Teaching Real Life Lessons-Safety

As educators, we are preparing our students to become responsible citizens in society.  Sometimes the topics we discuss with our students may save their lives. Teaching your students about safety is one such lesson.  The words”stop, drop, and roll” come to mind.   We hope that our students will never have to use this knowledge to save themselves or others.  However, in the world we live in, you never know what will happen to our students once the leave our campuses.  Finding resources this month to help teach fire prevention and fire safety can be time consuming.  Try these with your students to help them learn the importance of learning fire safety.

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Elliot’s Fire Truck

by Andrea Beck (author)       © 2010
ISBN: 9781554691449Elliot Moose is on the loose once more. As he jumps aboard his bright red fire truck and takes off to the next rescue, he feels courageous. All his friends want to ride on the truck and be firefighters too. Nobody wants to be rescued. One by one,Elliot’s friends climb aboard until there is no more room on the truck. When suddenly they all need a rescue for real, it is his two youngest and smallest friends who save the day. This lively new addition to the Elliot Moose series is a charming tale of friendship and fair play.

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The Fire Department

by David and Patricia Armentrout       © 2009
ISBN: 9781615907199   AR:   / This book explains why we have fire departments and how they support and add value to the community. Includes details such as who works there, why they are necessary, and special equipment firefighters use.

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Tito, the Firefighter / Tito, el bombero

by Tim Hoppey (author), Kimberly Hoffman (illustrator)
SBN: 9781621671985

This bilingual (English/Spanish) text has Spanish sprinkled in and, as each word is introduced, it is used from there through to the end of the book. There is also a vocabulary page at the end of the book.

Richie, a New York City firefighter or bombero, only speaks inglés, but he answers all calls for help. In any language, a good deed is still a good deed. When Tito grows up, he wants to be a bombero. He speaks both inglés and español. But he never dreamed his bilingual skill might actually help Richie and the other bomberos save the day!

Cookbooks-Teaching Real Life Lessons

When we make math connections to our lives we motivate students. Using cookbooks are a great way to connect math to our daily lives. Teaching fractions is the first thing we think of, but there are other concepts could be taught as well. Consider teaching concepts such as

Units of measure

Multiplication with serving sizes

Science-Chemical reactions

Multiplying fractions

Dividing Fractions

Try these resources with your students.

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by Marilyn La Penta (author)       © 2012 ISBN: 9781617723483

If you’re feeling thirsty, this book is for you! Learn to make delicious fruit drinks and smoothies that not only taste good, but can be good for you, too! Each recipe includes a healthy tip as well as an ingredients and tools list and easy, step-by-step instructions for making fun and nutritious beverages. Kids will love dazzling their family and friends with delicious and tasty drinks such as the bubbly Red Lava Volcano, the green Kiwi Concoction, and the shake-like Banana Bonanza. Soon, they will be begging you for the recipes!

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by Marilyn La Penta (author)       © 2013 ISBN: 9781617727924

The mouthwatering recipes in Winter Punches to Nut Crunches will make kids want to come out of hibernation! With lots of healthy winter fruits and vegetables in supply, making recipes like Peppermint Hot Chocolate, St. Patricks Green Smoothie, and Nut-and-Honey Bars will be fun and easy for even the youngest of cooks. Each recipe includes a nutrition tip and a fact box, as well as a list of tools and ingredients and easy, step-by-step instructions. Kids will learn about nutrition and healthy eating, sequencing and following directions, math and measuring skills, and kitchen safety. These recipes will get tummies growling!

Screen shot 2014-09-14 at 7.50.48 PMSuper ‘Wiches

by Marilyn La Penta (author)       © 2012ISBN: 9781617723476
Kids can get creative in the kitchen with inspiration from the tasty recipes in Super ’Wiches. Young chefs can choose from classic favorites with a twist such as grilled cheese and PB&J, or innovative fare like Thanksgiving Treats and Tuna Avocado Roll-Ups. Each recipe includes suggestions for customizing the sandwiches to match the tastes of the cook or to make artistic creations. After all, cooking is an artand art is all about experimenting! Each recipe includes a nutrition tip and a fact box as well as a list of tools and ingredients and easy, step-by-step instructions. Kids will learn about nutrition and healthy eating, sequencing and following directions, math and measuring skills, and kitchen safety. Bon apptit!

Appreciation for Fictional Characters

Having a connection with a fictional character is one of my beloved childhood memories.  I remember fantasizing about living in a boxcar and had my friends take turns being characters in my family drinking from that chipped cup!  I read and reread that book countless times. When a student reads a story and the characters come to life, they become hooked as readers.  Once students have entered into that character’s world there is no turning back.  I’m sure you have your favorites, too.  Add these ideas to your bag of tricks to hook your readers.

