practice with Flash Fluency
  • Flash Fluency was developed by The Positive Engagement Project, which did a plethora of  scientific research to create four "no excuse" word lists
    • Tide Pool
      • For early readers
      • 50 sight words from Dolch and Fry
    • Low Tide
      • One step above early readers
      • 150 sight words form Dolch and Fry
      • No repeat words
    • High Tide
      • Grade 2
      • 600 sight words and academic vocabulary
      • No repeat words
    • Tidal Wave
      • Grades 3 and up
      • 1,000 words
      • Sight words and academic vocabulary
      • No repeat words

I have heard of Dolch and Fry words---but Flash Fluency words are new to me.  I love Dolch and Fry; and mastering the words does make a huge difference in a child's fluency. However I am intrigued by the whole Flash Fluency program.  I think it is great how the lists don't just include sight words, but also academic vocabulary. Also, the word lists go all the way up to sixth grade--which is awesome because many sight word lists don't stretch that high.

Anyway---click the links above and check out the lists for you and your students. You can download the PDF's for free. Included in the download are word lists, assessments, implementation ideas and fun ways to practice.

Let me know what you think!

April 14, 2013

The many hats of a teacher....

I had a very productive weekend.....I love weekends like that!

My fellow teacher friends and I finished our tutu's for our 5k run on May 4th.  I think they look pretty cute! We are running in the Color Run.....so you start out in all white and then get sprayed with "color bombs" throughout the race.  Should be fun....I think?!?!
I also got some cleaning done.  Yes!  I love me a clean house :)
Last, but not least my husband and I worked on meals for a student at our school.  Her mom has recently been diagnosed with cancer and the two of them are weathering the storm that this horrific disease brings.  Our PE teacher, who is one of the most compassionate and generous individuals I know, organized meal donations for their family.  She asked the staff at our school for volunteers who would be willing to donate meals---and the faculty came through (no surprise there---our faculty is amazing and very caring).  This student's family will be delivered meals until the end of the school year!  I know having pre-made meals will be a small relief to the family that is dealing with so much.
As the hubs and I were making the meals, I was thinking just how many hats teachers take on.

It would be difficult to rank the importance of  the "teacher hats" as each one carries its own weight and importance in a child's life....but knowing that you helped a child in need (whether that need be big or small) is a great feeling!
Have a great end of the weekend!

April 12, 2013

Five for Friday

I have decided to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching blog for this Friday's post.  With this linky party you tell five things that happened this week.  I can do that!  Easy peesy...

1. I stayed home sick today.  I hate not going to school---I always feel so gosh darn guilty.  :(  I had a horrendous stomach ache last evening and stayed up most of the night, so I thought it would be best to stay home.  I am glad I did---because I am feeling much better now.

2. Tomorrow I am participating in a tutu making party with my fellow teacher friends. No---we don't wear tutu's on a regular basis (although I secretly wish we did....I LOVE tutus!!!) We are making them for a 5k run on May 4th.  I will post pics of what it looks like when I am done!.

3.  I was selected by Rachel Lynette at Minds in Bloom to be a guest blogger!  I am so flipping excited!!!! My guest blog post will be about classroom DIY.  This summer I plan to make my classroom "cute" with a bunch of pinterest projects I have discovered.  AHHHHHH can't wait!!!

4. I am currently watching America's Sweethearts.  I was floored when I saw it was made in 2001---that's 12 years ago! Makes me feel old!  Even if it is an oldie---its a goodie!  I mean who doesn't love Julia Roberts?!?! 
5. I plan on spring cleaning this weekend.  Cleaning my closets, putting away winter clothes, deep cleaning the house, scrubbing the dog, getting out spring decorations, etc.....  I am sure my husband will be thrilled, after all he **gets** to help me.  Lucky him!
Happy weekend!

April 11, 2013

Website Wednesday (One day late....)

Nothing can beat the feeling of helping someone in need!!  Personally, lending a helping hand is always a great reminder to me on just how fortunate I am.  As a teacher, it is not only my job to teach students the content and curriculum---but also how to be a caring citizen.  

With that being said, allow me to introduce you to the website Freerice.comFree rice serves double duty!  First students gain valuable practice on skills in math, English, humanities, chemistry, foreign language, geography, science and SAT prep----AND---secondly, by practicing those skills  they are helping to provide nourishment to starving people all over the world!

For every 10 question a student answers correctly, FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme to help combat world hunger.

The site allows you to create a group---which makes it easy to track how many grains of rice your students (maybe even your whole school!!) has donated.  There are even lesson plans for each subject area, and certificates you can print out and give your students.

Next time your students have downtime---let them get on to FreeRice and help people all over the world!


April 8, 2013

Monday Funny

Only 5 Monday's left ......but who is counting?  haha :)  I hope you all had a great weekend....and enjoy the Monday Funny!

This funny definitely represents me....especially around state testing time!!!


