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Tips for Games in the Classroom

Reading Word Work Activities to Use with Games in the Classroom

Games are such a fun way for students to get in extra practice with word work and other reading skills that they need to strengthen.  

Using Candy Land in the Classroom for Word Work Activities

One of my students favorite games is Candy Land.  They love those picture cards!  Except when they get sent to the bottom.  😀  I have students draw a sight word card to read before they can draw a game card.  TIP:  I print the sight word cards as slides and they are the perfect size for the game.  

Using Uno Stack in the Classroom during Word Work Activities

Another really popular game is Uno Stack.  You can use Brain Warm Up Cards like prefixes, suffixes, short vowels, etc...  Any type of phonics students need to practice more to increase their fluency.

Using Uno Stack Game in the Classroom for Word Work Literacy Center Activities

TIP:  Have students play this game on a run or short table set on a rug.  Then when the blocks fall, it is not so loud!

Using Differentiation Learning Cubes and Tic Tac Toe Games for Word Work Activities

A really low prep game that is also good is Tic Tac Toe.  One thing I like to do to change it up from the other games is to us a learning cube.  If you missed my post on Differentiated Learning Cubes just click here to read about it.  You can place picture sound cards in the cube's pockets.  Then students roll the cube, say the sound it begins or ends with and identify the letters before marking their spot for 3 in a row.

Using Sight Word Lists and Tic Tac Toe during Word Work Activities

Another way to change it up is to place sight word lists in the center.  The students must draw and read a list before placing a marker on the board.  TIP:  Laminate your Tic Tac Toe boards and place different items in the center for marking the spaces.  Keeps it interesting!

Using fluency strips with Uno Games for word work activities

Kids love card games so, of course, Uno is a favorite!  I like for students to practice sentence fluency and including a pack into the game is easy.  TIP:  A great way to differentiate for students is for them to use the sight word list, word cards, or fluency strips that each student is working on at the time.  They can have their own stack at their spot that fits them.  

Using Multisyllabic word cards with Uno for Word Work Activities

Multisyllabic word cards are great too!  There are so many ways this can be used:

spelling words
vocabulary words/meanings
math problems

You can find the Tic Tac Toe Boards in my free Resource Library by signing up for newsletters.  

Roll It! Differentiation Cubes

Using Differentiation Cubes

We are using these differentiation cubes ALL the time!  Kids love rolling them and I love that they are quiet when students are using them.  

Using Differentiation Cubes

I ordered mine from Amazon.  They are great for literacy and for math activities.  Sometimes each small group will use more than one cube at a time and sometimes each student gets just one.

*  Roll Letters
Roll ABC Letters Activity

Students can work with just capitals or lower case letters or both.  You can easily differentiate the cubes for students to work on exactly the letters they need.  

*  Add Recording Sheets for Accountability

Roll ABC Letter Activities

I always have students record their work with the cubes.  It provides them more of a purpose for their activity.

Roll A Word Silent e Word Activities

Also, I require students to read the letters or words as they record them.  I don't ever want them just copying down letters.  It needs to make sense to them.

*  Sight Word Practice

Using Differentiation Cubes

Students can write a few sight words they are working on learning onto small cards and slip these cards into the pockets on the cubes.  Set a time for just a few minutes.  Students roll, read, and write their words to see which word will win when the timer goes off.  Only allow them a few minutes so this is truly a quick practice and doesn't become busy work for them.

*  Make Words~ Is it Real or Nonsense?

Roll on set and rime activities

This is where these cubes really get their name- differentiation.  By slipping different letters or chunks into the cubes you are giving each student just what they need to practice.

It's fun to listen to the students as they roll the sounds and try saying the new words to determine if it sounds like a real word or not!

Rolling suffix endings Activities

Students can even practice adding endings.

Roll R-Controlled Words Activities

*  Add Game Cards

Using Differentiation Cubes to roll Words

You can make the cubes even more fun by adding cards like Roll Again and Lose A Turn to create a game-like atmosphere to the activity.  This simple addition makes the cubes even more excited to use them because they are having so much fun they don't even realize they are learning so much!

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Tips for Making RTI Meetings Work

A guide to use for placing and moving students in RTI Interventions Tiers

You and your team have done all the hard work.  You've spent weeks teaching interventions to your small groups of students.  Now what?  It's time to have an RTI Team Meeting to make those important decisions about what tier each student should now be placed into.

1.  Committee schedules a decision making meeting.

A guide to use for placing and moving students in RTI Interventions Tiers

As the RTI coordinator in my school, I gather all the data, set the meeting date, make the schedule for the day and prepare RTI Decision Guide packets for our team.

When I make out our schedule for our meeting day, which lasts all day long for the committee, I work hard to not schedule meetings on a teacher's planning time.  We get substitutes to cover the classroom teacher so they can come to the meeting at their appointed time.  The substitute floats to each room at the scheduled times.

