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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching

My goal in the new year is to embrace my dream teaching style. Whole Brain Teaching has always been something I have been interested in. After watching the video below, I was inspired to incorporate these WHOLE BRAIN teaching techniques. Because this is my first year of teaching, I started small with only a few WBT aspects at a time. Now that I am halfway through this school year, my goal for the new year is to include all aspects of Whole Brain Teaching to my repertoire. I am SO EXCITED! Let's do this 2014!

Here's the video that inspired it all...
For more information visit www.wholebrainteaching.com

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ohio's Third-Grade-Reading Guarantee- What it Means for You

I found this video today on the Ohio Department of Education's website. I think it provides a fairly good overview of information. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Publishing Student Work

As a part of the Upper Elementary Language Arts Instruction course for my Early Childhood Generalist 4-5 Endorsement Class, I have been reading a wonderful text by Gail E. Tompkins titled Literacy in the Middle Grades: Teaching Reading and Writing to Fourth Through Eighth Graders

 I had the luxury of being able to buy it cheaper as an e-book through CourseSmart. Feel free to check out their website http://www.coursesmart.com/. I find that for an online course, an e-textbook makes perfect sense. I feel as though I am exercising my own digital literacy when I read an e-book.  The search feature, table of contents, and bookmarking features are very helpful.  The website also allows me to highlight, write notes, and copy the text.  I am also allowed unlimited printing of my textbook!

 While reading the text, I came across a wonderful list of Online Publication Sites that I have shared below. Also, head over to my list of Web 2.0 tools to find other ways to create and showcase student work.  Enjoy!

Cyber Kids

This site publishes original writing by 10- to 14-year-olds, including multimodal stories.


Students’ stories and poems are published in this e-zine.

Stories From the Web

This website accepts submissions of students’ stories, play scripts, poems, raps, and songs.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adventures in Reading

This summer I began my journey toward earning my Masters Degree in Reading. During our summer practicum, we were given a one-on-one student and a small group of students. Our task was to assess the students and then plan and implement intervention accordingly. 

To start our summer practicum, we gave a series of interest inventories and attitude surveys to find out what our students were interested in. We also gave an Informal Reading Inventory (IRI.) To be specific, we gave the Johns (2010) Basic Reading Inventory (BRI).

(Sidenote: The GA's got to meet Jerry Johns, the author, at the ALER conference in November! We were ecstatic because to us he was a celebrity! That's him on the cover)

My one-on-one student created this chalk art with me to help describe the types of books he likes to read. He didn't get too diverse with his genres of books so we delved into a few specific series. 

Below is the room that I was working with. College students call it "The Pit" but the students thought it was cool. My Star Wars student thought it looked like the Jedi Council Chamber.

On the left side of the room is the materials for the one-on-one student who's theme was Adventures in Reading (AKA Star Wars). The right side of the room was for the small group of students whose theme was Mystery- Reading Detail Detectives

Below are some of the activities and games we played.

Interest Inventory Cup Stack

Take an empty Pringles can and some leftover cups and you have a wonderfully multi-sensory reading interest inventory game. I wrote questions on the cups and then had the students stack the cups as they answered them. Then, I covered the Pringles can in construction paper and then created this label based on some other sight word and math related cup stacks seen at Chasing Cheerios.
Click on the picture to download the label.

Sight Word Cup Stack

The same concept works for sight words. It was great for my students who love to build and construct. Sometimes I wrote the words on the bottoms of special patterned cups when I could find them. It also worked to find the cups in the dark with flashlights. The student would put the cup on the flashlight and the light would glow and illuminate the word written on the side of the red cups. (He thought it looked like a red mini lightsaber!)

Lite Brite Letters

Have an old Lite Brite hanging out gathering dust somewhere? Use it for making letters. It doesn't matter if you don't have the black sheets or all the peg colors. For students who have a sensory aversion, this is a no-mess way to make letters sensory-safe. The lights add an extra visual effect to the letters as well. The students must really focus on the letter formation when adding each peg one-by-one. (Be careful when using this with students who are perfectionists, this will not turn out perfectly!) 

Jedi Sight Word Mastery Ranking

The focus skill that my Star Wars student needed intervention with was sight words. Each day, I would tally the number of times he correctly and automatically identified his focus words. Together we determined the number that corresponded to each level. I got a little extra Star Wars inspiration with the rankings! At the end of each session, we would count the tallies for each word and move any words up the ranking.

Master- (highest level) 20 correct readings
Knight- (middle level) 10 correct readings
Padawan- (lowest level) words are placed here when introduced

Feeding the R2D2 Trashcan

With some creativity and supplies I had around, I made the cutest and most motivating sight word game from scratch. 


  • old trashcan (I used one with a push-step opener)
  • bowl the same diameter as the lid of the trash can
  • card stock scraps in grey, blue, and red
  • 2 sheets of white computer paper
  • duct tape
  • black marker
  • contact paper

The hardest step was to first place the bowl on the lid of the trash can and tape the whole thing with duct tape. Then the trick is to cut out all of the details based on a google image and then cover the whole thing in contact paper to keep it easy to clean.

How to use it in a game?

I have used this R2D2 trashcan in many ways. My favorite way to use it was as a final assessment of the sight words. I wrote the sight words by hand on grey circles of paper that I called R2D2's discs. The student had to read the word, run to R2D2 and "feed" him the disc.

