The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

blog_readingheader-girl

September 21, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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How Many Words Per Minute Should My Child Read? A Guide to Reading Fluency.

blog_readingheader-girlTeachers throw the word “fluency” into parent conferences, but what does it mean, and why is it important? Fluency leads to increased comprehension. And increased comprehension matters, because in grade 3, the shift goes from learning to read to reading to learn.

What Is Fluency?

  • Fluency is not about reading as fast as you can, but about reading at an appropriate rate with accuracy and inflection.
  • Every time your child is reading, he/she is decoding the words carefully in her head.
  • The more exposure children get to new words, the faster their young minds can remember words and recognize them without sounding them out. This is called automaticity.
  • As students transition into fluent readers, they are able to focus on the content of what they are reading rather than the words.
  • Students who are not fluent readers by 4th and 5th grade have a more difficult and stressful time completing assignments in all areas of the curriculum.

How Is Your Child Doing?

Listed below are reading level recommendations for students to read grade level–appropriate texts by the end of the year. Experts’ opinions vary, but these are some good baselines to monitor your child’s fluency.

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Keep in mind that these are a simple gauge and just one measurement tool used to identify students’ readiness. Every student learns in a unique way and at his or her own pace. If your child is not at grade level, focus on increasing his or her current score by 10 to 15 words by the end of the year and then celebrate your child’s successes!

If you would like to test your child at home, pick a grade level–appropriate book and time your child reading for one minute. Count the number of words he/she reads correctly within that time frame. (Added words and incorrect words cannot be counted.) Please do not ever make your child feel deficient because he/she cannot read the correct number of words per minute. Use some strategies listed below to help your child improve automaticity.

How Can You Help?

These are some areas you can focus on to improve your child’s fluency.

  1. Phonics (letter and sound rules)
  2. Phoneme awareness (blending and separating sounds)
  3. Phonic word patterns such as oy, ow, ou, sh,ch
  4. Appropriate pronunciation
  5. Repeated readings (reread books)
  6. Choral reading (read aloud together)

As a former primary teacher, I know how important reading fluency is to your child’s success in school. Please leave a comment if you have a question for me about my recommendations.


Heather FoudyHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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September 8, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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The Ultimate Back-to-School Resource for Your Homeschool

Homeschooling - shutterstock_251697448I wanted to share the easiest and most economical resource for homeschooling. It is Evan-Moor’s digital lesson library: TeacherFileBox.

Today, I am sharing FIVE reasons why it is beautiful and brilliant to use TeacherFileBox in your homeschooling.

  1. You have access to ALL grade levels of resources (PreK–6+). You can search for the exact subject and grade level that is right for your child right now. As soon as your child is ready for the next level, you already have access to the materials you need.
  2. You save money. Say “Goodbye!” to paying for grade-level resources separately. With your TeacherFileBox subscription, you don’t need to buy more and more resources each time your child completes a grade-level resource.
  3. There are thousands of activities available to give your child more practice, and to make sure your child isn’t getting bored doing the “same ol’” practice pages again and again. Yes, full-color activities that are perfect for workboxes are included in your subscription, too!
  4. Evan-Moor’s quality activities set your child up to think beyond basic skills and apply the skills in new ways. For example, your child might be combining a new skill with a previously taught skill to complete a task. This sets your child up to use and remember the skills for the long term.
  5. TeacherFileBox is digital, so I don’t have stacks of materials to store or look through every time I am planning lessons or preparing for homeschooling. We can go green and complete most of the activities from the computer screen! You may print any unit or activity, so the choice is yours!

Bonus Tip: Look at www.evan-moor.com to find titles that you want to use with your child. Then, use the “Browse by Title” feature on TeacherFileBox to access all of the activities in an entire Evan-Moor book!

Cost: Your wallet will be happy, too! For $13 a month, you get access to ALL grade levels of over 450 Evan-Moor publications to customize your homeschooling curriculum! You can also try it for 30 days for FREE. Click here to get started: www.teacherfilebox.com.

TeacherFilebox is saving me tons of time and money in my homeschooling curriculum. In addition, TeacherFileBox provides unmatched quality activities that allow me to adjust my homeschooling to my child’s individual learning needs – even when working on more than one grade level at a time! I can adjust the skill level quickly to meet my child wherever she is right now in the developmental ladder of skills. To me, this is vital to setting my child up to thrive as a learner.