A guide to use for placing and moving students in RTI Interventions Tiers

2.  Use data from interventions and universal screenings.

Once teachers have taught interventions we give our universal screening again to determine if interventions had any effect on student reading scores.  Teachers turn in their scores from this assessment to me.  I use the assessment scores plus all the data from the interventions to put together a packet of student data for our meeting.  All of the meeting guide pages are placed into file folders- one for each member of the committee.

3.  Use a rubric to guide decisions.

A guide to use for placing and moving students in RTI Interventions Tiers

We use a rubric to guide our decisions as we determine what tier to place students into.  The rubric is there to help us use data to guide our decisions rather than feelings.  Of course, feelings always come into discussions, but data needs to be a bigger part of the decision.  I have found when we don't utilize a rubric, we dismiss fewer students because we want to continue helping everyone!  This is a good thought, but the goal of RTI is to accelerate learning and teach students to be independent learners.

RTI norms are a good thing to include in your RTI Decision Making Guide.  Teachers are passionate about their students.  It is important to remember to keep discussions confidential, encourage positive discussions and have respectful attitudes.

4.  Keep a Voting Record

A guide to use for placing and moving students in RTI Interventions Tiers

After our committee has discussed a student's progress in RTI, looked at the data, and gotten input from the classroom teacher, we vote on what needs to happen next (stay in that tier, move down a tier, bump up a tier, etc...).  Our rubric guides us in these votes.  I record on a voting sheet the voting tallies for each tier.  This sheet is our documentation for parents, teachers, administration, etc...  I also use it as I put together RTI groups for the next cycle.

Documenting and graphing progress in RTI Intervention Groups

Besides using a Decision Making Meeting Guide, it is super helpful to keep progress documented on graphs.  Then use these graphs during your meetings. This documentation system is available K-5 with a different binder for each grade level.  

Meeting Your RTI Needs!

RTI Data Binders

RTI Resources

Book Room Make Over

Book Room Set up and Organization

Our Book Room recently went through a make over!  We dismantled our old room due to construction in our school.  But that was okay, because it was needing a make over anyway!

Book Room Set up and Organization

I had a system in mind as we went through this make over process.  

First, we needed to decide how we would level our book sets that our teachers would be using for small groups.  We use Fountas and Pinnell letter system for our book sets.  

Book Room Set up and Organization

I mostly used 2 websites to search book titles.  The main one I used is Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Book Website.  It does cost, but it is only $25 per year to use.  This is the site that I trust the most for leveling books.  They use a 10 point check system to level books which makes it more accurate.  If I couldn't find a book title here, I then used Scholastic's Book Wizard.  Most books, I double checked the levels to try to find the most accurate one.

Next, I wanted to create a master list of books that teachers could look up online without having to actually go to the book room.  I chose Classroom Booksource .  I scanned or typed in the ISBN number of every book.  Classroom Booksource then created our list of books so teachers can look them up to see what books we have, the genre and the book level.  This was a HUGE job to scan all the books or hand type it all in but once it was completed, it was worth it.  

Now it was time to print out labels for each of the book sets.  We used Avery labels and you can design labels right on their site.  I just typed in the information we wanted on the labels and sent it to our printer to print.  We already had boxes for our books so we repurposed them and I put the new labels right on the old boxes.

Book Room Set up and Organization

We used to use the old library book check out system with teachers signing their names to a card on the side of the box.  There were several problems with this system.  Mostly, teachers didn't do it.  I was guilty of it too.  You forget to bring a pencil or are in a hurry so you just take the books and go.  And when you brought the books could waste a lot of time searching to see where the books belonged.  The boxes all looked the same and boxes may have gotten moved around since you had checked the books out.  I hated resolving books!  Just a time waster!

Book Room Set up and Organization

This time we are using a clip system.  No pencils needed and takes almost no time to do!  Each teacher has a set of colored clips.  She takes a clip from her hanger on the wall and just clips it to the box she is borrowing books from.  

Book Room Set up and Organization

Now we the teacher comes back to return the books, all she has to do is look for her color of clips.  The colored clips stand out against the white label making it much, much easier and quicker to check in and out books.  If it is easy and quick, more teachers will likely use it!

Book Room Set up and Organization

We have also set up shelves for mentor texts and for teacher resources.  

Do you have a book room?  How is it organized?

Long Vowel and Short Vowel Activities

These picture cards and letter strips make great literacy centers or Write the Room Activities!

Long Vowel and Short Vowel Activities

Short Vowel Cards and letter strips can be used together or alone depending on how you need to differentiate for your students.

Long Vowel and Short Vowel Activities

Long Vowel and Short Vowel Activities

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Keeping Your Sanity During Assessment Time!

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Sanity During Assessment Time!

