3 Ways to Stop Spelling Words for Structured Students! Getting Independence Back in Independent Writing! www.NoodleNook.net

How Do You Spell…

It’d happen every time I’d do writing assignments in my class. Every time. A little hand would shoot up like a light and utter the most dreaded words that ever pierced a teacher’s ear- “How do you spell…” whatever. At first you comply with that little light in the back of you head sparking thought of superhero-dom as you help your little learner to learn. Oh, but then the dreaded happens. You are bombarded by a gazillion other request for spelled words. The horror.

3 Ways to  Stop  Spelling Words  for  Structured  Students! Getting Independence Back in Independent Writing!  www.NoodleNook.net

I used to spell them out loud (oh, to be a first year teacher). Then I wised up (so I thought) and started writing each request on the board. You know what started happening? My lower kiddos would just copy the board and stop trying to think. That had to stop.

So I moved on to post-its for each student. And then I realized I was a walking transcriptionist, writing words over and over. This, too, had to stop.

Then I realized, the bad spelling is the best learning! For my students who had a good grasp of phonics, I had top push them to try to sound things out for the sake of learning and opening up opportunities to use their chunking and blending skills. But for my lower students who were struggling with spelling already, I had to do more then keep saying “try your best”.

3 Ways to  Stop  Spelling Words  for  Structured  Students! Getting Independence Back in Independent Writing!  www.NoodleNook.netI decided to try a couple of different things. First I posted a more useful word wall with words the kids actually wanted to use. That worked wonders. I also placed at each table a simple picture-word chart that could be used across content areas.

It was awesome to see the progress. Better yet, it was awesome to see more independence. The icing on the cake was creating table sets in the classroom where students were very strategically placed in groups to support each other in different ways. Having students ask each other for help before coming to me increased the talking in the classroom, but it also increased the writing on the paper.

So , the three suggestions to stop you from having to spell all day:

1. Functional Word Wall (like the one here).

2. Individual/Table Group Picture-Word Charts (like this one).

3. Table Groups Designed for Support (see more on Cooperative Learning here or this Pin-Board).

3 Ways to  Stop  Spelling Words  for  Structured  Students! Getting Independence Back in Independent Writing!  www.NoodleNook.net

Try one or all today!

12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

 12 Sites for FREE Audio Books

The days of passing time with a good book seems to be fading quickly- most kids today do not sit and read a great novel from cover to cover like those of us from days of yore. Audio books may be a way to bring those golden days back! Even better, using audio books is a great way to engage non-readers in books and teach story elements… Or maybe for fluent readers to fill some downtime. The possibilities are endless.12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

There are tons of ideas on integrating audio books into your lesson plans because Audio Books Rock! And here are a dozen sites with FREE books to get you started (click on each image to go to the site and see for yourself)!

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

LoyalBooks has a great collection of free audiobooks that can be searched and then streamed directly from the site or downloaded. From Pinocchio to Withering Heights- you can find it all!

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

The creator, Chick Brown, has a short list of audio stories that are created especially for kids. They titles are available for download or to read along online.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

With hundreds of titles, you will not want for great books here. All titles are indexed for easy searching and available for download. Awesome!

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

StoryNory has current and classic stories available. What’s more, the text of the books are present on the same page as the audio files, so you can easily follow along, print, or reference when needed.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

There are some high interest books here as opposed to just novels. The site overall has a ton of books available, which they index for easy searching.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

With printable lesson plans, worksheets, and links to related games, this site has a lot to offer. There is an iOS app that can be used as well with these visual Audio Books! Wonderful for younger students.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

Listed on one page alphabetically, this site has a lot to offer, but is a little harder to access unless you know what you are looking for. With that said, there are lots of titles which makes it a win.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

Literally there are over a hundred thousand books on this site. Some are paid but many are free and they can be played online or downloaded. You couldn’t ask for more!

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

This list is a long on and includes readability and word count for every book as well as the ability to search based on readability (Flesch–Kincaid Level) which can help a lot when it comes to lesson planning and curriculum alignment.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

With a great list of old and new books as well as a links to paid books, this is a nice site to stream online.

  1. 12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

Download books from this site and try their free Audio Player, which you can use from your computer, to easily manage your books. There are loads of free and paid titles on this site for you to enjoy.

  1. There are so many other resources for free audio books including Amazon, local libraries, and YouTube (Click here for a great list of 500 video-audio books).

12 Sites for FREE Online Audiobooks! www.NoodleNook.Net

No matter the source, use this great resource to spark interest in books in the next generation!

Know some more great resources for free audio books? Post them in the comments below and help this list grow!


Online Resources for Learning

There are a ton of great resources online for teachers and parents, but the problem is knowing what site and what activity to do to support the areas that are a struggle. This list breaks down several sites my students and kids have loved using into categories to help guide you.Online Resources for K-12 Learning www.NoodleNook.Net



 Letter Recognition: *Upper/Lowercase *Letterella *Alphabet Cards *ABCD *Watermelon *Alphabet Goop *Paint by Letter

Letter Sounds: *Loosey Goosey Rhymes *ABC Match *Big Bird Gets a Letter *Chicken Coop *Letter Pop *Digsby First Sounds

Long Vowels *Long Vowels *Long Vowel Sounds *Picture Match *Name the Picture *Reading Upgrade *Long Vowel Quiz

Short Vowels: *Short Vowels *Picture Match *Mix and Match *Name the Picture *Reading Upgrade *Short Vowel Quiz

Rhyming Words: *Professor Garfield Rhymes *Frog’s Rhyming Machine *River Rhyming *Cat at Bat *Elmo Rhymes *Rhyming with Reggie

Sight Words: *Sight Words with Samson *Dolch Word Games *Sight Word Matching *High Frequency Words *Word Scramble Game *Popcorn Words

CVC: *Whirlyword It’s a Goal *Alphabet *Chicken Stacker *Word Builder *CVC Word Machine

Blending: *Blending Bowl *Orson’s Waller *The Hay Loft *Word Blender *Construct a Word *Letter Blends

Prefixes: *Building Prefixes *Crystal Castle Prefixes *JigWords *Race to Ramses *Prefix Quiz *Short Circuit

Suffixes: *Spin to Win *Jelly Fish *Short Circuit *Word Works *Suffixes *Suffix and Base Word Match

Base Words: *Jelly Fish *Suffix and Base Word Match *Race to Ramses *Spin to Win *Word Works *Putting Down Roots

Word Endings: *Fish ’em Up *-ion Word Sort *-ion and-ation Word Sort *-ed and -ing Word Sort



Main Idea/Details: *What’s Going On? *Comprehension *Reading Upgrade *Main Idea Puzzle *What’s the Big Idea? *Main Idea & Details *BrainPop Movie & Quiz *Kid’s Lab *Main Idea Quiz

Author’s Purpose: *Author’s Purpose Matching *Reading Rocket *Author’s use of Persuasion *Author’s Purpose *Reading Upgrade Matching

Context Clues: *Cows Context Clues *Words in Context *Reading Upgrade *Word Master

Reality/Fantasy: *Tina’s WorldReal or Make-Believe?

Sequencing: *Monkey Business *Tying Your Shoe Sequence *Lists and Instructions *Library Sequencer *Ordering

Dictionary: *Dino Hunter *Alphabetical Order *Rags to Riches

Elements of a Story: *Cinderella Story Elements



NUMBER & OPERATIONS: *+ – x /E-Lab Grade 4 *Fractions *Fractions Interactives *Fuel the Brain | Elementary Educational Flash Games *Hit the Button *Johnnie’s Math Fractions Activities *Johnnie’s Math Fun Activities *Johnnie’s Math Multiplication Activities *Johnnie’s Math Number Activities *Kids and Cookies *Math Arcade Games *Math CyberChallenge *Math Word Problems *Mathtrain.TV *Money Interactives *Multiplication.com *NH SAU 21 – Math *Number & Operations Manipulatives *Patty’s Paints *Shine + Write *Think Math! *Thinking Blocks

ALGEBRA: *Algebra Manipulatives *E-Lab, Grade 4Fairy Fog Patterns *Pattern Interactives

GEOMETRY: *E-Lab, Grade 4Geometric Rainbow *Geometry Facts *Geometry Interactives *Geometry Manipulatives *Johnnie’s Math Geometry Activities *Planet Hop Number Line *Quia – Discovering Elapsed Time *Right Back at You Angles Game *Shape, Space and Measures *Shapes Game *Weigh the Wangdoodles

MEASUREMENT: *Date and Time Activity *E-Lab, Grade 4Elapsed Time *Elapsed Time *Elapsed Time: Minutes and Hours *Johnnie’s Math Measurement Activities

*Making Measurements *Measurement Interactives *Measurement Manipulatives

DATA ANALYSIS: *Coin Flipping Page *Data Analysis & Probability Manipulatives *Data Probability Interactives *E-Lab, Grade 4Interpreting Chart Information *Johnnie’s Math Graph Activitie *Johnnie’s Math Probability Activities *Probability Card Game *Probability Fish Tank *Probably a Favorite *Reading Charts and Graphs *Reading Percentages in Charts *Sadlier Oxford – Educational Publishing from PreK-12+Sadlier Oxford – Educational Publishing from PreK-12+ *Virtual Coin Toss


PHYSICAL SCIENCE: *3-6 Student Interactives – Science – UENA Brief History of Weights and Measures *Acid/Bases And PH Indicators *Black Hole Game – Gravitational Force *Chemical vs. Physical Changes *Forms of Energy *Heat and Thermal Energy *Hot Air Balloon *Mass, Volume, Density *Physical And Chemical Changes *Physical Or Chemical Change? *Physical vs. Chemical Change *Properties of Matter *Science Lab *States of Matter Game *The Power Kids – Energy Facts *What’s More Dense?

