Short “a” Chain

As a reading teacher we always need fun ideas to keep our students interested and involved in the lesson. Since I teach first grade, we do a lot of reviewing at the beginning of the year on the alphabet. We also work on short vowels and the sounds they make. One activity I always enjoyed and the students enjoyed was the short “a” chain. I cut strips of paper about 2 inches wide. I make sure that I have several colors to choose from as well. Then I have students think of short “a” words (of course we have reviewed  these ahead of time). They write down their short “a” word and then we staple the strip so that it is a circle/chain. We link all the chains together to form one long chain. Then we hang them from the ceiling as decoration. The students love the activity and the decoration it adds to the classroom. What a fun and easy way to review!

Phonics Worksheets

I was searching for more phonics worksheets for my classroom warm-ups as well as extra homework support. I came across a great teacher site that has helpful and free printable worksheets. Everything from letter sounds to sight word worksheets. Not all of them are alike either. The activities vary to keep the children interested. It’s worth taking a peek at. Check out the link here.

Thanksgiving Day Crafts

Finding quick and cute crafts can be difficult. I’ve found and used these crafts through the years. The children love them and parents have memories that last through the years! Check them out!


Narrative Writing

As a first grade teacher, I teach narrative writing. There are a lot of elements that go along with narrative writing: dialogue, beginning, middle, end, time key words (first, next, last), illustrations, having a good beginning (One day… One hot morning…), problem, solution, details, etc. The list seems endless. I came across a great school website that has many great sources for not only narrative writing, but all genres. The link is Santa-Maria Bonita Schools. They have printable posters that are first grade friendly. Check them out!

What is RTI?

RTI stands for Response to Intervention. It is slowly making its way across the states. We were given the training just this year. It seems overwhelming and impossible at times, but it does seem to show gains and improvements in our students achievement and behavior.

Time? This seems to be the question everyone is asking. After speaking to the professionals at our training I got a better understanding of how and what should be done. The students that are struggling will be placed in small groups, what we often call safety net groups. They will see you approximately three times a week and should not exceed 5-6 students at a time. These students are considered tier 2. For example, you may see them Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for about 15 minutes. If that does not seem to be enough, you  one on one, you can up the student to tier 3 which is more intensive. That student will now see you not only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but also Thursday and Friday. You may spend more time with them and frequent group work activities. Tier 3 should not exceed more than 1-2 students at a time.

When? I have seen teachers do this first thing in the morning for 15 minutes (this is when I did it as well) or during science time. We are unable to use reader’s workshop, math workshop, or writing during this time. We are also not able to withhold them from recess, resource activities, or other school activities.

I had a very hard time with this new adjustment, but it does seem to be working. It takes much more planning and patience, but my once failing student is now passing with a C and we are only a few months into school. I’m hoping he can at least receive a B, however, a passing grade is nice too! Share your frustrations and concerns. Maybe we can all work together and share our ideas.

Teacher Discounts

I found this incredible website with discounts, promo codes, and other items listed for teachers. Some of the coupons can be printed and used and restaurants, stores, and other retailers. Check out the website below!

Scholastic Books

I sent out my first Scholastic book catalog to my students about 2 weeks ago. When I received all the orders I went ahead and put in the orders with Scholastic. I noticed they made some changes and wonderful upgrades. Once I placed my order, I received an email shortly after listing and stating the books I had just ordered. Guess what? I also found out that they will waive the shipping fee for orders less than $20. They also gave me free $10 to spend for every catalog that I ordered from that was over $20. I thought that was a lot. They also tripled my points and I received my order in a much shorter amount of time. I usually had to wait several weeks to get my order. I received my shipment within a week. Talk about some serious changes that were made. If any of you teachers out there completed a survey for Scholastic, thank you! Your advice was taken seriously and made a huge difference in my first order!

Running Record Sheet

Sometimes teachers just need a quick running record sheet to see if a student has moved up in their reading level. Normally we don’t DRA a child but twice a year. When I am short on time and want to check a students reading level, I simply use a running record. I have created a quick sheet to refer to and use when testing reading levels. Download it here.

Social Studies: Our Community

I came across a very cool social studies website called Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids. It has various links on it. It also has a map if a community (fire station, hospital, etc.). Kids can click on the buildings and Ben explains what they are and why they are apart of our community. This is definitely for the primary grades, but there are also tabs at the top of the page that are organized by grade level. My kids got a kick out of it. I also came across Kids Bank. This is great for not only social studies, but  math as well. It teaches children why saving is important ( a standard listed in our social studies curriculum). We have used these websites on our smart board as well as projecting it from my computer on the overhead screen. Check out both links below.

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

Kids Bank

Word of the Week

I started something new. I decided that children are never too early to learn new words. Why speak to them using a small vocabulary? They are quite capable of learning the same things we do as adults. I put up a new word each and every week. I tell students that if they use the word in their everyday vocabulary and writing, that I will reward them. We go over it everyday. I have a student pronounce it and another tell me what it means. By talking about it everyday, they are more likely to use it. Why not widen their vocabulary at six so by the time they are adults they have an extensive vocabulary?