Reading in a Winter Wonderland

27 Nov

winter blog hop image

Unpack your scarves and boots… winter is fast-approaching! To help you prepare for the long winter season, The Reading Crew has teamed up to share wonderful winter mentor texts and resources to use with your students this snowy season.


We have divided our blog posts into primary and upper elementary link-ups. Select the category that is most appropriate for the grade you teach, or explore both if you wish. Each blog post will feature a mentor text along with a corresponding skill freebie to use with the book.

Some of the freebies in this blog hop will be “forever freebies,” and some will be “limited-time freebies,” available only for a short time! Please take note so that you make sure you grab those limited freebies before they turned back to paid products!


(Part of the Grades K-2 Link-Up)

Last November, I had the privilege of attending the NYS Reading Association conference where Salina Yoon was presented with the 2014 Charlotte Award for her book Penguin and Pinecone. She talked about her inspiration for writing this beautiful book and the message about friendship she hoped to share with her readers. It was very inspiring to listen to her speak and share her story, and I just knew I needed to share this story with YOU!


book description

“When penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms.”

Penguin and Pinecone (MsJordanReads)

In the heart-warming story, Penguin and Pinecone, a little penguin becomes friends with a pinecone; however, he finds out that his friend pinecone can’t live in the snow, so he takes the pinecone back to his home in woods with the hope of being reunited again. Later, he visits his friend pinecone in the woods and discovers that “love only grows over time.” (Read the full summary at


Lesson introduction

So how do I use this story in my classroom? Well… I actually use this grades 2-5 with all the students I work with, since it’s a great mentor text for all ages, but for this specific lesson, I used it to teach author’s message to my RTI 2nd & 3rd graders.

First, to get my students thinking about the story, I show them the book trailer created by Salina Yoon.


I have them activate their schema, thinking about what friendship means, and then I ask them to think deeply about why this book is labeled as “a friendship story.” I share that friendship and love are the two themes of the story, and I ask the students to make predictions about what the author’s message might be (connected to themes). Students record their predictions on a sticky note to revisit after we finish reading.

NOTE: If your students need a review of what “author’s message” is, you may wish to use the poster below (it’s a forever freebie!) or create an anchor chart for your classroom.


With their individual predictions in mind, students now have a personal purpose for reading — to see if their author message predictions are correct!

using my freebie

For my 2nd and 3rd grade groups, I read the story aloud to the students. In my small groups, the students follow along in their copies of the text. (NOTE: You could easily share it as a read aloud on your reading rug, or even using a projector screen using an AverMedia player with your whole class.)

After reading the story, we talk about the story events and complete a shared graphic organizer for author message. Students hunt for text-evidence to support their understanding of the author’s message (CCSS RL2.1, RL3.1). They use this evidence in their written responses and visualizations.

Penguin and Pinecone Graphic Organizers (MsJordanReads)

There are many discussion questions connected to theme and author’s message you can use during your instruction. These can also be used as writing prompts.

Possible Discussion Questions: 

  • What is the author’s message for FRIENDSHIP? (How do you know?)
  • What is the author’s message for LOVE? (How do you know?)
  • What does Penguin learn about friendship and love from his friendship with Pinecone?
  • What did YOU learn from the story about Penguin and Pinecone?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Love only grows over time”?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Friendship lasts forever, even if you’re miles apart”?
  • Why do you think the author chose these themes for her book?
  • Why do you think the author chose these specific messages for her book?


Would you like try out this resource in your classroom? Download my LIMITED TIME freebie by clicking here or the cover image below. (The “Author’s Message” poster will remain a forever freebie here.)

You can use this resource as a shared lesson, similar to how I explained it above, to model author’s message using a think-aloud process. You can also use it for students to apply their knowledge of the skills independently.

(This resource will be free from 11/27/15 – 12/4/15)


lesson extension

There are SO many lesson extensions for Penguin and Pinecone. I could make it a blog post in itself, but below are a few resources and ideas for you to try out and explore for yourself!


Salina Yoon shares a wonderful CCSS-aligned educator’s guide on her website to use with your students. This resource (created by includes text-based activities for sensory language, making predictions, compare/contrast, sequence of events, and author’s message. You can download it for FREE here!

