I am blessed to work in a district where intervention is a priority.  We work as a grade level team and as a school team to design the best instruction to meet the academic needs of all learners.  For 45 minutes on Tuesdays through Fridays, our grade level shares kids by academic need.  Some of our firsties are doing extension activities, some doing lit circles, some doing math skills, and some are working on basic phonics skills they are lacking.

Each student is placed in an intervention group based on district, school, and classroom data.  And, personally, I love our system....I'll be blogging more about this later!  But, for now, I'll just say that I love that every student doesn't have to be working on the same thing.  I love that decisions are made based on data we already have and I love that every group is different!

My intervention group is a Tier 2 intervention group.  They struggle.  For real.  We all have those babies, don't we?  It's not that they can't, it's just that it takes longer to say, "I can!"  I've spent some time playing around with the best way to intervene on this group's lack of phonics skills and I've failed...a LOT!

But I've also found a few successes this year too!  Here are a few of my RTI and intervention best practices for decoding and phonics!

Scaffolded Sound Lines
I use this in my intervention group AND whole group with my classroom during phonics instruction. And it has changed my spelling instruction!

First we use the total physical response and our fun "Break It Down" chant (read all that HERE).  As we break it down, we write lines for each sound as we say the sounds.

3 sounds = 3 lines

Then, we share the sounds...How many sounds did you hear?? "3!!"  And I answer with, "3 sounds, but 5 letters.  The first sound has two letters that make one sound and the last sound has two letters to make the sound."  Then I add lines like this...

Then, the kiddos spell the word.  In the classroom, it looks like this from my kiddos...
The visual is just so powerful.  Even my low intervention group friends spell 10 times better when they have their letter and sound lines drawn first!  And when we are spelling a new word, I INSIST they draw the letter and sound lines first!

Sound Sorting & Highlighting
Another intervention I use for kiddos having a hard time decoding words is sorting and highlighting.  It sounds so simple....and it's not a ground breaking idea or anything, but man is it effective.

We start by sorting words by sound feature.

Then, we highlight the feature sound.  During intervention groups, this means I am asking kids to tell me which sound pattern they see in the word and where they see it (beginning, middle and end).  I'm wanting kids to attend to chunks and patters and their location.  If we see previous sound chunks we've mastered (like blends, for example), we highlight those previous sounds in a different color.

Here's an example of the highlighting and color coding from a whole group activity.

This works really well for helping kids chunk.  Have a kids that decodes by saying the sound of every single letter?  B-R-I-N-G....Have them sort and highlight.  The visuals help train their brain to look for chunks and to see words as sequenced sound chunks.

Of course, just because a kid can sort and highlight doesn't mean he/she can READ and decode.  That's why it is super important to have kids read you their sorted words when they finish....or illustrate the words if that is possible.  When I do this whole group, I walk around and point to 2-3 words randomly and my firsties have to be able to read those words to me or they aren't finished!  When, I do small group intervention, each student reads each word to me...because at that level of intervention the time it takes is worth it!

You can grab a year's worth of phonics sorts for K-2 Phonics skills HERE!

Nonsense Word Games
Once kiddos can recognize visual patterns, they need to be able to apply those skills by decoding words with those sound patterns.  My wacky words game is perfect for this!

There are two versions of this game for 29 different sound patterns.  (If your district uses Benchmark Phonics or Phonetic Connections, these sound patterns are sequenced and aligned to this curriculum!)

The first version has pre-made words for students to read and sort based on whether or not it is a real or nonsense word.

The second version has onset and rime cards for each sound pattern.  We use the color coded cards to play games in small groups or intervention.  They can also be used for partners to play in literacy stations to reinforce the sound pattern you are working on whole group.

Students can also "play" this game with their own set of onset and rime cards.  They make an onset pile and a rime pile.  Then, build a word....

Then, they decide if the word is real or nonsense....

So....why the focus on nonsense words?  I've blogged about it before, but it's worth repeating: 

Decoding multi-syllable words requires kids to decode nonsense words.

For example, the word MASCOT can more easily be read by decoding each syllable.  Kids will naturally do this.  Problem is, each syllable is a nonsense word.


If kids have only been exposed to real words and not forced to see nonsense words, they will struggle decoding multi syllable words.

On top of that, when we make kids read nonsense words, like on the DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency test, we are making kids show us their decoding skills, and not letting them rely on their ability to memorize words.

