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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-automaticity 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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*Must be "Following/ Subscribed" here AND on the Secret Stories Blog to win*
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And also, congratulations to Marissa, the winner of the SECRET STORIES Class Set from the initial July post (prior to Rafflecopter availability :)

58 comments:

  1. I used many of your secret stories last year, Katie - I got a late start. My kindergarteners ate them up! I appreciate the chance to win your set!! Can't wait to begin at the beginning!

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    1. So glad you started them, late in the year or not, as every Secret you gave them is "one more tool" they'll have to bring with them to first grade!

      (You will be absolutely floored with what they can do if you do start them at the beginning of the year though :)

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  2. I really like these ideas of combining learning, it seems to be a more natural way.

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    1. Actually, that's the key to using the Secrets, as once told, they exist only as "keys" to unlock all "existing" reading and writing activities!

      The biggest misconception is that the Secrets are a "program" or phonics series.... they are actually the furthest thing from that.

      They're just an invaluable set of "keys" that learners can immediately own and access for everything ELSE they're engaged in throughout the day. In this way their use is always "learner-driven," which is just so important for total engagement, from a brain-based end.

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  3. Interesting concept. Glad I came across your blog!
    Burke's Special Kids

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  4. I just read about your Secret Stories and they seem absolutely fabulous! I would LOVE to use this with my Kinder students this year!

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  5. I would LOVE to win a SECRET STORIES Classroom set to start off the year!

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  6. These look really cool. I think they would be perfect for my class!

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  7. Love! Love! Love! Can't wait to try these with my kinders!

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  8. Wow... what a fabulous prize! Would love to win and use these with my firsties! Thank you for the opportunity!

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  9. I love reading your posts! Thank you for bringing up the idea to use your Secret Stories along with the Chit Chat units! :)

    Breanne

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    1. I am actually excited to start posting about how to use the Secrets in conjunction with other units of Mrs. Jump's, as well. I think it really helps to perceive their "use in-context" more so than simply discussed in isolation... especially for those who may not be familiar with the SECRET STORIES strategies at all.

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  10. I would love to win a set of the Secret stories as well as another Chit Chat unit of yours! Will not be able to purchase one for a good while, this would be great!

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  11. Looks like a great way to teach my first graders :)

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  12. I am constantly floored by the creative, amazingly talented people that share my profession. You guys are amazing. Thanks for making us all look so good and giving us such valuable tools to engage our students with. I LOVE it!!!

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    1. Thanks so much for that, and I'm sure that Mrs. Jump would agree that what we create is only as good as the teachers who use it and make it their own... like all of those here on this blog!!

      I am always so impressed with ideas that teachers share with me at conferences about how they, personally use the Secrets.

      After talking to so many teachers at the various grade levels, as well as those working with various exceptionalities and student populations, I know that the Secrets are by far the most effective when "steeped in the pot of teachers' own expertise!"

      So, thank YOU for making US look so good!!!
      :)

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  13. I would love to win the secret stories set and a chit chat unit! Love your blog!

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  14. I love that I have been using morning (Chit Chat) messages and now the opportunity to fully incorporate the Secret Stories will make for powerful learning.

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  15. I used the morning chit chats and both non-fiction chit chats last year. My students loved them. They learned so much. I would love to win the secret stories set and incorporate them with my chit chats.

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  16. This would definitely help me out as a first year teacher!!

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  17. LOVE this! I'm switching to kindergarten from 2nd this year and am very excited. I would love this set!

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  18. Ok would love to try This out in my classroom this year!!!

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  19. Since my daily schedule starts with literacy this year I love the idea of using the Chit Chats to start my day. It's great how the Secrets are embedded in them as well

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  20. Looking forward to using the Chit Chat series in my class this year!!

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  21. I would love to win this. These secret stories and chit chats are awesome. TY.

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  22. These look super. I love that you called them "secret"stories - so intriguing to the little learners!

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  23. So great for Kinders! Would love to win!

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  24. I would love to tell theses secrets to my kinders..

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  25. I am interested in reading more about the secrets, thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

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  26. Love your posts, so glad you are teaming up!

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  27. I love love love these! Can't wait to learn more!

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  28. Love the secret Stories. I had the pleasure to attend a presentation at the California kinder confer many years ago (2009). I love to win a set. I have a question for Deanna.... How are you handing (attaching) your stuff on your classroom wall? I also have brick/hard wall and so far I have to nail my stuff up. Thanks Frances

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  29. sorry... I meant hanging not handing ;/

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  30. So excited about these products AND the giveaway!

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  31. I just love all of the ideas. Thank you for sharing. vhair61215@gmail.com

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  32. I just purchased some of the chit chat packs and I can't wait to try them out!

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  33. Will the two of you be presenting together at any of the IRA or SDE conferences this year? If so, I would definitely fly into wherever you are speaking, as the rest of my K team to see you both.

    What a dynamic duo the two of you would make--- it would be 'standing-room' only!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, and I hope I do get the chance to meet up with you and members of your team at a conference this year!

      I'm not sure where Mrs. Jump will be presenting, or whether she will be at any of the IRA State Conferences, and I am still in the process of confirming my own speaking dates for this year. They will all be posted to the SECRET STORIES website, hopefully by end of summer. I do know that I'm not doing any of the SDE ones though.

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  34. Love that so many lessons are covered here.

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  35. I really, really want the bumblebee chit-chat!

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  36. I love these resources! Thank you for sharing them with us. :)

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  37. I would love to use these. I think the kiddos would really love them.

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  38. I love these! I bought some after the so. Cal conference last year, so I started mid way through the year. My question is as I start this year with the abc chit chat, should I just stick to the focus of the letter, or also find those secrets like 'al' in ball. Just not sure how much info is too much info at the start of the year.

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  39. I love your Chit Chat packs!! :)

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  40. Like with anything else, the bigger the picture, the easier it is to see!

    That's what the Secrets let you do... give learners the "whole picture" when it comes to the letters and the sounds they are "supposed to" but don't always make!

    Because the Secrets are NOT "taught" and are NOT presented as "skills" (nor practiced as such) you can share them freely, and without worry of overwhelming learners, even in preK.

    Having logical explanations to give students when letters deviate from the sounds you've ALREADY said they should be making allows critical thinking to become a part of the "reading and writing equation."

    Otherwise, this critical skill instruction is in isolation with no opportunities for learner-understanding beyond telling them, "It just is... It just does... You just have to remember...."

    When you actually stop and think about it, the first question out of learners' mouths (at least those who know the long and short sounds that 'a' can make) should be...
    "Hey! Why is that 'a' in the word "called" making the 'short o' sound?!!"

    ....And if that question is NOT asked, then learners are NOT critically thinking :)

    Great question!!

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  41. The Secret Stories seem like they would be great in teaching my first graders! I would love to win a classroom set! Either way, I'll keep up on new posts to learn more about it…Thanks!

    Also, the Chit Chat packs look like a wonderful resource!

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  42. Love The Secret Stories and Chit Chats!

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  43. I have an old secret stories it is not complete:-(. I would love to start the new year with a new one :-). I love chit chats!

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  44. LOVE LOVE your programs!! Great ideas!!!

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  45. Love both Secret Stories and Chit Chat!! Winning would be a great way to start the year!!! Thanks Ladies!!

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  46. I hope this doesn't post twice, but I love these resources! I would love to use them in my new classroom this year!

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  47. Would love both of these wonderful resources!

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  48. I LOVE all your resources! This set would be wonderful for my new kindergarten classroom!!

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  49. My kiddos will love this resource as much as I will! Have a great new school year! <3

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