Text Based Evidence with Rainbow Comprehension

Rainbow Comprehension for young students is the idea of color coding text in order to locate the evidence.  Students have an easier time locating evidence to support their answers within informational text.  The Rainbow Comprehension theme sets are non-fiction.  We also all know students need more critical thinking skills.  But before we build these critical skills we need to teach younger students the basics.  The questions found throughout the sets are "right there" type questions. 

 I spent this week doing a big overhaul on the entire Rainbow Comprehension sets.  The passages and the questions have all been placed on one page.  A box has been added to write the answers instead of handwriting lines. 

 The new design also helps save ink.  We all enjoy saving money there.  Let's take a look at Rainbow Comprehension to see how it works.

1.  Students need four basic colors (blue, green, red and yellow).  You can use crayons, colored-pencils or markers. 

 2.  Students will use the crayons, pencils or markers to locate the evidence in the text.

3.   I recommend students circle key words throughout the text. 

 4.  Students should read the passage three times to build fluency and comprehension.  They can keep track of how many times they have practiced reading the passage by circling the 1, 2, 3 at the top of the page.

*Students read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and makes inferences from it. 

 5.  The students can underline the evidence or color over the evidence as shown in the image below.

Important Information:
Rainbow comprehension is not intended to be completed independently.  This is a process skill.  We want to guide students through this process by effective modeling.  This skill can be taught in small groups, tutoring or intervention.  The foundation of this skill is taught in first, second and third grade. 

Rainbow Comprehension and other text based strategies should be accompanied by: interactive read alouds, shared reading, teacher modeling, think alouds, guided reading and independent reading.

All American Theme
Ocean Life Theme
Woodland Animals Theme
Spaced Out Theme
Farm Animals Theme
Texas Our Texas
Community Helpers Theme


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January Fun in the Classroom

January is filled with snow, hot chocolate and snuggles by the fireplace.  If our personal lives can have great moments, let's do the same for our classrooms.  Let's create engaging literacy activities in the classroom and build great memories for our students.

Do you use pocket charts in your classroom?  If so, do you use them in an active way with the students?  I created pocket chart stations for January.  Students move around the room and complete the pocket chart stations.  Pocket charts have been proven useful in thousands of classrooms.  You can use them in different ways, in different subjects and skills, as well as, in different grade levels too. 

Phonics Center Pocket Chart

The phonics pocket chart center is filled with short vowel activities.  Students match the picture with the word.  After matching, the students create their very own Short Vowel Booklet.  Each center is designed not only with hands-on activities but also an accountability piece.  

 Sequencing Pocket Chart- Do you want to build a snowman?

Students use the snowman sequencing cards to build a snowman in the pocket chart.  When finished, students build their own snowman and read the snowman story.

 More Snowman Sequencing pictures:

 Vocabulary Center Pocket Chart

Students will enjoy matching the winter picture vocabulary cards with the correct word card.  After matching in the pocket chart, the students will create their own activity sheet.  A sentence has been added to each card to help build fluency and comprehension. 

 Writing Center Pocket Chart

Writing has always been a favorite center to create in classrooms.  This was always a favorite of the students in my classroom too.  Students can choose a winter vocabulary card and create a story with the card.  Wintery scenes are a bonus and makes the activity so much fun.  The words have been added to the cards for students who need that extra support.

How to use pocket charts in your classroom:

1.  Pocket charts can be used as one or more of your literacy or math stations. 

2.  Pocket charts can be used to reinforce or introduce concepts and skills.

3.  Pocket charts can be used in group activities- whole class, small group or partner activities

4.  Pocket charts can be used to differentiate.

Download January Pocket Chart Activities

February Pocket Chart Activities-Coming Soon!


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My Goals for 2016

I'm looking forward to 2016.  As I begin to set my eyes on the new year, I have set some personal and professional goals.  I'm sharing them with you in hopes that you keep me accountable.  That's what friends are for, right?

