Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Real News ~ Really Interesting and Straight from the Smithsonian!

Last summer, I got to go on a fabulous trip to Washington, D.C. with my husband and two sons. Spending time in the Smithsonian was one of the highlights of our vacation.  It made me very aware of what a national treasure the Smithsonian really is!

I recently found out about TTribune, a free service that the Smithsonian is offering to all K - 12 teachers and students.    

This site provides a wealth of informational text.  Each day, TTribune searches a variety of reliable news sources for grade-appropriate stories. Lexile levels are offered for many of the articles.  

The picture below shows a sketch of an underground playground that a group has proposed to build in Manhattan. The essential question of this article is: Would you want to play in an underground park?  What a great discussion starter this article would be!

My kids would just love this one . . . Passengers were recently asked to help push an airplane because the tires were frozen to the ground.  Fascinating!

Who wouldn't want to ride on a cushion of air?  I can't wait to share this breaking story about advances in hoverboarding!

There is truly something for everyone here.  

Click here or on any of the pictures to check out this free service.  It's well worth exploring!

Thanks for stopping by!  :) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy) 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adding a little "extra magic" to Christmas read alouds

What an exciting time of year!  One of my favorite parts about the season is sharing favorite holiday books with kids.  

Here's a simple idea that makes it even more fun . . . 

Collect your favorite holiday books and wrap them up.  I like to use recycled wrapping paper or place them in reusable gift bags. 

When it's time for a read aloud, let a child pick a "present" to open.

To add a little more fun, have the books magically appear and act surprised when you and the kids find them.  

If I especially want to read a certain book, I will have it "appear" on the easel - fully wrapped and ready to open and read. 

I hope your kids enjoy this simple idea if you decide to give it a try.  Happy Holidays!

:) Anne

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Comparing Numbers in Kindergarten

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd like to welcome my very first guest blogger, Susan, from Teaching Doodles.

Marhaba ~ Welcome from the United Arab Emirates!  I’m Susan from Teaching Doodles.

I am super excited to share with you an interactive math activity I used recently with my kindergarten students.  Although we do not use the Common Core over here, this activity still connects to Counting and Cardinality for kindergarten – comparing numbers K.CC.C.6.  I found this idea on Pinterest and modified it for a whole class lesson.  See the original pin here.
Provide each of your kiddos with a sorting mat.  The ones we used were simply  a 3 x 2 table.  Feel free to use a larger or smaller table based on your class needs.   You can see a sample of the mats we used in  the pictures below.  
Next, each student gets 8 counters (4 of one color and 4 of another).  We used 4 blue and 4 yellow but use whatever color you like.  I put the same number and color of counters into a small drawstring bag.
If you're lucky enough to have an interactive whiteboard, create the same table on your board.  
Now we’re ready to play!
1.Draw a counter from the bag.  Students place the same color on their mat.
2.Draw another counter.  Students will place on their mat.  Repeat drawing counters until the mat is full.
3. Students rearrange their counters so one color is on top and one is on the bottom.  (I found this difficult for my class  to do.  The second time we sorted the colors as we played).
4. Hold a class discussion to find out greater than, less than, and equal to by counting or matching the counters.  

I hope your class enjoys this quick and easy activity!  
Stop by my blog, Teaching Doodles,  and let me know if you try it.   
I'd love to hear your feedback!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Free Complete the Equation Task Cards

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thinking of all the things I have to be grateful for this year and am truly overwhelmed.  

Among the many blessings, my 20 year old son has developed an interest in creating iPad apps for some of the educational materials I create.  It's really special for me to be able to work side by side with him - and then to see materials I create come to life on an iPad. 

As a show of my appreciation for those of you who stop by this little blog, I am making my Complete the Equation Task card set (regularly $4) free from Nov. 26  - Nov. 30, 2014.  

This packet is designed to help students build fluency with addition and subtraction facts while also mastering Common Core Standard 1.OA.D.8: Determine the unknown number in addition or subtraction sentences relating three whole numbers. 

I find that students need scaffolded experiences to develop this skill.  This pack includes 144 equation cards than can be used for partner work and/or Scoot games.  The cards are presented in order of increasing complexity.  The following levels are included in this game: 

Addition within 10
Subtraction within 10
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 10
Addition within 20
Subtraction within 20
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 20 

A few screen shots of this item follow.  I like all the support I can get keeping materials organized, so each level and the corresponding answer sheet have a matching black and white (ink saving) background.  Click here or on any of the following set of images to download this item for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop. 


