Friday, September 25, 2015

Five for Friday September 25

Happy Fall here in the US and Canada! I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Thank you for hosting, Kacey! 

I wrote a post about using writing prompts and QR codes in my classroom! My students LOVE to listen to our stories- and I love the authentic writing and thinking that I get from using writing prompts with our read alouds.  So, I decided to combine these two loves, and make a packet of  Writing Prompts with QR Codes for 102 Stories.

I use these all the time! The best part is that I put the QR code right on the writing prompt paper, so when the children take their paper home, they can listen to the story again and again right from that paper. 

I sent a note home to parents explaining that they could download a free QR Code Reader ap on their phone or iPad at home.  It's so much fun- and a different way to let children hear stories!

I also put the QR codes together at the end of the packet.  For my class, I put together different QR codes to make listening center books.  They love them and want to listen during free choice time!

Here are my "Colors" theme listening center QR codes.

I also made a separate packet of only Writing Prompts- (180 prompts for 115 stories!) (But the QR codes go along with 102 of these stories, so if you already have the prompts, you can get the QR codes below to go with them.)

AND I have  a packet of only QR Codes for the 102 Stories   if you only want them for listening centers or for a Listening Around the Room activity.

I scanned each video through ViewPure to take out any ads or distractions.  Viewing the videos at home won't be a problem because nothing would be blocked, but if you are using these at school in a QR Listening Packet, check the sample to be sure you can scan and see ViewPure video.  If that site it blocked, often the IT person will unblock a site for you if you ask and explain what it is for. 

Here are some completed prompts- which I'm happy with so early in the year!
"It is raining."   (and "cat" at the bottom!)
"I am a bee."  (She said she couldn't spell "I" so she drew the eye - and I loved that for some reason!)

My class is so taken with this read-aloud  on the QR code!  

I made different types of prompts- some require more writing than others.  That way, you can use them throughout the year and with different ability levels. They work so well as kindergarteners are learning to write.   I love seeing some of the first graders complete the prompts, because they just are better able to write sentences and answer the questions with a little more detail.  
We use q-tips and paint for this one. The kids LOVE it!

Every year I take pictures of my students holding our sight words.  The kids seem to think the words matter a whole lot more when they see themselves or their friends holding them!  Here are a couple things I like to do with the words.

First,  I make them into a Sight Word Prezi that we read each day (a few times).  We see how quickly we can read through the words as time goes by.  

This Prezi is SO easy to make- and a great one to start with if you haven't made Prezis before.  I wrote a Prezi Tutorial Post that shares lots of good videos and explanations about Prezis.  

Basically, for this one, you save all of your student sight word pictures on your computer.  I usually resize the pictures and save them smaller, because sometimes regular size pictures are too large on Prezi.  I just open each picture on Paint, resize it to 20%, and save it.

I start with a blank canvas on Prezi. Click on and delete the title area and everything.], so it is really blank.   Then,  go to the top where it says, "Insert."  Choose "Image."  Then, on the top right, choose "Select file." You can then select and choose all of your sight word pictures from your pictures and enter them all at once. With the mouse, you can arrange them any way you want.  I like to put them in a heart shape.  You can leave them as random as you want!  You can make a path by choosing a frame (on the left side of the Prezi) and putting it around each picture.  I always use invisible frames. When you click on  frame, it adds it to the path.  At the top of the Prezi (near the left side), there is a little area that says, "Save." Click that and you are all set!  

Here are some other things I do with the pictures.

I took pictures of each student holding two different words, so I have two sets to use on their lockers. I put magnets on back of the pictures, and use these to help the kids remember which locker is their locker.  Other students can read the words as they go down the hall, too!  It's a great reinforcement.

I also make each student a special sight word book to take home.  I make a little checklist to go with it, and have the children read the book each night and check off the day on the checkist.  At the end of the week if they have read every day, they get a little prize.  (I have tons of little extra books- or even bookmarks, Smarties, eating in the classroom- anything makes a prize if you act like it's a prize!)  The children love their sight word books, because they can tell their families about their new friends, practice friends' names, and read words all at the same time!

 (He found himself on this page!)

Don't anybody tell Irene Fountas or Gay Sue Pinnell... but... I never really got the "letter language" we were supposed to use to teach letter formation.  I tried to explain my confusion, but we had adopted Fountas and Pinnell and it was sort of like the Letter Language Bible. Nobody seemed to admit that they didn't love the language, but people just didn't use it.   I am not a rebel- but here is exactly why it didn't make sense to me. 

