Showing posts from July, 2013

Managing Literacy Centers with NO Adult Help

What is the best way to teach small groups of children with only one adult in the room?   It seems that most of the time, teachers are left alone in the classroom with no help at all and are expected to pull small groups to teach reading and math while the other children occupy themselves quietly.   This is a problem that riddles just about every teacher at one point or another, and is probably the most common question that I receive, so this is the question I am trying to answer today.   And this is probably the simplest way that I know of that is usually successful for the most people:  combine some of the routines of the Daily Five with learning centers in an organized way.  If you are not familiar with the Daily Five, then you can read a little about it here. The Daily Five is a system of literacy instruction and classroom management designed by two sisters, named Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  They wrote about it in their book at the link provided.   The book is worth read

Managing Center Rotations in Different Ways

When I do my centers, I do them with both math and language arts running at the same time.  One group does language arts with me; another group does math with my aide; another group works independently at different types of things, such as word work, and the last table does an art project with a volunteer.  The art project is usually a book making project that is related to our unit of study, and takes a week or two to complete. However, I often get emailed questions from teachers whose administrators have different expectations of their teachers.  In the first question below, the administrator expects the teacher to do one solid hour of math, and then one solid hour of language arts.  So here are my suggestions on how to make a learning center rotation that is similar to mine, given these perimeters.  There are also links to several other blog posts that I have written with more information on running centers. There is another question below that one from another reader, plu

11 Kid Friendly Sites to Watch Free Storybooks Online

A while back, I asked some Facebook friends if they knew of some websites where I could find storybooks read aloud to children online, and I got a whole bunch of suggestions!  Since then, I have found it incredibly helpful to be able to put a story on our big screen and let the whole class watch it while I get materials out for a lesson, or put materials away, or even test a few children individually!  I think that this might be a great thing for parents to do to keep their little ones happy at the end of the summer, too! While the overwhelming favorite website suggested was , that one does require a paid subscription, so I haven’t taken the plunge on purchasing it.  (But more on that below!)  My favorite website for this purpose so far is .  Below here are a few more sites that I was given.  Please note that I haven’t tried them all out yet.   A few of them proved to take too long to load their books up ( at least at my school ) while t

How I Got My Kids to Use Just ONE Pack of Dry Erase Markers ALL YEAR LONG!

What is the best way to manage dry erase markers in the classroom?  After 25 years of teaching, I think I FINALLY figured it out last year!  In the past, I have always had to spend quite a bit of my own money on dry erase markers because my Kindergarten students simply could never seem to be responsible enough to replace the lids and not squish the tips.  So I decided to try a totally different strategy last year, and it worked:  OWNERSHIP. This is what I did:   I announced at our first parent meeting at the beginning of the year that I needed each child to bring in their own personal dry erase markers to use all year.  I told the parents that they should caution their children to be very careful not to pound on them or the tips would become damaged and unusable.  I also told them to tell their children to replace the caps each time they used them, or they would become dried out, and then the PARENT would have to replace them. Now you may think that your students’ paren

Reading Superpowers and Superheroes!

Did you know that all of those guided reading skills that you have been teaching your students can be thought of as “Reading Superpowers?”  Yes, they can!  In fact, when your students use their Guided  Reading Superpowers, they become Reading Superheroes!!!! I learned this when I recently received an email from Anmarie Galgano, a teacher that uses HeidiSongs in her classroom. She shared her wonderful idea of changing my Zero the Hero Project into a Reading Superhero project and attached a picture as well!  She made an entire bulletin board about it- and here it is:     I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to bulletin board ideas; follow it here! I asked her if I could share this wonderful idea here with you, and she readily agreed.  I think you will love it; it turned out sooooo cute!   I decided to recreate the printable sheet that she made for her students to fill in so that you could download a similar one here.    This is what my free download loo

Sing and Spell the Sight Words: Where Did Heidi's Word Lists Come From?

Have you ever wondered how I came up with the sight word lists on my Sing and Spell the Sight Words CD’s and DVD’s?  I recently received this question via a comment on my blog, and I thought that the answer might make an interesting blog post.  I always think that if one person asks a question, there may be many more that have that same question!  So here is the answer. Question: Hi Heidi! I’m in the process of re-vamping our Kindergarten word list. Since we purchased your Sing and Spell Volume #1 and Sing and Spell Volume #2 CD’s and DVD’s last year, I was going to use them as a pacing guideline. (For example: first teach the words on #1 and then #2…etc.) However, I noticed that some of the words on our original list are not on these cd’s (dvd’s) and/or some of the words on your cd’s/dvd’s are not on your kindergarten Pacing Guide. After some research, it appears that your cd’s (dvd’s)are based on Open Court Imagine It Reading Program. Is this correct? My district uses the