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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.

(Sets 1-8 are ALL currently available on TpT!) 

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!)

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Happy Summer!


Getting Organized for Guided Reading

21 Aug

For teachers around the world, “Back to School” season is especially busy. Between getting READY for the school year (i.e., setting up classrooms, organizing resources & materials, getting lesson plans in order, etc.) and SURVIVING the first week of school (i.e., establishing classroom routines, getting to know your new students, keeping your sanity, etc.), it’s just… C.R.A.Z.Y.

To help manage the “crazy,” I decided to share a few of my “getting organized for guided reading” ideas and resources with you. Hopefully they can help you get started with small group instruction during the first few weeks!

Getting guided reading up and running shouldn’t be an overwhelming, painful task. Some teachers feel they can’t start their small group instruction until they have beginning-of-the-year data on every single student. For those classrooms, guided reading and small groups could be delayed for many weeks while assessments take over and pause instruction. My suggestion is to get started right away, if possible, and to use the spring data that you have. Yes, there may be some summer regression (or a lot, in some cases), but it gives you a starting point. You can always make adjustments as you collect up-to-date assessment data and get to know your students.

Grouping Your Students

Unless I have the past year’s anecdotal records or running records, I try to group the students initially by reading level. Later, I may change the groups to strategy groups or a combination of the two. It’s difficult to guess at which strategies your students will need until you have a chance to read with them or analyze past records.

Use a form like this one (bel0w) to help you map out groups. It’s a 2-page resource – one page is organized by colors and F&P levels, and the other page is completely blank so you can customize your own.

Guided Reading Grouping

You don’t need to meet in a group with every student, every day. Create a rotating schedule and try to stick to it. You could even consider implementing 1:1 conferences versus regular guided reading groups. Pick what works for you and what you can manage!

Picking Texts for the First Week

If you’re not sure what text-level to pick for your groups, and you don’t already have a text in mind, you should consider starting your first round of guided reading with a poem. Poetry is a fun way to kick-start reading instruction at the beginning of the year and allows students to show off what they can do! Plus, most students could use a little fluency practice after a few months out of the classroom. You could even use the same poem for every group but differentiate the instruction. As you observe student reading behavior within the small groups, start filling-out an informal skills assessment for each student (TeacherVision has a great printable form here). A skills assessment will allow you to start monitoring each student’s level of proficiency with different oral reading skills and comprehension strategies. It will also help you plan strategy lessons for students while you’re still collecting assessment data.

If you’re looking for a fun “Back to School” poem to use, check out the partner poem I shared in a blog post a few days ago. A few other options are listed below!

Back to School Poetry:

Independent Tasks for Students

We use Daily 5 in my building, which helps build-up stamina and independence in students. I love this structure because, once it’s up and running, it allows teachers to work with small groups without interruptions. Of course, a structure like this takes TIME to model and practice at the beginning of the year, so your small group instruction may need to be modified for the first week or so. If you are not familiar with Daily 5, consider activities like literacy centers, task cards, or independent choice boards for your students to complete while you meet with your small groups. You could even have them work on back-to-school writing pieces like Hello School Year, Goodbye Summer poems.

Collecting Anecdotal Notes During Guided Reading

A big part of guided reading, especially in the beginning, is collecting and organizing anecdotal notes and informal assessments. Find a system that works for you! Some teachers use clipboards. Some teachers use mailing labels. I use a big binder and create tabs within the binder for each student. This only works if you have a small group table where it can stay (it gets VERY heavy!). I record anecdotal notes for each student and collect running records, sight word lists, student samples, etc. Sometimes I will jot a quick note on a post-it and will later transfer it to the anecdotal page, or I will create a summary page of anecdotal post-it notes for each student.

Download a FREE packet of Anecdotal Notes Forms for Guided Reading:

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If you have access to an iPad, I’ve also used digital forms (Google Docs) or apps (e.g., Notability) that I can take type notes into. For the Google Doc form, once you submit notes for a student, it exports the data into a spreadsheet that you can sort, print, etc. I only used the iPads when I traveled around the classroom to the students (vs. them traveling to me) because the iPad was portable. In the end, I went back-and-forth between this and a sticky note system because I ended up typing WAY too slow. If you’re quick with the iPad keyboard, though, it’s a great way to organize anecdotal notes. (I blogged about how to do this last year! Check out the post here.)

Resources for Getting Started with Guided Reading

Are you looking for some professional resources to help you get started? Here are a few books that I’ve found to be a HUGE help in setting up guided reading in the classroom.

(Update 4/2017 — There is a new version available for teachers with actual videos of Jan Richardson teaching model lessons. Check them out: Next Step Guided Reading in Action K-2 and Next Step Guided Reading in Action 3-6. Also she came out with a Guided Reading companion book called The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. You can check out the book plus the companion guide below!)