Genres- Introduce your students to a variety of genres. You will never know what book hooks your students.  This also supports common core standards.  You may not care for a particular genre, but your students may end up loving it!

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Read a louds- When students laugh out loud you know they are connecting with the book. Regardless of age, a fun read a loud will hook your readers.

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Traditional Stories-  Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes often provide background knowledge for more sophisticated stories. Not all young children know these traditional stories.  Spend time reciting and discussing this stories.

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Series- Not all books in the series are written on the same level! The push for accelerating a students’ reading levels can cause students to read miss books in a series. Have students read for enjoyment!

Try these with your students:

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Mary Had a Little Jam

by Bruce Lansky (author), Stephen Carpenter (illustrator)       © 2004
ISBN: 9780689033926With nearly three quarters of a million copies sold, this is the #1 “fractured nursery rhymes” book in North America. It’s a delightful way to introduce young children to Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and all the rest of Mother Goose’s characters.





A Love of Learning = A Life Time of Learning

We wouldn’t be where we are without teachers.  When we as educators instill a love of learning in our students, we have created life long learners.  Some students have a natural tendency to learn.  However, when students have difficulty learning how can we as educators foster a love of learning?  These suggestions can work with students of all ability levels.

Student generated projects- Allow students to have freedom or choices in the topics they learn or in final project.  You will see an increase in student motivation and application to real life situations which will engage your students.

Build Relationships-To often we talk about rigor and relevance but we forget about the most important “R” in education.  We need to build relationships with our students.

Give Praise- Not all students can be honor students.  However, each student can offer something unique to the classroom.  Finding that special talent that your students have may take some time, but when you recongize their strenghs, you find ways for your students to be successful.

Individualized Instruction-Students need to feel successful in school.  When instruction is on their level they are given opportunities to succeed.

So, today we celebrate you and thank you for all that you do to encourage life long learners.

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My Teacher’s in Detention

by Bruce Lansky (author), Stephen Carpenter (illustrator)       © 2006
“This book delivers 45 hilarious poems about school that cover everything from homework and tests to detention and school lunches. Well-known poets Bruce Lansky, Kenn Nesbitt, and Robert Pottle—plus many more great Giggle Poets—wrote these gems.”



The Writing Process Made Easy: Thank You Notes

Writing Thank You Notes Shows Appreciation

Writing thank you notes is a basic but essential skill. Educating kids about the importance of being grateful and showing appreciation helps them to develop good character. Teachers can instruct students on the proper procedures for writing and sharing thank you notes. Kindergarten teachers can write shared letters with their class. Elementary and middle school children can be taught how to write a thank you note via direct instruction using the writing process.

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Teaching Writing to K-12 Students

Educators can share this book with their students on their Smartboards, laptop and or i-pads. Explicit instructions on writing thank you letters can be found in this book. Teachers can save precious time by using the lessons that are in this book. Check out the table of contents to find a wealth of information for writers. Find these informational texts at


Beginning Writing 1
by Joanne Suter (author) © 2008

Read Now Bookshelf
ISBN: 9781602914902
There is no such thing as too much writing practice. This two-part program builds skills incrementally from bright idea to polished final product. These stimulating lessons will enable students to actually enjoy the writing process. Includes Traits of Writing correlation. The Enhanced eBook edition available gives you the freedom to cut and paste any portion of the text into your own document; to project the eBook contents on a whiteboard; and more! Topics Include: Pre-writing, Brainstorming, Grammar Basics, Rewriting Fragments and Run-Ons, Choosing Precise Adjectives and Adverbs, Linking Relating Thoughts, and more…


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Books For Students of All Ages

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these titles about being grateful. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at

 thumb-1.jpgThanks, NASA!
by Tom Greve (author) © 2013
ISBN: 9781618103802
This Book Explores The Tremendous Contribution That NASA Has Made Over The Last Half Century. Detailed Timelines About Space Exploration And The Development Of The Space Program Are All Discussed In Detail. Also Gives Detailed Information About Astronauts And Their Explorations.

freeclipart appleConnecting To The Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at


Production and Distribution of Writing

1. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

2. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach

3. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.



Creating Meaningful Writing Experiences

Creating meaningful writing experiences is often a challenge for educators.  You want your writing lessons to be rigorous and relevant to what they are learning.  When students realize their is a bigger audience available to them, you will motivate your students.  I have used  blogging and  individual students websites in my classroom for many years. I remember my first year of blogging with my students.  We were so excited when we received comments.   We were even more excited when we read a comment post from someone from Australia! I saw an improvement in my students’ writing skills.  They  wanted others, around the world, to learn from our class.

