Sunday, March 30, 2014

Strategies for Improving Fluency

Having trouble getting your kids to read fluently? 
Here are 5 easy steps that can be taken. Some activities can be done every day, even for a few minutes. Fluency is when we read with expression and meaning, and at a "speaking" rate.

Below, you'll also see a couple of my favorite poets' website links. April (just around the corner) is poetry month, which makes it a perfect excuse to use poems for practicing fluency with your children.They really won't think you are making them work when they read a funny poem!! 

Choral reading and readers' theater are my favorite activities for developing prosody.Try choral reading regularly, as part of your daily routine in literacy block.

You can download "Strategies for Improving Fluency" for free if you save it to your desktop.

See the following links to some really great, all-time, favorite, tried and true, never-outdated, kid-friendly poems--

  You are free to print and share the above document, but please do not alter it as it is copyrighted. Thank you for observing copyrights.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Signs of Spring!

I can't wait to visit the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory this spring. Hope spring is coming your way soon. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that snow is going to be around where I live for awhile longer. 

Handful of Caterpillars


Spring is Almost Here!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cute Little Chick Book

           Here's an easy book to cut out and write in. 
Simply print the chick shape pages; then have your kids color, cut and write.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring into Action with this Free Frame!

     Here's a new and pretty lotus patterned frame that you can save to your desktop and print. I found this cute pattern and then decided to turn it into a frame!

It's yours for the taking, too. Once you download it, you can play around with the contrast if you want to do some formatting. You can also add another solid color border to complement it. I love this frame, and hope you do, too. 

Feel free to click on the link below for the set of 8 free frames available in my store!  Thanks for stopping by!

**Right click on this frame and "save image" to your computer. 
You may also want to go to the link below for this and more frames!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Close Reading = Questioning for Deeper Understanding

I've been wanting to write about close reading for awhile now. I'm fascinated about how it is such a hot topic, when I thought I was doing close reading all along for 20 years. How is it new, or is it? I've also been dealing with the nagging question of whether I WAS actually doing it.

So what is new about it? It's all about the shift in how we teach, and how we can teach it better. It's how we emphasize our lessons...and due to the new shifts in the Common Core, we need to look at how we teach from a different angle...a more rigorous one.

Like so many teachers I know, I have always aimed at getting kids to dig into the why's and how's in reading; not just the what's. But it seems that even the how's and why's are not the kind of targeted questions we need to be asking....they are merely open-ended questions, which are wonderful--but they aren't enough. It is easy to get into those questions that encourage kids to rely too heavily on their own experiences, and not enough about the text. (Text-to-self responses are important too, but there's a tendency to over-rely on them.) So the author suggests that teachers create questions more specific to the text. Get away from the ho-hum questions.

Another point Boyles discusses is how we should use shorter texts for close reads...Do we really need long passages to teach our students how to read for deeper meaning?

We need to get kids trained to ask questions about their own reading. So, close reading is more than just the teacher asking good questions. Most of us have been doing that all along. But according to Boyles, it's time to teach our kids how to create their own questions. I think that I've made valiant attempts at close reading, but I have not taught them well enough so that they are proficient at generating their own questions about the text. So, I've got some work ahead... Maybe I'll start with an anchor chart as a springboard for questioning text. For a closer look at this topic, check out the article by Nancy Boyles here: Closing in on Close Reading from

Here's a great video of a close reading. Note how engaged the kids are as they do a read-aloud from Gorillas, by Seymour Simon. See the youtube clip below, or click here:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Madness

How is everyone doing with March Madness? We've had such a tough winter, that I am wondering why I haven't gone mad yet.  I subscribe to Choice Literacy and came across this fun article, which then led me to an entertaining post by Teddy Steinkellner, author of Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga. in this post, he ranks book characters against each other. Find out who wins out! Below, is the link to his guest post at 

Also, be sure to check out, where you'll find a trove of resources for teachers. In case you don't know much about choice literacy, I recommend that you take advantage of their free newsletter, "The Big Fresh".