Why I Love Using Google Docs for Writing Intervention

It’s my 21st year of teaching. Even though I’m considered a veteran teacher, I’m still learning new tricks especially this year with us being virtual then hybrid and now back to virtual come November 30th.

This year I took the initiative and started co-teaching/ working in the social studies and writing fifth grade classroom. A few weeks ago, it was made official and that I would be working with the fifth students who have writing goals on their IEP. This allows me to focus on one subject area instead of 3. To be honest, I still focus on all 3 subjects because I do have 2 fourth graders that I provide intervention for on a weekly basis. Both of them only have adaptive behavior goals, reading, and math.

We use a program called Boomwriter for their writing so they can have a portfolio. Even though I like the program because everything is right there. I’m still loving Google Docs for when I’m doing writing intervention.

Let me tell you why: I can be on their document at the same time which allows for in real time feedback. The other day, I cut and pasted the students’ writing into a Google Doc and then we edited and revised their writing. With the student’s help, we separated out the sentences by highlighting each one. It allowed us to work on each sentence together. (Before I continue on, I had one student in the same room as me and the other was on Zoom so it works for face to face students and virtual students.)

Each sentence was looked at for grammar errors (CUPS) and revisions (DARE). As soon as we were done looking at each sentence, we crossed them out. That was a visual reminder that we had checked over that sentence. Once we were done with checking each sentence, then we could remove the highlight and strike through.

Another way I use Google Docs for writing intervention is using the comment section. When the students are writing, they may ask me how to spell a word. I can leave a comment for them to help them with their spelling. More times than not, I need to write down the word to make sure I’m spelling the word correctly. I can also provide them with sentence starters with their writing.

Another reason I like it is because I can move my cursor to where I want them to write. They look for that cursor: visual cueing. It is so much better than continually telling them to find a certain word. Sometimes I might highlight the word, I want them to look for instead of using my cursor. It all depends on my mood.

My final reason is that it allows for assistive technology. If you get the Google speak to text extension, it will read the document to them. They can listen to their writing and see if it makes sense without you reading it to them. There is also the capability for them to use the speech to text tool (under TOOLS). Some students struggle at writing or typing. It is easier for them to speak what they want to say and that tool is beneficial.

I’ll write about using the acronyms of CUPS and DARE in another blog post.

Happy teaching,
Traci

5 Free Resources for Progress Monitoring – Reading Comprehension

As an Intervention Specialist, you are constantly trying to find resources to use for progress monitoring. There are some good resources and some that are not so good.

Here are some of my favorite resources that I have utilized during my career.

The first one is easyCBM. They have free probes for reading comprehension. What I like is the fact, you can determine if they are having problems with literal questions, inferential questions, or evaluative questions.

I use the lite version of the website.

Another great site is Newsela. They take current events from newspapers and present the articles in five different lexiles. All of the articles and questions are Common Core based which is great if you are looking for a specific standard.

You need to do a little searching for articles that are on lower grade levels. There is an advance search option which helps you if you need to find lower articles. If you have basic readers, you will not find articles for them because their Lexile levels are low. I believe the lowest Lexile range made the reading level equivalent to second grade.

Pro: High interest stories
Con: Only informational text

Florida Reading Research – If you are looking for graphic organizers or even some ideas to teach reading skills, this could be a jumping point. This site was developed before Common Core so some of the materials may be outdated so be cautious of that situation.

Readworks – I love that you can print out the articles or have the students complete the assignments online. Win! Win!
The one con is that for the lower grade/ Lexile levels, the writing space has primary lines. If you have upper elementary like me that can be disheartening to the students. You don’t want the students to feel as though the work they are completing is babyish.

K12 reader – These are short half page informational text about a variety of topics such as making connections with what you are reading.
Pros – Short passages
Aligned to the Common Core standards

Cons – They are 36 passages for each grade / reading level. However, they are not in sequential order which means if you want to do them in order then you need to search through all of them.
There is no Lexile level for any of the passages. So if it says it’s on second grade reading level, is it truly on that level?
The questions seem to be more literal which is DOK1 maybe DOK2 questions. You might need to supplement with creating some of your own questions.

I hope these help you with your search for resources. I will continue to share some resources for other subject areas.

Happy teaching,
Traci

Sight Word Intervention

There is much debate on the importance of reading sight words in isolation.  Should students being doing that or should they be reading them in phrases?

When you have insecure readers, sometimes the best thing is to have them read the words in isolation first.  Build up their confidence THEN have them start reading the words in phrases.  Then in sentences and finally in passages.

