Sustained Attention Anchor Charts

Happy Freebie Friday, everybody! If you are new to our page, we release a new free resource every week.  This week, we have a resource for all of you teachers and parents who are trying to help a child learn to stay focused, also known as sustained attention.

Sustained Attention is the skill that refers to being able to stay focused on a task for an extended period of time, even when it is a non-preferred task. We have all had those days where we just cannot seem to stay focused, but for some of our kids, this is a consistent struggle.

Easy to Follow Visual Charts

Happy Freebie Friday! Whether you are a new visitor or check in every week for new resources, we are excited you are here! This week, our free resource is one that has proven helpful in our own homes and we hope that you will love it too! 

This week's Executive Functioning based freebie is our Visual Charts! We have found that our own kids really love using these charts and they have made a huge difference in our home organization. 

Executive Functioning Symptom Checklist

If you follow Smart ALEC Resources, you already know that Friday is our favorite day of the week.  If you are new to our site, Welcome! We are excited that you are here. To explain why Friday is our favorite day, (no it's not because it is the start of the weekend), every Friday we post one of our favorite resources and give it away for FREE.  That's right, each week we have a new resource that you can download and use, available for one week. 

Dragons Love Tacos Receptive & Expressive Language Activities

It’s Friday and you know what that means! We have a Freebie for you! Today’s Freebie ties into our blog post all about Receptive and Expressive Language. If you haven’t seen the blog on Receptive and Expressive Language yet, check it here

Dragons Love Tacos Letter Activities

Fridays are our favorite day of the week here at Smart ALEC Resources because we love getting to share games and activities with you!

This month we are talking about early literacy.  Early literacy is everything a child needs to know about reading and writing before he or she can read or write.

Vocabulary Graphic Organizer

Happy Freebie Friday! If you are new to Smart ALEC Resources, every Friday we release a new free resource.  All month long we have been focusing on Reading Comprehension.  For our final resource this month, we are giving you one of our favorites! 

What is it?

This resource is a vocabulary graphic organizer.    One of the biggest challenges we have faced when working with our students on their comprehension is vocabulary.  It can be difficult for a lot of our students to rely solely on context clues, so before starting a new passage we will always work through any tricky vocabulary words they will come across. 

How We Use It

We start by choosing a word that is relevant to our passage.  For example, in the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, we identified the words hatchet, wilderness, dew, crystal and stew. We want to go through each of these words and make sure students fully understand each of the concepts. To do so, we use this graphic organizer and complete the steps listed below. 

To begin, determine whether the word is a noun, verb, adjective, or other part of speech. Then you can dive into defining:

First, what is the category? For a hatchet - the category is a tool. 

Next, what is the function? For a hatchet - the function is to cut or chop.

Freebie 1 crop.png

Then ask the student, "what is this word like?" (synonym) For a hatchet - axe

What is it not like (antonym) For a hatchet - another tool that cuts but isn't the same would be scissors.

Finally, what are two key defining features? A hatchet has a short handle and it is very sharp. 

You can use the same organizer with young students. See what that looks like in this quick video!

What Challenges Might Come Up

Sometimes our students struggle to visualize the vocabulary words. If this happens, we suggest pulling up a picture so they have a visual anchor.  

I Love This Idea! How Can I Get It?

This Freebie has expired, but, we have a great NEW freebie here. 

For other great resources, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers Store or, consider becoming a Smart ALEC Member to receive access to our exclusive Members Only Library and all of our resources. 

Check Back Next Week!

In other exciting news, as April is starting next week we have a new Focus Theme! All of April we will be focusing on Early Literacy. Join us for a Facebook Live on Tuesday when we "spring" into this new theme, and Friday when the first of four freebies is released!



Reading Comprehension IEP Goal Bank

Happy Freebie Friday! 

All month we have been talking about Reading Comprehension.  For this Freebie Friday we are giving away our Reading Comprehension IEP Goal Bank.

We get so many questions around IEP goals, what they should look like and what they should include. We have compiled this list so when you are in the IEP process you have a variety of goals at your fingertips.  

