His Favorite Books.....Today

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 No comments
So T is becoming quite the picky one. Our nighttime stories are becoming well, anything but nighttimeish. I am assuming this is part of the "trick mommy and daddy into letting me stay up later bit" and as usual, I fall for it every time. He is 3 3/4 now and is "reading all by myself mommy." Umm....whatevs. Here are his faves right now. 

Tails is a touchy feely book (literally) and he loves it. He loves "reading" the animal names and talking about what is going on in each picture. This book is a Matthew Van Fleet creation.

Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings is another Matthew Van Fleet book and T is a big fan! The pages open and the last pages opens "a long mile." He is all about animals right now and the short, sweet interactive stories are right up his alley.

These books are also fantastic because they feature the less famous animals and popular ones. Pandolins, koalas, and....ducks. We are learning while touching cool textures and opening flaps.

Do you have a favorite touchy feely book? Please share! I'm looking to add to his collection! Happy reading!

Reading Fluency

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 No comments

Reading Fluency
Author BioToday’s guest post comes from Toni, an elementary school teacher with a  specialty in differentiated instruction and designing hands-on lessons that incorporate the multiple intelligences.  You can often find Toni writing for TeacherLingo.com, where teachers can buy and sell their original lesson plans, worksheets, and more.  She is married to a middle school math teacher and is a mom to a mystery loving 7 year old sweetie-girl and a quirky little light saber toting 3 year old. 

Reading fluency is one of the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension strategies.  Students should be able to read with proper inflection and prosody. Beginning and struggling readers often read without attention to their intonation, loudness or timing even if their pronunciation of the words themselves does not pose a difficulty.  Ideally, we want our beginning readers to read like they speak conversationally.

Have you ever run before? You can follow blogs about running, subscribe to running magazines and take a class on proper running technique, but there is a direct correlation between how many miles you put on your sneakers and how good of a runner you are. Reading fluency is just like running. Fluent readers read, and they read often.  All too often our reading blocks are filled with reading instruction, but leave very little time for students to actually read.

In order to develop fluent readers within our classroom students must hear fluent readers read.  Modeling fluent reading through daily read alouds and a well stocked listening center will help your students develop an ear for what fluent reading sounds like. Students also need daily opportunities to revisit text both silently and orally.
So, how do we engage our students in a way that they not only have time to read, but actually want to read? There are usually a few students who would happily read the same book for the entire reading block, but most students need a variety of reading opportunities to keep them engaged.

Poems are a very powerful way to improve student fluency. They usually are full of excellent vocabulary and multisyllabic words, but are ‘bite sized’ and easy for students to read again and again or to buddy read with a friend. Silly poems like those of Shel Silverstein will usually engage even the most reluctant reader.  Assign a poem to each student on Monday and give them time to practice it silently as well as with a buddy the first few minutes of reading each day.  At the end of each week hold a class ‘poetry slam’ where students can share their poem with their classmates.

Give students a reason to read. Each week assign small groups of students a short play or reader’s theater. Give them time to read their script to themselves and then rehearse it with their group during center time. They may also take it home to practice for homework. When students have a purpose to read they don’t mind rereading the same text multiple times. Have each group perform their plays on Friday and videotape their performance. When all the groups have performed allow them to watch the video. This allows them to see how they sound and self correct any non-fluent behaviors like mumbling or speaking to fast or slow.
A ‘double dare’ station can encourage children to read in order to learn how to do something new. This station can be filled with all kinds of ‘how to’ books explaining how to juggle, draw, take care of a puppy,  perform magic card tricks, and just about anything else your students may want to learn. Make sure to include anything they may need to perform their task in the center as well. Klutz books are very readable and include all necessary objects. At the beginning each week double dare your students to learn how to do something new like learn how to juggle. Set aside a special show-and-tell time each week where students can show off their new skills to their classmates.

