Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sharing SECRET STORIES® with Parents!

Secret Stories® Phonics Fun

"Last year, a lot of parents in my class were asking about the Secret Stories® and how they could use them at home to support what their child was learning in school. I want to respect the copyright, but I also love that parents want to know! 

Do you have suggestions on how to share the stories with parents? I noticed you'd suggested in another post that teachers could make a big book to send home using their older posters, but I don't have the old posters.  I only have the smaller, cut-apart set that I use in small group to work with my kids?"

As soon as I received this question, I wanted to answer it here! 

So here are some Do's AND Don'ts for sharing the Secrets with your parents!  

DO devote some time during Open House to let parents know about the Secrets (i.e. what they are, how kids use them to read/spell words, etc..) and be sure to send home a copy of the "Parent-Share" page (found in the white section of your Secret Stories® book). As time at Open House is short, the "Parent-Share" page is key, as it allows them to "dig deeper" later by accessing the Secret Stories® website,  YouTube Channel and even get information on the Parent/Home Version for acceleration or remediation at home.

Secret Stories® Phonics Book "Parent Share" Page

At our school, Open House was usually a couple of weeks into the school year, so news of the Secrets had already started to make its way home to many of the parents in my classroom.Some parents, however had no idea that the "secrets" their kids kept talking about were actually about the sounds of the letters! That's why it's important to let parents in on the Secrets as early in the year as possible. That way, parents know how to support reading and writing efforts at home by asking their child, "Do you see any Secrets? (when reading) and "Do you hear any Secret sounds?" (when writing). Parents don't have to "know" all of the Secrets in order to remind their child to look and listen for them in words.


DO include the kids in sharing the Secrets! Whether at Open House or sometime in the first few weeks of school (or both!) you can let the kids "act-out" some Secret Stories® for their parents! It's a great way to reinforce them with students while introducing them to parents, plus there's NO learning curve! With the Secrets, everyone (students and parents, both!) just "get" them!

Below is a teacher dramatization of a Secret (you can find more on the Secret Stories® Youtube Channel here!)


Students as the Secret Stories Superhero Vowels®
Kids acting out the Superhero Vowels® and their "short & lazy" sounds!
—DO tell parents about new Secrets that were shared in the newsletter!

Open-ended questions are best, allowing kids to take full-ownership of the story, so anything along the lines of those below will do: 
—"Ask Johnny to tell you the Secret we learned about au/aw!" 
—"See if Johnny can tell you some words that have the au/aw Secret!" 
—"Over the weekend, see how many words with the au/aw Secret Johnny can spot!"

Kids will take great pride in the Secrets that they know, as each new Secret represents their ever-growing power over text! It's a mistake to assume that without including the actual story, kids won't be able to tell parents the Secret. The more responsibility students are given, have,  the nore they will show, plus the Secrets are stored in the same social-emotional "feeling" based centers that keep track of "who got in trouble" and "who got to be the line leader," so they're not likely to forget them!

Now that's not to say that there won't be times when a little clarification might be needed. Like the time one of my kinders went home and told his mother...

"Mrs. Garner told us about this guy who's married, but he has a girlfriend too, and he loves them both so much that he says "ahhhhhhhhh" with both of them! She talks about them every day and even has their picture up on the wall...."  
Secret Stories® Phonics AU & AW Secret
Secret Stories® Phonics Secret au/aw

He was talking about au/aw, but it took his mom (who came in first thing the following morning!) and I a good while to actually figure that out! And even though the Secret didn't quite make it home completely intact, that same little guy could still put to immediate use to crack words like: August, awful, awesome or awful! 

—DO consider purchasing the Secret Stories® Porta-Pics ($2.50 per student, sold in sets of 25) for your class to use in the classroom and at home. They are cheaper than a Scholastic Book Order and can be used with multi-grade level siblings at home.

Secret Stories® Phonics Porta-Pics
Secret Stories® Phonics Porta-Pics
Secret Stories® Phonics Porta-Pics
SECRET STORIES® Porta-Pics
Providing the Porta-Pics for home use is also a great way to satisfy a common component of many School Improvement Plans, which is to foster connections between home and school learning and parent involvement. Many schools will offer a "Secret" Parent Night where they are given free to those parents who attend!

Secret Stories® Phonics Open House/ Parent-Share Night with Porta-Pics
A "Secret" Parent Night hosted by PTA to familiarize parents with the Secrets!
—DO send home the reproducible Secret sheets (in the back of the Secret Stories® book) as they are mastered in guided group, and alert parents to look for them to come home regularly. Kids not only love earning a Secret "star" with each sheet mastered and moving on to the next Secret group, but sending them home is also a great way to keep parents informed and create a perfect summer review packet of all the Secrets!

Like the Secret sheets (which kids work-through in guided reading alongside actual text), the Secret Stories® Guided Readers provide another great way for parents to support and practice Secrets at home, as does Spotting Secretswhich includes thumbnail-sized graphics for many of the more common digraph-Secrets (th, ch, wh, sh, ph, gh, etc....).