My son, Keith, has the first level of his Complete the Equation app as a forever free item on the iTunes store. We found this to be an interesting app to design. After considering several options for having kids input numbers, we decided to provide input (answer) boxes along each side of the screen.  

The stars below the equation display the number of correct and incorrect responses on each level.  If you decide to download this app, we'd love to hear your thoughts on these design features. 
Click here or on one of the screen shots below to access the free version on iTunes. (The first level is free. The full version, including 6 levels, is available for $1.99.) 

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I wish you the happiest of holidays!

:) Anne Gardner

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Parent Letters ~ Using You Tube Videos to Help Kids Learn Fry Words

This year, our school has adopted the Fry Words.  Parent conferences start this week, and I have been brainstorming tips to share with parents as they support their child's learning at home. 

I considered sending flashcards and games with my students, but that would be A LOT of flashcards. I have a hard time keeping track of them all, so I figured parents might also struggle to keep the sets organized.   

I recently found a few simple videos of the Fry Words on YouTube, and decided to send a letter pointing parents to these videos and sharing a couple simple ways to use them to support their child's learning. 

I'll be interested to see how this works for families.  If you'd like to take a look at these letters, you can download them by clicking on the pictures below.  The first parent letter focuses on helping kids learn the 1st 100 Fry Words. 

The second parent letter is very similar, but focuses on helping students learn Fry Words 1 - 300. 

If you decide to download these and take a look, I'd appreciate any thoughts/suggestions you have regarding them. 

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

:) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Have you seen Oxford Owl ~ They are offering over 250 free eBooks!

I have been searching for sites that offer high quality eBooks that students can read both in the classroom and at home. 

I recently came across Oxford Owl.  Have you seen this site? It currently offers 250 eBooks on a wide variety of topics. These books range from early emergent texts to books at the second grade level. There's a great mix of literary and informational texts.  

Here are a couple samples pages from an emergent text:

Here are some sample pages from a higher level informational book:

This collection of 250 tablet-friendly books is completely free!  All you have to do is go to the site and register.  To get started, click here

Some of these books would be great to project on a SmartBoard and share as read alouds. I'm also thinking this is an amazing collection of texts for independent reading, both at home and at school. 

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do.  Thanks for stopping by!

:) Anne

Planning for RtI Groups in the Primary Grades

I hope your school year is off to a super start! I've been thinking over how to format my plans for First Grade RtI groups. I am lucky to have a Leveled Literacy Intervention Kit (from Fountas and Pinnell), so I have plenty of great books to work with. 

The Leveled Literacy program provides a really solid lesson structure. Even when I'm not using these materials, I like to keep the lesson structure in mind. 

Here's a quick summary.  Lessons are divided into Odd and Even days. 

During each Odd Lesson:
*Students reread text from previous lessons while the teacher supports fluency, comprehension and accuracy. (5 minutes)
*The teacher states a phonics principle and leads the group in an activity that supports students' understanding of the principle. (5 minutes)
*A new book is introduced. This book is "at the cutting edge" of the child's instructional level. Teacher problem solves any parts that would likely be tricky for students - and then supports students as they independently whisper read the text. The group discusses the text. (10 - 15 minutes)
*If time allows, the teacher reinforces a needed phonics or word work skill. (5 minutes)

During each Even Lesson:
*Students reread text from previous lessons. As they read, the teacher takes a running record of one of the students' reading.  (5 minutes)
*The teacher states a phonics principle and leads the group in an activity that supports students' understanding of the principle. (5 minutes)
*The group writes about the text from the prior lesson. Depending on the goal for the day, this can include dictated writing, interactive writing and/or independent writing. (10 minutes)
*A new book is introduced. This text will generally be one level below the text from the Odd  Lesson.  Students should experience success fluently reading this new text. (5 - 10 minutes)
*If time allows, a phonics skill is reinforced. (5 minutes)

I just created a lesson plan format for the two day sequence of lessons.  I included a space for 3 students' names and left room to jot notes about each students' strengths and needs.  If you would like to download this form as a PDF, click here


I'm thinking this form will make it easier for me to mentally connect the two lessons, which are based on the text from the odd lesson.  Even if I didn't have the LLI kit, I thought this format might provide "food for thought" so I decided to post it here.  (If you have any trouble downloading this, feel free to email me at Annegardner4@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send you a copy.)

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  :) Anne