Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to spark student reflection

Imagine are teaching a lesson, and an administrator walks in for a walkthru.  They roam the room for a bit and then kneel down and ask a student, "What is the objective for today?"  How does your student respond?  Are they able to verbally state what they are learning?  Was their response, "I don't know. This is just what my dear teacher told me to do."

Do you need a way for students to reflect on their learning? Is your district requiring students to explain the objective of the lesson?

If you answered yes to either question, I totally understand and am right there with ya!

In our district (and if I were a betting chick, I would say yours as well) they want students to verbally say what they are learning.  The goal is for them to state the objective.  In a perfect world, this would be easy breezy, but this isn't always the case.

I want more for my students than just stating an objective or reading it from a focus board.  More importantly, I want them to understand why they are learning it and how it will benefit them.  My hope is when asked, "why are you learning ________" they will have the ability to respond with more than "because my teacher told me to." (sound familiar?)

I have been tinkering with an idea for my students to reflect what they are learning and decided to create a learning response journal.  It needed to be an easy way for them to reflect on their learning. My goal is for them to see the value, and know how they will be able to apply the concept in their life (instead of the mentality of, "This is stupid.  I won't ever need to use this").

Time was a huge factor.  I knew it needed to be quick but also reflective.  Something else that was important was that I would be able to easily keep track of their reflections.  I'm not sure about you, but the last thing I needed was a bunch of loose papers to keep track of (or file).  Loose papers + out of place = me going bonkers ;)

With all of those ideas floating around in my head I decided to create a "Learning Detective Journal." The way the journal was designed, it gives students an opportunity to think about something they have learned that day (or for the week if you choose) and complete the sentence stems.

The beauty of this, is they get to pick a concept they have learned.  It is in their "ballpark," and are taking responsibility for own reflections.  The thinking stems allow students to say what they learned, why it is important, and how it will help them.

My goal is for them to reflect on their learning on a deeper level.  I want the responses to be more than, "I am learning about apples."

It will take a little brain stretching for them to think in this manner but I believe it will be a huge benefit in giving them time and the ability to reflect on their learning at a deeper level.  I will keep all of you posted on our reflectional journey!

Don't forget to grab your own copy of Learning Detective Journal HERE

Oh, and while you are here, please enter to win a $60.00 gift card.  Giveaway Date: January 27th- February 3rd.  Good Luck!

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Thursday, January 19, 2017


Happy Thursday!  Do you LOVE gift cards? I do!  I am helping a friend celebrate 1,000 followers on TpT.
You can enter HERE.

Good Luck!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Deals

Christmas Deals

Ho, Ho, Ho!  Merry Christmas!  I have a special treat for you.

It has been hard to keep this a secret! A group of sellers is hosting a week full of Jolly Good Deals. Below is a list of what you can expect this week.  Each day brings a new surprise.  Below is a sneak peek of what you can find each day.


Tuesday, you can grab my January Journal for $1.00.  My monthly journals are some of my best sellers.  They work well to use for morning work, literacy stations, and early finishers.  It is the perfect time to grab while it is on sale and have it ready to go for your students when you return from Winter Break in January.  Enter the code #jollygooddollardeals.  Click the picture to take you directly to my TpT store.


I have 2 special treats just for you!  One is a freebie that I am advertising as #jollygoodfreebie in the title.

The second is only being announced to my blog followers as a special Merry Christmas gift.  It is my Fix the Sentence Task Cards.  This set has 3 different levels for you to choose from.  Each level can be printed with or without QR codes, in color or black line.  It makes differentiating a breeze.  Click the picture and it will take you to the product page for your download.   Thank you so much for your support!

PS It will only be available for free on Wednesday, December 14th.  Thursday, the price will return to $3.25.


I am so excited to share this special offer with you. I have discounted my best selling bundle.

The packet includes digraphs sh, ch, and th.  Each set includes 5 different activities.  It is perfect to give students the opportunity to practice reading and writing the different digraphs.  One of my students favorite is read and write the room.  This allows them to get up and move around all while applying their learning.  It is a win, win!

You can catch it at this price for 1 day.  Click the picture below.