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 1.14.50 PM


Apparently, penguin has his own blog! It’s a cute photo journal from penguin’s point of view, sharing what he’s been up to. It hasn’t been updated since 2013, though, so this could be a fun writing extension activity to use with your students. Students have to think beyond the text to come up with what they think penguin is doing now in 2015. Have students create a picture/photo journal, or even their own blog from penguin’s point of view. As an extension to the mentor text lesson, students could try to incorporate their own “author’s message” into their journal/blog entries. (They could use one of the penguin crafts below to document their penguin’s journey in photos!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 1.32.29 PM



The author created three coloring pages you can use for your K-2 fast finishers. Check them out here!



I came across a wonderful interview on the Charlotte Award blog that I thought would be fun to share with students. It could lead nicely into an author study, after using it as a mentor text. Students can even compare/contrast the author’s messages in each book!


Check out the other books in Salina Yoon’s series:


Collect the mystery words, shown in blue, from each post and record them on the recording sheet (my mystery word is pinecone). After you’ve visited all the blog posts, you will use these words to enter our K-2 raffle. One lucky person will win the 12 books shared by all the blogs you visited! (Winners will be chosen December 4th, so make sure to enter soon!)
winter blog hop K-2 books
After you’ve explore the Grades K-2 link-up, you may go through the Grades 3-up blog link-up to collect words and enter for a chance to win their Reading in Winter Wonderland books, too!
Grades K-2 Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the K-2 link-up!


Grades 3 & Up Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the Grades 3 and up link-up!

Happy Winter!


**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!


Goodbye October… Hello November! — Scarecrow Poem & Activities

1 Nov Scarecrow Poem & Activities

As many of you know… I. Love. Fall. :) I love fall foods (pumpkin muffins, apple pie, butternut squash soup… Mmmm!) and pretty much everything related to fall. I would be ecstatic if we could stretch-out the autumn fun to last another month. Unfortunately, winter usually comes too early in WNY, and my hopes for a long autumn season get buried under a pile of snow. (Sigh.)

Since I probably have a few more weeks before I have to say “Goodbye Fall… Hello Winter!,” I wrote a new fall-themed poem about a scarecrow to share with all of YOU! Not only is it fun for fluency, but I’ve also added some word work and comprehension activity pages to go along with it.

Scarecrow Poetry Resource

Students can use the descriptive language in the poem to visualize the scarecrow. They can hunt for text evidence that helps them create a mind-picture and can record the picture on the page provided.

Scarecrow Visualization

This poem provides plenty of word work opportunities! Students can hunt for rhyming words, compound words, word endings, and specific phonics patterns. I always create a coding key for my students to follow. For this poem, I had them underline rhyming words, box compound words, and squiggle underline adjectives.

Scarecrow Poem Word Hunt

The scarecrow adjectives are great for a parts of speech mini-lesson! I always have my students circle or highlight the adjectives in the poem before recording the words on the graphic organizer. (As an alternative, the scarecrow patches on the graphic organizer can be used to visualize the adjectives, almost acting as picture frames, for students to show they understand the meaning of each word!)

Scarecrow Adjectives

Are you looking for some picture books to add to your classroom library? I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. They are perfect for building-up your students’ background knowledge and scarecrow vocabulary!

Download the free poem by clicking HERE or the image below!

Scarecrow Poem & Activities

Happy November! 


**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

Summer Stock Up!

26 Jun

Summer is FINALLY here for us WNY teachers! My last day of school was yesterday, and I am beyond ready to relax and recharge. Of course, in between relaxing and recharging, I will be planning and thinking ahead to next year. (Do teachers really ever take a break?!) The summer always goes by fast, so I’ve decided to pull together some resources for a Summer Stock Up event to help us get ready for next year. Stock up now so you can relax and enjoy the last bit of summer! :) Summer Stock Up This past year, I’ve been slowly building-up my fluency toolbox and creating resources that can be used as interventions with my RTI students. I like to dig deep into fluency and really target the specific area of fluency they struggle with. (Pace? Phrasing? Expression? Attention to Punctuation?) With a new year of fluency groups in mind, it is my summer goal to finish my growing collection of differentiated “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards.  Slide03 “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards are geared toward elementary-level students. They’re easy to use and perfect for the classroom! They can be used in many ways and are helpful for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and assessing fluency phrasing with your students.

