FREE Fluency Center

Does your school use the Dibel's test?  After giving the Dibels, I found that I needed to strengthen my students' fluency skills. My schedule already seemed completely full. Where would I find more time to give my students practice reading so they could become more fluent readers?

One thing I found that helped with their fluency skills was making fluency centers one of my standard centers.  I knew I wanted this center to have the same format each week so I wouldn't have to explain the direction. This saves me valuable class time.  Plus, the center had to work with students on a wide variety of reading levels.

The answer was my Sentence Shuffle Centers which I have for reading levels K-5.  To honor our mothers, my Mother's Day Sentence Shuffle Center is FREE.  

I also have a Fluency Check Center that is FREE, too

Click on the picture above if you'd like to see more Sentence Shuffle Centers organized by reading levels.

Would you like to read more of my posts about fluency?
Post #1: Fluency centers are great for teachers with small classrooms.
Post #2:  Fluency with r-controlled theme.

Check out my A+ May Pinterest Board which has more fun ideas.

Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!

Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

How do you incorporate fluency lessons during your day?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Morning Messages - Differentiated

Ready to change how you do morning messages? Looking for some new ideas?  I have written several posts about my system that is a spiral review of important reading skills.  It is also differentiated which works great when your class includes a wide variety of levels.

Post #1:  My morning routine which includes management tips.

Post #2:  Hectic schedule this year?  Set up morning messages as a writing center.  This post includes tips.

Post #3:  Improve your students' handwriting with morning messages.

Each of the thematic packets include ten morning messages.

Themed packets:

Each of the grade level packets include ten morning messages.

By request, I bundled my September - May grade level packets (links above) into a yearly bundle.

By request, I bundled two grade levels together.  There are 10 messages of each grade level in these packets (20 messages per packet).

Kindergarten - 1st grade
1st and 2nd grade
2nd and 3rd grade

By request, I am adding more grade level packets for teachers who do morning message daily.  You can follow my store or Facebook page if you want to be notified when I add more of these packets. I am selling Volume 2 (10 messages) separately and as a combo with Volume 1 (10 messages) so teachers have the option of having 20 messages.  Below are the ones I've finished so far.


1st Grade

2nd Grade

3rd Grade

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Cinco de Mayo Resources and More!

May 5th will soon be here!  Do you have any special Cinco de Mayo lessons or activities planned?  I found a few resources that you can include and best of all they are FREE!

The History Channel has videos, articles with helpful information, and more.

FREE Morning Messages with a Cinco de Mayo theme.

  • Literacy printables
  • Salsa recipe
Click HERE to read more and get your copy of the freebie.

Check out my A+ May Pinterest Board which has more fun ideas.

Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!

Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Time Savers and Life Savers for Teachers

Time is something a teacher never has enough of, right?I have found a few things through the years that have saved me time and saved my sanity.

My morning message system was something I developed when I found out I was pregnant and preparing for a long term leave.  I knew how time consuming it was to write a morning message each day.  I knew my sub would be busy learning my procedures, talking to parents, and getting to know my students. I wanted to lessen this burden for her.

The nice thing about the system that I developed was not only did it save my long term sub time, I continued using the system after I returned because I loved having extra time, too.  Who doesn't need more time?!!!

Morning messages are a great way to enforce important reading skills. Students are successful and retain the skills because the skills are taught in a spiral throughout the year. I saw an improvement with my students' reading skills when my messages became more structured and I differentiated them.  

The skills are taught in a spiral.  While a skill might be a challenge during a lesson one day for Student A, this same skill was easier later when Student A saw it again.  I began to hear, "this is easy-peasy", after implementing this more structured approach.  It was a confidence builder.

I used this system when I taught kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade.  Differentiating with the cards below helps when you have a class with a wide range of skills.

This were some added bonuses to this that I hadn't planned on.  Parents liked the challenge their children received using this differentiated system.  This is one of things I shared at Back to School Night when asked how I was going challenge my students.  

The other bonus was the way in which this system built positive relationships with my parents.  Read my post about my morning routine so you can see how it happened. Parents loved seeing their child's messages and loved seeing their child's reading growth. The message worked as reading homework which improved their fluency which helped with Dibel's scores.  It almost seems like an version of If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, doesn't it?

This system can also be set up as a writing center.  Great for teachers who don't have time in their schedule for morning message each day.

Click HERE to read tips about setting up morning messages as a writing center.

This post has some FREE samples of my morning messages packets.  Try them out and let me know what you think!

