Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nonfiction articles for Every Student

Long time, no blogging!  I was reworking and planning, and decided I wanted to share.  OK, I am totally procrastinating here, but here goes...

Often, kiddos think that nonfiction is boring, or not relevant to them. Wonder where to find easily level-able (yes I made a word) nonfiction articles from a searchable, legit source covering a variety of topics from Arts to Sports? Wonder no more! is a pretty awesome resource shared with me at an edCamp a year or two ago.  Since that time, I have not had a steady classroom (I was instructional coach or Special Ed Co-teacher) to implement it fully, but wanted to share the joy of discovery before I was sidetracked with my lesson planning.  OK, so I was totally distracted when I realized I had not written and shared this more.  Must. Share. Now!!! is well organized, easy to navigate, add free (big plus to me) free, and secure...and tracks your students progress, if you so desire.  The article options cover a wide variety of topics to build a binder and schedule the assignments for delivery. Post the link to the article in edmodo or on your webpage, and the kids read, quiz, and learn.

It's a new school year, and now may be a great time to add it to my regular procedures.  If my students had cells, I would add it to a non-computer lab day either straight through edmodo or via an established class on NewsELA itself (free function).   I prefer having only one gradebook location, so although it is more complicated I would probably assign the lexile level and paste into a post, THEN do the same creating a quiz for the assignment.  That's in a perfect world where I have the time to be proactive rather than reactive...It also has a writing prompt!  Could I add to AR?  I think so!  But more on that later, I have so much to learn this year :)

The lexile level of the text sets ranging can be adjusted 2nd grade to 10th or even higher on the same article.  As a special ed teacher, the modifications provide such are a blessing for mixed groups.  All students can discuss the same article and be included, despite the fact the article has been adjusted for each student's level.

More later, if I get a chance :)  I can see using it in a very similar way to for current articles, but the objective references is a winner for me, so I can see mixing these together as a part of a routine reading activity.

How have you used it?  Share your thoughts, please!
Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sight Words Games

Fun game link for my kiddos to play, one on the smartboard and the rest in teams:
Kitten Hop is cute, competitive and highly variable for sight words.  My boys loved it!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Oklahoma SOO and SLO for the TLE

Here's a great resource shared at our special ed meeting by a fellow SpEd Teacher:

This is absolutely awesome:  If you are not sure about what can be an artifact for your TLE, the link below takes you to an excellent resource...four pages, breaking down some great ideas on what to document for EACH of the 20 indicators!

Sight Words for Primary Students

Literacy First Sight Words

Memorization of sight words is a vital part of your child's reading success.  Sight words should be memorized and recognized automatically without pauses to sound out the word. Sight word instruction begins in Kindergarten and continues until the end of 2nd grade.
Kindergarten Sight Words - 50 of the most commonly found words in Kindergarten level material

List A - This list of 100 words is typically mastered at the beginning of the 1st grade

List B - This list of 100 words is typically mastered at or near the end of 1st grade

List C - This list of 300 words is typically mastered in 2nd grade

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Laptops, Old Smartboards not Communicating?

Hello, and welcome back from Vacation!

Please share this Short Video, made with Lawton Public Schools teachers in mind:

If your smartboard has a solid green light in the lower right frame, you are good to go…if not, it’s solid red/orange or green flashing and the full function (touch or pens)of this wonderful instructional tool is not ‘On.’  

The video below will show you how to quickly tell it you are connected and ready to get Smart!  I hear many have asked a neighbor and even a tech, and we’ve been told do a work order so they can investigate further.  This very common problem is NOT something that requires intervention from above, and is very easy to fix.  The break in communication from the SmartBoard to the Windows 8 machines happens if they  get unplugged from each other or shut down, and it takes 30 seconds to fix once you know what the problem is!

Here's a brief video on how to create a quick shortcut to the SmartBoard Settings and Wizard Connection for the new Windows 8 system.