With Big Universe, you can create books for either your classroom or for other users to read.  This is a great way to increase their writing skills and provide authentic writing expereinces.    These writing prompts are linked common core skills and a time savers! You can use them to create books or just as a writing experience.
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You could also try these resources with your students:

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Beginning Writing 1 & 2

by Joanne Suter (author)       © 2008
ISBN: 9781602914902

“There is no such thing as too much writing practice. This two-part program builds skills incrementally from bright idea to polished final product. These stimulating lessons will enable students to actually enjoy the writing process. Includes Traits of Writing correlation. The Enhanced eBook edition available gives you the freedom to cut and paste any portion of the text into your own document; to project the eBook contents on a whiteboard; and more! Topics Include: Pre-writing, Brainstorming, Grammar Basics, Rewriting Fragments and Run-Ons, Choosing Precise Adjectives and Adverbs, Linking Relating Thoughts, and more…”

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From Tablets to Texting

by L. Rigdon (author), Nicholas Jackson (illustrator)       © 2012 ISBN: 9781620461822
“This book begins with informational text about cuneiform and hieroglyphics and ends with an alternative perspective: a girl writing in her diary about the connections between ancient and modern communication. The clever story engages readers and introduces history content.”

A Reading Specialist Talks About Teaching Reading and Phonemic Awareness


Researched Based Reading Instruction

Explicit, systematic reading instruction has been proven to create successful readers. Teaching all children to read in today’s diverse classrooms requires highly trained educators. Schools and educational institutions often employee reading specialists that possess advanced degrees in reading and language arts instruction. Reading specialists provide expert instruction, and assessment for all types of learners. Struggling readers benefit from working with a reading specialist, who provide students with specialized instruction. They provide leadership for the reading program, and are a valuable resource for teachers, parents and administrators.  Reading specialists are highly trained and have skills to evaluate literacy programs and provide training for the staff.  Using a variety of assessment tools, reading specialists assess the reading strengths and needs of students. They communicate these to educators, parents, guardians, administrators and specialized personnel such as psychologists, special educators, or speech teachers.

Phonemic Awareness Is Necessary For Reading


Reading specialists can help students to develop phonemic awareness, which is essential in reading. Phonemic awareness is a subset of phonological awareness. Students with phonemic awareness are able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes. Phonemes are  the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning.

Teachers and parents can help learners to develop phonemic awareness by teaching children to:

  • Recognize and produce rhyming words- bug, rug, tug, mug
  • Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words
  • Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words
  • Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words
  • Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words

Resources For Teaching Rhyming Words

thumb.jpgMy First Nursery Rhymes
by Kim Mitzo Thompson (author)
ISBN: 9781619380035
Baby’s First Books are perfect learning tools for your little one!

Books That Teach Word Families That Rhyme

Count, Pronounce, Blend, and Segment Syllables In Spoken Words

Teachers and parents can introduce kids to counting syllables in words by having them clap the syllables in words. Educators should first model counting the syllables in several words.

Students can count the number of syllables in words with this hands-on activity. Students pick a word from a pile and read it. Parents and teachers can assist them in reading the word, if necessary. Then they count the number of syllables in the word.

One Syllable Words       Two Syllable Words         Three Syllable Words

go                                             yellow                                         yesterday

the                                            happy                                         important

run                                           today                                          tomorrow

Books That Help Phonemic Awareness Can Easily Be Found On Big Universe

Big Universe offers hundreds of titles that help to develop phonemic awareness. Users can enter phonemic awareness in the search bar to discover a variety of titles. Find these useful texts at

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Connecting To The Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at

Phonological Awareness:

Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
Recognize and produce rhyming words.
Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.
Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.
Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.1 (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.


Rules and Manners-Setting High Expectations for All

Rules and laws help to keep us safe. Classroom rules teach this concept in a smaller scale. Students begin to learn social expectations as well in the classroom as well. By setting clear expectations, you are creating a positive learning environment. Classroom expectations should also include the use of manners. Manners are one way to show respect for others. Saying please and thank you are ways to be polite. As students learn rules and manners they are become less egocentric and more respectful to those around them. Setting high expectations for all your learners, including the use of manners, creates an environment that is nurturing and will foster greater learning. Using the RTI model so all students receive instruction and behavioral intervention at their level.  Introducing manners in your classroom can be done effectively with these resources. There are several read a louds that can be used to reinforce the concept of rules and expectations for your classroom.

