Fluency that is NOT Teacher Directed

Fluency is an important components of reading, yet it is often neglected.  What type of activities could I plan that were NOT teacher directed?
To improve fluency, students need to read over and over which takes time.  Time is in short supply for most teachers.  Some parents listen to their children read at home, but not ALL.  How could I fix this problem to ensure ALL of my students were getting enough practice?  The answer was partner fluency checks.  You can try a free partner fluency check.
Teachers who downloaded the file above asked if I had more activities like the ones in the file.  I recently made a Kindergarten-1st grade Fluency Check file and a 2nd-3rd grade Fluency Check file.

Color Code the fluency cards by reading levels so you can quickly see the difference without looking at the bottom of the card.  Punch a hole and put the cards on a ring for easy storage.
The reading passages come in two formats - fluency cards and comprehension printables.  More formats means more times reading the same passage which improves fluency.
There are also comprehension signs.  Punch a hole and put the signs on a ring.  Use them to ask questions after a read aloud or with your small group.
Comprehension signs are perfect for quick checks after a read aloud. Put the comprehension signs on a ring.  Keep the ring where you read to your class.
Set up a literacy center using the signs and comprehension passages. This is a quick center to set up.

Reading the passages in different formats will improve students' fluency.  Partner fluency checks and literacy centers are NOT teacher directed activities.  Perfect fluency activities for busy teachers!
I currently have the following Fluency Check files available:
Kindergarten and 1st Grade Fluency Check 
Fluency and Comprehension Passages

2nd and 3rd Grade Fluency Check 
Fluency and Comprehension Passages

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Having Fun with Math Videos

"This is fun" is my all time favorite compliment.  I know that when students are having fun while learning, they are are more engaged.  More engaged means less discipline problems for me.  A win-win for any teacher, right?

When an activity is fun, students take more risks and have less anxiety about what they are studying.  Of course, all teachers would like every lessons to be fun and engaging.  Unfortunately, teachers have a limited amount of time to plan lessons.

One way you can extend your math lessons and make math fun is with videos. Students benefit from hearing math concepts a second time, presented a different a way. Jason @ Common Core 4 Kids emailed me this week to tell me about a special promotion. Your school can get a site wide license for a full year for $25.  This promotion ends November 3rd.
I have written about Common Core 4 Kids math videos before. Math was a difficult subject for Jason, the owner of the site. This has been his motivation for finding a way to help students. Jason just added a new 3D math game that will strengthen students' skills. With first player games and videos in the games, students can revisit the videos again and again. Students learn concepts through videos and visuals with audio.  Students will answer questions about topics like place value blocks, clocks, and much more.

Would you like to check out this site?  You can get a 15 day free pass

This blog post is sponsored by 
Common Core 4 Kids.

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Behavior Tips: Grab their attention!

Back to School, Spring Fever, March Madness . . . . if you are a teacher, you realize that there are more than four seasons. Halloween is the beginning of the "Do Whatever it Takes" season. This is the time of the school year when students are comfortable with each other, comfortable with you, and "let their hair down" behavior-wise. This is also the time of the year when you are trying to teach the bulk of your curriculum.

When you began teaching, managing behaviors was at the top of the list of important skills to acquire. Your students must listen to you in order to learn. How creative are you when it comes to "Do whatever it takes" season?
"All eyes on me" takes on a whole new meaning when you set up a system like the one in the picture above.  I found these eyes at Party City. Grab them at an after Halloween sale.  The blow up eye would be a good reminder or point to it (visual cue) when you say, "all eyes on me".  The little eye "balls" would be a fun reward system.  Pass out one to students who are modeling the desired behavior.  When all of the balls are passed out, model students earn a reward - eat lunch in the classroom.  Model students will turn the balls back in and the incentive game begins again.
Halloween supply stores sell werewolf ears like the ones in the picture. The next time your students are having a particularly difficult time with listening, put on a pair of werewolf ears.  Once the laughter dies down, your students will see the werewolf ears and remember that they need to listen and follow directions. Visual cues can work wonders!
Party supply stores are also a great place to find fidgets. Some of the fidgets are really cheap, too. I found the stretchy bracelet for forty cents at Party City.

