Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chit-Chatting About the Secrets!

Imagine you're a beginning learner in Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade, and you're told the grown-up Reading & Writing Secret about a and l and the sound they make together in a word...
A and L love balls!
ALL balls... 
Footballs, baseballs, basketballs, volleyballs... 
ALL balls, ALL the time!!
Click for previous SECRET SESSION post!
Armed with this new reading and writing tool, you naturally begin looking for opportunities to use it- not in a workbook or on a skill sheet, but in real life like grown-ups do! 

Take a moment and look around wherever you happen to be. Do you see this Secret anywhere?   Maybe on a newspaper headline or a magazine cover?  Now imagine the "text-rich" environment of your classroom.... opportunities for spotting this and other Secrets are literally EVERYWHERE!

I'm often asked to create SECRET STORIES™ practice pages and skill packs targeting individual Secrets, but aside from the few I've done for the 'foundation' Secrets (i.e. Secrets of the Superhero VowelsSpotting Secrets, and Beethoven Blends) I've never felt this was necessary.

The best way to hone skills is to use them, and the best use of the Secrets is for real-life, learner-driven purposes in daily reading and writing. Applying the Secrets on workbook pages can't compare to applying them to the reading and writing activities that take place across the curriculum and take up 80% of an instructional day!

And besides, there are so many outstanding and creative resources already available that offer natural reinforcement the Secrets....and I just happen to be writing this on the blog of one who has created some of the very best!!! 

Yep, you guessed it..... 

I want to share some of my favorites....

Chit-Chat Morning Messages on TpT!
One of the best ways to build learner-autoaticity with the Secrets is to provide rich, daily literacy experiences and activities that spur learners' interest and curiosity so as to inspire their use!

Mrs. Jump's Chit Chat units accomplishes this in SPADES!!! They are interactive frameworks for learning that are flexible and open-ended, and thus serve as ideal "springboards" for multi-purpose learning! 

Here's why I like these so much-

1.  The consistent, yet flexible format makes for easy differentiation!

The consistent, and yet flexible format of the activities makes it easier for beginning learners to "multi-process." The open-ended format encourages learners to simultaneously apply the Secrets they know in-conjunction with the individual letter/ sound skills being targeted (i.e. writing additional words that "start with the letter B" and contain one or more Secrets).

Combing both skill-sets for one purpose allows learners to more fully engage with the actives, while naturally reinforcing integration of both skill-sets (i.e. use of the individual letter sounds and Secrets, simultaneously, rather than acquire/applying one skill-set before the other). The result is a natural differentiation for a variety of skill-levels and instruction.

Mrs. Jump's "Chit-Chat Morning Messages" on TpT!
I especially love Mrs. Jump's Non-Fiction Chit Chat units (below)
as these "content-rich" platforms naturally motivate learners to apply all of their Secret skills! 

2. The rich, informational content combined with vivid photographs and realistic illustrations inspire learners to read and write!

The interactive, instructional-framework of the Non-Fiction Chit-Chats connects high-interest, non-fiction concepts to what learners already know and understand, both equipping and motivating them to "dig deeper" and learn more! 

Whether sparking an interest that inspires further reading, or planting the seed for an exciting, new writing idea, the Chit-Chats provide learners with limitless opportunities to put the Secrets they know to use! 
Click for Mrs. Jump's Non-Fiction 'Zoo/ African Animals' Chit Chat Messages on TpT!
Click for Mrs. Jump's Non-Fiction 'Insect' Chit Chat Messages on TpT!
3. The Secrets are hiding behind every corner! 
More than anything else, what I love most about the Chit Chats is that they clearly demonstrate to learners the power that comes with knowing the Secrets. 

For beginning learners, being able to figure out new words on their own and write the words they want to say (regardless of whether or not it's one of ten 'prescribed' sight words!) is an empowering feeling.  And it's this "power over text" that ignites learners' desire to read and write MORE!  

The better we are at something, the more we like to do it... and the more we do it, the better we get...
and the better we get, the more we want to do it....
The worse we are at something, the less we like to do it... and the less we do it, the worse we get....
and the worse we get, the less we want to do it....

Got the idea?

The Chit Chats literally contain Secrets around every corner, on every page! Each interactive activity offers abundant opportunities for introducing new Secrets, as well as revisiting and reinforcing old ones! 

