Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3,000,000 Teachers Strong TPT Sale!

Surprise!!! Today is a snow day!  Actually this isn't much of surprise around here lately!  We have missed so much school this year, because Winter 2014 just won't leave!  This means two things...longer school year for me and new TPT products for you!  I have spent this glorious snow day updating and creating new TPT products just in time for the big 3 Million Teachers Strong Sale!!!

Here are my newest products:
Click the pics to link to each product OR visit my store-Mrs. H's Resource Room on TPT!

Head on over  to TPT, fill your wishlists, and get ready to make purchases on Thursday and Friday!!  Support your favorite Teacher Sellers!

Follow along on this linky party (click the image below) to find yours truly and many other wonderful  teachers!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday: CardKiwi

I was recently asked to use and review a new flashcard website/tool called CardKiwi.  CardKiwi uses a special algorithm called spaced repetition algorithm.  This specially designed study tool employs a formula that spaces your flashcards based on what you have told the program you know and don't know.  It's like the old way of doing flashcards in a fancy, technological new way.  Remember the days of creating piles of flashcards of "cards I know" and "cards I don't know"?  Now the computer can do it all for you!

CardKiwi is extremely easy to use and has a step by step format to help you create cards on any subject, from sight words to math facts and vocabulary.  You can even create flashcards for many, many different novels that are pre-loaded into the program.  The program works on the premise that as you learn the material on the card you give a "thumbs up" to show you know and "thumbs down" or "thumbs sideways" to show you don't know the content or sort of know the content.  CardKiwi will then show you the cards that you gave a "thumbs down" or "thumbs sideways" to more frequently.  CardKiwi still throws in the cards that you definitely know.  This helps you to continue remember these cards and it also gives motivation, because you will continuously know the answers on some cards.  One of my favorite parts is that you can use words or images on each card, so this makes flashcard possibilities endless.

Here you add flashcards to your set.  Make them about any subject that you need!

Now begin studying!

On this screen the user will decide how well they know the content.  If the student does not know the content and choose thumbs down then the program will show that particular card more often.

Another awesome benefit of this program is that you can share collaborate and share your cards with your friends!  It's always more fun to study with a buddy!!  Students from elementary age through high school and beyond can use CardKiwi!  I highly recommend this website.  CardKiwi gives a fresh spin on an old trick!! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech On Tuesday: News-O-Matic

  FREE download and 2 week trial, then subscription based

I recently downloaded a new app that quickly became a favorite in my house and my classroom.  News-O-Matic is a daily use app.  My kids check this app daily to get the day's news stories and current events.  Each news story is kid-friendly and entertaining.  The news of the days is covered through videos, maps, games, images and stories.  It includes stories for all interests including sports, science, world news, and even wacky events.  This is a safe way for young readers to become global learners.

New issues are featured daily and include:

  • Five news articles
  • Detailed videos, images, pictures, and games
  • Maps for every story
  • Interactive timeline
  • Puzzles, games, facts
  • Each story can be read aloud, so even non-readers can enjoy the news
All articles are safe and kid-friendly.  Each article is reviewed by a child psychologist before it is published.

The News-O-Matic app is free to  download and includes a free 2 week trial period.  After the trial period you can subscribe for $19.99 for one year, $2.99 monthly, or $1.99 weekly.  We are coming up on the end of our trial period and I will be making a subscription purchase!  This one is well worth the cost!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Teaching Reading: How Do You Decide What to Teach?

There a couple events in my past week that have really made me think about reading in a special education classroom.  1)  My guest post with Christine Reeve over at Autism Classroom News, 2) I have a new student teacher that I am trying to explain to why I teach what I teach and where the activities come from, and 3) my Reader's Survey results came in and showed that a majority of you want to know more about reading and what to teach.

Below is a little button that I created to remind me and to help you figure out what to do about reading in a resource room.  I shared this on Chris' blog and now I thought it would be beneficial for all of you if I went a little more in depth about the "A" and "D" in READING.

A:  As I've blogged about in the past, my favorite tools of assessment are Dr. Fry's Informal Reading Assessments, Reading A-Z running records, Corrective Reading assessment and my school district's universal screening-NWEA's MAP (Measures of Academic Progress).  I believe that it is important to administer varied assessments, because each test will give you specific information that you need on each student.  No one test is going to give me all of the information that I need.  It is hard for me to place all of my instructional needs on the results of one assessment.  When I use several different assessments, it helps to give me a better overall picture of my students.  
Below is a chart of the assessments that I use to inform my reading instruction.  *Note these are my personal preferences and what I use each assessment to measure.  Please understand that this is not the be all/end all to assessments or ways to guide your instruction, but it is a good place to start if you don't know where to start.*

There are several places to find reading curriculum for special education students.  Some reading companies even have a companion reading intervention component.  I have used the intervention curriculum to Reading Street in the past, but this was at a different school and I am no longer at that school.  I did really like that curriculum and it worked well for the students that I had at the time.  In my current school we do not have the intervention curriculum, so as is the special ed way of things, I modify what is available at school, find another curriculum, or create my own activities to meet specific needs.

D:  Decisions, decisions, decisions!  It's time to make some choices in what to use to teach students.  All of my decisions are based on assessment, need, and of course IEP goals.  If you check out the table below you can see which instruction strategies I use to meet each of the 5 literacy components.

In my classroom, meeting several students varying and challenging needs, means that management of the class time and instruction is incredibly important.  This is why I choose to use a Daily 5 type of classroom management for reading.  The Daily 5 stations allow me to meet the needs of each student in all areas that they are experiencing difficulty during one class period.  It also allows students to have ownership of their learning and gain independence in the rotations.

My Reading Resource schedule looks like this:

I will give you a quick synopsis of what each piece of the schedule means, but in later posts I promise to give you more details of each!