What is your favorite behavior tip?

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What's on your Bookshelf? FREE Book List

Why do some students wander around during free reading time?  Do you have one of those students?  He flips through the tubs of books but can't ever find something that he wants to read.  Seeing all of these tubs of books in many classroom libraries can be overwhelming for some students. How can you help these students use their reading time more effectively?
Do you have a bookshelf like the one in the picture? I like using a bookshelf that shows the front cover of books to feature books about the theme or topic that I am teaching.  This type of bookshelf can help the overwhelmed student (O.S.). Use this shelf as a "one stop shopping"  place for books for your O.S.

  • Bookshelf should be small.  It is better if it shows front cover like the one in the picture.
  • Rotate books on this bookshelf frequently - at least twice a month.
  • Have a wide selection of books: fiction, non-fiction, grade level above and below.

I made a PDF of books with links for October themed books for you.

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Growth Mindset, Q.R. Code plus freebie

I love inspirational videos. You can use these for class meetings, watch and then reflect in journal, or inside recess. 
In this video, a football team leader was being pessimistic about an upcoming game. The coach ask the player to do something for him. Watch this video when your students are needing to change their mindset.

I found more videos that you might want to check out.

by Carol Dweck - 9:37 minutes

This is a video about a boy who had lost confidence in himself until he learned about growth mindset.
Growth Mindset - 2:11 minutes

I made the safe share links for these videos into page of Q.R. Codes. Plus, there is a page that students can write their thoughts about the videos. Get a free copy of these Growth Mindset pages.

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Reading Homework: Book Bags & Minutes

Lately, there has been a debate about the merits of homework. Some schools have made an effort to shorten the amount of time students spend on homework and a few have stopped the practice altogether.
One thing I think parents and teachers will agree upon is the value of students reading books.  Is there a way that you can encourage reading - really  reading books, not just signing a reading log?

Think about your own reading habits.  Is everything that you read on the same reading level, same type of materials or genre?  No, probably not.  In an average week, we read magazines, posts on the internet, books, newsletters, letters, and other materials.  Why not organize something similar for your students with Book Bags?

Book Bags can include a variety of types materials like magazines, fiction and non-fiction books. You can use reuseable shopping bags or themed bags like the ones in the Target Dollar Spot.

The theme of the bag can be used a variety of ways, too.

Minion themed bag found at Target Dollar Spot
Possible themes:  Minions or yellow 

If you purchased my Readers Response file, you may download it again.  I added materials to organize Book Bags that are in the picture above.

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Early Reader Tips

Kindergarten and first grade teachers:  Have you found lessons or activities for early readers that you use every year? It seems like we are always adding new ideas and strategies to our teacher toolbox.  Here are a few of my favorites.
Slide and sound is a good warm-up activity to use with your small groups.  It is a hands on way to show how letters blend together to form words.  You can get a free copy of the multi-sensory slide and sound cards, task cards, and worksheets here.
Organize a tub of song books.  Include books with songs that students are familiar with like the ones in the picture above.  Students will read and sing, practice their book handling techniques, and gain confidence.
Soundboxes are a great phonological awareness tool. Use these to practice segmenting words into individual sounds.  I love to use seasonal themed soundboxes and small erasers like the ones in the picture above.  You can get a free copy of these soundboxes here.
The Bubble Gum Homework program was one of the best things I did to improve my students' reading skills.  The structure of the program keeps the students - and parents - motivated which is why I think it had such an impact.  

There has been quite a bit of debate in the news lately about whether students should be given homework.  With this program, students are encouraged to study a minimum of 3 words per week. There is not a paper (printable) assignment for the students to complete.  Parents and students can study the words the way they feel works best. 
Early readers need to work on fluency.  It is fun to work on fluency with a partner.  You can get a free Fluency Check here.  I just added a bigger Fluency Check file with 10 reading passages - kindergarten level and 10 reading passages - 1st grade level plus other activities this week.  You can see it here.

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