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7 Items You NEED to Make Your Small Groups Fun

I believe that small group instruction should be two things: targeted and FUN!!! I pull approximately 45 students each day, and they often beg to come. If I have a meeting or miss them, they are upset that they don't get to "play games" with me. 

While playing our games, they are learning and growing. Below are a few items that I use repeatedly throughout the day. Items such as dice, spinners, and colored markers I use in a variety of ways in a variety of subjects. I have affiliate links for each of the items if you are interested in adding a little more fun to your groups. 

Differentiated Dice

I use these dice for so many of my groups and in so many areas. I've used them for spelling words, vocabulary words, numbers, and letters. They are so handy to have around. My kids especially love when we practice writing our spelling words using Roll-a-Word. They roll the dice and write the word. They repeat this process as they race to beat the rest of the group to the top.

You can find these differentiated dice here: https://amzn.to/2EKAKJU

Spinners

My kids love Wednesdays because we get to use these spinners to play Connect Four. I also use them for math games and so much more! Since they are clear, you just sit them on top of any paper or center activity.

You can find these Connect Four Printables here: http://bit.ly/2IYKRiq
You can find these spinners here: https://amzn.to/2C2jjCx

Scented Markers & Crayons

Ahhh! Scented Markers. I think I should buy stock in Crayola. These are my favorite and I use both of them in different ways.

I've been using the level readers shown in the picture below. We use our scented colored markers to color in the three smiley faces each time we read the passage. They LOVE them. I pass the markers out at random, so they get a variety of colors and scents.

I also use the scented crayons on Color-By-Number pages and other activities, like Roll-a-Word that is shown above.

You can find these scented markers and crayons at Walmart or on Amazon. I usually buy them from Amazon, because they have a great "Add on" price.

You can find the scented markers here: https://amzn.to/2EJE1ZM
You can find the scented crayons here: https://amzn.to/2XAnWwZ

Stamps

I bought two stamps from a local store on a whim, and my kids ate them up! I had to buy more. I was getting tired of using the same ones over and over. I found a six pack on Amazon and felt the need to buy! When I stamp them, I dramatically say whatever it on the stamp. They love answering the questions by themselves to earn the stamp. It's a fun way to motivate them to do comprehension questions on their own.

You can find these leveled readers here: http://bit.ly/2IWMDR6
You can find these stamps here: https://amzn.to/2EsnCaH

Reading Trackers

Tracking is something that is SO hard for many students. It also takes practice and encouragement. They often don't know the words or have the visual skills to keep up. Providing a fun "reason" to follow along is a great way to motivate your students to follow along. It also allows me to see who can track and who is struggling to stay with us. They LOVE these.

You can find the reading lights here: https://amzn.to/2GUCRNz
You can find the reading eyes here: https://amzn.to/2GXu7Gs
You can find the withes fingers here: https://amzn.to/2NGMJe2

Foam Dice

I love using dice with various games, but I do NOT like the sound of regular dice on the table. In my special education room, we often have four different groups going at one time. It's hard to talk over the sound of dice and other background noise. Therefore, I LOVE these foam dice! They are fun for the kids to use and don't make any noise.

You can find these foam dice here: https://amzn.to/2GWgpUe

Fun Erasers

I use erasers for counting and Bingo markers every day! I love finding the seasonal erasers from Target and Five Below. The kids love them and they are the perfect size. 

How to Group Students for Special Education Services

Progress Monitoring Data and Assessments

When I begin thinking about my small groups, I like to first make a list of common things that I am working on with my students. For example, in the area of reading, I have students working on letter names and sounds, decoding CVC words, decoding blends and digraphs, decoding words that contain vowels, fluency practice, students who are fluent readers but struggle with comprehension, and students who struggle with sight words. Some of my students need help in more than one area mentioned above. 

I like to start grouping my students by folding a blank piece of paper into eight sections. Then, I start adding names to each column based on assessments that I have completed with my students. This can be assessments that you've done informally or based on progress monitoring. Either way, take a look at some fresh data or collect it now that you are ready to begin grouping your students. 

Take a Look at Benchmark Assessments

I also like to look at benchmark assessments to see how my students are performing. More than likely, your school requires your students to take some type of assessment at the beginning, middle, or end of the year. It could be MAP, Star Reading and Math, or mClass. Whatever you are required to use, take time to comb through their scores and reports. 