Writing sub plans is one of my least favorite jobs.  It seems like it happens at the worst possible times, too!  I'm either sick, my child is sick, or I'm having one of those, "Oh-my-gosh, I-have-a-staffing-this-MORNING" day.  Do you ever forget those meetings that pull you out of class?  

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then it is time to organize a Substitute Resource Binder.  When you pull out your binder, the heavy lifting for sub planning is already done.  You will thank your lucky stars that you spent the time making a resource binder the next time you have an OMG day.

Have you ever worked as a sub?  If so, you know the importance of learning students names quickly.  It is hard to have control of a class without knowing the students' names.  At the beginning of the year, I type my students names on an Avery template for address label #5160.  There are 30 labels per sheet. I print several copies and keep them in my sub binder.  My sub can use these for name tags when I am absent.  I always get nice notes from subs who appreciate having the name tags.

Read what other teachers who have used it have said about the resource binder.  Best of all it is EDITABLE in Powerpoint so you can personalize it to fit your needs.

How do you save time?

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Lesson Planning Tip: Save Time

It seems like teachers get less and less time to prepare for lessons today, yet we still have the same demands as before - if not more! What is a teacher to do?

I personally subscribe to the work smarter not harder philosophy of life. When I began to notice that more and more of my prep periods were being used for this meeting or that meeting, I knew that I needed help.

One of the biggest time savers to preparing for my lessons was the actual prep work involved with the lessons. You know all of those hours you spend at the copier, cutting construction paper for centers, and other labor intensive work you do each week. I thought that with a little structure and preparing on the front end, I could save myself time throughout the year.

I organize my lessons in a tub like the white one in the picture above. I usually put a post it note on the front that tells the week of the month and overview of the topics. I have a basic outline of my plans using these tubs with file folders for a month at a time. I don't necessarily have everything written down and committed on paper until the week or so before I actually teach the lessons. I usually know the overall topic/theme I plan to teach so if I find some interesting when I'm surfing the net or I find an interesting new book at the library, I add it to the correct tub. This gives me a wealth of resources to use when it is time to actually begin writing my plans.

The first time I used this system was when I preparing sub plans for my maternity leave. I was pleasantly surprised at how much time I saved when I compared a month's worth of planning this way vs. doing the weekly method. When I pulled folders and looked for resources each week, it was very, very, very time consuming. Did I say it was time consuming? Yes, extremely time consuming! The added bonus is when life throws you a curve - which I found out happens after you have a baby, you already have a pretty good outline of what you plan to do for next week. You save time and STRESS! Plus, because you have the post it notes giving the highlights of what you plan to teach, you have a mental picture of what is coming up. I found the quality of my lessons were better because when I was shopping or at the library or on the internet, I would spot something that would fit in with a future week's plans.

The next important step of this plan was recruiting volunteers to help with the prep work. Some years I had one parent that came in each week, other years I had two moms that traded off weeks.

I recommend making Thursday as a your designated volunteer prep day because school is not always in session on Fridays or Mondays. Usually by Thursdays, I know for sure what my plans were for the following week.

My volunteer would come in on Thursdays and take that week's white tub and open each day-of-the-week file to see if there was something that needed to be copied or prepared (construction paper cut, mini books made, etc.).

I also kept a small basket of supplies for the volunteer next to the white tubs. Although our work room had most of the supplies that the volunteer would need, occasionally scissors would magically walk off and other supplies ran out. I found there were fewer interruptions to my lessons if there was a tub of supplies ready to go. Plus, this made the volunteer's time efficient.

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear them.

Don't forget! April 20th is Public School Volunteer Week. Be sure and check out my Volunteer Pinterest board for more tips plus there are some freebies you can use to thank your volunteers. Click on the picture below.
Fern has a few tips to share with you, too. Hop over to her blog!
Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too! Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips. We hope you will share your ideas, too.

Looking for more ideas? Click on the pictures below.
An InLinkz Link-up

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

TEACHER TIPS: Discipline and Sick Days

Do you ever lose your voice at school?  It is almost a given for me that mine would get raspy or I would lose it completely at the most inopportune times.  You know those times when your REALLY need your voice . . . beginning of the year when you are teaching procedures, parent-teacher conferences, and field trips.  I can't tell you how many times I have lost my voice when I was feeling under the weather, too.  It was usually a case of allergies so I still went to school, but I didn't feel like being there.  When you add losing your voice on top of it, you have the makings a stressful day.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post that gave you tips for the beginning of the year.  One of those tips included something I have found that is a voice saver!  I stumbled onto using a voice amplifier when I had a student who received support services.  One of the modifications for this student was that I use small battery operated microphone that I wore when teaching.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this not only helped the student that it was intended for but also my other students and me, too!  I found my other students tuned in more the year when I used the voice amplifier.  It worked as a visual and auditory cue system.  When I put it on my students knew I was getting ready to say something that they needed to pay closer attention. The sound of my voice projected better so I didn't strain my voice and it was easier for my students to hear it.  

