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10 Awesome Jamboard Ideas for Teaching Reading! {AND A JAMBOARD FREEBIE}

Have you tried Jamboarding yet!  Yes, I just said "Jamboarding."  LOL!  The things that come out of my mouth (or from my keyboard) this year are certainly new and surprising!  But, seriously, if you have not yet tried this cool tech tool in your remote teaching, you are really missing out!  The possibilities are virtually endless, but in this post I will show you 10 exciting ideas for using Jamboard in your reading instruction that will keep your students engaged and asking for more!

Teaching Writing Remotely - Strategies that Work!

Hello friends!!  I hope you are well and navigating the pandemic as best as you can.  It has certainly been a year for the books!

Chances are, you have been immersed into a world of online teaching at some point this year and it has likely had its ups and downs in terms of success.  Teaching writing remotely has been one of the biggest hurdles for many elementary school teachers for a variety of reasons. There are so many things to consider:  
  • How will students manage their materials from home?
  • How will they turn in assignments?
  • Will they type their work?
  • How will I confer with students and provide opportunities for them to collaborate about their writing? 
It is enough to make your head hurt...just a little.  It is almost enough to make you want to give not teach writing this year.  That makes my heart hurt.  

If you follow my blog, you know that I am very passionate about writing.  When we teach students how to effectively express themselves in writing we are giving them a voice in the world - a way to express themselves - a way to make a difference and to impact powerful change in their own lives and the lives of others.  No small thing, especially now.  So, yes, it makes my heart sad to think about NOT teaching writing this year.  

My hope is that today's blog post will provide you with some key tools that might make remote writing instruction not just possible - but engaging, motivating and fun!  

I've embedded a few really wonderful and helpful FREEBIES - so be on the lookout!

Kathy's Favorite Things - 10 VIRTUAL Classroom Essentials

Happy Summer everyone!  I truly hope that you were able to escape the craziness just a little bit this summer.  After a very stressful spring, a summer that has gone by in the blink of an eye, and a fall full of unknowns looming...I thought a fun blog post might be in order.  
Let's face the facts:  Remote learning is likely to be part of our future in the coming months (and, dare I say, years).  There are so many things to consider as we settle into this new reality, and it can be super overwhelming.  I am hoping that today's post takes some of that stress away and helps you to start thinking about setting up your virtual learning environment, as well as some of the essential tools that you may want/need to make things go smoothly.

So, if this post stresses you out it for another time!  Otherwise, keep reading for a list of my favorite VIRTUAL Classroom Essentials.

Distance Learning: Remote Guided Reading Lessons Made Easy!

This post may be coming to you a bit late, but hopefully I can provide some tips and resources to support your efforts to bring small group reading instruction to your students in a way that is manageable for both you and them!  IT CAN BE DONE!

School ended (as we know it) here in Michigan on March 13 (yes, it was Friday the 13th).  After the shock wore off, panic began to set in.  My thoughts were spinning:  "How will we support our striving readers, who are already so far behind their peers?  They receive so much support at school...single dips, double dips, triple dips!  They can't afford this time away from school."  I immediately began to think about how we could continue to provide the reading support that they need remotely.  Enter Google Meet...(or Zoom, if that's your "classroom" of choice).   Using a virtual meeting platform, and a few key tech tools, I was able to get small group reading instruction rolling with my students in a way that is almost as good as "the real thing."

Kathy's Favorite Things - 10 Classroom Essentials

This post is just for fun!  I shop A LOT!  Too much in fact.  I try not to, but I just can't pass up a good deal when I see one.   This year, I will post a monthly list of some great finds...just for teachers!

This month I thought I would start with a list of ten essential things that every elementary classroom MUST HAVE.  When I created this list, I kept in mind those things that I absolutely could not live without in my classroom.  I've included tried and true brands to save you time time shopping around.  Trust me...these items are THE BEST!

Phonics Instruction Simplified - PLUS A FREEBIE!!

The phonics debate is in full-swing.  I think they are calling it "the science of reading" now, and the idea of "balanced literacy" is taking a beating.  I taught first grade for 17 years using what I would call a balanced literacy approach, and yes, PHONICS was a critical element of my daily reading program.  I am rather shocked at the assumption that primary teachers are not teaching phonics, because that is not what I witness in my role as an early literacy coach.  I also do not believe a phonics program is the magical silver bullet that is going to fix the literacy crisis in our country.   I really think the problem is much bigger than that.  But I digress....

The point of this post is to help you to see that phonics instruction, although really important to the success of our early readers, is not rocket science.  It involves a few important success factors that can be easily incorporated into your daily literacy routines.  Let me be clear:

This post is based on the latest research-based practices in literacy instruction, and the brilliant work of Wiley Blevins, who has spent his entire career helping to clarify best practice in phonics instruction.  I highly recommend his latest book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, which outlines critical success factors for phonics instruction, as well as common causes of phonics instruction failure.

Reading Assessment at Your Fingertips!

This post addresses TWO of the Essential Practices for Early Literacy:  Practice 3:  Small Group Reading Instruction and Practice 9:  Ongoing Observation and Assessment.  

These practices were created by the Early Literacy Task Force, a subcommittee of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) General Education Leadership Network (GELN), which represents Michigan’s 56 Intermediate School Districts.