May 12, 2021

End of Year Student Awards

Say hello to the end of the school year!  This time of year is always full of so many emotions.  It is stressful and chaotic with wrapping up instruction, benchmark assessments and finalizing grades. much!  

It is also fun and filled with excitement as you celebrate the learning and growth with your students.  PLUS who can forget all of the end of the year celebrations---ice cream parties, field day, yearbook signing, graduation assemblies, etc. 

In my intervention group we always end with an ice cream party with LOTS of toppings and then the students have a chance to play games, or play outside.  It isn't anything fancy or a lot of work, but a great capstone for the end of the year.   

I also hand out student awards to celebrate the growth students have had in my classroom.  I like to include a special treat with my awards--so candy themed awards are a go to!  Each student receives a certificate and then a candy bar that corresponds to the certificate.  For example a Milky Way because the student is "out of this world" or a Snickers because he or she always tells funny jokes. 

I have also done drink awards, which is basically the same as the candy awards.  Instead of receiving candy, the student receives a drink that corresponds to the certificate.  For example a Fanta for being fantastic, or Dr. Pepper because they pepped up the class all year. 

Hop on over to Mind Sparks on TPT where you can nab these fun certificates, and alleviate some of the stress in planning an end of the year celebration! Just click here, or the images above!

If you don't have a ton of time to purchase treats, or your wallet is looking a little thin....generic certificates are fun as well.  Lets face it--it is just nice to be given a makes you feel important and special!  Click the image below or click here to download the black and white generic set for free! 

How do you celebrate students at the end of the year?  I am always looking for more ideas!

May 3, 2021

Teacher Appreciation Sale


A sale is coming your way!!! 

TPT's two-day only Teacher Appreciation sale starts on Tuesday May 4th at 12:01 am and ends Wednesday, May 5th at 11:59pm. 

It is a great time to treat yourself and purchase those items off your wish-lists!  Most items are 20% off, but buyers can receive an additional 5% when they enter code "THANKYOU21" at checkout. 

Happy shopping!

April 29, 2021

Motivation for High Stakes Testing

High stakes testing season is creeping upon us again.....

Ugh, but also yay.

I hate the pressure that students and teachers feel for a state assessment or a benchmark screener, but I love seeing the results of a year's worth of quality instruction.

To ease testing anxiety, and give my kiddos a little extra encouragement I surprise them with a fun treat whenever we have an assessment.

This gesture isn't much, but it sure makes the kids smile....and one smile makes it worth it.  Right?

I have 15 different sayings that I use; each with a different treat.  I switch up the treats for each assessment, which helps prevent repeats.  There are TONS of sayings out there, but below are the ones that I use.

  • It's crunch time. Show what you know! (Crunch bar)
  • Best of luck on your test! (bag of lucky charms)
  • Shine like a star! (Starburst)
  • We are cheering you on to success!  (bag of Cheerios)
  • Go the Extra mile! (Extra gum)
  • Rock the test! (pop rocks)
  • Razzle-Dazzle us with what you have learned! (Razzles)
  • You were mint to pass this test! (peppermints)
  • Be a nerd and ace this test! (Nerds)
  • Blow the test up! (Blow Pops)
  • Get fired up for the test! (Fireballs)
  • You are on a roll, keep up the good work! (Tootsie Rolls, or Rolos)
  • Best of luck smarty pants! (Smarties)
  • Skor the best on the test! (Skor)
  • You are ofishally ready for the test! (Sweedish fish)

Click the image below if you want to lift kids up a little extra during testing season. :) 

April 17, 2021

High Frequency Words Part 5: High Frequency Word Resources

You have done it!  You have made it to the end of the High Frequency Words series. Whoop Whoop!  I hope you are walking away with new knowledge and new ideas, or affirmations that what you are currently doing is best practice.

If you haven't had a chance to read the previous posts, don't worry!  Just click the links below for the titles that are of interest to you.

High Frequency Words Part 4: How to Master Regular High Frequency Words

For this post I would like to showcase various resources you can use to provide students with more exposure to high frequency words.   These resources should be used AFTER you have directly taught some those tricky heart words. 

These resources are really fun and low prep, aka a teacher recipe for a win! :)

With One breath boxes students take one deep breath and correct read all of the word in the first box.  Then students take another deep breath and read the words in the second box (which is a bit longer).  Repeat until all boxes are read.   This a great activity to do with partners, to send home for students to do with their parents or with a classroom aide or para!

The Fry Phrase Pack Bundle includes phrases for ALL of Fry's list (as pictured below). Included in the bundle is a checklist for each list of 100, teacher assessments, speed trial recording sheets, connect four game, a bingo game and a Fry-Bo game (played like Skip Bo)!  

Make sure to check out as they have a lot of great resources too! 

