Saturday, July 23, 2016

Simple STEPS for How to Find MAIN IDEA

FREEBIE: how to find main idea

I have always LOVED teaching main idea, and I'm not really sure why because I find that it is one of the MOST DIFFICULT reading comprehension skills to teach.

Over the years I have played around with various strategies... attempting to find that perfect main idea teaching formula.

To help my students connect better with main idea, I explain to them that finding the main idea is like walking up stairs.  

You have to take it one step at a time.
Main idea freebie.

Here are my very simple steps for how to find the main idea of a text:

Before you read:
  • Read the title.
  • What is the text about?
  • What is the topic?

During the reading:
  • Look for and carefully read the text features.
  • Is the text fiction... nonfiction... ????
  • Look for information, words, and pictures that are repeated throughout the text.

After you read:
  • Think about the most important point of the topic.
  • What details or examples back up and support the main idea?

Please click here to get your free main idea resources.

If you try this with your kiddos, I would LOVE to hear about it!

Best wishes!
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

FREE Teal Dots Blog Design Elements!!

Teal Dots Blog Design Elements

Does your educational blog or website need a little sprucing up?? Or, would you like to design your own teacher blog?   

Would you like to do it for FREE?

...well if you LOVE the colors teal and melon...

I can't wait to share this FREE TEAL DOT BLOG DESIGN with you today!  

First of all, you need to know that this FREEBIE won't be available for FREE for very long, so you might want to grab it while you can.

I am so excited about these new blog design elements.  

You will find polka dots, stripes, chevron, hearts, ruffles... and MORE!

Teal Blog Headers FREE

This 64 piece design kit comes with the following:

  • 4 blog headers
  • 32 blog buttons
  • 11 social media buttons
  • 5 blank banners
  • 2 photo frames
  • 2 enter email bars
  • 3 search bars
  • 1 text field
  • 1 ruffle border
  • 1 heart shaped flower accent
  • 1 heart line divider
  • 1 video play graphic
FREE blog elements graphics

Click here to download the FREE Teal Dots Blog Elements Kit.  

NOTE:  Please understand that this resource only includes the blog design elements and graphics for you to add to put together a new blog or redesign your current blog.  It does not include the HTML coding. 

FREE Teal Polka Dots Blog Design

Best wishes!!

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

FREE Blogging Workshop for TEACHERS from Charity Preston

FREE Blogging Workshop for Teachers

Hey fellow teacher bloggers and TpT entrepreneurs...

I am super excited to share this amazing and FREE workshop opportunity with you.

Charity Preston, from Teaching Blog Traffic School, is hosting a FREE Teacher Blog Calendaring Workshop.

Charity is even giving away the templates for planning!  So happy about this!!

This free workshop is sure to be a game-changer...

  • Schedule blog posts to save time and earn maximum $$ money $$
  • Discover just WHO we should reach out to while blogging
  • Answer a HUGE QUESTION FOR EVERYONE: Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups... WHICH IS BETTER?
  • Secret system to pulling it all together

Don't miss out!  Click here to claim your seat.

I will surely be reporting out again with my fabulous discoveries!!!

Happy blogging!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Billboard Frame FREEBIE for Teachers!

free clipart for teachers

Time for another TEACHER FREEBIE!

Just about everyone LOVES things that are pretty to look at...and our students are no different.

I enjoy adding creative frames and borders to my games, activities, handouts, centers and anchor charts to draw attention to what is most important.

So, not only is it creative and nice to look at, but it also focuses on what I want students to learn and understand.

This is my newest clipart FREEBIE (for now :) ) BILLBOARD FRAMES!

These billboard frames are super fun because they use the idea of a brightly lit billboard with a chalkboard style in the center.  

Click here to get your FREE Billboard Frame graphics. 

You will find five detailed frames to add to your own educational resources and classroom design.

If you are a Teachers Pay Teachers seller, these graphics are fine to use for commercial use, but please read and follow the Terms of Use that is included in the download.

Now that you have the freebie in hand, here is another set of billboard frames I created, but this time the graphics are accented with adorable owls:

Owl frames for teachers

Enjoy your FREEBIE and best wishes!
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Friday, June 24, 2016

FREE Journal Prompts & Writing Checklist


These FREE journal prompts are a great little freebie if you are looking for new writing topics for your students.

You can very simply add these writing prompts to your classroom writing center or station, and they are a fabulous way to spark your student's writing creativity!!

There is an additional free resource that is included in this download.  It comes with a Story Writing Checklist that can either be added to your student's writing journal or displayed in your classroom!!

