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Summer To Do List Linky Party

Littlest Learners is having a Summer To Do List Linky Party.  Well, I've had a to do list in my head but really need to write it out so I don't forget.

1.  Make more sight word games for my students (especially my repeating Kindergarteners and upcoming first grader).  I try to play a sight word game once a day with them, because I've seen such an improvement in their sight word identification since we started playing games.  But I'm about tired of playing Sight Word Bingo {Click here to get yours}.

2.  Create a better way to track assessments and students progress.  I had WAY too much paper this year.  I need to figure out a simpler approach.

3.  Organize how I'll use Words Their Way next year for spelling.  I used this program this year and liked it. I just need to organize it better.

4.  I've already started on this one, but I really want to focus on some phonics units.  I don't feel like the direct instruction reading program that I am required to use gives enough focus and coverage of phonics skills.  Plus, it really throws a lot at them at once.  My kids need so much repetition and practice with each skill separately before adding in a new skill.  Instead of learning all the Long Vowel CVCe patterns at once, I really want to focus on just the a_e pattern before moving onto o_e, i_e, and u_e.

5.  Spend my days tanning at the beach and watching my kids play all day.  This is by far my favorite part of summer.

6.  I've already got this book downloaded in my Nook, and I'm dying to read it.  I know this isn't high quality literature, but I'm hooked anyway.

7.  And finally June 26th can't get here fast enough because.........Waiting Sucks.  At least it does if you watch True Blood.

Happy Memorial Day

I hope all my teaching friends are enjoying their day off and spending time with their families.  Our house has had a great weekend.  Most importantly, I hope everyone takes a moment to remember the importance of this holiday and to honor all of the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  As a former Marine and wife to a Marine, this holiday is dear to my heart.  And to all of the active duty servicemembers and their families

The Teacher Wife giveaway

If you like HeidiSongs products, you have to stop The Teacher Wife to sign up for her great giveaway. Click below to take you there. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I win!

Resources for Parents

I really wanted to send something home with my parents that would give them some ideas and resources to help their child during summer break.  So I put together this letter with a few ideas and some websites that they can use at home.  I thought someone else might find it useful.

By the way, have you heard about Barnes & Noble's Summer Reading Program for kids?  Students can get a free book by reading and logging in 8 books during the summer.  How cool is that?  Click {here} to download the reading journal.

The font does look a little squished in Google Viewer, but it's fine when you download it.

Is anyone else looking forward to summer break? I'm so jealous of those that are already out. 5.5 days left with students!

What I've Learned Linky Party

Life in Special Education is hosting a linky party discussing all that we've learned this year.  Click below to join up with the linky party.

Now onto what I've learned this year.  Considering how this has been my first year of teaching, I've had A LOT to learn!!!

1.  IEPs are A LOT of paperwork!!!  I just did 3 IEPs today and man I'm beat.  Luckily, I only have 1 IEP left this school year.  Unluckily, it's on the LAST day of school.

2.  Watching a child master something you've really worked hard on is a priceless moment.

3.  As a first year teacher, it's important that you build a relationship with someone at your school that can be a mentor/support system.  The teacher doesn't have to be the same grade level/subject area to give you that support.  There were some fabulous teachers at my school who were more than willing to help me out and just listen to me vent.  Thank you to them!

4.  Parent support/assistance really does make a difference.  Lack of parent support/assistance also really makes a difference.

5.  Learn to love those quirks in your students (sometimes this can be hard!).  I have one student who tells me the same things every day.  If he has to go to the restroom, he says, "I'll be back in 5 minutes."  Everyday when he leaves my room he says, "I'll be back tomorrow."  These are just a few things he routinely says, but he's very routine-oriented and predictable.  I LOVE these quirks about him.  If nothing else, I can count him everyday to give me some routine!  And some days, I really need the routine!

