Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ohio/Iowa Literacy Conference

Thank you for a WONDERFUL two days! I haven't finished uploading everything. My plan is to work on this tomorrow, Saturday, morning. :)

Reading Framework Download 

Reading Ideas

Higher-Order Question Stems

Chewy Louie Summarizing Lesson

Partner Template Download 

2nd Grade Writing Mini-Lessons

3rd-5th Grade Writing Mini-Lessons

Parts of Speech - in action

Parts of Speech PowerPoints

High-Frequency Spelling Words and Rimes

My Spelling Lists -- created from words from the link above

Spelling City Lists

Word Work Ideas

Making Words Lesson - EARTHWORMS

Reading Aloud Research

Foundational Skills Rubrics

Comprehension Strategies

Favorite FREE Websites:

Possible Small-Group Classroom Schedule AND Lesson Plan Format:

  • Since only 30 minutes is allowed for content, integration is done during ELA.
  • Link to Google Doc

Possible Whole-Group Classroom Schedule:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

We Are All Teachers of Reading and Writing: Let's be Extraordinary

Information coming soon ...

Teach Students to Read Like Writers

How do you teach students to find transitional phrases beyond first, next, then, or finally? Have them look for a series of words at the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma that they think MIGHT be a transitional phrase. Then, have them replace the words with first, next, then, or finally. If it makes sense, it's probably a transitional phrase. :)

The Three Little SUPERPIGS by Claire Evans has lots of wonderful transitional phrases. :) 

Teachers, if you haven't set up your FREE Epic account, you'll want to. All the books in the collections below are FREE for teachers. 

EPIC Books - Text Structures 

Compare and Contrast Text Structures:

Learn to Spell without Memorization

High-Frequency Spelling Words and Rimes

My Spelling Lists -- created from words from the link above

Spelling City Lists

Word Work Ideas

Making Words Lesson: Snowfall

 s o f l l n s w

Day One: Make and Sort Words
Day Two: Transfer Spelling

Make Words:
Interactive Website: (magnetic letters work too)
an, fan, fawn, lawn, law, low, flow, flaw, slaw
on, no, now, won, own, flown, flow, slow, snow 

Sort Words:
Words that end in -an
Words that have -aw in them
Words that have -ow in them
Ask students for other sorting ideas

Transfer words:
If you can spell ______, you can spell ________ and _______ …
Fan, span, Spain (talk about ai vs. ane), pain, rain, train, trained, trainer, training, retrain
Fawn, yawn, pawn, dawn, drawn, withdrawn (talk bout past participle … draw, drew, have drawn) Own, blown, flown, known (talk about past participle … fly, flew, have flown and know, knew, have known)

Nifty Thrifty Fifty:

I was beyond excited to find the PDF linked above because this PDF was uploaded by one of the authors. It's worth downloading and studying -- it will change how you teach spelling!


Friday, August 10, 2018

Creating a Schedule

Creating a schedule should be easy, right? In theory, yes  ... but we have to work with our team and special education department to make sure students receive services at a time that works for all of us. 

My second grade team sat down and came up with this schedule (which I LOVE) and Emalie Lindsey put it in Google Drive for us to modify. Collaboration makes for successful teaching, and we have to work smarter not harder. 

In my district, we have to have 75 minutes of math each day and 150 minutes of English/Language Arts. That means we integrate A LOT of content into our reading/writing lessons. We also add math and reading into our morning center time to make up any deficits. You'll notice that I don't have quite enough minutes on Thursday for math, but students will be engaged in math activities each morning during center time and will be doing lots of problem solving in the Exploratorium. 

As much as I love integrated curriculum and project-based learning, I do my best to do the "content" part of each unit at the specified time. That way students receiving services outside of my room receive the content inside of my room at the right time. I hope that makes sense! Lessons don't always "stop and end," but we still have to make sure we meet our set guidelines.

My "contracted" time is from 8:10-4:10 each day. I do my best to leave when I can each day, but right now I'm taking too much work home. I'm looking forward to being in a routine again. My goal is to work at school and focus on family at home. That means I often have a working lunch ... every minute counts!

I recently started changing my healthy eating habits to counter my eat what I want when I want summer. How many days does it take to make a habit -- 21? That's what I keep telling myself. By the time school begins, I should be well on my way ... Life is all about balance. Don't forget to take care of yourself during this busy season of life. You matter!

I'm looking forward to this year, and I hope you are too! Our students are counting on us. 

