Thursday, June 18, 2015

No More Pencil Drama!

I don't know how many times I've told my students that I don't want any more pencil drama! Lost and unsharpened pencils are one of my pet peeves. I've tried collecting all pencils and sharpening them myself (too much work). I've tried a student sharpening all of them (time consuming). Then I tried keeping a can with sharpened pencils in it for students to take when needed, but then students started only using my pencils. They became less responsible with sharpening their own pencils. I was always having to refill the can. I've also had students write their student number on their pencils with a Sharpie. That idea helped with lost pencils on the floor. However, we still had pencil drama!

Good news! I have finally solved the pencil drama! Actually, my teacher friend, Abbey Myers, solved it for me. She showed me her idea for pencils. She said she found it somewhere on Pinterest, so I don't know whose original idea this is. Abbey took some decorative Duck Tape and put it
around the top of a pencil, creating a little flag. This flag lets students know that these pencils belong to the teacher, but they can borrow one at any time. I keep about 10 flagged pencils in a can on the counter. Students borrow, but the little flag reminds them that they need to return it at the end of the day.  The Duck Tape brand has super cute patterns and colors from which to choose.

I also have students sharpen their pencils at dismissal time. This helps reduce time wasted in the mornings when they first arrive. I can't count how many times students walked around the room for 5 minutes in the morning trying to sharpen their pencils.

Here's to no more pencil drama!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Phonics Dance

A few years ago, my fabulous friend and colleague, Madalyn Lanni Ketron, introduced me to the Phonics Dance. She learned about it during her student teaching in Ohio. After her first performance, I was hooked! For years, I've been searching for a way for students to remember phonics patterns.

The Phonics Dance is a quick and easy way for teachers to teach phonics using rhyme, movement, and chants. The Phonics Dance helps develop decoding strategies and build stronger writers. This use of "junking and chunking" word patterns helps students become more fluent readers

My students LOVE doing the Phonics Dance! We do it about four times a week at the beginning of reading. I introduce two chants per week. I call on a different student every day to be our "pointer" during the dance and point to the cards. Even my quietest students get involved. Boy or girl, they ALL enjoy the movement and are highly engaged. When the chart is almost full of cards, I let the pointer choose two or three rows for the class to do.

Some example chants:
s-h, s-h, sh sh sh (point to lips)
a-r, ar ar ar, a-r, ar ar ar, Stick your arm in a jar of stars (make a hook with fingers like a pirate)

During small group reading, I use the chants to help students decode words during guided reading. It works! Students are also able to apply the hunks and chunks patterns to spelling unknown words. The Phonics Dance is great for struggling readers. The movement engages them, and the repetition helps students retain phonics skills.  I also notice growth in student writing and spelling.  THE PHONICS DANCE HAS CHANGED MY READING INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT LEARNING! Check out the photos, links, and video below. I added a link to the official Phonics Dance video. It shows students doing the chants.

I asked our school Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to purchase the manual and cards. The manual is $45 and the cards are $15 per set. 

 You Tube Video

Sometimes we come across a certain sound or phonics chunk that is not included in the official Phonics Dance. So I create my own cards to meet our needs. See the two pictures below. I made these.
When you see the letter y, there are three sounds you can try: y-y-y, i-i-i, e-e-e

a-n-k, a-n-k, Thaaaaank You!
a-n-k, a-n-k, Thaaaaank You!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where in the WORLD . . . ?

Do your students get confused about where they live? No matter how many times we go over "What state do we live in?", I always get the wrong answer. Nashville! The United States! Clarksville! At this point, it's a guessing game that my students lose every time. I get it. It's a difficult concept for a seven year old to understand where in the world we live. So to solve this problem, I created these posters to make a flow chart that shows where we live. I  keep it posted in the room and refer to them often. Hopefully this visual will cement the concept. Best of all, it's a FREEBIE on my TPT Store!

Use these posters and  arrows to create a flow chart to show where in the world we live. The display shows: city --> state --> country --> continent --> planet --> solar system --> galaxy.

Blank pages are included for you to create your own city, state, country, and continent posters for your place on the planet.