6.  Scheduling has been by far the biggest challenge for me this year.  My kids are coming and going like they're getting on and off a merry-go-round.  It's so difficult to try and teach when you have people showing up late, leaving in the middle for PE, coming early, etc.  Not to mention, it sure is hard to teach a 2nd grader subtraction with regrouping while you also have 3 Kindergarteners that need to learn basic sight words at the same time.  I sure hope this part is better next year.

7.  Expecting special educations students to take grade level assessments is really unfair.  There were times I felt like I was torturing them with assessments that were far above their abilities.

8.  Kids really do learn a lot through the use of games.  I've used games a good deal in my class, especially to work on sight words.  There have been times that I questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing to use games instead of worksheets, flashcards, etc.  However, I just have to look at their progress to see that it really has helped.

9.  A computer program cannot replace the instruction I can give, especially when the computer program replaces instructional time.

10.  Most of all, I have learned that there are some fabulous and creative teachers that are beyond generous with their ideas, resources, and materials.  Teacher blogs have provided me with so many resources and ideas that I would have never known were out there.  Thank you to all of blog land for being kind!

I Have, Who Has Confusing Words

I loved all the positive feedback on the Cruisin' Through Confusing Words game that I posted earlier this week.  Bloggers sure do love comments!  It definitely motivates me to keep posting and sharing.

So I made a I Have, Who Has Confusing Words game to go with it.  There are a lot of cards, but I figured I would give kids several cards to make them work harder.  Plus, I work with small groups of students so the game wouldn't be much fun if there were only 6 cards in the game!

I'm thinking of making an I Have, Who Has game that goes with the Silent E in Space game that I made last month.  We play that game frequently, because my kids still need a lot of practice with the CVCe patterns.  Would anyone be interested in that game?

Can you think of any other games/activities that you would like for your students?  I'm open to suggestions for other things I can make.  Usually, I just see areas that my kids are struggling with and make something to help them.  But I'm open to ideas from others.  My students need help with a lot of skills anyway.

Confusing Words

I've noticed during my students' reading that there are several words that look very similar and always confuse my kids.  Words like these are really tough for my kids with reading disabilities:

how ~ who
was ~ saw
felt ~ left
lost ~ lots
there ~ where

A lot of these words have the same letters but in a different order or maybe only 1 or 2 letters are changed.  I started making a list of these words and came up with about 48 words that my kids regularly get confused.  After all, it sure does a change the meaning of a sentence if you're reading:

I was a big, fat pig.

When really the sentence should read:

I saw a big, fat pig.

I made this Cruisin' Through Confusing Words game for my students to play.  Hopefully, the repetition of practicing these words over and over will help.  Click on the picture to get your own copy.

I'm also thinking about making an I Have - Who Has game that would use these same words.  That would be even tricker for them to play since both confusing words would be on one card, BUT I think it would help them out.  Would anyone be interested in an I Have - Who Has game?

On a personal note, I had the extra time to make this game today, since I took a personal day off.  You see my babies (AKA 5-year-old triplets who despise being called babies) graduated from preK today.  {sniff, sniff}  Yes, I got choked up and fought back the tears as they walked across the stage.

However, maybe what I should be doing is rejoicing.  Another triplet mama commented today "congrats on letting them live this long!"  Believe me, when I they were babies I NEVER thought I would get past the baby stage.  I thought I would be up all night, changing diapers, and feeding babies EVERY DAY of my life.  Then when they were in the terrible 2s and became climbing maniacs with siblings to encourage them climbing out of their cribs, I would sit and cry at their door, because I was simply outnumbered (my husband was also deployed which didn't help me out).  It's hard to believe that we have all survived this far, and they will be moving onto {gasp} Kindergarten in just a few short months.

Read the Rainbow ~ A color word game

I noticed yesterday that some of my students are still having a hard time identifying color words when reading text.  I found a game (somewhere online) that I thought could help them, but it needed to be jazzed up a little bit.  So here is Read the Rainbow ~ A Color Word Game.  Click on the picture to get yours!