LIFE SCIENCE: *All Systems Go *Build-A-Prairie *Cell Structure *Foodweb Kerplunk *How the Body Works *Plant & Animal Cells Matching Game

EARTH & SPACE SCIENCE: *A Virtual Journey into the Universe *Astronomy For Kids *Earth’s four spheres *Earth’s Four Spheres *Earth’s Spheres *Face Your Spheres *Visual model of Earth’s spheres


Do you have more? Add them to the comments section and help me build on this list!

The 1 Thing You Need to do for Special Ed Kids and 5 Ways How!

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

Parents always feel bad when they ask me, but I get this question all the time… How can I help my kid look normal when we are talking to people? You know what I’m talking about. You’re at the grocery store and run into someone you know- you are chatting with them  but your special needs son or daughter is looking down, not interacting, and looks socially wrong.

Now, “normal” and “wrong” are said with love, but it’s hard to chat with a friend, co-workers, or anyone if you don’t follow social cues. That becomes infinitely more challenging if you don’t even know what the cues are. If our special needs kids are going to look the part when they are out in public, interacting with their own friends, or working at a job, there are some basic skills that make a big difference!

As a teacher in the classroom, I have seen special needs and even general ed students struggle with some basic social skills. They could be delayed because of cultural differences, home life, disabilities, or a myriad of things. Bottom line, though, is that every kid in school today needs these soft skills to be successful in the post-secondary. With that said, here are 5 ways to up the social interactions in the classroom. Though designed for special needs, these tips can be used with any student.

1. Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning is a way of teaching in the classroom that constantly requires students to interact and share what they are learning as well as collaborate on tasks. In a typical classroom, it is possible for an entire 50-minute class period to go by where a student never communicates with a peer. Day after day without interacting  leads to a deficit in an important soft skill. That’s where Cooperative Learning makes a huge difference.

One of my favorite strategies is to have students read their writing prompts to each other every day- Rally Robin style. Then we work on asking at least one on topic question. It looks like a train wreck the first three months of school, but by the second semester my kiddos are rocking it. Check out the strategies listed on this Cooperative Learning website to learn more. If you have the opportunity to attend a Kagan Cooperative Learning class, their strategies are fabulous in the classroom!

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

2. Non-Verbal Posters & Cues

There are some basics to looking the part when interacting with others- you have to have good eye contact, smile and nod throughout the conversation, and listen so you know when to talk. Those rules work for everyone (believe me, sometimes I forget to listen as I make my to-do list in my head… then I’m totally lost)! Now, some people have know these nonverbal communication skills intrinsically, but others have to have it taught.

I have loved seeing the change in my students when I link the nonverbal poster with physical cues because they react when they are talking and I don’t have to stop them to tell them what to do… and the truth is, they look so much more “normal”. People interact with them differently and it is so much better. Check out the printable posters on Teachers Pay Teachers. The kit includes suggestions for IEP goals as well as data sheets.

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

3. Real Life Practice

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you have to practice these soft skills. You have to practice a lot. I have my students talk to me everyday when they come in the classroom. They can’t come in without talking to me. Everyday. I greet them and ask them some basic chit-chat questions (like: How are you? or What did you do this weekend? or Did you see _____ on TV last night?) I also give them pointers at the end or , if necessary for some, have a para help them to by prompting them with statements they can use.

Wait time is essential to this. Equally as important is generalizing the skill. Me everyday is fabulous, but someone not-me is necessary so the student can apply the skills we practice in real-life situations.

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

4. Scripted Interactions

VIsuals are a great way to remind students what comes next. It is also great for kids with Autism who echo what others say. I have used this social interaction template with several students to get them to talk to me (and to anyone they may meet) in a socially appropriate manner as a starter to developing social skills. Download this  FREE pre-filled bubbles and start using them today. I have several echolalic students who have used this and have learned to generalize it- now they at least get through the initial part of social interactions in a fairly ‘normal’ looking way.

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

5. Practical Social Communication Boards

Lots of students with disabilities have the mental skills needed to socially interact, but lack the verbal skills to make it happen. Several electronic AAC devices exist that can bridge that gap, but there is a learning curve for that, some students struggle with them, and others have not developed the pre-requisite skills needed to use them effectively.

This Communication Flip Board is available on Teachers Pay Teachers and is socially geared. The pictures really help to master the boards and may really help students to talk more with their peers. I have seen parents take note when their student uses this board- they can see the improvement!

The 1 Thing you need to do for Special Ed Kids & 5 Ways How! NoodleNook.Net

No matter what method you use to get your students interacting, you MUST get them interacting… with each other… often. Start today!