These task card sets can be sent home for practice, used as a center, incorporated into Daily Five, or used in small groups. Directions and suggestions for use are included with each set. Scoop It Product Details Each “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card set includes the same components, but just increases in difficulty. You can purchase one set, or you can purchase the whole collection! IMG_7212 There are two formats of task cards within each set. The task cards with scoop lines are perfect for students to practice reading with phrasing, following the scoop lines with their fingers as they read. Scoop It Reading Task Cards The task cards without scoops are helpful for students who need practice with identifying appropriate phrases within a sentence. If you laminate the cards, students can draw in the scoop lines (using dry-erase markers) and can practice grouping the different words together. They can then practice reading the sentences afterward. Scoop It Interactive Cards The 48 task cards in each set each feature a targeted phonics pattern. Set 1 starts off with pre-primer words and basic CVC word patterns. Each set increases in difficulty. By Set 6, your students will be interacting with multi-syllable words and complex vowel patterns. Use multiple task card sets to differentiate your practice and instruction. IMG_7217All of the “Scoop It” task card sets are currently available in my MsJordanReads store. The collection consists of the following sets:

There is also a “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card Bundle if you’re interested in grabbing all the sets at once and at a discounted price.


“Scoop It” Freebie & Giveaway

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page this weekend to download a FREE sample of my newest “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards (Set 2). Just look for my “Summer Stock Up” tab to download it. When you’re done, click “More Freebies” to stock up on additional resources from the other participants and see their products in action! Also, as part of this wonderful Summer Stock Up event, I am offering a giveaway for TWO lucky winners! Each winner will receive the completed “Scoop It” sets that are currently available in my store. Enter by completing the form below. I will be randomly choosing the winners Friday, July 3rd and announcing on my Facebook page. The winners will also be notified by email!

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thank you to everyone who entered. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Allison Kieffner & Jennifer Lyman for winning my “Scoop It!” Fluency Task Card giveaway! (An email will be sent with the resources!)

Blog to FB Image

Happy Summer!


Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop!

19 Jun

Summer Blog Party Post Header

Welcome to 2nd Stop of the Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop! 

First, I want to shout out a HUGE thank you to Carla at Comprehension Connection for organizing this wonderful summer blog hop! I’m always amazed at how she brings together such a diverse group of literacy specialists to collaborate on blogging events such as this one. (Thanks, Carla!)

Our goal with this blog hop is to bring you tips and resources for avoiding the dreaded “summer slide.” Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, this blog hop is for you! Be sure to hop through all the way to the end because we will be raffling off TWO $25 gift certificates to Teachers Pay Teachers.

This is the 2nd stop, so if you’re just joining us, you may want to hop back to the Carla’s post HERE so you can start at the very beginning.

As you may have read in Carla’s earlier post, this blog hop is the official “kick-off” event for a fabulous, summer-long blogging series. Every Wednesday, throughout the summer, bloggers from “The Reading Crew” will be linking-up their blog posts, focusing on specific literacy-related topics. (Read more about the blog topics and schedule HERE.)


Prevent the Summer Slide with Fluency

My focus for this blog hop is FLUENCY! Practicing oral reading fluency throughout the summer is a great way for children to further develop reading skills and prevent summer regression.

Fluency is the glue that holds together oral reading and comprehension. Without fluency, your child may have a difficult time understanding the text they are reading. It is the path to comprehension and is a key foundational skill for children who are learning to read.

There are many resources and activities you can use to develop fluency skills. Many of the activities are free and just require books or texts at your child’s “independent level.” The goal is not to challenge your child with complex phonics patterns or unknown words, but to have them interact with texts that are on the easier side. This transfers the focus from “word reading” to “reading for meaning.”

Over the past few years, I’ve shared many fluency activities for teachers to use in the classroom; however, many of these activities can be used at home, as well.

Here are a few fluency activities that you can try at home:


Rereading texts is one of the best ways to improve oral reading fluency (and comprehension!). After the first read-through, students are more familiar with the words and can focus on grouping words together, adding expression, and stopping at punctuation. They can also try to improve their reading pace. Although reading speed is not the biggest focus of fluency, an improved pace will subsequently improve your child’s comprehension of texts. The pace should increase naturally as your child completes multiple readings of the same text!


