Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pool Noodle Phonics: Decoding Matters

I recently presented at a conference for my school district on the roots of reading development.
This slide is one of my favorites from the presentation.  I'm such a reading nerd...
Here are some things you need to know about reading development and comprehension:
    •Reading with comprehension is the product of decoding and language comprehension.This means that a student who’s missing either component will not be a good reader.
Reading is more than the sum of its parts; a weakness in any essential component can undermine the whole complex activity.Students must decipher the alphabetic code in order to read words accurately.Students must read words accurately and fluently to comprehend, they must understand language in order to comprehend what they decode.The end goal of reading is to gain meaning. If we skillfully teach all essential components, students will be well prepared to read and comprehend what they read.Research was conducted by Haskins Laboratory and Yale University on several hundred children who were followed from K thru college.  They found  that most good readers are good in both decoding and comprehension and most poor readers are poor in both decoding and comprehension. These poor readers cannot access the words to make sense of what they’re reading.  About 20% of poor readers have good comprehension and poor decoding.  These students have strong language skills.  Many of these students are dyslexic.  About 10% of poor readers have poor comprehension and good decoding skills.  These usually have poor language skills.

A focus of my presentation was how to easily create activities that work on the decoding side of the Simple View of Reading.  While looking around the dollar store for items to use in phonemic awareness activities, I spotted the pool noodles and an idea to use them for segmenting and blending suddenly came to me!  I'm all about activities that are cheap and easy and that's exactly what this one is!
Want to save this idea for later? Pin this image!

Step 1- Cut a pool noodle in to small chunks {3-4" is plenty}. 
Then, slice off an edge {see pic above}.

Step 2- Write 1 letter on each section.

Step 3- Put the letters on the edge of a desk.
Say the sounds of each letter- /p/  /a/  /t/

Slide the letters together and blend the sounds into a word.

We just blended pat!

Change out the vowel and do it again!
You can even make the vowels out of a different colored noodle.

See how nicely the pieces hug the edge of the desk!?!

Here are some more phonemic awareness activities to help meet the CCSS above...

What are some of your favorite activities for segmenting and blending?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Teacher Blog Tuesday with 4th Grade Dynamic Duo

It's Tuesday! Time for my New Teacher Blog Tuesday post! 
I'd like to introduce you to Mrs. South and Mrs. Moon of...
4th Grade Dynamic Duo

1.           Name of blog and link:
                        4th Grade Dynamic Duo

2.          Tell us about your blog and why you started it.
                        My best friend Michelle and I have always taught separate grade levels.  We have planned many lessons together and then adapted for our separate grade levels. This year we are finally getting to teach 4th grade together! We decided to join the blogging world so that we can share our different view points. Michelle being a veteran 4th grade teacher along with a new to 4th point of view provided by me.

3.           Tell us a little about your teaching background.
                        I am approaching my 5th year of teaching..  I have spent my teaching career bouncing from grade to grade and I have loved everyone. I’ve taught preschool, kindergarten, first, and second. This will be my first year in fourth.

4.           What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

            Hello World by Lady Antebellum
            I Want Crazy by Hunter Hayes
            Breathe by Anna Nalick
            Right as Rain by Adele
            Dream On by Kelly Sweet
            One More Night by Maroon 5
            Wide Awake by Katy Perry
            Counting Stars by OneRepublic
5.          What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
                        The hardest thing I have ever done is raise a child that has Aniridia. We knew nothing about her disease when she was born and we are still learning every day. Raising a visually impaired child has been terrifying yet fulfilling at the same time. She humbles me and inspires me at the same time. I never would have asked for a child with a disability but now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

6.          What’s your favorite TV show?
            Staying up late with my husband and watching TV is one of my favorite activities. Lately we’ve been watching Castle and The Big Bang Theory.  If I’m by myself I watch Covert Affairs or Criminal Minds.  Criminal Minds creeps me out but I can’t stop watching it!

7.          What is your favorite item of clothing and why?
                        Fuzzy socks. I am ALWAYS cold. I keep fuzzy socks in my drawer at school, in the car, , and in my purse,. I put them on as soon as I get home. I wear them year-round.  I know they are totally geeky but I love them.
8.          Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake?
                        31! I’m not sure how that happened.