If you have any additional problems, let me know and I'll see what I can do to help!  Email me at with your SmartNotebook or Ed Tech questions :)

Any requests for a new Tech in Two?  Please drop me a line at

Have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homonym Song

We can't discuss Homonyms without first addressing Synonyms, and here's a great resource: For more examples of homonyms and mnemonic devices for how to remember them correctly, visit the "Grammar Basics: Synonyms" packet at:

And I recently posted a few online activities for my kiddos to work on these concepts, available here:

and a new one I really enjoyed that could be timed class competition is:

Here's another great resource:
with numourous online activities.

This week we are working on reviewing Homonyms, and I found this great song on them I wanted to share with my students.  Let them get familiar with the lists, and then have a contest to see who can write down the homonym pair.  Have a really great prize (crowbar "pries"?) for the kiddos?  Yes, I am a total nerd, I thought that was terribly clever!

Here's some of the most frequently confused homonyms...
accept / except
Accept is to receive something. Note that there are two Cs in the word. The letter "C" sounds like the verb "to see". OK. So I see and you see the object being exchanged between us. Here's an example: The client accepted our bid. First we had to see (C) the bid as we created it, then the client had to see (C) the bid, then it was accepted.

Except begins with EX meaning to out something. So everything but the one whatever is out. Here's an example: Everything is finished except the invitations. This means that on the list of all that had to be done, it's all completed (checked off, out of the picture) except the one thing - invitations.

advice / advise 
The difference between these two words is the "S" and the "C", so that is the focus of the memory trick.Advice is when you give your two cents worth of your thoughts to someone. It is usually no big deal, but you just feel you need to put your two cents worth into the discussion. Note that cents begins with a "C". There's
your memory trick. Here's an example: His advice is to take the short cut. Take it or leave it, it's just his advice.

Advise is an action and actions are serious. If you ask for someone's opinion, it is usually because you are in some sort of a quandary and you need someone to help you. This is a more serious matter than someone just giving you an opinion. Serious starts with "S" and something serious requires action - someone to advise you. Example: He advised us to take the short cut. In other words, you'd better take the short cut!

personal / personnelYour memory trick in these two words is the double "n". In the case of the single "n" it means one on one, direct contact; this one is personal. In the case of the double "n" however, it means a group of people who work for a company. So one "n" means one and the double "n" means more than one. Here is one example that covers both words: The boss wants to have a personal conversation with all of the company's personnel.

then / than
Then is used to describe the order of events. Note that the word "then" has an "e" in it. The word "order" also has an "e". And the word "events" has an "e" in it two times, first at the beginning, then again later in the word. Yes, this is actually your example sentence as well: ... First at the beginning, then in the middle.

Than is used in comparisons. Note that both words have an "a": than; comparisons. Example: I like spelling more than grammar.

The best thing I learned from that elementary teacher so long ago was to think of concrete tricks in abstract terms. Spelling tricks are very beneficial and once you find one that works for you, you are not likely to ever forget it. I hope these are helpful!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What are we doing this week, Mrs. Menzie?

Welcome to Benchmark Testing Week!  This week is full of testing and bubbling in, and concentrating.

Let's review some key concepts AND have some fun at the same time.  Look closely at the pictures I have created for you.  Zoom in if you like!

What do you see?
How does it relate to what you have learned so far?

Can you think of some words I might have missed that should be in the Word Clouds for the math operations?
Word problems can be one of the scariest things to deal with on test week.  If you know the key words to look for, you can solve the problems with success!  More later :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Games for Synonyms, Antonyms and Homonyms
Word Frog provides practice in matching antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms. The target word appears on the frog, with the word category underneath defining the relationship to be matched.
Content: Antonyms, Synonyms, and Homonyms
Standards: L.4.5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Players: 1 has numurous sets already built for activities, and you can build your own.

Synonym Toast

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Calling all Coaches!

I've been pretty quiet on this blog since my new job of Instructional Literacy Coach began in the late fall of 2013. Check out the new blog I craeted,

They killed the program!  So there isn't anything going on over there.  The good news: if you know anywhere looking for an Tech Facilitator/Coach, please email me


Sunday, February 16, 2014

EdCampOKC 2014 Recap and Reflection

The Second Annual EdcampOKC 2014 was held Saturday, February 15, at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City. An EdCamp is a free “un-conference” for educators to share ideas, collaborate and network together. EdCamps are based on the BarCamp and TeachMeet conference models. The organizers did an amazing job providing this learning opportunity to educators.  I think I heard there were 270 educators from Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Kansas at the this free professional development conference. 

Here's a Thank you/Shout out to the Sponsors who helped make the day possible, in alphabetical order:,,,,,,,, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma Technology Association who has an upcoming Annual Conference, OTA Encyclo-Media, Oct. 7-8,

There were four sessions in 10 different rooms, with a wide variety of topics.  When was the last time you had an opportunity to pick from FORTY choices at PD?  Even if I and my co-attendees came away with just one thing to add to my educator toolbox from each session, that's a mighty big toolbox.  But since I haven't mastered Cloning myself, I could only pick 4.  My husband (aka The Hubs) attended with me, and we usually split up (the old divide and conquer) to experience as much as possible.  The Hubs, a special ed teacher in Science and Math, enjoyed his day and said the most valuable take away he had was the session about Attention Span.  Hubs also wants to buy for his students (and himself :).  If anyone knows who ran the Attention Span session...oh look, a monkey...ummm, oh yeah...I would LOVE to talk to the Attention Span moderator!

Two of the sessions I attended were requested by attendees, and did not have a lead/mentor to share their take on how to specifically address the issue at hand.  Everyone who arrived had the same question!  This is one drawback to the nature of the EdCamp beast, so although there were a few awkward pauses at moments it still provided numerous opportunities for enrichment. As we opened up and shared what we knew, we still ended up with a handful of resources on the topic.  I still left satisfied great things were happening.

Session 1: Creativity Aps for Early Education
  • Digital Storyteller   A digital story combines text and images with narration in the student’s own voice to form a short digital movie.  
  • Educreations' tagline is "Teach what you know. Learn what you don't."  Create and share video lessons with your iPad or browser. 
  • Matt B Gomez blogs about his journey as a Kindergarten teacher.  He shares play, inquiry and technology experiences, and believes relationships matter and are the key to success in the classroom.
  • Knomio teach --I must have misspelled this in my notes, because I cannot find anything about this when I search.  Help?
  • Little Bird Tales  was created to help nurture children's creativity and imagination while simultaneously creating one of-a-kind digital stories that can easily be shared. I like their statement "we strive to foster a love for reading, writing, self-expression and creative technology and to make the process easy and fun for students and teachers"  Little Bird Lessons opens up new possibilities in the classroom, giving educators and students a truly interactive experience with options like listening to verbal instructions, voice recording/verbal response, drawing, importing images, and writing using a keyboard. With hundreds of ready-made lessons offered, teachers will have more time to focus on teaching. 
  • Scholastic's Book flix reads a story and highlights words as they read. "Scholastic BookFlix is a new online literacy resource that pairs classic video storybooks from Weston Woods with related nonfiction eBooks from Scholastic to build a love of reading and learning. The engaging way to link fact and fiction, BookFlix reinforces early reading skills and introduces children to a world of knowledge and exploration."  Not free, and I couldn't find the cost without "Requesting a quote."  Bummer...

Session 2: Making Elementary Libraries Grow into Technology Savvy Media Centers
Twitter Roll Call: These people were in attendance and shared their twitter handles: @glenwoodelelib, @tech4t3eachers,@42Jwellen, @eshileman, @edtech, @TrinaRMenzie
And I don't know how to link Twitter handles in Blogger.  Yep, I'm not much on summer...

Although I have fewer resources to share from this session, the quality of the sites shared as a teacher resource are extremely high.  Now that I have had time to browse them, I am even more impressed with the Librarians and other attendees from this session.

On a personal note, I must say the session made me realize the frustration (maybe even jealousy?) I feel.  Some school districts have so much but still perceive themselves as behind the curve when it comes to being Tech Savvy.  There is so much one teacher/librarian/avid reader can share and do for a school with just your basic pc and a cell phone that is overlooked and unexplored.  I don't have ipads, tablets or chromebooks for my schools, students or teachers.  I still recognize the potential available with the materials available to us.  More Gadgets does not equate to Tech Savvy, just more charger cords to try and figure out what goes with what.   For some, nothing scarier to a non-nerdy person than a shiny new box of expensive gadgets you may or may not have asked for, but are expected to take time to learn how to use.  Technology is not a cure all, and is only as productive/good as the person handed the responsiblity of implementation. Stop throwing money at the issue (they don't have any to throw) and training/learning/exploring start using what we already have in our toolbox already.    For example--most of the resources shared were blogs that impress me so much are FREE and set up using any old pc or smartphone with internet.
OK, let me put my soap box's hard to type from up here anyway.
  • Blogging thru the Fourth Dimension at by 5th grade teacher @pernilleRipp from Wisconson,is a nerdy opinionated expressive blog that very much impressed me. I heart Pernille, and whoever suggested this site--I owe you a tasty beverage of your choice.  Call me!
  • Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog's tagline is "Leaving readers confused at a higher level since 2005"  Love, love, love this blog!
  • Capstone interactive books looks interesting.  Geared for iPad and Smartboards, it is not free so I didn't explore it much.  Comment below to sing it's praises?
  • Encyclo-media  seems to be difficult to nail down a specific link.  Comment below on how I can provide further information, please!?!
  • Nerdy book Club
  • Oklahoma Technology Association's website seems out of date--is there another website that has updated info?  Ironic, I know.  I must be finding the wrong resource.
  • Shannon M. Miller is a teacher, librarian, and technology specialist.
  • Read Kennedy Read is a school library blog about adventures, reading, storytelling, research and Web 2.0
App Smackdown:  Link needed

Session 3: Literacy Aps (not really aps but websights for the most part)
  • Streamlined grading...I have this written in my notes and have no idea what this refers to. Help?
  •  is a great way for ANYONE to get a suggestion for their next book!
  • is an innovative way for students to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always releveant: daily news. It's easy and amazing to scale the lexile level to the reader.
  • provides research based reading interventions.  Not Free.  comment below to elaborate on why this is the bomb dot com?
  • was launched in 2001 by a public radia/tv station in DC.  Excellent resource that creates and disseminates free, evidence-based info about reading with video and lessons. 
  • is an excellent FREE teacher resource with lessons, reading passages and related activities.  Love!
  •  has tons of Classroom resources including LP's and Student Interactives, Parent/Afterschool resources, PD, et cetera.  Searchable by Grade! Love!
  • has Language Arts Lessons, word lists, articles and other help and information.  Free and Pay.  
  • is a free iPad app that allows classroom groups to exchange ideas in the pages of digital text$. You can also layer in enrichment materials, assignments and quizzes--opening up almost limitless opportunities...sounds great. I need to explore it more, if I get digital text$ and iPad$.  $omeday!
What I wish I'd said: and (a blog I started for the Coaching team I am a member of, how could I forget it? Because I mentally limited myself to the word APPS.  I don't specifically use "app$" becuase I don't have iPad$, but I do use applications that are free pc based and often web-based.)

Session 4: PD for PD
I am positive that one of the other attendees would provide a much better synopsis of this session, so I focused my energies on the other session.  Comment below to link me up with a description, and I'll link it here.  Thanks!
From Twitter feed during session: Do we have differentiated professional development? We sure encourage differentiated instruction. via
Although it did not come up in conversation during the session--I would like to recommend for great pd webinars and live chats.  I'm too broke to become a full member, but I often view what's available in their free session and have come away with lots of great ideas and resources.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Recommended Resources
West Virginia Phonics lessons

The Reac3h training talked about this as a great resource!

The Reac3 Coaches website is

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brainstorming and Peer Sharing, NSU Part 2

While at the OEA Fall Conference at Northeastern State University, Broken Arrow Campus, we had some great peer sharing during our Move the Room portion.

Here's what some of you came up with for the four types of technology.  This is a temporary page, I will type it all up and share it in paragraph/list form so it is easier to read and understand.