Reading Comprehension

Have you ever switched grade levels?  Although switching grade levels is stressful, your other grade level experience will be an asset to your new team.  In a perfect world, an ideal team would have teachers who have experience teaching the grade level below and above.  I've been on teams when all the pieces fell into place this way.  When this happened, our team meetings were more productive because we had this knowledge to guide us.  Have you ever sat in a meeting when your teammates are frustrated because "those teachers" (from the grade level below) just don't prepare the students to do X, Y. or Z?  A teacher with experience on the lower grade level can usually shed light as to why this might be happening.  Maybe there were new curriculum mandates added to their plate and other skills (such as handwriting) got pushed to the back burner.  Teachers who have taught a higher level help guide your scope and sequence.  Yes, we need to concentrate on this more because next year they barely cover the topic.

When I moved from third grade to first grade, I knew I wanted to help prepare my students for the standardized test that they would be taking in two years.  Yes, I know covering the curriculum is preparing them for the test.  But, I also wanted to also prepare them for the skills they needed to take the test.

Every year when teachers get their results for their students' test results, there are always a few surprises. Students whose test results don't reflect the level of competency that you know the student attained.  How does this happen?  Test anxiety can affect test scores.  I also think rushing through their work/test is a big culprit for this problem.  But, how do you slow students down?  You slow them down by telling them to "steal and slide".  Students steal words from the question and slide them into their answer.  Teachers have been using this type of method for years.  I think using the term "steal and slide" is catchy which is why students seemed to remember better when calling it this.  This phrase is not my invention.  My former school used it.  Your school may use a different phrase, but you can still use the activity below no matter what phrase you use.

Teaching a first grader the steal and slide method and teaching a third grader is very different!  Here's how I did it:

Step #1:  Read a picture book to the class

Step #2:  (Prepare this ahead of time.)  Write a comprehension question on a notecard, sentence strip, or chart tablet paper.  Below is an example of a question and answer signs from my Valentine packet.

Step #3:  Read the question together.  Brainstorm the answer until everyone agrees on the correct answer.

Step 4:  Reread the question and find words that you can "steal" to "slide" into your answer.

Step 5:  Write the answer under the question.  Here is an example.  I printed the question sign on colored paper.  I glued the question on chart tablet paper.

Step 6:  Draw a box around the words that were stolen.

Step 7:  Repeat steps answering additional questions

Step 8:  Extension assignment:  Students answer questions on comprehension worksheet

I have made 2 packets to practice this skill.  Each packet has 4 question signs/story, 4 answer signs/story,  reading comprehension worksheet / story, and answer key.

In the Valentine's Day packet, questions are about the following stories:


In the Black History Month packet, questions are about the following stories:


If you wish to purchase these packets, click on the picture(s) below:

Cost:  $2.50
***Please note:  This packet is included in my Valentine's Day packet.

Cost:  $2.50

Save money by purchasing both.
Cost:  $4.25

I have a sample freebie for you.  These questions are for the story, Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink.

Click HERE to download this for free.

This is a bigger packet and is aligned with 2nd grade Common Core Standards.  It features the Froggy stories by Jonathan London.  Don't forget to download the preview files so you can get a FREE sample.

Click HERE to visit my TPT store.

Freebie Fridays


Student Motivation: X Factor

Before I became a mother, I often had students' parents question my judgement on school related matters.  Parents told me that I didn't understand X, Y, or Z because I wasn't a mother.  We were discussing school related issues, not parenting issues so why did it matter? I revised my opinion somewhat after I became a parent of a school aged child.  Although I don't think being a parent makes you a better teacher, I do think it gives you a different perspective.

Student motivation was my biggest surprise as a mother. This is a topic that is often glossed over in undergraduate programs which is such a shame because your job is much easier when students are engaged.  We have endless inservice meetings about raising test scores, right?  Don't you think your students' scores would go up if they are more engaged and motivated about learning?  So, why not approach raising test scores from this direction?

Think about your own work experience.  Have you ever worked for a vanilla principal?  This is a principal who is competent, does all that is required of his/her job description, but is lacking the X factor.  It doesn't take Simon to tell when the X factor is missing!

Contrast that experience of working for a principal with the X factor.  When you are teaching under a Principal X, you stretch yourself professionally, collaborate more with your colleagues, and you build relationships with your students and their parents.  You can almost hear that song from the Coca-Cola commercial playing in your head.


So if we as adults, who are mature enough to be intrinsically motivated, work differently for a principal with the X factor . . . what does this say about our students?  What are the qualities of a teacher with the X factor?

Although students are motivated by different things, we all want to feel like we have value.  You can show your students they have value in many different ways.  I found some great resources to give you some ideas to try.


Five for Friday

I am linking up with  Doodle bugs Teaching's Five for Friday linky party.  This seems like a fun show 'n tell.  

Do you remember all the hype about the big Facebook rollout for a new search option?  That was the day my computer nightmare began.  Initially I only had trouble when I was on Facebook, not all the time . . . it was very random.  You never knew when it was going to strike.  But, when it did I would get an "ah snap" message like the one below.  I thought maybe it was a google issue.  I checked for software updates . . . no that wasn't the problem.  I uninstalled google and downloaded the latest version of google chrome.  Still the problem continued at the most inconvenient times!  Then it spread to other sites . . . ugh!  It was like one of those old movies where the giant blog is invading a town.  I had the same problem on Firefox and Safari.  Next, I bought Norton Antivirus to  check for viruses.  I have an Apple so I thought I was virus-free, but I wanted to double check.  I didn't have a virus so I figured it was time to call in the experts.  I made an appointment with the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.  The Apple employee ran diagnostic tests on my computer and it showed it was working alright. So, my nightmare continues . . . . . let me know if you have suggestions.

