R-Controlled Vowels: Reading Passages, Word Work, and more!

R-controlled vowels are one of those topics that I am always looking for new activities and new ways to practice these skills. I like to have activities I can add to center after I have introduced the skill.

I just finished a new packet with a variety of activities. I also made a free sample for your class.

The new packet includes picture and word cards. You can use these when you introduce the skill. Later use the cards with your reading group. You can also set the cards up in center so students can sort words and / or pictures.

Is your class wiggly? Another inside recess day? Why not attach the words and / or cards to a game like the bowling pins in the picture above. Students can work in partners or small groups. One person bowls the ball and knocks down pins. The student will say a word that has the same r-controlled vowel as the one on the pins knocked down. If there is a picture, students can say a word that rhymes.

The word ladder can be used with your reading group. Attach the picture or r-controlled vowel card to a stick and give your student a copy of the blackline word ladder. They can use these for a Read the Room center. Students will find things that make the same sound as the picture or sound on the stick. Great way to get your students up and moving!
There is a reading passage for AR, ER, IR, OR, and UR. Students will color code the words with r-controlled vowels.
There are 2 writing options for each r-control vowel. This is an open-ended assignment.
There are also quick prep word work assignments. Perfect for morning work, homework, and quick center to set up.
Would you like to try it before you buy it?

Sample R-Controlled Vowels

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R-Controlled Vowels

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RESEARCH: 100 Years ago and 100th Day of School

One of my favorite ways to start a new unit is by setting up an interest table. You can set up an interest table with some items like the ones in the picture above. This is set up when students arrive in the morning. There are always a few curious students who notice the interest table as soon as they walk in the classroom.

I tell my class that they will find out later about the items during our social studies lesson. In the meantime, I ask them to see if they can figure out how the items our related. Usually they will look at the outer characteristics first. Do they all have blue on them? Are they all round? Are they made of wood?

Later in the day, when I begin the lesson, I ask volunteers to share their conclusions of how these items are related. Then I give them a clue. CLUE: Something happened to these items 100 years ago. What happened to them 100 years ago?

Put them in small groups and assign each group one of the items from the table. Remind them to check the credibility of their sources if they are using the internet. Did they look at several different sources? Do all the sources give the same date? If not, why do different sources use different dates?

After group research time is over, give your groups time to report their findings.

One of the things I have found with my students when I use this is this interest carries over to home - - - without ANY ASSIGNED HOMEWORK. How great is that?!!!

Students ask if they can add to our interest table with other items from 100 years ago. Of course, I say yes because this is exactly my intention for setting it up in the first place. When students bring in items throughout our unit, I let them have a little time to share their findings. Students researching and continuing their learning at home, isn't that what we all want?

Sometimes because of things beyond you or your students control - students will not add to the interest table. When that happens, you can take a more structured approach. Organize a Historical Show 'n Tell with your class. Take your class to the computer lab, set this up as a center, morning work, or assign this as homework. There is a form that students can use to record events that happened 100 years ago. They can either print a picture or draw a picture about their finding. Let your students share their findings. You can make this into a bulletin board so everyone can learn from each other's research. Afterward, combine these into a class book. I love to make enough class books from units we've studied so each students gets one to take home at the end of the year. These are great keepsakes.
Social studies is one of those subjects that often gets put on the back burner when you have a hectic schedule. This file has activities you can organize as group lessons like the first idea, computer lab lessons, or you can integrate it with your writing lessons.

There is a list of famous people from 100 years ago. Some of these people were born 100 years ago and some of these people accomplished something 100 years ago. The list includes inventors which is a great way to integrate this with science, African American so you can integrate this with your Black History Month unit, and authors such as Roald Dahl and Beverly Clearly - perfect way to enrich an author study.
Every class I have taught has included a few students that need a little extra support with organization. A research project can be overwhelming to students with A.D.H.D. and / or students with limited organizational skills. I have found a couple of things that help.

The circle pie organizer in the picture above is what I use with students the first time we do a project. In the picture with the sign up list is a research wallet. Students keep their notecards in the different pockets. All students can benefit from using either one of these. After we complete writing our biographies, I hang up their circle pie organizer or research wallet next to the paper. These make great bulletin boards that are interactive.
Timelines are a good tool to use to strengthen sequence. There are colorful signs like the ones hanging in the picture above. There is a template of this sign so students can add to your class timeline. When the unit is over, you can combine the students signs into a class book.

There is also an ink friendly rectangular signs that fit in pocket charts. Students can make their own timeline of multiple events with a printable included.

These are lessons can be taught at any time of the year. Or use these lessons to enrich:
  • 100th Day of School 
  • Biography Unit 
  • Black History Month 
  • Inventors 
Does this look like something your class would enjoy? I am going to send 3 teachers a copy Research: Look Back in History 100 Years Ago.
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Apps for Reading

Do you have favorite apps for reading? I found some new ones that you might want to try. Please note: The apps that are marked as free may change in the future.

