Friday, August 28

ESOL Resources for Any Classroom

Today, on the 8th day of school, I had a sub. I spent all day 45 minutes away in an ESOL PLC. That's another part of my job that I rarely talk about. In my district, I am the official lesson planner for the elementary ESOL paras. I decide what they will do with the kids each day and hope that the paras follow my plans when the kids are pulled out of class.

One of items on our agenda each time we meet for this PLC is to share resources, websites, and apps that might be helpful to other teachers, so my five for Friday will be featuring 5 (or more) of the resources shared this afternoon. Maybe you already know about all of these, but maybe there are some new-to-you resources in my list.

The good thing about ESOL strategies and resources is that they are very helpful for all students, not just the ELLs.

The first one I want to share is an app called News-O-Matic. I think I've actually heard of it before, but I've never really looked at it. It's basically an elementary version of Newsela, the site that takes current events and displays them at different reading levels. There is actually an Elementary Newsela, but that site doesn't go lower than a 3rd grade reading level.

News-O-Matic is a free app if you get the "home" version. There are actually 3 different ones, so you can choose the level that matches your kids. For my classroom, I would probably download the 1-2. I would like to try that app as one of my Listening/Technology center options. I love the idea of my second graders getting knowledge of the world by reading positive or intriguing current events. It's not overwhelming; it only gives 5 articles each day to view. I believe it will even read to you.

You've probably heard of BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr., but I had no idea that there is also a BrainPOP ESL. Of course, there's also an app that goes along with this website. This looks like a GREAT resource for all your grammar and language needs. You can see somethings free, just like with the other BrainPOP sites, but to access all the greatness of this site, you'd need to buy a subscription. is another resource that was shared this afternoon. On this site, you can search to find different skill and strategy lessons and informational and literary passages. For those of you that like to use the Close Reading strategy, this would be a great site to get strong passages. Best of all, it's free.

My fourth share is LearnZillion. I actually used some LearnZillion videos I found on Youtube last Spring during our poetry unit. The videos are informational. They have tons and tons of different topics and strategies. I think that its original intent is professional development, but it's worth so much more.

I had no idea that Reading A-Z has an ELL support. Reading A-Z is an amazing resource itself, so I imagine the ELL versions are great too. Online, you can see the different topics covered in each book/lesson. These lessons and books would be great to give to a para/aide to work with students. There are also worksheets and assessments. This resource even has reader's theater scripts to build fluency.

Well, what did you think? Read about anything new you might want to try? Let me know if you have any other great resources. Thanks for dropping by!

Have a GREAT weekend!
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Monday, August 24

Building Back 2 School: Reading Tools

For this week's link-up, I decided to talk about Reading centers in my classroom. Let's start with some organization and resources. I think I'm more organized this year than I ever have been in the past. Woot! Woot!

I have this small shelf next to my small group table. My husband made it for me. Here's how I filled it:

I use the hanging words for spot-the-vowel practice or practice reading words. Next to the hanging words, I blocked off part of my whiteboard:

I also have a table saved for Listening. I love my Listening sign {and table} this year. Each classroom gets three laptops. I usually use those. I have a CD/cassette player, too. You can kind of see in the picture below that I hang my headphones on Command Hooks on the wall behind the table.

Sometimes the kids listen to the basal story of the week or an article about a certain topic related to the story of the week. Sometimes they get to play sight word games on ABCya. Sometimes I download Youtube videos of books or informational clips.

The kids also have a word work station to visit each day. Sometimes they will have to do some sort of Spelling practice that goes with our Spelling curriculum. Other days they do some sort of sight word practice.

My district is a Pathways to Reading district, so that's how my small groups start at the beginning of the year. Once the kids work their way out of the "program," I switch them over to guided reading.

So, that's a little peek into my classroom during Reading centers. Students who aren't meeting with me, doing Word Work, or Listening might be meeting with the para/aide in my room, writing, or reading to themselves or with a buddy. I {sort of} implement Daily 5 in my room rather than centers.

I usually have a rotation schedule rather than letting them choose where to go next, because our Speech/Language, Sped, and Title kiddos are all pulled during this time, so I have certain stations that I prefer for them to miss.

Do your Reading centers look similar? Do you use Daily 5, or some version of it? I really enjoy reading about how other people make their Reading center time work in their classrooms.

I had a great first three days with my kids last week. I hope this week is even better as we slowly transition to a more normal routine. I'm ready for a normal routine! Luckily, we've had some good weather for outside play, and we've just about leveled up on our GoNoodle creature four times.

Have a GREAT week,
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Monday, August 17

Building Back 2 School: Language Tools

This week will be busy... and exhausting. Meet the Teacher night. First day with the kids. Yep! Here's to starting the year out strong!

Today, I'm linking up with Denise from #TeacherMom again to share some Language tools with you. This is a little tougher topic for me, because my original thought is what Language tools do I use that I can really talk about? Well, I use our basal's lessons to guide my topics and instruction. I also supplement those lessons with activities I've made or I've found in other fabulous teacher stores. What could I share about that, though?