End of the year testing, state testing, reading and benchmark assessments, grade card's enough to make a teacher lose her mind!  We all have to do testing so we might as well make it as easy and painless as we can.

1.  Go Digital 

Going Paperless with your assessements

Where ever you can go digital, do that!  It saves you on time and paper.  We use the DRA2 to assess our readers.  I have taken the DRA2 assessments that came with our kit and uploaded them to Google Drive.  Then I shared the folders with my teachers.  They can choose to send tests to the printer to print copies for them OR they can upload the tests to Notability app and Go Paperless!  

Using the Notability app to go paperless for assessments and note keeping

*  Set up folders for each of your reading students in the Notability app on the iPad.  

*  When you have a student to assess, open their folder in the Notability app, then touch the import picture at the top right of the screen.  Open your Google Drive and find your folder that contains your DRA assessments.  I have mine organized by levels to make it easier to find what I need.  Import the assessment.

*  As you assess the student, you make marks and notes right on the test on the iPad!  If you don't wish to keep that assessment, you can trash it right there.  Our school has not gone completely digital, so after I get the assessments done I send the tests right to the printer from my iPad.  This has saved me sooo much time!  

*  I use this paperless assessing with students reading in levels that do not require the student to write on the test form.  You could teach older students to write right on the forms by showing them how to pinch and open the screens larger to make it easier for them to write.  I do use a stylus to make writing easier.

2.  Get Organized

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Sanity During Assessment Time!

As with any assessment you are giving it is important to get organized and stay organized!  
Make any copies you will be needing beforehand so you don't go to get a test and you've run out!  Set all your materials out in an organized way.  I like to have all my folders out so I can move them from to be tested stack to the completed stack.  That way I don't miss anyone.  

Make lists of who you will be testing and what tests you will give them.  I check off the assessments and screenings as I go.  

Have plenty of pencils and erasers.  Book marks for students who need them and my timer are sitting out so I am not searching for them.  

Before you leave for the day, take just 5 minutes and tidy up your area so you will be ready to begin again the next day with no stress over a messy area!

3.  Use ESGI for Screenings and Check-Off Skills

Use ESGI to Save Time During Assessments

ESGI's logo is Click. Click. Done.  And it is so true!  This has been another huge time saver for me.  After I give all my DRA assessments I also give my readers short assessments using ESGI software.  You can use the assessments that are already preloaded on there or create your own.  I created what my students needed and use them.

Using ESGI to organize and manage assessments

I like to use ESGI for letter identification and sound identification, phonemic awareness, phonics skills and sight words.  But it can also be used for math.  One of the great things about ESGI is that you can create reports for the teachers and for parents.  Reports can be created for the whole class so a teacher can identify what skills the entire class needs to strengthen but you can also run reports on each individual student!  Love the reports!

Using ESGI to organize and manage assessments

Another reason I like ESGI is that I can print flashcards to be sent home to parents so they know just what their child needs extra practice on.  I don't have to create the cards, ESGI does that for me!  Another timesaver!

I hope you have a successful assessment season this year!  Grab a big cup of coffee, stay calm, and be organized.  You've got this!!

Using Word Work Intervention Phonics Binders for RTI Interventions, guided reading and word work stations

Finish your year strong with Word Work Binders- no prep, just print and go!  You can get these binders individually or as a bundle.

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Prove It To Me!

Using text evidence to prove answers

We've been reading folktales and learning how to prove our answers.  Since it is spring I decided to use Easter eggs to teach this skill.  

Using text evidence to prove answers

My students just love these stories!  There is something about them that appeals to kids over the years.  

Using text evidence to prove answers

After having read our folktales, it was time to pass around the egg basket.  I had typed up some events from the stories and placed them inside each each egg.

Using text evidence to prove answers

After deciding on the character trait for Goldilocks, each student chose and egg and decided if the event from the story proved the character trait or not.  

Using text evidence to prove answers

 Another group did the same thing only with the third pig from The Three Little Pigs.  Students read their strip of paper and if it proved the character trait, the paper was added to the anchor chart.  If it didn't prove it, the paper was tossed.
Folk Tale Anchor Chart

This is another anchor chart students can use to help them prove if a story is a folktale or not.

Using text evidence to prove answers

After practicing together to prove character traits, students can then prove whether a story is a folktale or not.

Using text evidence to prove answers

We try to use what we call Dollar Words on our anchor charts- words that are more descriptive and interesting.

STEM Little Pig House

After reading the Three Little Pigs, a fun STEM project is to try to build a strong house for the pigs that the wolf cannot easily blow over.  You can use a blow dryer or wave a thick piece of paper to test how the houses can withstand the wind.  

Using text evidence to prove answers

This Prove It To Me is a fun way to practice providing evidence from the text to prove your answers.  Click on the picture to check it out!

Folk Tales Resource

This folktale resource can be seen by clicking on the picture above.  

Free Resources