If you would like to learn more about using TeacherFileBox to create a homeschooling curriculum, leave a comment to share how I can help you get started today!


Amy Michaels ProfileAmy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website www.thrivehomeschooling.com.

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September 1, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Fall Fun with Apples

shutterstock_146844794Students everywhere are settling into their classroom routines and falling (pun intended) into the rhythm of the school day. As I walk through the produce aisle in the grocery store, I rub my hands in glee. It’s apple time! Apples are a time honored theme for engaging students with fun learning activities.  Here are a few ideas to start you off in your autumn resolutions.

 

a is for apple thumbA is for Apple is a creative writing lesson that incorporates adjectives with letter writing. Students are asked to think of words to describe an apple and write a letter to Johnny Appleseed. This activity is for grades 2-5. (Here is a free printable.)

You can find these lessons on TeacherFileBox :

johhny appleseedJohnny Appleseed is an entertaining read and combines your social studies and reading comprehension lesson into one. (Hooray, one month in and still on track with the pacing guide!) This passage was created for grades 4-6 but can also be used as an extension for 2nd or 3rd grade readers.

 

the case of the missing applesThe Case of the Missing Apples is a perfect partner for any apple art activity. It combines reading comprehension, vocabulary, and parts of speech in a fun packet that is simple to understand and complete.

For those of you with large class sizes and few helpers, here is a management tip. It’s simpler to assign a task to the class while inviting small groups to complete an activity with the teacher. (The art projects always turn out better with small group instruction.) The reading comprehension passages listed above are perfect for students to complete on their own while you are occupied with the craft. The beauty of Evan-Moor reading comprehension packets is how they follow a linear pattern that is simple for students to understand and complete.

Additional resources to partner with apples:  

apple artApple Prints is an art project that incorporates patterns with paper apples.  Students create their own paper apples and build a repeating pattern.

Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie by Herman Parish.  This book is introduces the different varieties of apples with an engaging story.  You can always pair it with a taste test and a compare and contrast writing assignment.  Be sure to have your students incorporate scholarly adjectives when describing the differences.


Heather Foudy

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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August 30, 2016
by Evan-Moor
2 Comments

5 Tools for Spelling Success

It is said that even Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway were challenged with aspects of standard spelling. Standard spelling instruction is most successful when it includes learning a combination of spelling patterns and rules, along with special attention given to the practice of words that are not spelled intuitively or do not follow usual patterns. Here are some of my favorite tools:

  1. Building Spelling Skillsbss4: This was my go-to spelling resource and provided the structure for our weekly spelling work! Each of the units provides grade-specific spelling lists and activities. The word activities are fun for students and they enjoy the feeling of making progress through the lessons, which gradually increase in difficulty. Building Spelling Skills is also available as interactive lessons supported with audio. Check out the Building Spelling Skills series for grades 1-6+.
  2. Making Words: This resource presents a great supplementary activity and makes spelling practice fun! Students start with a long grade-level appropriate word, and then use and rearrange the letters in a long word to make other words (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. letters long) This is a great group activity, and I never met a student who didn’t love to participate. Making Words can be done spontaneously and with no prep. Choose the skill/grade level that you need.
  3. shutterstock_71626669 1Spelling Journal: I used to buy a class set each year, but you could certainly make them, too. The format I used had two landscape pages devoted to each letter of the alphabet enable students to add words they use in their own writing. The spelling journal is a huge help toward achieving spelling independence. Every Friday, I would have “Free Choice Friday Writing,” which included having each student choose a word to add to his or her journal. This was brainstormed whole class on the board, so students would end up adding other words of their choice as well. Students came to rely on their spelling journals to answer their own spelling questions.
  4. From Kids Activities Blog

    From Kids Activities Blog

    Student Flip Books: For practicing spelling words that follow a particular pattern, I liked to use flip books. Students can learn to assemble and make themselves. It is easiest to do with an index card and precut papers. These can be devised to work for any grade level or spelling pattern. Then it can be kept at school or home for practice. Then it can be kept at school or home for practice. Here’s one example of a flip book made from spiral note cards.

