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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Pennington’

Heart Wordles

Heart Worldles

Heart Wordles Slide Games

Do you love Wordle? For those of you teaching reading intervention, SPED, or ELL classes, here’s a set of 43 FREE Google slide games to help your ages 8-adult students practice Heart Words. Heart Wordles is pretty darn fun!

A Heart Word is a word which includes one or more irregular sound-spellings. Generally, older students have a larger lexical bank than beginning readers, so some of the words used in the game will be new to younger students, but the game may be helpful for them, as well.

Each of the 43 slide games focuses on a particular Heart Word sound-spelling pattern and provides the letters to form 5 words. Teachers should introduce the slide game pattern (the most common ones first) and help students blend example words before assigning students the slide game. Blend the phonetically regular parts and add the parts to learn by heart. New to teaching Heart Words? Check out my article, How to Teach Heart Words.

Not all agree on which sound-spellings are irregular. My selection of the 216 Heart Words in this game is based on sound-spelling patterns, syllables and phonics rules, and the Dolch 220 high frequency word list. I included 59 of the Dolch Heart Words (frequency numbers on the next two slides). Full disclosure: I also included words from lessons and decodables from my own reading intervention programs.

The directions are simple: Drag and drop the letters into the light shaded boxes to spell as many Heart Wordles as you can. I like playing the game whole class with a bit of competition (the first student to create all five words shouts out Heart Wordles! I’ve included a blank text box at the bottom of each slide for a few instructional options: 1. Type (and spell check) each word. 2. Explain the pattern or rule. 3. Write sentences including each Heart Word. 4. ?????0

Heart Wordles Slide Games

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1GL-EFFuEhQCoPLFAJYhXP7vn-qeeEZNFY4HAaWMEZMQ/copy

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If you like the Heart Wordles Slide Games, you’ll love my reading intervention programs for students ages 8-adult:

Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is designed for non-readers or below grade level readers ages eight–adult. This full-year, 55 minutes per day program provides both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). Affordable, easy-to- teach, and science of reading-based, featuring the Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables designed for older students. The word recognition activities and decodables are also available as a half-year option in The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

PREVIEW TEACHING READING STRATEGIES and THE SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE. See all seven Heart Word Activities in action!

Get the Heart Words Assessment FREE Resource:

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School Jingles

School Songs

School Jingles

Twas the Night before Christmas

The most famous Christmas poem, was originally titled “A Visit.”

It was published anonymously on December 23, 1823. Not until 1837 did the author of the poem, which was now known as “Twas the Night before Christmas,” claim credit. The author was Clement Clarke Moore, a New York professor who was initially ashamed to claim credit for such an “unscholarly work.” Much of what we know about Santa Claus comes from the verses of this poem as you will soon hear. Of course, as an English teacher I would have preferred the apostrophe prior to the contraction, ’twas, but the author of the poem retains the right to punctuate as he or she or they so chooses!

Watch the catchy Twas the Night before Christmas” YouTube video after you read a bit about me and what I can do for your school.

I Write School Songs

In addition to my experience as an English teacher, I also am a professional musician and songwriter. I combine my love for teaching and music in a commercials jingles and songwriting business. Yes, I write school songs!

If you want to develop your school’s brand, establish traditions, and build school spirit, incorporating original, customized music can help you do so! I write and record three type of songs for schools, including lyrics from your mission statement, creed, motto, name, colors, and/or mascot:

  1. A quick “Announcements” lead-in for your morning public address with 10 versions to keep the song fresh;
  2. A “Spirit (Fight) Song” for special events, assemblies, sporting events, use in the multi at lunch, and video messages;
  3. A catchy and singable “Alma Mater” to close assemblies, staff meetings, PTA/PTO meetings, and graduation ceremonies.

The “Spirit Song” and “Alma Mater” include optional videos with song lyrics for group singing and sheet music with piano accompaniment for band and choir performances. The songs also make great additions to your school website. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of creating a positive and unified school climate. Your own school songs can enhance the culture of your school. Plus, they are a lot of fun! Your satisfaction is guaranteed. Check out samples, pricing, and reviews at https://penningtonpublishing.com/collections/mark-pennington/products/school-songs. Or contact Mark directly at 888-565-1635 or mark@penningtonpublishing.com.

