Mentor Monday 5/26/14: Professional Summer Reading

Mentor Monday 5-26-14

This will be the final Mentor Monday of the 2013-2014 school year, but we will be back in full force when school resumes!  In the meantime, get out your beach towels and sunscreen and grab a professional book or two to help you re-energize!  (Just don’t forget to grab some fun books that are just for your personal entertainment  😛 )  As our final post we are sharing some of the professional books we plan to read.

Number 1 on my list is to complete Notice and Note:Strategies for Close Reading.  

This book is jam packed with great advice for helping students master rigorous text that is read independently.  I have already had so many AHA! moments as I have begun delving into this book.  I believe it will help me refine my teaching and support for struggling students who don’t automatically make connections and recognize signposts as they read.

Number 2 on my list is Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller.

I strongly believe in  the reading/instructional philosophies she shares in her first text, The Book Whisperer.  I have been anxiously awaiting this text.  

I will also be participating in a blog book study for both of these books.  More details will be forthcoming as the time gets closer.

Summertime and 2 great P.D. books that I want to read.  Does it get any better than that!  Yes it does!  I have a huge list of adult and YA books on my to read list also, some Jimmy Buffet songs playing in the background, and the sparkling clear beach beckoning!  Come on..grab a chair and join me!  

beach signature



Organizational Tools and Tips

Even though we are just finishing this school year, I like to start planning ahead for the year to come.  With all the things we need to do as teachers, and believe me the list grows exponentially each year, being organized = being time efficient!  Since that is an area in which I DO NOT shine, I am collecting a list of great organizational tips and tools to get started on the right foot! IS A HABIT (1)

Today I found an amazing tip on Little Learners for organizing all the passwords the kids need to keep track of.  Best of all the materials are FREE and Cute!  Simply grab a handful of paint chips, using three or four color strips, depending on the number of passwords.  With each student assigned a different color, it will be so easy to locate the correct student’s list of passwords!  

Student passwords

Image courtesy of


Displaying student work is a must in my classroom.  Finding a quick and easy way to display work will make it easier to keep the displays fresh.  I love both of these ideas.


display student work

Image courtesy of Inspired by Familia


glitter (1)

Image courtesy of


Looking for a way to organize vocabulary and essential questions?  I found this on Mrs. Blas’ Class Blog. 

Essential Questions

Image courtesy of Mrs. Blas’ Class Blog


I hope to discover many more ways to creatively organize my classroom and ensure it runs efficiently.  Please comment and share ways you find to keep organized in your classroom!

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Flip-Flop Blog Hop

Flip-Flop Blog Hop

I am teaming up with my kindergarten blogging friend, Gloria from 2 Scoops of Kindergarten, to model a fabulous center product she has listed in her store.  Let me tell you, I absolutely love the centers included in this bundle.  First of all they are baseball themed which is perfect for this time of the year.  The graphics are adorable, they cover a wide range of literacy and math skills, plus they are so easy to differentiate!  What’s not to love!

These centers are geared for kindergarten and first grade, but since I was working with a kindergarten intervention group and wanted to observe how the students interacted with the activities, I used them mainly in a guided setting.  You can see here that the students were successful and engaged when working with the compound word center.

compound words up close


compound word collage

Compound Words Literacy Center

The Scrambled Sentence Literacy Center is so easy to differentiate.  Working with the same group of students, we were able to review sight and cvc words, language skills, uppercase letters, punctuation, spacing, the concept of a sentence making a complete, logical thought and copying.  Since my students needed guidance we created the sentences together on the whiteboard, then they practiced copying the sentence correctly using all the skills mentioned above.  Of course this would make a great independent center for students reading independently.  

Scrambled Sentences

Picture Scrambled Sentences

Students illustrated their favorite sentence on the back of the recording sheet. The popcorn and peanuts sentence was a big hit!

The math center we used was decomposing numbers.  This center provides the option to decompose numbers 5, 10, or teacher choice.  Using manipulatives is another way to easily differentiate this activity.   This student quickly noticed the pattern and completed the activity independently.  

Hitting a Homerun: Decomposing Numbers

Decomposing Numbers

There are 4 literacy and 4 math centers aligned with Common Core Standards included in this value priced, baseball themed product.   Just click on the cover picture below to be taken to her 2 Scoops of Kindergarten Store!


Click Here.

You can enter to win one of my newest products that was sampled by 2 Scoops of Kindergarten by entering the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Be sure to continue to the next blog in the hop for more chances to win, get free gifts, and preview awesome products for your classroom!

Click on the button to visit the Research Based Classroom.

Click on the button to visit the Research Based Classroom.



