Great Simple Anchor Charts for the Real Classroom

What are Anchor Charts

If you are new to teaching or even if you aren't you might have heard the term "anchor charts". What is an anchor chart you may be thinking.

Anchor charts are more than a chance to show off your artistic abilities they should truly anchor student's learning. They should be made at least partially with students and be up for students to reference while learning about a topic. They can also be used for data tracking and classroom management. 

Here are just a few of mine.
Upper Grades Literacy Rotation expectations. In lower grades I had a chart for each.

When is it ok to interrupt the teacher? - Answer NEVER

Displaying on focus wall - abandoning book upper grades

upper grades just right book

Ask and Answer Questions

Synthesizing overview

Synthesizing Smoky Night - interactive anchor chart with student sticky notes over course of reading the book

Interactive Olive the Other Reindeer Character, Setting Problem Solution

Character Traits inside and outside with Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Making deep connections.

Phonics - two vowels go walking

Bossy R Phonics

One of my favorites! Phonics OU OW vowel with bandaids!

Writing - revising and editing colors.

Beginning of the year upper grades Student input what do you need to be successful?

How do you feel - emojis!

Behavior management - does it cause a problem?

Guest or substitute teacher Miss Nelson is Missing

Data Tracking

Interactive Share Your thinking, exit ticket, quick check, formative assessment!

Topic, Main Idea, Supporting Details

KWL focus topic Moon tied to ELA fiction and nonfiction Kitten's First Full Moon and the Moon book by Gail Gibbons.

Claim Evidence Reasoning Scientific Explanation and Argumentative Writing upper grades

100th Day Ms. Miller shouldn't have to say!

Fruit - persuasive writing 1st grade, the best fruit is!
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Definition of a Syllable and Tricks for Teaching

Anyone else have a SUPER hard time teaching syllables because they have trouble hearing them personally?!?! This is the hardest thing for me to teach/work on with my groups! The clapping business doesn't work for me! 

Here's my surefire trick! I have to say it with my hand under my chin and count my chin drops! One of my dear Kindergarten teaching partners taught me that and it saves me all the time! Several of my students can only figure out syllables that way as well! 

The reason this works is that vowels cause your mouth to open and therefore your chin to drop... and since every syllable has a vowel every time your chin drops it's another syllable!


Syllables fall under Phonemic Awareness "The ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words, and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds" (Yopp, 1992)

I teach students that - "A syllable is a word or part of a word with one vowel sound". We say this all the time. Students must understand the concept or definition of a syllable before they can begin to identify types of syllables.

I have a Syllables pack with 4 different activities to practice this difficult for some concept in a variety of ways.
First students see a picture and word say it and circle the number of syllables. This is more phonics since the word is printed for them.

There is a fun syllable graphing activity that incorporates a bit of math!



 This pack is perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade and is Common Core Aligned. 
Grab it HERE

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4 Meaningful Small Group Instruction Ideas for Beginning Readers

            I will never forget first guided reading groups for kindergarten as a reading specialist. I had taught Kindergarten for six years, several years prior and loved working with kindergarteners. I knew that I had the lowest of the two classes that I was working with but still I was confident I would do what I knew to do and they would just pick up on it and we would be reading in no time. That was the end of August.  By Labor Day I knew what I was doing wasn’t going to work. These five years olds had me stumped. I started with their names, which is where I always start teaching students their letters because the letters in their names are important to them, making them more meaningful. However, these kiddos were not connecting the letters to their names, they didn’t even know the difference between letters and numbers, or shapes or colors. These students weren’t ready to read, they weren’t ready to write they weren’t even ready to say letter names and sounds. My students needed pre-letter sound skills. They needed the prerequisite skills for identifying letters, and sounds and to write and eventually read.          

 Concepts of Print           Concepts of print or how books and text are set up have long been taught and assessed for beginning readers. To truly know how to read a student must have these concepts. One to one correspondence, return sweep, parts of a book, identifying a letter, word, punctuation, and page turning. So I created posters and task cards (more for the teacher or an aide) to do with pre-readers. Click on the picture below to purchase the task cards or click HERE.

Environmental Print             
Environmental print or the everyday logos, words and symbols found in children’s everyday lives are a excellent concept to link reading to meaning and make it important for students.
Image result for environmental print
 Visual Discrimination             
Being able to look at letters, shapes, numbers and words and tell how they are different and alike are the first step in recognizing letters. Click picture below to purchase this resource from my TPT store!
As well as this sorting mat

 Fine Motor             
While maybe more commonly thought of as being related to writing, fine motor skills are important for all areas of literacy. “An understanding of fine motor skills is necessary to determine their impact on reading and writing, they are the coordination of small groups of muscles to complete a task or participate in an activity.” (St. John 2013). 



Oral Language and Phonemic Awareness             
The development of oral language has long been regarded as essential to reading development. Oral language is the system through which we use spoken words to express knowledge, ideas, and feelings. Results from a study by Mol, S.E., Bus, A. G., & de Jong, M.,T. (2009)  showed that children’s oral language as well as print knowledge benefited from interactions before during and after shared reading skills. 