If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that I am a foster mom for kittens for a local animal shelter.  My current kitten has been with my family a couple of weeks.  My daughter named her Zuni. When we first got her she was very shy.  This week she suddenly came out of her shell.  She now loves to play with us.  Here's a picture of her:

Like most of you, one of my family's New Year's resolution is to eat healthier.  I have been searching Pinterest for some new recipes.  I found one this week that my family LOVED!  Click on the picture to get the recipe:

While strolling through my Pinterest boards this week I decided that it was time to do some housecleaning.  I got rid of some of my boards, added covers to other boards so it's easier to tell their topic, and rearranged them.  Click on the picture to go see what I did:

For Christmas, my family gave me several seasons of the t.v. show 24 hours.  I've always been amazed that we get all these channels with our cable package yet there are nights when there is nothing that we want to watch on t.v..  How does that happen?  Now with all these episodes at my disposal, 24 hours is our new "go to" show when there isn't anything on t.v. worth watching.


Reading Comprehension

I am continuing with my project of revising some of my older packets.  I just finished revising my On the Road to Reading Comprehension packet.  If you previously purchased this packet, you may go to "my purchases" to download the new packet for free.

Here's a sneak peek:

Would you like to win a copy of this?  I am going to give a copy to a lucky blog follower on Friday.  To enter:
*Pin this blog post
*Leave the pin's URL, your name, and email address in the comment section below.


Click HERE to visit my store.

The winner is Joell.  Congratulations Joell!

Birthdays at School

Birthdays, everyone has one, but we all celebrate them in different ways.  The question is . . . . how do you celebrate students' birthdays with your class?  Do you feel like you really don't have enough time to do . . .   one . . . more . . . thing?  Are you trying to simplify your life at school rather than add to it.  I hear you and I have a solution.  Integrating activities is the solution.  Instead of having a student of the week AND a special birthday celebration, combine it and have a birthday star.  You won't get emails from parents asking when their child is the star student because they know their child's birthdate.  You don't have to worry about making a special schedule at the beginning of the year.  Just look at your birthday bulletin board and you'll know your schedule.    Have you heard concerns expressed about the lack of show 'n tell?  This will take care of that, too.  Each student brings a favorite book, toy, or stuffed animal to share on their special day.  It's a win-win any which way you look at it.

Click HERE to download this for free.

I am joining Stephanie @ Falling into First "How Do You Celebrate Student Birthdays?" Linky Party.

Click on the picture below to find more great freebies!
Freebie Fridays


Super Bowl luncheon

It seems like the time between winter break and spring break is the longest time of the school year. It is often dark when you are driving into work and when you are driving home from work. If you don't go outside for recess, you don't see much sunlight that day. Add to that, one too many inside recesses, seasonal viruses, irritable students, and you've got a faculty that is beginning to go a little stir crazy.

You've heard the old expression about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, well the same holds true for teachers. Food is the cure for the winter blues and the upcoming Super Bowl provides the perfect theme.

Listen up, Social Committee or Sunshine Committee members! A soup and chili luncheon is one of the easiest luncheons to plan. You know how you usually get complaints from the teachers who have the last lunch period? By the time they get to eat, the food is picked over, too cold, or too hot. They aren't being Goldilocks, it's just the reality of having the last lunch period. It's not fair to them. Since the soups and chili are in crockpots the temperature issue is solved. As long as you have plenty of people volunteer to bring in soup and chili there will be enough for all of the lunch periods. Nowadays with Pinterest you won't have trouble getting people to sign up to bring in soups. Just remind them to go check their Pinterest boards for a good soup recipe. I have a Pinterest board that you can share with them, too.


To make things a little easier, I made a signup list, reminder note, and a list of additional supplies that you'll need for the luncheon. You can download it for free below.

Click HERE to download this for free.

Looking for more sunshine committee ideas?  This post has a collection of ideas that are fun.


Winter Wiggles call for brain breaks

As a child, winter can be a great season when you live somewhere that has cold weather.  But, for teachers it is another story.  Does it seems like lately your students can't get along with their own shadow?  Have you noticed more tattling lately?  More trips to the nurse?  Have you been sending your principal more clients?  It's probably due to the lack of sunshine or fresh air, too many inside recesses, close confined spaces, and all of the winter viruses that are floating through the air.  No wonder you're reaching for the bottle of Tylenol by 9 a.m.

This week try something a little different.  Break up your day into shorter increments.   If you have a buzzer set it for 15 minutes during long stretches of time so you won't forget.  When the buzzer rings, it's time for everyone to get up and do a stretch break, sponge activity, brain break, or whatever you call it.  The bottom line is, when your students get grumpy, make them move more. Here are a few resources for you to try:


This site has videos and games for students K - 12th grade.


Your Therapy Source has the perfect freebie for brain breaks.  Print it off and laminate it.  You will want to keep this list handy!




A pinterest board full of activities that you can use.  I hope this cures the winter wiggles!  :)

This is my absolute all time favorite CD!

Greg & Steve are guaranteed to get your kids up and moving, too!


I am linking up with Denise @ Sunny Days in Second Grade's linky party.  Hop over there for more great winter ideas.

Click on the picture below to find more great freebies!

Freebie Fridays