Can you spot the Secrets on this page from Mrs. Jump's Non-Fiction Chit Chat unit below?  
(HINT- I've included some "Secret" visual clues to help you spot them!)

Click for Mrs. Jump's Non-Fiction 'Insect' Chit Chat Unit on TpT 
Remember to post comments or questions here or on my blog for entry in this month's drawing for a Free SECRET STORIES Classroom Set ....... and thanks to Mrs. Jump) a FREE "Chit Chat" unit to go with it!!!  PLUS!  You can earn 2 additional entries by following our FaceBook Pages! 
Just use Rafflecopter Below!

I'll also do a separate drawing for a second SECRET STORIES™ set for all those who'd commented on my previous July posts here and on my blog before installing Rafflecopter. You are welcome to participate in this one too if you'd like :)

Until Next Time,
For the latest brain-based teaching ideas and other fun (and FREE!!!) teaching stuff,  click here!
PS  You are also invited to follow me on any or ALL of the following for the best FREE brain-based teaching "tools & tricks" (plus LOTS of other fun teaching stuff!!! :)




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Friday, July 25, 2014

Math and Writing units on Sale! Christmas in July

Today is the last two days of our Christmas in July sale.  Can you believe it?  July is almost over!!

Click on the image above to see what's on sale then get out there and enjoy the sunshine!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christmas in July Days 9 & 10

For Days 9 & 10 of my Christmas in July Sale I'm putting some of back to school items on sale.
Click on the image to see what's on sale.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday!

Hey Y'all!  Summer is almost over so I thought I'd share one of my favorite ocean themed books before the school craze sets in.   

My class loves this adorable rhyming book.

A little boy goes on an undersea adventure in his submarine...

and describes all of the animals he encounters using higher level vocabulary and rhyme.

All is well on his underwater adventure until he meets a SHARK!!!!!!

The kids made their own subs and ocean animal they would want to meet.
They had to create their animal and then use adjectives to describe it.
I love that all of their animals are completely unique. {NO Patterns and NO direction from me.  I just gave them construction paper and let them have a go at it}.
This made a super cute bulletin board display.

The sad news is that this book is out of print.  :(
Don't you just hate when that happens?  Gah!  That means crazy people are trying to sell a $12. book on Amazon for over $50.  What in the world!?

The good news is that this book is VERY similar to Rub a Dub Sub.  So if you don't have Rub a Dub Sub check you local library and if they don't have it then this one is a great alternative.

Alright, friends!  Enjoy the last little bit of Summer while you can because I hate to say it but it is almost over.  My grandbabies still live in Georgia and they go back to school NEXT week!  There is just something wrong about starting school when it is still July!  HELLO!?  I think schools go back earlier and earlier every year.  What happened to starting school after Labor Day?  

Christmas in July Days 7 & 8 Nonfiction Units

All of my nonfiction units are on sale today and tomorrow.
You can click on the calendar to see which units are on sale.
I'm in the process of going back and revising ALL of my older units so if you purchase one you'll want to make sure and keep an eye on it for the free updated revisions.
These are two of my newest units and they are my favorites! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vegas Blogger Meet up Pics, Thank You's and a Giveaway!


Our Teacher Blogger Meet Up was a HUGE success!! It was loud, it was crazy, and it was a completely full house, but that didn't stop us from having an incredibly fun time.  It was so nice to see familiar faces again and it was really nice to meet new friends as well!

Natalie from What the Teacher Wants is a fabulous photographer and she took over 200 pictures of the event and there's no way to showcase them all, but here are a few snapshots of the night.

Seriously, how much talent can we pack into one room?! There were so many teachers from all over the country - we even had teachers from across the world!!
(Shout out to our friends from Spain and Australia!)

*To see more pictures from the meet up, visit the 

I love all of these wonderful ladies who made this meet up possible and helped us line up such amazing sponsors.

(Not pictured: Kathleen Pedersen)

Besides meeting such amazing bloggers and teachers, the best part of the meet up was all of the amazing prizes that were donated from our sponsors! 

Here are all of our generous friends who offered prizes for our meet up:


Thank you to everyone who came to this event! We appreciate everyone who was able to come and mingle with us. We're already thinking about next year's meet up, so start saving your money for next year's Vegas meet up!!

Feeling sad that you couldn't join us this year?  {There's always next year!}  Wishing you could win some of these fabulous surprises? 

Well... as a special treat, we are giving away two Erin Condren gift cards!! Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

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