Saturday, September 17, 2016

Five for Friday.....Happy September

Time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching!

I'll begin with our September bulletin board. The month letters are from Doodle Bugs herself!
You can find them in her TPT store here.

We also used Doodle Bug's "I love Pete" packet. The students all love Pete the Cat and they did a great job.


One more activity by Kacey from the Pete packet.

More colors are there, we were having a "missing letters" issue.


The week was finished off with the first play of the season at Valley Performing Arts. 

Great story!
The actors did a wonderful job as usual.
The humor and mystery were catching. By the final scene, the audience could almost SEE Harvey.

That's it for me...this is really a 
Four for Friday!



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Classroom Tour

We have been in school four weeks....FOUR! It's hard to get into a routine and THE SCHEDULE (evil, evil, evil thing) keeps changing. There is also the required TESTING.

But now it seems to be settling and I spent today preparing for next week and feeling like those lessons might really happen.

I also am considering rearranging parts of the room. So I better share my tour BEFORE that happens!

Once upon a time I had a self contained classroom, my students were not part of their peer group often, they were happy enough and didn't know what they were missing. My schedule was pretty straight forward, we used themes, modified curriculum and there were 1 or 2 teacher assistants.

Next came the time of "inclusion", my children began to grow socially, I tried to continue themes, but it wasn't needed anymore, my schedule became more and more complicated, more adults were needed to support kids in their homerooms, the district started to introduce "replacement core" programs for students at all levels.

I have been scrambling to understand what my role is in all these changes and what my classroom should provide.

We have 12 students with full time support, two of them spend most of the day in our classroom. The other 10 are in other resource rooms or their homerooms with support. It is a wonderful wonderful scene! Are there bad days? of course, sometimes the homeroom or even a small/big group setting is just overwhelming and they need to take a break.

Anyway, here is what we came up with. 

Our door, I provided the vision, but one of the teacher assistants did the curtains and the sign. 

The Chill Pad hosted by Pete the Cat.
It has been successful so far. It is NOT time out, it is a place to chill, to reset your attitude.

The "Book Nook" is my favorite part of the room. I worked on my books all summer, they are all labeled in categories that can easily be matched to a matching bin label.

I added an ipod shuffle to the "nook" and several students are loving it! It is loaded with kid songs and some old rock and roll like "Rockin Robin".

Students earn points for following directions, being kind to each get the idea. Every 10 points they move the paw up, at the top is the treasure box.

We are the Lynx and our principal created a hand sign to go with that, it is pretty clever and the eye glasses look like the ones she wears!

I decided that all the supplies would be in one place this year. In the past each work station had a tub of basic supplies. The other side has OUR supplies, items like staplers, tape, paper clips. The sharp scissors stay on or in the teacher desk (not that any of our students are a concern with scissors THIS year).

My desk when it was clean. The technology plan is to be wireless, the district purchased us some pretty sweet laptops and those can be used as a tablet. It will be great when everything comes together.

That's not even everything, but this is running too long! I just realized there are no pictures of our group instruction areas!
I love to look at teachers' classrooms, so many great ideas!
We are creative people! LOL

I'll end with a couple of  photos from our garden, this has been a sunflower year!



Friday, July 29, 2016

Five for Friday....Oh NO! It's almost over


Vacation is almost over....
I picked up my school keys yesterday....
felt a little panic creep into my thoughts.....

It's time to link with Doodle Bugs Teaching! The place where the curriculum is organized and every teacher knows what they are doing, I need to live in that dream world for a little while.
Here we go!

My five for Friday consists mostly of things I did when I visited family in the lower 48.


While in Oklahoma we visited the Tiger Safari Park in Tuttle!
It is an awesome place!
I highly recommend it to anyone loving animal parks. We were allowed to hold some of the animals such as the Eurasian Eagle Owl, it was breathtaking. The park host was very specific on how to hold them and helped us get our pictures.
We also stayed overnight at a Safari Hut and that was fun. It was decorated in an African theme and the AC worked great, which is so important in July, in Oklahoma!
If you live in Oklahoma or are planning a trip that takes you through the Tuttle area, you should really check it out. Call ahead.

We got the opportunity to walk through this old historic building, it's not open to the public, the current owner was kind enough to allow us inside. Most of my family worked in this building at one time or another. It was an orphanage when my parents were in grade school and later a nursing home. I washed dishes in the kitchen, did housekeeping and for a very short time, was a nurse's aid. I discovered that nursing was NOT my thing.
Walking around inside and talking about old memories was fun.

My husband got a 4 wheeler recently and the grand kids love it! Grandpa doesn't mind giving rides either.


Our yard is growing like crazy!
It's the last hurrah of summer for us.