Often times, parent reports from these programs can be very valuable to you as well. Parent reports often give a handful of things that you can work on to help them move to the next level or improve their scores. These suggested skills might be the same or different than the eight skills listed in the first section of this blog post.

Develop a Rough Draft of Your Groups

Once you have had a chance to identify WHO needs WHAT types of activities in your small groups, you can begin to draft a rough outline of what students would fit well together based on their needs. 

I have sixteen students who are identified for special education services in third grade. Just because those students are all identified does not mean they all need the same things. They are all over the place in their needs. 

By taking a look at my students' needs, I am able to start mixing them up and placing them in groups that are most appropriate for their present level.

Check the Schedule

It never fails, once I develop this beautifully laid plan for grouping my students, there are always kinks. I have one second grader who really fit perfectly with the needs of a low group of third graders. And what do you know...that group met during his special time. Laying out your groups in this way is nice, but there are still problems. There are still kinks that you have to work through. Check for issues with lunch times, recess, specials, other special education services, and whole group instruction that your students can't afford to miss. 

Test it! 

After I've drafted a schedule and had my general education teachers take a look at it, I test it out for a week or so. I often tell my fellow teachers that it is a tentative schedule and that I may make adjustments once I dive in. 

So far, I've LOVED my new groups for this year. I feel like I've been able to teach my students more efficiently because they working in their sweet spot for learning! 

Departmentalized or Not?: 5 Questions to Consider

Departmentalizing is a huge trend lately. I've taught in both departmentalized and non- departmentalized environments. They are both great. This blog post lays out the challenges and victories you may face in utilizing this teaching style. Hopefully, reading this sparks conversation between you and your fellow teachers and your administrators on if this would be a good fit for your school.{departmentalization, elementary, teaching, subject}
In upper elementary grade levels, departmentalizing has been a huge trend. In Facebook groups, I often see questions asked about the advantages and disadvantages to embarking on a departmentalized system in your grade level or school. 

I taught fifth grade in both a departmentalized and un-departmentalized setting. To be honest, I loved them both! So, I wanted to share my take on it to spark a discussion between you, your teammates, and your administration. 

Will you miss teaching a particular subject?

For me, I loved teaching reading. You know I discovered how much I loved teaching reading?

By teaching math all the time. 🤪

I am a total math nerd. I loved math both as a student and a teacher. But I missed teaching reading. Before you pick a subject or allow yourself to be assigned to a particular subject, think long and hard about if you'll miss teaching that later. 

On the flip side, I was able to get really good at teaching only math. My math scores were the highest in my building, and I felt like my lessons and routines were spot on. I can't say that would have happened without departmentalizing. Later, when I was by myself teaching all subjects, I knew I could let math slide a bit and focus on reading, writing, and grammar. 

Does your teaching style match the rest of the team?

This is a serious question. Departmentalization requires flexibility, time management, and consistent discipline. If your views and teaching styles don't jive with the rest of the team, then forget it. There would be days where my teaching partner would call me two minutes left before we were supposed to switch and say, "Amanda, I need like five more minutes!" So, I would continue doing stations or play a whole group math game to stall. In return, she didn't bat an eye when I'd call a few days later and say the same thing. When you have your own classroom and don't switch throughout the day, if you are running a few minutes behind, that's ok. When you are working with another teacher, that flexibility matters. Can you handle that? 

You'll also have to work together to discipline students. If my teaching partner had a student move their clip or take a Dojo point, I had to back her. She had to have my back and follow through with the punishment. It's just part of the set up. Make sure that you and your team are on the same page when it comes to how you'll handle behavioral and responsibility issues.  

Will you be able to integrate subjects?

For me, I love to integrate subjects. When we were departmentalized, I also taught science and social studies. Since my teaching parter and I were both so new to teaching, we weren't really collaborating on integrating subjects. I wish we had been better about that. 

We were also both total procrastinators and that didn't help. These are all things to consider when you begin to consider being departmentalized.

If I were to do departmentalize with another teacher again, I would want to plan out what units or topics we'd be covering throughout the year. Obviously, things change as the school year progresses. I think sitting down ahead of time and planning out science and social studies units at the beginning of each quarter or semester might help remedy this problem. 


Is administration on board?

Some of you may be reading this BECAUSE your administration is pushing you to begin departmentalizing. Others, may be trying to convince your principal to let you give it a shot. Either way, you need to make sure that they are aware and understanding of a few things. 