Poetry is a great way for children to practice fluency! Typically, poems are short enough that they can complete multiple readings in one sitting. If your child needs fluency practice, he/she would benefit from listening to someone read each poem with “good fluency” first before practicing it. As a parent, you can model the poem and then have your child “echo read” each line to build up accuracy and phrasing. It takes away the “unknown word barrier” and allows your child to focus on changing his/her voice to sound like you! Poetry is an effective resource that allows children to practice all the components of fluency at once.

Audio Recording

Having children record themselves reading is an extremely powerful fluency tool! There are many free programs out there that are easy to use and allow kids to record their reading (i.e., Audacity for computers, iTalk for Apple devices, etc.). The playback feature of these recordings is the key to fluency development and can build self-awareness for kids regarding HOW they sound as readers. Many children don’t even realize how disfluent they actually are! With the playback feature, your child can listen to his/her recordings and reflect on the different parts of fluency. Encourage your child to answer the following questions: Did I read with appropriate pace? Did I read with phrasing? Did I read with expression? Did I attend to punctuation? Through reflections, your child can set goals and try to make changes. He/she can later compare repeated readings and listen for improvements.

Audio Books

Audio books are wonderful for summer break! With these “books-on-tape,” kids can follow along in a text as someone else reads to them. The power of modeled fluency is HUGE. Your child can listen to how fluent readers group their words together into phrases, change their voices to match character emotions and punctuation, pause appropriately after phrasing and punctuation, and apply intonation.

As our world becomes more digital, there are websites popping up everywhere that offer “Read to Me” books, such as Reading A-Z, Epic!, Farfaria, MeeGenius and more! Hundreds of books-on-CD and audio books are also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

If you’re looking for a few free audio books to start with, NOOK Read to Me Books are fabulous and can be used on any device you can download the app to. (My students listen and read the free NOOK “Read to Me” books I’ve downloaded through the NOOK app on our iPads.) Also, if your local library is like mine, you can download audio books to your personal device via their website, using software such as Overdrive. This is a great way to bring new audio books into your home or classroom each week. If you have a long car trip coming up, audio books are an extremely valuable way to fill the time!

“Fluency Fun” Picture Books

If you are already reading with your child, why not pick some fun fluency books? These picture books will be sure to bring out your best phrasing and expression. Be silly. Have fun. Show off your fluency!

The books listed below are my favorite for modeling and practicing fluency, especially expression. Use them for read-alouds, partner reading, and choral reading (reading at the same time). You can even read them at bedtime!

Daily Fluency Task Cards — Summer FREEBIE!

For my blog hop freebie, I’m sharing my SUMMER set of seasonal Daily Fluency task cards. This resource is perfect for parents looking to further develop their child’s fluency skills. The resource is also great for teachers who are tutoring or teaching summer school during the summer months!

The fluency task cards in this set are geared toward grades 2/3 and focus on the four major components of fluency: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and Attention to Punctuation. (Want to learn more about each of the fluency components? Download my free “What is Fluency?” Reference Sheet HERE, or read more about fluency HERE!)

Daily Fluency Task Cards SUMMER

(Download this free resource HERE or by clicking the image above!)

How to Use Fluency Task Cards at Home

After modeling and going over the directions listed for each task, your child should be able to use these fluency task cards independently. You can put the cards on a key ring, organize them in an index card box, or even put them in a dollar store photo book. Each day, have your child complete 1-2 task cards and record the completed task cards on the task card log. There are four sets for your child to rotate through.

You child should practice each task card aloud a few times. (Repeated readings are built into each task.) You can even create a DIY whisper phone using PVC pipes so they can monitor their fluency and hear themselves read! Every task has a specific fluency focus (i.e., pace, phrasing, expression, punctuation), but you will find that students will need to combine fluency skills to complete each card.

Tips for Promoting Summer Fluency Development

Obviously, fluency is not a skill that develops overnight. Like most reading skills, it takes consistent practice and requires your child to read EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Here is a review of a few tips and suggestions I shared in this post to help you promote fluency development at home this summer:

  • Encourage repeated reading (reading a text multiple times)
  • Read lots of poetry
  • Choose books that are at easier levels
  • Build in time everyday for your child to practice reading
  • Read to your child to model appropriate fluency
  • Encourage your child to read along with audio books
  • Have your child record their voice while reading to reflect and set goals
  • Switch it up — echo read, choral read, and partner read
  • Complete fluency task cards! :)

Hop on over to the next stop, and check out Jessica’s post from Literacy Spark

Next Stop

Happy Summer & Happy Hopping!