Goal #1 Finish what I started

I started writing two books and have never finished either one.  The first book is about data and the second is a children's book.  My goal is to finish the children's book first.  Hopefully, one day I will get it published.  After starting this process, I do admire all the authors out there who have accomplished this goal.  Oh how I envy you for accomplishing this dream.  #dreambig

 Goal #2 Build a stronger network of administrators

This blog has allowed me to meet amazing people all around the world.  It truly makes my heart smile to have connections and friendships with thousands of teachers, administrators and bloggers all over the world.  I want our friendships to grow stronger in 2016.  I want us to network together and share resources with each other.  Why not?  We can do so many great things together.  Stay connected with me so we can grow together in our administrative journey.  Besides this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are beneficial platforms for us to interact.  When school leaders are involved in social networking, relationships are built.  When the relationships are stronger, schools will benefit.  It's a win-win.

 Goal #3 Create training videos for instructional leaders, coaches and school leaders.

Goal 3 is one that has been on my mind for about a year.  I don't know exactly what direction I plan on taking on this but it is on my bucket list.  I see the need for this type of professional development.  We need more opportunities as school leaders to watch professional development (PD) sessions in the comfort of our home or office.  However, I want this training to be relevant and from someone who actually understands what I do. So I was thinking, if I want something like this, then you probably do too, right?  To me, the perfect PD training course is engaging and resource filled.  

I don't need theory.  
I don't need textbook evidence.  
I get that.

I know the research behind it or I know how to Google it if I did need to know.  What we need is an action packed session and the attendees leave with an abundance of activities that can be implemented right away.  No more telling us what we should be doing and not giving us the resources to do it.

My training sessions will give you the ideas and all the printables so you can do turn-around-training on your campus right away.

What kind of training sessions would you like to watch?

 Goal #4 Healthy Life

This is probably the hardest for me.  I need to make this a priority and a habit.  Working out shouldn't be something I do when I have time.  It should be a routine in my daily schedule.  I want and I need that structure.  I just need to want it enough to stick with it more than just a few weeks.  I need your help pushing me to get back in the groove of things.  #exerciseisnotmything  #struggleisreal #ican #iwill  #cheerforme

What are your goals for 2016?  It's your turn to share with me.  Just comment below.
If you're a blogger, share on your blog and link back to me.  


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Benefits of Collaborative School Leadership

Collaborative leadership is a process.  It is not a one time event.  It can happen in almost any situation and with any school or business.  There are so many benefits of collaborative leadership.  Let's take a look at a few.

Collaborative Leadership Benefits


In my experience, more than one set of eyes and hands on a problem can lead to bigger and better results.  A group of people can brainstorm the problem from every angle and uncover something that you might otherwise miss. The campus leader keeps the group on focus and often facilitates the meetings.  The group considers the problem, decides what to do and makes a plan.  If you ever need for your campus to make a big shift in change, this is the most effective way to do it.  Everyone has a voice and everyone has buy-in.   It was ultimately their decision and not yours that helps campus accept the change.  

Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.- Tom Peters


Recognize the strength and talents of the people around you.  There are so many experts on our campuses.  Some are hidden and some talents are prevalent.  What can your staff do to make the campus a better place for students to learn?  Tap into their talents and put it to good use.  Your campus will soar to new heights and shine in the spotlight.  For example, a teacher who is great with technology shares how to involve parents via Periscope, Facetime, Skype, etc...  A teacher who is extremely organized keeps the records for the group.  A teacher who is fantastic at public speaking is in charge of speaking to various groups on campus and in the community.  When this all falls into place, your campus will be lead by the educators instead of one campus leader.

It's not the tools you have faith in.  Tools are just tools- they work, or they don't work.  It's the people you have faith in or not.- Steve Jobs


If collaborative leadership is uncomfortable to you or it is just not your style, I urge you to try it this year.  Make it a goal to step out of your comfort zone.  Lead with a purpose.  Spend time with your staff really listening to what they have to say.  This will allow you to make a real difference and address their true needs.  The staff will begin to take notice that you are helping make the school a great place to work.  They will be engaged and willing to step out of their comfort zones too.  Before you know it, your school is a force to reckon with.

Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.- John Maxwell


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January Literacy Fun in a Pocket Chart

Christmas break is coming soon!  I know everyone is just trying to make it through the week and January lesson plans are probably not on your radar right now.  However, wouldn't it feel so good to leave for Christmas break knowing you have some great literacy centers for the entire month of January?

Check out the latest resource for Kindergarten and First grade:

 January Winter Fun Pocket Chart has almost 70 pages of activities for students to complete. 

 Vocabulary Center- 32 picture cards and 32 word cards for matching; includes 2 recording sheets after matching
 Writing Center- I love this pocket chart station.  It has 4 color and 4 black/white writing pages along with 32 vocabulary cards.  Students pick up to three cards and use the words in their story.  The vocabulary words have been included on the cards for students refer to while writing.
 Phonics Center-  Students match short vowel picture cards to the written word card.  Students can also sort the cards by short vowel sounds.  A recording book is provided so students can have their very own short vowel booklet. 
Sequencing Center- students use the picture cards and sequence how to build a snowman.  They create their own recording sheet after building a snowman in the pocket chart. 

How to Use:

You can certainly have all of these activities going in one week in your classroom.  However, I recommend having one pocket chart center each week and have students rotate through the center.  If you choose this option, this will last the entire month of January.


Other items you might be interested in:



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Holiday Favorites

I'm sharing some holiday fun with you today and with my friend, Angela from Southern Fried Teachin.  She is also from Texas; and we love to talk via social media.  Angela had this wonderful idea to share our favorite things with our readers.   When she told me about it, I said, "count me in." 

 If you are interested in linking up, copy the images and post to your blog. 
Here are my favorite things!

1.  Favorite holiday song- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

2.  Favorite guilty pleasure food- I love just about anything.  If it is considered a carb, then I love it. 

3.  Favorite holiday tradition- taking family group photos; cherished and priceless
     My very large family (sisters, aunts, nephews, nieces, daughters, and sons) will come over to my house on Christmas Eve for dinner.  I love doing it even though the family is so large we can't fit in my house. 

4.  Favorite holiday book-The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

5.  Favorite holiday act of kindness- I enjoy purchasing gifts for a family in need.
 I went shopping last week and bought several gifts for some children. 

6.  Favorite holiday memory- Childhood memory-My grandparents driving 600 miles to spend Christmas with us.  They would drive from south Texas to spend a week with us in east Texas.  Adult memory- taking our children on a ski vacation for Christmas in Colorado. 

7.  Favorite holiday childhood gift- I cherished every gift I received because I knew how difficult it was for my parents to buy them.  I always loved getting a new coat or clothes.  I'm a clothes lover!

8.  Favorite holiday craft- I don't have a craft but I enjoy decorating the house for Christmas.  I don't enjoy putting it all back up after Christmas though.  sigh!

9.  Favorite holiday movie-  Home Alone!  I still laugh watching it.

10.  Favorite place to shop for holiday gifts-  If you have followed me for awhile, you know how much I love TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods.  If I worked for them, I would never get a paycheck because I would buy everything.  #cantcontrolmyself

11.  What you want Santa to bring you- Sorel boots!  Santa came early this year.  Kendra Scott jewelry can't be beat.  Thank you Santa. 

12.  Favorite product-  I'm not trying to create a sales pitch here but I do love data.  It is one of my best sellers and I have had great feedback on it.  Data Talks and Forms

Head over to Angela's blog- Southern Fried Teachin to see the other linkups.  


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Using Data Effectively

Are you comfortable analyzing data with your teachers?  Do you know just what to ask?   Learning exactly what to ask teachers during data meetings develops over the years.  Analyzing data will also improve over the years. 

If you are not a data expert, I created Data Talks to make that process easier for you.  Trust me...I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means.  However, I love data and the power that it brings.  When you love something so much, you tend to research more about it.  I have been to some very good training over the years.  But I find these trainings not always practical.   