Pique your student’s curiosity. When students are curious about something they are intrinsically motivated to learn more about it by reading. Allow students to pick topics of interest like knights and castles, the Olympics or theTitanic and set up a curiosity station (that sounds much more fun than research station doesn’t it?) in your room. For each topic place several books of varying levels in a basket and label it. Each week your students can select a topic of interest to become an expert in. As students finish their research allow them to sign up to share what they learned with their classmates.

By intentionally providing the necessary time and resources for your students to practice their fluency you will help to inspire a classroom of confident and avid readers.

Polio and My Paw Paw

Thursday, October 25, 2012 No comments
I was my Paw Paw's favorite. Everybody knows it. The cousins-first, second, and even the ones twice removed. The man loved me and I loved him. He thought I was brilliant, and I thought he was the coolest grandpa ever! 

He loved routine (as do I,) and followed a strict eating schedule:

8:00 breakfast
10:00 snack
12:00 lunch
3:00 snack
5:00 dinner
8:00 midnight snack 
(this was the best! butter pecan ice cream!)

He was a good man with a large heart. He was also a polio survivor. My Paw Paw is the only person I know personally to be impacted by polio. He was diagnosed as a young boy and the his life was altered forever. His leg never finish growing, his walk was altered, and his shoes "costed an arm and a leg" his whole life. 

Thing is, my Paw Paw had polio in the 1920's. 90 years ago. Would you believe children are still suffering today???

Ugh. What is polio? a highly contagious viral infection. 
Impact? paralysis and often, death.
We are on the brink of something amazing though! In fact, we are close...this close to eradicating polio off the face of the planet! (That sounds so super heroish!)
We can help! Polio is preventable. Vaccines save lives. Vaccines cost money. Visit Shot@Life and make a difference today. Make your own "this close" picture and post it on Rotary's End Polio Now page! We did! $1 vaccinates a child from polio. Do you have a few $ to spare? I hope so! Our goal is realistic-vaccinate 40,000 children by Halloween! That's not spooky, that's exciting!

I don't want to think about my Paw Paw as a child, being wheeled around in carriage or limping as an adult. It makes me sad. My grandfather lived a long, happy life though. I wish everyone could be just as lucky-happy, and polio free. Children in developing countries need us. Let's end polio. Now.

Do You Know a Sneaky Squirrel? Giveaway

Monday, October 22, 2012 10 comments
Who is this sneaky little guy? (the squirrel, not the kid!)
It's the SNEAKY, SNACKY SQUIRREL! He has traveled with us to soccer, on a picnic, grandma and granpa's house, and to the grocery store! T loves him!

He is part of the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game from Educational Insights!

T LOVES this game!! It is perfect for preschoolers! They spin (fine motor,) they follow the directions (huge skill,) grab an acorn using Sneaky (fine motor,) match colors, and learn to 1. take turns 2. deal with not winning every time! We may need a first grade version! :)

If you are making a holiday list for your child, ages 3-5ish, you want this on your list! If you teach pre-k or kindergarten-you want this, too! Seriously friends- it is fun! In totally awesome news-my friends at Educational Insights want to give you one! Educational Insights is a company known for quality, fun, educational games. I am a HUGE fan! Not only that Educational Insights wants to give one lucky reader a $50 gift card, too! Talk about holiday shopping!!! You have two chances to win!

Please enter, tell your friends, and visit EI to thank them for their kindness!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Education Nation II

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 4 comments
Do you know about the NEA? I mean, really know about them? Me either. Honestly, we are not a union state, so I'm not in on the up and up. There was a lot of union/anti-union heat during Education Nation and while it was exciting, it also peaked my curiosity. So I spent some time on the NEA site. Here are my big discoveries:

*The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization.

*They have more than 3 million members.

*Their vision is a great public school school for every student. 

*They believe in improving the quality of teaching and increasing student success.

*They are quite political. 

To this non-union girl from Georgia, it all sounds rosy. In fact, this Georgia girl has even received a grant from the NEA Foundation. (I highly recommend applying and would even be happy to help!)

However, just like everything else in life-all that glitters is not gold. According to my friend (and NYC teacher,)

*Unions take money away from students.

