Sunday, October 18, 2015

Open & Closed Syllable Patterns

So, I've been implementing a ton of new strategies based on the Orton Gillingham Approach to Reading and Spelling. I love it!  I'm in the process of creating an interactive phonics notebook that will hopefully be finished sometime soon, although it's been getting pushed to back burner-I will keep you posted.

With that said, I've been reviewing syllable types with my kiddos and this was a quick review of open and closed syllables. I simply wrote words on index cards and taped them to the door cutting each word in half leaving open syllables on the left side and closed syllable son the right.

When the door is OPEN the vowels scream their name!!   Seriously, make sure to open the door wide and scream each vowel sound!!  Yet, when it's closed the consonant closes the vowel in and makes quiet so it says the short vowel sound.   lol .....The whole process flashed me back to Jim Carey as Ace Ventura when he opened and closed the sliding door in the movie Pet Detective.  

Just wanted to share this activity that my kiddos loved!  It's a great ticket out the door and can be easily changed to switch up vowel sounds.

Enjoy!   :)  What other ways do you review syllable types.. Moving on to v-c-e soon and Hope to show you a more fun ideas I have roaming around in my head.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Student Reminders

There are many ways we as adults have adapted to use strategies when trying to remember something, maybe you keep post-it notes in your back pocket, scribble a to-do list, or write a note on your hand.  On the other hand our students have a much more difficult time remembering little tasks or routines.

We often have a student or two who have difficulty keeping things organized or remembering things like using capital letters or putting spaces between words when writing.  We know its not always easy to keep track of which student needs these little reminders, especially if they need reminders during an independent station or center activity.

One quick way to help students is to use a visual. In the past I've used cards and/or checklists taped to desks or folders.  I've found that these visuals often get lost and you have to continually replace them- Until now.....  I was shown a new way to use binder clips. Seriously, what teacher doesn't have a handful of these amazingly useful office supplies?

 The Occupational Therapist  at my school showed me this idea to help some of our students remember to use spaces and capital letters when writing. We used a large binder clip and printed out a reminder that will be used with my students' writing journal. This is a perfect way to make the student accountable for his work.  It also a book mark so they can easily flip to the last page they were working on. You can make whatever reminder you want,  the options are endless! Just be sure to keep it simple and try  not to overwhelm them with numerous reminders in each notebook/folder.

In third grade it's very important that my students are becoming accountable and more self reliant. They need to begin to develop skills to help them become a successful member of community.

Until Next time,

Monday, August 31, 2015

Simple B2S Gifts for Teachers

So, I've been doing a little reflecting on the special education team in my building. I am really so blessed to work with a such a great gaggle of ladies! Our school is a 3-5 school we have 4 SPED teachers.... Sounds crazy but our caseloads are all most always at capacity (aren't they Three of us work with a specific grade level and one of us works in a semi-self-contained class for grades 3-5. We work hard but we have fun doing it!

Anyway, I thought for a long while about the type of gift I wanted to give my teammates. I decided to go the DIY  practical route! I wanted to give them something they could use......

 I purchased a simple clipboard and attached a personalized To-Do List. I printed some editable Teacher Cards from Erin West from Super in Second here at her TpT store.

Here is my final product! 

Happy Back to School!  


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Glowing with Excitement!!

Just a quick little back to school gift for my 3rd graders!  I'm just  GLOWing with excitement over these bad boys! I stumbled upon this idea from Teach with Laughter on Pinterest. You can download them HERE! Once you down load these little guys you have access to print grade specific from K-5 tags. What a cute idea!  Just download, print, cut, and attach the glow bracelets.  I purchased my glow sticks from the dollar Spot at Target.  Here's what they look like finished!  Can't wait to hand them out at open house! 

Have a great start of the 2015-2016 School Year!  


Friday, August 14, 2015


In the spring, my sister in law shared an article about her Elementary School in Whitney Point, NY. The elementary students participated in a reading challenge and set a goal to read 30,000 books. The students not only reached their goal but exceeded it by 13,000 books for a total of 43,000 books. The program lasted from November to May. You can watch the news coverage here!

