Saturday, January 24, 2015

Free SECRET STORIES® Shape Anchors!

Currently in the Free Download Window....
The SECRET STORIES Shape Anchor Poster Set!
SECRET STORIES Shape Anchor Poster Set... currently in the Free Download Window!
Three different poster versions are included.

One with alternating "pink and green" backgrounds....

And two additional options with 'frames-only' for easier printing, as shown below.
Neutral Version
Vivid Version
Plus, get this handful of SECRET STORIES anchors to start sharing with your class!
The Free SECRET STORIES Mini-Pack!


Grab these fast, as this Free Download Window won't last long!

Until Next Time,
Subscribe to my RED DIAMOND Pinterest Boards and never miss ANY Free Teaching Tools!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SECRET STORIES® Freebie Anchors and "Dean's Treehouse" Guided Reader

currently in the Free Download Window, so grab it now!

Here's a little peak...

Also included is a black and white version...

Plus, a handful of SECRET STORIES anchors to try with your students!

And coming up in the next Free Download Window this week....

SECRET SHAPES Anchor Posters

with SECRETS highlighted (above- 'Mommy e' & 'Superhero o')
I want to also thank Mrs. Johnson and her Kinders  again for sharing such an informative guest post! 

Her detailed descriptions and student video clips show just how easy it is for even KINDERGARTNERS to use the Secrets to attack unknown words in text! I hope she will continue to share more of these special moments, as well as her personal insight as her Kinders continue to plow-ahead in reading and writing over the rest of this year! 

Well that's about all for now, and stay tuned for the next freebie-window to be posted in the next few days! 

Warmest Regards,


Friday, January 16, 2015

A "Backdoor-Route" to Tricky Phonics Sounds!

Kindergartners obsessed with SECRETS!
A Guest Post by Kindergarten Teacher Kjersti Johnson....

As teachers I think we have all had that moment when we sit down with one of our students and they completely knock our socks off!

This post is coming out of one of those moments. 

Yesterday, I had just gotten my afternoon class of kinders settled into our Dailies….they were spread around the room, some reading, some writing, some listening to books on iPod shuffles, and a few shopping for new books. 

I looked around to see who I would confer with (one of my favorite times of the day, by the way!) I started with Abel. 

Now let me tell you about a little kindergartner named Abel.
He is one of the sweetest little guys I know, and he has an amazing smile. He is also VERY excited about learning! 

He is an English Language Learner and entered kindergarten knowing 7 letters and 0 sounds. He worked SO hard the first weeks of school to learn his ABC's and by October, he knew ALL 52 upper and lowercase letters! (Using Katie's Better Alphabet Song was a huge success!)

So back to yesterday……
I sat down next to him and asked him to read to me. 

That’s when he pulled out Arthur’s Halloween. 
I looked at him and said, “Oh, this looks like a great picture read. Can you tell me a story to go with the pictures?” 
This is kindergarten after all, and it's a tough book! 

He gave me a strange look, and then…….He was READING it!

Later in the day, I had him read it again so that I could video it, and here he is, reading Marc Brown's Arthur's Halloween.
"Was" .....? 
No problem.

"Night"....with its tricky gh
Got it!

"Before" ....? 
Didn't stump him. He saw that Babysitter Vowel o telling the e to "say its name" and or who can "never make up their minds" ......and read it like a pro!

"Family" ....? 
That Sneaky y didn't trick him!

Then we got to "making".... 
He knew it wasn't right when he first read it, but then he remembered the Secret! (and please excuse me telling another student, TWICE, to go color their work :)

I was BLOWN away! Of course I had to e-mail Katie to tell her, which is what led to this blog! (Thanks Katie, for asking me to share!)

And so I made poor Abel read that page to everyone I could find! I was so proud of him! (and by the way, he is determined to read the whole book and I have no doubt that he will!)

This morning, I shared the video with my principal, our Dean of Students, and our LAP teacher! The question of how and when I use the Secret Stories in class came up, and I realized when don't I use them?

We do not limit the Secrets to just "reading" time. We use them all day long (which for us is about 2 hours and 40 minutes---not long, but as you can see, it works!)

We look for Secrets in our poems.....

We use yellow and blue for "popcorn" words and we "butter" the new ones and put blue dots under ones we already know. Then we use a green highlighter to find Secrets.  

And honestly, I have to say that I'm finding that with the Secrets, I'm spending almost no time on memorizing sight words, except for the few that really break the rules and must be "incarcerated" in our Word Jail, as most words the kids can just read with the Secrets.

We look for Secrets in Science....

Look how many variations of the word hibernate we found! 

And the kids were able to read them all!

My favorite was the next day, when all of a sudden I heard ....

"Mrs. Johnson! Mrs. Johnson! I found the word 'hibernate!'" 

And sure enough, he had.

We use Secrets when we write.....
See the ow and ing in "snowing" and the ou in "mountains!"

We look for the Secrets when we walk to and from recess. 

We look for Secrets when we read the directions on our math papers....

words like draw and count don't fool us!  

I almost never have to read story problems to my kids any more because they can do it all by themselves using our Secrets! 

The Secret Stories has opened up so many possibilities.....

There seems to be no limit to what my kindergartners can do!

Oh, and I should say that, yes, I do still have kids that are just chugging along at their own pace, but like Katie says, I am "giving them the keys," and when they are ready to use them, they'll have them in their pocket! 

So that's it for now from the land of Kindergarten, and thanks again Katie, for letting me guest blog (and brag about my kids!)

Thanks so much to Kjersti and her class for offering this incredible peek inside their classroom! 

PS Be sure to grab these newly posted freebies, below! vowels
Shape & SECRETS Anchors/ Poster Set
'Mommy e' & 'Superhero o' highlighted
SECRET STORIES Guided Reader- Dean's Treehouse 
....with SECRET STORIES highlighted in text


Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Gumball Grouping" FREEBIE!

Returning to the classroom will be just a little bit more fun with this Melonheadz-inspired FREEBIE for "Easy-to-Organize" Guided Grouping! 
Click to Download the Gumball Guided Group FREEBIE
Here's a little peek at some of what's inside...

Download this Gumball Guided Group Freebie NOW!

I want to thank all those subscribing for sticking with me through my first year, blogging-adventure, and I hope that you and your students enjoy these Holiday postings!

For more, you can follow ALL of my RED DIAMOND Pinterest Boards so as to be guaranteed to never miss ANY Free "too-neat-not-to-keep" teaching tools & other fun stuff posted! 

To view all previous Free Download Window postings, visit the the Secret Stories Face Book Page, where you will also find the latest Secret Stories info, updates, upcoming conferences, and oodles of other fun stuff for teaching the Secrets! 

And for my California teacher-friends, I'll be doing a a featured session at the upcoming California Kindergarten Conference in Santa Clara on January 17th and would love to meet up for  a cosmo with all planning to attend :)

I will also be speaking at the Hawaii International Conference on Education this coming week in Honolulu, from January 5th- 8th, so if there are any Hawaiian teachers who will be in attendnace, I hope to meet up with you, as well!

Happy New Year, and until next time,


Visit Katie Garner- Educational Author/ Speaker's profile on Pinterest.