After that experience I wanted a voice amplifier of my own to use each year.  Unfortunately, the system the district provided followed the student and the district didn't provide teachers a system without a student who needed the modification.  I was so happy when Voice Booster contacted me about their system because it is affordable.  The Voice Booster system starts at $59. Many P.T.A. groups are looking to purchase resources for teachers. This would be the perfect request because it helps all of the students and the teacher, too!
It turns out that I am not the only one who has had this same experience.  Other teachers who have purchased Voice Booster are finding it works the same way in their classrooms.  Michele Geoghegan is a kindergarten teacher at Longbranch Elementary School in Union, Kentucky.  Two and half years ago she began having trouble with her voice.  Her doctor diagnosed her with swollen vocal cords. One of her colleagues gave a presentation to her class using a personal voice amplifier.  She was amazed at how softly her colleague could speak using it.  After searching online she found the Voice Booster.  She said, "It was my saving grace!  I could talk softly and still be heard. One of the benefits of using it is my students stay engaged.  They focus in on the crisp clear sound and that is really makes my voice rise above the other classroom sounds."
Barbara Campbell is a primary grade technology teacher in Frankfort, Illinois.  Each week she teaches 780 students in grades K-2 that come to her computer lab.  As you can imagine, that requires a tremendous amount of strain on her voice working with that many students in that age range.  Especially when you factor in that they are facing a computer screen with their back facing the teacher.

On top of this, Barbara is also an accomplished singer.  Her voice gets a real workout.  Several years ago she learned that she was developing nodules on her vocal cords.   She went through voice therapy, began drinking extra water and using a voice amplifier.  The first amplifier she used was like an over the shoulder purse that used a hand held microphone that cost $450.  She was very happy when she found Voice Booster because it is more convenient to use in size, quality, and over the ear microphone.  The price is an added bonus!

Barbara said, "Without the Voice Booster she wouldn't be able to go on."

She has been using it for a number of years and has recommended it to a number of co-teachers including coaches and teachers who are outdoors with students frequently.

The picture above is a picture of me wearing the Voice Booster.  I thought you might like to see what it looks like so you can see how portable it is.  The battery pack is on my belt.

Would you like to read my first post about the Voice Booster?  It also includes tips for the beginning of the year.  Click HERE to read it.

Are you a visual person?  This is a quick, one minute video that shows you how to set up and put on the Voice Booster system.  Click HERE to watch the video.

It's Teacher Appreciation time. You have the opportunity to win a Voice Booster.  Enter before May 31, 2015.  Click on the picture below to enter.

This is a sponsored post.
Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Set up Morning Message as a Center

Is your schedule unusually hectic this year?  Are you having trouble fitting everything in?  Are there days when you didn't have time to do morning message?

Morning messages are one of those tools in my teacher's toolbox that I feel has had a major impact in my students' achievement.  By incorporating so many different skills in this format I found that a skill that might be enrichment one week, may be review a few weeks later. It is motivating when students go from a "scratch your head" type of skill to "this is easy-peasy". I love the confidence building aspect of it. The continual review makes skills "stick like glue" better than other approaches that I've tried.

But, what do you do when you would swear the stars in the universe line up against you? It seems like there are so many interruption in your schedule that you can't possibly fit everything in that you need to fit in.

Set up your morning message as a writing center when you are having one of those days or weeks.  By this time of the year, your students know the format.

In the picture above is an example of how you can set this up.  This Earth Day morning message is a self checking center.  I put the answer key in a page protector with an extra page that is colorful.  Tell students they will see the colorful page until they are finished with their morning message.  Then they may flip over the colorful page to the other side and see the answer key.  I put a ring on the answer key and hung it up on a push pin.  You could also use a command hook.

To make it extra motivating, you can add thematic props like the small globe for Earth Day and the small pot of flowers in the first picture for the plant morning message.  I found the pot of flowers at Dollar Tree.

Would you like to read more about Morning Messages?  Click HERE for more ideas plus there are FREEBIES on that post.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.