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Phonics Based Fluency Passages

I love working on fluency in my classroom.  I am always looking for new ways to practice fluency and integrate it with every part of our day.

I created these phonics based fluency passages to give my students the opportunity to practice their fluency skills while also reviewing phonics skills.
They are a great addition to our weekly phonics skill.  The students read the passage and then highlight the words.
Their next job is to write the words in the box.  This is a great way to reinforce that phonics skill and spelling.
Each passage has an area to write a sentence using their phonics skill as well. 
Finally, the students illustrate the story.  This helps to add a comprehension component to the passage.
I have created four separate packets (Short Vowel, Long Vowel, Blends & Digraphs, and Diphthongs & Modified Vowels.)
I also grouped all of these packets into one large bundle (118 passages total) and discounted it.
You can read all about the bundle, and see the included word families and phonics skills, by clicking on the picture below.

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Getting Your Students to Think

Are you guilty of asking your students too many close-ended questions?  These are the types of questions with one correct answer.  I have to admit that sometimes I find myself getting stuck asking too many of these types of questions.  While they do have a place in learning, we definitely need to make sure that we are asking many more open-ended questions to our students.
So, what's the difference between a close-ended question and an open-ended one?
Close-ended questions have one simple answer.  This could be a "yes" or "no" answer, or a one word or one sentence answer. 
Examples of close-ended questions: 
What is your favorite food?
Who was the first president?
What is the problem in the story?
Open-ended questions have a more in-depth answer.  They require the student to think and reflect on their answer.
Examples of open-ended questions:
What are some ways that you think the main character will solve the problem?
Why do you think George Washington made a good president?
What are some simple ways to make sure you are encouraging higher level thinking in your classroom?
Every morning during Morning Meeting, we have a discussion question.  These questions do not have "yes" or "no" answers.  They get my students thinking first thing in the morning. 
 This is one of my favorite activities each day.  It is amazing the discussions that these have led to.  I also love that I learn SO much about my students during this time.
I have two sets of 100 questions, if you would like to check them out.
I also just created this Read & Respond packet to incorporate that higher level of thinking into my students writing.

This packet includes short stories followed by an open-ended question for students to write.  You can check these out by clicking on the picture below.
Take time this next week to really reflect on the types of questions you are asking your students. 

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The Week Before Easter

We only have three days of school this week, and then it's SPRING BREAK!  Needless to say, we are all a little excited ;)
So, this week we are throwing a couple of Easter and spring themed activities into our learning.  Today, we "egged" our principal.
I started doing this a couple of years ago after seeing it here. I purchased my big egg from Hobby Lobby, but I've seen them cheaper at Walmart.  One year, I couldn't find a big egg anywhere, so I just had my students write letters and place them into individual eggs.  Then, we placed the eggs in a basket.
 They did an "egg"mazing job of throwing "egg" into words :)
You can download the editable letter and "You've Been Egged" paper HERE.
I also sent this letter and a plastic egg home with each child today.
You can find this along with some other plastic egg activities in the following packet. (Just click on the picture below.)

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Write the Rainbow {An Organizational Tool for Writing}

In all honesty, some days I love teaching writing, and others days I'm definitely not quite feeling the love.  I love it because you can see SO much progress throughout the year.  I feel like student's writing abilities tell me so much about their overall reading skills.  However, writing is just plain time consuming!  With everything that has to fit into a day, sometimes writing gets cut pretty short.  For this reason, I had to find a way to make the most out of my writing instruction.
I felt like a broken record with teaching, and reteaching, and reteaching how to structure a story.  I wanted my students to write a topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a closing.  Now, of course, I broke this format down into numerous mini-lessons, but still so many of my students were not getting it.  I had to find a better way. 
I came up with "Write the Rainbow."
I began by teaching the students this rainbow format for organizing their writing.  I laminated the colored paper to work on whole class writing assignments.
I modeled how to write a story using this format by writing with dry erase markers onto each colored paper.
We discussed how each color was a different part of our story (topic, details, and closing).  We really focused on each color containing a complete sentence.  I have a couple of students that want to connect every sentence in the story with the word "and."  This format really helped them to break that habit. 
I created individual graphic organizers for each of my students by cutting out 2 1/4 inch strips of colored paper and laminating them.
The students used dry erase markers to write their own stories.
They loved this!  Any opportunity that they have to use dry erase markers is a win in their minds.  This was the perfect visual for my students to see that each color had its own sentence.
The organizers made transferring their writing over to their writing paper so easy.
We went back and used markers to check and make sure that they included each colored section.
These colored star stickers are also great for having students find each part of their story.
This was definitely a win for writing!  We will be using this format a lot more frequently in my classroom.  I created a practice packet that includes the printables, organizers, practice pages, and writing prompts.  On days when it's just too time consuming to do the full dry erase organizer, this sheet below is perfect!
You can click on the picture below to check out the entire packet.

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Animal Reports plus QR Codes

Our school district holds a Literacy Fair every year in March.  Each of the elementary schools has a booth at the fair, which is hosted in a local shopping center.  Each student has writing on display during the Literacy Fair, whether in a class book or individual books.
This year, I decided to have my students write animal reports.
Each student chose an animal to write about.  They wrote a description of the animal on the first page.
Then, they wrote about the habitat of the animal.
On the last page, they wrote about the type of food that their animal eats.
When they were finished, I recorded each of the students reading their reports using the app Audioboom.  Then, I created a QR code to attach to their front cover.
If you need directions on how to use Audioboom and QR codes, click HERE.
If you'd like to check out my Animal Reports, you can click on the picture below.

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A Week on Instagram

I love Instagram.  I'm such a visual person, and it's just so easy to share a quick picture to show what we are working on in the classroom.  (If you're not already following me, you can find me at @funinfirstblog.)
I wanted to blog about some of the things that I have shared this week over on Instagram, plus give you a couple freebies.
Since next week is all about Dr. Seuss, I "Seuss styled" my classroom door.
We also created this bulletin board.
 It's one of my favorites to do each year for March.  You can download the printable HERE.
We also brightened up our classroom with this simple Saint Patrick's Day project.
 The students wrote a reason why they felt lucky onto each strip of paper.
After the students finished all of their strips, I taped them onto a string and hung them from the ceiling.
They turned out so cute!
You can download the clover HERE.
Something else I shared on my Instagram last week was this article from Scholastic Teacher Magazine.
I was so excited to be a part of it.  It's always neat to see something in print :)
Hope you had a great week!

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