Friday, June 26, 2015


Do you have students who can tap out each sound in a word but cannot put it all together to make a word?

Do you have students who sound out words when writing but miss sounds and put the sounds in the wrong order?

What about children who only hear the beginning and final sound?

Every year I am surprised by how many first graders are not yet able to do these things.  I have more than a handful that cannot rhyme as well.  Some can hear rhymes but cannot produce them and others just cannot rhyme.

Will this effect their reading and writing?  Absolutely.

 These students are lacking phonemic awareness.

Before children learn to read print, they need to become aware of how the sounds in words work. In the same way we have students orally rehearse their stories before writing children need to work with phonemes, or sounds, before attaching letters to them. This is phonemic awareness.

 Phonemic awareness is essential for beginning readers and must be systematically taught. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes, or sounds. All this work can be done in the dark – with no letters attached. Without phonemic awareness, phonics makes no sense.   Phonemic awareness is an excellent predictor of reading success and it must be explicitly taught. 

"One of the most compelling and well-established findings in the research on beginning reading is the important relationship between phonemic awareness and reading acquisition." (Kame'enui, et. al., 1997)

"The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (phonemic awareness)." (Lyon, 1995).

The skills required for phonemic awareness are:

  - Identifying sounds - Although there are 26 letters in the English language, there are approximately 40 phonemes, or sounds, in the English language. Sounds are represented in 250 different spellings, for example,  /f/ could be ph, f, gh, or  ff.

 -Rhyming - Students need to identify if words rhyme or not.  They should be able to produce a rhyming word from any given word. (The latter is typically the more difficult task.)

 - Syllable awareness - Being able to count how many syllables are in a word and manipulating one of the syllables (e.g.: "Say insect without sect.  In.")

 - Compound Word - Building of and deleting one of the words that creates the compound word.  Building:   Teacher says, "Butter" and  pauses, then says, "Fly".  Students say, "Butterfly."
Deleting:   Teacher says, "Say skateboard without skate."  Students say, "Board."

 -Onset/rime manipulation - The onset is the part of the word before the vowel, however, not all words have onsets. The rime is the part of the word including the vowel and what follows it.
Teacher says, "Rab" and pauses.  Then says, "Bit".  Students say, "Rabbit."
Teacher says, "Say dentist without den."  Students say, "Tist."

 -Beginning, final and medial sound isolation - Singular phonemes and digraphs

Children can first isolate an initial sound, followed by the final sound.  Isolating the medial sound usually comes last.  Isolating digraphs is an easier skill than isolating blends.

 -Blending and segmenting phonemes- Blending means putting the sounds together.  (Ex.: /c/ /a/ /t/, cat)
Segmenting is the act of isolating each phoneme in a word.

 -Manipulating phonemes by adding, substituting, or deleting sounds -  The most challenging of  the phonemic awareness task is the ability to manipulate or work with individual sounds in spoken words. Children who can think about and manipulate phonemes become better readers and spellers. They distinguish and remember words that are similar such as spray and may and spring. Manipulation tasks include addition, substitution, and deletion.

Performance on manipulation tasks such as substitution "have yielded strong predictions of, or correlations with, reading achievement." (Lundberg, Olofsson, and Wall, 1980; Mann, 1984; Rosner and Simon, 1971)

Do you teach this important skill?  If not, that is probably what is missing for your at-risk readers.  As a reading specialist who worked with 3rd-5th graders who were below grade level, 80% of them did not have phonemic awareness. It makes sense that they could be close to or even on grade level in the primary grades but once words got larger with more irregularities, they had no clue how to attack these words.  Even though they were taught phonics, they did not have the foundation for it - phonemic awareness.
When I returned to the classroom eleven years ago, I made sure that I spent ten minutes a day teaching phonemic awareness. That short amount of time has been worth it, for sure.  Over this time I have created a phonemic awareness curriculum.  It has been modified and adjusted until now.  I am slowly publishing it on TPT.  The first month is up individually and bundled.  The bundle is only 5.99 right now but will eventually be $30.00.  I will add each month to the bundle as it is published, which will be by December 2015.  Snatch it now for this super deep discounted price.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Colorado Teacher Meet-up and Giveaway

On May 30th some of the best Colorado TPTer's met to share ideas, resources, and lots of laughs.  Ashley Cook of Teaching in Bronco Country did an amazing, SUPERB job of planning and organizing this gathering.