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Manners, please! Why It Pays to be Polite

by John Burstein (author)       © 2010
ISBN: 9781427195333″Slim Goodbody helps children understand the value of manners and the essentials of behaving well in school, at home, and with friends. Manners make a difference in all aspects of a persons life. The way you present yourself often determines how others see you.”
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Squid and Pickles

by Jeff Dinardo (author), John Abbott Nez (illustrator)       © 2010

“Helen and Ethan have a big surprise planned for Roy. Will he learn that manners matter? Character concept: Respect: Use good manners.”

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I Can Follow the Rules

by Molly Smith (author), Julia Patton (illustrator)       © 2014
ISBN: 9781478804734

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If Kids Ruled the School

by Bruce Lansky (author), Stephen Carpenter (illustrator)       © 2004
SBN: 9780689032738

“This is one of the most popular collections of funny poetry for kids ever published. It’s a classic, because it’s the first collection of poems selected by kids! It includes clever creations from some of the most popular names in children’s poetry, including Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst, Bruce Lansky, and Jeff Moss. Humorous illustrations by Stephen Carpenter make this book even better.”

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Don’t Be a Cheater

by Matthew Hill, Anita Collins, Lisa Workman (authors), Chris Lewis, Shoua Vang (illustrator)     
  © 2012
ISBN: 1933101709The Peddlesfoots know that it’s only fair to play by the rules and not cheat…but one tough day, Scuff learns that there are opportunities to cheat EVERYWHERE. Can he stay strong and do what’s right by not cheating and always playing by the rules?



Finding Native American Day Resources

The fourth Friday of September is designated as Native American day.  What a great way to celebrate cultures and differences among your students.  Finding the “right” resources to use is sometimes a daunting task.  When evaluating resources  keep the following criteria in mind.

Relevant- Not all Native American tribes live in Teepees.  Select tribes that are close to your region or show a map to help students put it into context.

Appropriate- Will your students understand the information? Will it require additional background information to make sense of the topic.

Detail- Does the resources provide too much or too little detail?

Current-  Check your copyright dates when evaluating resources.  This will also help with bias most of the time.  This is a great lesson to teach your students as well.

Authority-  Who is the author?  Does the author have a bias or are they an authority on the topic?

Bias-  To often teachers are using resources that are biased.  It is important to discuss bias with your students. Does the resources make one culture appear better than another?

Try these resources with your students.

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Rourke’s Native American History and Culture Encyclopedia, Volume 1

ISBN: 9781604727074

Each volume contains information on a tribe or topic related to Native Americans.

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Homes of the Native Americans

by Colleen Williams (author)       © 2014
ISBN: 9781422288528
From the woodland tribes to the tribes of Mexico and the Caribbean and all the way to the Arctic, Native American houses reflected the environments in which various tribes lived. Furthermore, Native American homes also reflected the deep spiritual life of a people. The way in which they were built, the materials used, and even the direction the house faced was significant. This book provides an understanding of the different homes built by the Native Americansfrom longhouses to tepees to igloos to pueblos.


Supporting All Readers

By now, most school districts have given their pre assessments to determine proper placement in core subjects.  Using this data is key to instructing students at their level.  In grades K-3 students are learning read.  Once they have learned fundamental reading skills, students then are reading to learn. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what students want to learn.  Some students may be timid to express what they actually want to learn about.  Over time, if given guidance and opportunity a new world is open up to them.  Here are some suggestions to help your students become ready to learn.

Small group instruction- In lower grade level this is common practice.  However, this idea is valuable for all levels of instructions.  Students receive more individual attention on their level.  Whole group instructions is not always what’s best for kids.

Provide a variety of materials- Just because a student doesn’t like fiction, doesn’t mean they don’t like to read.  Nonfiction can be used to help develop foundational reading skills as well. Allow students to read nonfiction for fun!  Yes, I said for fun. Students should be able to read what they would like during free reading time.  Not everyone likes the same things so why force them to read the same thing.

Give students time to reflect-Reading and writing go hand in hand.  Have students keep a journal so they can summarize what they have read. Allow them to ask questions about what they have read.  Becoming critical thinkers is a valuable skill that develops over time.

Read to your students- Students need to hear how reading sounds.  Set aside a few minutes a day to read to your students.   This doesn’t mean you read an entire novel with your class, for upper grades.  Why not use a paragraph or two from a novel to introduce a new concept to your class?

Time- Not all learners progress at the same rate.  However, if given time students will become proficient in content. Also, give time for your students to connect with a book of their choice.

As you become more comfortable with these ideas, students will become confident in their skills as well.  By developing a nurturing environment with an attitude that all students can learn, students are well on their way to discovering what they want to learn.

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