Vocabulary Strategies ~ Freebie day!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

One of the biggest challenges that my students face on the upcoming state test is vocabulary.  I have tried just about every trick in the book to work on this.  

We are poised to read Catching Fire as I received a grant for books from our school's PTSO after my kids actually asked to read it.  (Yes, I am thoroughly ecstatic that they want to read!) 

However, there is some vocabulary to work through...

First, we will use relevant vocabulary from our text.  
I/we have also enjoyed using the Strategic Instruction Model LINCing strategy this year.  

This is a researched strategy from the University of Kansas that honestly works but is better for short stories.  This strategy can be somewhat time-consuming when working through a novel.

So, here's what I have come up with for our novel study instead:

This is included in my new book - Acing the Big Test, Think like a Champion!  It's a story that's all about looking at the Big Test as if it were a championship.  It includes study tips, comprehension and reading skills questions, mentor sentence plans, reading skills quick reference guide with a foldable AND vocabulary - using the chart above.

You can enter to win a pdf copy below but in the meantime, you can get a free copy of the vocabulary chart  HERE from Google Docs.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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Freebie Fridays

A Peek at my Week ~ after Spring Break

I am happy to link up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at My Week even though my Spring Break is over...

The next two weeks are big ones for me as they are the last 2 weeks before our big state testing.  I know I will be working on figurative language for a bit as the data says this is our area for improvement and I know I am using lessons from the Interactive Reading Literature Notebook...

...but my brain is still on vacation and that's all I am sure of.  Good thing I already made all my copies and have everything laid out on my desk for tomorrow!  :)

One thing I do know for sure is that I will be working hard on to get my students in the right mindset for our state testing!  

First, I will play the Rocky theme as the students enter the classroom.  After everyone is welcomed back and we refresh ourselves on our agreements (rules), I will tell them a bit about Rocky and then play this video:

This is where Acing the Big Test ~ Think like a Champion comes in!  

My students (who all have special needs) dread the big test.  My goal is get them to change their thinking and think of it as something to which they say "Bring it on!" like Rocky or any other sports champ.

So we'll read the book, discuss it, and use the questions and foldable at the back to see what skills we still need to practice.  Our focus will be on getting stronger as we review figurative language and anything else that needs more attention.

AND this week, you can win a pdf copy of Acing the Test:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by and Good Luck!

Sparking Motivation for the Big Test

I am super excited to link up this week with Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching because I have something big to share with you as I too am ending Spring Break and getting ready for our state's BIG TEST in just 10 days!!

I got this big idea last year at this same time.  It's all about looking at the test as if it were a championship.  Were the basketball players in the Sweet Sixteen upset at having to play?  Of course not!  This is what they have been preparing for all along!  It should be the same for our students.  

So when I told the students this story last year, it wasn't written down - it was more of a talk - but it really resonated with them.  Then I thought, why not make this into a book?  So I did!!  

It's a story with study tips, vocabulary using some of the most interesting word choices from the story, comprehension and reading skills questions, mentor sentence plans for a sentence from the story, and even a reading skills quick reference guide WITH a foldable!

Preview it here:

To celebrate the completion of this big project, enter to win a pdf copy here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Combine this with some great test treats and hopefully all our students will be thinking like champions!!   
Thanks for stopping by and good luck!  

Data "Notebooks"

I am joining the linky party at Positively Learning today because I always need good ideas for student data notebooks.

Mine are more like "trackers".  I teach middle school Language Arts so I have the Marzano proficiency scales at the top of the page and a tracker at the bottom:

I have one of these for each area of Language Arts (informational reading, literature, spelling, etc.)  Each area is on its own colored piece of paper so it's more of a packet than a notebook.

I will be honest and tell you that I do forget about these so I need ideas to keep these in use at least weekly I'd say.  

Looking forward to everyone else's ideas!  

Thanks for stopping by!

Sparking Motivation ~ Technology

Join the fun by clicking the image above!

Yesterday, I had one of those moments where I just got it all right at the right time.

You know I have THEE group of behaviorally challenged special ed kiddos and so when it all comes together, I feel like I am top of the world!

What made the difference?  Student Responders!  I know these are expensive but I submitted a grant with the company and received my very own set with the help of my principal.  (You can click on the link and submit a grant too!)  

They are called "Beyond Question".

Image from http://www.bqlearning.com.  Click the image to visit the site.  :)

I gave the students the same test I would have given on paper, and they all kept saying how much easier it was to do it with the "clickers".  Plus they were engaged and pleasant with one another!  Yes, PLEASANT!  

Image from http://www.bqlearning.com.  Click the image to visit the site.  :)

In short, to use these, you input the student names and they are assigned a clicker number.  Then you input your questions and answers along with the number of point for each question.  You hand out the clickers, enable the clickers to answer and then you display the questions one at a time.  The students input their answers and you can be sure everyone has answered because their number turns green at the bottom of the screen.  You can move on to the next question by pressing the arrow on your computer screen or by using your own clicker.   You can even get fancy and make your questions on a PowerPoint and then connect it to your system.

When the assessment is done, you can go over the answers using the graph feature without revealing which ones individual students missed.  There is a separate screen that lists the individual students, what questions they missed and their grade.  Such a time saver!

I love it and so do my students - Hallelujah!

Short post but I just wanted to share my planets aligning experience with you.  And I was definitely not paid to do this post nor was I solicited to do this post.  This is simply my experience in my classroom - just like everything else I post.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!  But before you go, you might also want to check this out:

Happy Saturday!


Sparking Motivation with Point sheets + text structures!

So our new staffing specialist convinced us to change our point sheets for our students with Behavior Plans so that they are week long point sheets.  They will be stapled into the students' planners and allow for (hopefully) better data collection.  This is fine except that now it throws my whole menu of rewards off.

