Brain Break Foodie Friday 10!!! Mushroom Cheesesteak Stuffed Bell Peppers!

A healthy option this week…looks yummy and easy…my favorites!!  Click on the pic to get the recipe from




Book Club! Running Record Resources!!

Running records are records of oral reading that inform reading instruction and show changes in reading behaviors over a period of time.  They are mandatory for planning your small groups/guided reading lessons.  For struggling readers, weekly running records will help in targeting areas for intervention.

There are even running record apps now that make the process effortless and also provide a way to record and save students’ oral reading.  Check them out here!

Here are some resources for your professional library on running records…

First up, one from the creator of running records, Marie Clay…who better to learn from than the creator??

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Next up, a book written by a teacher who shares her personal experiences on taking running records and using the information to improve students’ reading

0439077524Click the book for more information!

Lastly, running records aren’t just for elementary grades, here is a resource for using them in grades 5-8

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Running Records Made Easy…There’s apps for that!!

Great Literacy teachers use running records as ongoing formative assessment to determine students’ reading strengths and areas that need more instruction.  This will also give you a way to level students correctly and know when it is time for them to move up in levels.

Here is a comprehensive guide to running records.

Now thanks to modern technology apps have made running records a breeze!!

First up, for $1.99…(there is a free version that does not allow audio playback or emailing files)  With this app you can email the student’s oral reading record to yourself and create portfolios for students to demonstrate their oral reading growth throughout the year!!  LOVE!!


This App combines all the standard running record calculator and stopwatch functions with the convenience of audio recording playback. Flagging lets you quickly refer back to the audio of difficult sections of the reading for more accurate scoring.  With the push of a button, you will be able to see students’ reading rate, percentage of accuracy, and self-correction ratio. Running Records Calculator is designed to be used by any teacher who assesses students using running records.

Here is how easy it is to use:

1. Press START as the student begins oral reading.
2. Tap FLAG Recording to mark any audio you wish to refer back to after the reading.
3. Tap ∎∎ to pause for interruptions.
4. Press DONE when the reading is complete, then proceed as follows:
5. Press #Words and enter the number of words read.
6. Press #Errors and enter the number of Errors.
7. Press #SC and enter the number of Self-Corrections.

As you enter this data, the scores will be automatically calculated and displayed on your screen. You may re-enter any of the data at any time and refer to the audio playback as you wish.

Audio Playback

Once you have finished the oral reading with the student, you will be able to playback the entire reading session. Use the >> and << buttons to move from flag to flag in your recording. You will see a blue bar at the top of the display that represents the recording timeline. Black vertical lines over this bar represent flags in the recording. You can touch and drag the playhead along this bar to any time in the recording and press PLAY for playback.

Share Recording and Scores

After you have entered the number of words, errors, and self-corrects, press the share button to send yourself, administrator, reading specialist, or parents a report of the running record. The report includes an attachment of the audio recording as well as the individual scores for that assessment. Feel free to edit the body of the email, enter the student name, leave notes on progress, add the comprehension score, etc.

Next up, a free app that eliminates the needs for copies of running record forms!!  Grab your iPad & stylist and go!  LOVE LOVE!!!


This app provides embedded formulas for the accuracy and self-correction rate (no need for calculators!).  But, of course, the teacher does all the coding and analysis.  Once the running record is complete, it can be saved in a file or emailed.  In addition, the app records the student’s voice while the teacher simultaneously takes the record.  When replaying the running record, the oral reading and record are synced. 

Happy running recording!!


Use the Stages of Learning to define and meet students’ needs

The Learning Hierarchy as defined by Haring, Lovitt, Eaton, & Hansen (1978) has 4 stages: acquisition, fluency, generalization, and MM900283665adaptation.  Understanding these stages can help you determine how to instruct your students in the most effective and efficient way.


The student is… The teacher should…
  •  just starting to learn the skill
  •  not able to perform it independently
  •  not performing the skill with accuracy 
  •  model performing the skill
  •  think-aloud while demonstrating
  •  give student constant feedback for redirecting errors, correct performance, and effort


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurately performing the task, but slowly with too much wait time


  • create activities for the student to respond actively while you observe
  • offer opportunities for repetitive practice
  • if possible, document speed and/or number of correct responses and set goals for increasing both
  • give feedback on fluency and accuracy and encourage effort


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurately and fluently responding
  • unable to apply skill in various contexts
  • confusing the skill with similar skills


  • create tasks that require the student to  use the skill regularly in various assignments/activities
  • work with parent to share ways to apply the skill outside school
  • if confusing the skill, create practice activities that require the student to discriminate between the similar skills and when each should be used
  • give feedback to reinforce accuracy and redirect errors


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurate and fluent
  • able to apply task, but unable to modify the skill when necessary to fit new situations


  • assist the student in understanding the core element(s) of the task and possible situations for modification
  • create assignments/activities that require slight modifications initially, leading to greater modifications when appropriate
  • continue praise, corrective feedback, and encouragement

Once you have determined the stages your students have mastered, you can successfully cycle them through to the highest level of learning. The more frequently the students move through the stages, the more accelerated their learning will be!