On another note, today is my birthday, and I work with some of the BEST people!  One of the kindergarten teachers brought her whole class by to sing me Happy Birthday and the school chorus also sang me Happy Birthday.  My co-workers are amazing.

Being a mom to 3 5-year-olds has also been interesting this birthday.  My youngest daughter was convinced I was going to wake up with "gray hair like a granny" today.  My youngest son was very upset about the prospect of me having gray hair, because he thought I would look like a "witch."  Sure enough, I got a thorough inspection by all 3 of them when I got home today to see if I had gray hair.  Luckily for me, I have a great hairdresser that covers all of my gray hairs every 6 weeks!  :)

Prepping Struggling Readers for Standardized Testing

Although my students are struggling readers, who are below grade level in their reading ability, they are still required to take the same standardized testing as their gen ed peers.  As we were preparing to take this year's FCAT test, I realized my kiddos were having a difficult time reading the questions.  This is a sample question provided for the new FCAT 2.0 that my 3rd graders took this year:

What is the purpose of the illustration on the second page of the story?

Yikes!  There's some BIG vocabulary words in that question!  I decided to try and treat these types of words like sight words.  The kids needed a lot of exposure to them, so they could easily read the test questions.  They have enough trouble struggling to read the passages as it is.  To help them, I created this game.  You can download it for FREE by clicking on the picture.

Next year, I plan on start playing this game much earlier in the year.  How do you help prepare your struggling readers for the big test?

Blog Makeover

OMgosh, I am absolutely LOVING my blog makeover done by the fabulous Kristen at Ladybug Teaching Resources.  If you haven't been by her site and seen her amazing work, you should go there now!  She's fabulous to work with and does a great job making your ideas even better than you pictured.

Thank you Kristen!!!

Quote of the Day

This morning, I overheard a parent telling his son that "being smart is like having your own superpower."  

I love it!  Don't we all need our own superpower?

Race to the Beach ~ A Sight Word Game

I'd really rather be sitting on the beach right now, especially since the weather is beautiful in sunny Florida. However, my district is requiring me to finish these last 17 days of school........bummer.  So to keep my focus on sunnier, warmer things (instead of my freezing classroom with NO windows), I made this Race to the Beach sight word game.

There are 12 boards with different sight words on each board, so you can easily differentiate.  All 220 Dolch sight words are included, plus color words, number words 1 through 10, and a few other ones my students find tricky.  I also included 1 blank board in case you want to do something else.



Yes, IEPing is an official verb in my household.  My husband just looked at me and asked, "Are you IEPing?"  We're so close to the end of the year but there's so still so much paperwork left to do.  I have an IEP tomorrow, 3 on Friday (not by my scheduling), 2 others that I need to sit in on to prepare for next year students, 1 that I definitely have to schedule (tomorrow's to-do list), and 1 more that I may have to schedule.  And.....there's still paperwork left from the 2 IEPs I had on Friday that MUST be finished.

Ughhhh.......I'm tired of IEPing.  Anyone else out there tired of IEP meetings?  To keep myself motivated I made this super cute bulletin board.

I saw it posted on someone's blog (I can't remember where) and fell in love.  I was pretty impressed with myself that I was able to replicate it.  This board makes me smile every morning when I rip another number off.  There's actually only 18 days of school left which makes it even better!  So hang in there everyone.....the IEPs are almost over with for this year!

In honor of all teachers...

I'd like to share with you some Sight Word Bingo Games that I made and use with my students.  Does anyone else's students LOVE some bingo?  We play bingo A LOT!!!

I based these games off the sight words the Kindergarten and first grade students are required to learn in my school.  Our district has adopted the Imagine It! reading series, and these are the sight words used in the series.  There are three levels for Kindergarten and 3 levels for first grade.  Each level has five bingo cards per, and the levels get progressively harder.  I hope someone can find them useful!

Kindergarten - Level 1

Kindergarten - Level 2

Kindergarten - Level 3

1st Grade - Level 1

1st Grade - Level 2

1st Grade - Level 3