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Back to School with Jane

**In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links from Jane.com and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).**
I have always been a sucker for a great deal and I always find myself going back to Jane to find all sorts of adorable clothes, teacher tees, accessories and more.  Right now, Jane has so many deals that are great for back to school, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite finds for back to school.  
1. Solid Midi Dress: This dress is cozy, a great length and flows which makes it perfect for the classroom.  
2. This Boho Tunic Dress is so precious. I love everything about it. 
3. Kadence Floral Midi Dress:  I love this super soft dress. It's perfect for summer back to school.
4. Floral Boho Dress: This adorable maxi would be perfect with a cardigan for classroom. 
5. This Santorini Skirt: is perfection for the classroom.  You can wear a cute tee and still look good while hanging on the carpet with your kids. 
6. Scalloped Tunic: This scalloped shirt would be perfect with a pair of dress pants or capris. 
7. Summer Ruffle Sleeve Top: I love a pretty ruffle sleeve. In fact I have a hard time not buying them all. 
8. Nova Peplum: How adorable is this with the bell sleeve? It's one of my favorites on Jane right now.
9. Piper Baby Doll Tunic: I think this top is precious and would be perfect with leggings and booties. 
10. Crazy for You Top: This top is a bit more dressy but perfect for the classroom. 
11. Teaching is Heart Work: I love a good teacher tee and Jane never lets me down. I have this tee, as well as a million others for casual Fridays.
12. Teacher Tee: These adorable tees come in 17 colors. 
13. Trendy Teacher Tees: These tees come in four different designs and 12 colors.
1. Tassel Earrings: I'm pretty sure I have every pair of these tassel earrings because they are just so adorable on. I paid big bucks for some of these when they first made their way out and now they are here for only 7.99!
2. Everyday Long Necklaces: These are also so trendy and fun.  You can grab some beautiful necklaces for less than 10 dollars. 
3. Leather Earrings: I've never met a leather earring, I didn't love.  They make a statement while being lightweight. 
4. Flower Tassel Earrings: These are so unique and only 4.99! 
5. Triple Drop Fashion Earrings: I just got my first pair of these and they are so fun! 
6. Designer Inspired Tote: This teacher tote is stylish and so affordable. 
7. Take It Everywhere Backpack: I've been eying this backpack every time it's on Jane. I think this might be the time when I pull the trigger. Now to decide on a color. 

1. Back to School Tees: These are precious and can't decide which saying I love the most.
2.  Sugar Sweet Short Sets: It's a good thing I don't have girls, because I'm pretty sure they'd have all of these personalized tees for every occasion. 
3. Back to School Tees (Grades): You have to check these out. One design is cuter than the next.
4. 3 Piece Insulated Lunch Set: These are so stinky clever and adorable. They include the water bottle/koozie and go-gurt insulated pouch.  
5. Personalized Lunch Totes: You had me at monogramed.
6. Personalized Pencil Box. These fun boxes are great additions for back to school.
1. Personalized Organizer: This organizer comes in 12 different designs. 
2. Stamps: This set of two teacher stamps is an easy way to provide feedback to your students. 
3.  Pencil Cases: These come in 10 different styles but I absolutely love a good cactus item.  Throw these in your teacher bag with all the essentials. 
4. Pillow Covers: I am so ordering a few of these pillow covers for my classroom library.  Making cozy spots in the classroom is a goal of mine. 
5. Personalized Teacher Stickers: These are great to put on items you want to make sure come back to you when your teacher friends borrow. :) 
6. Felt Letter Board: Love these felt letter boards. They can be used in so many different ways in the classroom, from photos, to quotes and more. 
7. Back to School Banner: This banner would be adorable for a first day picture or meet the teacher night. 


Reading Week

Do you celebrate Read Across America? We have always celebrated with Seuss filled activities. This year we're doing something totally different and all of our teachers are really excited about the change. This year we will be taking the name literally and read across our great states.  
We celebrate for the entire week with theme filled days that include dressing up, reading with buddies, prize drawings and author presentations.  You can see our new days below.  

A few teachers and I also compiled a list of book suggestions for each day. 
In addition to these theme days, we'll also be having the kiddos guess the number of "bookworms" or gummy worms in the jar.  The student with the closest guess in K-2 and 3-5 will win a book basket.  In addition our kids caught reading at times when reading isn't expected, will be "caught reading".  The teachers submit names to me and I choose a name randomly. The next morning, that student is called over announcements to come down and receive a $10 dollar gift card to Barnes and Nobel.  

After sharing this new theme for our reading week on IG, I had lots of requests for these documents. Below I am attaching an editable form of the parent letter and copies of what I've sent to our teachers.  Click the image below for the documents. 

Another great celebration going on this coming week is 
This beautiful button was made by the talented Lyndsey Kuster and you can see all of the slides and book suggestions on the adorable Tutu's Teacher's instagram account right now.  

Happy Reading Friends! 


February Favorites

This short month is always super packed with activities for Valentine's, President's Day, the 100th day and other fun frozen themes.  So I thought I'd share lots of activities to help you plan.  There are tons of freebies within this post and you can also grab some adorable Valentine's at the link at the bottom of this post.  



     As a school we've mastered lots of literacy.  Our teachers have been using guided reading for almost 20 years.  They do a nice job of teaching comprehension skills as well, but we found we fell short in the area of phonics.   All of our teachers were teaching phonics in whatever way they chose. Some used F and P phonics and some used word families and really focused on phonics during spelling. As the reading specialist I notice that about 80-85 percent of our kiddos have reading strategies and pick up the phonics through the spelling and do just fine.  There is the other percentage of students who struggle and really lack the phonics they need to decode unknown words where other strategies don't work.  You can't chunk up a word when you don't know what the chunks say.  Because we saw this deficiency amongst the grades, we knew that ramping up our tier one phonics instruction was the way to go.

