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Sensory Path

I have seen so many amazing sensory paths in schools and have wanted to make one ever since.  This summer I cut out some basic arrows using my Silhouette. I bought several different wall/floor stickers from The stickers I ordered ended up being smaller than I expected, but it made it easy to make the path inside of my classroom. I have a small class and was able to make the path around my small group tables and along the walls. My kids love it!

Students begin by jumping on the arrows with their toes pointing in the same direction as the arrows.

When they get to the paw prints, they push against the lockers as hard and as silently as possible.

Next, they work on balance by following the train tracks.

The next part is the 'Fly Zone.' Students fly until they reach the green arrow.

At the green arrow they turn and follow the underwater path. Students squat/crawl/crab walk following the arrows to the submarines.

Finally, students come to the alphabet. F0r my older students, they jump from A-Z. Other students jump to spell their names. When our preschool friends use it, they just bunny hop on all of the letters. There is a red stop sign at the end of the alphabet that students hop on to show they are finished.

Our sensory path is very simple and plain compared to many that I have seen, but it works just the same. I would love to see pictures of sensory paths that you have in your classroom/school.

Publish Your Own Classroom Book

At the end of the year, we spend our days doing research on animals and writing expository essays. This year I decided I want to make the students' work even more special by helping them publish their own book. Studentreasures is fantastic! They offer their services to teachers for FREE! Each teacher receives one copy of the book for free for their classroom. Students (and teacher) have the opportunity to buy individual copies. Each book is printed on high quality paper with a hard cover.

Here are some of the pages my students created. After they researched their animal, they followed a step-by-step tutorial to draw their animal. They had to color it with their final draft.

Pencil Grips

I was contacted by Firesara pencil grips to review their pencil grips. I received them at the very end of the school year and didn't get a chance to try them with my students until we started back to school. Let me tell you, they are AMAZING! They sent me three different kinds but the first set is my favorite because it helps our students who struggle the most.

Students place their index finger in one pocket and their thumb in the other pocket. The pencil grips are made of rubber so they do not slide down the pencil when the student grips it. 

 These are great for students who need a little less support than our students who have very limited fine motor skills.

These are great for students who need a reminder of where their fingers should be placed on the pencil.

All of the grips are very sturdy and durable. They are smooth and did not bother my students who are sensitive to different textures.

If you need pencil grips, I highly recommend  Firesara pencil grips.  You won't be disappointed!

Reading Intervention for Older Students Who Struggle with Fluency

Last year I shared about my Reading Intervention Curriculum. I have seen AMAZING growth in my students. I started using it with 2 5th graders but they moved and didn't finish the year with me. After they moved, I began using it with 4 students for the rest of the school year. I had to collect data to prove it was successful with my kids so that I could use it with more students this year. Well, my students surpassed my wildest expectations!

All four students were in the 4th grade last year and I was tracking their reading fluency on 2nd grade level.
Beginning of 4th grade Words Correct Per Minute
Student 1: 15 words
Student 2: 20
Student 3: 24
Student 4: 23

At the end of the year, they increased to the following (still on 2nd grade level):
Student 1: 55 (266% increase)
Student 2: 44 (120% increase)
Student 3: 37 (54% increase)
Student 4: 86 (274% increase)

I was thrilled with these results. We started back to school and I did my beginning of the year assessments. As I test each student, I ask how much they read over the summer and if they participated in any type of tutoring services.  Student 4 was the only one to read over the summer and said he was tutored by a family member. The others said they didn't read anything or do any type of school work.

I am required to give each student a reading fluency probe on their grade level and each grade below until I find the grade level they are reading between the 10th and 25th percentile.  My students tested at the following grades/words per minute:

Beginning of 5th grade:
Student 1: 4th grade level 66 words per minute
Student 2: 4th grade level 68 words per minute
Student 3: 2nd grade 42 words per minute
Student 4: 5th grade level 107 words per minute

With this much progress, I can no longer justify pulling 3/4 of these kids out of the general education reading curriculum. They are back with their peers with minimal support services!