  5. “Pocket” Word: When there was a particularly troublesome word, I would write the target spelling word onto small papers (about 1”x 2 ½”) that could be folded up and placed into a pocket. For students that didn’t have a pocket, we used his or her shoe (which students thought was extra silly). The object was that this target word went everywhere with students while throughout the day, which they would have fun spelling aloud to as many people as they could. This activity encouraged interaction, and a team/school/home approach to helping each other succeed.

Students who feel confident with their spelling skills are empowered to be creative and expressive with their writing. What tools and strategies do you use to enable your students’ good spelling skills?


contributor-marti2Marti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her many years of teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in brain-based learning. After working for four years as an editor in educational publishing, Marti currently works as a freelance writer and content developer.

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August 24, 2016
by Evan-Moor
2 Comments

Tips for Breaking through Math Barriers

shutterstock_247890532 1I remember when I taught first grade a few years ago. It was an exciting time; a time when I learned that mathematics anxieties for teachers — whether home, school, or public — are real. These anxieties may stem from many different reasons such as not being a solid math student or being uncertain if you can articulate the concepts to others. If you struggle with teaching math, here are some tips to help you.

Release the pressure

As educators, we are constantly evaluating our performance. If our students or children are not making progress, we assume the fault lies with us. Although evaluation is an important component of lesson review, it should not rule out individual student learning capacities. When teaching math, we must remember that children will learn at their own rate and not all skills will be achieved at the same time as their peers. When we make teaching about ourselves, we undermine our student’s learning.

Slow Down

It’s easy to get caught up in quickly moving through the lessons. In math, slowing down is a great option. If your child is struggling with a concept, don’t keep pushing through it, instead, research different methods until one works for the learner. Often, slowing down is the key ingredient to understanding.

Take into account your child’s learning style

We all have our preferred method of learning. When teaching, consider your child’s preferred learning method. If you have an auditory learner, consider introducing new skills through song. If a song can’t be produced to make the concept easy to understand, take the time to find engaging lectures online. My daughter has shared with me that she prefers a specific online program over other mathematics programs we have used in the past. She appreciates the online teacher’s verbal explanations, and I believe it helps that his voice draws her into lessons. Whichever learning method fits your child, take the time to find those additional resources.

Note: Evan-Moor offers online interactive programs to help your child learn and practice math skills. You can try the math lessons in a free trial.

Take a Break

I mentioned slowing down earlier and allowing your learner to take their time, but you could also consider resetting. How does one reset? Stop what you are doing and take a break. If the anxiety or emotions are high, then chances are the work that is being completed is counterproductive. Studies have shown a direct link between academic performance and student anxiety. During a reset you don’t have to completely quit doing all things math, but you can hone in on the topics where your learner excels. Students need to experience success so they don’t lose their interest or drive.

Math will often leave many of us scratching our heads, but this doesn’t have to control our ability to teach our children. Taking the time to re-evaluate and research different approaches can help you get through most math barriers that may come your way.


Blog-latonya1Latonya Moore is the creator of Joy in the Ordinary, a site where she focuses on seeking joy in everyday moments. She enjoys spending time with her husband and home educating her daughters.

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A picture of a rainforest bulletin board with a toucan.

August 17, 2016
by Evan-Moor
0 comments

Rainforest Bulletin Boards

A picture of a rainforest bulletin board with a toucan.Dress to impress is what my mother always said. I like to apply this concept in my classroom as well. This is why I love Evan-Moor’s Bulletin Boards Every Classroom Needs. It is a simple; no hassle resource for keeping your room updated with the changing seasons. We are all visual learners and incorporating smart visual tactics within your classroom can inspire your students and create learning opportunities.

This toucan bulletin board does just that. It’s great for showing off work. If you’re a homeschool mom and bulletin boards just aren’t your thing, keep reading; this applies to you as well. Designating an area within your home to “show off” your students work is a great method for instilling pride of ownership. It’s also a perfect opportunity to incorporate a theme for your month and integrate project based learning into your curriculum. (Psst…hit your art goal as well by having your children help create it.)  Here are some ideas below for thematic lessons.

  • Adjectives: Develop good writing techniques by reviewing adjectives. Primary grade students can create descriptive sentences about toucan birds or other rainforest wildlife while upper grade students can write an informational essay on rainforest biomes.
  • Geography: Identify and label which continents are home to rainforests. You may also extend this lesson to comparing and contrasting different rainforest biomes around the world.