So, yes, I was that person who hated DIBELS and thought the NWF test was pointless.  But not now. Not after this major aha this year.  I've spent more time focusing on decoding words--real and nonsense--and I've seen the payoff!

Need more RTI activities for literacy AND math?  Shop RTI materials HERE!
Two years ago, I bought The Truth in The Tinsel to help teach Cooper about the real Christmas story (read that HERE).  After our first Christmas with it, we loved it so much I knew we needed something for Easter too.   Since I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, I made my own!

Here's a look at our 9 days of Easter advent countdown!

First, I filled 9 eggs with a clue for each of our Easter story devotions.  We opened our egg each morning and then did the story in the evening before bed.  Cooper loved opening his egg each morning!

My Easter Sunday packet includes a "cheat sheet" with all of the egg clues, scriptures and crafts altogether on one page!

Once I had that printed and the daily devotions, we were ready to go! :)

Day 1: The Lord's Supper

Cooper loved having his "snack" while we read our Bible Story!

Day 2: Praise the Lord!

"It's a yeaf, Mommy!" I think opening his "twues" (clues) was his favorite part!

Day 3: Judas Betrays Jesus

Day 4: Pilate

This one was so much fun when we opened the egg and water spilled everywhere!! :)

Day 5: Jesus is Mocked
As you can tell from this stinky face...we are *thrilled* with the smell of vinegar, "that stinky stuff" as Cooper called it!  This was a stinky, but memorable clue! :)

After our scripture, we went outside and cut thorn branches from the rose bushes to make our own crown of thorns.

Day 6: Jesus is Crucified
This one took forever to convince Cooper that the clue was a nail and not a needle! LOL!

Day 7: Jesus Dies

This was our last day of Spring Break. After Cooper declared this a stay-in-your-pajamas day (what a nice way to spend the last day of break!), we spent the day digging with Easter eggs, building egg towers, and eating lunch out of Easter eggs. But most importantly, we ended the day remembering the Cross. Because, at the end of the day, nothing else really matters. Because, even in His darkest hour, He was fighting for me. And because, even in MY darkest hour, He is still fighting for me. Dying for me. Conquering death for me. All because of the cross.

That's one of the reasons I loved doing this advent so much.  There's no reason not to have fun with Easter eggs, but I sure did love the balance of both this year!

Day 8: Jesus Is Buried
Cooper loved this one!  He kept saying, "I am going to yock dis door weally tight so Jesus cannot get out!"  Oh, but wait, son....Sunday's coming! :)

Day 9: Jesus Is Risen

And here is the video of the entire story as told by my very sick, very hyped up from little sleep 3 year old! LOL!  My favorite quotes.... "THE Pilate," "Thorns made of crowns," and "The sun came up.  Yay!"

Easter Sunday School
Here's an oldie but goodie that we just didn't have time for in Sunday School this morning...but I haven't blogged about it before and it's just too fun not to share!  It's a great "substitute" sequencing activity if you don't have time to do the 9 day advent in Sunday School (or with your family!)

Instead, we went with a Pinterest inspired activity and added our unit Bible verse.  My kiddos had fun finding the words to our verse on their own.  I had precut the words and said each word and they went on a "hunt" for the words!

I think they turned out adorable and Cooper can even point and "read" his Bible verse to us now!

You can find detailed plans for all of these activities in my Easter Sunday Banner Packet!

Or get a full 5 week unit here!
One of the things I love about our Weather Unit is the awesome blend of literacy and science.  Literacy and social studies just seem a little easier and more natural sometimes.  But with the help of The Wizard of Oz, the blend of fiction reading and the science of weather is perfection!

We are reading a revised version of The Wizard of Oz and each of the first few chapters introduce one of the main characters.  I love to use this book to teach character traits, but this year, we added a little bit more technology into this project!

After each chapter focusing on a specific character, we worked at our table groups to "pass the pen" and brainstorm traits of that character {Cowardly Lion in this picture}.  

Then, I collected all 6 tables' character trait webs and we shared each one aloud.  As I read a trait from each group's web, we talked about whether or not we had read evidence from the text to support that trait... And with our "bubble test" coming up soon, I was so pleased with how well they were able to defend their character traits....or politely argue against someone else's trait!

