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easi-speak Digital Microphone Giveaway

I know you've been seeing a lot of reviews in blogland lately for the easi-speak Digital Microphone.  
So if you haven't had a chance to win one yet......this could be your opportunity!

Once I got mine, I felt like it would be perfect to place in a fluency center for my students to practice rereading books that we had read during Guided Reading or library books that I knew they could read independently.  My 6-year-old triplets were also happy to use it and check it out!  They were kind enough to provide some photos and videos for you to check it out!

Here's my sons using it.

And here's a video I took of my daughter reading.  I took it with my iphone so the sound isn't fabulous.

The only problem I found with it is that my kiddos liked to move their thumb on and off the recording button.  So that took some trial and error and instruction to get them to keep their thumb on the recording button for the whole time they were reading.

I liked how the quality of the recording was very clear.  I also liked how it was rechargeable by just plugging into a computer.  No batteries is always a good thing!  The best part was that the students were excited about it and it kept them engaged in reading for fluency.  You can't beat that!

So one lucky winner will win one of their very own.  You have up to 3 chances to win:

1.  Follow Extra Special Teaching's blog {click here}
2.  Follow Extra Special Teaching on Facebook {click here}
3. Follow Learning Resources on Facebook {click here}

Yikes - I worded this wrong the first time!  You can leave a comment stating for each thing so you can have a total of 3 entries.  This giveaway will close Friday, May 4th at midnight Central Time.

You might also want to check out Learning Resource through their TwitterYouTube, or website.

Aloha! Sight Word Giveaway Winner

Thanks everyone for entered!

The winner is....

Shar, check your email!

Sight Word Assessment (freebie)

FYI: The Aloha! Sight Word Game winner will be posted and announced after I get done with my day of soccer games and beach!

Lately, I've been seeing some Facebook posts from different blogs that are asking how do you manage sight word assessment and how many sight words Kindergarten students are expected to know for your school.  So I figured I would show you guys how I assess sight words and the list of words our district uses for Kindergarten.

Our district has adopted the Imagine It! reading curriculum.  The curriculum dictates that Kindergarten students should know 70 sight words by the end of the year.  That seems like a high number to me, but the gen ed Kindergarten teachers tell me that it's really not that hard for most students to learn them.  Since I have triplets in Kindergarten, I have to say that all 3 of them have learned the words pretty easily.  I really worked with them at the beginning of the year but not so much the 2nd half of the year.  Now my special ed students that I teach have a much more difficult time learning and RETAINING these 70 words.

All of the Kindergarten sight word games I make {if you want to check some out click here or here} contain these 70 words since that's what my students are expected to know.  I am planning on making some 1st grade games using the 1st grade list this summer.  I don't know if anyone would be interested in those.

Ok, on to how I manage my assessment.  My set-up looks like this:

I made a powerpoint with a black background and white letters.  I have the students read the word as I hit the enter key to go from slide to slide.  Since I can't take any video or pictures of my students due to confidentiality concerns, I had my youngest daughter stand in for the video!  She LOVES school and learning and anything teacherish so she was happy to oblige.  I don't know how well you can hear her responses but she read all the words!  

The things I like about this set-up is that I can position my paper behind the laptop, so the students can't see whether I mark their answers as right or wrong.  I try to not give feedback other than some occasional encouragement during the assessment, especially if they're getting them wrong.  I don't want them to get discouraged.  I also like how I'm not worried about finding flash cards or having the cards out of order than the list on the paper.  Since the students are only seeing one word at a time on the screen, they don't get overwhelmed with a big long list.

I don't know if anyone else would be interested in the powerpoint or my form that I use but I thought I would include it.

Click on this picture to download the powerpoint.  Now, you will need the ABCPrint font, but it can be downloaded here for free.  I liked this font, because the letters are all properly formed.  

Here's the form I use to monitor their progress.  I got the form from Mrs. Perkins' Dolch Words site {here} and made some adjustments for how I liked it.  Click on the picture below to download your copy.

So there you have it.  It's how I do sight word assessment in my class.  Do you have a good system?  I'd love to hear about it!  

Feeling Discouraged

So let me take a moment out of my usual posts and have a pity-party.  We've spent the last few weeks doing our state standardized testing, end-of-the-year tests, and finishing out IEP reviews.  

In my state, 3rd grade is the BIG testing year.  Students must pass the FCAT to move onto 4th grade.  In case they don't pass the FCAT, there is a back-up plan that is the 3rd grade portfolio.  Basically, it's 14 cold read comprehension passages covering different areas (Main Idea, Context Clues, Multiple Meaning Words, Author's Purpose, etc.).  The students have 3 rounds to take the 14 different passages and must get at least 5 questions right on each area during those 3 rounds.  

Sounds fairly easy enough right.......basically 14 passages in total and they only need to get 5 out of 15 questions correct to be considered passing on each of the 14 passages.  We did round 1 in January and we're doing round 2 now.  If you don't pass the FCAT or the portfolio during rounds 1 & 2, you do round 3 in summer school.

However, my kids are reading below grade level and these passage are hard for them.  I feel like I've worked hard this year with them....real hard.  We've done 2 direct instruction programs working on decoding skills.  I pushed them hard through those programs.  We've done guided reading.  We've worked on fluency.  We've done weekly word study where we spent a lot of time working on phonics patterns.  I've done a bunch of comprehension lessons.  

