Stir Up Some Savings TpT Sale

Click on th image to start saving!

I'm so excited to announce a sale...I haven't had one in a long time, so I hope you all enjoy some savings in my little TpT shop.  Stir up some savings now through Tuesday at

Best witches for a fun week of school!
You know you're little ones will be stirred up for learning this week, too!

Monitor Classroom Noise Level with Virtual Bouncy Things

I'm a firm believer in classroom noise! The good, productive, on-topic student voices that occur when learning is abuzz in my classroom.  But even, students forget to self-monitor their own noise level no matter how productive and on-task it is.   

I wrote a  blog post about this a few years ago and it practically went viral.  The original website from *that* post however, has been disabled and there is a new one...this one.

That .ORG not .COM

It's clever, attractive and sure to engage your students in self-regulating their volume.  Because the application utilizes the microphone on your laptop (you must click "allow to use microphone" when prompted), students must work together to collectively bring the noise level down "so the balls or eyeballs can rest."  

Like anything new, you will need to allow students time to get this new thing out of their system, but once that is over, and the novelty wears off, the balls (or eyes) on the screen will be a reminder to be cognizant of their voice level in the classroom.  This does not need to be used forever, it is a scaffold. Once your students get self-regulated with monitoring their voice levels, you can pull this scaffold away. 

You have the choice of bouncy balls, bouncy emoticons, bouncy bubbles or bouncy eyeballs. My personal favorite are the eyeballs...and just in time for Halloween! 

Free Fonts for Teachers, Commercial Fonts for Companies

click on the image above
 for all Hello Fonts in one happy download

A few weeks ago I created a "All Hello Fonts in One Happy Download" ...where previously font users could either download the batch of 30 free Hello fonts on TpT or you could download them individually from the right sidebar of my blog.  Well, at this point, I have created over 200 fonts and the right side bar was getting difficult to maintain and manage.  In addition, I do sell a license if you want to use the fonts commercially in your for-profit products. BUT, I know there are a whole heap of teachers out there who don't sell products on TpT who just want to use them to jazz up their classroom creations, and so this happy bundle is for YOU.  It's very simple, if YOU want to use all 208 fonts for your own personal and classroom use, and personal means baby showers, christmas cards and principal appreciation week, go right ahead.  If you want to use them for your classroom newsletter, back to school night or your Smartboard lessons for YOUR own classroom, go right ahead.  If you are a school or district that allows teachers to use third party fonts on your district devices, you have my permission to give teachers the link to the Happy Download so THEY can download them all individually.  


If you want to use the fonts commercially in your for-profit products are considering becoming a TpT seller, I would encourage you to purchase a commercial license from any of the following font designers.  Here are some links to popular commercial licenses made by TpT friendly font artists. 

Kimberly Geswein - All Fonts Commercial License - $249.00
Miss Tiina - All Fonts Commercial License - $99.00
My Fonts - Commercial License for 4 Century Fonts - $89.00
Jen Jones - All Hello Fonts Commercial License - $80.00

All KG Fonts - $249.00 per user

All Miss Tiina Fonts - $99.00 per user

4 Century Expanded Fonts - $89.00 per user

All Hello Fonts - $80.00 per user

If you are an advertising agency, greeting card company, Etsy designer, publishing company, corporate marketing firm, or anything in betweeen, you are welcome to also use Hello Fonts on products you design and market for your clients.  I would love to see a Hello font on a chip bag, cereal box, candy wrapper, billboard or book cover.  The terms of use are the same for teachers, please purchase one commercial license per designer in your firm. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at helloliteracyatgmaildotcom.

Follow Up Post about the TBE Graph...Getting Kids to Know and Show their Text Based Evidence

Well, I have certainly heard from many of you about the wonders the TBE Graph is doing in your classroom, and I'm thrilled to hear it.  All of a sudden, kids are so motivated to show me where the answer is and their evidence "in the text." Students are also being critical (and that's in a good way) of each other's answers, especially when the answers they give are no where to be found in the text.

Previous Posts about the TBE Graph are:
TBE Graph gets Rave Reviews and Common Core Reading Standard 1: Citing Evidence

To follow up, I wanted to answer a few questions that have popped up since I originally shared it with you, and offer some suggestions for your own follow up in the classroom.

Q: At what point in the small group lesson do students use the TBE Graph?
A: I always leave a Self-Starter board of directions for students who are coming to my reading group, so they can come to the table and be self-starters in case I'm not there. Often and in reality, it takes me a few minutes to get other kids going on the various centers, log-ins, supplies, etc. but I don't want the students at the reading group table to wait for me to get there before they start reading.  This helps eliminate wasted time and sets them up for success providing the directions and expectations, and I don't have to be there to do that. After students read, and after and as the group discusses the text, students answer one question at a time and record their answers in writing on their individual whiteboard.  Then, after each question, answer and discussion, they record on the their TBE Graph

