menu   home About Me rti Free My Products  

Vocabulary Walls

Learning new vocabulary

One of the skills my building needed to strengthen according to test scores was vocabulary.  To be specific, vocabulary and synonyms to go with the vocabulary.  One way that I am addressing that weakness is with my vocabulary wall.  For each book, we pull a word or two for our vocabulary to learn.  Then as a visual reminder, I place those vocabulary word cards on a copy of the book cover.  This is an easy way to help students remember what the word means by remembering how it was used in the story or text.  I require that they be able to read the word and be able to tell me a synonym that goes with the word.  When we have a couple of seconds, we can easily go over the wall, reading the words and naming the synonyms.  I am finding that it is helping the students remember vocabulary better this year.

learning new vocabulary and synonynms

In addition to the vocabulary wall, we also fill out a vocabulary sheet so we can dive in a little deeper with the word.    We discuss the definition and what the kids come up with becomes our definition.  I don't want them memorizing a bunch of words that really don't have any meaning to them so the language needs to be from them.  I also like to have different versions  of their answers and let the students write what fits them best.  

learning new vocabulary and synonyms

We were discussing loitering with The Three Little Pigs folktale unit.  The students discussions on loitering were funny!  We finally came around to when the author uses loitering, he is trying to convey to us that the character is probably up to no good!

learning new vocabulary

Of course the discussion on scrumptious got us all hungry for lunch!

learning new vocabulary

We keep our vocabulary sheets in our Interactive Reader's Notebook.  This is the vocabulary section of it.  We have several versions of vocabulary work in the notebook to choose from when using it.

Using interactive reader's notebooks in class

The notebook has been a really great tool this year.  Helps keep everything organized in one place and an easy way of seeing the progression of skills by the students.

How are you working on vocabulary this year?  


Focus Wall Organization

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

Yay!  It is Bright Ideas time again!  I hope you join me and my friends for some great ideas for your classroom.  

Anytime I use anything in my classroom, I need it to be easy to use and for it to be organized.  If it is not easy and organized, I just won't do it.  We do not have time for anything that isn't smooth and easy to use.  Now that we are well into our year, I don't spend a lot of time at the focus wall.  We just quickly go over the pieces.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

For my different reading groups, I use different colored Post It notes to make it easier for the students to keep track of which labels are theirs.  

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

Keep your Post It notes in a caddie right by your Focus Wall.  I also recycle the labels.  I stick them to the wipe off board so they can be reused again instead of taking time to rewrite them.  By having examples of themes on the board, it helps give students some ideas to choose from too.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

I also keep my comprehension posters right there at the focus wall to make it easy, peasy to switch out.

How to Organize Your Focus Wall

The posters fit well right into one of these crates that I keep in front of the board.  

Bright Ideas

If you enjoyed this Bright Idea post, please consider following my TPT store, on Instagram, and on Facebook for more great ideas!

For more bright ideas from a variety of other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thank you for visiting! 




Folktales: Mittens & Pigs

reading plans and resources for the week

Reading plans for the week are for my reading small groups instead of my RTI groups this week.  We have not started our next cycle of RTI yet.  Our RTI all day committee meeting is this Friday.  We will meet with each teacher to discuss the students that were in RTI.  We look at graphs, whether progress was made or not and how much  and new scores on the DRA assessments.  We look at the whole picture then take a vote to make decisions regarding what each student should do next.

reading plans and resources for the week

This week we are going to be starting folktales with my first and second graders.  Yay!  Love folktale units!  For second grade we will be working on The Three Little Pigs and my compare and contrast unit.  Click here or on the plans above to download the plans with the links to the resources.

Folktale Unit and activities


folktale activities

I like to teach about weak and strong characters and how characters sometimes go through changes in a story.  This character changes sheet goes with the book The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.  If you have not read that book, you need to.  Kids love the play on the characters!  You can read more about this unit by clicking here.

cvc blending word work

My first graders are still working on cvc words and will be doing this activity this week with these oversized cubes.  

blending cubes

I ordered these cubes over Christmas break and got busy creating some activities to go with them.  One of them is the cvc work the first grade will be working on for Monday.




Each one of the activities in the video are separate activities, but they are bundled together too for convenience.  Click here to see the bundle.  You can click each individual activity from here too.  


Be sure to link up your plans with Deedee!


Running Records

Running Records Toolbox app

We've had our Christmas break and now it's time to be getting things ready to go back to school.  Not sure how my break went so fast!  It was a wonderful time to recharge and be ready to get back and dive into what we need to learn.

I do a lot (I have anywhere between 40-50 students at any given time) of running records with my kids.  Anything that can make doing them easier is a blessing!  Usually I am gathering up my sheets, timer, accuracy table, and calculator.  A lot of this is included in this running records app which will make things more streamlined and easy.

Running Records Toolbox app

I really like that the stopwatch is included right in the app.  Also that I can pause it without clearing the clock.  

Running Records Toolbox app

The graphics are really cute!  Here I can just enter the numbers for accuracy, error rate, and self corrections.

Running Records Toolbox app

The app calculates all three for you!  So easy!

Running Records Toolbox app

One neat thing that is included in this app that isn't in some apps is the symbols cheat sheet.  I know a lot of teachers when they are new to giving running records like having a cheat sheet to help guide them to the marks they should use.

Running Records Toolbox app

An accuracy table is also included to remind you about the percents.  This will help you decide where your student is at and what level of book you should choose next.

I am excited about this cute app and what all it can do.  It is called Running Records Toolbox and is only 99 cents.  What are you using when you do running records?  