I am not a brain expert but I think it's because of how the words are chunked and the syllables are marked. It helps the students understand how multi-syllable words can be attacked. They are able to see the smaller parts and sound them out which allows them to begin to internalize how to attack larger, more challenging words. I am most fascinated that all of the students showed even more growth after the summer even though they didn't read.

Super Deal
I know you are excited to try this program for yourself. For a limited time, I will have my reading program on sale of 50% off.

You can find it {HERE}

Social Skills- Conversation Club

Do you have students who struggle with participating in conversations with their peers or adults appropriately? I found some great materials that you are going to love. This curriculum is called Conversation Club and it's fantastic!

First, it comes with data sheets!! These data sheets align with the curriculum and are very easy to use.

There are lesson plans that go along with the student read-aloud book.  Some of the activities are games that allow the students to further practice the skills they are learning with the read-aloud book.

All materials that are needed with the activities are also provided. You just need to print and cut them out.

 I love the student read-aloud book. It's full color. The text both tells the story and asks students questions to get them thinking about the topic/skill they are working on.

At the end of each section are club rules to help the students remember how to apply the skills they are working on.

I know you are going to want to order these books for your class. You can find them {HERE}

Reading Intervention

I have finally made a breakthrough with my students and I wanted to share it with you all.  I am so excited because I have 2, 5th-grade students who are finally starting to make really good progress in reading fluency.

They are like many students you teach. They know their letter sounds but still confuse some vowels.  They know how to blend words together.  The problem is they can't do it all at the same time to read fluently.  Sound familiar?

Let me give you a bit of background on my two students.  Student A is LD in ELA.  Last year he averaged 35 words per minute on the 1st-grade level.  Student B is ID (IQ below 70).  Last year he averaged 14 words per minute on the 1st-grade level.

My students biggest complaints about the reading programs we use are they are very boring.  They think the stories are stupid.  They are repetitive and have no storyline.  Even though they want to read, they just can't into the stories.  I decided there has to be a better way.  I spent my summer working on a program just for these two boys.

I started this program with my 2 boys just a few weeks ago.  They have only completed 14 lessons so far, but I have already seen a huge growth in their reading.  Before we began the program, Student A read 34 wpm on the 1st-grade level and Student B read 14 wpm.  Both picked up right where they left off last year.  After 2 weeks of intervention, Student A increased his rate to 44 wpm and Student B increased to 23 wpm.  This is more than their highest scores last year!!  After 4 weeks of instruction, Student A has increased to 58 wpm.  This is a 71% increase in his fluency!!  Student B's rate increased to 25 wpm.  This is a 78% increase for him.  They are so excited about their progress in reading!  I can't wait to see where they are at the end of the year.

-boring/babish texts
-easily decodable
-teach missing skills
-no carryover of skills/strategies to new texts

That's a lot to figure out which is why we are all in the same boat.

I decided to jump in and give it a shot.  I figured nothing else has worked, so we really don't have anything to lose.

I began with reviewing letter sounds and having very controlled text.  I told the kids to hang in there with me and trust me.  The first 7 lessons are "boring" texts that they are used to reading.  You know the stories about Meg and Peg.  They like to play tag.  But starting on lesson 8, I begin nonfiction texts.  They are simple, but it's real information.  I also underline chunks of words to help students know how to read words with more than one syllable.

Here's a breakdown of the lessons.

Students begin with a phonemic awareness activity.  I have been absolutely amazed at the skills my kids found difficult.  We have worked really hard on building phonemic awareness.

Then, we work on a phonics skill.  In this lesson, we are working on the /ar/ sound.

Then we move into word building.  Each activity is short and to the point.  My kids have a very short attention span so we need to keep moving and switching activities every few minutes.  The last few phrases are dictated to the students and they record it on their daily worksheet.