For the letter "a," the  language is "Pull back around, up, and down."  BUT if you are right handed and start at the top to make the "a" you aren't pulling back at all- but pushing the pencil forward.  If you are lefty (like me!) , then you are "pulling back" with the pencil.   

Then, for letter "d," the language is... "Pull back around, up and down."   Same thing. Not even "up HIGHER"  or anything (which I always had to add, because, turns out,  I am a rebel.) 

Every year when we begin writing letters, my kids struggle with forming letters correctly, from the top. What works for me EVERY TIME- is to go back to what I used to use (in 1986...  were you even born?! ) Anyway-  here is the magic:

This picture is actually from an Inkastic Monogram Anchor T Shirt on Amazon, but I thought it was perfect as a reminder for my little tip!

Most children know how to form a "c."  They start right where they should start- at the top. And they go counterclockwise, like they should.  DONE.   Well,  that is my anchor letter for teaching SO many other letters.

I have the children make a "c", then keep the pencil right on the paper and go right on up, then straight down, for an "a."  They GET IT!!  For a "d," they start with that "c," go right on up even higher, and then straight down. 

"C" is a great start for:  a, d, g, o, and q. 

The trickiest part of writing letters is starting at the top and then going the correct direction- and my sweet friend the letter C takes care of that.  Thank you letter C.  I love you. 
Pamela Anderson and I  I posted HERE about how I am using ESGI to start the year. Pam just modeled for me...  

 ESGI is a wonderful online assessment program- but so much more.  It offers so many extras and such complete data.  Right now, I'm using it to do a preliminary assessment of my students in all areas, print out flashcards for letters they need to work on at school and at home, and to look at graphs of areas (letters/sounds) that need the most work. I'm also loving the name writing practice sheets and nameplates with letters and numbers.  

That darn "b"!!!

You can read about the many different tools that ESGI provides teachers with HERE- and you can also sign up to try it FREE for 60 days and see if you like it as much as I do! I  posted ALL about the benefits, bells and whistles,  and some examples of what ESGI offers HERE.  If you like using it and want to purchase the program, you can use my special PROMO CODE B1119 and receive $40 off your purchase for the first year. The price is usually $199 a year, but with the promo code, it will be $159 for the first year. Check with your administration because they may be able to purchase it for you. The efficiency of the screening and the wonderful data it provides is enough to sell it to any district.  They can use the code and get it for $159 for the first year, too.  It's a great time of the year to try it out. 

We love our ESGI!

My poor kids can't just eat a snack without me turning it into learning.  They are either counting pretzel sticks or making letters with them, sorting and patterning colored goldfish, or adding cookie crisp cereal... 

This week someone sent in apples and peanut butter- which was so great- except I had no knife, a bag of apples, and a jar of peanut butter.  I ended up giving each child an apple (which one boy asked if I could take the "wrapping" off of) on a plate with a plastic spoon full of peanut butter.  Ta da.  Not perfect, I know.  But the kids were clever.  Some kids took a bit of apple, and then spread on some peanut butter with the back of their spoon.  Others basically frosted the apple with peanut butter. Some just ate the apple, then ate the peanut butter off the spoon. Either way, it was fun and healthy. And that's what sinks are for after snack. 

My little snack person was out on Wednesday (SO many kids are out already with the stomach bug... ugh), and luckily I had two different kinds of Teddy Grahams just waiting to be eaten. It was a perfect day to sort and  practice patterns with the different Teddy Grahams.  We also had to count and put our Teddy Grahams into piles of ten. 

Then, we made our first graph.  I'm showing you the real, un-pretty, authentic graph we made on the fly- not a "ready for prime time" pretty graph I should have made if I new I would take a picture.  But honestly, these are more like our daily activities- #notperfect!    We compared who liked the Birthday Cake flavor or the Chocolate flavor better.  Each child practiced writing his/her name, and we counted up each side.  We even learned how to match up and then count the number that didn't have a match to show how many more!  It was a good way for them to start sharing the marker and writing on the chart paper. 

Finally, a great car dealership near me, Elm Chevrolet in Elmira, NY,  made this Trick or Treating Safety Tips poster that I said I would love to share on my blog.  I think it would be great for a little bit older kids who may go out by themselves! It's always good to have safety reminders this time of year.

Happy Fall! Happy Weekend!  Thank you for stopping by!


  1. You are incredible! I absolutely love your QR code activities. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. <3 Thank you so much for writing! :) I'm so glad you like them.

  2. You...are my hero!! Your qr packet is beyond amazing!! And I love the sight word book idea!! Always your fan! M from Canada!! Lol


Search This Blog