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Monday, November 26, 2012

Free Elkonin Task Cards

In honor of Cyber Monday, I am giving away my Elkonin Short A picture task cards.  I successfully avoided shopping at the stores that opened on Thanksgiving this weekend, instead I bought a few things from small businesses on TPT (for myself!).  I don't think I will be able to avoid going to the big stores, though, when I start to really shop for my boys.  Fortunately for me, as I am sure many of you can relate, they are out of the toy phase, so cleaning up is slightly easier.  But unfortunately toys are cheaper than what they are asking for.  It's always electronics these days.  Maybe I will be able to avoid it if I shop online.  If anyone knows of any small businesses that sell electronics, drop me a line.

So to those of you trudging to work today like I am after this nice long break for Thanksgiving, here is a small token for all that you do.  I love these cards.  I use them for seat work during center rotation (or as my principal prefers, "Literacy Stations").

Am I the only teacher who thinks it is hysterical when kids are spelling one of these words and gets to the end of a word,  suddenly pauses in confusion, thinking to themselves, "um, there's two more squares left and I only felt/heard one?"  I just love to watch them look around wondering what to do and then finally decide they are going to try to sound it out slower and feel for those last two sounds.

It's the little things......

 If you are interested in the rest of the short vowel task cards, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Short A Elkonin Task Cards

5 Short Vowel sets of Elkonin Task Cards 

Happy Monday!


Sunday, November 25, 2012


How I wish I could just talk about word study and reading all day, but the economic unit I am working on is calling my name.  Community helpers themselves seems to be less of a focus in the common core and more emphasis seems to be on examining the services they provide and delving into the subjects of producers/consumers/supply/demand/goods and services.  Don't get me wrong, I did teach these things, but the central focus was more on community helpers and how they help, their training, etc.  In any case, before I delve into all of that, we are going to begin with a needs and wants sort that I created.  I am going to have them glue it in their Economics portfolio we will create tomorrow, with the needs on one of the inside flaps and the wants on the other inside flap. 

What does this have to do with word study?  It's a concept sort :)   I'll be sure to use that term with my kiddos so that I can remind them of it during word study.

 If you want this free needs and wants sort, you can click here to download it from the preview file here: First Grade Economics Foldable

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Elkonin Boxes

Welcome Manic Monday visitors!  I hope you enjoy this Elkonin box freebie.  I can't wait to see all of your submissions as well.  Come on in and take a look around.  There are other freebies on this site to be had. Visit the home page:

Elkonin Boxes help students build phonological awareness by guiding them to count the number of sounds in the word and emphasize to them that it does not always translate to the same number of letters).

Elkonin Boxes  help students better understand the alphabetic principle in decoding and spelling.  Using Elkonin boxes strategically with students in the letter-name phase can help advance a student’s knowledge of spelling.  Elkonin boxes help students build phonological awareness by guiding them to count the number of sounds in the words.  I have found them helpful in training students to slow down and feel for all of the sounds in the words, especially the ending blends.  In addition, students in my class who have been slow to pick up on beginning digraphs (sh, th, ch), are automatically reminded to consider that the sound is represented by two letters and then use the charts in the room to recall which two letters make that sound.  Invented spelling is great for writing for several reasons, but I love that Elkonin boxes require students to practice spelling rules and patterns-especially if a teacher can correlate them to the student’s spelling level.  For example, Elkonin boxes centered on short vowels, blends and digraphs can be used with students in the letter-name phase and Elkonin boxes centered on long vowel patterns can be used with students in the within word phase of spelling.  
I will be creating more long vowel resources in the future, but for now, my creations have focused on short vowels.  Here is a short vowel elkonin box worksheet I created for the short a sound:

Short A Elkonin Boxes Freebie

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, November 23, 2012

Late Letter-Name Assessment

Here is an example of a letter-name test (I wanted lots of ending blends) I made up to figure out which letter/letter patterns Mary was using and which ones she was confusing.  I know that there are forms to fill out in various word study books, but my personal preference is not to use another piece of paper.  I simply write the features that are missing and being confused and then look for patterns.

As you can see, Mary writes the letter A each time she hears short O and short U.  She has not mastered ch or th, beginning blends-dr and tr, and ending blends.

Now, many word study teachers might say that this is too much detail to go into, and that may be true.  You do not have to find out each feature to be a great word study teacher.  This is because teaching letter-name features each week in the approximate zone they are in will solidify the student's existing knowledge and enable him/her to naturally add to his/her knowledge of words with exposure during reading.  I would put this student in a group that focused on ending blends and short vowels.  However, this particular student was retained last year and I want extensive detail about her knowledge so that I can track progress that seems to be slow. If myself or someone has time to work with this student, I quickly pull out my picture sorts comparing short A and short U. In addition, when I taught any grade beyond first grade, I would do this with below level students.  There is not the luxury of time in that case, to mess around with stuff they already know.

*The most interesting thought about this assessment that I have been thinking about a lot lately:  It seems when a word contains a pattern a student is nervous about (--mp for example), he/she can make a mistake on the short vowel that is known in most other circumstances. This is interesting to me because that would be an additional way to read a child's mind to find out which vowels they seem to have, but could use reinforcement on.  This late-letter name assessment may be useful for that reason as well.

If you are interested in the assessment, you can download it here:

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Welcome to my blog.  I am a first grade teacher, though I have taught almost every grade.  My passion is word study because I studied under the amazing Shane Templeton from Words Their Way fame and he taught me to love words and every aspect of them.

 Tchrgrl was created when gmail came out and I needed a username.  I cracked myself up with the irony that I was so passionate about word study and I would tell kids that the vowel was the most important letter in a word, yet my username had no vowels.  Ha!

Teaching reading is a science, and many teachers wish this was common knowledge.  This blog will contain a lot of commentary about word study.  However, since reading, writing, and spelling are all connected, subjects and resources on this blog will address those as well.  And, although this blog will be primarily about literacy, I sometimes get so excited to share a resource that no subject is off limits!  Occasionally a math resource might pop up and surprise you.  Thanks for stopping by.