9.          What was the last book you read? What are you going to read next?
                        “Then Came You” part of the Animal Magnetism series by Jill Shalvis was my last read. Next up for my Kindle is “Buried Innocence” a Mary O’Reilly mystery by Terri Reid. This is one of my favorite series and I can’t wait to start this one.
10.      What was the last thing that you ate that you really shouldn’t of?
                        Paula Deen lemon bars. They are highly addictive and super easy to make.

11.      Give us some links- Twitter, Pinterest, Teacher’s Pay Teachers, Facebook, a free teaching item etc.

I use this questionnaire EVERY year. It is my go to resource for getting to know my students. I hope you find it useful!

If you are a new blogger and you'd like to be featured, email me at!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Classroom Must-Haves Blog Hop & a Giveaway!

As we begin a new school year, many of us are looking for something new that makes our teaching lives easier. A couple of my fellow Tennessee bloggers have joined together to bring you some of our classroom must haves, just in time for Back to School! For a little added bonus, we are also offering one lucky reader a Winner's Choice item from each of our TPT stores, so don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!

This year, one of my favorite things is my Silhouette Cameo!

 I've put up book quotes in my library and added some fun to our school cafeteria.
Pardon the screen cord hanging down in the way!
Here's a look at the entire wall.

And the cafeteria has terrible lighting, so forgive the picture quality of what your about to see...
If you look closely, you'll see that the peanut butter & jelly is actually on white bread-it's just hard to see against the cream colored wall.

These capital letters here are about 12" tall and the entire thing reaches about 96" long!

Another one of my favorite things is the app formerly known as Remind 101.  Now, it's simply Remind.
You can use it from your phone or computer!  Your parents subscribe to your account and receive the texts that you send out.  They can't text you back, so it truly is only for reminders.  You should totally check it out!

Hop over to my friends' pages to check out their Classroom Must-Haves! Then, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win your choice of items from each of our stores!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget about the TpT sale on Wednesday!
 Sale graphic courtesy of Katie from Creating Teaching Inspiring .

Check out some of my best selling items-Just click on the image to see it on TpT.

Since this post is full of things I made, I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Teacher Blog Tuesday with Teaching with a Twist

It's Tuesday!  That means I have a new blogger to introduce you to! Meet Meredith from.....
Name of blog and link:
Teaching with a Twist

Tell us about your blog and why you started it.
Teaching with a Twist is a fun blog for elementary educators.  I've always maintained a blog for my students and their parents, I was just ready to step out and join the blogging community on a different level.  I love reading other teachers' blogs and hopefully now I can add to that community.

Tell us a little about your teaching background.
I've been teaching 17 years!  I've spent most of those years teaching 1st and 2nd grades.  I've also worked as a Technology Coordinator and currently teach 1st and 2nd grade gifted and talented students.  I have a Master's Degree in Education, an Education Specialist's Degree in Curriculum and Supervision, with endorsements in both Administration and Gifted Education.  I am also a National Board Certified Teacher.

What songs are included on the soundtrack of your life?
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and  “I Will Survive” just about sum it up for right now!

What's the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Uggggg, this one is tough to talk about because it's so fresh.  Saying goodbye to my mom, was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  She lost her battle to cancer this summer and it was grueling to see such a strong, independent woman be taken by this horrific disease.

What’s your favorite TV show?
I love any type of reality show.  I just finished both seasons of Orange is the New Black....LOVE!  I'm also a big Walking Dead fan. 

What is your favorite item of clothing and why?
My favorite clothing item, which I'm currently wearing, is a black zip-up hooded sweat jacket from Lucky.  It's beyond comfortable and is easy to just grab and go.  It's perfect for traveling and restaurants.  I freeze all the time.

Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake?
My birthday was in February and I turned the BIG 4-0!!!  Yikes!!!

What was the last book you read?  What are you going to read next?
I'm not much of a reader unless, of course, it's a blog or a book to my students.  I am interested in reading, Crash Course: Life Lessons My Students Taught Me by Erin Bearden.  So maybe that will be my next read. 

What was the last thing that you ate that you really shouldn’t have?
I just fell victim to a Swiss Cake Roll.  They were calling my name in the store and I opened them and ate one in the car.  No self-control, I know!

Give us some links and a free item.


If you'd like to be featured, email me at!

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