Saturday, September 29, 2012

Visual Spelling for Students with Dyslexia

Last year, I learned TONS about learning visuals in my classroom.  I now use more than I ever would have imagined, but let me tell you, IT WORKS!  From re-doing my class library labels to include pictures, to teaming with my Special Ed team to utilize Boardmaker, I have found first hand, how a simple visual helped not only my students in special education classes and my students with autism, but also ALL STUDENTS!  Really!  :)

So now, it should come as no shock to me that visuals work well for my kiddos with dyslexia, too.  After finding this video recently, it was a big "DUH!" moment for me!  How smart, and how simple!  Here, take a look:

Genius!  What a brilliant (and awesome!) mom!  I know as teachers, we would love to have all that "at home" support! 

Besides the visual pictures, I ADORE her "color coding" the chunks.  This concept, to change colors, has been in many things I've read lately.  One thing I'm planning on implementing in my classroom to coincide with this is to change colors on each line of my teacher "notes" that I have students use on the board.  Making a word bank?  Change the color of each word!  Writing sentence stems?  Make each stem a different color!  Having students copy a definition?  Write each line in a different color (regardless of the end of the sentence or not).  Looking at/ Making/ Composing/ Taking Apart/ Reading words?  Have your students with dyslexia trace each vowel in a color to help them visually!
I love how the little things like this video, can spark an idea that can be transferred into other classroom aspects.  I'm so excited to try all of these ideas (both hers and mine!), and I'm so excited to see if adding just a little more effort on my part can make a big difference on my students' end!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dyslexia in the Classroom

It is an unwritten rule that each and every year we teach, we have a new set of experiences to learn from.  Last year, my autistic kiddos and other special needs sweet peas made me a better teacher than I ever thought I could be.  And I miss them.  I really, really do.  (If you would have told me that at the beginning of last year, I would have probably laughed at you, then looked at you sideways, but really, now, it's true!)  :)

This year, I really am blessed to have another diverse classroom that I've never had before-- multiple (multiple) students with dyslexia.  In the past, I've had 1 or 2, and I have followed accomodations, loved them lots, and really tried to help them succeed.  This year, though, with many more, I'm having to amp up my teaching, add to my teaching "repitiore" and learn lots of new tricks and techniques.  Which. is. awesome.  I REALLY love learning, and just over these past few weeks, I've been so blessed to learn something new each and every day.

Yesterday, our dear, sweet dyslexia therapist spoke with us in our afternoon staff meeting, and she shared some pretty powerful videos.  And of course, now I HAVE to share them with you!  (Caution: Cry easily? Heads up!)

This next one has the beginning from an acutal documentary, but has been edited to include a "commercial" on the tail end for a specific school.  Sorry I couldn't do the whole documentary, but if you just disregard the ending for the school, the first 80% of it is AMAZING....

So, after these first few weeks of school, and of course, some YouTube inspiration, I thought I'd devote the next few weeks (for myself) to learn all I possibly can about dyslexia and helping my kiddos!  Which means, in turn, that I'm going to TRY to be a more reliable blogger (like last year!) and share with you!  No promises though-- I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to juggle this year like I could last!  :)  But anyways, check back soon...I might just have something new and interesting to share.  Happy Thursday!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Feel Like a GIVEAWAY!!!

I woke up this morning and decided I needed some spice in my life!  :)  So, in honor of trudging through and making it past the first few weeks of school, (and partly because I feel guilty for not blogging in oh so long), I'm not only giving myself some spice, but YOU some, too!  Is a GIVEAWAY spicy enough?! 

Yep, you read it right, I'm having a "Just Because" Giveaway!  No celebrations, no reasons, no "terms and conditions".  Just Because.  That's it!  Easy peasy.  Snap your fingers, click below, and you could have your choice at ANY item from my TpT Store!  1 lucky reader will get to pick their top 3 items from my store, and 2 readers will get their 1 top pick!  You choose! 