TeacherFileBox Users: Check out these simple lessons to use when teaching about rainforest animals. Don’t have an account: try it for free for 30 days at www.teacherfilebox.com.


 

Heather Foudy

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

 

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August 10, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

The Inside Scoop: 5 Ways to Build a Positive Relationship with your Child’s Teacher

owlsTeachers, parents, and students alike anxiously anticipate the first week of school with some trepidation and excitement. As a parent and elementary teacher, I understand the issues that arise at home and in the classroom. School is such an important part of our children’s lives and we want them to have the best experience possible. One way to facilitate that is to cultivate a relationship with your teacher. Here are some helpful strategies to develop a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.

  1. Stay in contact! Many teachers have weekly updates they send home. Check your child’s homework folder daily so you stay up to date on the current events of the classroom and read any messages your teacher may have sent you. Remember, teachers have an entire classroom of parents they must communicate with. Also, make it simple and easy for them to get in contact by keeping your phone number and email updated throughout the school year.
  2. Schedule meetings in advance. Ask when the best time to contact the teacher is. Don’t call during the middle of the day to talk about your student, while his or her teacher is currently teaching them. (Yes, imagine 25 first graders, unsupervised, as the teacher is on the phone…chaos!) Teachers also have weekly staff and student meetings on a regular basis. It is best to schedule ahead of time, if you have a concern you would like to discuss.
  3. Volunteer or donate items to the classroom. If you have the time, ask your teacher if she needs a volunteer once a week. Keep in mind, if you do volunteer, you need to arrive at the scheduled time. Teachers must prepare for parent volunteers just as they would for any other activity with the class. If you say you are going to be there, then make sure you show up. If you are unable to volunteer, donated classroom items are always appreciated. Teachers always purchase classroom items on their own dime so ask what you may contribute. Some basic items are tissues, baby wipes, construction paper, pencils, erasers, and crayons. If you really want to impress your teacher, ask them what brand, size or type they would prefer. Guaranteed homerun!
  4. Don’t talk about teachers negatively in front of your child. Everyone has different styles and personalities. If you find that a teacher is not a favorite that year, don’t advertise that to your student. It will ultimately undermine their learning. Rather, schedule a meeting with that teacher to explain your concerns and find a happy medium that satisfies both of you. Remember….it’s just one school year; onward and forward to the next.
  5. Develop a partnership with your teacher. Remember that they want the best for your student as much as you do. They entered this profession because they care about students and their progress. Use your knowledge as a parent to help your child’s teacher understand the best ways to help your child, and listen to the teacher’s strategies and suggestions too.

Heather Foudy

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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students working together

August 3, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Individualize Instruction with Centers

students working togetherTeachers who incorporate learning centers will tell you that it is a great learning strategy for many reasons. Some of these reasons include: 1) Increase student self-motivation and empower self-monitoring 2) Ability for teacher to integrate small group or individual attention 3) Individualization of instruction and meaningful learning activities leading to mastery.

Setting up and organizing centers on a regular basis can be a time consuming and daunting project! Here are some resources that can help ease the task of providing engaging, meaningful, and kid-friendly academic centers throughout your school year. The following centers resources are available at evan-moor.com in a variety of grade levels or grade ranges.

Take It to Your Seat- Math Centers, Grade 2 - Teacher's EditionTake It To Your Seat Series (available as Early Learning Centers, Math Centers, Language Centers, Literacy Centers, Writing Centers, Vocabulary Centers, Geography Centers, Science Centers): Full-color centers that are easy to assemble and prepare for a student to take to his/her seat for independent practice. Also available in e-book format. These centers work well as an individual or partner activity, and don’t require a dedicated space in the classroom, because students complete at their seats with everything they need organized in a folder.

Daily Language Review Centers, Grade 1“Daily” Centers Classroom Resource Kits (Daily Language Review Centers, Daily Math Practice, Daily Reading Comprehension): Students will practice and master important skills with 36 motivating centers throughout the school year. Students will quickly become familiar with this center format, and be able to complete ongoing centers all school year long.