How We Use It

This list is broken into 3 different categories, Background Knowledge, Self-Monitoring, and Specific Reading Comprehension Strategies. Depending on where your student needs support, choose which categories and goals would be appropriate for your student.  The goals are pre-written with a space to input individualized data points and targets so that the goal can directly reflect the student's needs.

Important Pieces to Note 

Reading Comp IEP Goal Bank

A very important quality of an IEP goal is that it is tailored to a student's individual needs.  We recognize the concern around using templated goals and that some feel this reduces their ability to individualize the IEP. Our list allows you to put in very specific data points and you should only be selecting the goals that fit the specific student. The template ensures that the goals will be measurable without taking away the ability to individualize them to the student. 

I Love This Idea! How Can I Get It?

This freebie has expired. But not to worry, we have tons of resources available in our membership platform if you are interested. If not, and you are just looking for free stuff - we have an awesome freebie available every week.

Be on the lookout for our online course that will dive into all the key components of reading and how they blend together to get the best outcomes for struggling readers.

For other resources, visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store, or, consider becoming a Smart ALEC Community Member to receive access to our exclusive Members Only Library and all of our resources. 

Reading Comprehension Pre-Test for 4th and 5th Graders!

Happy Freebie Friday! In line with March's Reading Comprehension Theme, this week we are giving you a PreTest to use with your 4th and 5th grade students! 

How We Use It

We use this pre-test to get a snapshot of our students' reading comprehension abilities. For this test, we have used a passage from Andrew Clement's book, Frindle and complete a variety of tasks with our students. 

What Areas of Comprehension Does it Cover?

The following sections are evaluated in our pretest.

  • Reading Fluency Running Record 
  • A Variety of Story Elements including but not limited to, Main Idea and Details, Sequencing and Predicting. 
  • Explicit & Implicit Questions 
  • Word Work 
  • a Maze Activity 
  • ...and MORE! 

This download includes both a student and instructor version, and is broken down into sections to make scoring easy! 

How Do I Get It?

This Freebie has expired, we will be launching a reading fluency and comprehension course soon - considering join our email list to hear about all of our amazing opportunities.

For more Smart ALEC Resources, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store, or, consider joining our Membership Community for access to all of our resources in our exclusive Members Only Library. 

Have a great week, and don't forget to check out our newest blog this Tuesday!

Comprehension Strategies by Grade

Happy Freebie Friday! Following our March theme of Reading Comprehension, this week we are giving away our Comprehension by Grade Level Instructional Guide!

How We Use It

This list of strategies is broken down by grade level based on when it is appropriate to introduce new concepts.  While this indicates when concepts should be introduced, comprehension instruction should be done in a spiral and you should  review the concepts learned in previous grades.  For more information, check out our blog "Comprehension Instruction Should Be Done in a Spiral." 

What Challenges You Might Face

If you have a student/students who are struggling to retain this information, you should incorporate more modeling into your explicit instruction. We also recommend making sure the student is using a text appropriate to their ability. You can still instruct the same concepts based on grade level, but alter the text to fit the students' needs. 

This resource has expired we will be launching a reading fluency and comprehension course where you can receive access to all these awesome materials soon. Join our mailing list to hear about it! In the meantime, check out our TPT store, or join our community for exclusive access to all of our materials! 

Parent - Teacher Conference Checklist

Thank you to everyone who joined us in February as we discussed Phonological Awareness! We had an overwhelmingly positive response and loved hearing from you about what resources were helpful.  

For March, you voted and said that you want us to cover Reading Comprehension.  On Tuesday, we posted our first blog with this theme "The 4 Most Common Reasons for Comprehension Breakdowns."  If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here.


How We Use It

We have taken the different breakdowns and made them into a checklist so you can easily narrow down your students' areas of struggle.  

What Challenges Might Come Up

 Weak Decoding Skills - Checklist Image

As you go through the checklist, it is important that you have examples and data to support what you are saying.  For example, if you are going to check the box in the "Weak Decoding Skills" category that says "they are reading more than 5 words inaccurately in a paragraph" you should have some kind of data to support this.  

