Sunday, September 25, 2016

Increase Engagement: Flocabulary Free Trial Offer!!

Hello Friends,
Boy, it has been awhile since my last post! I had every intention in the world of posting weekly...but then school started. Need I say more!  In the hustle and bustle of September some things just need to slide and this little blog was one of those things. I have a couple of weeks of school under my belt and am getting into the school routine. Doesn't it feel good to breathe again??? I wanted to check in with everyone and share good news and a fabulous deal. So read on....

I am a lucky, lucky teacher!  I have the sweetest of sweet children, but the beginning of the year is just way around it.  Third grade is such a big transition year. I see my little ones trying to adjust to the demands of this new isn't easy for them or for me. Coming from a relaxed summer break to a busy school day of learning can be exhausting for everyone. For us, it can be a huge challenge to keep these little learners focused on what we are teaching them.

During the first week of school, I watched in frustration, as one by one, they checked me out and let their brains wander to some far off place. Who knows where they go...maybe they're in Pokemon land (I have kids absolutely obsessed with these little creatures this year), or they could have drifted off into the world of Mindcraft? All I know is that they are anywhere BUT room 43 listening to old Mrs.Young ramble on and on about how to make a bar graph.

It's crazy hard to compete with all the high voltage stimuli that fills our world these days. It is tempting to  react to our frustrations by complaining or trying to find someone to blame for it, but really, who has time for that?  Instead, let's figure out how to respond to this ever growing problem by seeking ways to increase student engagement.

 Luckily for me (and you now too)  I have some tricks in my teacher bag for combatting "stray mind syndrome." One of my favorite engagement tools and a sure fire way to get everyone's attention (yes, even the little guy who is busy sawing his pencil into a million little tiny bits inside his desk) is just one click away.

Do you know about and use the highly engaging educational website called Flocabulary? Are you teaching in one of the more than 60,000 schools that have used Flocabulary's standards-based videos, instructional activities and formative assessments? If so, you have seen the magic of this powerful tool. If not, you need to be!

Flocabulary provides teachers with hip hop style videos to support us in teaching our content in a fun and engaging way.You can find songs and videos for all subject areas and  across many grade levels.
I personally embed the use of Flocabulary's many resources into my language arts, math, social studies and science teaching. It is a great hook into any lesson, but because this site offers us so much more than just a catchy song or lyric, it can also be used as the core component of your teaching. This website offers more than 750 instructional units to support instruction in math, science, social studies, ELA, vocabulary, current events and life skills. The fine folks at Flocabulary are responding to our ever increasing needs by adding new content all the time. Take the time to explore the ever growing bank of resources and here is what you will find:

There are songs and videos on all kinds of different topics. I recently used the song and video about Main Idea. It was so fun and catchy that my kids kept wanting to sing it even when I turned it off...they told me it was "stuck in their heads"!  Exactly what I hoped for!!

Besides the song and video, look at all the resources you have at your fingertips:


Quick reviews, lyric notes, fill in the blank activities, etc. etc. 
I used the Printable as part of one of my reading had to do with being good classroom friends. Perfect for what we were learning about.  Students had to read the text and determine the main idea and details. They were provided with a graphic organizer to record on. 

Check out ALL the printables you have easy access to. Each video comes with all of this, plus lesson plans and teacher guides!


Ok, here is a brand new option that is soon becoming my favorite: The Lyric Lab. With this tool, you can have your students create their own rap on the topic. Are you looking to increase the complexity of your student tasks..this one hits high on Bloom's Taxonomy. Flocabulary provides you with a word bank and the music...your kids create the lyrics. When you get to the end of each line, the program generates a list of words that rhyme with the last word you wrote....AMAZINGLY fun!!

Main i:

Well,  here's the best part of all...

I am partnering up with Flocabulary and giving away free memberships! You have the chance to win a FREE year-long subscription! I get to give subscriptions to three lucky readers. Plus you have the opportunity to earn a 45-day extended free trial that is accessible to not only you, but everyone at your school just for entering! Sign up by clicking the link below. After signing up, you will receive an email that will allow you to access your free trial for the week of October 18.  Also, you will be entered for the chance to win a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION!  Winners will be announced on October 18th
You must enter by OCTOBER 16 @ 11:59pm EST!

In the meantime, check out the link below to visit the site and see all that it has to offer: 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Class Set Up: Objectives Chart

Three more Mondays and then I'm back at school! Time to start thinking about the classroom and how I'll set up. 
I'm sharing two classroom decor ideas today. 
I'm linking up with Tara for another Monday Made It. 
Check out her will leave with lots of great ideas!