*They are too political and their platforms do not equally represent all members.

*They are too involved in the actual teaching-when that should be left to educators.

Now, those are her opinions, not mine-but I value this input as I truly am trying to understand the power of NEA.

I interviewed Dennis Van Roekel, President of NEA, during Education Nation. Here are my takeaways:

*He respects teachers and wants them to have time to collaborate.

*He cares about kids.

*He may be a bit out of touch with what it is like to be in the classrooms.

*Who really is in charge of the NEA?

*He humors first grade teachers who always do a silly pose next! 

I wish there were a dream organization that could magically fix education. Oh wait! I think there is-ORT! The Organization of Rockin' Teachers! 

How do you feel about the NEA?

Bullying & the Good Ol' Days

Sunday, October 14, 2012 1 comment
I've been reading a lot about bullying lately. There have been so many stories in the media-the girl who made the Youtube video about her situation and then committed suicide, the boy being bullied and it was even caught on video-but the bullying continues, the special needs students bullied by teachers and students, and many more.) I even have a friend whose daughter was being bullied and then the mom was bullied by other parents for defending her daughter. Ugh.
October is bully prevention month (though it should be recognized as a national problem year round) and the media in general is all over it-as they should be.

I heard a friend say that this all went on when we were kids and we turned out ok. Well, I don't exactly think so. In fact, I don't think so at all. I think the pain from bullying was there, but I don't think it was broadcast the way it is now. My friend mooned many a passerby and it was never taped and broadcast live. Another friend rolled more houses than she ever trick or treated and was never arrested or shot at in the process. Yet another friend had a terrible run in with a boyfriend and it was not on Twitter within seconds. (Please note that I never did any of these things.) 

I think back on my high school years and wonder if I was ever a bully OR if I was the one who knew it was going on and did nothing to stop it. I don't recall any cases off hand (thank God) but I do remember meanness. It was everywhere. I was. My friends were. It wasn't aimed at one person, but it was there. We were lucky in that there was no internet-beepers were bad enough!

How to fix it? I wish I knew. I wish I could fix it before my guy starts school. I know it starts at home. I know we (as a whole country) make fun of each other all too much. Light hearted turns into repeated mean into us against them. I know I will always encourage my son and niece to be kind and follow the golden rule. I will try my best to model this behavior, too. 

Do you ever think about your glory days through the bullying lense?

Flash Giveaway~Donors Choose!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 22 comments
It has happened once again! My Donors Choose project was funded! To celebrate and pay it forward, we are having a giveaway!
Not just any old giveaway...........


It is going to be short, sweet, and with a matching offer of PUMPKIN, someone will walk away with a $20 donation to their project!

Here are the tough rules and regulations:

1. Leave a comment with your project (or the project of your favorite teacher.)

That's it.

Good luck! Winner chosen by Random Number Generator tomorrow!! 

Please repost, share, tweet, tattoo to your arm, etc. 

Happy almost Friday friends!

Positive Rant! (trending)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 3 comments
A friend called today and said, "I feel like I complain to you all the time." (She doesn't.) She continued, "I mean, school is crazy, my own kids are nuts, and I'm bloated!" (Aren't we all?) She got serious and said, "I'm going to give you a positive rant instead of gripes." 

Positive Rant. I had seen this idea on a teacher blog and liked it. Now my friend is saying it. Two mentions makes it a fad! Positive Rant! Positive Rant! Let's start a hashtag! #positiverant

Her rant was great. She loves her home. Her 2 sweet children do not fuss over chores (even though I still do) AND generally speaking, she is healthy. It was great. It made both of us feel good to hear her say those things.
My turn! My turn!
1. My husband and my son make me smile every single day......truth!

2. I really do work with great people. We may not always agree and some days we need to be miles away from each other if everyone wants to live, but we love each other. We love teaching children. We are a good team.

3. Fall is almost here. I love all things fall~the leaves, the colors, the smells, the clothes. I love you Fall!

Will you join the #positiverant?


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