  References Mol, S. E., Bus, A. G., & de Jong, M.,T. (2009). Interactive book reading in early education: A tool to stimulate print knowledge as well as oral language. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 979-1007. St. John, S. (2013). Factoring in Fine Motor: How Improving Fine Motor Abilities Impacts Reading and Writing. Illinois Reading Council Journal, 41(4), 16-24

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7 Diverse Books to Share with Students

Who am I to be writing about diverse reads you might ask? Well I'm an adopted child of a Spanish speaking Jew who grew up super poor in small town Midwest. My mother was from Chicago so she raised me to be culturally aware. She borrowed musicals (for free from our amazing town library) since we couldn't afford to go to the theater. I grew up listening to latin music and learning about other cultures. My uncle her brother lived all over the world and would send me post cards and trinkets from around the world. Yall in my small town quoting Le Mes I was a freak! And while I am not a person of color nor do I even pretend to know the struggles and challenges they have faced I am an ally of culture.
I have always appreciated other cultures and was raised to embrace them. I have always tried to bring that appreciation into my classroom. One of my favorite ways to do that is using Children's Books of course! Sadly this infographic from 2015 shows how lacking children's literature is in diversity.
An Updated Look at Diversity in Children's Books | School Library ...

However here are seven that I have found and used in my classroom.
The Newest Book in my collection that just came out! It is perfect for the beginning of the year and starting off the year right with an all inclusive classroom.

An oldie but a goodie from Eve Bunting talking about homelessness. This isa big issue in my city not necessarily not having a home (though we have that too) but living with family and living with random people or children who are left at our local children's home.

I absolutely love this book having been a child who desperately wanted to change her not so common name. I actually have a unit that goes along with this book in my TPT store if you're interested you can click HERE. But in this book Unehi is new to America from Korea and she feels like she should change her name because no one can say it. The story is sweet and relatable.

This is a great book for all children because they often want "those shoes" in someway. It has great tie ins to social studies with needs and wants.

I have loved this book for ages! It has so many good teaching pints and skills that you can use to teach with it but it's adorable and relatable for all kids.


This Mem Fox book is beautifully illustrated and talks about how all across the world children look and sound different but they do many things that are the same.


This is another of my all time favorites that I use to teach social studies concepts. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams is a sweet story of a hispanic family that saves for a new chair.

I hope you like these suggestions and check them out! Any that I should add? Let me know in the comments.
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5 Places to find Affordable Teacher Clothes

If you've been following my teacher clothes series this is the final post. If not go back and check out the first two posts.
Teacher Interview Clothes
7 Teacher Outfit Must Haves
These are my 5 favorite stores to buy cute comfortable teacher clothes from. I will break it down and share what I get from each store and why I like them.
1. Maurices - This store has been a favorite of mine since HIGH SCHOOL. Yes they have seen me through so much. I love my local Maurices girls. They have helped me choose interview outfits, vacation clothes and more. If you shop there regularly it will pay off literally. They have a FREE rewards program that you earn rewards for shopping there. It is more with the credit card but I'm not saying you should do that. Just know it's an option. My favorite items from Maurices are jeans, pull on dress pants, shoes, accessories, cute tops and swing dresses especially their 24/7 collection, interview clothes, cute dresses, colored jeggings, you get the idea. A very large portion of my wardrobe is from Maurices. They also have GREAT clearance sales! As well as sizes 0-24.
2. Amazon - I know online shopping for clothes can be risky but with Amazon's easy returns now to Kohls and they also have a try on program where you try things on for 7 days then return what you don't want! Not everything is eligible but it is a nice way to get to try things on before purchasing. Some of my favorites are the ballet flats mentioned in my 7 Teacher Outfit Must haves Post, and dresses and tops because sizing tends to be more forgiving on those items. Read the reviews and sizing charts before ordering. Another thing I like to order on Amazon is costumes! I love a great costume for dress up days or book character day or whatever and I find a lot of items and props on Amazon like rainbow leggings.
3. Gap Outlet/ Old Navy - I worked for Gap Company for 5 years in college and after so I might be a bit biased on this one. But they have affordable clothes with good quality. I know Gap can be more expensive so shop the outlet! It's even online now. Gap and Old Navy are great for Khakis, basic tees, and the all important Teacher Cardigan! They also have times when you can earn Old Navy or Gap Cash and if you sign up for their friends and family emails you can find out about half off sales!
4. Target - Who doesn't love Target? I mean you're there already anyway might as well shop for some teacher clothes while you are at it. My favorites from Target are basic tees, graphic tees, and shoes. Occasionally I will find a cute dress or cardigan too. I love their Knox Rose line but find it doesn't hold up as well as I would like for the price. A tip for shopping at Target is to use the app and scan things to see if they are on Cartwheel and add the savings or coupon. Also if you sign up for their red card not a credit card it is just linked to your bank account you will get 5% off every time you shop in store and online as well as getting free shipping online and being able to donate to your school.
5. Loft Outlet - Note I said outlet, loft is way out of my price range but I do find some nice things from the outlet both in person and online. They are good basics that hold up for a long time. I try and catch their sales because they are really good when they have them. I like their accessories as well. I do find that their items seem to run a little shorter like tops and I have a long torso so I tend to size up. They also give a teacher discount with your ID.
I hope this helps you with ideas of where to find teacher clothes that will last and that you can afford. Is there a store I left out that you just love? Lemme know in the comments below.