As each trait was agreed on, I typed it into a wordle.  My kiddos were already familiar with wordles because we use them to brainstorm adjectives to describe our ranch hands/student of the week each week.  But they love them so much, that any excuse to tie in a wordle is good with my firsties! #easytoplease

I use abcya for my wordles.  One reason that I love this one (there are a ton of wordle sites out there) is because it's super kid-friendly.  Like my first graders can make their own wordles with very little guidance (but a lot of modeling) when we get to use our laptop set!  This time, I had our wordle this screen on our Smart Board so they were definitely more engaged in defending and politely arguing against character traits because they were dying to have their group's word added to our wordle! :)

Then, we click to turn our words into a wordle!  With a few adjustments on font and layout and color, we landed on some pretty perfect wordles!  Here are a few of our favorites....

After Spring Break, we will be using our knowledge about character traits and text evidence to decide which character said what!  And this activity was the perfect building block for next week's activity!  You can find the character trait webs and more in Wizard of Oz companion packet!

Since today and yesterday we've had the joy of experiencing 25 mph winds with gusts even higher than that, I thought it would be the perfect day to look back on last week's study on >>> WIND >>> from our latest Common Core Unit on Weather!

During writers' workshop we researched wind on PebbleGo.com and recorded our facts we learned.  

Then, we wrote to teach about wind!

During Readers' Workshop, we read the book, The Wind Blew.

I just love this book because it's so simple and so engaging. We read with the purpose of sequencing and predicting what comes next.  Because of the engaging nature of this story, the kids automatically start predicting which item will blow away next...even without prompting!

Then, for independent practice, students worked with partners to sequence the story and label each item!

This fun sequencing activity, plus the weather words booklet can all be found in my store's best seller, my Common Core Weather Unit!
If you are just catching up with my Sunday Open House Series, then here are the links for the other posts:
1. Kitchen
2. Curb Appeal & Landscaping
3. Dining Room
4. Fireworks (4th of July)
5. Blueprints
6. Back-To-School Decor
7. Cooper's Bedroom
8. Football Season Decor
9. Fall Decor
10. Christmas Decor
11. Easter Decor

So, when I was a little girl, I loved bunny rabbits.  Collected them.  Snowglobes, figurines, stuffies, didn't matter.  Had them all over my room.  Even had a bunny Christmas tree.  It was serious.

Aaaaannnd a little creepy looking back on it...:)

And even though I've cleaned through most of my old boxes of "bun-buns" as I so lovingly called them, I still just think bunnies are the cutest!

So, decorating for Easter with some more *modern* and updated bunnies around the house?? Yeah, it was a no-brainer!  Check out how we decorated for Spring and Easter!

First off, my husband is amazing.  Not only has he built countless furniture pieces or decorations for our house, but he has started making wood cutouts to sell.  I love the way my monogrammed carrot turned out on our front door!  It will be perfect all Spring!

Order your own door hanger HERE!

Our cheerfully spring mantel!

Another custom cutout from my talented hubby.  Check out his website to order!

This garland was super easy and I love all of the textures.  I combined a few ideas from Pinterest to make this just right for my taste!

Burlap + felt bunnies + yarn pom poms = perfection!

And somehow I stumbled upon these adorable dishes with, of course, bunnies!
White Mikasa Plates: wedding gift 10 years ago
Bunny Damask Salad Plates, Set of 4: Williams Sonoma, current
Jute Placemats: Walmart, current

Easter Eggs: Hobby Lobby, current
He Has Risen Sign: Hobby Lobby, current
Blue Bird: Hobby Lobby, current

We were SOOO excited to pick our first jonquil from our very own batch we planted last fall! Yay for the first sign of Spring!

Green Moss Bunny: Hobby Lobby, current 

The easter egg clues are all ready for our Easter Advent Activities we will be starting Palm Sunday weekend!

And how could I say no to the adorable tea towel to match my dishes!

This is one of the few bunnies I saved from my childhood collection.  And the only one that was "classy" enough to put out! Ha!  But I think she turned out cute in my lantern!
Carrots: Hobby Lobby, current 

And the farm table decor box...this is seriously one of my favorite things my husband made because it is so versatile!  Order one HERE.
Carrots: Hobby Lobby, current
Speckled Eggs, multicolored: Hobby Lobby, current
Mini-Tulips: Amazon

Those Easter Advent Activities I mentioned earlier?  Here's a look at our plans.  Our little guy is going to love making his own Easter decorations and I can't wait to hear him tell the whole Easter story!
Bring on Easter!

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