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A Circus Poem for Two Voices!

13 May

I’ve always been fascinated by circuses, especially traditional ones from the late 1800’s that traveled by circus train from city to city, bringing along tents, animals, and performers. Maybe it was my obsession with Dumbo growing up (I loved anything Disney!), or the recent novels I’ve read, but I’ve been intrigued and wanting to learn more!

After recently reading Water for Elephants and The Night Circus (great books to add to your summer reading list!), I was inspired to create a circus-themed partner poem. I hoped to capture the magic of the Big Top. I love the booming voice of the ringmaster and the many different acts going on simultaneously in the different rings. As I was writing this poem, I was constantly digging into my childhood memories of going to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The experience was overwhelming yet fascinating at the same time!

Photo May 12, 6 41 20 PM

I must say, I had a hard time choosing circus characters. Do I focus on an animal’s perspective (probably sad) or a clowns (too creepy)? I absolutely love elephants, but when researching circus elephants and circus “lingo,” I stumbled upon one too many “Save the Elephants” articles that put me in a dark place. Poor elephants! :( Even though Ringling Bros. is phasing out elephants from their acts (see this article), it’s still sad; so, I scratched my original “Ringmaster vs. Elephant” poem for one that focused on the voices of a ringmaster and an acrobat.

The “poem for two voices” is filled with sensory adjectives and ringmaster hyperboles – perfect for a unit on figurative language! Another big focus of “The Circus is in Town” poem is character perspective and audience. In the poem, the ringmaster is talking to the gathering crowd and the acrobat’s voice is more internal.

This poem is part of my Everyday Partner Poetry series. Similar to the other packets, comprehension graphic organizers and CCSS response questions are included. Check it out!


For last month’s Poetry Hop, I shared props for my “Wake Up, Grizzly Bear!” poem (you can still grab them!). I think I’ll eventually create and share props for all my partner poems, but here are the FREE poetry props for “The Circus is in Town,” in the mean time!


Check out the additional partner poetry products in my store. There are currently 17 poems in the series (all included in the Mega Bundle!). More coming soon!

If you’re interested in helping to develop your students’ schema on circus life and vocabulary, here are a few great picture books:

Do you know of any picture books I can add to my list? Please comment below. I’d love to add new books my library!

Happy Teaching!



**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

{FREE} Fluency Task Cards for Spring!

25 Apr

Spring is finally showing its colors around here. I see daffodils in my garden and tulips about to bloom. I’m going to ignore the fact that they had snow on them two days ago (really, Mother Nature?!), as the weather went back down into the 30’s. I guess that’s “spring” in WNY though.

To celebrate the sprinkling of spring days that we’ve had, I created a FREE spring version of my Daily Fluency Task Cards!

DailyFluencyTaskCards_SpringFreebie 4:20:2015

(Download by clicking HERE or the image above!)

Students can complete these as a fluency warm-up or for take-home fluency practice. There’s a task card log included for student accountability. Enjoy!

Happy Teaching!


Spring is Here — Poetry Hop

10 Apr

Poetry fun header

Welcome to the “Spring is Here!” Poetry Blog Hop. You’ve reached Stop # 13!

With the first few weeks of April behind us, you’re probably knee-deep in poetry and ready for some new resources for Poetry Month. Well, guess what?! I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite literacy bloggers to bring you a blog hop filled with FABULOUS poetry freebies. (Thank you to Carla, from Comprehension Connection, for organizing this hop!)

If you’re just joining us… WELCOME! However, you may want to hop back to Stop #1 (Comprehension Connection) to grab all the freebies you missed. If you want to keep going, though, you can always hop back at the end.

Poems for Two Voices

When I first started with partner poetry, I mostly used Partner Poems for Building Fluency by Tim Rasinski**. I still use a lot of those poems but have since developed my own poems with a back-and-forth narrative structure. Most of my poems have a sequence of events that the students can retell, and they’re more similar to a Readers Theater with assigned character parts. I liked the idea of two characters talking or thinking aloud in a dialogue-type structure. Many of the partner poems I’ve created have a problem/solution format, but others are just looking at ONE situation from two different points of view. (Check them out here!)

Typically, I integrate these poems around the holidays as literacy centers or for fluency warm-ups, but I’ve started to use them more for other integrated literacy skills, as well. They’re great for character analysis, making inferences, making connections, analyzing point of view, and so much more!