Writing can be one of the most rewarding subjects to teach, and it can sometimes be one of the most difficult subjects to teach.

I am always looking for new strategies and techniques to teach and inspire writing.

If you are like me and are looking for some new writing tools, check out the links below:

I would LOVE to hear how you come up with new ideas for journal topics.

Best wishes!
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FREE Fluency Progress Monitoring Forms

Most educators are aware of the fact that our students must become fluent readers to be able to deeply comprehend the text.

We also know that keeping up with fluency progress is a must with students that are struggling in this area.

I have some FREE fluency progress monitoring tools for you today, but let's back up just a bit.  

If a student repeatedly has to sound out words, stumble over common sight words, and pick apart grade level appropriate words... will they be able to comprehend what they are reading?

The answer is likely a big fat NO.  

Tracking the speed and accuracy of reading fluency seems to be the "go-to" for many teachers....

So now, if your student is able to smoothly read grade level appropriate words at an acceptable rate, what else should we consider when working on reading fluency?


Reading prosody can simply be defined as expression and phrasing that contributes to meaning while reading aloud.

Here are my top five questions I ask when I am observing reading prosody in a student:

  • Did the student's inflection reflect the punctuation of the text?
  • Did the student use appropriate vocal tones to show happiness, fear, confusion, etc. while reading a narrative text?
  • Did the student place an emphasis on certain words when necessary?
  • Did the student's voice rise and fall periodically while reading?
  • Did the student pause at appropriate times to show meaning?

FREE Progress Monitoring Forms for Fluency ~

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on fluency assessment and interventions. 

Best wishes!

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

FREE Clipart for Teachers! 78 Pieces!!

Graphics for teachers

FREE Clipart for TEACHERS and students too!!

Here in Texas, today is the first day OUT OF SCHOOL for most teachers and students!!  YEA!

To celebrate, I have a huge BUNDLE of school supplies just for you. There are 78 bright and NEON graphics in this freebie.

This FREE clipart set includes:

  • composition books
  • spiral notebooks
  • box of crayons
  • crayons
  • highlighters
  • markers
  • paper clips
  • pencils
  • pens
  • sticky notes
  • glue
  • erasers
  • scissors
  • pencil bags

Best wishes!

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Watermelon Teacher FREEBIE!!

summer clipart

Summer is right around the corner.  I seriously can't believe it!!

Because I am so excited about the upcoming season, I created some fun new clipart... inspired by WATERMELON!

I LOVE pink and mint green!!

I am giving away 12 FREE watermelon digital papers. 

Watermelon papers

Ten of the papers have fun prints that are ready to see summer, and two of the digital papers have built in borders to save you time!!!  :)

free summer clipart

To get your FREE pink and mint green watermelon papers, please click here or on the graphic above.

If you are inspired by the these fun and festive graphics, you might want to take a look at my Watermelon Seller's Kit.  

The full-product Watermelon Clipart BUNDLE includes 51 graphics:

  • clipart
  • buntings
  • banners
  • frames
  • borders
  • digital papers

Summer Clipart

Best wishes!

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Friday, May 6, 2016

7 Steps for Teaching Word Families & Reading FREEBIE

free phonics

I got my start teaching in first grade, so I definitely understand the importance of teaching word families.

Teaching students how to actively use word family knowledge is a reading strategy that will help students to read unknown words. that every student needs to have in their reading tool chest. 

Through modeling, guided instruction, and independent practice, your students will be able to identify word families and apply that understanding to read unfamiliar words.

Below are 7 simple steps for teaching word families in the classroom:

1.  Start with one syllable words that can be broken down by the onset and rime.

Onset:  consonant or consonant cluster found at the beginning of a word

Rime: usually a vowel and a consonant that is found at the end of the word

Example:  clap:  cl (onset) /ap (rime)

2.  When you first teach word families, begin with one word family at a time.  If you teach kindergarten or first grade, you may want to introduce a new word family each week.  More advanced students will benefit from a mix of word families.

3.  Because you are teaching your students to see patterns in words and make analogies, you will want to draw this to their attention. Decide which word family you will begin with.  I usually begin with -at. Use a picture book that models words with -at. Before reading, explain to students that you will be looking for words with the word family -at.

4.  Use an anchor chart and write the word family at the top, I am going to use -at as an example.  As you are reading, stop and model for students that you notice a word is in the -at word family.  Write the word on the anchor chart.  Stop, discuss, and write down any other -at words while reading.