If you are worried about not having the right resources to support your students' reading comprehension, be sure to check back every Friday as we upload more freebies! 

What You Need To Do

This freebie has expired. To download what we are up to this week click here.  Check back every Friday for our newest resource! 

If you are looking for more resources in the meantime, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store, or consider joining our Membership Community for access to all of our resources and materials. To join click here!


Intermediate Phoneme Segmenting

 Intermediate Phoneme Segmenting

We hope you have loved all of our February Freebies!

Over the last month, we have talked a lot about the importance of phonological awareness for all ages.  If you haven't had a chance to read the blogs from this month, you can click below to catch up! 

Since this is the last week of our Phonological Awareness themed month, we are giving you one of our favorite resources! This week's Freebie Friday giveaway is our Intermediate Phoneme Segmenting Practice! 

How We Use It

Phoneme Segmenting - Kick.PNG

We practice phonological awareness in every lesson with our students.  These cards can make it more engaging because our kids like the pictures. Have the student put a colored dot in the grid for each sound.  In the picture, the word is kick.  There are 3 colored dots because the sounds are /k/ /i/ /k/. 

As your students grow in this area, you can start asking them to manipulate the phonemes.  For example, after they have completed kick, you can say "change the last sound in kick to /d/.  They should exchange their last colored chip for a different one and have /k/ /i/ /d/.  The new word is kid.  

You can also use this resource for spelling practice as well.  When the student has broken the words into phonemes ask them to spell it.  In the example above, we know that the final /k/ sound will be a -ck because it follows a short vowel sound and this is a one syllable word.  

We have also included our Closed Syllable Spelling Rule cards so that you can use this resource as a sorting game.  Ask your students to sort the words based on their last sound. 


What Challenges Might Come Up 

 Phoneme Manipulation Blocks

Phoneme segmenting can be really tricky for our struggling readers.  While we often have them tap out their sounds when reading, in this activity we like to use a visual cue (the colored dots) to help them.  If you do not have dots like these, you can use a variety of other resources.  Often we will see teachers/interventionists use blocks like these. If you do not have colored dots/blocks, we encourage you to get creative! One day when I had forgotten to bring my dots I used colored paper clips and the student loved it. 

How to get it

Oh nuts! This freebie has expired. Not to worry, we have a different awesome freebie you can grab for this week.

In other exciting news, we had you all vote on our Facebook and Instagram pages last week about what theme you would like to see for March! We had a tie between Reading Comprehension and Writing Resources so we have decided to do both! March will be all about reading comprehension and we will focus on writing in April. 

As always, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store or join our Members Only Community for more resources! 

Syllable and Sentence Segmenting!

Syllable and Sentence Segmenting.png

Syllable and sentence segmenting are crucial strategies to help our students become better readers and writers.  

We start by teaching them how to segment their sentences into words so they can discriminate between the individual pieces.  While this skill may seem easy, it can be a struggle for some of our struggling readers.  Think about when you are hearing someone speak in an unfamiliar language.  It can be really difficult to hear where one word stops and another begins.  

As students advance in this skill, syllable segmenting should be introduced.  The ability to break words into syllables will help your child decode the words, therefore helping them read and spell.  

Our freebie this week is designed to enhance your segmenting instruction! We have put together our Syllable and Sentence Segmenting game to make this topic fun and engaging for students.  

Who Should Be Using This?

We know that every classroom is going to have readers that are at varying levels.  That is why this game can be differentiated to fit the needs of your students.  Your most advanced students can be breaking up multisyllable words into individual syllables, while your struggling students can start with the sentence segmenting.  

How We Use It 

Sentence segmenting is explicitly instructed in our beginner curriculum.  This game is a great addition because it creates engagement and allows us to practice these skills with our students in a more exciting way.  Our students working through our intermediate curriculum are explicitly taught syllable division, so the syllable segmenting half of the game is a great addition to our lessons.  If our students are struggling in either area, we will use this game to help enhance our lessons and instruction. 