Brain Research + Intervention = SUCCESS!!

I have to admit, I am obsessed right now with learning about brain research and how it can impact student learning in a positive way.  MM900234673Now,  teaching and learning have gone through MANY changes over time and the truth is that there is no perfect way to teach.  What we know about the realities of teaching today, we have to find is right for each student- and that varies of course tremendously.  What I do know is we definitely need to learn more about teaching according to the best way the brain receives and retains information.

After all, ALL students have a brain!!

Brain research done by Trachtenburg ( 1990) asserts using a whole-part-whole approach is the best way to connect the skills you need to teach to literature.  According to him, there should be NO isolation.  Unless students are connecting the skills to actual text, they will be less likely to make the transfer themselves.

So the whole-part-whole process can be used with any skill  for any small group or individual instruction/intervention and looks like this..

Start with a whole text.  Grounding your literacy experiences this way is the foundation of meaningful instruction.  The selected text could meet one of 2 goals.  (1.) It could be a book used previously for another skill that students are rereading for fluency and/or for running record information.  (2.) It could be the text you are using to teach the new skill, and you will have the skill or strategy rise from the book.

Focus on the reading skill you want to teach.  This should be a planned, explicit way of highlighting the specific reading skill the students need to learn.  For example, you may zero in on a phonics skill, text feature, or literary device students need to know.

Return to the text to apply the newly learned skill.  Now, students have the opportunity to immediately apply/practice/identify the newly learned skill in context.  This could be a new text, or a familiar one students have experience with.  The goal is to take everything you teach students about reading back to the text!  After all, that’s where they will need to use it, right?

This whole-part-whole method is ensures reading skills are taught in a meaningful, strategic way that takes into account the best way the brain receives and retains information.



Modification, Accomodation, or Intervention? HELP!!

These terms represent various ways we address the learning needs of our struggling students.  They are especially important when planning for Small Group instruction and Center activities.  It is vital to know the shades of differences between these terms to ensure you are maximizing your instruction without minimizing learning.

Notice the instructional purpose for each method…

ModificationWHAT content is taught

Modifications involve adjusting the content of your lessons in order for struggling students to be successful.  This may include lowering the degree of the challenge by adapting the complexity, length, or amount of learning.  BE CLEAR…this should only be done for students identified as Special Needs, and ONLY according their IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  Struggling students should be expected to accomplish MORE- not LESS- if they are ever going to make up for their deficiencies each year.  So in the case of a Regular Education students this is a NO-NO!!

AccommodationHOW content is taught

Unlike modifications, accommodations do not change or lower the standards or expectations.  An accommodation can be a physical change or other support feature that the student needs to be successful.  This could include  learning breaks for students having a hard time staying on task, frequent repetition, alternating seating, extended time frames, tape recorded lessons, enlarged print, sequential instructions in smaller segments, adjusting the pacing, or oral assessments in place of written ones when appropriate.  For example..if students are asked to write an opinion piece with reasons and examples, you may accommodate by having strugglers write one reason/examples at a time, then bring to you to read over, offer feedback before having them complete the next one.  In this way, the student still has to complete the same assignment as everyone else, but with more support and feedback to increase their success along the way, and in the end.

InterventionTargeted, intensive instructional strategies

As a key feature of RTI, interventions refer to specific actions that are taken as preventative measures or support for strugglers.  Interventions allow teachers to adjust the intensity of instruction by increasing the instructional time and/or decreasing the group size for a more targeted approach.  For example, instead of meeting with a group of 5 or 6 students 3 times a week, the intervention groups should be between 1-4 students- daily.  Preventative interventions involve introducing new concepts to strugglers prior to the class in order to build their background knowledge of the skill and give them a head start in practice, in hopes that when the concept is introduces to the class those students should be more successful.  Interventions ideally include setting short term goals for students and constantly monitoring students’ progress towards meeting those goals.  Interventions like these are at the heart of the RTI Framework.

In a nutshell….

Modifications CHANGE the playing field
Accommodations LEVEL the playing field
Interventions ENHANCE the playing field