Who will be responsible for assigning grades to each student? Do you assign grades for your subject(s) for every homeroom? Do you grade work and the homeroom teacher records it in their grade book? How does that work? This also ties into making sure that your teaching styles work together. If you are always three weeks behind on grading and your teaching partner is the first one in the building to finalize grade for report cards, that could cause tension. Make sure you are setting up a system that sets you up for success. 

Another aspect to consider is teacher accountability on state-wide testing. In Indiana, the scores are reported by homeroom teacher. Meaning, my name was tied to scores where I actually had no part in the instruction. Are you ok with that? I was, because I knew my teaching partner was a hard-working, dedicated teacher. She worked hard to help all of our students meet their fullest potential. When it came to my evaluation with my principal, he looked only at the math scores from each group of students. 

How will parent communication work?

I believe that parent communication needs to be split between both teachers. In the case of my teaching partner and I, we had a classroom blog. We worked together to create a daily post with our homework, reminders, and information. It didn't come from only one of us. We both had access and we scheduled posts ahead of time. 

If you are using something like Class Dojo, make sure that you and your teaching partner(s) make a plan for how you'll handle parent communication. Do you share it? Do you each take care of your homeroom? These are important things to address ahead of time.

I also think that you need to make your preferences known to your students and parents. Make sure they know who they should be emailing or calling if they have a question about grades, homework, or projects. 

Can your students handle it?

If this is brand new to your school, make sure your students are ready. One year, we had a group that was extremely irresponsible and unorganized. While we still continued to be departmentalized, it was torture for some of our students. They constantly had the wrong book for the wrong class. They would forget their folder that had their graphic organizer in it. So, while we attempted to teach them valuable lessons in responsibility, it also wasted class time. It also brought consequences for them, like losing recess time. Maybe they weren't ready to be switching classes. Maybe we could have better structured our classrooms to have textbooks and materials already IN the room instead of bringing them on their own. Make sure that your students are ready and you aren't setting them up for a difficult situation. 

Why do special education teachers need to progress monitor?

Progress monitoring can be overwhelming for everyone, teachers and kids alike. However, accurate and repeated monitoring is imperative to your child's success. While monitoring every 3 weeks seems like a lot, it will give you the data points to see an accurate trend line for your students. Based on an accurate trend, you can further adjust students needs or perhaps mastery of lessons. This post outlines the need and the how to implement frequent monitoring{IEP, progress monitor, upper elementary}
When I first started teaching, there was a new requirement from the director to progress monitor once every three weeks. Teachers were furious and overwhelmed. They thought that it was such a waste of time. To be honest, I don't blame them. It can be time consuming and a daunting task.

Despite the time commitment and requirement to be organized, good progress monitoring practices are critical for student success.

Determine if an Intervention is Successful

Whether you are monitoring students who are already identified or students who are in the Response to Intervention process, frequent monitoring is essential for determining if an intervention is successful.

Let's pretend that you have access to TWO interventions for students who struggle to decode unfamiliar words. You use one intervention with fidelity for nine weeks. After progress monitoring your students, you may find that a large percentage of your students are making progress and gaining in their knowledge of decoding unfamiliar words. However, often times, there are students who are not making progress with the intervention you are currently utilizing. Frequent progress monitoring helps teachers see that the intervention in place is not working for a handful of students. 

Motivate Students 

I love to find ways to make my students accountable for their own learning. I keep a binder with goal graphs for each of my students. They have a graph for each goal they have in their IEP. In some cases, I have students who are also tracking their sight words or computation progress, even though it isn't in their IEP. 

Many of my students are so proud of themselves when they graph their own progress. They also check it before beginning a quick assessment. Just before my last round of progress monitoring, I had one student check his chart. In October, he was only able to read 2 words, which were I and a. Since that time, he has increased his word recognition to 15 words! He was so proud of himself. He was excited to practice sight words later in our group because he wants to be at 20 words by the next time we read our words. It is an excellent way to motivate your students and let them be responsible for their own learning. 

Helps Target Specific Needs

I can't tell you the number of times that I have found unknown weaknesses in my students when we progress monitor. For example, I have this sweet, shy first grader. Her lack of participation in the group made me believe that the work was becoming too hard for her. In reality, through progress monitoring, I learned that she had really mastered that particular skill and was struggling with something else entirely. 

Develops a Trend Line

Accurate trend lines and the frequency that progress monitoring occurs go hand in hand. I once had a special education friend who refused to "test" his kids every three weeks. He thought that is was a waste of time and torture for his students. In my opinion, if your progress monitoring is time consuming and torturous for your students, you are doing something wrong. 