School Jingles

School Songs

Oh, and here’s the video to enjoy: Twas the Night before Christmas”

Happy Holidays,

Mark Pennington

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School Songs

I Write School Songs

Interested in developing your school’s brand, establishing traditions, and building school spirit with original, customized music? As a professional songwriter and musician, I write and record three type of songs for schools, including lyrics from your mission statement, creed, motto, name, colors, and/or mascot:

  1. A quick “Announcements” lead-in for your morning public address with 10 versions to keep the song fresh;
  2. A “Spirit (Fight) Song” for special events, assemblies, sporting events, use in the multi at lunch, and video messages;
  3. A catchy and singable “Alma Mater” to close assemblies, staff meetings, PTA/PTO meetings, and graduation ceremonies.

Review from Ryan R. Lucas, Principal of Governor’s Ranch Elementary in Littleton, Colorado:

“Mark was exceptional easy to work with. He took into consideration existing school culture and traditions, and incorporated everything into some amazing songs that will become traditions unto themselves. The songs were catchy and students loved them!”

The “Spirit Song” and “Alma Mater” include optional videos with song lyrics for group singing and sheet music for band and choir performances. The songs also make great additions to your school website. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of creating a positive and unified school climate. Your own school songs can enhance the culture of your school. Plus, they are a lot of fun! Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Check out samples, pricing, and reviews at https://penningtonpublishing.com/collections/mark-pennington/products/school-songs.

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Decodables Criteria

Reading specialists and reading intervention teachers have long advocated the use of decodable text for struggling, vulnerable readers… especially those in upper elementary, middle or high school, ESL/ELL, special education, and adult literacy classes. Teachers of beginning reading have either favored decodables, leveled readers, or predictable text.

I’m going to present the argument and criteria for decodables. (Full disclosure, I’m the author of a set of decodable readers for older students which I will use to apply the criteria for effective decodables and will promo at the end of the article.) My take is that it seems like common sense that if we are going to teach decoding (phonics) and encoding (spelling), our students should practice these skills in the context of authentic text. However, many have argued that decodable are anything but authentic, in that they are written for a contrived purpose. Additionally, we all know that common sense is often a poor substitute for evidence-based practices. Unfortunately, the reading research on decodables is quite minimal, according to noted reading researcher, Dr. Tim Shanahan. Shanahan comments:

There have been only a handful of studies into the effectiveness of decodable texts since the term was first used back in the 1980s. And, truth be told, they are kind of mess; with little evident agreement about what decodable text is, what it should be compared with, and what outcomes we should expect to derive from it (https://shanahanonliteracy.com/blog/should-we-teach-with-decodable-text

So, in the “handful of studies” mentioned above, are decodables effective or ineffective? How so relative to other forms of text, such as leveled readers with controlled vocabulary, predictable texts etc.?

Shanahan again:

Mesmer (2005) found that kids were more likely to try to decode decodable text (duh), but leveled texts (less decodable) led to greater fluency (Mesmer, 2010). Some studies (Cheatham & Allor, 2012; Compton, 2005) concur with the first Mesmer study, but that’s okay because others support the second (Priec-Mohr & Price, 2017). And, then there are those with mixed results (Chu & Chen, 2014).

Regarding the effectiveness of decodables versus other text constructions, the Ohio Department of Education produced a helpful list and example slides of pros and cons for decodables, leveled readers, and predictable text readers. Note that the advantage of decodables seems clear to me (and them) in their presentation:

http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Literacy/Striving-Readers-Comprehensive-Literacy-Grant/Literacy-Academy/1-05-Matching-Text-Types-to-Students-Part-2.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

Design and Instructional Component Criteria

As mentioned above, I’ll use my own decodable series to exemplify what I consider to be appropriate criteria for decodables for older readers.

Sam and Friends Phonics Books

  • The Sam and Friends Phonics Books consist of highly decodable and systematic text to help readers learn, practice, and develop reliance upon the alphabetic code. Decodable means that a high percentage of words will be phonetically regular. Systematic means that each reader includes and reinforces only previously introduced sound-spellings to scaffold instruction.
  • Each of the 54 books introduces the focus sound-spellings and 2 Heart Words of the daily Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling activity in the author’s two reading intervention programs:
  • The books use the most widely-accepted, research-based instructional phonics sequence.
  • Each book introduces two high-utility Heart Words (high frequency words with one or more phonetically irregular sound-spellings).
  • The language de-emphasizes idiomatic expressions (ideal for English-language learners).
  • The stories use non-predictable, non-repetitious, and non-patterned language to minimize over-reliance upon context clues and knowledge of text structure.
  • The SCRIP comprehension strategies (Summary, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, Predict) are embedded within the text pages, not at the end of the book, to promote reader-author conversations and internal monitoring of text. Many require higher order thinking skills. The books include five higher level comprehension questions for each story.
  • The back page includes 30 second word fluency practice on the focus sound-spellings and sight words with a systematic review of previously introduced sound-spellings and
  • Heart Words
  • Each book consists of eight pages in 5.5 x 8.5-inch booklet form. Books are formatted to be copied back to back on two separate 8.5 x 11 pages for easy copying and collation. Just one fold creates the take-home books. Staple if desired.
  • The books are also formatted for tablet, Chromebook, and phone display.
  • The books are also available as Google slides with comment or question text boxes for interactive monitoring of the text.
  • Collections A, B, C, D, and E focus on remedial sound-spellings and sight words; whereas, Collection F: Syllable Juncture and Derivational Influences Books 45-54 is appropriate for all students reading below grade level.
  • The books have been designed with older students (grades 4 to adult) in mind. Students will enjoy reading about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also Sam’s dog, Pug.
  • The plots for each self-contained story reinforce positive values and character development and feature multi-ethnic teenage characters.
  • Each book is cleverly illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The illustrations do not explain the text. They entertain.

Your students will love these decodables for older readers: the Sam and Friends  Phonics Books, and more importantly, by using these readers, students and parents will see measurable progress in their reading skills. If interested in the characters, settings, and themes of the books, check out this sister article: Decodables for Big Kids.

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics instruction, such as is included in the author’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

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Decodables for Big Kids

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics instruction, such as is included in the author’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics and spelling instruction. The eight-page books will help your students master all the common sound-spelling patterns and 108 high frequency Heart Words (words with one or more irregular sound-spellings), while improving their reading fluency and comprehension.

What makes these decodables ideal for older students?

For years I served as an upper elementary reading specialist and middle-high school reading intervention teacher. I, like others who teach older, vulnerable/struggling readers, simply could not find decodable stories which specifically helped students practice the sound-spellings I was teaching.

Using the “Bob” books, Dr. Seuss, or the ilk was out of the question. Nothing de-motivates an older student more than primary age-appropriate illustrations and/or story themes in books or in reading curriculum.

Yes, many of these older readers do need to know how to sound out “c-aa-t,” but “there must be better ways to practice the /k/, short /a/, and /t/ sounds and c-a-t spellings,” I thought. I searched high and low, and no… High/Low readers were not the answer. I searched the Reading Rockets decodable links in vain. I wanted targeted, pure (as much as possible) decodables with focused sound-spellings and minimal Heart Words that respected my students ages and maturity levels. There simply are no other decodables I could find that met my personal criteria.

I had to write them.

Of course, I can’t draw an engaging illustration to save my life. But David Rickert, the comic artist, certainly can. A true partnership developed. I wrote the stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also Sam’s dog, Pug. The plots for each self-contained story reinforce positive values and character development and feature multi-ethnic teenage characters. David illustrated each of the 54 Sam and Friends Phonics Books.

Now, David is a high school ELA teacher, in addition to being an illustrator. He found it interesting that I insisted on illustrations which did not add meaning to the stories, but only entertained the readers. If you are knowledgeable about S0R (the science of reading), you will understand why we don’t want developing readers to be overly-dependent upon pictures to explain what the text means.

What are the characters like and what are some of the themes in these books?