Managing RTI Data Graphs

Document and Track RtI progress

As we move into this next week of vacation, my mind must begin thinking about RTI (it's still at the back of my mind right now though).  Don't vacations go too fast??  
We just finished our first cycle of RTI of the school year and have finished our universal screenings to see if those interventions had any effect on their reading skills.  The graph above is an important piece of data that we use in our RTI Decision Meetings.  Teachers keep data on each student for each intervention.  Goal lines are marked (red line) and then weekly data is plotted.  It is so important to have a goal line to measure the weekly data points against to check if enough progress is being made to reach your goal by the end of the cycle.  That is 10 weeks for Tier II and 12 weeks for Tier III.

Document and Track RTI progress

Getting students involved in the ownership of their learning can be a key piece too.  Students really like to measure how they are doing.  But it is important that this data is for them only.  They don't need to compare their success against another student who may learn at a different pace than they do.  I don't want them to feel defeated if their progress is slower than another student's progress.

Document and Track Student RTI progress

This is a great way for students to think about their RTI goals before and after the complete RTI.  The goal sheet and progress monitoring graphs can be kept in a folder or binder for the students to keep track of their progress.

Document and Track Student RTI Progress

I had been asked to create more RTI binders other than the kindergarten and first grade ones that I already made.  This one is for second grade.

Document and Track Student RTI Progress

If you click any of the pictures above or click here you can check out the Second Grade RTI Data Binder if you are needing help managing your data.  

Update:  The Third Grade RTI Data Binder with Graphs and Pages has been added!  Plus, if you need all the binders, you can get them K-3 in a bundle and save about 20% off!!

Manage and Organize RTI data by using data binders


Using RTI Data Binders to manage and organize RTI Data


Document and Track Student RTI Progress


Document and Track Student RTI progress


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with you family and friends! Today is my birthday- wow that came around fast!! 
Here's looking forward to a fabulous New Year in 2015!!

Fluency: Don't Be A Jet or A Turtle!


Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

I don't know about your students, but we always have some kiddos that just haven't clicked with fluent reading.  We intervene with this skill a lot in RtI.  I find that some have a misconception about what fluent reading really is though.  Fluency is about being able to read in a manner that improves your comprehension.  So I teach students not to try to read super fast like a jet plane, but not to be super slow like a turtle either!

Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

If you have not read Timothy Rasinski's book, The Fluent Reader, you need to get a copy!  He lays out a lot of different ways for building your students' fluency to help build their comprehension.  One idea that he gives about modeled reading is a staple of mine.  I use it all the time!  I model how a paragraph should sound to my reading group and then send them off to different corners of the room to practice that same paragraph out loud 3 times to try to sound like me.  When they are finished practicing, they come back to me and read that paragraph trying to sound like I did when I modeled it for them.  It has been the best way that I have found to improve their fluency.  It works wonderfully!  I do also teach students on phonics skills and how to attack multi-syllabic words that they are missing along with the modeled reading practice.  Both must be done to make good gains.

Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

A really fun way to get in this modeled reading practice is with task cards that you can use in your small groups or at a literacy center.  
Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

Students roll the voice cube and then practice reading the fluency task card in the voice they rolled!  They might use a booming Santa voice, sweet Mrs. Claus voice or even a squeaky elf voice!  After they practice reading their card in 3 different voices, they then do a quick sketch of what the card was about to demonstrate comprehension of what they read.

Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

Helping students to be aware of what they need to improve helps them to know what they should be working on to improve.  Rubrics help them with this skill.

Fluency is not about being super fast or too slow

If you are interested in these task cards, you can click on any of the pictures above or click here to see it.  It is such a fun way for students to practice on their fluency! 

A Few of My Favorite Things


I am so excited to be sharing some of my very favorite things with you, along with some bloggy friends of mine who are joining in too!  We have some GREAT things to share, so be sure to read to the end!


One of my most favorite things to do at this special time of year is to attend my church's Christmas program with my family!  We have some wonderfully gifted singers and musicians and this program is special every single year!  I love how it reminds us of the true reason we are celebrating and just gets the season off to a great start!


I also really enjoy going to Silver Dollar City at Christmas time to see all the Christmas lights at night!  Beautiful!


This is one of the treats being served at Silver Dollar City this year- apple dumpling and cinnamon ice cream!  Oh my...that really looks good!


I was supposed to choose my favorite restaurant to share with you all.  But that is so hard for me!  I like lots of different restaurants and it just depends on what I am in the mood to eat for what is my favorite.


So I choose Olive Garden because I just ate there with my school's faculty for our Christmas party.  


I love Olive Garden's salad!  I think I could make a meal on just that.  But I did order a main course- Smoked Mozzarella Chicken.  That was soooo good!!  I hadn't tried that one before and it is now my new favorite here!


My favorite beauty item right now is The Body Shop's Body Butter!  It is amazing!


My skin tends to get dry in the winter and I was having trouble finding something that worked and smelled good too.  My sister-in-law bought some of this for me and I have been a fan every since!


I have tried lots of different scents.  Some of my most favorite is cocoa butter and satsuma.  You get a nice amount of the body butter and works wonderfully to make you soft and smelling good!  If you read down far enough, you will find this treat below!

Now for our treat for you......


In celebration of A Few of My Favorite Things, my holiday products are 50% for this week only.  Click the picture or click here to be taken to my store.

Another treat for you....

Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things Oprah style, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:






7 winners for 7 prize packs!















Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends' favorite things:



a Rafflecopter giveaway