We have lived in Alaska 17 years and I still have things stored in my dad's garage! I went through a lot of it and either threw it away, gave it away or mailed it to myself.

There are still 3 tubs left.

This summer was also the year to look through old pictures, I brought home many of them. Pictures of great, great, great grandparents, uncles, cousins.
It's nice to have a history.

I spent a small fortune mailing boxes to myself.....

Now how does ones organize all this great history??
I'll have to Pinterest it.

My next post will most likely contain  teacher stuff.
The return date to school looms closer.



Friday, July 1, 2016

Five for Friday...Going "outside"

Summer is going way too fast! The weeks are just flying by, I really thought I would have lots of those "do nothing" days...but nope.

My daughter and I are going "outside" next week! In Alaskan speak this means we are leaving the state. It took me awhile to figure out what people were talking about when they would say that. It always cracked me up. Another way to refer to leaving is "going to the lower 48".

I'm happy to not be traveling alone this time. My daughter hasn't seen our family for a few years. The trip there and back will be more fun with company.

I am still sorting and labeling my classroom library here at home. There are more at school, but it's a start. 
I made the mistake of looking at children's books when shopping at a thrift store and bought more.  I found some Pete the Cat books in hardcover! Wahoooo!

Here is one of the labels from Danielle Mastandrea at TPT.

I also found these wonderful books about famous artists!

Now I need to get matching boxes to put them in. I have a mish mesh of cardboard and plastic boxes at the moment....there are some great ideas on Pinterest! You can see my board where I am gathering them.

We are getting lots of time with our sweet grandchildren!

Getting ready for the 4th of July.

The yard is wild and alive!

Link up with Doodle bugs teaching!
Have a great holiday, be safe.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Inventive spelling or not?

Let's face it....I am "old School" about many things.
Inventive spelling has  always had a "wrongness" to me until.... I watched my 5 year old grandson writing up a storm using inventive spelling. I knew he wouldn't be writing that much if he was worrying about how to spell each word, so I decided to take a closer look at it.


"I love you mommy and Elizabeth"

I am a visual speller...words look "right" or they don't!  None of those spelling rules with their exceptions. There are too many exceptions for me to believe in using those rules.
I work with children with disabilities. It is my belief if they see a word misspelled too often it will be harder for them to relearn the word with the right spelling.

However, my grandson was spelling certain words correctly as he wrote, words like "is" and "we". He knew how to spell those, the rest of the words he sounded out. He carefully said each sound he heard and wrote the corresponding letter down. It made me tear up to watch him. He wasn't doing it for homework or a class assignment. He was writing because he wanted to!

I decided this "old school" teacher should do some research on inventive spelling!

Invented spelling, sometimes referred to as inventive spelling, is  defined as the practice of spelling unfamiliar words by making an educated guess as to the correct spelling based on the writer's existing phonetic knowledge. (source: Google)

Let's begin with Charles Read. He was a linguist and in 1975 he  conducted a study with preschoolers. They were beginning to relate letter names to their sounds.
He discovered that students commonly "invented" spellings for words in their daily vocabulary by rearranging letters to fit their perception of the rules of the English language. He wrote,
"One sees clearly that different children chose the same phonetically motivated spellings to a degree that can hardly be explained as resulting from random choice or the influence of adults. Learning to spell is not a matter of memorizing words, but a developmental process that culminates in a much greater understanding of English spelling than simple relationships between speech sounds and their graphic representations."
So from a technical perspective, invented spelling is not an instructional technique. It is the natural process that all children use as they begin to write.
In 1982, J. Richard Gentry describes the five stages of spelling as: precommunicative, semiphonetic, phonetic, transitional, and correct. Here's a brief summary of each stage:
  1. Precommunicative: student uses letters from the alphabet, doesn't show knowledge of letter-sound relationships or upper and lower case or left to right directionality.
  2. Semiphonetic: Student begins to understand the letter-sound relationship, and may use single letters to represent words such as writing the beginning letter.
  3. Phonetic: use a letter or group of letters to represent sounds that they hear in words, such as KOM for come.
  4. Transitional: they begin to apply visual representation/familiar structures of words. They may spell Hiked as HIGHKED.
  5. Correct: The speller knows the English orthographic system and its basic rules. They understand how to deal with prefixes, suffixes, silent consonants and irregular spellings.

This article recommended that teachers encourage  spelling in purposeful writing (messages, lists, plans, signs. letters, stories, poems) rather than to conduct rule-based instruction or to rely on memorization. Students' invented spellings must be seen as opportunities for them to contribute actively to their own learning. By combining an understanding of invented spelling with formal spelling instruction, teachers should be able to develop more effective spelling programs.

Source:  "Invented Spelling and Spelling Development." ERIC Clearinghouse, author: Lutz, Elaine, publication date: 1986.