We are required to post our objectives for the students. I start every lesson here at this board where I identify our learning goal or target before we begin. 
I made these subject sheets to slide in sleeve protectors so I can write on and wipe off easily.  
I put the "science" sheet behind the "social studies" sheet since we focus on only one content area study at a time. 
I'm sharing these subject sheets free on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 
You can check them out here:

I also made these big bubble letters for my writing and reading areas. 
I just printed, cut and laminated them. 

You can find these here: 

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Active Syllabication Practice with Word Work Outs

Happy Sunday! I thought I would share a little book that made a big difference in how I work with some of my students who struggle with decoding words. By third grade, readers are encountering many longer multisyllabic words as they read. I have found that many have adopted some very inefficient means of reading these what I have termed the "grab and go". These readers grab and decode the first syllable of the word, guess the rest and go right on along even if the word they invented made absolutely no sense in the sentence. These are my Word Plowers...they made me crazy so after listening to student after student stumbling over these longer words, I decided to seek out the best way to help them.  And, I am happy to report that  I found a great strategy in Isabel Beck's Making Sense of Phonics.  This is the second edition of this book and in it she has added chapters with insight on how to help our transitional readers become more proficient at reading longer and more challenging multisyllabic words. 

If you can relate to the above scenario I described, then you need to read chapter 9 in this book. In it she states, "Children need to know that a chunk, or an approximate syllable, has one vowel or vowel team per chunk. They need to learn to be flexible with their sounding out of syllables and blending syllables together. They should be given a copy of the advanced vowel chart (see Figure 3-3) to help them remember the most common sounds for a particular vowel or vowel team. Consistently remind students that if one sound doesn’t work, they should try another. Also, remind the children frequently that their sounding out will only get them close to the real word. As they are blending syllables together, they need to think of a word that is close to what they are saying and that make sense in the story. I often find that children don’t rely on context enough as an additional support when they are sounding out multisyllabic words."
Yes,  yes and yes. 

She goes on to say that supporting students' reading of multisyllabic words requires three skills. 
1. Analysis: Where to divide a written word into syllables
2. Pronunciation: How to pronounce the individual syllables in a word. 
3. Synthesis: How to combine the syllables into a spoken word. 

Last year I decided to become much more explicit in the modeling of these skills as I introduced new words to my students. I found opportunities throughout the day. Many times I used part of my social studies or science time practicing the analysis, pronunciation and synthesis of content vocabulary words. I knew students were going to have to read and write social studies words like: democracy, independent, legislative, executive. These are hard words to pronounce, let alone read and spell.  

I began using an approach that incorporated Beck's suggested skills as I introduced content related words at the beginning of a unit. First, I would write the word and together the students and I would analyze it to determine the syllable parts. Students learned that there must be a vowel in each syllable. 
We would "sweep the syllables" under the word and number them. 

Next, we would work on pronouncing each syllable part. Here is where I really used some of our "Brain Buddies" to help us remember good decoding strategies. We used "lips the fish" to get our mouths ready to make the letter sounds, we used "eagle eye" to look for word parts that we know already and we used "trying tiger" to try another sound for a particular letter...perhaps long i instead of short i, etc. 

When at last we had synthesized our parts into a word that made sense, we were ready to practice reading it by syllable parts and then fluently. 
For this step, I had my students get up out of seats for some "Word Work Outs". 
I grab at any chance to get my students engaged in some kinesthetic learning and students responded so well to these mini work outs. 

Word Work Outs are short and simple movement exercises that students do as they read the syllables and pronounce a new and challenging word. 
I have a student grab the Word Work Out can and pull a card. 

Students will perform the word work out as they say each syllable.
For instance, if we pull out the "Whack It" card, students pretend they have a tennis ball and racket and swing the racket as they say each syllable. For the word: "independent", they would swing the racket as they say "in", then "de", "pend" and "ent".  
I point to each syllable on the board as they perform this and make sure they are using their mouths to say the parts. 

After we are done, I would erase the board and students would attempt to chunk and spell each syllable.  They are amazed and thrilled when they can spell these "big kid" words themselves.
They soon learn that if they can chunk it.....they can spell it. 
I have added my Word Work Out Cards to my Teacher Pay Teacher Store. 

Check out the link below if interested:

You can also find the Brain Buddies Set here
Please share any suggestions or strategies you use to help your older readers decode longer and trickier words.
Comment below or email me:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Back to School: Open House Treats

Wow, can it already be time for another Monday Made It? Yikes, the weeks are flying by! Time to get busy. Check out the productive teachers posting on Tara's Fourth Grade Frolics Monday Made It page.