Happy back to school! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Las Vegas

Thank you for coming to my sessions! I have a lot uploaded already, but I need to upload information from several sessions. My dad and I had a wonderful time tonight, and we're so excited to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I have two math sessions on Friday and plans Friday night. My goal is to upload everything while I'm traveling home on Saturday. If you need something sooner, email me:  

I'd love to stay in touch on Twitter. If you follow me, I'll follow you back. 

Twitter:  Cheryl_L_Dick

See you next year and stay in touch! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Writing Mini-Lessons

If you can't find what you're looking for, email me: Thanks for coming to my session and for filling out the evaluation. :)

If you follow the link in SDE's handout, it'll take you to a post with more resources. I'll update this post tonight to add more.

30 Days of Mini-Lessons:

Writing PowerPoints: Link to download writing PowerPoints: 

Parts of Speech PowerPoints:

Morning Message Ideas: *For K-1, consider writing each sentence in a different color of marker so students can see when sentences start and stop. :) Extending the morning message idea came from the book, Beyond Morning Message by Valerie Schifferdanoff.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

NOLA -- Fun Times!

I have so many wonderful memories from my time in New Orleans this week. It was fun seeing old friends and making new ones! 

I ended up having a fun night out with friends which means I didn't get my work done, but it'll be here tomorrow. I leave for the airport first thing tomorrow, so I'm hoping to upload everything while I'm waiting to fly home. Check back  ... I haven't forgotten. 

Thanks for coming to my sessions, and stay in touch. Email if you need anything: 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Critical-Thinking Handout

Link to handout:

Comprehension Strategies

Link to [free] Chewy Louie Summarizing PowerPoint:

Link to [free] Conversation Journal:

Hands-on Science Ideas

Science Picture Books:

New Orleans

Thanks for coming to my session! I'll upload everything from today when I get back to my room tonight. If you can't find what you're looking for, email me: :) 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Best Worst Video -- 7 Continents

Haha -- this video always makes me laugh out loud. Seriously.

I teach with Emalie Lindsey, and she said, "You HAVE to show this video to your class. It's the best worst video ..." I'm glad I listened to her!

So many of Mr. DeMaio's words were repeated in my classroom -- all year long. Plus, the students learned the location of all of the continents. EVERY time my students heard the word Africa, they broke out in song.

Here are some one-liners that are simply forever stuck in my head ...

"Seven, seven, seven on a hot dog seven ..."
"Top bunk, bottom bunk ..."
"You're up ... like you're up..."

Once you watch it, you'll understand. This may be my all-time favorite teaching video. Just remember, you've been warned -- this may just be the best worst video you've ever seen.

You might want to follow Mr. DeMaio on YouTube and Twitter to keep up with his latest work: :)


Friday, May 25, 2018

Make Time for Writing Conferences -- It's Worth It!

The Writer's Workshop framework is my favorite way to teach writing, and it's so easy to do! You simply model a mini-lesson (write aloud) for about 10 minutes a day -- allowing one minute per year of age is a good rule to follow for the mini-lesson time. Then, students write. While they're writing, you confer with them. 

I like to pull about six students to my table at a time. I ask each one to share something with me, and I use that writing in our conference. The other students are writing while they're waiting, but they're listening too. 

Below is a 30 second excerpt of a three minute conference. Before you guide a student to fix something, be sure to say something nice about their writing. This is a great time to strengthen relationships with students. 

Try to guide students to fix their own mistakes, and don't correct everything on the page. The only time I correct everything is for a focused piece that I'm assessing for grade-level work. 

Feel free to comment with any questions you have. Some students learn to read by reading. Some students learn to read by writing, and some students learn to read through word work. It's important to include all three components in your English/Language Arts block.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer 2018

I'm on Day 2 of Summer Break, and my mind is already spinning with ideas for next year. I just finished my 25th year teaching -- there was a time I thought I would take early retirement and finish out my career presenting full-time. Now that the time has actually arrived where that could be a possibility, I can't imagine leaving a job I love, and I'm nowhere ready (or old enough - ha!) to retire.  I've been blessed to have the opportunity to present in 35 states and two other countries AND to work for a school district that allows me the opportunity to present and teach simultaneously. 

If you're in the New Orleans or Las Vegas area this summer, I hope you can come to one of my sessions. When presenting, my primary goal is to empower teachers to be effective without living at school. We can do our job well and have a life too. 