He had a student that later really bothered him. He regretted not being more aware of his strengths and weaknesses. I believe that more frequent progress monitoring could have helped him. Here's why--To develop a trend line, you must have three or more data points. The more data points you have, the more accurate your trend line will be. If you are only progress monitoring once every nine weeks, then you won't have three data points until MARCH. I'm sorry, my friends, but I think that is too late. We all know what spring time looks like in special education. For me, it consists of constant interruptions of service due to state-wide testing and annual case conferences. How can you wait until the busiest time of year to get a true understanding of how your students are performing? 

By progress monitoring three times per nine weeks, I have an accurate trend line by October. I can make adjustments to instruction and gather more data between October and December. 

Restructure Student Groupings

Once I've gathered data, I almost always rearrange a few students to better suit their needs. I love to be able to call a parent and let them know that their child has mastered and IEP goal and is ready for more challenging academic work. It's amazing for everyone involved. Without collecting data, I may end up with a handful of students on my caseload who aren't being pushed to meet their fullest potential. 

Inspire New Routines

This is embarrassing to share, but I have to do it. I had a group of students who I thought were really kicking butt. I seriously thought they were doing great and making progress. Looking back, I think that I was confusing their ability to complete tasks WITH ME as mastery. They couldn't actually do tasks independently. After progress monitoring, I spent a solid week beating myself up. I couldn't understand why this group of students was unable to name letters and produce their sounds as well by themselves as they were with me. I was frustrated and questioning myself. But, that frustration and questioning led to something great. It caused me to really step back and look at what I was doing in that group. It made me find new routines for practicing letters and sounds in more independent ways. Without progress monitoring, I wouldn't have realized just how much they weren't able to do independently. 

Progress monitoring can be overwhelming for everyone, teachers and kids alike. However, accurate and repeated monitoring is imperative to your child's success. While monitoring every 3 weeks seems like a lot, it will give you the data points to see an accurate trend line for your students. Based on an accurate trend, you can further adjust students needs or perhaps mastery of lessons. This post outlines the need and the how to implement frequent monitoring{IEP, progress monitor, upper elementary}
If you are looking to assess your students quickly and easily, I have a collection of progress monitoring tools to help you assess your students and track their progress

6 Easy Test Taking Skills You THINK Your Students Know

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}
When it comes to test taking, there are so many skills that our students need to master in order to do well and show their true abilities. So many times, I've found that many of the simple things that we expect our students to know are not instinctively done by our students. 

Below are a few test taking skills that I believe you should be spending time teaching to your students between now and the time that you begin testing. 

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Previewing Questions

When your students are taking a test, they NEED a purpose. When we are reading a novel at home or as a read aloud, it's ok to just read and have fun. Unfortunately, that isn't the world that we live in when it comes to testing.

Where do your students find their purpose? They find it by previewing the questions! They need to know if they are look for the main idea, making an inference about how a character feels, or searching for a "right there" answer. Without previewing the questions, they don't know what to look for as they read.

So, why do we need to teach this explicitly? Honestly, our students are lazy. They want to dive in and get it done. They don't want to spend an extra time reading. They want to start reading and answer the questions afterward. Show them WHY they need to preview the question.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Highlighting the Text

I once worked with a classroom teacher that required all students to highlight in every passage that they read. The problem? The kids didn't know what to highlight. Some students didn't highlight much at all. Other students had more highlighted space than white space left on the page. Students NEED teachers to show them what to highlight.

When your students preview the questions, they also know what to highlight. If the question asks which word describes a character, your students should know they need to have their highlighter radar on when they see a sentence or a phrase that tells how what the character reacts, responds, or demonstrates a character trait.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Restating the Question

I am able to be see so many classrooms and help so many kids. One thing I've noticed--every teacher tells their students to restate the question. But, do you know what else I've noticed? Some groups of students hear it and have no clue what to do. Others know exactly what to do and are able to restate the question, even if only minimally, better than others. In my opinion, students need to be taught this explicitly. They need to know that this is the expectation and WHY this is important. I always tell my students that restating the question helps them sound smarter, but most importantly, helps them know that they are actually answering the question. 

