Technology and Writing {Celebrations}

October 26, 2014
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Tellagami allows you to record for 30 seconds on the free app. They love seeing the animated character.

Celebrating my learning from the Digital Literacy Workshop last Saturday. Thank you to Ruth Ayres, Colby Sharp, Franki Sibberson, and Bill Blass.

As a Title I teacher, working with small intervention groups, I have not incorporated much technology into groups. This week, my students were introduced to two apps. Although I’m still fumbling with the technology, their energy for improvement has increased. My spirit was lifted. I was bubbling with joy. My students were proud of their hard work. My goal in using technology is to increase my students’ motivation for persevering through the hard. No, I don’t have it all figured out, but the little I did, have my kids asking for more.

Tellagami app is a favorite. We work on fluency frequently and the children are more than willing to reread for fluency when they know they will be recording on the Tellagami app.

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The children alternated writing their sentences on the iPad app, Primary Writer, while also practicing in their notebooks. Simple but energizing.

Primary Writer is the other app bringing enthusiasm to learning.


The Teachers’ Lounge

October 20, 2014

Kids wonder what happens when teachers get together. They pass by the room with the sign Teachers’ Lounge and try to peek. Jerry Pallotta portrays adventurous activities for teacher relief in What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge. Wouldn’t it be fun to walk through the forest during lunch time? As I reread the book, I noticed Howard McWilliam gave some clues from the paintings on the wall. Several match the adventures the teachers have.

After reading the book, kids could draw and write what might be happening in the teachers’ lounge. It would be fun to hear what they think.

Below is a video of the book, narrated by a student. The quality is good. It definitely gives you a preview of the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for What I Saw in the Teachers’ Lounge:

  • Wonderment – what is happening?
  • Interjection – Yikes
  • Sentence Structure – simple text as well as complex sentences with clauses
  • Plural possessive
  • Magic of 3

Little Red Writing

October 13, 2014
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub is a must-have book to encourage narrative writing in young children. From the beginning, my attention was captured. Like a mystery, clues are interspersed throughout the story. Melissa Sweet’s  mixture of fonts, mediums, and cartoon frames create added action and intensity to a rather predictable fairy tale.  As a mentor text, you will be able to teach story elements while Little Red is exploring her story. As a fractured fairy tale, this book creates a great compare/contrast lesson with the actual fairy tale. It is an example of how children can also gain ideas for their own stories from books.

The play on words is brilliant. Each scene, short but with depth, creates the opportunity for discussion about narrative basics, tension, balanced description, and focus. The element of surprise brings a twist to a rather known fairy tale.

Little RedI must say, I wondered if Ruth Ayres had collaborated with Joan Holub. At the end, Little Red’s teacher encourages her to “Write On!”, a phrase I hear Ruth extending to us all.

Have fun reading this tale!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Little Red Writing:

  • Story elements
  • Idioms
  • Types of genre on the same subject
  • Compare/Contrast texts
  • Vocabulary


My Assistant {SOL}

July 1, 2014
Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

For the past three summers, my youngest son has been my assistant during summer school. Tim doesn’t have any extra training; he’s just a young man who is willing to help. His first year of helping, I modeled how to catch the kids acting appropriately. I remember hearing him stop mid-sentence, “Tom, stop ta…. I notice how Sam is standing quietly with his voice off. I notice Sally with her eyes on me.” After class that day, Tim said, “Hey, catching them being good really works.”

I finished teaching kindergarten two weeks ago and wouldn’t have survived without Tim. My hat is off to kindergarten teachers. These kids are inquisitive, attention-seeking, and energetic. During a read a loud, the kids would be captivated, participated, and definitely cheered for more. We had fun.

The kids loved having Tim's full attention.

The kids loved having Tim’s full attention.

During small group instruction, Tim would circulate among the students who were reading independently from their book bags. He doesn’t know any specific strategy except for listening. Tim would ask them questions and encourage each on a job well done. He also helped keep the kids focused. I loved capturing him one morning listening in. I wish I had Tim during the school year, to be a live audience and respond positively to the efforts each kid makes. Does he plan to be a teacher some day? Maybe not the professional kind, but he’s definitely learning the life lesson of assisting others.

Field Day {Celebrations}

May 31, 2014

End of the year is approaching, only 3 days left. Field day is scheduled on Monday. The kids love it. The activities experienced will culminate the community of the class.

I experienced field day yesterday. Yep, from three to five o’clock several teachers stayed after to participate in team competition in honor of our school that is being demolished (okay, only two wings are going to be torn down for this summer while the new school is being built.) We had a picture scavenger hunt, locating areas from the older parts of the building. (I didn’t know our school’s first graduating class was in the year 1902.)

A water balloon toss was next. I failed terribly, but the cool water was refreshing. The egg toss was next. My partner and I survived the longest with 15 tosses. (I told Bill to share with my oldest son that I can actually catch.) A corn hole toss landed us near the top. The winning team was allowed to duck tape our new principal to the wall. A cook out picnic was shared with great stories. Laughing was heard all over!!

In the midst of long to-do lists, end-of-the-year reports, and packing, I found delight, laughter, and joy with close colleagues. It was the best field day ever!


Downsizing {SOL}

January 28, 2014

Let me introduce you to the work I have been doing the past several days.

I have been downsizing. Yep, I have been reviewing binders, folders, lessons so neatly tucked away in file cabinets and shelves. Why? You ask. Besides the fact that I have collected lessons and articles and notes for the past twenty years. Besides the fact that my job description has changed the past few years. The fact is I have to! You see our current school building is old and has been renovated and repaired many times. It is now time for a new building. (Rejoice! Yippee! :)) That’s how I felt – excited about a new place, a more modern atmosphere, updates all around. That’s how I felt … Until I learned that my teaching space would be reduced greatly in the new building. Without boring you with details, I will say that I am found peace in my anticipated new school. I will find places for my books AND the Title I resources. I just have to make adjustments.


I am making space by downsizing materials. I actually have been enjoying going through lessons, pulling double sets of handouts or duplicate lessons. I have learned to rely on my computer files and don’t have to have a paper copy. And transparencies- please, so ancient (I can’t believe I having just verbalized my thinking). By downsizing, I am being proactive (my one little word for the year). I am freeing up space for the important things – my books!!!


Thank you, snow, for the extra time off. I have been working diligently, downsizing. 🙂

SOL: Sleep is Good!

November 19, 2013

Monday morning arrived like normal. Same routine. Same kids. Same checklist of things to do.
I begin my days working one on one with a kindergartener on letters, sounds, and sight words. He’s always bright and cheery when I enter his class, ready to learn and share.

“What did you do this weekend?” I inquired, expecting to hear about a video game or playing with his friend.
“Sleep. I didn’t have to get up and my mom said I wouldn’t get up for anything,” Howie replied. “Yep. She said I slept and slept and there was nothing gettin’ me up. Uh- uh,” he added shaking his head. “Me and my bed. We like each other.”

I smiled. Sleep is good. Glad he tanked up on his sleep and was refreshed for the new day.