Getting organized and ready to start small group instruction is only half the battle, but dedicating time to create a system that works for you helps with running a smooth reading program throughout the year. I hope these resources help you as you navigate the first few weeks of guided reading.

Do you have any suggestions for getting organized? Feel free to comment with any tips, suggestions, or resources YOU have for getting started with guided reading!

(NOTE: This blog post was originally part of the “Blasting Off to a Great Year” blog hop. Check out all the blog posts in the series by hopping back to the first stop at Reading Toward the Stars, or visit the next blog post in the series with This Little Piggy Reads.)

Happy Teaching! 


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

A FREE Back to School Poem

18 Aug

Two more weeks and then it’s back to school for me! (Seriously… where did the summer go?!?) I’d like to say that I was extremely productive and accomplished everything on my to-do list, but… not so much. I started to feel guilty and disappointed in myself, but then I came across Jenny’s post at Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad, “The Summer That Should Have Been,” and it helped put things into perspective for me. I’m feeling a LITTLE less guilty about the neglected task items on my list, because looking back, I’ve had a pretty awesome summer!

Just to share a few things I was lucky enough to do:

I went to Ireland with my husband’s family for a week. (One word: AMAZING)


(Lough Leane, Killarney, Ireland – July 2014)

I spent three days in Belgium with my husband where we ate lots of waffles, chocolate, and frites (and tried MANY new beers!).



I spent time with family and friends, near and far. Threw a (successful) surprise retirement party for my father-in-law. Went to a couple of weddings, from Buffalo to Chicago, to celebrate the marriage of some of my favorite people. Snuggled with my adorable pup, Kiko. I even read seven books (YESSS!).


For teaching-related tasks, I completed two online courses for continuing ed credit, published two new partner poems (I now have 14 total!), and filled up a notebook with fun ideas for the school year. I’m also in the process of planning a new intervention block with the 2nd grade team in my building.

Productive summer? Yes. As productive as I wanted to be? No. Am I okay with it? ABSOLUTELY, yes. I feel accomplished, yet refreshed. My summer was FULL… full of fun, relaxation, travel, and wonderful memories (with a little work mixed in there). 🙂

Despite all of that, I’m still struggling with the summer being almost over. It’s one thing to create lessons and resources by the pool, another to get up, get dressed, and get myself out the door each morning! I’m not looking forward to that, but I am eager to kick-off another fun school year. I have so many new ideas I want to try out, and I can’t wait to see all my students!

A *FREE* Back-to-School Poem!

As I mentioned above, I’ve been working on a few new partner poems to use with my students this year! If you love partner poetry (aka, “poems for two voices”) and are interested in checking them out, click HERE! They’re great for fluency practice and for teaching character perspective. My students love them, and I bet yours would too! You can buy a collection of just the poems (PDF eBook), or I sell each poem individually with activity pages. I’m working on getting them published as a REAL book (wouldn’t that be awesome?!). 🙂

In the mean time, to celebrate my growing partner poetry collection and the back-to-school season… I’m offering my newest poem for FREE on TpT (if you’re not already a member of TpT, you should join here!). Grab the FREE poetry packet HERE or by clicking the images below!

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Happy Teaching!


Back to School: Fabulous Giveaway for Teachers!

19 Aug

It’s time for a… “Back to School” giveaway! 

Once again, I’ve teamed up with Dansko to giveaway FABULOUS shoes for the classroom!

I love Dankso shoes. They’re well worth the money, especially if you are a teacher who doesn’t sit down for more than 10 minutes throughout the school day. My feet are often screaming by the end of the day, and since I hate foot rubs (well, pretty much ANYTHING to do with feet), I’m forced to be more proactive. 🙂

The Baker style boot is my favorite in their current boot collection. These boots are perfect for “post-summer feet” (you know… ones that go into shock the first few months back to school). Like all Dansko shoes, you’ll feel like you’re walking on clouds. Seriously. They’re great for the classroom, and once it gets a bit cooler, I’m looking forward to wearing them with fun tights and a cute skirt or dress. On my dress-down days, I can even wear them with my skinny jeans! My favorite part is the buttons — they’re different patterns and very fun! You’ll want to show them off, but you can totally wear these boots under dress pants as well.


Oh, you want a pair of these fabulous boots, too? Well… you’re in luck! Not only did I score a pair for myself (to make sure they’re worthy for your tired teacher feet, of course), but now I get to choose ONE lucky winner to receive a pair as well! 🙂

All you have to do is “Like” a few Facebook pages! You can even share this blog post with your friends and colleagues – using the Rafflecopter options listed below – for more chances to win! One very lucky winner will be randomly selected at noon on Saturday, August 24th. The name of the winner will be announced on my MsJordanReads Facebook page. I’ll also be contacting the winner via email, so make sure you provide a valid email on your Rafflecopter entry!