Presenting is my part-time job, so I spend the summer preparing to present. That also gets me ready for a new school year and helps you too because I'll post everything I do here. I front-load my year so I can leave after the buses on most days. For real -- we can leave at 4:10 each day, and generally, that's when I do, and I rarely take work home. 

I was bound and determined to finish the 2018 year without crying. My class agreed not to talk about the last day of school even though we did an ABC countdown. The countdown gave them something to look forward to every day, and we talked about the happy/sad ending to the year. At morning meetings, students could share a high/low for the day. Many students would say, "I can't share my low..." Three or four students later, someone would say their low was that school was almost over, and the whole class would pretend to cry. 

When the last day finally arrived, we were busy cleaning out desks, playing in water, and just enjoying school. They went to lunch and had just a few minutes to spare before the dismissal ritual began. I told them to enjoy summer, that they would always be my 2nd graders, and that they were always welcome to come back to visit me. Then, they got their normal high fives, fist bumps, or hugs at the end of the day.

As we were walking down the hall to the buses, I noticed one of my girls had her head down where I couldn't see her eyes. What I saw was gigantic tears splashing on her t-shirt. This is the same girl who wrote a "You Rock" note to be read aloud to the entire school just a few days before. The note said something like, "Mrs. Dick rocks because she makes me feel smart." I did my best not to cry, but I wrapped this little girl in  a hug and cried too. 

We spend a year with these littles and fall in love with them a little more each day. Then, we send them on to be loved by someone else knowing that they'll always have a special place in our hearts. 

There's so much more to teaching than teaching. It's about empowering students to feel smart so they can conquer the world. It's about building relationships with the students and among the students. Kids need to play. Kids need to be loved. Kids need to know that they matter. Yes, they need to read and do math too, but it's so much easier to teach when their basic needs are being met. 

We are making a difference in the lives of children. What we do matters. I hope you take time to reflect, renew, and rejuvenate this summer. August will be here before we know it. 

Be sure to check back to my blog. I'll be updating the posts below this one over the next few weeks. If you need information sooner, email me or comment below. 


The First 30 Days of 2nd Grade

Monday, June 12, 2017

First 30 Days in 2nd Grade

If you want help setting up a classroom blog, I'll be happy to help! Be sure to check with your school before posting pictures of students. Most schools have policies that you must follow. We can do this during lunch or right after the session on Friday. 

Differentiate Instruction without Centers

Link to handout:

Mini "Math"terpieces - Measurement & Geometry Activities

Link to handout:

Link to bottle-flipping data sheet (shared with permission from Heather Michel):

Pinterest Board:

20 Strategies to Help Your Students with Complex Text

This is a preview of what we'll talk about. I will upload more information on Friday night or Saturday. Email if you need something sooner: Thanks! :)

Let's Have a T.E.A. Party - Teaching, Engaging, Assessing

Link to handout:

The 2nd Grade Make-and-Take to Differentiate

Link to free download:

Making the Most of Math Centers

With this small-group math framework (above), students are placed into math groups by the teacher and rotate through stations at the same time with students that have similar learning needs. Each group meets with the teacher each day, and the teacher differentiates based on learning needs.

*This framework inspired by Laureen Reynolds Creating Classroom Centers online class:

With this small-group math framework(above),  students are placed into random math groups. Since they work independently on most items, they don't need to be placed in homogeneous groups. They also work at their own pace. The center choices are differentiated as some students may be doing addition/subtraction number bonds while others are doing multiplication/division ones.

The teacher pulls flexible groups based on data while the rest of the class works through their designated stations for the day. The students' station choices change each day, and on Fridays, they either work on unfinished station work or they have free choice from any of the items on the board.

If starting with 16 centers adds stress to your day, start with less and build up to 16. ThatQuiz, FrontRow, and SumDog are free sites. My school pays for Study Island. Be sure to model each center before expecting students to work independently at them. 

Whatever framework you choose, be sure students have computation practice, problem-solving practice, and a chance to review previously taught items each day in your math lesson.

It's easier to pull flexible groups based on data in the 2nd example because you simply call students to your table based on learning needs. You may pull some students from the green group, some from the blue, and some from the orange for subtraction practice. They stay with you as long as they need to, so they may not get a chance to work through their stations. That's okay -- we're looking for mastery. The extra time spent with you may give them the time needed for mastery. 