For my poetry blog hop freebie, I decided to share my NEWEST partner poem (with comprehension activities), “Wake Up, Grizzly Bear!” This product will be free, for a LIMITED TIME only, during the blog hop (4/10-4/12). It will go back to being a paid item in my store on April 13, 2015.  (UPDATE: This product is FREE for just a few days more! I made a small revision to the poem (sorry!), and I want to give the 200+ people who downloaded it for the “Spring is Here Poetry Hop” a chance to re-download before it becomes a PAID product. Scoop it up while it is still FREE! — #bonusflashfreebie!) 

WakeUpGrizzlyBear_PartnerPoetryPack_TpT 13 4:9:2015

I’ve also included a few props to use with this poem. (Aren’t the graphics from Teaching in the Tongass so cute?!) All you have to do is download/print the file from Google Docs, cut out the characters, and laminate or glue to paper plates. These props could be fun for your April Poetry Month performances!

Photo Apr 09, 4 10 24 PM

More Resources

Looking for more ideas? Here are additional poems and poetry books for multiple voices that I currently use in my classroom:

MsJordanReads Giveaway

For those of you who follow my store, you know that I recently bundled ALL my partner poetry products into one GIANT mega-bundle. I’ll be giving away this bundle to ONE lucky winner on this hop! (Will it be you?!)

Check out the product by clicking the image below:


Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a chance to win! This giveaway has officially ended.

The winner is…

Markisha Herring

Thanks for joining the hop and stopping by!

Head on over to Book Units Teacher for the next stop:

Poetry stop

Happy Hopping!


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Spring is Here Poetry Hop Graphics are from:

Using the B.R.E.A.K. Strategy for Text-Based Responses

31 Mar

In an effort to encourage students to use text-based evidence in their written responses this year, the third grade team in my building started using the B.R.E.A.K. writing strategy. Kudos to my colleague Jill, from Differentiated Drake, who came up with this acronym and strategy. She has some wonderful classroom posters and materials to reinforce this awesome writing strategy, and it has helped our students tremendously!


Similar to the strategy R.A.C.E. (Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain), the students are prompted to read, understand, and provide text-based evidence in their writing. The students spend extra time BREAKING APART the text and digging deeper into text details. I like this particular strategy because students are encouraged to include more than one evidence detail, and it reinforces paragraph structure!

B – Begin by Reading the Question

R – Restate the Question

E – Evidence Detail

A – Another Evidence Detail (or two!)

K – Key Closing Sentence

Jill (being the fabulously, generous person that she is) decided to make her easy-to-use graphic organizer FREE for all of you. Be sure to leave feedback and check out her other strategy resources. She offers bookmarksposters, and an additional version of her graphic organizer!

(Download the FREE graphic organizer HERE or by clicking the image below.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 6.49.17 PM

Our third graders are now at the point where they write B.R.E.A.K. at the top of their pages and use it as a cross-off checklist. After completing the response, they also search for each element of B.R.E.A.K. in their own writing and mark the elements with the specific letters.

Below are some examples from a writing response my third graders completed a few weeks ago. The students used the free iPad app Skitch to take pictures of their first drafts and mark-up their responses to show each element of B.R.E.A.K. Later, we transitioned to marking these elements with just our pencils. The Skitch app was a motivating, first-step tool in the revision process for this strategy. (Want to learn more about Skitch? Check out my previous post about this wonderful tool!)





NOTE: You’ll see that many of the students used “+” symbols for additional evidence-based details. This is helpful for students who include more than two details from the text. 

Students had a menu of sentence starters to use and were encouraged to also use non-fiction text features as evidence to support their answers. Grab my FREE sample of text-based evidence sentence starter cards to use with your students. This is part of my larger Common Core Booster product.

(Download this resource by clicking here or the image below!)


PLEASE SHARE! — How do you teach students to include text-based details in their writing? Comment below or send me an email! I’m always looking for new ideas! :)

Happy Teaching!



Exploring Perspective and Point of View

29 Mar

Happy Spring!

Here in WNY we’ve had a “tease” of spring, but so far the remaining days of March have been pretty cold (and even a little snowy – *yikes*). At this point, I’m 100% over the cold weather and ready for some warmer temperatures. Before we head into April, and my focus turns to poetry (Yay, Poetry Month!), I wanted to share a few of the fun activities I’ve been doing with my students.