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Memorial Day Blog Hop

Memorial Day Blog Hop

This weekend 28 awesome bloggers are teaming up to bring a Memorial Day Celebration right to your screen!  Remembering our armed servicemen and women is such an honor.  They have sacrificed greatly to maintain our great country and the freedoms we all enjoy.   As part of the holiday celebrations, I am delighted with the opportunity to participate in this Memorial Day Blog Hop,  and hope you find plenty of great materials to round out your school year.

 The product I am going to share will be free exclusively during this hop.  It is a two part literacy center that is perfect for kindergarten and first grade, but can easily be differentiated to include second grade students.  Since it is ice cream themed, it is perfect for this time of the year.

Your students will enjoy cooling down with the Sweet Words activity.  This center includes lettered ice cream scoops for making their own word sundaes!  There are two word mats to use.  One with three boxes for cvc words, and one that is simply a giant ice cream sundae dish for creating words with silent e, long vowels, R-controlled vowels, etc.  Today I used this center with a struggling first grader that is finally learning to identify initial, medial, and final sounds and blend cvc words.  I suggested which sounds to replace and she was tickled pink to be successful with the activity.  It was a nice change of pace from using simple letter tiles, and the scoops assisted her in easily identifying letters such as p and d.  Here you can see her using her fingers to decode and blend the new word she made.  I wish you could see the joy on her face, because she was just beaming with success! 😉

Sweet Word Work

Both centers have recording sheets and offer an extension of creating a sentence to extend learning.

Making Sweet Words Recording Sheet

My Kindergarten students LOVED the second center.  It includes pairing antonyms to create ice cream cones.  It was interesting to note that each kid was super successful with this center and could complete the activity independently. Some students were able to read the words, while others used the picture clues to assist in identifying the words.  There was just the right amount of challenge and they were the most engaged they have been all week.  It was definitely a two skittle day!

Sweet Synonyms

sweet synonyms collage

You can grab this product for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store this weekend.   I hope you find it useful with your students and any feedback you leave will be greatly appreciated!

Summer Cool Off Literacy Centers


Make sure to visit all the blogs on this hop.  Your next stop is with a fantastic blogger, Emily over at the Reading Tutor/OG.  She is sure to have something you won’t be able to resist!  Happy Hopping!


Click Button to visit The Reading Tutor/OG

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Think About It Thursday-Tricks and Tips for Increasing Time On Task

Time spent ensuring that time on task is maximized in the classroom pays off in increased learning opportunities for students. Today I am teaming up with Carla at Comprehension Connection to provide tips and a forum for discussing ways educators can increase time on task in the classroom. 

Increasing Time on Task

When students are on task they are focused, listening, reading, writing, problem solving, discussing, and learning.  Pre-planning and meeting your students’ needs are key components for achieving this goal.  This sounds simple and it is!  You are probably doing these things already.  I will list several components I feel are effective and ways I utilize them in my educational setting.

1. Grabbing students’ attention.  Before beginning instruction or giving directions use an auditory or visual signal.  Many teachers use the phrase, “One, two three, eyes on me!”  Alternatively some teachers turn the lights off and on, use wind chimes, a bell signal, or some other auditory or visual clue.  This immediately captures students’ attention and signals something important is taking place.  It is important to establish these clues as part of your classroom routines and expectations at the beginning of the year.  Students may require instruction on listening skills, such as making eye contact with the speaker.  Here is a cute free poster set by First Grade Fever that provides good listening visuals.  Just click on the image to see her product on TpT.

good listeners


2. Provide engaging instruction and activities. This is where pre-planning really pays off.  It is important to have materials organized, plan for misconceptions and interruptions, keep activities brisk while allowing for wait time, vary the activities, provide brain breaks, and have smooth transitions.  Whew!  That seems to be a monumental expectation!  However, teachers are pros at this accomplishment.  Again, teaching those classroom routines is crucial for success. Your students should know your expectations for transitioning from area to area or activity to activity.  Understanding your students’ needs and developmental levels will be the tool you use to decide when to switch activities or provide a brain break.  You will know each child’s attention span, how to maximize cooperative learning experiences, and which children need a quiet area of the room to work in.  Monitor students’ engagement and provide specific praise as needed, especially for your children who struggle with on task behaviors. 


3. Plan for students to actively respond. This could be as simple as calling on students randomly, whole class responses during direct instruction, using write-on-wipe-off white boards, cooperative groups and discussions, Kagan activities, task card or other activities that allow for student movement, exit slips, using whiteboard responders, or using any other visual response that a student can hold up to show their understandings.  Visual responses can be a thumbs up or students having cards in which they hold up the correct card to show their response.   I plan to use this activity from Conversations in Literacy during our next book discussion.  What activities do you incorporate to increase your students’ on task engagement?

tabletop twitter

From Conversations in Literacy


I would love to hear the tips and strategies that you use in your classroom to increase on time spent on task!  Be sure to check out all the links attached to Carla’s post!  

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