Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Reading Intervention Program for Special Education Students

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!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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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Friday, June 22, 2018

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.'


Thursday, June 14, 2018

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 .


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Giveaway

Thank you teachers!  Everyday you work hard and your efforts often go unnoticed.  I am giving away a Peace Frog Teacher t-shirt donated by Good People and a $25 TpT gift card.  Hurry and enter, because this giveaway ends soon.  I hope you all have an amazing end of your school year!

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Expository Writing Program for Special Education Students

Do your students struggle with expository writing?  It's hard for students because they often lack the background knowledge necessary.

Product cover to help students take notes and turn them into complete sentences.

I created this set of notes for my students.  Each page is a different animal.  Notes are written in fragments.

Example of notes for elementary student expository writing.

Here is an example of what a note sheet looks like.  I project this on my smart board so everyone can see it.  I also give students their own copy.  

Students use color pencils to underline important information.

We read through the notes together.  Then we decide what information we can use as a detail.  We underline that information with red.  Then we look for facts that give more information/examples.  We underline that fact in blue.  We find at least 3 sets of facts that can be used as a detail/example.  Once we have the "meat" of our paper underlined, we start writing.

Since we are just beginning to write, I have taught my students a very generic topic sentence.  I tell them it's a generic topic.  It will get the job done, but it has lots of room for improvement.  We use the sentence frame:  _____ are interesting animals.

After students write their topic, we look at the first pair of facts we underlined.  We make them both into complete sentences.  We do the same with the remaining details/examples we identified.  Then, we write a conclusion.  For right now, we are using a generic conclusion.   As you can see, _____ (restate the topic).

As students write, I ask them to underline the topic and conclusion in black, details in red, and examples in blue.

Here's an example from 2 different students.  The top example is from a student who worked with me in a small group and needed lots of support.  The second example is from a student who wrote the entire paragraph by himself after we discussed details/examples from the notes.

Finished student work example for expository writing with color coded sentences.

Finished student work example for expository writing with color coded sentences.

If you are interested in using notes for expository writing, you can find set 1 here.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Fraction Anchor Charts

multiple ways to represent a fraction.
Example of Fraction Anchor Chart

Do you use anchor charts?  I love them!  They are a great reference for students during independent work.  Here are a few of the anchor charts we made during class over the last few weeks.

multiple ways to represent the number 1
Ways to Represent 1

 This has been a great reminder for my kids on fractions that equal 1.

visual way to represent fractions that are less than and greater than one.
Quickly compare any fraction to 1

My kids really struggle with looking at a fraction and being able to determine immediately if it is less than or greater than one.  This anchor chart has allowed me to quickly review this concept with the kids and it's a great reference for them during independent work.

Multiple ways to represent a fraction.
Represent the same fraction in more than one way.

Students often forget the different ways to represent a fraction especially when they are trying to solve word problems.  This chart helps them decide the best way to organize the information in the word problem to make it easier to solve.


Monday, February 26, 2018


Do you want to get your kids hooked on reading?  Of course, you do!  Epic! is the answer for you.

1.  Epic! is FREE for teachers!

2.  Epic offers REAL books.  Does your school participate in AR or another reading incentive program, but you have kids who have read every book on your bookshelf?  Epic! has thousands of books.  Kids can read the books on Epic! and then login to AR to test.

3.  Do you have kids who struggle to read on grade level or are nonreaders?  Epic! has thousands of audio and read aloud books so all students can access both fiction and nonfiction books.

4.  Nonfiction books?  Epic! has thousands to choose from.

Epic! has everything you could possibly want for a classroom library.  You can find more information here.

Here are a few screenshots of what Epic! looks like.

Do you want an additional incentive for your kids?  Epic! has the Readerpillar.  As your class reads books, they earn badges to fill in on the classroom chart.  Epic! even offers some rewards for your students such as printable crafts.

I hope you check out Epic! My students love it!!


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Accepting Feedback: Social Skills

Accepting Feedback is the #1 social skill that all of my students struggle with.  It can be really hard to accept feedback.  Our entire school works to teach kids how to accept feedback.  Here's the steps that we use.

Rules to teach students on how to accept feedback.

First, students are expected to say, "OK." or "Yes, ma'am." Then, they should do whatever they were asked.  If a student accepts feedback and complies with the adult's request, then the situation is over and we all move on.  The problem occurs when students argue or refuse to do what is asked of them.  

Example:  Student is talking to classmate while teacher is teaching.  Teacher: Student please stop talking.  Student: OK.  Teacher: Thank you for accepting feedback.

This is what we want to happen.  You ask a student to stop a behavior and he/she does it.  Children are not robots and we wouldn't want them to be robots.  

Example: Student is talking to classmate while teacher is teaching.  Teacher: Student please stop talking.  Student: But he was talking too! 

This is how students try to suck us into an argument or get us off track and waste time.  How do you avoid the giant waste of time?  Repeat your direction and nothing more.  "I need you to accept feedback and stop talking.  Your response is, "Ok."  Turn and address the other student if needed and then continue to teach.

We practice this several times at the beginning of the year and revisit this topic throughout the year. 

If the student needs to explain more about the situation, they can bring it up later when we both have time to talk about it.  I explain to my students that sometimes I don't see the entire situation.  If that's the case, they should let me know.  If I am wrong/missed something I will make it right.  This conversation doesn't need to occur during teaching time.  It can occur during quiet work time, a transition, or recess.  


Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday Funny: The Staring Contest

This is a true story from my classroom.  I love kids and how they think!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

National Compliment Day

National Compliment Day is January 24.  Take a minute and write a compliment to a few peers.  They need to hear something they are doing well.  This will make you both feel better.  I am including 2 templates that you can print and write a compliment on for a student or a peer.  I hope you enjoy this freebie.

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