Be Prepared for This Challenge...

This skill can be really tricky for our kids, especially those that are struggling.  In the free download we have provided pages with blank white squares.  We use these and colored game chips to help our students keep track of the different words and syllables. The visual cue can help them make the connects we are trying to build. 

What You Need To Do

This freebie has expired, but don't worry - we have lots of other awesome free stuff for you. Check out this week's freebie here!  If you are looking for more resources to support your Phonological Awareness instruction, you can check back next week for another freebie! You can also check out our Teachers Pay Teachers Store, or become a Smart ALEC Community Member for access to all of our resources. 

Rhyme Discrimination and Production Activities

 Need help with Rhyme Discrimination or Rhyme Production? This Freebie is perfect for you!

Happy Freebie Friday! Keeping with February's theme, Phonological Awareness, our new Freebie is a Rhyming Activity! 

How Do We Use It?

This week's freebie has both rhyme discrimination and rhyme production pieces making it great for all of your students. Those that are struggling with Phonological Awareness will benefit from the rhyme discrimination portion.  We have included both pictures and words to help individualize the level of instruction. You can even play this as a game to increase the child's engagement.  Use the sorting chart and have students sort the cards into either "yes they rhyme" or "no, they don't rhyme" groups. 

If you are looking for an activity that focuses more on Orthography, the rhyme production portion will be perfect.  The student receives either a picture or a word and is asked to come up with a word that rhymes. 

What Complications Might Come Up, and How We Handle Them. 

We know that our dyslexic students often struggle with rhyming.  This is a skill that needs to be monitored and sometimes explicitly taught.  For a tip on how to teach rhyming to your students that struggle with it, check out our blog: What to do When Your Student Can't Hear the Rhyme. 

 This card is intended to say "ant, plant." If your student sees the ant and says "bug" you can either go with that and say "no, those don't rhyme" or ask them to think of the bug's name that rhymes with plant.  

Something else we have noticed is that often our kids will see the pictures and mistake it for another word.  For example, on our card intended to be "ant, plant" a student might say "bug, plant."  If the child says this, then go ahead and sort it into the "no, they don't rhyme" category.  Then you can say, "what if we said ant, plant, do those rhyme?" and redirect the attention back to what the card was intended to be. You can also say, "what is the name of the bug that rhymes with plant?" for students who you feel like would benefit from rhyme production practice as well.  If your student is not at that level yet, then feel free to go with their original idea, "bug, plant" and sort that into the no category. 

What You Need To Do

Oh man! This freebie is expired, but don't worry we have tons of other awesome stuff coming your way. See what we have on tap for this week!

If you are looking for more information to support your Phonological Awareness instruction, we post a new blog and Facebook Live every Tuesday.  Click here to check out our past blogs, and here to check out our Smart ALEC Resources Facebook page! 

We will be releasing a new free resource every week, but to find helpful resources right now, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers store, or join our Smart ALEC Community! Community Members get exclusive access to our Members Only Library with hundreds of resources available for you to download. 

We hope you have a great week and we will see you next Friday! 

Phonological Awareness Skills Checklist

 PA Skills Checklist Freebie Friday Giveaway

The votes are in! Last week you all voted and told us that you wanted more resources around Phonological Awareness.  For the entire month of February we will be providing information, tips and Freebies centered around just that.  Our first Freebie is our Phonological Awareness Skill Development Checklist. 

Phonological Awareness is the all encompassing term for how our students are processing sounds within words.  This can pertain to segmenting, auditory discrimination, rhyming, blending, etc. These skills are crucial for students to learn as they are the building blocks for reading as well as spelling.  

PA Skill Development Checklist

While all of the individual pieces of Phonological Awareness are important, we found that we were having a difficult time tracking where our students where at with each individual skill.  We developed this easy to use checklist to help us stay organized and we know that it will help you too.  This is a great tool for both teachers and interventionists that work with students of all ages.  (If you read our blog on Tuesday you will know why this is crucial for older students.  If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here).  