The four characters and dog interact in and out of the high school setting. Two of them, Sam and Kit, develop a semi-romantic relationship throughout the 54 books. The multi-ethnic characters run counter to many cultural stereotypes. For example, both Tom and Kit are the athletes. Deb, an African-American, is the smart debate club champion with math and science as her strong suits. Sam’s dog, Pug, is a trouble-making, but lovable, pooch.

The story themes take place in a variety of settings: in school, at the lake, at the ocean, in the forest, at the coffee shop.

In one story, Tom and Sam create a snow tubing business; in another, Deb and Kit run a race; in a story featuring Pug, the dog chases the ice cream truck. In each story, positive values are emphasized. There is nothing overly controversial in these stories… they teach the values of friendship, respect to parents and teachers, loyalty, honesty, etc. However, these aren’t preachy stories, although in one story all four friends visit Deb’s church. The stories won’t elicit any parent or student complaints… they teach your students to read and even enjoy the practice.

Also included in these stories are the focus sound-spellings, Heart Words, 30-second word fluencies, 5 higher level comprehension questions, and comment or question text boxes. Each of the 54 stories connects to the sounds and spellings instructional sequence from my two reading intervention programs. No, I don’t sell the Sam and Friends Phonics Books separately. They are completely integrated into my two programs listed below. Yes, the books are formatted for interactive reading in Google slides, but also may be printed as eight-page booklets or viewed on tablets, Chromebooks, and phones. So many ways to read these stories and practice what you teach!

These phonics books are ideal for guided reading and independent practice in all reading intervention instructional settings. Check out this quick video, featuring one of the Sam and Friends Phonics Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6qxzT6OoOI  Now, once you’ve watched the video… if you are a reading nerd like me, you’ll want more technical reading stuff about just how decodable these books are, and just how aligned the series is to the science of reading. Check out Decodables Criteria and nerd out!

Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is designed for non-readers or below grade level readers ages eight–adult. This full-year, 55 minutes per day program provides both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). Affordable, easy-to- teach, and science of reading-based, featuring the Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables designed for older students. The word recognition activities and decodables are also available as a half-year option in The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

PREVIEW TEACHING READING STRATEGIES and THE SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE

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The Science of Reading Intervention Program

Intervention Program Science of ReadingDownload 2 FREE lessons (178 slides and a 15 min video) to check out The Science of Reading Intervention Program. Effective. Evidence-based. Accelerated program. Easy-to-teach. Affordable.

This evidence-based, SoR-aligned, accelerated program has been designed for struggling readers ages 8-adult. The 54 lessons each include 5 Daily Google Slide Activities:

5 Daily Google Slide Activities (55 minute lessons, 3 days per week, 18 weeks)

    1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology: Advanced phonemic awareness drills and Greek and Latin Anchor Words to help students learn the high frequency prefixes, roots, and suffixes (5 Minutes).
  1.  Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling: Continuous blending of 4-8 words to learn phonetically regular focus sound-spellings and 2 Heart Words per lesson, plus syllable and spelling rules (10 Minutes). Includes audio and video files.
  2. Sounds and Spellings Practice: Independent practice with text box typing and drag and drop activities for the focus sound-spellings (10 Minutes).
  3. Heart Words Practice: Independent practice with text box typing and drag and drop activities for the 2 words with phonetically irregular sound-spellings (5 Minutes).
  4.  Sam and Friends Phonics Books: Decodable stories with teenage characters and plots for each daily lesson with comprehension questions, margin annotations, and word fluency practice. Beautifully illustrated by noted comic artist, David Rickert. (Slides with text box typing and PDFs in Tablet, Chromebook, and Phone Formats) 25 Minutes

Written for teachers by a teacher. Completely aligned to the science of reading.

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Word Part Monsters

Greek and Latin Word Part Monsters

Word Part Monsters

Looking for a great pre-Halloween or pre-Open House activity to scare your kids into learning high frequency Greek and Latin word parts? My Word Part Monsters will do the trick (or treat).

This three-day activity works well before Halloween and gets student artwork up on the board–oh, and it also is a fun word part review activity. Tell your students that they will create their own Word Part Monsters.

