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The Power of Teaching with Read-Alouds

books teaching Jun 06, 2019

It all started with this question. "How have you seen students respond to and learn from read alouds, Lisa?"

Hmmm. Well, since you asked...

When I first started teaching I thought read alouds should be treated as an “extra” with “time permitting." Obviously, I had a LOT to learn. With time and experience, I've learned differently. Read alouds are actually a golden opportunity to teach a good majority of reading and writing skills and strategies in meaningful and memorable ways. Not to mention, if you plan carefully, you can add in non-fiction and historical fiction texts to pair with your stories and/or poetry and get some mileage in Science and Social Studies. That's a huge bonus.

So, here's an example of read aloud ideas I might plan for a week in a first grade classroom and in a fifth grade classroom

First Grade

Books:

The Egyptian Cinderella by Jewell Reinhart Coburn

The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin

Adelita by Tomie DePaolo

...

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3 Easy, Fun Father's Day Gifts

teaching May 16, 2019

I'm always on the hunt for easy gifts students can make. 

Dads get shafted a bit sometimes when school gets out before Father's Day. Help your students prep a gift now, so they'll be ready in June even if school gets out before then. 

Here's 3 fun gifts your students can make for Father's Day.

WordFoto

This one is an app. You can get it on your tablet (or phone) for students to use. It costs just $2.99. First, have students prepare a list of 5-10 words they want to use to describe themselves or they can choose words to use as a hidden message for their dad. Snap a picture of the student with the tablet (or phone). Next, have the student tap on the T to enter their words. Then, they can tap the Style button to choose the look they want. Once they're done, the pic can be sent to a printer. Create a frame with construction paper and it's done!

Token Card

Print the card pages (back to back) and the token sheet on card stock. Students create a card with slots to place the...

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Sight Word Fluency in 5 Minutes a Day (or Less)

sight words teaching Apr 25, 2019

I think we can all agree that sight word knowledge is important to fluent reading. Since sight words are functors, the glue that hold sentences together, they're everywhere in our reading. Once students have a good sight word vocabulary, their reading takes off. In short, students struggle less and reading becomes more pleasurable. Knowing sight words is just one more tool we can give students' to put in their reading toolkit.

KEEP IT LOW STRESS.

As much as we want students to know their sight words, we have to use caution in choosing how to teach them. Making sight word instruction another chore is stressful for everyone. We know stress inhibits our brain's memory system. The more stressful we make learning, the less students remember. So...

How do you teach sight words easily and effectively?

Here's a system that's super easy and takes only few minutes to do with each of your small groups. Once I started using it with my students, I realized it was a game changer....

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How Social Media Can Support Us as Teachers

pln teaching Apr 03, 2019

Feeding our teacher souls.

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse in our personal and professional lives, right?! Well, I can't help you with your personal addiction to your feeds, but your professional habits are another story.

Full disclosure: I'm a "moderation in all things" kind of girl, so you're going to be hearing about limits too. 

The first thing you need to do is turn off all of your notifications in any platform you use. The more you use them, the more notifications you'll get. Ugh! Too distracting!

That said, let's jump right in. if you don't use social media for teaching ideas, inspiration and connections, it's time to change that. 

Here's why.

  • Social media has a wealth of great teachers sharing their fabulous ideas for free every day.
  • Each social platform serves a different purpose for me as an educator. There's something to fit everyone's style and needs. Find what fits your needs.
  • Connection. Teaching is tough. We need to share our burden with...
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Feeling Grumpy? 3 Texts to Pair with "Grumpy Monkey"

books teaching Mar 28, 2019

Do you ever just feel like being grumpy for a bit?

As we head into the latter part of the school year, we can all get a bit grumpy. Let's face it, life in a crowded place can wear on us. As I tell my kids, "sometimes it's just too much togetherness." Occasionally, we just need a break and chance to be grumpy for a bit. 

Helping students both understand their feelings and find appropriate ways to cope is a big part of effective classroom management. I find picture books to be a great way to do that while teaching content at the same time.

Your grumpy students will feel completely understood with Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang.

Jim woke up grumpy and got grumpier the more everyone tried to tell him what to do about it. When Norman finally tells Jim, "It's a wonderful day to be grumpy." Jim finally starts to feel a little bit better. There's just something about being understood that's more helpful than the most well-intentioned advice. 