   Several of our teachers attended Orton-Gillingham training over the past year.  If you don't know what Orton is, it's a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, particularly phonics.  We knew that if all of our children were taught with the Orton-Gillingham method, there would be more fidelity of instruction, especially for those who receive small group intervention.  These kids would be able to go into intervention rooms and be familiar with the process. Orton used to be thought of as just a one-on-one or small group intervention, but IMSE, a training facility for Orton, has really focused their training for whole class instruction.  In an effort to make this process as painless as possible teachers were trained and given all of the materials needed to use Orton in their classrooms.  My friend and I created phonics curriculum map, hearing sounds in words test, dictated sentences and other materials for each grade level.  This year is our first year with grades K-3 using these methods and we are already seeing such wonderful results with children's ability to decode and encode. 

  So what does phonics at our school look like? A kindergarten teacher let me come crash her phonics party so you could take a peek. 
  One of the main parts to Orton is the three part drill. These repetitive drills help students to review all previously learned phonics instruction. Just as the name suggests, there are three parts to this phonics review.  Part one is the Visual Drill.   Students are shown a grapheme and they are suppose to make the sound.

  The next part of the drill is the Auditory Drill. Students are given a previously learned sound and they are to make the sound, as well as write the letter/letters.  This often done is sand, part of the multi-sensory piece, but can be written on white boards, or done in some other medium.   
  The final part of the three part drill is the blending drill.  Students look at the graphemes, previously practiced and blend them together to decode a word.

In my small groups I use plates, as they are cheap, easy and I can pass them out quickly.  See below.

    The final part of the drill is the blending drill. It's easiest to sort the cards on the blending board, as the teacher about did during the visual drill so the cards are ready to go and blend.  Blending is always a struggle for some kids so regular practice with this is an exceptionally important activity.

In addition to these activities that review previously learned phonics, there are several activities that can be done to introduce new sounds, as well just any fun activities you can think of to reinforce a grapheme/phoneme combo.  As students progress through the grades, they also learn to about syllable types, how to syllable divide, etc.  These are all skills that help kids decode as text gets harder.  

We also use a multi-sensory approaches for teaching sight words.  These are called red words. 
Students get out red word books and red crayons
The teacher presents the first red word on the board. Say the word. Say each letter. 
Then students copy the word into their book with a bumpy screen underneath and they will show the teacher their word.
Students and teachers stand up, place right hand on the left shoulder. (If left handed, you’d place your left hand on your right shoulder).
Then the teacher models how to arm tap a red word. 
The student and teachers tap the word three times.
 Students and teachers use their pointer finger to trace over each letter of the bumpy word they wrote. Say each letter out loud while tracing. Underline and name word. Repeat 3 times!
Then the student and teacher place the screen over the page. Use pointer finger to trace over each letter of the word. Say each letter out loud while tracing. Underline and name word. Repeat 3 times!
Finally students will turn their page over and write the word without the screen one time. Once the teacher checks they can write it three more times. They then write a sentence and underline the word in red. 

   If you would like to see some other phonics activities we do to reinforce sounds and hearing sounds in words, you can read this post

I also promised a little phonics freebie. Because students need lots of practice with phonics, we often created games for them to play and practice.  Our second graders have been introduced to most long vowel sounds, so I've created a game similar to uno to help them practice these words.   If you would like to, you can grab the game below.  


The Paperback Pirate

When I say I'm blessed to work with some of the best, that is an understatement. I work with some pretty amazing educators, our specials teachers included. Our art teacher at Hilltop is not only an art teacher but also an author for several books available on Amazon and clip art available on TpT

His most recent endeavor was a book he wrote to be used in our classroom to promote reading.  This story is titled The Paperback Pirate and it was right up my alley because I'm all about pretending I'm in the Caribbean.  Yo Ho Ho, It's a pirate's life for me.  Plus I love being creative and in my new job that is hard sometimes, so I was happy to join a first grade class and make this so fun! 

So first things first, we had to create a pirate ship complete with port holes so that our cute kiddos could look through.  We set the ship up in front of my door, so as they entered the ship they would be in my room (or on the ship).  

Now lets back up.   The first thing we did was read the story.  It's a digital book, so we just projected up on the board.   Geoff also created mini printable versions of the story for the students to follow along.

 Next a pirate's scroll mysteriously appeared telling the students that were to go on a hunt for their treasure.  As they rounded the corner on their search for the Paperback Pirate's treasure, they ran right into the ship and Pirate himself.  
The Paperback Pirate let the kids know they would need to let him know the secret message before entering his ship, so they were off to unscramble.   We added this in, so students could practice their knowledge of sentence structure, their phonics and reading.  As soon as they could unscramble the message, they were to run back to the pirate and whisper it into his ear in order to board the ship.  
Here is the first little matey, reciting the message. 
 Once all students had boarded the ship the Pirate told them his treasure was hidden around the room.  They would be able to identify the treasure because they would see Paperback Pirate bookmarks with each piece of treasure.  The students began their search.  Our art teacher gifted each classroom with 6 new paperback books for the classroom libraries.  He drew cute bookmarks that matched the story and those were in each book.  Below you can see a lucky matey who found some treasure. 
The students were to rush the treasure back to the treasure chest.  Once all books were found, the pirate let the kids know that they would be able to keep the treasure and add it to their classroom libraries.  

It was such a fun activity and great was to promote reading.  
If you would like to grab this adorable activity, just click any of the images below.

For more pirate fun:

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