It used to be a student could earn 6 points per day and based on that scale, students could earn certain rewards each day.  I had all these nice cards made up that showed the reward and how many points one needed to obtain that reward.  Now they are all wrong because the scale is 10 points per day or 50 per week.  Since I have to change the cards, here was my quandary:  Do I continue to reward daily or do I reward weekly?


I have decided to let the students accumulate points and decide themselves!

8 points = 1 brag buck
(school currency for treats in the cafeteria)

10 points = 2 brag bucks or snack provided by me or have lunch in the classroom

20 points = bag of chips or 1 lunch punch

30 points = computer time on block day

50 points = 1 full size candy bar

200 points/ 10 lunch punches = 1 lunch on me from McDonald's

They are all using the new point sheets already so we'll see how the new rewards are received.  Fingers crossed!

So the point sheets &  rewards is one thing new for this week and then the academics with text structures!
We'll begin with reading some short paragraphs and see if we have any guesses as to their structure.  

Then we'll take some notes and use some graphic organizers.  Students will then be able to verify their guesses.

   Finally, I just bought some awesome task cards from Rachel Lynette that we will be using towards the end of the week. 

But wait, that's not all this week! 
There's a big 'ol celebration giveaway with new items each day at Lovin' Lit!  

I've contributed my Totally Writing condensed unit for writing expository & persuasive essays:

Click the image above to enter the giveaway!

Put all this together and it will be a busy week!  Thanks for stopping by!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Five For Friday ~ Wordless style!

Thursday Throwdown ~ Text Features

I love Thursday Throwndown at I'm Lovin' Lit because I am always on the hunt for interactive teaching ideas for my special needs students who crave it!

My small contribution this week has to do with text features.  We are in the countdown towards our state reading testing.  So I am focusing on skills that the students performed poorly on in the last county benchmark assessment.  First up is text features.

As the students entered my room, they were given a sticky note with a text feature word on it.  They were told to match it up to something in the room.  (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this one...)

Then we went through some basic notes using a powerpoint.

After the notes, we checked our sticky notes by comparing them to our notes.  Which ones were right?  Which ones were wrong?  Could we move the wrong ones to better spots?

Then I displayed an article on the whiteboard and handed out magnets.  Students came up and labeled the text features.  Of course we checked them against our notes to see if we were right.  And sometimes we even had to vote to decide!  

It was a great activity with lots of interactive movement so my kids were definitely engaged.  

And speaking of engagement, you might like to engage in The Teacher's Desk 6 Milestone Mania celebration giveaway:

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Good Luck!

Wonderful Websites for Workshop Wednesday!

I am very happy to link up with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday because I am always looking for some great new websites for reading!

My favorite "go - to" web resource is the BBC.

They have different "grade levels" but once you get that sorted out, there are lots of great resources:

-KS1 is approximately kindergarten and first grade
-KS2 is approximately 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th
-KS3 is 5th, 6th and upward


First up is Bitesize.  This section is great for re-teaching and reviewing all kinds of reading and other Language Arts topics like:
Speaking and listening
Even Shakespeare!
(of course this is for the older students)

Here's what the KS2 looks like:



I like how this is laid out with a plan.  It's great for center work and for those who ask for additional practice at home.  Plus it's FREE!  I even use these "younger" materials for my middle school students because it breaks things down for them.

If you simply want to reinforce topics, the games are great too!  I think it's super how they break them into age levels and you can select different subjects!


And of course there's a "Teacher Area" that has links to all kinds of video clips on even some mundane things like punctuation.  You do have to get past some of their spellings and terminology but once you do that, you'll find lots of little goodies!

Well that's my little "secret" website but I am excited to see what your "secrets" are too!

Oh and before you go, you might want to make sure you have entered the Milestone Mania Giveaway from Angela at The Teacher's Desk 6!  There's lots of great prizes being given away (even if I do say so myself!)


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Milestone Mania!

This is a special Tried it Tuesday for me because what I am "trying" is being a contributor to a celebration giveaway!

I am thrilled to announce that my bloggy friend, Angela, at 
The Teachers Desk 6 is celebrating since her blog just had its first blogiversary, received a face-lift, has reached 300 Bloglovin' followers, 200 TpT followers, and 900 Pinterest followers!

What's even better is you get the gifts!

I am giving away a bundle of two of most popular novel games:

These games are played like the T.V. show Jeopardy and the categories are:  setting, characters, plot and theme.  There are at least 9 questions for each category (story element) and are written using critical thinking vocabulary such as "infer, judge, and summarize".

I'm always working to add more games (right now I am working on Among the Hidden) and if you have specific book recommendations, please leave a comment with the title.  :)

But now, here's your chance to get the 2 games above plus lots of other great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Motivation and freebies

I always enjoy linking up for motivation tips with Head Over Heels for Teaching because I am always looking for ways to motivate my special needs kids.  

Did I tell you that I teach the most behaviorally challenged kids in the whole middle school?  You know, the ones that myself and another teacher follow around all day long?  The ones no one else even wants to see let alone work with?  Yeah, those.  

  To say that school has been challenging lately is quite an understatement (due to reasons I can't post) and we're in the stretch right before our state tests!!

So, what I have come up with is going over the difference between regular people and those that won a medal at the Olympics.  That difference is STAMINA!

Click on the picture to be taken to this poster - it's a freebie on TpT from Julie Hughes!

So now I am going to make a chart for each kid with their medal at the end and we will list the steps we are taking to get to that medal.  Each student's medal will have what they would like to earn written on it so it is constant reminder of what he/she is working for.

It's not terribly fancy, but we can record all our baby steps and I think it will make their progress more "real".  I am happy to share the word file here with you.  Maybe someone can liven it up and re-share!  :)

I'll have to let you know how it goes....

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays