Last year my school district adopted a new curriculum that is aligned with the Common Core standards. We are using Engage NY for all subjects. This was one of many HUGE changes for last school year and it was, to say the least, very overwhelming. I won't get into all of the controversy surrounding Common Core too much. I will say that the standards themselves, are not the issue, in my opinion. We have ALWAYS taught with standards, always worked to use standards to guide instruction, and always evaluated students on a set of standards. The curriculums being developed FOR these standards is where I think my problem lies. I found much of the material to be very dry, lacking opportunities for differentiation, and the pacing and time management to be very troublesome for most of my students. I was also turned off by the "scripted-ness" (is that even a word?) of the lessons. I spent a lot of time lamenting my frustration and feeling as though all the things I loved about teaching-the creativity, the fun, the hours spent planning lessons I designed, were slowly being taken away from me. It was a tough year, made tougher by all that comes along with a new pregnancy (I was pregnant the whole school year!).  Well, then I decided that I could still teach this new curriculum "with fidelity" and find a way to infuse my own creative solutions to the problems I was encountering. As I peruse TpT, and the countless blogs I follow, I see many teachers doing the same! Taking their classrooms BACK but still finding a way to comply with district initiatives. I decided to suck it up and get to work- because that's what teachers do, right? Not for the money, not for the accolades (HAHA) but for the kids. I still believe that I know what my students need most. I'll argue that point to the death. No one knows my students better than I do. I will not be insubordinate but I WILL teach.  Can I get a ,"heck ya"?! Because of this I created some "enhancements" to coincide with the Core Knowledge curriuculum we use for Skills. I had plans for other areas of the curriculum but then, well, I had a baby. So stay tuned. More is coming. Let's start with what I've got so far...
Companion units to CKLA Skills Units for 1st grade
Units 1-6 are now available!


Just a note about the worksheets and materials I've created. They are NOT intended to be used as a replacement for the CKLA curriculum. I use them along with the lessons from Engage NY. The lessons themselves are decent, the skills covered are ones my students need, the activities, pacing, and worksheets... well, they left a little to be desired and I was struggling to keep my students engaged. Especially my struggling students, who couldn't keep up with the pace and needed more hands-on, small group, instruction and more visuals.

"Tricky Words" are CKLA's version of "sight words" or "high frequency words".  I created some Tricky Word Journals for students to use during small group instruction or to use independently and with peers. They also could be sent home for practice. Many of my students struggled with these words, as they are only introduced once during a lesson. With these journals I also included student flash cards, classroom wall cards, and lists that students can refer to so that Tricky Words can be reviewed as many times as you feel your students need, in whatever way you feel your students need. I also included some graphing sheets, both on the back of each journal, so kids can be accountable for their own progress, and also large graphs that could be posted on a data wall or in a data notebook. I use these with my RTI groups. This unit can be used for teaching the Tricky Words introduced in Unit 1 through Unit 4. 

This product was created while I was teaching CKLA Unit 4. "Skills" time also fell during my mandatory RTI time and I found myself with a classroom full of struggling students. I had to do something. First I broke the lessons and skills up into weekly units. Then I created centers and GRAIR times packets to coincide with each weekly unit. (If you click on the picture above and download the product preview, you can see how I organized these weeks and what specific skills and centers are included) I used the GRAIR packets during my small group instruction. Each week the students would receive a new packet. The packet has pages that reinforce the skill/sound taught that week. When the packet was complete I would ask my students to store it in their folder to practice reading the words to their peers or with classroom volunteers.
The centers are also focused on the target sound/skill for each week. I tried to keep them simple enough for independent use but you could also use them in small groups to reinforce the skill. Here is how I like to organize and store my centers:
So, that's what I was up to last school year! I have plans to make materials for the other units as well but I've been home with my little love muffin. :) 4 more weeks of maternity leave and I'll be back in the swing of it. 
Now for FREEBIES! My "push present" was a MacBook Pro laptop and I've been having a lot of fun with it. I've always been a "Mac Girl" and I've had 3 desk tops in the past 14 years. Unfortunately, my office space is now baby #2's nursery and I wasn't getting anything done. The lap top has been great. I don't know why I didn't get one sooner. I can do work anywhere, anytime! 

Whew, long post! Looking forward to getting back in the swing of things and creating MORE! As always, I love your feedback, welcome your suggestions, and will try my best to answer your questions! 






Hmmm... what's my excuse? I don't have a good one. :) Life. Life got busy and blogging is still new to me. I often feel silly. Who would want to read my ramblings?! But, I'm back at it because I've rediscovered my love for creating. I know as a TpT addict myself, I love when I can visit the creator's blog to see how he or she uses a particular product in their classroom. So I will be updating my blog with some of my newest units and how I use them.
Since I've been gone a lot has changed in my little world. I had another baby in July of this year. Another sweet little boy! I've been on maternity leave and missed the beginning of the school year. While I am LOVING being home with my little guy I am missing my classroom and teaching so much! Having the school year begin without me, for the first time in 14 years, was so weird. I go back at the end of November and I'm nervous already. This is the longest I've ever been away from teaching and I'm worried I'll be out of the loop. I hope it's like riding a bicycle. I'm also hoping that my little guy learns to sleep for longer than 3 hours by then! :)


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