Friday, July 29, 2016

Introducing Phonics by Design


I've been working all summer to put together my very own phonics program called Phonics By Design! I'm focusing on explicit, well-paced phonics instruction with plain & simple images and fonts. I've decided to offer each week of instruction as a "mini-unit" for teachers that are looking for a specific phonics element. Teachers who are looking for 3 to 6 weeks of instruction, perhaps for a certain RTI or guided reading group, can save 20-25% by purchasing a full unit. If you anticipate using this program for the whole year, you can save over 50% by buying into my Phonics By Design Growing Bundle right now! The price will go up as I finish the final three units, so buy now if you're interested. I know the bigger bundles are an investment, so I wanted to take you through a few aspects of the program step-by-step:

Direction Instruction

Each pack contains everything you need to explicitly teach the specific phonics concept. Each week, you'll introduce the new concept using pocket chart picture & word cards. After you model, you will lead the students through guided practice, and then they'll have a chance to try reading the new word type in context with fluency sentences. The fluency sentences are differentiated using visual cues and tracking dots for the earlier units. On the second day of instruction, you'll model how to sound out and spell the new words, and then students will have a chance to practice writing words and sentences from dictation. The dictation sheets are the same from week to week, so you can easily make copies in advance and keep them in student binders if you wish. 




Independent Practice

Each mini unit comes with a minimum of 8 independent practice pages. The practice pages start with a color-trace-write page with all the target words, which students can use as a reference if needed. This allows all students to complete these pages without teacher help, encouraging independence and allowing you to work with other groups if needed.


Matching Game


Each pack also includes a matching game! I find that students are most motivated to try to read challenging words in a game setting. Once you have taught the game once, students will be able to play it without any additional instructional each week. These matching games are also great for review, fast finishers, or to send home for family involvement!


Quiz & Flapbook


You'll wrap up each mini-unit with a simple quiz. Students spell 10 of the target words from dictation. Afterwards, you'll have each student read the words to you 1:1 to ensure they can both read and write the words. While you assess students 1:1, the other students will complete a sorting flapbook. These flapbooks can be printed on colored paper, or on white paper so the students can color them.


Posters
Each pack also  includes at least one poster pertaining to the specific phonics element being taught. If you purchase the Growing Bundle, you'll get a full set of phonics posters to hang in your classroom or use as anchor charts! You can also buy the posters separately if you would prefer. 

While each mini-unit outlines exactly how to use each resource, you can also pick and choose which aspects of the program work for you! Maybe you prefer the practice pages to be homework, or maybe you decide to use the pocket chart cards as a center. One of the things I love about this program is that everything is crisp, clean, and multipurpose! Nothing is seasonal, so the pieces can be used again and again. I personally use these units in my K-3 special education classroom, but they would also be well suited to a general education 1st grade classroom or RTI groups K-3. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Make A Pretty Desktop Organizer



I posted my new desktop organizer on Instagram this morning, and you guys were so sweet about it that I decided to write up how I made it in a post! First off, I definitely did not invent this idea! I was inspired by A Teeny Tiny Teacher and tons of others! But if you liked the specific look of mine, here are a few tips:

1. Find the resolution of your screen. If you have a 13" Macbook like me, it'll be 1280 x 800. Otherwise, go to System Preferences > Displays > Resolution: Scaled, and hover over the computer image to find out your resolution. If you don't have a mac, you're on your own :)


2. Open up Keynote (or Powerpoint) and make your document the same as your resolution. This will keep your background at the right proportions later instead of having to stretch it out to fit.

3. Find a cute desktop background you like! If you're a TpT seller, you probably have tons of digital papers lying around. If not, or if you're looking for something different, I suggest downloading wallpaper from DesignLoveFest's Dress Your Tech. They're free and so pretty! I looked for something not-too-busy so my desktop wouldn't look too crowded.

4. Insert your wallpaper into your Keynote document. You might need to stretch it a teeny bit to fit your document size.

5. Make your organization boxes. I used the rounded square shape and made four 280 x 280 boxes, and one larger 280 x 630 rectangle. Your measurement's will be different on a different computer, so play around and see what you like. I suggest leaving a good bit of space at the top and bottom, as this is where your dock and toolbar will be (on a mac, at least). Pick a color that complements your desktop background for your boxes. I decided to make mine blush pink and make that a little bit transparent so you could still see the wallpaper.

6. Make labels for your sections. I used gray washi tape from this Instruct & Inspire Kit, and I love how it turned out! You could also use ribbon or banner clip art, or just make your own using rectangles. Label whatever you choose with a cute font! I used Sugar Plum. I went with Clip Art, Social Media, Products, School, and Personal for my categories, but use whatever makes sense for you.


7. Go to File > Export To > Images, and save your image as a high quality .jpeg.

8. Right click your new image (which will be wherever you saved it to), and Ctrl-click to see your option. Click Set Desktop Picture. Because you created your file to the exact size of your screen, you should be good to go! If something doesn't look right, you can always go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screensaver and click Fit to Screen, which should do the trick!


I'd love to see your finished product if you try it out! Leave me a link or tag me on Instagram @thedesignerteacher!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Teachers Believe Black Lives Matter


Order your shirt here.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I support the #blacklivesmatter movement. I've always been involved in social justice causes, but I was surprised to find that I particularly identify with this one as a teacher. I've seen so many articles and comments about "slacktivism" and about how viral sharing and "awareness" campaigns don't do anything, and just exist to make the participants feel good. I think this is different. Because as a teacher, what we believe DOES matter. Because what we believe transmits to our students, and it is so so important for them to believe black lives matter, whether they are students of color themselves or not. When I attended a sit-in and march on Monday, I made my protest sign with that in mind.

I had a couple people on Instagram suggest that I make a T-shirt, and I loved the idea! After several hours trying to get that dang fist right in Keynote, I had it! I launched a T-shirt campaign with the goal of selling 20 T-shirts, with all proceeds going to Black Lives Matter. I'm so excited that after 12 hours, 9 have already sold! By ordering and wearing your shirt, you're showing your support both visually and financially. You can order your shirt here

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Phonics Units GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I'm so excited to introduce the first three units of my own phonics curriculum! I wanted to create a product that included everything you need for structured, multi-sensory phonics instruction. While there are a lot of phonics resources on TpT, I never found anything that truly suited all my students' needs. All of my units and mini-units feature crisp, recognizable images and clear, readable fonts. One of my biggest struggles as a diverse learners teacher is finding word work and fluency sentences that were actually appropriate for the skill being taught. For example, a student just learning the sh digraph isn't going to be able to read the word shark! The independent student work in my units only includes easily decodable words and beginner sight words. This curriculum could be used whole group for your phonic instruction, and would also work well for special education and intervention groups. To celebrate completing my first three units, I'm giving away a set for free! Enter above for a chance to win all three units-- CVC words, consonant digraphs, and consonant blends. That's 330 pages, 55 days of instruction, and a $22 value! You can check out the units below: