Improve Reading Fluency with Reading Buddies

Many of my students struggle with FLUENCY.
They can read the words accurately.
But sometimes they sound like robots.
Fast robots.
Slow robots.
or worst of all...
Bored robots.

So I tried a bunch of oral reading as a whole class.
And some partner work.
And we practiced and we practiced and we practiced.
I even monthly fluency tests, which helped many of them.
I made this fun fluency packet:

But then I wanted a more realistic way for these students to practice reading orally and developing their fluency. I wanted them to get into the stories, to read with different voices, and to express the emotion of the book. 
And it just wasn't working with their classmates. 
They are "too cool" or they "feel funny" reading it dramatically to their peers.

And then it dawned on me...
We needed a different audience.
younger audience.
So our Pre-school Reading Buddy Program was started!
Here's how it works:
Each student was assigned a preschool buddy.
They met their buddies and filled in these questionnaires to help guide them as they chose books:
Then, twice a month my student peruse the "little kids" section of the library to find the book that is just right for their "buddy." We practice the books in class and at home (each student has to practice to at least two people - parents, siblings, neighbors, etc.) and then we're ready to read to our buddies!
The students LOVE to read to their buddies - it's definitely their favorite days of the month. It's so fun to see them sift through the books in the library, trying to find one that their buddy will especially enjoy.

 This student loved our Bucket Filling project so much that she wanted to share the book with her preschool buddy!

 This student just moved here from Brazil - but she jumped right on board for the Buddy program:
*Note: it's an awesome experience for ELL or ESL students - builds their confidence and allows them to practice speaking English orally and fluently!

Each month the students update their Book Log to remember the books they've read to their buddies:

And last month we got a special of our "buddies" read to us!
It was so sweet to hear my students clap, cheer, and encourage him on!

Interested in TRYING Reading Buddies? Click here to download these forms for FREE:


Do Unto Otters - Treating Others the Way We Want to be Treated

In light of everything that has been happening in our country, it's more important than ever that we are teaching our students (and personal kiddos!) to stand up for what it right.

Books can be a powerful way of communicating important truths with your students. Here is one book I LOVE that teaches a lifelong lesson.
Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller is a fantastic story that drives home the idea that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated: with kindness, respect, and understanding. Set the tone for the year and help encourage a positive classroom community with this fantastic book. 
DEAL ALERT!!!! You can buy the book on Amazon for only $4.74 today!!! Click here to shop-->

To extend this story and continue the discussion with my students I have created this little booklet that your students can make to talk about and review the important character traits mentioned in the book:
It includes a poster for you to display in your classroom as well as the booklet pages to discuss 12 important character traits. There is also a page where your student can sign a commitment pledge to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Do you have any other book suggestions on this topic? I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below :)

Also - if you use this book and/or student booklet in your classroom, I'd love to see pictures! E-mail me and I'll feature you on my blog! :)


Class Conversations: Idea for Building Classroom Community

Do your students like to talk? 
Mine do!
I wanted to give them time to talk and share with their classmates – but rather than a chaotic free-for-all, I wanted to create an activity that would provide them with an opportunity to talk and teach them a valuable life skill at the same time. 
Thus Class Conversation Cards were born! 

Build classroom community while allowing your students to develop their speaking and listening skills: Sounds like a win-win to me!

Here’s how it works: 
*Before we start this weekly routine I did a mini-lesson with my class about what Class Conversations look like and sound like as well as some suggested sentence starters for them to use when responding to each other’s comments.
*Divide your class into groups of 4-5 students. (you can change the groups each time or keep them the same all year)
*Assign one student in each group to be the Discussion Leader and one to be the Scribe (optional). 
*Give them each a card (or read a card out loud for the whole class to use) 
*Set the timer. I usually let the kids talk for 5-7 minutes, depending on the conversation topic and the schedule for the day.  
*While the group is talking, have them display the “Actively Conversing” card
*When they are finished talking, have them switch to the “Finished Conversing” card
*At the end of the time, the Scribe can share the highlights from each group’s conversation with the whole class (optional)

I have included the posters I use in my classrooms plus blank ones for you to customize and/or use as a place for the students to take notes. I have also included the name tag tents for the Discussion Leader and Scribe, as well as the sign tents for “Actively Conversing” and “Finished Conversing” (available in color and B&W)
I have included 36 Class Conversation Cards – one for every week in the school year. They can be used in any order. I have created a checklist for you to use to keep track of the prompts you’ve used throughout the year. These can also be used as journal writing prompts.

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to purchase this print-and-go resource with conversation cards for the whole year!


Class Compliments: FREE Whole Class Classroom Management System

Classroom management is a hot topic for teachers - it's vital for keeping a classroom running smoothly, but can be tough for new and veteran teachers alike. Today I want to share with you some details about my whole-class management plan.

My students worked as a class to earn Class Compliments.
To earn Class Compliments students have work together as a class to earn "compliments" from me (the teacher), from specialists (gym, art, music, etc.), or from other adults in the building. 
They earn them for: 
  • going ABOVE AND BEYOND in their participation, their diligence, their kindness to one another, their self-control (that's a big one!)
  • walking absolutely silently in the hallway (especially if we have a traffic jam at lunch causing the kids to have to wait for a long time)
  • showing role-model-worthy behavior to younger students
The kids LOVE earning compliments...and they hate losing them. 
If the entire class is not demonstrating exemplary behavior (i.e. excessive chatting, noisiness in the hallway, horsing around in the classroom, etc.) then a compliment "falls" from the board.
Once they earn 10 compliments, they've earned a PARTY!
Some party ideas: reading in-tents (read more about that here), popcorn, extra reading time with their Reading Buddies, extra recess, free time with board games, etc.
You can download the elements of this system for FREE here --> Class Compliments FREEBIE

The Power of Words Tooth Paste Illustration (FREE & EDITABLE)

Each fall (still early in the school year but far into enough that I've started to get to know my students and can speak frankly to them) I plan for this oh-so-importat lesson on the power of words.
I start out my telling my students that I am going to tell them a
big lie.
They start giggling but sit quietly, waiting for what I'm about to say.

I pause.
Then I quote:
"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me."

I begin the illustration like this:
Each time you speak, you words come out like toothpaste.
I walk around the classroom and talk,
squirting toothpaste messily out onto a cookie sheet as I go. 
I say sarcastic comments, "funny" jokes at someone else's expense, insults, thoughtless comments, etc. as I squeeze it all over the place.

Then I pull out the toothbrushes. Each tooth brush has a sign attached to it:

And I try to use the toothbrushes to get the toothpaste neatly back in the tube, reading the labels:
"I'm sorry."
"I didn't mean it."
"It was just a joke."

But it never works.
In the end, we're still left with a mess:

Thus proving my point:
Words have power.
Words have weight.
Words make a lasting impact.

Teach your students about the importance of thinking twice before they speak with this impactful lesson.

I have created a FREE & EDITABLE resource for you to use if you'd like to try this object lesson with your students:
It also includes the print-and-go PDF of the labels for the toothpaste and toothbrushes. The resource also includes an EDITABLE Power Point presentation if you'd like to create your own labels for the tooth paste:

Like this idea?
Pin it for later!

If you use this resource in your classroom I'd love to see it! Send me an e-mail and I'll feature you on my blog! 

~~~~I'll leave you with one final thought:As teachers, we also have the power.The power to build up or to break down.
The power to stimulate or to criticize.The power to motivate or to wound.
These refer to the words we say to students and about students.

Here's a quote I have hanging in my classroom:


Adventures in Tot School: Paper Roll & Button Run

Hello friends!
Welcome to another exciting installment in our Tot School Adventures!
Adventures in Tot School #4:
Paper Roll & Button Run
Here's what you need:
*paper rolls - I used a variety of sizes (toilet paper, paper towel, and wrapping paper)
*painters tape
*tray/cookie sheet (I got mine at the Target dollar spot)

Use the painters tape to attach the paper rolls to the wall (you could also use a tri-fold display board if you don't have easily accessible wall space)

Give your toddler some buttons (or pom moms or cotton balls or bouncy balls, etc.) and let him drop them down the paper rolls into the tray.
This happy toddler played with his special paper roll & button run for 20 minutes, squealing in delight as the buttons dropped into the tray.
The tray helped keep the buttons contained so we weren't finding runaway buttons for days afterwards :)
Like this idea?
Pin it for later:
Check out our previous Tot School activities:

FREE & EDITABLE Book Recommendation Classroom Display

I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year promoting different books in hopes of peaking my students' interest in reading and trying new books. 

One way I do this is a book recommendation classroom display. I select some of my favorite books (both chapter books and picture books) and display them in the classroom library with these cute little speech bubbles:
Every day I would recommend one or two of the books - I would introduce the book with a brief synopsis, give some background information on the author (other books they might like), and sometimes I read a small snippet to whet their appetite.

These speech bubbles are in black and white for ink-friendly printing - I copied them on bright colorful paper to make them pop! 
Students usually clamor to read the books I've recommended - I usually have to start a list of those who want to borrow each book.

My favorite thing happens when students start bringing me books saying "I think others would love to read this one! Can I put a book recommendation bubble in it?" to which I answer "of course!"
This FREE download includes two resources - one PDF with the pre-written speech bubbles and one Power Point presentation with the editable speech bubbles (full directions included).
Click here to download these FREE book recommendation speech bubbles:
If you download this resource and use it, I'd love it if you would leave feedback :)
Pin this idea for later:
If you use this resource in your classroom I'd love to see it! Send me an e-mail and I'll feature you on my blog! 
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