Great reading website

My year has been saved by this website. Readworks.org is full of of reading lessons for kindergarten to 6th grade. There are materials, a list of more books for each strategy and skill lesson, and it is aligned with Common Core State Standards. There are also novel study units and leveled reading passages. The best part of this website is that it is free! 🙂
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Veterans Day: The Wall

I was on the hunt for books to use this week for my reading mini lessons and found this post on one of the blogs I follow. I plan on using it for Veterans Day tomorrow, as well as part of a schema lesson about veterans. If you have a chance, visit this blog.

Read Aloud Picture Books

The Wall

Eve Bunting made a career out of writing about topics few in the picture book world would even consider. The Wall is another offering from the land of taboo topics. This time it’s the Vietnam Memorial, which means that war and death are on the docket.

In Buntings story a father and son are visiting the wall to see Dad/Grandpa’s name. This is a children’s book, so she guides us through these topics gently. But the pain and loss are real, real enough for me to think over whether or not I would get an angry parent phone call for reading about death in school.

In the end I chose to read it. Those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice deserve to be honored, and Bunting masterfully delivered this book with reverence fitting the fallen.

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Picture Books to Teach Reading CAFE Strategies

I am in a constant search for picture books to use during my Reading CAFE strategy lessons. I have found a couple of websites over the weekend that have lists of books that for each of the strategies. You can find the websites that I have found so far on the Reading CAFE page of this blog. I will be continuing to add more websites as I find them. I am also making a Google document with a list of books I have used this year with my 2nd graders.

Behavior Cards and Lunch Choices

As part of my classroom management I use Behavior Cards. I got this idea from the teacher who I completed my student teaching with who was a 4th grade teacher. It works well with my 2nd graders cans carries over well to 3rd grade.

Here is what the Behavior Cards bulletin board looks like.
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I give each kid a number at the beginning of the year. This number corresponds with their pocket of a cards. Each kid has a pocket of 4 different colored cards- green, yellow, blue, and pink.

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When one of my kids do not follow our classroom expectations, I tell them to pull a card. I then write on the card what they were doing. For example, if a kid was talking, I would say go pull a card. They walk over pull their card, and lay it on my desk. We practice what this looks and sounds like in the first couple days of school. They love to be the example of what it shouldn’t look and sound like. Writing down what the kids do to pull a card is a good at of documenting their behavior which is especially helpful at conference time. I also have kids pull cards for not having their homework completed in the morning.

At the end of the day I record how many points they’ve earned based on what color of card is showing in their pocket. I use an Excel spreadsheet to do this. Green cards earn 2 points, yellow earn 1, blue earns 0, and pink (the last card) earns a phone call or note sent home. I usually have the kids call home instead of me. This seems to have a bigger impact.

Each month I have a reward party. This past month we had an extra recess. To be able to go to the party each kid had to have earned 80% of the possible points. For example, three were 62 points possible based on a child possibly earning 2 points a day so a kid would had to have earned 50 points to attend. It was actually 49.6 points, but I rounded up. I partner up with another teacher who takes the kids who can’t go and we have a study hall. Kids can finish any work during this time. Other ideas for behavior parties which usually last 30 minutes are board games, Just Dance dance party using YouTube videos, or a movie party.

The pockets on the bulletin board also hold the kids’ lunch sticks. I write their names and numbers on a popsicle stick.
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In the morning when the kids come in, they use their stick to make their lunch choice by putting it in the correct lunch choice pocket. I can easily see who has not signed up for lunch by seeing who’s popsicle stuck is still in their pocket and I can see who is absent also.

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I also have some posters above the Behavior Cards. I think the classroom expectation came from Pinterest, can’t remember where I got it.

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Encouraging Good Behavior

Throughout the week my kids have the opportunity to earn tally marks. Each time they receive a compliment from another teacher, transition quietly, or do something without being asked they earn a tally mark. They can also lose tally marks for talking or not following directions. If there are only a couple of kids, talking for example, I have them pull a card. I will explain my behavior cards in another post. On Friday if they have earned 5 tally marks they can eat in the classroom. This past Friday was the first time they’ve earned this reward. I took advantage of my Netflix account and we watched a movie that we will finish this Friday if they earn it. My kids were so excited to do this. They strutted in and out of the cafeteria as the other kids looked on eating their lunches.
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Handout for Building a Better Reader

As teachers we often have parents asking us for advice and ideas for helping their child to become a better reader. While searching Pinterest, which is my way of relaxing after a school day, I found this handout on Primary Junction.

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This would be helpful to handout to give parents at conferences since that’s when the conversation of what can be done at home comes up. I’m sending this home with my newsletter this week.

Sight Word Superstars

My 2nd graders have become really motivated to learn their sight words thanks to the Sight Word Superstars motivational program I downloaded from Finally in First.

In this program kids must read a list of 20 words from the Fry’s Word List in 20 seconds or less. For each list of 20 words a kid earns a sticker for their star. Once they have mastered all 5 lists, they receive a Sight Word Superstar Award.

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This program allows for individualized instruction. My kids are excited to master a list and move on to the next one. I send home the word cards to be used at home as practice. I also have the kids read their list during Word Work before they practice their spelling words.

Read to Self, Read with Someone, and Listen to Reading

I’m slowly getting around to adding pictures of what Daily 5 looks like in my 2nd grade classroom.

Read to Self

Read to Self


My comfy black chair is a favorite of my kid’s to sit in during Read to Self. My kids can sit anywhere in the room as long as they are not right by someone to prevent disturbing a classmate. They have a book box that they fill in the mornings with “jut fit books”. We’ve been working on this a lot in the last week. The five finger rule has helped with this.

Read to Someone

Read to Someone


With this choice, they can sit anywhere in the classroom. These two have picked under the easel. They are to sit side by side, with the book in the middle. Once student reads, and the other is the coach if the reader gets stuck on a word. The coach will ask the reader, “do you need time or coaching?” This strategy is from the 2 Sisters.

Listen to Reading

Listen to Reading


My kids use the laptops to listen to stories read online. I have links on our class website that the kids can go to. They brought headphones/earbuds to use.

I’ll add Word Work and Writing soon.

Running Records

School is in full swing and I feel like I never sit down at school, let alone use the bathroom! Since the first full week at school I’ve been using running records to help me get an idea of my kids’ reading levels. One teacher in my building has paid for a subscription to Reading A to Z level readers which I am greatly thankful for.

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This website has leveled books that you can print. There are also running records with comprehension questions to ask students. These are a quick way to identify the kids’ independent reading level.