Number Bonds
Free Downloads of self-checking multiplication/division and addition/subtraction at PD sessions. :)

Math Talk:  What math problems could be written for the pictures shown below? (FYI -- The young man throwing the oars out of the boat was the last one to fall out. You'll see his feet in the 2nd photo. He's also my oldest son, JT.)

The young man in the top hammock is my youngest son, Kyle. My boys sure didn't get their adventurous spirit from their momma. :) 

Making 10s Card Game Directions:  Remember to remove the face cards and 10s if you're using cards. You can also split the deck in half. You'll end up with two of each card instead of 4. 

This works if you remove all the 10s and face cards so students are always covering two cards that equal 10. You can also split the deck in half leaving 2 of each card. It still works! Model Drawing Directions

Differentiate Reading in a Whole-Group Setting

Reading Response Ideas:

It's a Plan! Integrating Technology into Your Lesson Plans

Squeezing in More Reading with Social Studies and Science

Link to Handout:

Vocab in Motion -- Learning Chants
How Government Works - Matthews Elementary 2nd graders from City Of Nixa on Vimeo.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Making Words Lesson - Earthworm

This Making Words lesson has four parts. It generally takes me two days to do Making Words.

1. Make your own words. 
2. Make words together. 
3. Sort words made together. 
4. Transfer the spelling of words made together to other words.


1.  Open this site on the SMARTBoard:  Students do the same on their Chrome books.

2. Instruct students to move these letters over to the refrigerator:
a, e, o, h, m, r, r, t, w

3.  With these letters, let them try to spell as many words as they can. They can write down their words in their working with words notebook or on a whiteboard.  Collect a few of their words and add them to chart paper.

4.  Make words together.  Say:
  • Take three letters, spell the word hat. Add a letter, spell the word hate. Rearrange those letters, spell the word heat. Add a letter, spell the word heart. Use four letters from that word to spell the word hear. Remove a letter, spell the word her. 
  • Take three new letters, spell the word the. Add a letter, spell the word them. Remove a letter, spell the word hem. Change the vowel, spell the word ham. Add a letter, spell the word harm. Change one letter, spell the word hare (rabbit). 
  • Take three new letters, spell the word arm. Add a letter, spell the word warm. Add an ending, spell the word warmer. Rearrange those letters to spell something that means to warm again (rewarm). Remove the prefix (re), and add two letters to the end of the word to spell warmth.  

5.  Sort the words. All of the words won't fit into a neat little category, but sort what you can. Let students come up with categories. They can do this in their working with words notebooks. Some categories could be:  words that start with h, words that start with he, words that have short vowel sounds, words that have long vowel sounds, words that have warm in them ...

6.  Transfer the spelling from one word to lots of others. If you can spell warmth, you can spell sixth and growth. If you can spell rewarm, you can spell reheat. You can also spell redo. If you can spell heat, you can spell wheat, treat, and defeat.  You'll transfer the spelling based on the categories created by the students in the word sort. This is the application piece, so don't cut this short. :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

San Marcos

I hope everyone enjoyed the conference! I think I have uploaded everything to my website. If you can't find something, email me:  Thanks so much for coming to my sessions!

Making 10s Card Game

This works if you remove all the 10s and face cards so students are always covering two cards that equal 10. You can also split the deck in half leaving 2 of each card. It still works!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Digital Writing for the 21st Century

Less is more. It's not about how much technology you use. It's about how you use technology. Download this poster to learn more:  FREE Digital Poster from ISTE. 

If you're familiar with the ideas in the cloud below, I've linked a 2019 website that has 75 ideas.

Technology and Writing:  Review of Research (2019)

75 Digital Tools (2019)

DI Strategies for Math and Reading

Link to handout:

Differentiating for Special Populations

Food Matters! Brain-Smart Food

Information from this session will be found at this link. If you need information sooner, please email me:


More resources:
Get Moving:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Project-Based Learning - Soil

I've been working on how to EFFICIENTLY create PBL units that my 2nd graders will enjoy doing -- while learning at the same time.  The Garden Challenge is a work in progress that I started today. I'm sure it will grow and change over the next few weeks when I implement it in the classroom. I think it's ready to go, so feel free to use/modify if you'd like. Let me know if you find typos or have suggested changes. :) Thanks! Be sure to check back to see how this turns out.

 Link to PBL Garden Challenge: has some excellent articles that can easily be added into ELA instruction. These are the ones I assigned to my class:

Update on the project:  I ended up jigsawing the types of soil. Students also used KidRex to search because they didn't  more information than we could find in Epic books.