How do you enter? Login to Rafflecopter using your Facebook account or a valid email. You may submit up to five “+1” entries, and then all you have to do is wait for your luck to kick in! Rafflecopter will randomly choose a winner from the entries submitted.

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*This promotion is sponsored by Dansko. Check out their website or Facebook page for their other “Back to School” styles. NOTE: If you’re a male teacher entering this giveaway, a men’s shoe will be substituted. (Don’t worry, you won’t be left out or forced to wear women’s shoes!)*

TpT Sale Reminder

Also, just a reminder… today is the FINAL day to score big on great “Back to School” resources for the classroom! Everything in my store (MsJordanReads) is 20% off, and you can use promo code BTS13 for an additional 10% the already discounted prices! You don’t want to miss out on these great prices! Read my blog post from Saturday, or click my store logo below to check out some of my “must-have” Literacy resources:

MsJordanReads on TpT




Happy Teaching & Good Luck! 

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Back-to-School: News, Updates, and a TpT Sale!

17 Aug

News & Updates! 

I’m disappointed to say summer is almost over… and this is the first time I’m getting on my blog to post anything new (sigh). I have a good excuse though — I GOT MARRIED! Here’s a little sneak peek of our perfect day: Canalside Yes, I’m officially a Mrs. now! 🙂 And of course, that begs the question… will I be changing my blog/store name, MsJordanReads? Nope. I’ll be changing my real name, but keeping everything else MsJordanReads.

So, between my 101 DIY wedding projects, the wedding itself, and then an extended honeymoon, I can pretty much say the wedding took over my summer. Not complaining, but it leaves me with a growing list of unchecked items on my blog and teacher store “to do” lists. Now that I’m back to reality though, I’m starting to prioritize and get back into the “teacher groove.” I’ve already created a few new items for my TpT store (check them out below!), and I have a blog giveaway in the works!

(SPOILER ALERT: Since my “Teacher Appreciation” giveaway from Dansko last May was such a huge hit, I’ll be hosting another one this upcoming week. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, August 24th! Check back Monday, or subscribe to this blog, to find out more about how you can win a pair of VERY comfy black boots for the fall. You’re going to love them!)

“Back to School” Annual Sale

It’s that time of year! The annual Teachers Pay Teachers “Back-to-School” sale is back! Here’s your chance to get all those resources you’ve had your eye on and have been waiting to put in your cart. I know I can’t wait to purchase a TON of new things for this upcoming school year.

BTS TpT Sale 2013_MeredithAnderson(Thank you to Meredith Anderson for the great banner!)

All the items in my store will be 20% off August 18th and August 19th. Use Promo Code BTS13 during the 2-day sale for an additional 10% off my already discounted prices (essentially, giving you a 28% discount). You don’t want to miss out on these great prices!

Below are a few of my newest products. My biggest goal this month was to complete the remaining “Daily Fluency” packets (beginner & intermediate levels) for the year. I’m not sure how, but I managed to pull it off in time for this week’s sale! If you don’t know what “Daily Fluency” is, check them out! The monthly packets are PERFECT for implementing independent fluency practice in your classroom each day. The activities included are Common Core aligned (RF.4) and reinforce all the components of oral reading fluency.

Primary “Daily Fluency” (K-3)



Intermediate “Daily Fluency” (3-5)


If you love the individual packets and are interested in setting up a year-long fluency practice routine with your students, consider my “Daily Fluency” Bundles! Both the primary and Intermediate packets are available as 12-month bundles. The bundle gives you two months free, but if you purchase the bundle during the TpT sale, it will be like getting FOUR months free!

Primary “Daily Fluency” Bundle (K-3) 


Intermediate “Daily Fluency” Bundle (3-5)


Happy Teaching! 

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Roll-a-Dice Literacy Fun

11 Aug
Roll a Dice Literacy Fun | This blog post includes ideas, activities, and free printables for using dice in the classroom.

Roll a Dice Literacy Fun

With my small group pull-out sessions limited to half-hour increments, I’m always looking for quick (fun!) reading and writing activities to reinforce literacy skills. For some reason though, when I think of dice games, my mind always jumps to math and probability. Little did I know, there’s a whole WORLD of possibilities for using dice with literacy! My mind is churning (uh oh!) and I’m already making lists of all the resources I want to create. I have a feeling this year will be fun as I continue to explore and develop literacy-focused dice activities to use with my students. It may be a little loud, too…

Let’s Shake & Roll!

