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Phonics & Sight Word Practice That Builds Confidence

Hi Peeps!
I love incorporating phonics and sight word practice with chunky monkey. This phonics strategy is awesome for beginning readers.

It is important, however, for beginning readers to address the strategies in realistic situations as well as in isolation.

In 7 Key Components to Effective and Engaging Instruction I stressed the importance of working on both phonics and sight words in independent and guided practice. This incorporates rigor, builds mastery, and improves fluency.

It is essential that students build confidence in working independently with phonic and sight word skills. One of the best ways to do that is by incorporating these important reading skills in as many things as possible.

I often have my students highlight or circle phonic chunks as well as the sight words we are studying for the week in worksheets and readings that we do throughout the week. Students notice the chunks of focus are not found in isolation. They are in every day text.

THIS is common core. Real life application. Understanding new learning in the context of where it is found in the real world.

Read More about how your kiddos can deepen their understanding, fluency and reading confidence.

Whale of a Time

Hi blog hoppers!

I wanted to quickly stop by and let you know that I have been having a 'whale of a time' recently, completely and utterly inspired by some sketches I've been doing and books we have been reading here at home.

My little boy Sam (he's in Kindergarten) has just hit his sweet-spot in reading and literally cannot stop pulling books from our shelves. He has also started drawing All. The. Things. But I will save that for another post!

If you have missed some of the whale resources I have shared recently, be sure to pop over and get them today.

When, why and how to teach children about whales?

Besides being awfully cute and engaging, whales make a perfect stimulus for many learning activities in the classroom:
  • learning the consonant digraph 'wh'
  • learning to write animal information reports (there are loads of interesting and awesome facts about whales to research)
  • responding to literature (there are a plethora of beautiful texts featuring whales)
  • learning about our world and environment in science (children on the east coast of Australia may be currently witnessing whales and their calves in the ocean and at the beach - use this as a springboard for learning about these fascinating creatures)
  • looking at photos and pictures of whales and their habitat to inspire some lovely expressive artworks
Please stop by my blog to find these goodies, I would love to share them with you. I look forward to sharing some more ideas with you next week. 

- Mel (From the Pond)

Ready to Organize Your Writing Folders? Free file!

Are you looking for ways to organize your student writing folders?  I have a PLAN for YOU!

Writing Folder Organization FREE labels for your early primary writers' workshop students. This blog post will give you ideas on how to create writing folders for your classroom. Great for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!

Many years ago I had made writing folders for my older students.  The other day, when I was "cleaning" out my catch-all drawer, I stumbled across them again.  SO, I cleaned them up and made a free file!  SWEET!  These are GREAT for any grade level!

Swing by my blog to read more!

You can read more by clicking: WRITING FOLDER Organization FREE FILE!

The First Few Days of School in Kindergarten

Are you ready for the first few days of school?  I have shared some of my activity ideas to get your year off to a great start.
First few days of school can make even a seasoned kindergarten teacher nervous. Let me show you how our week looks. Center ideas and a fun name poem too! Free Handwriting download too!

You can read more by clicking:   The First Few Days of School

Back to School Essentials

Hi Peeps!
Are you approaching "back-to-school" mode? I'm in it full-swing over here in my neck of the woods. My school year starts up in just a couple short weeks!

I wanted to share with you some essential ideas and tools that I use each and every year to make heading back to school a little easier.

From management, parent communication, establishing behavior routines and expectations through curriculum and planning musts, to first weeks' essentials - I'm yapping about it all!

Hop on over to my post and grab some ideas for Back to School Essentials!

PAPERLESS Number Talks!

A couple of years ago, I started using digital/paperless Number Talks during my guided math block. The results from this simple, powerful teaching practice blew me away. They instantly became the perfect math warm-up! My students were engaged in meaningful discussions focused on mental math and computational strategies. They were building their understanding of number sense and flexibility in number thinking. The benefits of this daily (5-10 minutes) Number Talk routine was also evident throughout the rest of our math time. 

To make Number Talks effective for my students, as well as for me, I started carefully crafting problems into digital slides each week. It didn't take long for me to realize that digital Number Talks are AMAZING! All I had to do each day was open up a slideshow and my Number Talk lesson was ready. Such a time saver! Since Number Talks are all about the process of mental math computation and sharing strategies, the digital/paperless format was perfection.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

1. Teacher presents each problem and gives wait time.

2. Students mentally figure out the answer (no paper or pencil) and give a thumbs up to show that they have at least one solution. *Students can put additional fingers up if they have more than one way to solve the problem. Example: Two fingers up means I have two ways to solve the problem.

3. Students share their thinking as the teacher records (students can also record). During this time, the teacher is asking questions like: "How did you get your answer?" and/or  "Why did you use that strategy?". Incorrect solutions and methods can and should be part of Number Talks.

I personally like to do Number Talks at the beginning of my math block, but it can be done at any time that works best for your schedule. 

Encourages math communication from all students
•Provides structured practice for mental math
•Promotes the value in using mental math to compute
•Promotes the importance of being flexible with numbers
•Uses a variety of strategies for computation
•Helps strengthen students' understanding of place value

You can start Number Talks at any time of the year, and I've made it really EASY for you! You can get 40 weeks of PAPERLESS NUMBER TALKS in just one click here!

3rd-5th Coming Soon (Summer 2018)

These Number Talk lessons were designed to engage your learners in meaningful math conversations focused on mental math and computational strategies throughout the year. As I mentioned before, they make the perfect math warm-up! All you have to do is upload the Number Talk digital slides (PowerPoint)- PAPERLESS and ZERO prep! Everything is already done for you! 

Each day of the week has a specific Number Talk mental math focus. 
The predictable and student friendly structure of the digital slides allows you to spend more time talking about math instead of giving directions/expectations over and over.

Make it Monday
 Students will mentally think of equations that make the number in the circle using the given numbers. 

True or False Tuesday
Students will mentally solve the equations to determine whether they are true of false. 

Work it Out Wednesday
Students will mentally solve the equations and share their thinking. 

Time to Subitize Thursday
Briefly (5-10 seconds) flash each slide. Students will share what number was shown, as well as, explain their thinking in determining the number.
Fact Fun Friday
Students will mentally solve the equations and share their thinking. 

Every week has 5 slides/problems for each day with the exception of Make it Monday. I've also included editable/blank slides in case you would like to create your own problems.

What If You Had Animal Teeth?

What if you had animal parts lesson plans for kindergarten and first grade. We focused on learning about text details with these great books from Sandra Markle. Activites for What if you had animal hair?, What if you had animal feet?, What if you had animal teeth? and What if you had animal ears? Crafts and text detail anchor charts are also included.
We sure love the What If You Had Animal Parts book series!    Swing by to see how we turned this book series into a 4 week, close read!  We dig in deep so students can learn, but have fun along the way!  Click HERE to read more!

Sub Plans Made Easy with a FREEBIE and a SCHOLASTIC GIVEAWAY!!!

Hi Peeps! Traci Clausen with Engaging Teaching here... sharing about that fabulous topic... making sub plans!

Taking a day off as a teacher means writing sub plans. We all know how much that weighs on whether or not we take that day! In my little world, life has been in the way a lot recently and that has resulted in quite a few sub days. For these days, I am so thankful for the things that make planning for a day I can’t be in the classroom so much easier.

Stop by my latest post and grab a copy of my sub plan template and a FREE editable version that you can edit for yourself!!

Leaving Scholastic News for my sub to use with my kiddos is a big part of keeping my sub planning simple.

Don't forget to enter the SCHOLASTIC GIVEAWAY while you are visiting, too!

Visit Engaging with Traci Clausen for a chance to win and to grab your FREEBIE!

Responsibility in the Classroom

Running a responsible classroom is something we've worked hard to accomplish each year for over 20 years. It seems as time has gone by, there is a greater need to teach these small humans to care, share, and be aware of themselves, others, their surroundings, and their belongings. Truth be told, these lessons (on being responsible) were once presumed to be home parenting lessons. Truth be told, they are not always assumed to be home parenting lessons nowadays. So we do what we do best...We teach...Reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, PE, music, and responsibility. That's a lot of responsibility for all of us! 
As we work our way through another school year,  hop on over to see a few successful ways we integrate opportunities to practice responsibility in our classroom.

Click the link below to head over to read more at
Fluttering Through First Grade:
Raising Responsible Learners

Teaching Informational Text during Black History Month

Black History Month Lesson Plans
We have been learning about some of great leaders and influencers in Black History.  At the same time, we are also diving into text features of informational texts.  Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, and Rosa Parks were spotlighted during these lesson plans!

Black History Month Lesson Plans
Swing by for a free file too!

You can read all about it by clicking:  TEACHING BLACK HISTORY MONTH (FREE FILE)

NGSS - Patterns in our Space System with the Earth, Moon and Sun

Are things like my neck of the woods where you are? Our district has embraced NGSS but we don't have a single thing that covers those standards on site!

In a few weeks we are starting our NGSS unit on patterns and predictability found in our space systems.

Hop on over to my blog to check out what we'll be doing!

Valentine's Day Directed Art Project

Hi blog hoppers! 

I would love to share a creative drawing activity with you perfect for Valentine's Day. 

Head over to my blog to find the steps and a link to download some no-prep printables to integrate writing with this 'Bee Mine' directed drawing.


It’s no secret that sprinkling in seasonal themes is one way to keep motivation and engagement up during the school day!  
Today I am sharing a February resource round up with you for grades K-2!  We will begin with reading and literacy, move into math, and finish up with writing!

Fun with Conversation Hearts {Mini Book}

Just popping in to share a fun little file that pairs well with the Target mini books: heart shaped and square.  You will see a visual of all the pages included below...

If you're interested in this file, link using the cover below...