5.  After reading the picture book, use a white board and write the -at word from the book... "flat". Explain to students that the word flat is in the -at word family.  Model for them how easy it is to change the first letter to make new words.  Place a good amount of emphasis on the sounds the letters make.


6.  Go back to the word family anchor chart.  Have students engage and give you examples of other words that fit into that word family. Have students write the words on the anchor chart.  

word families

7.  After you have introduced at least one word family from each vowel, you will want to start having students practice them together.  FREEBIE for YOU.

how to teach word families

My word family FREEBIE:  Shake-a-Word Mini Download includes the following:
  • Common Word Family Chart
  • Shake-a-Word printable 
  • Is it a Real WORD? printable / anchor chart

teaching word families

Students need to have fun and play with words!

If the word family freebie is a good fit for your classroom, click here or on the graphic above to access the full-product download.

Best wishes!
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Monday, April 4, 2016

4 Fabulous Fun Spring FREEBIES


Spring is such a FUN time of the year for teaching and for learning! beginnings, new ideas, new concepts, new growth, FREEBIES!

I have 4 FUN and FABULOUS Spring FREEBIES for you today.  Yea!!

FREEBIE Reading resources for Spring

1.  Reading Foldable... to get your kids predicting, wondering, inferring and questioning the text.

reading resources for Spring

2.  Book Response Printable... for practicing story elements: characters, setting, problem & solution.

free writing prompts for spring

3.  Spring Writing Prompts... to encourage your students to think, respond, and write.

4.  Expository Writing Prompt Paper: Would you rather actually plant trees to help the environment, or donate money?  Why?

Click here to get your FREE Spring Reading & ELA resources, or click on the graphic below.

spring freebies

If these Spring FREEBIES are a good fit for you and your students, take a look at my newest Spring resource.  

The Spring Reading & ELA BUNDLE includes 202 pages of fun and learning!!  It covers the following concepts, skills, and strategies:

  • story elements
  • questioning the text
  • making connections to text
  • visualization
  • cause & effect
  • problem & solution
  • beginning, middle & end
  • comparing characters
  • respond to a story / text
  • sequence
  • fact & opinion
  • categorizing information
  • organizing your thinking
  • vocabulary
  • nonfiction research
  • manipulating words / word study
  • spelling
  • editing writing
  • parts of speech
  • grammar
  • adjectives
  • verbs
  • nouns
  • acrostic poems
  • journal writing
  • responding to a writing prompt
  • narrative writing
  • persuasive writing
  • expository writing
  • creative writing

Spring and Summer Reading

Best wishes!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FREE Resources for Fact & Opinion

Fact and opinion is one of those concepts that I honestly never spent that much time teaching. 

Basically, I would spend a couple of class periods on it and then move just never seemed like that big of a deal.

A few years ago I went to a really cool summer reading conference and the presenter shared with us how students must be able to distinguish between fact and opinion, as well as claim their own facts and opinions on a topic...if they want to be able to truly analyze the text.  

So after listening to the presenter, I did a little of my own research in several professional resources, (and yup...Google!) and here is what an elementary student needs to be able to do with fact and opinion:

  • understand the definition of both fact and opinion
  • distinguish between a fact and an opinion
  • analyze the text based on the topic facts and opinions of the author
  • understand the author's perspective
  • understand the character's perspective
  • interpret both facts and opinions

Being able to correctly identify and distinguish between fact and opinion will help students to improve their overall reading comprehension skills.

FACT:  something done or said in the past or present; it can be proven

OPINION:  a belief, opinion or idea

The Fact & Opinion FREEBIE comes with the following resources:
  • Fact & Opinion anchor chart
  • Fact & Opinion Organizer
  • Fact & Opinion Pictures: Ice Cream

Please click here, or on the graphic below to get your FREE fact and opinion resources.

If the FREE resource is a good fit for your classroom, I also have a full-product resource that you may be interested:  Fact & Opinion Flower Power!

The 81 page Fact & Opinion Flower Power Kit  comes with the following reading resources:
  • Fact & Opinion anchor chart / poster
  • Fact & Opinion organizer that can be used for both fiction and nonfiction
  • Fact & Opinion Pictures center activities:
    • Ice Cream
    • Apple
    • Fish
    • Tree
    • Basketball
    • Snowman
    • Toothbrush
    • Sunflower
    • Donut
    • Mailbox
    • Blank to add your own
  • Is That A Fact? Cut & glue activities:
    • Lunchroom version
    • Flower version
    • Playground version
  • 4 Square Fact Chart
  • 4 Square Opinion Chart
  • Understanding the Difference Between Fact & Opinion activity
  • Card game:  What's the Difference?
  • Fact or Opinion Card Game ~ Flower Power Edition
  • Fact or Opinion Cards ~ Lunchroom Edition
  • Fact & Opinion Key Words
  • 3 Multiple choice assessments with answer keys

What is your favorite strategy for teaching fact and opinion?