 I was in awe and completely inspired to get more students excited about reading at my school. Many teachers already assign 20 min of reading each night for homework.....I thought, why not give them a little more incentive to read.  With the inspiration of my newest co-teacher, I threw together this Camp Out With S'More Books Reading Incentive Program and Million Minute Reading Challenge . The last few days I have just been so "In-Tents" with this project, I can Bear-ly contain my excitement and I've decided to give it away!   Enter My giveaway for your free copy!

I created calendars for students to color in each night they read. When they turn in their calendar every month, they will get some incentives such as a pencil, book mark, stickers, maybe a gift card for the book fair. The options are almost limitless.

Our Goal is for Grades 3-5 to collectively read 1,000,000 Minutes. We are still working on the logistics of it all but I will keep you posted as we go along! 

I plan to write a grant to provide reading charms for those students who read monthly and turn in their signed calendar.  I found this website, Fitness Finders, to order reading charms. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'd love to hear if your school participates in a reading incentive program..

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


I know that many teachers and professionals are very particular about organizing school or office supplies, book bins, doing the laundry heck even cleaning the house. I can name a few friends, who might go a bit over board, don’t worry Jessica I won’t rat you out! Lol… Seriously, when I hear someone say, “I’m so OCD!” I just want to throw a 2yr old temper tantrum!

Psychology Today defines OCD: "Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety. A person's level of OCD can be anywhere from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, it can destroy a person's capacity to function at work, at school or even to lead a comfortable existence in the home."

A person suffering from OCD would turn around no matter where they were to go back to their classroom to count and organize the writing utensils in order to ease their mind/anxieties. Let’s face it, you probably aren’t going to lose sleep over the fact that a highlighter may be mixed in with your sharpies, when you leave your office.

There are many different types of OCDs and no they are not always super clear or organized either. People suffering with OCD have significant irrational fears or worries that bad things will happen to themselves or the people closest to them, if they don’t routinely engage in their rituals of counting, checking, lining up or even tapping until it feels they completed their routine just so; and even then they may continue to repeat the process over and over.

I don’t know what it is like to suffer from OCD, but I don’t know what it is like to live with someone who does. My husband was diagnosed for quite some time, which is why I become frustrated when people say, “I’m SO OCD.” Well let me tell you-It’s not something you want to brag about. It is a debilitating condition that significantly impacts one’s life and daily living.
Many people don’t like to hear the “R” word in special education, we need to be respectful of other disabilities and not overuse these terms-It’s not fair to those who suffer.

Here is a great video that goes into more detail about OCD.

OCD & Anxiety Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #29

Have a great day!  :)


Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Currently


Now that I have a energetic one-year-old, I don't often have a quiet home. So, I have been learning to appreciate all the quiet time in order to reflect on being a wife, a mom, and a teacher. 


I've started the Fad Diet, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and I absolutely LOVE IT.  I didn't purchase the shake kit. The workouts are out of this world, I swear they have to be the most motivating dvd's I have ever purchased. and the measuring containers put serving size in perspective. Thirty minutes goes by in a flash. Plus, I'm down 6 1/2 lbs and 3 inches in just 14 days.  :) HOORAY for ME! 


I applied to be part of a Pilot Program that will certify teachers in Orton-Gilliamgham, I was Stoked when I found out I was selected. The Pilot is through Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University and the College of  William and Mary. I'm so excited to have this training. As a special education teacher, I know I will use this with my reading instruction. Orton Gilliangham is a phonics based program designed for kids with Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia. I"M So EXCITED!! 


I'm moved away from home for a teaching job in Virginia, so I don't get to spend much time with my three sisters. They actually live between and North East PA and Cleveland Ohio.  Face-time and Skype doesn't always cut it, especially since our kids have such a great time hanging out with their cousins.  I miss them! 


I desperately need a hair cut and a Pedi to get ready for back to school.


I try to start of the year by giving a simple gift to my Paraprofessionals. I couldn't survive the school year without them! They are my eyes and ears when I'm not in the classroom. 


Social Skills are Not Just for Special Education

I began taking classes last fall, at The College of William and Mary, to add the Talented and Gifted Endorsement to my teaching license.  In total I have to take 4 classes but I only took 2, which, will be enough to get a provisional licence if a position open up in my division. I may take another class in the spring, but we will see what the year brings 

Anyway, I have worked with numerous students who have been identified as Twice Exceptional, meaning they have been identified as a Gifted and Talented Learner with a Disability (i.e. ADHA, ASD, OHI,and SLD).

I know many in the gifted community may frown that I often put Gifted students in the same category with Special education, bottom line is regardless if IQ, both groups of students need SPECIALLY DESIGNED INSTRUCTION to ACCESS and PROGRESS in the curriculum. With that said both groups of students often face many of the same social and emotional issues as they go through school. They often struggle with acceptance, peers relationships and being different.

I love to use picture books to help aide my social skills instructions. my students often do well when they can relate to characters in a book. One of my favorite  picture books  is Odd Velvet , written by Mary Whitcomb.  It is a cute story about an unusual girl named Velvet who often does things very differently. The other students call her Odd Velvet. It is VERY CUTE Story! 

I created Odd Velvet Social Skills Activities and Discussion Questions that can be used as mini lessons. They are perfect to utilize during class meeting times or small group social skills or counseling sessions. They can be completed over the course of 5 consecutive days or they can be utilized independently to address a specific needs with your class or group of students. Each activity should take roughly 20-30 minutes to complete the activity sheets and discuss the questions. You can find the pack HERE at TpT. 


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tidying Up My School Bag

I have been so frustrated with my school bag, I pack it full at the end of the day throw it over my shoulder then in the back seat.  (FYI:Over the past year, I've made it part of my morning routine to make sure my school bag and purse go in the back seat. I've seen to many bad things about kids being left in hot cars, anyway, just my way of staying safe with my little one.) Important papers, IEPs, binders, and notebooks have a tendency of getting crushed and wrinkled. Plus, I often have to pull everything out to find what I need to work with. Urrghh.... it's just a HOT MESS!  

When I consulted the Oracle oh, I mean...Pinterest.... I found a plethora of ideas,  using the 31 Utility Tote & a medium size filing bin, which just happens to be the same bag that I use for school! I got it as a teacher gift a year or so ago.  I went on a hunt to the local thrift and consignment shops to find a medium size file crate, unfortunately, I didn't have any luck. I found a few things at office max  that I wasn't quite thrilled about. Ultimately, I found the perfect file bin at, you guessed it, Target for 10$.  I just added the hanging folders I had on hand, which I haven't labeled yet.

I love that my planner and lesson plan binder fit PERFECTLY. If you look closely enough you can see that there is still plenty of room for my pencil pouch on the side and of course there are plenty of pockets to carry everything! Using the filing crate makes it SUPER DUPER EASY to change bags, when they need to go in the wash.  :)  

You can purchase a 31 Utility Tote and Fold-N-File HERE from my dear friend Nicole, who just happens to be one of  my favorite inclusion teachers!  :) 

Feel free to click on the links below you see how others are organizing their teacher bags!! 

The Nest Effect
Miss Kindergarten
Teaching Statistics

Happy Organizing! 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reading Corner in the Resource Room: Part 2 Organization

Over the last few years, I have attempted to organize my classroom library. If you can imagine a system, I've tried it, or at least that's what I thought.... Book bins organized by nonfiction, fiction, genre etc.  But nothing ever seemed to work how I wanted it. I changed it and rearranged it, once, twice actually, I cant even remember how many times I've organized my library books!!! It's always been a pile of frustration.....I  don't know about you but it seems that I am always organizing my classroom library and  I haven't found a system that works for the needs of my students in my resource room.

Until NOW........... 

After nearly a decade of teaching.......... one evening, while I was pinning, I found THIS amazing idea Pinterest from Lessons with Laughter. For me this is going to be a life changer. Instead of organizing my books alphabetically by title/author, I'm organizing them alphabetically by guided reading levels. I just can't help but shake my head and think "Why didn't I think of this sooner?"  This is perfect for my resource room! Now all of my students will be able to find their Just Right Books with ease.  This system also makes it super easy for my students to put the book back in its "JUST RIGHT SPOT"

The very next day, I  immediately decided begin the organization process for the last time, as I know it was the system I have needed for the last few years. So I was off.... on a trip to Michael's to get Wasabi tape...I mean Washi tape. Can you believe for the longest time, I was calling it Wasabi tape? My friends must have thought I was being a goof which is nothing short of unusual for me. Seriously, it wasn't fun when the associate (who probably thought I was that 'crazy' old lady) at Michael's corrected me..  "Oh you mean Washi Tape?".. I was totally like -"Yeah, I know, but Wasabi is so much more fun to say."....smh. :/ Anyway, I bought Washi tape, Scotch Expression tape and  1/2 inch mini duct tape( I found the mini duct tape at Target).  This crazy lady was on a mission to find 26 different colors/patterns of tape.