I have multiple insecure readers in my resource room.  Flashcards on index cards frustrate them.  So how can I make them not be so frustrated?

Making a Google slideshow or Power Point slideshow with one word per slide.  They love it because it’s on the computer.  (I’ve hooked up one of the Google slideshows that I’ve created of  words from the Pre-primer list.)


Where do I find the word lists online?  There are 3 places I can find sight words.

Sightword.com is an excellent website because it has lists of the words, flashcards, and ways to teach sight words.  It has both the Dolch sight word list and the Fry sight word list.

Another great resource is Mrsperkins.com.  She provides all of the Dolch sight words.  What I enjoy about this resource is the fact that she also provides Dolch sight word phrases.  So once I’ve worked on their confidence, I’ll begin making Google slideshows with the phrases.

The third place is Cando’s Helper.  This one focuses on the Fry word lists.  He has different activities for the Fry lists.  Warning:  This website has not been updated in 6 years so you might want to “snatch” some of the resources and save them for later.


How do I assess the students or keep their progress?

Data is the key to education.  So how do I know that this intervention is effective?  You can print the slides on Google slides without the background and with multiple slides per page.  By each word, you can put the date of the assessment.  You put a plus sign by the words they read correctly, a minus sign by the words they read incorrectly, and a circled minus sign by the words they self-corrected.

This is effective if you going to have them read the words multiple times.  Once they have mastered the words, move on.  Spiral back from time to time to assure they really do know the word.

On Mrs. Perkin’s site, you can print the a pretest/ posttest sheet.  Highlight the words you tested and then use the plus, minus, and circled minus sign coding.  Date it.


I hope these ideas help you.  I only spend about 5 minutes during intervention times to review the sight words.  I don’t want to make it the focus.  I rather have more authentic uses of sight words such as having them reading books/ passages on their instructional level.  My reasoning for the sight word intervention is to make them feel more secure with reading.

Many of them have felt frustrated with reading.

I hope this helps you.

Happy teaching,
Traci

Parent Contact Sheets

It is important to keep data on your students.  One way to keep data is to have a parent contact sheet.  Every time you contact or attempt to contact your parent, you should keep a record of it.

Am I good at keeping record of my contacts?  To be honest, not always.

I created a sheet that may make it easier.  Instead of a lot of boxes to write in, a few of the boxes are places you can check off with one spot of notes where you can write in whether you should follow up on the conversation or any other important details about the conversation.

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Let me walk you through the document.  At the top of the first page is a place for you to put the demographics of the student – their name, parent’s name, phone numbers, email, and any emergency numbers.  There were times we could not get a hold of the parent but could get a hold of another family member.  Our database listed other people we could contact.

Since there is plenty of room in the header area of the document, you could certainly write someone’s name that you cannot call because of a court issue or custody issue.

The table for the contacts is pretty user friendly.  You need to write the date and time you called them.  Writing down both of those will help you if the parent wants to dispute a conversation you had with them.  Believe me those things do happen.

The How column is for how you contacted them.  There were some parents that I could only get them by talking to them at dismissal.  Others I would email.  It all depends on how the parent wants you to contact them.

The Contact column is a little different.  There were a lot of parents who did not have a voicemail that identified who they were so I’m always leery about leaving messages on those voicemails.  Another problem was many parents who change their phone numbers and not update the office to those changes.  So that’s what the bottom two choices on the contacts section reflect.

The Reason column is for if it’s for something positive or a concern.  You do not need to be specific.  You don’t always want the reason you are calling to about concerns you are having about the student.  Make sure you are making positive calls.

The Notes column is for anything you want to remember about the conversation.  If you checked reason as being a concern, then you certainly need to write down your concern.  Don’t write a book just give specific details.  If there needs to be a follow up, write that down.

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The document continues onto the next page.  If you would like a copy of this parent contact sheet, click on this link.

Happy teaching,
Traci

Positive Messages

In the blog post State Testing Necessities for Students, I mentioned leaving positive messages to the students.

What are they? and How are they beneficial?

I had seen something about leaving positive messages on the desks using dry erase markers. So I decided to do that for my students.

The students loved the messages. Well, except for one. That student wiped the message off his desk almost immediately.

At the end of the testing period, I washed down the desks with Clorax Wet Wipes. You could not tell the desks had writing on them.

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The student who I wrote the message “Let your inner fierceness shine!” loved her message. She was upset when I cleaned up her desk so I had to promise her that I would write a different one during the district testing.

So why is writing those messages on the desks important? Students need to feel valued. Sometimes they come from homes where they don’t hear anything positive.