 

Some of my favorite moments as a teacher occurred while I was in the middle of small group or individual instruction, surrounded by the background hum of as students were engaged in learning centers. Best wishes to you as you plan your centers for the new school year!


contributor-marti2Marti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her many years of teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in brain-based learning. After working for four years as an editor in educational publishing, Marti currently works as a freelance writer and content developer.

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July 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Loving vacation? Tips for teachers to ease back into a school routine

Blog-Back-to-schoolEvery teacher loves a vacation. It’s a chance to refresh and renew ourselves. It’s a chance to enjoy a quiet morning, sipping on coffee with no time schedule or rushing out the door. While this much needed vacation may feel like a million bucks, we all know it’s a huge struggle to jump back on board once that vacation is over. Not only do we struggle as teachers to return to a sense of normalcy, but our students do as well.

So, how do you keep a routine after you’ve returned from a day off, a week off, or summer vacation?

Here are my top five tips for keeping my classroom structure and my students on routine – for the beginning of the school year and after school breaks!

Tip 1: Show up prepared for the first day back. If you are unorganized, tired or aren’t prepared for the students, it will only lead to a very long and draining day back. Plan extra activities that will allow your children to move around and get those jitters out.

Tip 2: Stick to your routine!! It is CRUCIAL and your students will thank you for it. Don’t all of a sudden change your entire schedule up because you saw something on Pinterest or read an article while on break…it will throw EVERYTHING off!

Tip 3: Review your classroom rules, procedures and expectations. No matter how short the break was or how far you are into the school year, ALWAYS take time to review your classroom policies. It will keep things much more productive in your classroom.

Tip 4: Keep your expectations high, but also know your students will be excited to return to school and share about all the excitement they had over break. Allow for both active and quiet times in the classroom that allow them to express their feelings.

Tip 5: LASTLY, stay positive!! Keeping a positive mind towards your work and your students will only help motivate you to survive though the rest of the school year.


Erin Sawyer 2Erin Sawyer has been an elementary school teacher for 8 years and currently teaches sixth grade. She has also taught third and fourth grades. Erin enjoys finding resources that will motivate and challenge her students to learn. She also serves as the student council mentor to the upper-grade students.

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July 22, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Teacher to Teacher: 5 Ways TeacherFileBox Will Change Your Life

Heather Foudy 2Take it from me, as a second grade teacher and mom of two, time is my nemesis. A resource that saves me countless hours in lesson development is Evan-Moor’s TeacherFileBox online.With TeacherFileBox, I was able to access differentiated instruction for my students with a click of my finger.

TeacherFileBox helped me eliminate countess hours of prep work while providing standards-based practice and instruction. Listed below are just a few of the many ways TeacherFileBox simplified my curriculum planning and instruction.

  1. Multiple search options: TeacherFileBox allows you to search online using grade level, subject matter, standards and key words to search for the exact lesson you are looking for.
  2. No more file cabinets: You may set up your personal file cabinet on the site so you can access your favorite lessons online anytime the need arises. You don’t have to ask yourself the question….”Did I refile that paper on place value?” All you have to do is log on, search, and print.
  3. Differentiated instruction at your fingertips: Students do not all work at the same level or pace; much to the chagrin of every educator. This online resource offers you instant lesson differentiation. You have access to all grade level work and can tailor your searches based on your current students’ needs.
  4. Unit building: Time is the enemy of the classroom. TeacherFileBox can offer countless thematic worksheets across the curriculum that supplement your current area of study through reading, writing and report building.
  5. Lesson review is an essential element in any classroom. TeacherFileBox offers a myriad of worksheets on foundational skills that students should master. Through this site, you have access to the many dailies created by Evan-Moor.

Some of my favorite resources are:

Daily Reading Comprehension Grade 1- Week 10 Compare and Contrast/Phonics

Daily Paragraph Editing Week 01: Jane Goodall: Learning About Animals

Daily Math Practice Grade 4: Week 01

Daily Language Review, Common Core Edition, Grade 6: Week 02

Some resources you might be interested in for unit building:

Grades 1-3 Dinosaurs Long, Long Ago

Grades 3-6 Explorers (Report building)

When you subscribe to Teacher-File Box, you get a 30-day evaluation. So why wait? You can begin using Evan-Moor lessons today!


Heather FoudyHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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