Q: Do you always use books from Reading A-Z? And do you use the questions they provide?
A: No, I do not always use books from Reading A-Z. I sometimes use books from the guided reading book room, I sometimes use magazines, I sometimes use real books from the media center and sometimes we read text on a digital device. I also use my own Hello 411 articles because they are short and interesting; two key factors necessary for reading text closely.  Currently, there are two Hello 411 sets, Volume 1 and Volume 2, with more volumes on the way.  These sets are great because they're written at 4 different reading levels--the same article. Kids love them and teachers love them because they are written about interesting, relevant, topics.   Whenever I don't have at least 6 sets of a text, I photocopy enough for everyone to have their own text in their own hands.  Timothy Shanahan says this is key for close reading.  Everyone must have a copy of it and everyone must read their own copy and hold their own copy IN THEIR HANDS.  The Fair Use clause of the Copyright law states that you can photocopy up to 10% of a book (any book) for educational you know, I do this A LOT! When you do an informal cost-benefit analysis of it, I'd rather give students a high and wide variety of reading material by making photocopies of 10% of it, than limit the high-ness and wide-ness of the literary material out there and only give them  just what's in the guided reading room...that seems very limiting and instructionally irresponsible. And let me just point out, finding and locating text, both as mentor examples, and interesting stories and articles for elementary students to read is perhaps the hardest, yet most vital part of teacher preparation. But, fortunately, TEXT IS EVERYWHERE. Oh, and I rarely use the questions provided by readinga-z, I make up my own, but you can use them if it helps you. The questions are fairly decent, and generally are a mix of literal and inferential questions. In addition, I do not have students annotate in the Reading A-Z books, as other student cycle through my groups, but I will photocopy one double page spread from the section we are reading for each student to mark up and annotate.

Q: Are you the only one asking the questions?
A: No. The students eventually learn how to ask really good questions (Common Core ELA Standard 1).  At first I model asking different types of questions and they are mostly finding answers.  With scaffolding and support, they begin to be the question askers, mostly out of curiousity and natural wonder. They also begin to ask and answer each other's questions, as shown below on the whiteboards.

Q: How long does it take to teach them this "read, find, cite, write, color" strategy?
A: At first, it will take longer.  You will go slower, you will model it and demonstrate by asking yourself a question about the text, how to search and find the answer, locate it, write the accurate text-based answer, quotations marks and answer location on the whiteboard.

Q: How long do students use the TBE Graph?
A: Great question! The TBE graph is a scaffold.  That means, the students use it until they no longer need it, and can find and cite text based evidence independently without "needing" to color boxes to know and self-monitor they are doing it.  For my students, they used the graph for about a day a student came to my group and said, "Oh, I forgot my TBE graph in my classroom...oh, well, I don't need it anyway, I know what to do."
Taught and learned. Case closed.

On an global learning note regarding this TBE Graph, I'm excited to have been asked to "attend" a staff meeting in Australia on Monday to train the teachers and answer questions about the TBE Graph...via Skype. Looking forward to that!

And as always, love learning and sharing with all of you through this blog.

Rigor - Breaking Down Academic Buzzwords, In My Own Words

This blog post marks the first post since taking a summer break from blogging. I did not vaporize into the blogosphere. I have had a very full, busy and exciting summer (as documented on Instagram - @hellojenjones).  Please be assured that maintaining this blog and sharing high value instructional best practices in literacy is my passion, and I am more fired up than ever to continue the mission of this blog:

...growing readers, one best practice at a time.

One of the take-aways I got from the TpT conference this summer in Vegas was the realization that I needed to tighten up my blog posts to be shorter in overall length and focused on one topic per post, so that is what I will try to do.  With that said, I do plan to finish my Informational Standards Series, resuming with Standard #3. For now, I want to start a new series today called "Breaking Down Academic Buzzwords." Every so often I will take one academic buzzword and break it down, in my own words

Let's begin with RIGOR.

It's a hot word right now, and has been, where you are a Common Core school/state or not. It's a word that districts and principals use with teachers constantly. They say "Your lessons must be rigorous" or "Your instruction must include rigor" and that's about all they say, not much else, and many teachers generally think one of two things, "Ok, I'll make my lessons harder or more challenging!" or "Ok, how do I do that?" without an explanation of RIGOR. 

First and key, embedded in rigor is ENGAGEMENT
Engagement is not a teacher behavior exactly, it is a student behavior, but highly influenced by the attitude, opportunity and structures provided by the teacher, from which students (hopefully) choose to engage in the learning because they see value in it, for them.

Then, embedded in engagement are the learning domains - AFFECTIVE & COGNITIVE.
A student's AFFECTIVE (growth in feelings or emotional areas; how one feels about themselves as a learner and general internal motivation and feelings about learning...anything) motivation and COGNITIVE (mental skills, knowledge; ability to think and problem-solve, evaluate and critique information, etc.) ability to see/feel/get positive results and real learning as a result of their engagement and effort/perseverance from having engaged in the learning, which makes students more likely to engage next time. 

And last, embedded in affective and cognitive learning is AGENCY and INDEPENDENCE
Agency is the motivation and urgency a student brings to the task no matter the content. Independence is the student's ability to be a self-regulated learner without teacher feedback or direction. 

But that's not all, there's RELEVANCY and RELATIONSHIPS.
Take-Away: Rigor is just as much about students and their learning identities, as it is about teachers and knowing students well, choosing your attitude, showing real respect for students, building positive relationships with students, and planning for genuine, relevant learning. It's about embracing your role to providing classroom learning experiences that are more likely than less likely to encourage and invite engagement. It's about providing physical and classroom culture environments and believing that ALL students can learn at high levels when high expectations are clear and known AND that where students actually demonstrate learning at high levels. It's about making real school-life connections for students, and creating a sense of urgency that a student's choice to engage will have a positive take-away and intrinsic pay-off for them, which will no doubt give you a sense of teaching accomplishment, increase your likelihood to continue recreating rigorous classroom experiences in your class and affirm yet again that yes, you have been called to teaching because it is without a doubt, the most important job in the world.  

Additional Reading: 4 Myths about Rigor

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