Another reason it is so important is if students hear something positive and motivating, they will work towards achieving the goals set forth by the teacher, them, or the teacher and them together.

It builds rapport between the teacher and student.

In this day and age, there has been so much violence in our schools. I don’t remember having this much violence when I was growing up. It may have been there but with social media being so in our face, the numbers are staggering on how much violence we are seeing in the schools. If we as teachers can make one connection with a student, that connection may mean the student not following a path of violence. Those motivational words on their day may let them know there is someone who cares about me and my future. You may be the person who turns that student’s life around.

Where can you find some inspirational quotes to write on the desks?

You can certainly write your own. All of mine said “Rock the Test!” and something personal to the student.

However you can use Google to help you come up with some quotes.

When I Googled Disney inspirational quotes, here are five links I found.

  • Inspirational Quotes from Disney Princesses – My favorite is from Tiana. “The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work.”
  • Inspirational Quotes for Kids – My favorite is “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A.A. Milne/Christopher Robin.
  • Great Quotes for Kids – “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss
  • Inspirational Quotes for Kids – 33 of them – “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss
  • Connections Academy – “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Margaret Fuller

You can also look on Pinterest to help you find quotes.

Happy Teaching!
Traci

State Testing Necessities – For the Students

During my last blog post, I discussed state testing necessities for me as the teacher.  Today I’m going to discuss what the students need in order for the testing to be successful.

Structure –

Each student was assigned a desk for the testing period.  (I’m an inclusion teacher who only pulls out a few times in the week.  They don’t typically have an assigned desk in my room.)  There was no fighting over where they were going to sit during the testing.

I also had a behavior sheet that I kept track of their behavior.  The first day was a little rough because a few wanted to test me.  By the fourth day of testing, they understood I wasn’t playing with them.

I ended not having to call any parents because the behaviors were not too bad.  It was usually the ADHD impulsitivity behaviors like getting up to throw away trash.  The trash cans were moved closer to them to eliminate those behaviors.

Testing Bags –

Each student was given a testing bag.  I put a pencil, peppermints, tissues, and dollar store headphones in the bag.  Every morning, I would put the bags on their desk with a few more mints.  Once it was time to transition back to class, they would have to clean up their area and put all the stuff back in their bags.  The bags were then put in a small crate on my testing table.

You should have heard the ohs and ahs and excited chitter chatter about the items in the bag.  They were excited about the headphones and tissues because they had inspirational quotes on the packaging.

Reward System –

Usually our school does what we call RAMS bucks for positive behavior.  Their names get put into a drawing for a brag tag.  State testing is on another level for me so I needed to bring in the big “guns.”  I need to have more to motivate the students to do their best on the test.

Every day they would get their name put on the board if they did not get any marks on the behavior sheet.  They got a special prize for having positive behavior during testing.

During the testing, I would randomly walk around and give them a sucker if they were focused on their test.  It was an immediate way for them to know “You are doing a great job.  Keep it up.”

Do what works for you.  This is what worked for me.

Positive Messages – 

I’ll go more into this topic in a future blog post.  All I’ll say is one student did not like it while the other students loved it.

Snacks –

I got a HUGE container of animal crackers.  After they were done testing, they were allowed to have a handful of them.  However a few students decided they needed to travel with the animal crackers and make a mess all over the school.  Next time they will be an in the room only snack.

Do Not Disturb Sign – 

I have one of those on my door.  However because I have a little alcove right outside my room, a lot of students do not see that sign.  I sometimes have to walk outside with my finger on my lips to remind students to be quiet.  The only problem with me doing that is students want to say hi to me.

Join me next time for a blog post about positive messages and the impact they had on one student.

Until next time, Happy teaching,
Traci

State Testing Necessities For Me

This week I proctored my 18th round of state testing.  Each round of state testing has been different.  It depends on the building, the amount of personnel able to help, and the students on how the state testing would stress me out.

This year state testing did not stress me.  Some of my students might tell otherwise because I was “mean” according to them during testing.

Here are some necessities to state testing that helped me out:

Coffee

A few students told me to stop drinking lots of coffee because I was hyper and too excited for the testing to begin.
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Pump Up Music

On my way to work, I listened to music that got me pumped up before the test.  Here are the 3 songs I would listen to before testing.  Just a warning, all 3 are P!nk songs.

Testing Folder and Testing Area –

We were given different papers to keep track of during the testing period so I used a pretty folder for those items.
I also placed a desk in the center of my room so I could keep track of all items needed during testing.  Since I was in the center of the room, I was accessible to all students.

Join me next time for state testing necessities for the students.

Until then, happy teaching,
Traci