Ashley with Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View

The Meet-up was at the Rio Grande Restaurant in Highlands Ranch, CO. The staff was so awesome in accommodating our group.
We started off the afternoon by getting to know each other and visiting with old friends.  I am always amazed at how much talent is in Colorado!  These ladies are smart, funny, and kind! 

I sat by the hysterical Deedee Wills, who just moved to Colorado.  We all know she is super-talented and smart but who knew how funny she is?!?

Check out all the prizes:

Here I am with Sara, from Mrs. P's Special Education Classroom, whom I love.  We will be rooming together at the TPT Conference in Vegas next month.

And then we went home with these goodies:

Thank you to our donors:

Learning Resources

Little Knits Studio

Lakeshore Learning



Go Noodle

Learning Expeditions

Gifts by Gaby

Classroom Friendly Supplies

We appreciate you!

You can win one of our swag bags here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now join the fun and hop on to the next blog:

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Splish-Splash! It's a Summer Time Blog Bash!

Summer is almost here!  What better way to celebrate than with a fun blog hop!  I am joining Rachael from The Classroom Game Nook for this exciting hop!

The blog hop will run from May 25-29. Follow along, collect freebies, sign up to win some great prize packs, and hear what everyone is doing this summer.
My store is 20% off throughout the blog hop, too.  Stock up for next year with great savings.

This year I created a new product series called I am Reading.  These packs have raced to the top and are becoming one of my best sellers.  They include Lexiled fiction and nonfiction passages along with comprehension activities.  Each passage has the word count on them so you can check fluency rates as well.  This freebie is a sample of what the packs look like.

You could be the winner of one of my best selling Nonfiction News-Close Reading and Writing packs.  Just enter with the Rafflecopter below.

The winner will get to choose from one of these packs:


My entire shop is on sale during the blog hop so go grab so discounted products here.

Summer is my favorite season!  I adore hot, sunny days.  I even love humidity!  I cannot wait to have all day to enjoy the weather!

I have a long list of books to read that I've been collecting throughout the school year.

I love spending lazy days at our community pool.

I'm headed to New York in June!  I cannot wait.

My family is going to Cape May, NJ, the last week of June.  I love this old, historic town.

I'm heading to Las Vegas July 8th to attend the TPT conference.

I LOVE the summer!  What are you doing this summer?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cannot Wait for the Blog Hop

Something VERY exciting is about to happen here in blogland!

As a way to kick off the end of school and the beginning of summer, 40+ bloggers and I are doing a FABULOUS blog hop beginning  on Memorial Day, May 25th.
You will be able to grab all sorts of freebies and enter to win some amazing prizes (and maybe find a new blogger or two to follow!)!    Each blogger is giving exclusive freebies to all of our hoppers (that means YOU!) as well as a chance to win some of their best products!  You will NOT want to miss this week-long event.

So mark your calendars - Beginning at 9am (EST) May 25  you can start here.    Then you can hop off to pure summertime bliss for our SPLISH SPLASH:  It's a Summertime Blog Bash!  Invite your friends to the party as well!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If You Give a Teacher a Gift Card

I know I am a little late on this but I've just come back from a week in Florida where my 16 year old daughter competed in The Cheerleading Worlds.  They ended up in 6th place.  Their goal was to make it to Day 3 - Finals.  They surpassed that goal and got 6th out of 78 in the World!!! So proud of all of their hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Here are some highlights:

So much fun...
Teacher Appreciation Week is just around the corner and the bloggers at my collaborative board  iTeach First want to show you a little love!  We are having a giveaway!  You could win one of four $25 gift cards. would you spend your gift card?
If you give a teacher a gift card from Amazon, she will probably look at clothing/shoes first.  She will  find an adorable outfit, but then question whether she deserves it.
Then, she will look at perfume/beauty products and think the extravagant price tag could be put to better use.
Next, she will look at some toys for her children, but think she really needs some smelly markers and books for her classroom.
So that fabulous teacher will spend her gift card on her students.

Enter to win a $25 gift card to some of our favorite places on the iTeach First blog.