Next, we read hard words.  Words that we haven't learned the phonics rule for or words that cannot be sounded out.  These are words that appear in the text more than once.

Then, we practice reading words that follow the phonics rules we know.  Several words have been chunked to help the kids decode them.

Fluency phrases are just a few phrases from the story.  By now, we have reviewed most of the text in the story.

Finally, we read the text.  On the teacher's page, there are questions built in along with a practice game to help work on fluency.  We read the story 3 times.  The first time, we read it straight through.  The second time, I stop and ask questions.  The third time, they read it completely by themselves.  If you have several students, they could read with a partner.

Here are the student pages that go with this lesson. (I've even included answer keys.)

I have been blown away by the results I'm seeing with my kids.  The program is very simple, yet it seems to be very beneficial for my kids.  You can find the first 20 lessons in my store.  I would love to know how your students do with it.  

Best of luck!

Relax and Enjoy a Giveaway!

Some of my amazing friends got together for a quick giveaway.  We are giving away a $25 TpT gift card.  You only have 1 day to enter so make sure you enter and share with your friends!

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Word Builders for Small Group Instruction

Students use these easy word builders in small group phonics instruction.

Word building is such an important skill for students to practice.  If you're like me, word building materials make you absolutely crazy!  Kids lose the pieces between lessons.  They can't find the letter they need because there are too many pieces.  I've been looking everywhere for something that is easy, practical, and cheap.  I finally figured out a simple solution.  Index Card Word Builders.

1.  First, print out the alphabet in long strips.  To make the letters large enough for students to work with easily, you will need to break the alphabet up and glue the strips together.  You can download my template here.  If you make your own, make sure you leave a large space before 'a' and after 'z.'  (Check out the blue arrow.)  Make sure you laminate the letter strips for durability.

2.  Find the middle of your index card/piece of cardboard.  Hold a strip up to the card and mark on either side.  (You can see my pencil marks.)  Use an Exacto knife to cut the slits.  Slide the letter strips into the card. 

3.  Place a bit of duct tape on each end of each letter strip.  This will help prevent kids from pulling the strip all the way out of the index card. 

4.  Slide the letter strips up and down to build words.  

It's fast and easy for kids to make new words.  There's no searching for pieces.  Just a quick slide and kids can find the letters they need.

Students use these easy word builders in small group phonics instruction.

If you make your Word Builder with 5 spaces but want kids to make a 3 or 4 letter word, kids can move the letter strips at the end of the word to the white space before 'a' or after 'z.'

Need for Speed; A Car STEM Project

Cars students made for a STEM Project

Do you need to keep kids engaged the last few weeks of school?  Are your kids bored at home?  STEM camp?  I have the answer for you!  In the South, we get out of school in May.  We spent the last few weeks of school researching and experimenting with Newton's laws.  We used what we learned to create the most aerodynamic cars possible and ended the year with a big race.  The kids had so much fun!  They were so busy learning, they didn't have time to get in trouble!!  I call that the ultimate win!

 We started the unit off by learning about wheels and axles.  We watched a few videos and recorded our findings.  Then, we tried out what we learned.

Some experiments students will complete to learn about wheels and axels.

Then, we studied Newton's Second Law of Motion.  Here are a few pictures of our experiments.

Some experiments students did to learn about friction and aerodynamics.

Our next step was to learn about air resistance.  For practical purposes, some of our experiments involved water.  We discussed how water resistance is similar to air resistance.

Experiments students completed to learn about aerodynamics.

I found several different videos of a variety of cars on youtube.  I made QR codes for each video.  Students were able to watch each video and take notes about what they liked or what they might want to try.  

We spent the last few days building, racing, and rebuilding getting ready for the big race.  Here are the cars the kids made.

Cars students created during our STEM project.

The fastest cars from our STEM project race.

Check out the entire unit here .

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