I have a PowerPoint, booklet, and example passages to help explicitly teach your students to restate the question. You can find them in my Restate the Question packet on TpT. Once we use the booklet to understand what it means to restate the question, we practice by cutting up the words and rearranging them to help us restate the question, as shown in the picture above. I have a blog post with the details on this activity that I do in my small groups, if you would like to read more about it as well.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Finding the Supporting Evidence

Some students are really good at answering a question, but that doesn't always mean that they are ready to support their answer with evidence from the text. Again, this is something that we tell our students, but they don't always know how to actually do it.

I like to have my students begin by answering a question that has more than one right answer. Students can support each side of the answer with various pieces of evidence. It's a great way to explicitly teach and prepare students for transitioning to finding the evidence on their own. If this looks like something that your students need to practice, you can find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Managing Time

Some kids speed through the test. Other kids need you to nudge them every five minutes to make sure they are alive. This is truly a skill that many students need to be taught in order to understand how their needs.

There are many aspects to this, depending on if you are focusing on reading or writing. For example, students need to understand that if a test is thirty minutes and they have three passages to read, they only have ten minutes per passage. In writing, students need to realize that if they have fifty minutes to write their response, they can't spend thirty minutes of that planning. Instead, they must be reminded that they should spend approximately five minutes planning, 35-40 minutes writing, and 5-10 minutes editing. Of course, each student is unique in their needs, but discussing this with your students as you practice for upcoming testing is critical.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Planning for Writing

Just like the highlighting example above, I feel like students approach the planning page in one of four ways. They either (a) have no clue what to write, (b) write WAYYYY to much, (c) write something down without a system of organization or reason, or (d) write nothing because most testing scripts say that the planning page isn't graded.

Your students need you to help them know what to write during their planning time and WHY planning is so important. Planning is needed for even the best writers. In what order will you write your paragraphs? What are you going to say in your introduction, after all your introduction should tease what is to come in later paragraphs. Without planning ahead of time, how can you make these decisions about your writing.

I love to use graphic organizers to teach students to plan properly. Since the planning page is often 90% blank, I teach my students to quickly draw the graphic organizer that would be most beneficial to them. They can do that with a few seconds and have a good way to organize their thoughts.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

8 Fun Ways to Practice Sight Words Every Day

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}
If you are teaching a primary grade or special education, I believe that sight word routines should be included in your daily routines. Some of our students, especially students with disabilities, need repeated exposure to allow them to master recognizing sight words quickly. Below, you will find six ways that I practice sight words with my students every day! 

Daily Oral Practice

I strongly believe that this one routine is the number one reason that my students have made progress with sight words this year. One of my daily routines in SO many of my groups includes orally reading words from flashcards together. We say the word, spell the word, and say it again. We spend 2-4 minutes of our group time each day with this quick activity. Most of the time we read ALL sight words, but other days, we only have time for a few. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Bingo

After reading the words orally, I use the flash cards to play Sight Word Bingo. It is a fun and simple way to allow your students to see and hear the words repeatedly. They hear me say and spell the word again as they search their own Bingo board for the same word. It is a great way to practice visually matching words and noticing differences between words. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Roll & Read

My students really love playing Roll & Read! To be honest, they love anything with dice. It is simple. They roll the dice and read the line next to that number. We repeat this for 3-5 minutes in our small groups. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Race

Ahhhh! Sight Word Races are so much fun! I have my students play in groups of 2-3. They roll one dice and move that many spaces on the board as they race to the end. I have them read the words after they move their monster. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Connect Four

Each player chooses a side on the board and they must race to connect four words together in a straight or diagonal line. To be honest, my kids just like using the spinner! It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a clear plastic piece with a spinner attached that my students use to spin a word. It is simple and something that my students look forward to doing. You can find them on Amazon here!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Bump!

Bump is an exciting game that gives everyone a fair shot at winning. You can be in the lead and then BUMP! You suddenly find yourself in last place. Students roll the customized dice and use their colored marker to cover the word. If your partner rolls the same word, they can BUMP you off. But, if you roll the same word two times, you can double up your markers and make it impossible to be bumped of off that particular word. It's total luck and a whole lot of fun!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

M&M Words

I found these M&M containers at a gas station and had to make them into a center. Using a circle cutter, I made 1 inch circles to use for M&Ms. I hand wrote words that I knew some of my first and second graders were really struggling to master. I needed a fun way to get them reading those words on a regular basis. 