Dig it?  Ready for the details?!  Well read on below, and Rafflecopter will enlighten you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adventure To Fitness {New FAV Inside Recess Activity!}

Okay, so if you haven't read before, I'm from the great state of Texas.  Where, right now, IT'S HOT!  Our students' "inside recess" is somewhat flipped from the rest of the country-- that is, we can pretty much go out ALL winter (really, it's never too terribly cold), BUT it's during the SUMMER months when we have inside recess!!!  Crazy, huh?? 

3 days last week, the heat index was well over 100, so we stayed inside for recess.  Now, let me tell you, inside recess on the 2nd week of school is never really a joyous occasion.  We are still learning all our classroom rules and procedures, and now we're going to throw a kink in everything by having inside recess?!?  (As a side note, which I LOVE- Our principal doesn't like us to simply put on movies during inside recess time.  So, we try to do other activites with our kiddos, like board games, puzzles, other movement activites, projects, etc.)

WELL, one of our dear, sweet new teammates sent us out a link to a FABULOUS website that pretty much saved the day!!!  Have you heard of Adventure to Fitness?  I hadn't either, until last week.  Adventure to Fitness is a website that has TONS of 30 minute "webisodes" where students interact in physical activity while going on an "adventure"!  The host, Mr. Marc, explains all the moves, then the video begins.  There is always some sort of "problem" that they have to solve-- the one we watched this week, Mr. Clock had be kidnapped and we had to go find him!  While the kiddos are going on their adventure with Mr. Marc, they are moving, jumping, running in place, reaching, and on and on!  It's kind of like a video game WITH THEIR BODIES!!!  The best part, well besides all the movement?  Mr. Marc tries to incorporate some learning in, too!  :)  LOVE!

A little "blurb" from the site.

My class (AND MYSELF) LOOOOOOVED this!!!  :)  I can't rave enough!  Look how much fun my kiddos are having.  AND, they're ALL engaged.  What more could a teacher ask for?!?!

So, if you're in need of an inside recess activity (really for all ages), or you just have a high energy class and need a little break some days, head on over to to check it out!  (No, I'm not a paid advertiser, I just stumbled upon something FANTASTIC, and knew I needed to share!!!)  You can even stop by their main site to read more about it!  Enjoy!  :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

ME?! A WINNER?! Just the "Pick Me Up" I Needed!

I'm sure we probably ALL feel about the same right's Friday, near the beginning of school, and let's face it, I'm POOPED.  Yes, I said it.  I'M POOPED!  Exhausted.  Barely breathing.  Bushed.  Fatigued.  Beat.  Worn out.  However you want to phrase it, I'm beyond tired, and I'm sure you are, too.

BUT, just when I'm feeling sorry for myself and moping on my couch after my hard week, the tides have turned!  The "pick-me-up" I needed has arrived!!!  I don't know if you remember the contest I posted a while back, about an AMAZING contest of over $3000 worth of commercial use graphic goodies, BUT GUESS WHAT?!  I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't have been more excited to read my name on EyeInspire's blog post!  Woo-Hoo!!! 

I just got my email a few hours ago with all the details of how to get my big win!  We all know what I'll be doing this weekend, now-- sitting in front of my laptop, exploring my new collection of awesomeness!!!  :)

Well I'm off to start my downloads.  Man, what perfect timing, and what a perfect reward to a stressful past few weeks! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Do you "ish"?!? 

I personally grew up with the word "ish" in my family's vocabulary. 
"Let's have dinner around six-ish." 
"Can you help me find that shirt that's kind of black-ish with tan flowers?" 
"Where's that one pillow that's kind of soft-ish and really squishy?"

I never really realized how special (and funny) of a suffix it was until later on in life!  Now, I use it with my kiddos during the first few weeks of school while reading one of my favorite books, that really touches on trying our best!!!  :)

Have you read the book Ish?  It's a cute, short read by Peter H. Reynolds about a little boy who loves to draw, but he becomes discouraged after his older brother laughs at his pictures.  So, what does he do?  He gets frustrated and is about to give up, when he finds out that his little sister LOVES his drawings, even if they're not perfect!  They're "ish"!  The vase isn't perfect, but it looks "vase-ish"!  The fish isn't perfect, but it looks "fish-ish"!  And so on and so forth!  Adorable story line, and an important lesson!!!