Then, it hit me. This year, I decided to try a Word Study journal. I can talk about that!

I feel like second grade is all about word study, learning lots of new words and vocabulary as they move from ok readers to really good readers. We notice things about words all year. Second grade is like a transition in a relay race. We're moving from foundational skills to being able to really think and comprehend.

If you want to use a Word Study journal, you will need a notebook for each of your students. I personally prefer composition notebooks because the pages don't come out as easily. They're more sturdy. I like to hot glue a ribbon to the back cover that the kids can use as a bookmark. I also make sure to put a little piece of duct tape on the end of the ribbon so it doesn't fray.


Unfortunately, this will be my first year using a Word Study journal, so I don't have it all figured out. I have started pinning lots of great ideas and free resources to help me this year as I figure this notebook thing out with my kids. Yes, I will definitely give an update through the year to share how it's going. You can click on any of the pictures below to go to the resource links I've found so far.



Those are the types of activities that we will put in our notebooks as we study all the interesting things about the English language. If you have any tips or suggestions, I'd love to read them in the comments below! 

Denise, from #TeacherMom, loves to hold giveaways, too, so as part of this link-up, you will have lots of opportunities to win some awesome products. This week, I decided to offer the winner of my giveaway any product from my store BUT if my store makes it to 100 followers, I'll choose 2 winners AND if my blog also makes it to 100 followers, I'll choose a third winner! Yep, any product from my store. Your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, August 15

Five for {Woot! Woot!} Friday

Ok, my friends. Crazy week.

I'm officially back to school, as of Wednesday, so I absolutely have to participate in Doodle Bug's party and share five tasty tidbits with you. My first days were filled with lots of meetings and a few memorable activities.
First of all, I think it's very important to share with you who won my giveaway earlier this week. I really love reading the comments and ideas that you share. It really does make my heart smile, so I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated.

I'm so sorry it took me so long to announce the winner. Sasha won this super cute minion craftivity and my newest brag tag pack, which I absolutely LOVE, encouraging positive character traits.


I love having giveaways and sharing my products with other teachers. Even though my store has been up and running for two and a half years now, I'm still surprised every time I hear to alert or see the notification that someone felt one of my products was worth using in their classroom. I hope I never lose that feeling! :)
Like I said, we went back to school this week. We had three inservice days this week. We talked about typical back-to-school need-to-know information. We learned about the new subscription for everyone in the district. We traded in our iPads for mini iPads and learned about some new ideas to try with them. We listened to a speaker talk about rigor and relevance in lesson planning and worked on writing learning objectives from all the levels of Bloom's taxonomy. All these inservice lead to me to wonder...

What kind of inservice teacher are you? Do you try to keep yourself focused by taking notes and trying to pay attention or do you spend every moment possible off task and chatting with your neighbors? With cute notebook in hand, I'm the first kind.

I don't want to miss out on important information, and I want to be respectful to the presenter and other people around me. Do I sometimes feel it's hard to focus? Absolutely. Do I sometimes get bored with the presenter? Of course. I really think it's important to do whatever possible not to show it, though, and to be a good example to the student teachers and rookie teachers. Oy! It's disheartening when I see veteran teachers instilling bad listening habits in rookie teachers. We do well to practice those expectations we set in our own classrooms.

Here's an example of what I do when I try to stay focused during a less exciting inservice. I write my random thoughts on a post-it or napkin so I don't lose them and don't bother anyone nearby with starting a conversation.

Isn't it interesting that most inservices and professional development trainings do not present in an effective way? Does anyone else see the irony in lecturing us about lecturing as an ineffective teaching practice? Just saying. No worries, I was able to write down at least one important thing from each meeting.
This is a little clip from an activity our second day back to school. It's going to be one of our reading incentives this year, but the kids will get to team up and play. They're definitely want to meet their goals, let me tell ya!

Previewing the reading challenge incentive :) #partofthepride
Posted by Chad Schuetz on Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hungry, hungry humans. Enough said.
We are movie-watchers. Not as much in the theater anymore because it's so, so expensive. Some movies just require the big theater screen, though.

My husband and I went to see the newest Mission Impossible tonight. I'll be the first to say that I've never been on the Mission Impossible band wagon. I think they're ok movies, but they would never be a movie that I'd turn on during a work time, even just as background noise. We really enjoyed this movie though. No wonder it's getting such high ratings.

So, if you're looking for a movie to see, we definitely recommend Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.  Two thumbs up!
Finally, I just found out that I won the Orange Hop, hosted by several Florida teachers! Yay!

You know, it makes since that there are different types (or brands?) of oranges since there are all the different kinds of apples. I wonder if people living in orange growing areas know the taste differences in the different kinds of oranges, the way many people have taste preferences with apples. I don't know that I've ever tasted a Parson Brown orange.