Be prepared for a few extra posts this week! :)

As some of you know, I love my small RTI pull-out groups, but I also enjoy the dynamic of an entire classroom of students. This year, with a combination push-in/pull-out program, I’ve been able to do both.

For part of my day, I have the pleasure of working with a third grade teacher who is just FABULOUS (You rock, Jan!). She has great ideas and is always willing to try new things. A few of my RTI students are in her classroom, so I work with them during small group time and provide extra support for them during whole group mini-lessons and activities.

Last week, we explored perspective and point of view with our students. To kick off the week, we read I Am the Dog I Am the Cat – a great book for introducing perspectives. It’s a book with two voices and two characters, so the students can compare and contrast different perspectives within the same text. Since many students have pets, this is also a great book for them to relate to and make text-to-self connections.

On Tuesday, we spent time with one of my new favorite books, The Day the Crayons Quit. (Seriously, this book is the BEST for point of view, and it’s absolutely hysterical! If you’ve never read it, you need to… right now. Your students will love it, too!)

We read this book as a read-aloud, and then the students worked independently to further explore each crayon’s letter and unique point of view. I retyped the letters, and we put a basket of letters on each table. Students pulled out one letter at a time and recorded the character point of view on the graphic organizer.

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The finished products were wonderful, and it was a great way for students to practice analyzing character point of view.

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 (Download the graphic organizer we used for FREE by clicking the image below!)


As an added bonus, some of the perspectives weren’t stated explicitly, so this allowed students to practice making inferences using text evidence. (I always love when we can embed and review past skills and strategies, don’t you?!) It was also a great way to bring in some problem-solving skills. We stopped before the last few pages and asked the students to brainstorm how the main character should solve the problem. We asked them what they would do if they were Duncan. The students did such a nice job with this, and some of their solutions were truly creative!

Throughout the week, we worked in small groups to further practice analyzing the point of view with instructional level texts. We used a combination of books, text passages, and poetry – including a few of my Partner Perspective Poems!

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Check out the links below for a few of these partner poems:

(NOTE: In addition to my everyday poems that are perfect for teaching point of view, there are many seasonal partner poems in my store, as well. Stay tuned — I’m working on a new springtime poem for April’s Poetry month, too! It will sold individually and will be added to the Spring Bundle and MEGA Bundle.

Additional Point of View Mentor Texts & Picture Books:


The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Wolf’s Story

The Pea and the Princess

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!


Two Bad Ants

The Pain and the Great One

Hey, Little Ant

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School

What resources do YOU use to teach point of view? I’d love to hear your ideas and add to my growing list of mentor texts for teaching point of view. Email me or comment below. :)

Happy Teaching!


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A Lil Bit O’ St. Patrick’s Day Fun!

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Each year, I try to bring a little bit of St. Patrick’s Day fun into my RTI program, and my goal is to incorporate holiday-themed activities with interventions that are already in place. This week, I planned a variety of poetry, language, and phonics activities appropriate for each of my groups. Here’s a quick snapshot of a few of our activities! :)

A Lil Bit O’ Figurative Language

My fifth graders have been focusing on figurative language and analyzing poetry. I’ve been trying break down the different figurative language elements and terms throughout the week, while providing them with a variety of practice opportunities. Today, as a warm up, I had my group complete a fun practice St. Patrick’s Day writing task on the iPads (Read more about how to “go paperless” here!). Students had to brainstorm sentences for each of the different examples of figurative language. You can grab this for FREE below!


Download HERE or by clicking the image above!

A Lil Bit O’ Word Work

This page is part of my Daily Phonics program. I don’t use Daily Phonics with all of my decoding students, but today my second grade groups worked through a page together! This is always a great assessment for me, to see where their phonics skills are. (NOTE: Most of my students completed these on the iPads, but for the classrooms I push-into I had paper copies for them to complete. Daily Phonics is a great paperless warm-up for students!)


A Lot Bit O’ Poetry

I love, love, LOVE using poetry to celebrate the holidays! So many of my students need fluency practice, so poetry is a wonderful intervention for reinforcing these skills.

Here are a few of my own that I used this week:



How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

I would love to hear about St. Patrick’s Day interventions and activities you used with your students today! Please share in the comments below!

Happy Teaching! 



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