Well...you know me. I...

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Science Read Alouds

books teaching Mar 06, 2019

I get asked by teachers for book suggestions, so I decided to periodically offer a few by category. The first set is below. It's a bit longer than I intended. Yes, I got carried away. :D

Here's a list of Mentor Texts for STEM topics. It is by no means a comprehensive list. That would be overwhelming for all of us. Think of it as a place to start.

Not sold on the power of read alouds? Listen to this sound bite on the power of reading aloud from Kate DiCamillo.

Want it as a printable list? I've got you covered! You can grab the full list here.

Enjoy!

Lisa

 

STEM

Books by Andrea Beaty

·      Rosie Revere, Engineer

·      Ada Twist, Scientist

·      Iggy Peck, Architect

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Papas Mechanical Fish by Fleming

Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Kamkwamba and Mealer

...

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The Essentials of Successful, Meaningful Language Arts Instruction

teaching Feb 20, 2019

Successful Language Arts instruction with minimal worksheets is not just possible, it really works! However, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy. In order to help students be successful, we need to be directed, knowledgeable and able to embed learning into every moment. It's not easy to get started, but it's quite simple to maintain once we get the hang of it. Like anything worth doing, it takes practice and reflection (rinse and repeat).

There are 5 essential steps to setting up successful Language Arts instruction. 

I love the Daily 5 format.

You could use a 4 Blocks format as well. I've seen lots of variations of these. What each classroom looks like depends on the teacher. Know this, there's more than one way to success. Whatever you choose, give your program structure and flexibility.

Phonemic Awareness + Spelling

I keep my phonemic awareness separate from my Language Arts block. I start my day with Phonemic Awareness at the end of our morning meeting. We...

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3 Creative Ways to Get Students Excited About Books and Reading

reading teaching Feb 13, 2019

If you struggle to get some of your students interested in books, here’s a few fun strategies. They work beautifully with both picture books and chapter books.

Book Tastings

Book tasting have become a mini-fad in schools around the country. It’s a brilliant idea! Decorate your classroom like a restaurant, create place settings and a menu of books (with a short synopsis), have a set of books for each table and let students “try out” several books.

It’s fun, creative and very effective. Student LOVE doing this. It makes reading not only fun but desirable. I’d call that a win.

Blind Dating Books or “Mystery” Books

This is another way to get your students to try something new in their reading. I especially love this when a bunch of new books are coming into the classroom library or school library. Books are wrapped up in wrapped up in plain, brown paper. You can get some at Michaels or use butcher paper, if you have it.

Now you have...

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How to Use New Year's Resolutions to Teach Effective Goal Setting

teaching Dec 12, 2018

Effective goal setting is an important skill all students need to learn.

As adults, we set personal and professional goals all the time. Sometimes we even have goals set for us by our employers. New Year’s Resolutions are the perfect way to help your students learn how to set and accomplish their own goals.

I know what you’re thinking… most people don’t keep their New Year’s Resolutions. True. I believe a lot of that has to do with how we write our goals. More often than not, New Year’s Resolutions are written more as wishes then goals. A wish is a goal without a plan. That will get you straight into failure territory. In oder to accomplish our goals, we need to know how to write them with the plan embedded in them.

7 Easy Steps to Doable, Realistic Resolutions

  1. Teach students the difference between a wish and a goal. Give examples of accomplishable goals vs. wishes (goals without a plan).

  2. Have students choose something they want to get...

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Using Storytelling to Improve Long-term Learning

teaching Dec 05, 2018

Storytelling will improve your students’ learning and retention.

That’s a big claim, I know. I still stand behind it because I’ve lived it both as a teacher and a student. Think for a minute about the best lecture you ever sat through. The one you remember, the one that made an impact on you to this day. Or, think about the best teacher you ever had in high school or college. What did that teacher do differently? There are two things I believe you’re will saying to your self right now: taught with passion for their subject and incorporated stories that made their subject come alive or feel relatable.

What’s so special about storytelling?

The short answer is engagement. Stories help our students relate and invite them to put themselves into the narrative. Stories help us, as teachers, engage more with what we are teaching as well. That’s powerful stuff to our brains. In fact, our brains are wired for relationships and oral storytelling.

...

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