I'm on a quest to seek out the simple in all I do. I recently found these smiley face treats at my local Walmart. I picked them up and figured out a way to use them.

  I decided to use these as a welcome treat for our Open House. 
I created a quick tag and there you go, a simple but sweet way to welcome students to school. 

If you are interested in using these, you can find them as a free resource on my Teacher Pay Teacher Page. Just click the link below. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reason for Rules: First Week of School Activity

Hello Friends, It is just about August! Are you ready for it? We have about one more month before the real craziness starts. I know some have started organizing, creating and preparing. I am trying to practice mindfulness and want to savor the time I have left. So I'm doing just a little bit here and there. 
I'm doing some thinking and planning for the first week of school. For me, that is always the hardest. I so want to jump right into the instruction, but also get the importance of spending time establishing classroom expectations. I have created a set of materials that will allow me to introduce the importance of rules while still getting right to the teaching of reading and thinking skills. 

I'm going to start our discussion of classroom rules by showing this silly video clip about rules

We're going to talk about WHY we need rules in our schools. Here is where I plan on introducing the thinking skill of identifying causes and effects. I'll use an anchor chart to help record some of our thinking. Kids need to buy into the idea that rules are established for a reason, that they are not for the teacher, but rather for kids.  I want students to establish a sense of ownership in the forming of our classroom so I will have them take over the brainstorming and writing of the rules after we have spent time thinking and talking about the subject.

I like using these jumbo post it notes to make my anchor charts reusable.
Did you know you can also use adhesive spray to make your laminated anchor charts sticky? 
Spraying this makes the area temporarily sticky so you can adhere paper to the chart. 
Elmer's Fast Tack Spray Adhesive

 I laminate anchor charts so they can be left out and reused as we go through the year. The idea is that once introduced, we will continue to identify causes/effects as we learn about all kinds of other topics. 


I love using literature and poems as ways to introduce and reinforce topics we are learning about. 
Here is a cause/effect poem that we will read and glue into our poetry journals. 
It reinforces the idea that rules are created for a reason and without them our school would not be a fun or safe place. 

Students will further develop this cause and effect thinking by matching actions and outcome cards. 
Third grade students are certainly old enough to begin thinking about how consequences follow actions. We will spend time talking about how we must use our third grade self control to stop ourselves from making unwise choices.

I work hard to promote the idea that students are the ones in control of much of  what happens to 
them in school. Situations will arise and they will have to make decisions on how to respond. This game will give them practice in understanding that positive reactions will lead to positive consequences. 

Students draw cards and read the situation. If the action is a positive one, the player moves forward the number of spaces indicated. If the action is negative, they move backwards. 
I like getting the students to play games during the first week of school. It keeps them from just sitting and listening to me talk at them all day and gets them working and playing with their new friends. 
I like walking around and watching them interact with each other. I learn a lot about their personalities!

We will go on to brainstorm, write and post the rules students decide on at the end of the week.
I have put together a set of materials I will be using during our first week. 
I have added this file to my TPT store. 
Click the link below to check it out!

What "First Week of School" activities do you have planned to help you establish rules? 
Would love to hear!
email or comment below!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Planning Out A Planner

I'm linking up again with Tara's Fourth Grade Frolics and Monday Made It. 
Visiting her site always leaves me feeling inspired. You must check her out!
Another way to get the creative juices flowing is to head to your local craft store. 
This weekend I made my way to the Michaels.
I spent FOREVER just wandering around that store. 
And here is what I found.... the Create 365 Happy Planner. 


This planner was so cute!  Loved it!
I loved the calendar layouts, the colors and sayings. 


I was so tempted to grab it,  but have a template that I use for lesson planning that includes all the details that I need to incorporate when posting plans. It will be so much easier to use that instead of handwriting all my plans into this one. Lesson planning is one of my least favorite school tasks...I need to keep it as simple as possible. 
So I decided to use the Happy Planner as inspiration and create my own cover and add divider cards. I figure a nice planner makes the job a bit more enjoyable, right? 


Once I started with these beautiful papers from Liana Scrap, I could not stop. 
Check out her sets of digital papers here



I put together a file of what I created and am sharing it free in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. 
You can find it by clicking the link below. 

So what do you use? Are you an Erin Condren fan? Happy Planner? 
Would love to hear!
Email at 
or comment below!