And they've made progress!  A lot of progress.  Most of my students came at a 1st grade reading level and are now reading on a 2nd grade reading level.  If you checked out my fluency post {here}, you saw how one of my kids started the year reading a VERY basic 1st grade passage at 13 wpm and is now reading a 2nd grade passage at 50 wpm.  Now that's a whole LOT of progress!!

So while I keep trying to tell myself that we've come a long way, these kids are doing great, I've improved their reading progress........I'm sitting here asking myself have I done enough?  What else could I have done?  I didn't take them from reading on a 1st grade level to reading on grade level (3rd grade).  Is there a way to do that?  What am I missing here?  There seems to be a lot of pressure to hold special ed students to the same standards as gen ed students.  Parents want their kids on grade level.  And believe me, I want my kids on grade level.  Is there some program I'm missing out on?  Some instruction I'm not doing?  Something I could do better?

I'm having a hard time here and feeling really discouraged.  Do other special ed teachers feel this way?  Is there a magic solution out there that people use to bring kids up to grade level when they're so far behind?  How do you guys feel about your students' progress?

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

I'm giving away one of my newest sight word games in honor of us moving!  Click on the picture to enter the giveaway.  You have until Friday to enter.

Extra Special Teaching is Moving Giveaway!!

Yes, you read that right.  Extra Special Teaching is December!  My husband is a Marine so that means we don't spend too long at any one place, sometimes we go to some not great places (29 Palms, CA for one), and sometimes we go to some really GREAT places!

Does this game that I just made give anyone a hint to where we're going?

We are so excited to be moving to Hawaii!!!!  The kids are stoked, it's always been my husband's dream place to live and surf, and I love the beach and warm weather.

However, the downside is I'll have to leave my TERRIFIC school!  :(  I'll be back on the job hunt again and mid-year at that.  :( :( And I have to jump through all the hoops to get a Hawaii teaching certificate. :(  Would there happen to be any Hawaii teachers out there that can give me some info on teaching there?

To celebrate our good news, I'm hosting a giveaway!  Here are all the giveaway details:

1.  The giveaway runs from now until Friday, April 27th at midnight Central time (since that's where I'm at).
2.  1 winner will get this super cute Aloha! A sight word game.
3.  To enter you can do each of these things and leave a comment for each thing you do:

*Follow Extra Special Teaching by clicking here - 1 entry
* Follow my TPT store by clicking here - 1 entry
* Follow me on Facebook by clicking here - entry 

I've also been contacted by Learning Resources, and I'm getting to spend this week checking out 2 of their products.  I can't wait to see how they work and review them.  So make sure you check back on Saturday to see if you won this super cute game and to find out more about winning some other free stuff!

Graphics by Just So Scrappy Too

Tax Day Sale!

Nobody likes Tax Day but everybody likes a sale!

So everything in my store is 15% off for today!  You can get to my store by clicking {here}.  I just posted this super cute basketball game to help students practice reading words with Short oo & Long oo patterns.  I will admit that I found these patterns even tricky for myself while making the game!  You really have to think about the sounds you hear in the word.  Click on the picture to get the game and for today it's marked down to $1.70!

You might want to also see who else is having a sale today.  Rockin' Teacher Materials has a linky party where you can check out who else is throwing a sale.

Inclusion in Your School

Today we're talking all about 
over at 

Come join in on the discussion {here}!  I'd love to hear how inclusion works in your school.

Standardized Testing Parent Letter (Freebie) & New Games

I know that many of us are gearing up for standardized testing this month (or maybe have just finished testing).  Honestly, I'm dreading giving the test to my students.  My students are at least a grade level below in reading ability, and it feels like I'm torturing them to give them the test.  They've made so much progress this year, but I don't know if the FCAT (our state test) will show how much progress they've made since they're below grade level.  All I can do is hope for the best for them and try to make their experience positive.

One way I plan on encouraging my students is to send home a parent letter giving parents suggestions on how to help their child be successful during our FCAT week.  The letter will also ask them to write an encouraging note to their child and send back to school in a sealed envelope.  I'll give this note to their child on Monday morning before we start testing.

I'll also be supplying gum and mints to hopefully keep them awake!

I've made a generic form of the letter I'll be sending home in case some of you would like to use it.  You can download a FREE copy by clicking on the picture below.

I've also been busy making some new games that you might be able to use in your classroom.  Many of my students still struggle with whether or not to read read words with short vowels or long vowels.  This can be especially tricky with words like this:

slim ~ slime
kit ~ kite
plan ~ plane

To help them really focus on whether or not these words should be read with a short vowel or long vowel sound, I made this super cute Secret Agent E game.  Click on the picture to check it out at my TPT store.

Ever since I've come back from spring break, I've had a HUGE case of Summeritis.  Is anyone else experiencing it?  So to keep me focused on all things summer, I've made this 2 super cute games.  Click on the pics to check them out!

Pool Party - A Sight Word Game

Take a Vacation! A CVC Game

I hope everyone is hanging in there until summer break!

Bunny Hop Freebie

I'm so happy to help Teaching Blog Addict celebrate their one year blogversary by hopping down the bunny trial!  Thanks for hopping along with us and getting all of these GREAT freebies!!

On this stop, you'll find a super cute sight word game that you can use to help celebrate Earth Day!  Click on the picture to get your FREE game!

Your next hop is to Monica at The Schroeder Page.  Click on the egg to make your way there!

Graphics by Scrappin Doodles.