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3 Things You Can Do This Summer to Have a GREAT School Year {That aren't necessarily school related!}

Hi! School's out for summer! Unless you are like me and are teaching summer school (But that's another story). The LAST thing you probably want to think about is going back to school in the fall.
But you still do, you work on things here and there for your classroom ALL summer if you are like me, ESPECIALLY if you are changing rooms, schools or grade levels! But if you aren't changing anything and don't have much to work on this summer and aren't taking classes, or doing a book study or one of the 100 other things teachers do on their summers "off", this post will still give you 3 things you can do this summer that will make going back to school in the fall easier! And if you have sworn not to do anything school related for a week or month (GOOD for you we all need to recharge) you can still do these because they don't appear to be school related!!
Ready?
Meal Prep - I am a huge fan of meal prepping! I don't mean the cook once Sunday and have meals for the week (though) I do that too. I mean buying 10 pounds of hamburger and dividing it up and pre-seasoning it for tacos and spaghetti on those busy nights with lessons and games and practice or so your partner can grab it and make dinner when you are at school until 8pm for parent teacher conferences. It's so much better for you and less expensive than eating out! You can also prep crock pot or instant pot meals. Because while the instant pot is great sometimes just figuring out what to make can be a challenge!

Image may contain: table, indoor and food

This is what 15 crockpot freezer meals and 4 bags of ground beef seasoned and ready to use and 2.5 pounds of homemade meatballs looks like! My freezer is full and I am so happy! Took about 3 hours to prep and cook and bag thanks to my momma for helping.
I am a teacher not a chef but I do like to cook but I have some posts to share with you that I use to find meals and tips.


Put Together Outfits - You know those mornings you wake up later than you expect or the dogs get out and you have to run them down these are the mornings you want to have some pre planned outfits that are already ironed (if you do that) and put together even jewelry if you want. 

iDesign Orbinni Steel Over-The-Door Valet Storage Hook - 1" x 7.8" x 5.1", Chrome

I use an over the door hanger to put together my outfits for the week so that it is one less thing I have to do in the morning because I like to get as much sleep as possible an I have 3 kids so mornings are pretty crazy. #notamoringperson I have a blog post with some teacher clothes must haves HERE and these are great staples to put together these outfits with. So put together 3-5 emergency outfits and put them somewhere to grab when you are running late, and think about prepping your weekly outfits on the weekend.


Organize Your Spaces - I don't know about you but during the school year my housekeeping goes by the way side. Let me be clear I am not a great housekeeper to begin with but it is definitely the first thing to go during the school year. My oldest son is great with helping out and cleaning he likes things clean and tidy #blesshim But when summer rolls around I like to take the time to organize and clean out all the things! These are the things I clean out and reorganize every summer:
- my closet this is a BIG one! 
- the refrigerator 
- the pantry
- my bathroom and all my makeup and hair products
I also will sometimes clean out and organize
-the storage room/unit
-the garage
- my office
This is the time to organize and declutter all the things and put organization systems into place. For example I just reorganized and cleaned out the fridge. I bought some clear organizers for eggs and other things. The egg one is great because my kids loved hard boiled eggs and this way they know the ones in the container are hardboiled. The other containers I keep their lunch items in like string cheese, applesauce, gogurt etc. My hope is that it makes making lunches faster and easier for them. No more where's the applesauce or we're out of pudding when it's really they just didn't see it behind the milk.
Have a great summer teacher friends!
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3 Ways to Encourage Better Attendance!

Hiya! Is attendance a focus in your school district? It is a HUGE focus in mine!  My current school has struggled with attendance in the past and I have found that upper grades are more of a struggle than the lower ones.   My principal came to me and asked me to research some things to encourage attendance school wide so I came up with a few things we have implemented to help increase our attendance. So I have 3 ways to encourage attendance in your class or school! Use one, two or all of them!

The first thing I implemented was tracking attendance in our Data Notebooks.  I use Data Notebooks to track all kinds of things and set goals so Attendance is just one more thing we track and set goals for. In upper grades students are more capable of taking ownership of their attendance even if their parents aren't.


This is part of my data tracking sheets resource on TPT that  you can find HERE!


The second idea was a school wide attendance trophy with a small incentive for each child in the class.

The trophy was donated from a local shop and was open so we could add small snacks or rewards. Here is ours the month we won! This could be announced monthly weekly, for best attendance or even most improved!


The third activity I did was printing PERFECT ATTENDANCE on pieces of red paper and every day that everyone was here I added a letter until we spelled it out and the class received an award something free like lunch in the classroom or extra recess. They loved this and it cost me nothing!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dsNsIdKmaY2FgIFB9gqjTEm1q6F8_5sS
For this activity and more attendance resources click the cover below to go to my TPT store and snag awards, incentives and more!

S





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