 How to Use Action Figures in Reading

I found R2D2 and C3P0 action figures at Walmart over the summer and wanted to use them in my intervention somehow. I ended up using them with large post-it notes to help with tracking. The student was very confident in reading the names of the Star Wars characters but hesitant with the sight words. The student would push R2D2 below the words as he read them. C3P0 would stand above the sight words to help signify either the structural analysis of the word or certain letters. The student made all of the markings with the green marker.

Sight Word Bowling 

I found this bowling set at Walmart in the summer. It was the quickest and most simple game to edit the words to. I wrote the words on paper and taped it the front of the bowling pins. When the student knocked down the pins, he had to read the word and use it in a sentence.


Hedbanz is a silly game that can be found at most stores in the board game section. The object of the game is to guess what is on the card on your forehead by asking clues of your opponents who can see your card. I used this as a problem solving and critical thinking game to help my students think of the details that help describe and define. After they correctly guessed, I asked them to determine the most important detail that helped them decide.

Jengo Fett Jenga

Click on the image to print the label for the outside of the game.

I bought a standard Jenga or Jumbling Tower game. I printed sight words and covered the top with contact paper. You can also just use scotch tape! 

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Monday, April 15, 2013

BGSU's Literacy in the Park

BGSU's 2013 Literacy in the Park event was a huge success! I am currently finishing my Master of Education in Reading through the Graduate Reading Program at BGSU. I was given the privilege as a graduate assistant to co-coordinate Literacy in the Park with my partner Megan Reed.

After months of planning, we had an enormous turn out and some very happy kids.  The purpose of Literacy in the Park is to promote family literacy through a free family event.

To find out more information about our gracious sponsors and what we had to offer at the event, visit our website.  Megan and I had a great time designing the website based on Dewdney's books.

Literacy in the Park Website

Watch the video below from BG24 News highlighting Literacy in the Park.

Meeting Anna Dewdney was a wonderful experience for the Graduate Assistants.  She is a fantastic person and was a joy to work with.  The families and children felt the same.  They loved her presentations in the theater and her personalizations of her book signings. Check out her tweets below!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Social Studies - Branches of Government

For our social studies unit on Branches of Government, I started by placing a blank tree with three branches on the dry erase board we used for displaying current classroom content. We added content to the branches as we learned it. It followed the same graphic organizer that would be on their post-assessment that had come from their textbook. I will upload the headers and leaf pictures to be borrowed later. Each day after school I would remove what we had placed on the tree. We reinforced this graphic organizer by adding the elements we knew so far at the start of each lesson. This was especially helpful to the visual learners. 

Once we discussed the community government and Federal Government, I asked the students to write one characteristic or responsibility of a good leader on a puzzle piece. They had some very creative ideas.

To reinforce true and false statements about the President of the United States, I gave the students the paper below. 

I then had the students participate in a Think - Pair - Share. As we read aloud the statements, I gave the students time to think about whether the statement was true or false. Next, they cut apart the strips and sorted with a partner into true and false piles. (We also had an interesting discussion about how to fairly cut these apart since there is an odd number!) Finally, we shared as a class which statements were true and false. 

At the end of the unit, we had a mock Supreme Court day in which the students had a chance to be Supreme Court Justices and law makers. The issues we voted on were whether the school should have a new school mascot and whether the school needed a new playground.

The groups of students each got a chance to write down their ideas and present  their side of the issue. This developed their critical thinking skills as they sometimes had to defend an issue they did not agree with. 

The students each had a chance to be a Supreme Court Justice and decide which group made the best arguments for or against an issue. I even wore an old graduation gown and brought a gavel to make the classroom court more realistic. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Science- Moon and Stars

For my science unit on the moon and stars, we did a lot of independent hands-on work at centers. The standards we met are below:
a      Standard: Earth and Space Sciences K-2. Benchmark: A. Observe constant and changing patterns of objects in the day and night sky. Second Grade Indicator: The Universe – 1. Recognize that there are more stars in the sky than anyone can easily count.
b      Standard: Earth and Space Sciences K-2. Benchmark: A. Observe constant and changing patterns of objects in the day and night sky. Second Grade Indicator: The Universe – 3. Observe and describe how the moon appears a little different every day but looks nearly the same again about every four weeks

Accompanying the centers was a graphic organizer to ensure each student was recording their learning at each center. 

The first center was a large cardboard box with a small styrofoam model moon. The students were to look in each different viewing hole to see the different shadows cast on the moon from the flashlight "sunlight." 

 The different view point phases can be seen in the following pictures. 

The second center was a pie tin filled with flour and cocoa powder to signify the dust on the moon's surface. Students could drop marble "meteors" onto the surface to create craters.

The third center involved the change in mass and gravity on the moon. I took a pair of snow boots from Good Will and spray painted them silver (for an extra-cool space look). Then I attached athletic ankle weights. Then I placed two circles on the ground. One circle signified Earth and the other signified the moon. Students put on their heavy moon boots with weights while they stood on the Earth circle. Then I had them hop over to the moon and pretend to travel in their space shuttle. When they got to the surface of the moon, I helped them to take off the weights and try to jump. The change of taking off the weights makes students feel much lighter and as if they can jump higher.

Another day during the unit, we gave the students a circular piece of construction paper with one of the phases of the moon written on the back. They then shaded the moon to the correct area of darkness and could decorate it however they chose. (One of my favorites is the pizza half moon!)

They were in groups of 5 and then had to put themselves in order without talking to practice the sequencing of the phases of the moon.