" On summer vacation I didn't go to the lake."

Words Their Way (Donald R. Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, Francine Johnston) used the work from Charles Read, Edmund Henderson and colleagues at the University of Virginia developing  a comprehensive model of developmental word knowledge. Using students' invented spellings as a guide, word study instruction was created. Word Study enables teachers to differentiate efficient, effective instruction in phonics, spelling and vocabulary.

Word Study serves two purposes:
1. It teaches students to examine words to discover the regularities, patterns, and conventions of English orthography needed to read and spell.
2. It increases specific knowledge of words-the spelling and meaning of individual words.

Words Their Way uses invented spelling as a guide for instruction. They divide the instruction into 5 stages:
1. Emergent Stage
2. Letter Name-Alphabetic Stage
3. Within Word Pattern Stage
4. Syllables and Affixes
5. Derivational Relations

I have used this program inconsistently the last few years, not with any sort of fidelity (don't you love that word?) and signed up for a 2 day training this August. Word Study is very versatile and is easy to
individualize. I'll know more after the training!

"1 cent 2 candy"

Louise at Reading Rockets writes an excellent post about spelling and students with learning disabilities. Her recommendations include: use a systematic phonics program, teach irregular words early, teach useful spelling rules, grade appropriate words, emphasize activities that involve writing or building printed words with letter tiles instead of oral spelling, teach how to use root words and how to use the computer spell checker.

An awesome systematic phonics program I have used for years is the Making Words series by Patricia Cunningham ( I have the Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use). It is very "special ed" friendly. Easy to adapt and individual for students at different levels in the same lesson.

Write to Read-Read to Write recommends to
"Allow students to use “kid writing” for words not yet taught, but expect that they use conventional spellings for words that have been formally introduced in the classroom".

I like that and it is exactly what I saw my grandson doing.

So! Inventive spelling isn't a method of teaching spelling, it is a natural part of the writing process. It is important to remember that students are learning to spell through out their school careers. Continue to teach them how to spell high frequency words, as they learn those words, require they be spelled correctly (using resources such as the word wall), help them build on their word pattern knowledge and their correct spelling will grow.
Programs such as Words Their Way and Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use give teachers a sequence of lessons to follow. This is helpful in being sure not to miss important skills/spelling patterns.

I didn't begin this post thinking about these books, but after researching inventive spelling a little (there is so much more) I naturally thought of them.

There is a LOT of information out there and many teachers have put in their two cents.

Other interesting reading on this subject:

Cn U rd ths? A guide to invented spelling

Invented Spelling-Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of Invented or Inventive Spelling in the Elementary Classroom
(my favorite)

How Children Learn to Spell (Scholastic)

In case you are wondering about the writing samples, yes, my grandchildren wrote those! (proud grandma here) Elizabeth has been wanting to go swimming at the lake in their neighborhood and is annoyed with her parents that it hasn't happened yet! Tristan likes to write in his Star Wars notebook, the sample is from his other writing. They really do LIKE to write and draw. It is GREAT.

From your unique viewpoint, depending on the age and skill group of your students, what do you think?



Monday, June 6, 2016

Link with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday

I'm actually linking on Monday for the Five for took me awhile to come out of the zone my brain was in last week! So join us and link with

First, our school district provides a week of classes for us after school is out and before we begin each year. It is pretty awesome! We can attend classes without making sub plans, gain knowledge and earn university credits (for a fee of course).

I took a class about behavior management the first 2 days.

We received our own copy of  The Tough Kid Book, wrote our classroom behavior plan with help from our teacher. It is so nice to have someone to ask questions to when working on something like that. Our teacher is also a former special education/behavior teacher and is  our resource specialist. In our district, special education teachers have a person they can call whenever there are questions, will attend meetings with parents who have questions and look out for us.

It is GREAT!

Second, the next 2 days I took the Integrated Classroom.
It was amazing to say the least.
Lots of information! We learned a lot of things and I am sorting it out in my head at the moment. I am super excited. We received a laptop/tablet device for our classrooms, it will enable us to connect directly to our promethean boards without being in front of the board or at our desk computers.

Third, all the classes were at the beautiful Career Tech High School.

Fourth, I am working on organizing and labeling my classroom library.

It's a mess.  I am getting help from Danielle Mastandrea at TPT.
I purchased her Book Stickers to get started.
When the books are properly labeled, I will start on the bins!
Danielle also has a variety of patterns and colors for those.
Thank you Danielle!

I have discovered a few that I will have to make myself.
Alaska Books and the Black Lagoon books.
I have quite a lot of both of those.
I have some books that I cannot figure out which category to place them into....AHHHH!

Fifth! I am enjoying sitting around and watching Supernatural whenever I want to!

.........doing some house cleaning....

Have a great week,