Provide the Monster Word Parts list of Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes (all morphemes) to get plenty of combinations monster part combinations (FREE download at end of article).

For example, the dreaded mono oc pyr cap kin (one-eye-fire-head-little) monster.

Directions

Day 1

  1. Quick draw, in pencil, two rough-draft monsters, using at least three prefixes, roots, or suffixes from your Monster Word Parts list.
  2. Write the name of your monsters, using the word parts, at the bottom of each drawing. Feel free to use connecting vowels to tie together the word parts.

Day 2

  1. Choose one of your quick-draw monsters and neatly draw and color it on construction paper.
  2. Write the monsters’ name on the back, using the word parts. Turn in your monster to the teacher. Don’t turn into a monster for your teacher.

Day 3

  1. The teacher has numbered all of the monsters and posted them around the room and created a list of the monster names. Number a sheet of binder paper and write down all of the monsters’ names next to the correct number.

Option A (challenging)—Choose from the monster names that the teacher has written on the board.

Option B (very challenging)—Choose from the monster names that the teacher has written on the board and use the definitions to write a sentence, describing what the monster is like.

Option C (very, very challenging)—The teacher does not write down the monster names on the board. You have to figure them out based upon the drawings alone.

  1. The winner(s) are the students who identify the most monsters correctly.

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Check out more vocabulary games in the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits. Each grade-level Common Core Vocabulary Toolkit includes 56 worksheets (fillable PDFs), along with vocabulary study guides, and biweekly unit tests.

Get the Word Part Monsters FREE Resource:

Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should Grades 4-8 Teachers Teach Spelling?

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Grades 4-8

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment

It depends. The real question is “Do your students (or some of your students) need to improve their spelling?”

The only way to find out is through assessment. The FREE Diagnostic Spelling Assessment has been designed for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is not a random sample spelling inventory. You could give a short inventory, which would hint at problem areas or determine a student’s spelling stage, but you would have to do further assessment to specify the specific unknown spelling patterns to remediate. But the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment does it all in one assessment. The results will indicate problem areas and specific, teachable deficits. Teachers get the data they need to minimize remedial instruction to individual needs.

Assessment Design

The 102 item assessment includes the most common previous grade-level spelling patterns.

  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1-64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1-79)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1-89)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1-98)
  • Grade 8: K-7 spelling patterns (#s 1-102)

The test items are grouped by spelling patterns e.g., the four long /i/ spellings, to make posttest analysis simple. All spelling words are multi-syllabic to prevent students from identifying the words by “sight spellings” and to require recognition of the sound-spelling patterns within the context of syllables.

Assessment Formats

Choose the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment format which best suits your needs:

1. Paper Only: Teacher dictates the number of test items assigned to the grade levels, following the written administrative protocol. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment teacher administration form; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

2. Audio and Paper: Teacher plays the 22:32 “slow speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the 17:26 “fast speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 7 and 8 students. The audio file includes all administrative directions. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 22:38 audio file; Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 17:26 audio file; Spelling Patterns Assessment Matrix.

3. Google Forms: Teacher shares either the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Form with the 22:32 “slow speed” for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the form with the “fast speed” for grades 7 and 8 students. Note that incorrect spellings with be accompanied by the Google red squiggly line indicating a spelling error. Students may be tempted to right click the word and select the correct spelling; however, if the teacher tells the students the purpose of the test and directs them not to self-correct, students will generally follow instructions. Telling students that they will receive the same amount of credit whether the spelling is accurate or not, and using the “fast speed” audio also helps students avoid the temptation of cheating. Teacher uploads the students’ Google Forms into the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the 22:32 “slow speed” audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the the 17:26 “fast speed” audio file for grades 7 and 8 students; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.


If you’ve made the decision that all or some of your students need spelling instruction, please check out the author’s grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Differentiated Spelling Instruction. Each program includes grade-level spelling tests and spelling sorts, according to age appropriate spelling patterns and 102 remedial worksheets (each with a formative assessment) to helps students master the spelling deficits indicated by the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Efficient and targeted spelling instruction! Plus, the spelling sorts and 102 worksheets have a fillable PDF option. Perfect for distance/virtual learning.

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