Fun way to practice letter sounds!

Your students will enjoy practicing sight words with the 5 games included with this app.

Students practice early pre-reading skills.
The site, Learning Games for Kids, has fun spelling games.

What are your favorite apps? I will add some to this post so you can bookmark this post as a resource.

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Teacher Tip: Paperwork, Grading, Organization


Do you feel like your stacks of papers keep growing? Paperwork can add stress to an already stressful job. Just like you have a system for your discipline, you need a system for managing your paperwork. Once you find a system that works for you, you will still have too much paperwork, but it feel more manageable and little less stressful.

Keeping up with who turned in their assignments and who didn't was one of my biggest headaches when I began teaching. Then I figured out a system that worked for me.
Put your students in alphabetical order and assign each one a number.
Students will write name and number on every assignment.
Make a class chart with 2 columns. You can get a copy HERE.
Print a stack of these and keep them near the student turn-in spot.
After I give an assignment, I tape one of the class charts by the turn-in spot. I write the name of the assignment at the top, date, and points possible.
Students will highlight their name when they turn in their assignment.
COLOR CODE: I love to color code everything. You can choose the colors that work for you. Here is an example of how you can do it.
YELLOW: Highlight name with yellow highlighter when assignment is turned in the day it is due.
ORANGE: Highlight name with orange highlighter when assignment is turned in late.
GREEN: Highlight number with green highlighter when student is absent when assignment is given.
At the end of work time or end of the day, collect assignment and put in number order (students each have an assigned number).
Clip the class chart (that students highlighted their name on) on top of the stack of assignments.
The next morning before school, put the stacks of assignments with missing work in a designated spot. Students will turn in their assignments and highlight their name with the late color highlighter (if the next day is considered late).
Continue putting out stacks of assignments each morning until you get 100%.

Save the class charts with highlighted names. These are great documentation for R.T.I., parent teacher conference, and giving work habits grades on report cards.

The color code makes it easy to see patterns with work habits.
Do you have students that rush through their work? Do you have students that turn in assignments that are incomplete because they are in a rush? This is a bad habit that needs to be stopped! How do you do this?

Explain to your class that rushing through your work and missing key details or not doing all of the problems is like driving a car too fast. Ask them what happens if their parents drive over the speed limit? They could get a ticket from the police. The same thing will happen to students who "speed" too fast through their work. They will get a speeding ticket.
I recommend printing the speeding ticket on a bright colored paper like red and then staple it on the assignment. This will get parent's attention and extra support from home.

Having to redo the assignments should encourage students to complete their work the correct way in the future.
Sharing examples of quality work from time-to-time is a great way to motivate your students. Show your class these examples using your document camera or at circle time. It is important that you don't always share the same few students' work - you know those shining stars of the class.
Find something positive in ALL of your students and share different examples. Here are a few ideas:

Journal entry that used correct punctuation
Neat handwriting
Showing work on math assignments
Picture with many details
Show improvement: i.e. share 2 writing samples to show improvement

Let your parents know the good news that you shared their child's work as an example today with happy news note in the picture above. You can either staple it as a bracelet or attach it to students' backpacks.

After sharing an example of quality work, I like to give a little treat. Sometimes I let them get a prize from the bucket.
Another way you can recognize improvement or quality work is you use a shape stamper like the one in the picture above. If students have one of these on their assignment, they can get a little treat. You can decide the treat - computer time, line up first, work beside a friend, or trip to the treasure box.
When I taught at schools that allowed food, I loved to staple little sweet treats like a lifesaver (picture above) on quality work or an assignment that showed big improvement. The important thing with this rewarding system is that you do it intermittently.
Show off top quality work with this easy to set up system. I bought this cord with clothes pins at Target. They are supposed to be for hanging Christmas cards. Teachers can repurpose them for displaying students' work.

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Valentine's Day Morale Booster

Valentine's Day is a fun time to do staff morale booster.  It has been a while since winter break and spring break is too far away.  This can be organized by the principal or sunshine - social committee.  One of my principals did this at my school and it was a hit!

Cut valentine's (the type that students exchange) into two parts.  Put one part into every staff member's mailbox on Valentine's Day or the last work day before Valentine's Day.
The object of this activity is for staff members to find their "match".  When we did this, staff members carried their valentine everywhere and if any other staff member walked by, they stopped to see if they were a "match".  Of course, our students knew about the activity so they watched the whole thing of teachers trying to line up their valentine to see if they were a match.  


Sub Plans & Tips

When you are sick, the last thing you feel like doing is writing and organizing sub plans.  Unfortunately, if you don't make emergency plans, that is what you will be doing.

When I make sub plans whether it is emergency or a planned absence such as that for professional development, I try to plan a theme or topic that is high interest.  The more interesting it is, the less time off task, and few discipline problems my sub will have.