After we read the book as a class this week, we created our own "Ish" portraits.  Then, of course, we had to share!

This book (and mini-"project") not only taught us to try our best, but also to be respectful of others' work, too.  Such an important lesson during the first few weeks of building that classroom community!  (And, it gives you a fun suffix to use the rest of the year!  Your kid's will love it, and start to use "-ish" too!!!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I HEART My Silhouette Cameo

Last week was our first week of school.  On Friday, I shared my own "All About Me" bag with my class to explain their weekend project (to simply fill the bag for our own little "show and tell" during the 2nd week).  What was in my bag you may ask?  Weeeellll, only my top 3 most PRIZED items:
1. My teaching badge.  Need I explain? 
2. My laptop.  Again, need I explain? 
3. My fairly new Silhouette Cameo.  (This one I'll explain!)  :)

A few months back, I splurged and made the switch from my Cricut to a Silhouette Cameo.  AND I'M IN LOVE!  Have you seen it before?  Have you used it?  Take a quick peek into how my new favorite "toy" has helped me prepare my classroom for back to school:

- I've made new small vinyl labels for my turn in trays.  Nice neat and cute fonts!

- I again used vinyl to quickly cut and label my students' book boxes with their names.  Adorable!

- I cut out cardstock and chalkboard papers to create personalized clippies for my kiddos' work outside.  Love them!

- I labeled my new table bins.  (Which, if you read my original post, I'm still a little on the fence about these after the first week...)

- I made my personalized teacher flower/nameplate for the front of our building to fit our "Peace, Love, & Learning" theme.

- Plain black paper was a quick cut to make cute letters for our grade level bulletin board.

- And really, I could go ON and ON!  But I won't brag ;)  I just thought I'd share my latest obsession!!! 

As a quick "aside", it was a pretty funny chat I had with my new students about my Silhouette.  Trying to explain to a group of 2nd graders the concept of buying yourself a present is somewhat difficult!  They just couldn't believe that I have to buy my own fun toys!  I even got a, "Yea, Ms. mom says she has to buy her own things, too.  She said being an adult isn't as fun as being a kid!"  Very funny!!!

Well I'm off to school, then later, maybe I'll "tinker around" some more with my new toy.  I'm thinking of cutting our class jobs out in vinyl...hmmm....decisions, decisions....   :) 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peace, Love, and Learning!

Happy 2012-2013 School Year!!! 

Yes, I'll admit, I've been MIA in the blogging world over the past few months (especially these past few weeks!), BUT now that school is up and running, and I've finally had a chance to sit down and take a few deep breaths, I'm SO excited to get my fingers typing my blog posts onces again!!!  :)

So, I figured a fitting first "back to school" post would be just a short one about our school-wide "theme" this year:  Peace, Love, and Learning!  It's super cute, and our whole campus is decked out in 70's style.  Here's our wonderful team bulletin board at the beginning of our 2nd grade hallway:

I realize they're not the best pictures (since we have to do it around a curved wall), but you get the gist, right?!  :)  We were going for a little Charlie's Angels silhouette, but we had to make 6 instead of 3, for our SIX classes.  That's right!  This year, we have SIX 2nd grade teachers!  And, of course, we replaced the guns in the hands with classroom supplies....paint, paper, scissors, glue, etc. 

Outside each of our classrooms, our grade level has individual boards with our classroom themes. 

Then, we strung black tulle and clipped chalkboard clothespins to them to display our kiddos' work!  Fun and cute!  :)

Do you dig it as much as I do?  Pretty groovy, right?  :)  I hope you're picking up on my 70's lingo here.... :)

So, do you have a school-wide theme?  Or just grade level?  I'd love to hear about it! 

Happy new school year!!!  Hope everyone's off to a great start!!!