April 8, 2021

High Frequency Words Part 4: How to Master Regular High Frequency Words

In previous posts we covered how to help kids master irregularly spelled high frequency words (heart words).  But, how do you help with with regularly spelled high frequency words?

Don't worry, we will cover that today. :)

If you still need some guidance on heart words then click here

Do you need tips on how to master heart words?  Make sure to check out this post.  

Or, if you still are trying to distinguish a sight word from a high frequency word, then click here

Now...back to regularly spelled high frequency....

Regularly spelled high frequency words are words that are phonetically decodable.  These words are regularly spelled, and they are easily decoded.  As my students are working with these words I say "in this word all of the letters do what they are supposed to do, we just need to use what our brain knows about letters and sounds to figure this word out."  Some examples of regularly spelled high frequency words are: can, not, did, if, in, it, etc.

These regularly spelled high frequency words appear often in text, so students need to know them in a flash.  The same is true for writing.  These regularly spelled high frequency words are often used when a student writes--and they should be able to write them quickly. These words should be spelled and read effortlessly and automatically. 

So, what is the best way to teach phonetically decodable high frequency words?

1. Introduce these words when they fit into a particular phonics pattern that is being directly taught.  For example you can introduce in, is, if and it when students have learned vc and short i spelling patterns.  Words like with, that, when and which would be decodable after students have been taught digraphs and short vowel sounds. 

2.  Use graphophonemic analysis when teaching a new regularly spelled high frequency word. Write the word on the board and spell it aloud as you point to each letter.  Say the the sounds for each part of the word, and then say the whole word.  This type of instruction helps students with sound symbol association. 

3. Provide students with lots of opportunities to practice decoding and spelling these words. When getting students in text, it is important to start with words in isolation and then progress to sentences and finally stories.  Another great practice is to point out taught high frequency words as you are doing a read aloud, or during a time where you have a shared common text.  Also, give students time to write and spell these words....the more opportunity the better! 

One thing to note is that high frequency word instruction shouldn't happen until students have concept of word, phonemic awareness and individual letter sound relationships in place.  

If you want more information about high frequency word acquisition, check out some of these awesome resources below:

I am looking forward to wrapping up this blog series by sharing high frequency word resources on the last post in the series!  Stay tuned!

March 31, 2021

TPT's Special Spring Sale (April 6 & 7)

It is almost here--TPT's Special Spring Sale!  Whoop Whoop!

It is a great time to treat yourself and purchase those items off your wish-lists!  Teachers Pay Teacher's  two-day-only sale starts Tuesday, April 6th at 12:01am and runs until Wednesday, April 7th.   Most items are 20% off, but buyers can receive an additional 5% when they enter code "FORYOU21" at checkout. 

You have plenty of time before the sale---so, hop on over to TPT and start adding items to your cart so you are ready to checkout on sale day!

Happy shopping!

March 24, 2021

High Frequency Words Part 3: How to Master Heart Words

Last time we were together we took a moment to truly understand the meaning of heart words.  Not sure what a heart word is? Click here to read the previous post in this series High Frequency Words Part 2: Heart Words

Furthermore, if you want to know the difference between sight words and high frequency words, click here.  This will take you to the first post in the High Frequency Words series: High Frequency Words What Are They? 

For now we are going to spend some time on making those tricky high frequency words sticky for kids!

Follow the steps below to help kids master heart words. AND...if you haven't already checked out Linda Farrell's model for teaching heart words, I highly recommend it.  You can find it by going to Readster's website, or by clicking here.    

Step 1: Teach the phonetically regular part of the word (To make these tricky words not so overwhelming, fold heart words in with regular phonics instruction based on the pattern you are teaching.  For example they and their can be introduced when teaching the digraph /th/.

Step 2: Point out the part of the word that makes the word a heart word--the part that is not phonetically spelled correctly.  In following example, the teacher would make sure to put a heart above the e in the word "the" since the e doesn't do what it is supposed to.  It is really important that the teacher spends some time dialoging with students about why she/he is placing a heart there.  There is no need to place a heart above the digraph th because the th is doing what it is supposed to do. 

Step 3: Use multisensory techniques to reinforce these tricky words.  Some multi-sensory options are sky writing, arm tapping, rainbow writing or finger writing in sand, shaving cream, sugar or on a bumpy surface, etc.  The chart below names and describes some easy and effective multisensory techniques teachers can use with heart words.  Most involve little prep!

It isn't necessary to use multi-sensory techniques with regularly spelled high frequency words....just the heart words.  Adding multi-modal to these irregularly spelled words helps our brains remember and map the words.  The words that aren't irregularly spelled don't need multi-sensory techniques as all of the letters do what they are supposed to.  If a student is struggling with reading a regular high frequency word prompt him or her to remember the sounds the letter(s) make.   

Step 4: Give students lots of exposure to these tricky words! Read aloud and independent reading is a great time to point out some of these words, or pre-teach them. 

Next up......regular high frequency words!