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been creating. I hope you find these resources helpful as you head back to school and continue to build up your own instructional toolbox!


This summer I taught a writing workshop at a local bookstore and had my students create story starters using the  following Roll-a-Story chart. With each roll of the dice (three total!), the students had a character, setting, and problem to use as a basis for their creative stories.

(Download your copy here or click the picture below!)

Roll a Story FREEBIE (MsJordanReads)

Once students collected their three story elements, they recorded them on a graphic organizer (included in freebie!) and planned out the rest of the story. If they weren’t happy with their story starter, they were able to roll again, but I did have to put a time-limit on this loud, rolling fun.


For fluency practice, I created a Roll-an-Emotion! activity to reinforce reading with expression. Essentially, students roll-a-dice two times… once to determine which word/phrase card to read, and a second time to determine which emotion to apply to their reading! Cards are not included in the sample, but you can use any cards you have that list simple words, phrases, or sentences.

(Download your copy here or click the picture below!)

(Note: This is a sample activity page from my Fluency Boot Camp product which I referenced in my “Fluency Boot Camp!” blog post this past February. It is my most popular product and includes everything you need to get started with fluency, including phrase and sentence cards. Feel free to check it out!)

Roll-a-Reading Partner!

It’s “clock partners” with a twist! Each student has to find six reading partners and record their names on the planner, one partner in each spot (see picture below). The trick is for the partner to write the corresponding student’s name in the same exact spot or it won’t work! The teacher or class helper rolls the dice and whatever number is rolled will be the listed dice partner pairs for the task/activity. Big foam dice are perfect for this!

(Download your copy here or click the picture below!)

Other FREE Dice Activity Resources

All Things Dice:




(NOTE: For variation with activities, you can make choices more challenging by using numbers greater than 6 and having students add the numbers of the two dice!)

A Tip for Your Sanity

Here’s a helpful management tip I came across that will prevent flying dice in your classroom! It’s still loud, but it helps… a lot. Use small plastic container to contain the individual dice. (Isn’t that brilliant?!) Of course, being slightly addicted, I found this wonderful idea on Pinterest (shared by Sunny Days in Second Grade, who also got the idea from Pinterest). For my small groups, I bought a package of small plastic containers and filled each with one or two dice. My sanity is still intact, and my teaching colleagues whom I share a room with don’t hate me as much since my students aren’t distracting their groups trying to find their dice. I guess I should change all my product titles to “Shake-a-Dice” activities now though. 🙂


If noise is an issue, you can use foam dice (large or small) or even colorful foam sheets as individual dice placemats for each student! It doesn’t prevent rolling or bouncing, but it does help with the noise.

Happy Back-to-School Teaching!

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

Looking for Additional Materials?

Check out my Roll-a-Dice Activity category page here which includes my popular interactive “Roll-a-Story” Writing Activity resources!

Roll-a-Story Writing Activities PROMO



Summer Olympics 2012… Some Gold Medal Ideas!

26 Jul

Are you ready for the Summer Olympics 2012?

 Go, Team USA!

If you’re interested in bringing the Summer Olympic excitement into your home or classroom, here are some great Summer Olympic-themed educational books and activities to use with your kids, students, or summer programs. There are a TON of great resources and educational materials just a click away!


Have you heard of the new book called Olympig?

Olympig is a phenomenal story by Victoria Jamieson, author and illustrator of books for young children. Not only is it an inspiring story about a pig who never gives up, but it creates perfect opportunities to learn about the real Olympics that are taking place this summer, starting with the opening ceremonies tomorrow night! Victoria even shared activities and printable pages to go with her new book!

Watch the book trailer below! Buy it from Amazon or local bookstores near you!


Interested in other Olympics-themed books?

Check out this Reading Rockets article, “Winning Books About the Olympics and Fun Summer Sports.”



Challenge your kids or students to a Summer Reading Olympics Challenge. Check out what a local children’s bookstore, Monkey See… Monkey Do… Children’s Bookstore, is sponsoring for kids in a community near me. Kids complete logs and reviews to submit for a chance to win Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals! Check them out here! (If you’re in the Buffalo, NY area, be sure to participate in this great event that’s still taking place until next week!)

Want to do you own Summer Reading Olympics?

Tell your students or kids to create a neighborhood challenge or a book club with their friends to see who can read the most books! You can even do an opening ceremony using ideas from Victoria Jamieson’s website that she shared along with her new book, Olympig!

Looking for additional printables?

Download my FREE Summer Olympic Choice Board Template

…or purchase a complete 18-page activity packet here!


Do you have additional ideas for learning about the Summer Olympics?

Comment below to share them with our blogging community!

Happy Teaching!

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