How We Use It

The checklist tracks 12 different skills (everything from sound discrimination to phoneme manipulation).  There is a box to track the date the skill was introduced, and a box to track when it was mastered.  We use the rule that a student must be able to complete each skill without support over the course of three consecutive sessions, for us to consider it mastered.  

What Complication Will Likely Come Up, and How We Handle It. 

As much as we would love our students to be able to always apply a skill correctly over 3 consecutive sessions once we introduce it, we know that this is not always the case.  Our students need our support in learning these different skills and we want you to feel empowered as an educator to help your students get there.  If a skill doesn't seem to be sticking, you may need to take a different approach, or add in additional supports to your lesson.  We will be releasing a new resource for you to try every Friday this month. 

What You Need to Do.

Well rats, this freebie has expired, but not to worry we have lots of great Phonological Awareness activities coming your way.  If you are looking for more games and activities to support your Phonological Awareness Instruction, we have countless resources in our Members Only Library and on Teachers Pay Teachers.  As mentioned earlier, every Friday in February will be dedicated to sharing more of our favorite PA resources with you! Check out this week's freebie!

Letter Y - Vowel Sounds

Freebie Friday Cry Baby.png

Letter Y can be so tricky for our students because it makes so many different sounds. It's the only letter in our alphabet that acts as both a vowel and a consonant (some teachers will also say the letter W can act as a vowel too, but it can never act as a vowel on its own - it can only pair with other vowels to become a vowel team...anyway we digress).

Back to Letter Y - as a consonant it says /y/ as in yellow, but as a vowel it can have a number of sounds depending on how many syllables are in the word and the type of syllable. Usually we see letter Y acting as a vowel in open syllable words in other words, the Y is at the end of the word.

At the end of short words (one syllable) the letter Y will say I as in cry, shy, sky, fly. At the end of longer words (two syllables or more) the Y will say E as in baby, gravy, shaky. Y can also say /i/ as in gym when it's found in the middle of a closed syllable word but we usually don't teach that explicitly until much later on.

Because this is a tricky concept for our students we have a few different ways to help them remember:

Letter Y the Robber Guy, Steals the Sounds of E & I

We have a fun free resource using this term over at TPT if you want to grab that.

We also use the Key Phrase:

Cry Baby

To help them remember that Y says I in short words and E in multi-syllable words. We have this fun cry baby activity and word sort that WE LOVE that you can use to help support your students through this tricky lesson. You can make this more advanced by using the phrase "Cry Baby in the Gym" if you want to teach the vowel short sound of Y.

So all that to say, Y is HARD! It has 4 sounds including 1 consonant sound and 3 vowel sounds! Good luck - let us know if you need any other strategies for this one!

Nuts! This freebie has expired. Don't worry though you can see what we have this week here! Consider joining our Membership Site to get access to all of our amazing resources.

Using Stories to Guide Literacy Instruction

Billy Goat Freebie.png

So we love nothing more than pairing structured, systematic learning with reading that's actually fun! Using storybooks to ground instruction can be so powerful, especially for our early readers.

For our early readers, we like to focus on developing the skills needed to set a strong foundation for reading and writing.

Typically we start by reading the book aligned with our planned activities. As we are reading we are always thinking about pointing out sounds and letters that our students should be familiar with. We are also asking questions, "How do you think Little Billy Goat Gruff is feeling right now?", "What do you think might happen next?" "What lesson do you think could be learned from this story?"

We always want to make sure that reading is an active process and not just a passive experience for our early readers. After reading the story we jump into our activities. For this particular storybook unit, we practice with writing warm-up activities, counting syllables, and memory with initial sounds, which is great for sound identification and to support those early spatial memory skills, we love activities that support multiple learning targets! We also target final sound identification and blending phonemes which are great phonological awareness and beginning decoding activities.