Best wishes!

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Strategies for Smooth BLENDING While Reading & FREEBIE

how to read smoothly

Happy Thursday!  I am excited to share my latest FREEBIE with you. 

BLENDING TRAINS for Smooth Blending and Word Reading.  This free resource was designed to explicitly teach your student to blend words smoothly without stopping or pausing.  

So what is blending?
Blending is the ability to smoothly and seamlessly combine individual sounds (phonemes) together to form words.  While some kiddos pick up on this skill with ease, a majority of students struggle with blending and this causes a negative effect on accessing meaning while decoding words.

What is the big deal about blending?
To blend words smoothly, you sound out a word like /ccclllaaappp/ instead of making the sounds in a choppy way /c/ /l/ /a/ /p/.  When sounding words smoothly, students will blend the letter sounds without pausing, and are able to access meaning as they decode the words.  In fact, your students can practice this skill by taking a deep breath before they sound out the word.  It may be helpful to tell students to "blend or stretch" a word instead of telling them to sound out the word.

how to read smoothly young students

How can I tell if my student isn't reading smoothly?
Students that aren't able to read smoothly will continue to read in a choppy manner.  They will struggle with putting all of the sounds together and to say the word with fluidity.  When they continue to pause while reading a word, they may forget the individual sounds by the time they read the word or say a word that doesn't make sense. If you have ever heard a student read a word... /b/ /a/ /r/ /k/ and then after making the sounds correctly they say the word as /barn/, they may not be blending smoothly.  This will prevent them from being able to combine the sounds into a word correctly.  Typically, they can say the sounds in isolation, but struggle with putting the sounds together in a smooth manner.

What if my student doesn't blend sounds smoothly?
If your student doesn't learn to blend the sounds of a word smoothly, it will be difficult for them to develop as a proficient reader.  The student will continue to read with choppy pauses between the words. A student's phonological processing and fluency will be compromised if they do not learn how to blend words smoothly.

Do I have to explicitly teach blending to my students?
Yes, direct instruction may be needed here!  Many students need to be explicitly taught how to blend words smoothly without choppy pauses. Some students are able to pick up on this skill quickly, white others need additional modeling, explicit instruction, and repeated practice. Without this important skill, your student may not be able to move forward and make progress as a reader.

choppy reading strategies

What can I do to help my student blend smoothly?
Model for your students how to blend a word without stopping between individual sounds.  After modeling, have students practice with you, and again while reading at the guided reading table or during independent reading time.  If you have a family curriculum night on your campus, it might be a good idea to model this for your parents so they can work with their kiddos at home.  Many parents do not understand about the necessity of blending words smoothly.  If you notice a student pausing between sounds, please encourage them to stop.  This may become a habit, and it can be a very difficult one to break. 

So..... I created this fun little resource with a train design and bright colors.  You will LOVE it because it can be used in a literacy center, small group instruction, guided reading mini-lesson, intervention RTI group, or for individual student practice.

strategies for reading smoothly

Differentiation will be a snap!  You will find three different levels of support to meet the needs of all of your students.  Multiple learning styles are addressed with this hands-on literacy activity.

  • Version 1: Blending Train with word.  Students will blend the sounds smoothly as they move their finger along the arrow.
  • Version 2: Blending Train with word and picture support.  Having the picture will support the student in being able to make the sounds of the word.  This is also helpful in a literacy center, independent practice, or to go home for extra work.
  • Version 3: Blending Train with picture support and no words (phonemic awareness skill).  If your student is continuing to struggle with blending sounds smoothly, back up the skill.  Take away the word and use the pictures only.

freebie phonics activities and strategies

In addition to the FREE blending resource, I also have a full-product version.  It is 76 pages long and includes the following:
  • 162 Blending Trains for Smooth Blending
  • Includes 3 levels of reading support for phonics and phonemic awareness
  • Information on why and how to teach smooth blending
  • Activities, tips, and interventions to do if your students are still struggling with smooth blending
  • Blending Train handout for students that are ready to move to the next step
  • Blending Train center activity

reading game blending trains

 Best wishes!
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