Happy Fri-Yay!!!  I can't tell you how excited I am that today is Friday.  I have stayed up WAY past my bedtime and will more than likely pay for it tomorrow.  Today is the last day before our 2-week break.  I am so excited to have this time to re-energize.  We only have a 1/2 day and the day will fly.

It is also the last day of our #jollygooddeals.  This week has been tons of fun bringing you a new surprise each day.  Tomorrow is 1/2 off deals.  I have placed 2 of my products 1/2 off.  Both are products I will use the 4th six weeks of school and hope that you can as well!

The first is my winter wonderland packet.  This includes lots of fun activities like:
Compound Word Activities
- Match the Mittens
- 2 types of compound word worksheets
R-Controlled Games and Worksheets
- Catch the Snowflakes
- Which Word is Spelled Correctly (using QR Codes)
- Choose correct spelling
R-Controlled Worksheets
ABC Order
- Winter Mix Up Game
- Fix It Cut and Paste
- Winter ABC Order
- ABC Alphabet Strips

R-Controlled Bundle
I am not sure about you, but it seems that r-controlled words throw my students' for a loop!  This packet helps students apply their new learning.
- Write the room (color and black/white printable choices)
- Worksheets for Write the Room Activity
- Word Family Puzzles
- Missing Pieces Game
- Sentence Practice
- Unscramble the Sentence
- I Have/ Who Has Game
- Word Sorts
I hope you have enjoyed all the surprises.  Thanks for joining me!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Santa's Little helper

Santa's Little Helper

Hi, guys!  How are you? Has Christmas-itis hit your students yet?  Are they antsy for a break and in the process of trying to send you over the edge?  The month of December can be challenging for teachers and students alike.  As a kid, they can't wait until they are watching cartoons, staying up late and impatiently waiting for Santa's arrival.  Teachers, well..our  my wish list is to catch up on sleep, eat a meal that I don't have to scarf down and watch Netflix.

The month of December is CRAZY!  (Can I get an AMEN???) There is so much to learn and such little time to squeeze it all in, and the redirecting may seem never ending.

Are any of these thoughts running through your head?
  1. Attention spans mysteriously have been cut in half.
  2. Students have suddenly forgotten how to walk in the hallway correctly.
  3. Tattling is Out...of..Control!
  4. You find yourself reviewing necessary procedures and routines like you did at the beginning of the school year. 
  5. Keeping hands to self suddenly becomes a never ending chore. 
  6. Homework.....What homework?  I didn't know we had homework?  Why didn't you tell me?
  7. You can't decide if the constant rambling you hear is all in your head or if your once quiet class has permanently departed (for a trip to the North Pole leaving you behind with a classroom full of replacements) 
Did you find yourself shaking your head in agreement?  Yep, I totally get it and am right there with ya, girl!  It is a HARD time of the year, but you don't have to be counting down the hour, days until the break.  I have an easy activity that will help your students stay on track and save your Teacher-in-December sanity.  

How, might you ask?  

It is a super duper easy activity that I call Santa's Little Helper and requires little prep on your part (Hallelujah).  

I love to begin this activity when we return from Thanksgiving break.  They are hyped up from a few days off and utterly excited to start their countdown to Christmas.

Below is how I use this in my classroom.  I like to keep it simple because this time of year is stressful enough without adding any extra stress to my plate (I need HELP, not extra work). 

  • Print off the letter from your classroom elf.  I have left a space in the message for you to name your elf.  Now, I know you might be thinking, "Just great, exactly what I want to do, go out and buy an elf."  No worries!!!  You do not have to buy an elf.  When I began this fun project 17 years ago, I did not have an elf that my class could see (and honestly I think it works well, maybe even better depending on the year).  
  • I leave the elf coloring page (found in your packet) and a candy cane on their desk for them to color after I read the letter.  Once I read the letter, I tell them just like Santa; they cannot see our classroom elf.  They never know when he is watching. 
  • During the next few weeks, I keep an eye out for students making good choices.  When this happens, I place a certificate and a candy cane on their desk (when they are not in the classroom).  I try to change up the time that the elf leaves his surprise.  It helps to keep them on their toes. 
I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine.