Sooooooo  I started organizing and I taped and color coded and here it is finally after countless years...... a system that is perfect ....for the needs in my resource room.   YAAA HOOOOOO!!!  I still have a few things I need to tweak before the fall but this is just perfect for the needs in my class.  :)

Happy Organizing! 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

FREE-Educator's Night Out?? Yes! Please!

How do you get a group of teachers together?  Offer an Educator's Nights and Provide FREE appetizers and a FREE Beverage.  Educator's Night Out! Of course, You had me at FREE! Our local Mall is sponsoring a program called "Kick Start Your Class!"  They have partnered up with to help fund classroom projects and are trying to encourage local teachers to get involved with

Basically, It was an informative session about I've heard a lot about One of my very BEST friends, Caitlin at Learning Ahoy has had many of her projects funded through DonorsChoose. I haven't used as, I have been able to write four grants through our local education association. Which have been funded and have been very helpful in my classroom. :)  Thank You PEF!

Anyway, we were all given a folder with step by step info to link up to BONUS.. The folder was loaded with freebies!  Notice all the goodies in the picture! I won a 10$ gift card for Dicks Sporting goods and received FREE Bed Bath & Beyond Hand Sanitizer (as one of my students would say 'hanitizer'), FREE nail polish from Flomar, and finally a FREE parfait from Chick-Fil-A. The folder was packed with other discounts from some of the shops as well.

Have you participated with What projects did you get funded?  I'd love to hear more about your experiences.

Thanks for Reading!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reading Corner in the Resource Room: Part 1 Leveling & Labeling

I'm sure every teacher has their classroom library labeled  or leveled in some way. In the early years, I leveled them by Lexile then I switched to DRA and now F&P. I may have some labeled with the grade equivalent, too.  Either way you name it, my classroom books are labeled with every system you can imagine. A few years ago, I really started use mostly DRA and F&P.  It made things more useful since I was using Reading A-Z materials for my guided reading groups.

My go to resource was, and still is, the Scholastic Book Wizard. Hopefully, you've heard of it, but if not, it is certainly a great tool for leveling books.  Recently, I downloaded the app on my iPad. It was FREE, you can download it HERE. The best part is that you can scan the book's UPC/ISBN  and it gives you the most of the levels (guided reading level, DRA, Grade leve, and lexile)  so you can use which ever suites your classroom needs.   I was able to create save library lists. This feature was great to have handy during planning especially if you wanted to use a book a lesson.  Here are a few screen shots so you can have a quick look. I absolutely love this app!

I was decided that I wanted to use a library check out scanner system to keep track of all my books and materials. I did some research and discovered The Book Retriever app.  I was able to scan books and it had some books on file but I mostly had to input all the titles and authors as well as book levels. It was a bit time consuming but I will be able to create student accounts so students check out materials. It did allow me to create labels for books and materials. I would be a great way to keep track of teacher materials too. I'm always lending books and materials to others and often forget who I lent what to. You can see some of the features below.

When labeling my books I just used a permanent marker and wrote on the back of the book. For a while I've used some color coding that didn't last too long. But you will see how I organize my library in my next post.  Reading Corner in the Resource Room: Part 2 Organization

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Link Up: Favorite Picture

When I decided to link up to I Heart Grade 3, I was not expecting it to be so hard to decide on my favorite picture. It really is true what they say a picture is worth 1000 words. They bring back that rush of emotions and you get all warm and fuzzy!  I have narrowed it down to two of my most memorable memories.

The first photo is from my wedding. My husband's brother, the best, lost our wedding rings!!!  YIKES!! I don't know how I didn't cry!!!  My husband and I decided to do the "first look" before the wedding ceremony so we knock out most of the wedding photos.  Sooooo, one of my sisters suggested that we all do those "crazy everybody jump" photos. My wonderful photographer Lisa, from Unmentionable Photography, actually caught the RINGS flying out of his pocket! Look closely at the shirt pocket to the guy on the right!  AMAZING! We did find the rings in the grass. Thankfully my husband has eyes like a Hawk!