I can't wait to do a little TPT shopping to find more useful resources to use in my classroom. There are so many amazing sellers and products on TPT. Isn't it great to have that platform to share our hard work with each other?

Have a good weekend!
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Tuesday, August 11

Must Read Tuesday: Fairy Tales

One time I read a post where a person was sharing their views on the unspoken "rules" of blogging. I was newer to blogging at that time, and I always remember that one of the rules was to only post once in a day. I don't know if that's still current, but I'm a rule follower, so I'm still following that rule.

Having so many awesome link-up parties happen on the same day sure does make things a little complicated, though. So, I'm participating in my first Must Read Monday a day late. That's ok, though, because it can still be a must-read even if it's on a Tuesday, right?

This particular Must Read Monday caught my attention, though, because of our lovely second grade standard that asks the kids to be able to "compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story."

I'm pretty proud of the fairy tale collection I've created in my class library. During the third nine weeks of school, we take a few weeks to do a fairy tale unit. Even though I already have quite a few fairy tales, I always like reading about other quality books to add to the collection.

You can never have too many books, right? Here's a few of my favorites...

In The Three Ninja Pigs, the pigs decide to take lessons to defend themselves against bullies.

The characters in Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella are all Bigfoots. The prince is looking for his wife, so he holds a festival. He wants to find a girl who is odoriferous, picks flowers, and has matted fur.

I always get a kick out of the fractured fairy tales that tell the villain's side of the story. Who knows? People constantly misunderstand each other in real life. Maybe the villain's intentions really were just misunderstood.

Cinder-Elly is a great modern retelling of Cinderella. It's set in New York City, but the prince charming is a basketball player, and the ball is a basketball game. Instead of a glass slipper, she loses her sneaker. All the typical Cinderella elements are there with a little modern twist.

I love The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot because, not only is it a fun retelling of the Three Little Pigs, it helps the kids learn a little more about the solar system. Bonus!


Must Read Monday is hosted by The Kindergarten Planet and The Kindergarten Connection. You should definitely hop on over and find some great modern fairy tales to add to your wishlist or class library, especially if you're a second grade teacher!

Oh, and don't forget about my giveaway. You only have one day left to enter. Don't delay!

Happy Tuesday!
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Monday, August 10

Building Back 2 School: Classroom Tools

Happy Monday!

Today I'm participating in Denise's second party, over at #TeacherMom, linking up to talk about tools we use in our classrooms.

I decided to focus on ClassDojo and brag tags as two of my important classroom tools. Last year, was the first year I tried either ClassDojo or brag tags.

I liked parents getting to the opportunity to see the positives of each day, not just being informed of the negatives. I liked having an easy way to contact parents or send a message to the whole class. ClassDojo does just that! I'm really looking forward to their update this year that will allow me to post pictures for the parents to see what's happening throughout our week. I don't really use any other social media, at this time, to communicate with parents or share pictures from our day, so I'm excited to have this private way of giving them a peek into our activities and learning.


Another change for me this year with ClassDojo will be incorporating money, an incentive for my students to earn cash to spend for special activities, privileges, and small prizes. I decided not to schedule specific times when the whole class can spend their money. (Do you think this is a rookie mistake?) Instead, I'm going to designate a time of day, like at the very end of the day, where a student can spend their money as soon as they have enough or decide to spend it. (I thought this would reduce the amount of time spent managing the store.)

I've also decided that I will reset their points at the end of the week. That's how I'll know how much each student earned that week and how I will decide who was the Dojo of the Week. I've even considered giving each student a "register" to keep track of their debits and credits, after we've learned to add and subtract with regrouping, of course.

Last year, I used brag tags and LOVED it. It took so much time to create, print, laminate, cut out, and distribute the tags, though that I've been trying to do a lot of that work up front this year. By the end of the year, I was unfortunately just giving them out once a month-ish. I want to do better this year with giving some out each week. (Take a look at my storage container from last year. Yikes, huh? Far less organized than my new one for this year, below!)

This year, I'm switching to necklace-sized chains. I'll still create special event/accomplishment tags throughout the year, but I've created lots of tags in advance that can be handed out every week. (Hopefully that will drastically reduce the amount of time spent creating them this year.) I've created birthday ones, spelling test ones, ClassDojo ones, positive behavior ones, and perfect attendance ones. (You can see them all in my store by clicking here or by clicking on the picture below. You'll definitely want to check out my free set!)

I'm ready and excited to start the year out right with brag tags and ClassDojo! I think they will help to engage my students, promote positive behavior, and create motivation to succeed.

As a part of Denise's party, I am giving away my newest set of brag tags: the character traits. It includes ten different positive character traits, thanks to wonderful clip art created by EduClips.

I'm also giving away one of my most popular products, right now, thanks to a movie that came out recently featuring some funny little yellow characters.

You can win both these prizes by checking out my rafflecopter below. I tried to create several ways for you to earn votes to win. Beware, though! The giveaway ends Wednesday morning, so don't delay if you are hoping to win these great back-to-school prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great week!
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