The trainer gives you the theory and reasons why data is important but does not give you the tools to  get it started.  We leave professional development and head back to our campus with data in hand.  We think to ourselves...Now What?  

Data Talks helps you take those ideas and implement them today.  

 Here are 48 question cards.  I printed them and laminated for durability.  I plan on using them at all data meetings.

I spent the morning laminating all my data talk question cards.  

 How to use the data question cards?

Data Discussion Stem Cards 

There are 48 cards with questions regarding student data. As you begin your data meetings, start off with question stems to get everyone thinking. Print these question stems on cardstock. Laminate and put on a metal ring. Choose a couple of them to begin conversations about the data. Option 2: Print several and display at different stations in your data room. Teachers answer the questions using the data displayed at that table. Teachers then share their findings with the group.

Ready to get started having more productive data meetings?   Do you need to spice up your meetings?  

Download Data Talks and receive several forms and question stem cards too!

You might also like the Targeted Data for tracking process.


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The Most Magnificent Thing

Have you discovered Ashley Spires book, The Most Magnificent Thing?  What a wonderful story of how the character and her best friend try and create something magnificent.  She shares her planning process, the problems she faces, her frustrations and then her success.

Watch the video of The Most Magnificent Thing.

This book would be a perfect tie-in for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Another option to using this book:
This leads me to the new buzz words in education- Growth Mindset.
 In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.  

Carol Dweck, psychologist, branded the name growth mindset.  Developing a growth mindset, allows the students to understand their intelligence is not static.  It can be developed.  Challenges are embraced.  Students faces setbacks in a persistent manner.  Effort is the path to mastery.  Criticism is taken as a learning curve.  Students find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.  They don't feel threatened by the success of others.

Let's have a mindset shift.

Embrace struggle.

As educators (administrators and teachers) we need to change the culture in our school.  When students have a growth mindset, they are able to face challenges with a positive attitude, believe in themselves, feel that they can improve with effort and enjoy the act of learning.

Let's share our favorite STEM and Growth Mindset resources with each other.   Share a link to your blog, products or pinterest board with STEM and Growth Mindset items. 


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Staff Christmas Party

 This is a look back at our staff Christmas party from 2014.  

Christmas Party 2014
We had the best time at our annual Christmas party.  The room was filled with sounds of laughter, Christmas carols and smells of delicious food.

 Our staff Christmas party was held at a Culinary Arts building.  My staff brought a special appetizer or dessert from home.  We had chips and dips, fruit, cheese trays, cookies, and so much more.  I took about an hour that morning to decorate the building with candles, pine cones, lights, and poinsettias.  I wanted to make this Christmas party extra special for the staff.  We needed to relax and have a good time. 

 Let's talk about the games!  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.  We played a paper plate game.  Everyone was given a paper plate and a pen.  I told them to place the paper plate on their head and do not remove it to the end.  They had to draw what I told them to draw.
1.  Draw a line for the floor.
2.  Draw a Christmas tree.
3.  Draw a fireplace with a mantel and a fire inside the fireplace.
4.  Draw decorations to the tree.
5.  Add stockings to the mantel.
6.  Add a star on top of the tree.
7.  Draw gifts under the tree.

I truly wish you could see their pictures.  In all the fun, I didn't think to take a picture of it.  Most drawings looked like a two year old did it.

 Reindeer Games:  We started off with two teams.  I had a team and my PE coach/AP had a team.  We both picked 6 people from the audience.  The teams were given a pair of pantyhose, a red dot for a nose and 12 balloons.  Each team had to blow up all 12 balloons, stuff them in the panty hose, put it on our head and give us a red nose.  The team who completes this the fastest wins.  We came in just seconds behind Team Adam.  All participants took home a poinsettia from the table.
Other games played:
We sang the 12 days of Christmas which was edited for a "school theme."  This was funny because the words to the song fit our campus or school experiences.  For example, 8 data meetings, 5 late buses, etc...

My gag gift from the staff- a big box of cups for the workroom.  We are always running out of cups.  I think they are trying to tell me something.  Hey, money is tight, right?


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