The second photo is my daughter's first smile! My daughter was born in May of 2014, one FULL week late at a whopping 9lbs 7oz and 21.5 inches long.  She was only 5 days old!   This picture truly sums up her personality, she is such a blessing to us!

Be sure to check out all the others who linked up with Miss Monica. 

Happy Reminiscing! 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Crisis Prevention-What it is and why it is important?

I had to run into school today to grab my crisis intervention manual to study for my annual re-certification. One of my friends joked “oh, you mean your restraint class.”  To which I replied, “It’s my restraint PREVENTION class!” It’s sad that crisis prevention often gets a bad rap. I feel many people believe it is solely taught for the purpose of restraint. Crisis prevention helps to provide support and monitoring well before you may have to intervene with a restraint.
Ultimately, crisis prevention is training that teaches staff to identify behaviors that may escalate into an unsafe situation for the students and/or the staff involved.  Staff members are then trained to help prevent or deescalate the situation before it gets out of control.

Every aspect of crisis prevention training is extremely important, as it helps to keep students and staff safe from harm.  Crisis Prevention Training emphases the importance of the following:
  • ·        Building healthy relationships
  • ·        Building healthy communication
  • ·        Building conflict resolution skills
  • ·        Medical risks
  • ·        How to properly and safely physically restrain if and ONLY IF a student is putting themselves or others in danger.

Let’s face it; even though they may not know it, students use behaviors as a way to communicate with us. It is our job as professionals to be able to identify and prevent behaviors so that these students can be successful and most importantly SAFE.  

You can find more information on Crisis Prevention provided in the links

Handle with Care

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Crafting

Wow, is all I can say. My summer is going great. I’ve already visited family in North East PA, and my husband’s brother and his family came to visit us from Dublin, Ireland. I am looking forward to a quick trip to Ocean City MD, in July, which should end our summer travels. 

I know some of my teaching friends would hate to hear but, I’ve already started a back to school countdown (Don’t worry Rachel, I won’t post it just yet!) I'm just trying to get some big projects out of the way so August won't be crazy with things to do . I have a week-long PD in August for Orton-Gillingham Training. I am super stoked, I was selected for a pilot program, and it will be FREE!  With that said, I am excited to share some of my classroom Pinterest Ideas.  WOOT WOOT! 

At the end of last year, one of my fellow special education teachers purchased new shelves for her classroom and she gave me a wooden shelf that she no longer had a use for.  I stumbled across this idea on Pinterest ‘13 Things We Can Do With Leftover Fabric’. I just happened to have the perfect can of paint and fabric to match my color scheme for the fall. SO, this is my refinished classroom shelf that will be used behind my guided reading table. 

It turned out even better than I expected. I LOVE IT! Can't wait to get in setup in my class. :) 

I have also seen numerous pins on Pinterest where someone has painted or covered big letters to spell the word READ.  I was able to score these letters on sale for about $1.50 each at Michael's and thought what the heck? Why not?  SO I DID!   At first, I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted them mounted on a canvas. 
My little helper was fascinated by these giant letters. In the end, I just traced the the letters on the back of the fabric and attached it with Mod podge. Then decided to use pink ribbon to hang them.   I didn't use a specific site for a tutorial. But there are plenty if you search DIY wooden letters.
  Here are my finished letters:

What projects are on your list of things to do this summer?

Happy Crafting! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm Back & Better Than Ever!

Wow, I can’t believe my last post was September of 2013.  My life has been Topsy-turvy the last two years, my husband and I welcomed a new baby to our family. I took a break from blogging due to pregnancy complications and just adjusting to a family of three. Anyway, I am super glad to be back. I’m feeling better than ever.

I know this school year 2014-2015 has come to an end but I am rather exited for my new changes for next year. I will be going back down to third grade, where I will continue to loop with my students until they leave for the middle school.  I know many folks have mixed feelings about looping-I LOVE IT! As a special education teacher, I am better able to bridge my students learning and fill in the academic gaps as I get to know their personalities and how they learn best. J Plus, third grade is kind of fun too.

I have been pinning a few ideas to my board “Ideas for Next Year” and I hope to get a few projects completed this summer with the help (lol) of my energetic 1 year old.