Sunday, March 23, 2014


Do you ever feel like there are WAY too many acronyms in education?  It's SO true!

If you have read my blog, you know that I help with DIBELS at my school.  Our DIBELS expert is out on maternity leave (she had twin boys that are just the sweetest little babies), so I offered to help out.  It was a big endeavor for me to volunteer for, but I have learned so much along the way.  I really am thankful for the experience.

Now, our school has some amazing readers.  We do not have many yellows or reds; however, we noticed on the MOY DIBELS tests, some of our students were having issues with the quality of retell and with DAZE.  These skills are not just important for DIBELS scores, but they are important for reading in general.  You need to be able to remember what you read, right?

So, my brain started thinking about these two issues, and I came up with an idea to combine comprehension and DAZE practice.  I chose non-fiction topics because they are a bit more challenging, and our students are supposed to be reading more non-fiction in the classroom (hooray for cross curricular reading).  The biographies are about presidents, political figures, scientists, explorers, and other famous people.

The first level would be reading the passage and retelling the main idea and three facts (in order).  
This would help with DORF retell for DIBELS.

The second level is a cloze activity, which would help kiddos be ready for DAZE. 
 Since there are the same retell questions, it would help with DORF retell as well.

Oh, man!  Is it difficult to find extra DAZE passages or what?!  Start your second graders on these passages to familiarize them with the DAZE format.  This would also be great as an intervention, homework, or a center activity for third graders so they can get some extra practice.

Oh, my dear friend... the answer keys.  Have the kids check their own answers with these sheets.

I had a TON of fun researching these amazing people.  My favorite was Theodore Roosevelt, partially because he practically had a zoo at the White House, and all of his animals had fun names like Father O'Grady.  I decided to share my Teddy Roosevelt passage with you, so you can test out these activities in your own classroom.

Click on the picture to download your {FREEBIE}.

I am going to put these passages on sale until Thursday for 30% off!  Check them out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Have a fantastic week!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is in the Air (and there's a freebie)

With spring comes my formal observation.  Lucky me... it's on April Fool's Day.  Now, I am happy it's that week because we are going to be studying the butterfly life cycle.  First of all, I love butterflies.  Second of all, my students love butterflies.  It's an interesting topic, which will lead to engaged children.  It's a win-win.

So, being the planner that I am, I have started to think about my lesson.  I am planning on using my butterfly writing unit.  It has writing paper, a craftivity, and two emergent readers.  One of the readers is about butterflies, and the other is about the butterfly life cycle.

We use Thinking Maps at our school, so I knew a flow map of the butterfly life cycle would be perfect!  So, you are in luck, because I am going to share my flow map with you.  It is going to be a Facebook Fan Freebie!  So, head over to my Facebook page, "like" my page, and click on the "Fan Only Freebie" tab to download your copy.

I made it so you have a few options.  You can have the kids cut and paste the pictures, labels, and sentences.  The pictures, labels, and descriptions are not necessarily in order, so they will need to figure out the order on their own.  

You can also have the kids cut and paste the pictures and labels, and have them write their own sentence about each of the stages in the life cycle.  

I hope this helps you out!  Think of me on April Fool's Day, and send me some good vibes!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Can Life Please Slow Down?!

I know we all lead very busy lives as teachers.  We not only have our own biological children to worry about, but we have twenty-six other children to worry about.  Oh, man!  I am going to be the first to tell you that I have been running around like a headless chicken for the entire month of February.  I have had district classes on two of the Saturdays (which, of course, included a lesson plan that I had to create), and we went out of town to celebrate my daughter's tenth birthday (where does the time go?!).  On top of that, I had parent/teacher conferences (If you need a sheet to organize your conferences, head here or here), lesson planning, grading, and more.  Holy smokes!

Needless to say, I am SUPER excited for Spring Break to come next week.  Ahh... maybe I will be able to enjoy a bit of time to myself.  Who am I kidding?!  I will be working on new things for my classroom.

Speaking of new things for my classroom, I just finished a new set of DIBELS prep bellwork.  I can seriously tell you this bellwork has SAVED my sanity!  It keeps my high kiddos challenged, and it helps my struggling kiddos practice the skills for reading and for DIBELS.

This is the front side of each day's bellwork.  The kids read nonsense words and letter names to their neighbor.  They complete phoneme segmentation for eight words.  Finally, they read a sentence and draw a picture to match the sentence.  This is my favorite part because I love to see the kiddos' illustrations. 

Three days of the back side of bellwork looks like this.  The kids read ten of Fry's high frequency words to their neighbor.  They write five Ayres words in pencil and in crayon.  And then they think of their own sentence using one of the words listed.  If you teach kindergarten at a Spalding school, the bellwork is aligned with spelling lists 14-20.

When I originally rolled out this bellwork, I was a little concerned about this activity.  It turns out that this is their favorite!  The kids unscramble the Ayres words at the top of the page.  I usually allow them to work with their neighbor.  They get so excited when they successfully unscramble a word.  They are pretty fast, too!
I usually use this paper on the day of our spelling test.  The kids must find their spelling words (the Ayres words) and circle them.  They LOVE finding other words that I sometimes sneak in there as well (sometimes I plan that, and other times it just happens).  Again, I have never seen kids so excited about bellwork.

Can you tell I am SO excited that I finished this?!  My students are engaged in meaningful work while I am able to pull students for RTI.  In kindergarten, it is so difficult to keep kids occupied for any amount of time.  This bellwork has changed that for me.  And I'm not just blowing smoke up your skirts.  It has made my life SO MUCH EASIER!

Well, I am off to fold clothes and get ready for the week.  The last week before break is always super crazy, so wish me luck!  Have a fantastic week!