For directions and this editable printable, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter. It's such a fun and simple activity!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Folders

I have four things that I do with my students each day with their Sight Word Folders. First, I begin by checking in with each student to see what words they remember from the previous day. If you're interested, I have a video of this routine for you to see it in action. After each student has FOUR words that they are ready to practice, we play three quick and easy games that are differentiated just for them! I also have a video of our sight words games. I'd love for you to watch to see them! You can also find my Sight Word Folders on TpT. 

Be sure to click the image above to purchase the sight word centers featured in this post from my TpT store!

5 High-Interest Read Alouds that are Perfect for Upper Elementary

I think doing a daily read aloud is something that no classroom should be without. It gives students shared experiences and skills. I can't tell you how many times I say, "Remember when we read ____. The character was _____." I use them for reference for many things throughout the school year. It's also a great way to set the stage for a new unit, project, or mindset.

So, without further ado, here are five of my favorite read alouds for upper elementary students. If you don't own any of these books and want to check them out on Amazon, you can click the picture to find the book on Amazon.

Daily read alouds are something every classroom needs! It allows your upper elementary students to share experiences and skills. These 5 of my favorite books for read alouds cover a range of story lines to fit into many lessons you may be planning, allowing you to reference them throughout the year. Your kids will not only have fun, but will also hear stories that touch the heart, while setting you up to transition into new projects, or units. {upper elementary, reading}

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

This book (and all books by Gordon Korman for that matter) is one of my absolute FAVORITE books to read aloud. It is perfect for a 5th grader's sense of humor and teaches an amazing lesson. In this book, Donovan, an average student and a real pain in the butt behaviorally, accidentally gets sent to a gifted school. Donovan is anything but gifted. Both he and the students at the gifted academy learn many valuable lessons about life, learning, and fitting in. My students literally BEG me to read this to them every day. 

Daily read alouds are something every classroom needs! It allows your upper elementary students to share experiences and skills. These 5 of my favorite books for read alouds cover a range of story lines to fit into many lessons you may be planning, allowing you to reference them throughout the year. Your kids will not only have fun, but will also hear stories that touch the heart, while setting you up to transition into new projects, or units. {upper elementary, reading}

Middle School the Worst Years of My Life

In my school, 5th grade is the last year in elementary. After they leave me, they head to middle school, so I LOOOOOVE to read this book to my students during the month of May. It is so funny, has super short chapters, and very cool illustrations. My students and I always look forward to reading this each day. It is also very different than the movie with the same title, so it is PERFECT for watching to compare and contrast the two. It also won't matter if the students have seen the movie because they are VERY different storylines. 

Daily read alouds are something every classroom needs! It allows your upper elementary students to share experiences and skills. These 5 of my favorite books for read alouds cover a range of story lines to fit into many lessons you may be planning, allowing you to reference them throughout the year. Your kids will not only have fun, but will also hear stories that touch the heart, while setting you up to transition into new projects, or units. {upper elementary, reading}

Fish in a Tree

Ahhh, this book just touches my special education teacher heart. When I read it, it makes me really think about how students with disabilities feel when sitting in our classrooms. But this book has more to it than that. It also teaches students about treating others how we would like to be treated, being a true friend, and that it's ok to be different. It is an absolute must read if you are wanting to spark discussions and elicit an understand about people who struggle with learning. 

Daily read alouds are something every classroom needs! It allows your upper elementary students to share experiences and skills. These 5 of my favorite books for read alouds cover a range of story lines to fit into many lessons you may be planning, allowing you to reference them throughout the year. Your kids will not only have fun, but will also hear stories that touch the heart, while setting you up to transition into new projects, or units. {upper elementary, reading}

Wonder

We know it. We love it. WONDER! This is a book that I also love to read to my students. I honestly think our students deserve to hear it and think about people who are born differently. It has an amazing message about choosing kind and being ok with who you are. 

Daily read alouds are something every classroom needs! It allows your upper elementary students to share experiences and skills. These 5 of my favorite books for read alouds cover a range of story lines to fit into many lessons you may be planning, allowing you to reference them throughout the year. Your kids will not only have fun, but will also hear stories that touch the heart, while setting you up to transition into new projects, or units. {upper elementary, reading}

The Sign of the Beaver

When I first moved into my 5th grade classroom, there was a class set of this book and it looked like they had been purchased in the 80s. I don't know how old they were, but the cover didn't even look appealing. But, I was excited about my new role and had the whole summer ahead of me. I took the book home with me and read within a few days. I'm not usually a historical fiction kinda girl, but I just really loved how the book allowed me to showcase so many social studies standards and build interest about the way of life of early settlers and Native Americans.