April 7, 2013

Fry Phrases

Happy last day of the weekend!! :)  I hope everyone had a chance to kick back and relax :)  I was pretty much a vegetable this weekend---holed up on the couch watching TV, reading, surfing the web and dreaming up lessons, games and reading strategies to try out on my students. :)  Oh, and I must also confess to the hours I spent playing Candy Crush Saga on my ipad.  That game is addicting, especially when you can't pass a level!!!  Does anyone play that game?

Anyway, when I was actually doing something productive--I came up with some great Fry phrasing games.  The words in the fry phrases come from Dr. Edward Fry's Instant Word List.  Fry's word list is comprised of high frequency words (the first 300 words in his list represents 67% of all the words students will encounter in their reading).

Practicing Fry Phrases is a great way to improve fluency--and not just the speed aspect of fluency, but also accuracy an prosody. :)  They are reading the most commonly used words--which means they will become more accurate.  They will begin to use inflection and word stress--which means they will have better prosody.  AND they will be faster after practicing the word phrases--especially if you have them do time trials.  Dr. Fry's phrases are meant from grades 2-5, but I will be using them with my sixth graders also. 

Ways to use Fry Phrases:
  • Speed drills with a partner--give each student a  Fry phrase list and a stop watch.  One partner reads, while the other times.  Repeat and try and beat the previous time. 
  • Literacy Centers--have students read through the lists with a partner.  For extra fun--have the students read the phrases in a funny voice (queen, king, robot, excited, sad, etc.)
  • PowerPoints for the whole class--get those here
  • Fry Phrasing cards for independent practice---get them here

For a complete list of all 600 Fry phrases click here
Of course I couldn't just stop with the free resources, I had to come up with a game!! My kids love games, and I figured after speed trials playing a game would be a great review.  If you want to check out the games I made--click here.
I have only made games for the last 100 phrases......hopefully I can get the other phrase games done soon! :)  Not sure why I started with the end....but I did!
Have a great rest of your weekend!

April 3, 2013

Website Wednesday

Where is spring?  Here in Kansas, we have had three days of cold, rain, sleet and snowflakes!  I probably shouldn't complain---I can't go outside and enjoy the weather anyway.  Instead I get to enjoy the bright fluorescent lights of my classroom. :)  hehehehe...

The website I want to showcase today is called Kerpoof. :) 

It is a great website, and I used it a lot when I taught fourth grade---as the kids really seemed to enjoy it.  I haven't used it as an interventionist, but only because I have such little time with my struggling readers.
Some of the features of the website are:
  •  Free lesson plans for a variety of disciplines, from math and science to social studies and foreign languages.
  • Free teacher accounts where you can register your students and assign them in specific classes.
  • A class message board
  • Student chat
  • Kerpoof lessons and activities have been cross referenced with national and state standards
  • Variety of games
  • Students can create art, movies, stories, pictures, etc
I hope you have time to explore it!

April 1, 2013

Monday Funny!

Happy April Fool's day!  I didn't pull any pranks on my kiddos this year.......I suppose this gives me more time to plan for next year?!?! :)

Enjoy the Monday funny!


Word Families

A fellow interventionist at one of our district's elementary schools, peaked my interest with a book she is reading.  Okay, I have got to be honest---she could peak my interest with anything!!  I truly respect her expertise!  Seriously, she is truly is amazing when it comes to anything education!  Anyway, the book is called The Decoding Solution by Scholastic.

I haven't read it yet, but --by golly I have it ordered!  After reading a summary about the book, I gathered the book stresses the importance of teaching rimes.  I found two things particularly interesting. 

First, the data researchers collected after implementing the teaching of rimes was phenomenal!   According to the data, teaching rimes (or word families) for ten minutes daily improved students reading levels by up to 2 grades!   After learning the most common word families, students were more capable when decoding an unfamiliar word.

Secondly, research was done on kids of all ages.  As an upper level interventionist it is rather difficult to find strategies, materials and resources to help struggling readers.  Most intervention materials are "babyish" or too young for my fifth and sixth graders.  They literally look at me like, "You have GOT to be KIDDING me!!"  So, for this to be tried out on older kids and proven successful, ordering this book was a no-brainer!

Once my mind started thinking about word families and rimes, it couldn't stop.  Alllllll weekend long I was researching activities and ways to teach rimes.  I am sure my husband was thrilled! haha :)  I found a lot of free resources on the web.  Check out the following links:

Scholastic (48 page resource on word families--with activities and games) 
ning.com (Upper level multi-syllabic word families)
Teacher Created Materials (28 page resource)
Utah Government ( list of high frequency rimes)
FCCR (41 page packet on onset and rimes)
Time to Rhyme (12 page rime packet)

Or, if you want to order the  The Decoding Solution, you can order it by clicking the title.  It is $23.00 not including shipping and handling.

Now that I am obsessed with word families....I have begun to make some of my own games.  I only have one game made using the most common rimes that start with "a".  The game is called Rhyme Time.   Feel free to check it out or purchase on my TPT store!  I am planning on making a game for all of the major rimes.....I will let you know when that is done!

Enjoy your Monday!