You can grab your copy of Santa's Little Helper HERE

A group of teacher-authors has come together wanting to give back to our sweet followers.  Each blogger has a chance for their readers to win $25.00 gift cards.  You can enter for a chance to win a $25.00 TpT gift card below.    I will announce the winner on December 4th.  Don't forget to check out the other fabulous bloggers below for your chance to win other amazing gift cards (by clicking on the little blue frog).  Good luck!

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Literacy Stations: Part 2

Hi, guys!  I hope everyone had a fabulous week and were able to rest this weekend.  I just wrapped up the first six weeks.  Time has gone by fast.  Next week, I will release the reins for students to complete stations independently.  I look forward to spending time listening to my students read in a small group.

I want to share with you how I use each station.  My goal is you will find at least one tip to use in your classroom.

Station 1: Read to Self

Read to self is the first station I introduce to students.  We practice, practice, practice.  During read to self, they may not talk, get up or play.  If they break any of the expectations, we try again.  It takes time, but it is worth it in the end.

How do students store their reading books?
Each student has their own book box.

How many books do they keep in their box?
Students keep five books in their box.

How often do students trade out their books?
They trade out books once a week.

How do students choose their books?
Students choose their books from our book bins.

Station 2: Work with Words

Working with words gives students an opportunity to practice their new learning .  I introduce the phonics skill of the week on Monday.

How do you decide what skill to practice? 
I follow our scope and sequence for the district. The first few weeks, we worked on CVC words, word families and rhyming.

How often does this center change?
The words for the week change on Monday.  At this time, they are given four different options to practice their words.  We will gradually increase to more options.  

Station 3: Listen to Reading

This station is initially practiced, as a whole group. Students have a hard time figuring out where to press start and how to turn on the cd player. My, how technology has advanced.

What do you use in this station?
I have three CD players for students to use with headphones.  

What do students do after they listen to the story?
I have them complete a reflection page.  They write the title, draw a picture of their favorite part and write one sentence.  Later in the year, they will write the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Station 4: Work on Writing

The options are endless for this station.  Sometimes it is something as simple as labeling a picture. There are also students who are able to write stories.

What do you place in your writing station?
I have used many things.  There have been years where it was as simple as a journal with blank handwriting pages. I have also used monthly journals.

The past two years I have given my students more options.  This has helped them to stay engaged during their time at this station. Some of the types of writings include making a list, writing a letter, and stories.

Station 5:  Read and Write the Room

I love this station!  It is easy to prepare and gets the kids up and moving.  The cards are in different places around the classroom.

How often do you change the cards? 
Normally, I only change task cards out once a week.  The exception would be if we were able to visit more stations than normal in a given week.  I like to have them changed out on Friday before I leave for the weekend.

Do you grade the response sheets?
I do not place a grade on their answer key, but I do like looking at their responses.  It is eye-opening to see what sounds they hear.

6: Rock Your Fluency

This is a fun, engaging station.  You know a station is a keeper when they get excited that it is their turn and bummed when it is time to clean up.

What do you place in this station?
In this station, I have a timer, leveled fluency phrases, and voice cards.  If you do not have fluency phrases you could use leveled passages or even a book on their reading level.

How is the game played?
Students' play the game in pairs.  They take turns reading the phrases. Their goal is to see if they can beat how many phrases they read the time before.  They love the competition.

7: Smartboard

Initially, I was apprehensive to allow students to use the smartboard during literacy stations. My concern was that other students would be distracted.  Thankfully, they have done very well.  It has been a great way to practice new skills.

Where do you find your activities?
Smart Exchange has great activities for all subject areas.  They have a great selection of free downloads for all subject areas.

8.  Ipads

Thankfully we have four Ipads to use in our classroom.  It makes it easy to use in a station.

Do the students get to choose what app they play?
No, they do not.

What apps do students play?
At this time they are using the math app Matific.  Another app that I use often is Istation.  They both allow students to work on their level.

9.  Buddy Reading

Buddy reading use to be the last station I taught.  I felt like it was hard for students to read and not play with their buddy.

I would love to share a little secret with you.  I use stuffed animals to teach students how to read with a buddy.  This has been the perfect way to introduce how to read with a buddy to my students.

10. Computers

We only have one student computer in our classroom.  Most of the time I save this station for my ESL/ELL students who need time using the Imagine Learning software. 

Thanks for stopping by.