Timed Fluency:  Students are given a reading fluency passage each week.  (I find my fluency passages on Reading A-Z).  On Monday, the students each individually read the passage to me for one minute.  Together the student and I record the words per minute, accuracy of word reading, and we set a goal.  Students know when they come in the room they are to get their passage, a timer, and a partner.  Students take turns reading and timing each other.  The students are trying to build accuracy and beat the previous day's time.

Vocabulary Instruction:  As a whole group, we do vocabulary instruction.  I use graphic organizers and other instructional strategies to teach vocabulary.  We have weekly vocabulary that goes along with our weekly story (from Reading A-Z).  I use the book Word Nerds to help guide my instruction.  If you don't have the book, Word Nerds.....go get it!!

Rotations:  I know it is Daily 5, but with a short resource time, I don't have time for all 5 rotations.  You will notice a star beside Read to Self and Word Work.  The star means that they have to do these two stations daily.  The students then choose a 3rd station, but all stations must be visited throughout the week.

Teacher Time:  On Monday and Wednesday, I meet with two of my students during the rotation time.  These two students have very similar needs that the others in the group do not have.  These students do guided reading with me for two sessions worth of time.  On Tuesday and Thursday, I meet with the remaining four students.  We use the same story, but on a different level (when available) and do guided reading for two sessions.

Read to Self:  Students self select "good fit" books and read to themselves.

Work on Words:  I create or find a word work activity to go along with the weekly guided reading story.  Each story on Reading A-Z has a word work skill.  (Are you seeing a pattern?  I love Reading A-Z.  It is a special educator's life saver).   Students that need sight word instruction also can work on sight words during this time using apps, time delay, or a word work station.

Work on Writing:  Students can complete their vocabulary journal at the writing station, choose a writing prompt (free write), or have a prompt (also available with Reading A-Z guided reading lesson).

Listen to Reading-Students can listen to stories on the computer, using RAZ kids, or on CD or the iPad.

Read with Someone:  Students read with a partner.  They complete an activity with the partner such as a graphic organizer that goes along with the story and comprehension skill we are focused on for the week.

A few extra components that I have to "get in" to my reading time include: Lexia (a computer based reading intervention), progress monitoring.
Students use Lexia on Tuesday and Thursday in the village square to meet their weekly usage minutes.  They can also use this during Listen to Reading time if they have completed other station work.
Progress monitoring-I do weekly progress monitoring on Fridays.  My schedule then looks different for Fridays.  I individually listen to each student read the fluency passage and get the week's word per minute average, students complete reading comprehension quizzes, and for my students with basic reading goals, I monitor sight word recognition.  While all of this monitoring is going on, students complete rotations they didn't get to work on or finish from the week.  

Geez!!! How do the kids keep up with all of this??  It's hard enough for me!  I've got an organizational freebie for you that I hope you will love!

Questions?  Suggestions?  Comments?  I would love to hear them!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday: Feb. 4

Tech on Tuesday!  Back again!  Today's tech review features:  Touch and Write & Dexteria.  Two apps that should be in every special education teachers and occupational therapists arsenal of apps and instructional activities!

Dexteria is designed to help young children develop prewriting skills.  It is a set of therapeutic hand exercises that helps to improve fine motor skills.   The app takes advantage of the multi-touch interface of the iPad to allow complete interaction with the app.  Students work on pincher grasp, motor planning and sequencing.  The last exercise moves up to letter writing in a structured, yet fun and engaging way to learn the letters.  From personal experience, my son (age 6) loves this app.  He does not have difficulty with writing or fine motor skills, but the activities were engaging enough to keep him on the app.  In the classroom, students with fine motor difficulties can use this app in repeated and short sessions.

This app is also great elementary age students.  The app allows students to practice letter and word writing.  The fun bit of this app is in the materials that are used to "write."  You can "write" in ketchup, pudding, icing, jelly, and more.  You can also change the background from paper to fur and anything in between!  So fun and highly motivating!  One of my favorite aspects of this app is that you can program your own word list.  Students can then use this app to practice their own sight words or spelling words.  
Hurry and download these apps today!! You won't be sorry!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February Currently

I'm linking up on this wonderful February morning with Farley for this month's Currently...

Oh' boy fourth grade

Listening:  It's a lazy Saturday morning here in Kentucky!  The kids are content playing, reading and being self-sufficient.  :)  YAY!!!  I really love the age my kids are now.  They still need their mommy, but are big enough to do what they want on their own.

Loving:  Recently, I have been getting to know several bloggers more personally and getting to give personal and professional advice to some of my readers.  This blog has been a blessing and keeps opening doors for me and showing me new avenues to explore.

Thinking:  The loving section really leads me into the thinking section.  I'm constantly thinking about the future.  What's next for my career?  What am I afraid of?  Can I take the next step?  Hopefully, I will be sharing some exciting news with you guys soon.

Wanting:  I want a day to relax and read or to relax and do nothing at all.  Unfortunately I have laundry to do, a house to clean, a grocery trip to make and kids to take to practice.  While I really don't mind to do any of those things, sometimes a day completely OFF would be amazing!  I see snow days in the forecast for next...maybe one of those days will be full of book reading and coffee drinking!

Needing:  Well, along with all of the things listed in wanting, I also need to meal plan for this month and make the trip to Costco.  Our monthly meal plan went really well in January and I look forward to doing it again this month.  I'll share soon about the ins and outs of the monthly meal planning.  I know it's not teaching related, but it does help this teacher make life easier!

2 Truths and a Fib:  #3 is the fib!  I did marry my high school sweetheart and I love flowers on Valentine's Day.  Those chocolate candy boxes are yuck!  I always seem to pick the grossest piece in the box! :)

Have a lovely February, friends!!!