Finally, we practice comparative concepts which are helpful in developing the language skills that are necessary to become a successful reader and student and we practice vocabulary development and basic comprehension to remind students that reading is not a passive process. Rather, it's a process in which we need to spend a great deal of thought and effort in order to get the most out of it.  And, if you need to get the book, you can get it on Amazon by clicking on the image of the book (full disclaimer we do have an affiliate link for the book (which means we get a tiny portion of the sale at no extra cost to you, and clearly we wouldn't recommend it if we didn't obviously love it ourselves!).

This weekly freebie is expired!! But GREAT NEWS - you can still grab this freebie over at our TPT Store.

Also check out this week's Freebie Friday!

Free Writing Paragraph Practice

 Free Writing Paragraph Practice Prompts.  Informative, Narrative, AND Persuasive. 

One of the most important things for us to see is that our students' skills are generalizing. We often teach spelling rules and patterns and pray that our students are actually applying these rules outside of their controlled spelling lists. One of the best ways to monitor growth is to simply let students write. We love seeing what our students come up with on these free writes.

Whenever we ask our students to free write we are monitoring their output. Typically we are scoring or looking for:

1. Appropriate theme development

So they need to have an introduction, three key details (each with their own sentence), and concluding sentence.

2. Appropriate use of COPS.

We are checking for appropriate usage of capitals at the beginning of the sentence and proper nouns and we are checking for additional capitals that don't need to be there. We are checking for appropriate organization and spacing of words. We are looking for appropriate use of ending punctuation, introductory commas and commas in a series. We are looking for appropriate spelling or at the very least identification of words that may be misspelled.

It is really important to us that our students begin to self-edit for both theme development and COPS in their writing. By providing these types of passages we are holding them accountable for previous learning and monitoring for ourselves what's sticking and maybe what's not in order to further guide our instruction.

Oh nuts, this freebie is expired! But check out this week's Freebie Friday!

Authentic Literature: Henry and Mudge

 Authentic Literature Henry and Mudge

Today, a teacher asked me, “When do you do the reading? When do you tie in books?”

This is a great question. Our Smart ALEC curriculum emphasizes the five essential elements of literacy instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) in every single lesson. However, this work is in the word, phrase and sentence level. So, this teacher was naturally wondering, “When do I bring in the texts for my students?”

We are big advocates of sharing authentic literature with our readers. We want to point out that authentic literature is different from decodable texts. While decodable texts have an important role in helping our emerging readers learn how to read, they vary greatly from an authentic piece of literature.

You may have a group of students in your classroom who aren’t at the sentence or text level yet with their reading. You can still share authentic literature with them through read aloud, partner reading, or by sharing excerpts from a text.

Students gain so much from experiencing stories in terms of skills, but this exposure also nurtures a love of reading. This, in my opinion, is the greatest gift you can give a child.

If you have a group that is not ready to approach a text on their own, you can scaffold this learning by selecting one sentence from the text to share. This may be a sentence that models great word choice, evokes an emotional response, or is just a solid model of a well written sentence. Students can read, mimic, and enjoy this excerpt and this can be a spring board for skill work in your instruction.

This same idea can be expanded to extracting a paragraph or passage from a text and having students work with just that portion of that book. You can build skills from this passage or use it to model a writing style.

The beauty in this is it helps our struggling readers see themselves as readers. This gives them the opportunity to interact with some of the same texts their peers are reading or have talked about. Perhaps this exposure will ignite an interest with your student and move them to check out the book on their own after getting a small taste of the story?

When using authentic literature, it is important to measure your students’ comprehension and understanding of the text. The ultimate goal of reading is to make meaning from text, and you want to keep a pulse on this as your student is reading in texts. We have developed a comprehension activity that can follow a reading of Henry and Mudge – The First Book. This activity develops a variety of different comprehension strategies so that you can hone in on which areas need to be targets for growth.

Depending on your student’s ability to approach this text independently, you can read this to your student, allow them to ear-read this story here, or support them as they read the text out loud to you.

Oh nuts, this Freebie is expired. But grab this week's Freebie Friday here!

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out