Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So Encouraging!

Thank you so much for nominating me for this awesome award. I am so glad that a few people are able to use my ideas and materials. I love the blogging world.

The Teaching Thief

After accepting this honor there are some things you are requested to do.
1.  Thank the person (people) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
2.  Share 7 things about you.
3.  Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.

Here are a 7 things about me:

  1. My husband is a youth minister and he loves it. I have been amazed this past year as I watched the Lord work in him.
  2. I have an amazing family. My little sister is a senior at the University of Texas this year. One of my sisters-in-law is a senior at Oklahoma Christian University and the other is a sophomore at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.
  3. We are building a house starting next month!!!!
  4. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Largely because of the wonderful fall scents at Bath and Body Works. I am kinda addicted.
  5. I want an iPad so bad it hurts.
  6. I hope to go on an Alaskan cruise at some point in my life.
  7. I love the Lord.
And now for 15 amazing blogs!

Create Teach Share

Creating & Teaching

Visit Sunny Days

Wiggins World

The Caffeinated Teacher

Thank you so much for nominating me!

Garage Band for Fluency

So I am excited to start focusing on fluency this week. Last year I used Aviary, but it was a hassle to get online and to the correct screen for each student. I am excited to use Garage Band for many reasons:

  1. It is on each student's dock when they log in.
  2. They can save their work to their desktop, and hopefully by the 5th six weeks they can turn it in by putting their saved file in our class dropbox.
  3. It has great editing tools.
  4. I don't have to log them in or out.
Here is how you do it:

They will click on Voice and then Choose at the bottom.

They will type their name into the Save As window and make sure it is going to save to their desktop.

Then click create.

They will choose male or female and then use the buttons at the bottom to record their voices.

I am going to start working with small groups to show them the process.

Word Reading

One thing I loved last year was the powerpoints I made for word reading practice. I am realizing that we need to do that more this year. I really saw an increase in their ability to recognize words because they saw them so often. Anyway... here is what mine will look like this year.
1.5 Word Reading

My powerpoints coincide with Reading Street from Scott Foresman. The kids will be seeing them in our guided reading books, weekly story, and spelling words. If you want the powerpoint file leave me a comment with your email address. The powerpoint has animations. It starts with a blank page and then one you click in each word.

Have fun!

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Ambitious Goal

The year is in full swing and I have finished a round of testing. I used the DRA2 to determine my students reading levels, the ISIP to determine their reading strengths and weaknesses, and we have had our first math universal screener.

Using all this data I have my guided reading groups. I started them today. It is going to be quite a juggling act because of the range of reading levels. I was hoping to not have more than 3 or 4 reading groups, but it looks like I will have 6 again this year.

For those of you who don't use DRA, here are the levels.
On level for 2nd grade starts at 16 and ends at 28.
Here is the break down of my class:

Level 6: one student
Level 8: two students
Level 10: two students
Level 12: two students
Level 14: two students
Level 16: four students
Level 18: four students
Level 20: two students
Level 24: one student
Level 38: one student
Level 40: two students

So here is how I broke down the groups:

Group 1: Level 6 and Level 8

Group 2: Level 10

Group 3: Level 12 and Level 14

Group 4: Level 16

Group 5: Level 18, Level 20, Level 24

Group 6: Level 38 and Level 40

I think that I will be able to merge the groups more as the year progresses. I just want to be able to work with the emerging readers and be able to cater to their specific needs. I think this small grouping approach will help with that.

I will meet with Groups 1, 2, and 3 every day during the week. They need the most intensive instruction. Groups 4 and 5 will meet with me 3 days a week. Group 6 will meet with me 1 or 2 days a week. I am going to assign them a longer chapter book to read together.

In addition to guided reading groups, I will also have interventions for spelling, reading, and math.

I have nine students who are really struggling with spelling, so I have devised a plan that will be put into practice this week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they will arrive in the morning and go to the computer to practice with one of these two websites:

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they will practice the words with my top spellers. I have taken my top 5 spellers and assigned them one or two students to work with. They will practice on their white boards. I am hoping that the interaction with classmates will encourage them to learn the words.

In addition to guided reading every day, I am going to be pulling small groups during PE three days a week. I am on a crusade to have all my students reading on grade level as soon as possible! Plus, my lowest readers can't finish our classwork on their own because they can't read the words. I need to fix that ASAP.

Monday: Level 6 and Level 8
Tuesday: Level 12 and Level 14
Wednesday: Level 10 with me and Levels 6 and 8 on the computer with our intervention program.

We are lucky to have a retired teacher who comes to the school and works with small groups once a week. I will be sending her 6 students. Plus, the small group time spent in class.

All of this is pretty overwhelming for me right now, but I know it is what I need to do. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Singing Praises!

I just want to sing the praises of my class. They are great. My stress level is so low. It is amazing! We do have some things to work out, like schedule, talking, testing, talking, low reading levels, and talking. Did I mention talking? I am so happy to say that is my biggest problem! =)

I have a few things to share. Nothing spectacular...

I will be sending these levels home every six weeks after I test the kids.
DRA Levels to Send Home

I use a highlighter to indicate their level. I did this last year and it was a great way to show the kids their growth. I liked to show it to the kids who struggle, because it focuses on their growth and not so much on their level.

I am going to start these soon. Since we are dealing with a paper shortage I am going to use index cards for the kids to keep track of the books they read.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Top Ten!

Top 10 TBA

So, I got on my blog this morning and found something that made my heart burst. Two wonderful ladies mentioned me in their top ten list of blogs. Amazing!

The Teaching Thief
You must go visit these two wonderful blogs!

Thanks for thinking of me ladies.

Hopefully I will be posting some good stuff soon. The beginning of the year is always crazy.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Well, since the year has started I have been absent from the blog world. It has been really good so far.

I have a great class this year. We are going to be able to do tons of stuff!

I am at 22 and I hope we won't get any after Labor Day.

I am getting used to our new schedule, I was only late for music once!

I have been DRA testing, introducing technology, and getting our procedures in place.  =)

We have a math screener and ISIP next week.

Here are the things I love about our day:

1. Writing in the morning  Photo Prompts

2. Morning Flipchart with ActivVotes
 These are fully interactive and I am willing to share. Email me at rmorris at mesquiteisd dot com if you want them!
Week 3 Everyday Routine

3. Literacy Stations

4. Math
I love teaching math. I don't have anything to share, but I just had to add this!  =)