Secret Stories® Phonics Guided Readers
Secret Stories® Phonics Guided Readers
(See individual reader links in product description.)
Secret Stories® Phonics Guided Reader— My Classmates
Secret Stories® Phonics Reader — My Classmates
Secret Stories® Phonics "Spotting Secrets!" (The Digraph Secrets)
Secret Stories® Spotting Secrets
Secret Stories® Phonics "Spotting Secrets!" (The Digraph Secrets—TH)
Secret Stories® Spotting Secrets  

In addition to the shown above, there are some other Secret Stories® supplements on TpT that offer reproducible options for easy home-sharing and practice, including the Secret Stories® Alphabet Mini-Mats (made to match the Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Anchor, below) and SECRETS of the Superhero Vowels®, both which contain several core Secret graphics.
-DO consider using your "old" Secret Stories® posters (for those who have them) to create "take-home" Secret Stories® big book that students can take home on a rotating basis. I explained more about this in a previous post that you can read here. This is a great idea for all those who have purchased the newly updated and expanded Secret Stories® edition, Version 2.0 with the new Fun & Funky, Original or Space Saver posters.
Secret Stories® Phonics "Fun & Funky" Posters Teacher Kit
Secret Stories® with "Fun & Funky" Posters
Secret Stories® Phonics "Original Posters" Teacher Kit
Secret Stories® with "Original" Posters

And now for some DON'Ts

—DON'T copy the Secret Stories® graphics (posters, book or "cut-apart" cards) or any of the copy written text. Not only is it infringing on the copyrights and trademarks, but at just $2.50 a student, the Porta-Pics are a much cheaper way to send all of the Secrets home with kids than paying to make illegal color copies....plus they won't land you in hot water with your school or district!

I had to mention this one because oftentimes, as teachers, we are provided with adopted, reading series material that we ARE allowed to copy and distribute to our students, as per the licensing agreement when purchased. With Secret Stories® however, this is not the case, which is why the Porta-Pics were created— to provide teachers with an easy and inexpensive way to send the Secrets home to parents.

—DON'T make copies of the Porta-Pics either— Lol! ;-) 

DON'T RE-produce, RE-type, RE-write, or RE-word the story text or graphics in handouts, class newsletters, class websites, Weeblys, Google docs, Prezis, Promethean/Smart Board documents, etc...

You wouldn't believe some of the unusual "Secret" things that I've have found (and that folks kind folks have discovered and sent to me) online! By far, the absolute strangest was the way that someone had attempted to "share" the Secret Storie® was by uploading to Google Docs a 200+ page PDF file  of the Secret Stories® book, held in her hand, one page at a time... from cover to cover! (The funniest part was that she was holding it up, as if she were reading it to the class, which meant that her fingers were prominently featured in every shot!) I cannot even imagine how long the entire process of photographing every single pari of pages— from cover to cover— must have taken her.... or how she was able to find someone to actually take all of those pictures!!! In her defense though, the Porta-Pics hadn't been available at that time! ;-)


PS  Just in case you hadn't found them yet, you can download FREE PreK-3rd Common Core Literacy Posters w/Secret Stories® graphic-supports here, as well as FREE made-to-match Common Core Science Posters (see individual grade level links, below.)
FREE Second Grade (2nd Grade) Common Core Science Posters
FREE Science Common Core Posters for 2nd Grade
FREE Third Grade (3rd Grade) Common Core Science Posters
FREE Science Common Core Posters for 3rd Grade
"Made-to-Match" Literacy & Math Combo Sets, Essential Questions and Social Studies poster sets are also available.

PreK-3rd  Common Core Literacy & Math Poster Combo Sets
"Made-to-Match" PreK-3rd Common Core Literacy & Math Combo
PreK-3rd  Common Core Essential Questions Posters
"Made-to-Match" PreK-3rd Common Core Essential Questions Posters 
PreK-3rd  Common Core Social Studies Posters
"Made-to-Match" PreK-3rd Common Core Social Studies Posters 

Until Next Time,
Katie 

Never Miss a Secret! Subscribe to the Newsletter! 


Katie Garner Secret Stories LinkedIN pageSecret Stories BlogSecret Stories Facebook PageSecret Stories Youtube PageSecret Stories TwitterSecret Stories PinterestSecret Stories InstagramSecret Stories Banner
Secret Stories® Makes Phonics Make SENSE!
Katie Garner Education Keynote Speaker and Literacy Consultant
For a list of upcoming conferences, or for information on scheduling a school or district professional development workshop, click here. 
Secret Stories® Phonics Posters, Book & CD
Try a "taste" of the Secrets with YOUR class 
and see the difference they make!
Click to Download the FREE Secret Stories® Mini-Sample Poster Pack!


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Secret Stories® Phonics— Cracking the Reading Code with the Brain in Mind!
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Friday, August 14, 2015

Posting Secret Stories® Phonics Posters!




Secret Stories® Phonics Posters
Which poster-style is the MOST popular??
...The "Fun & Funky" with the wavy yellow border! 

Posting Secret Stories® Phonics Posters!

Secret Stories® "Original" Phonics Posters
Creative Cutting of Secret Stories® "Original" Posters!
Have you ever wondered which Secret Stories® poster-style is the MOST popular? 

"SPACE-SAVERS"
"FUN & FUNKY"
The winner for K-2 Teachers is..... "The "Fun & Funky" Kit! These are especially popular with early grade level, primary teachers, as their size allows for easy visual access from anywhere in the classroom where kids are reading and writing. These are often paired with a set of  "Dual-Use Placards" for manipulative, hands-on use in circle time, guided reading, centers, etc....  (The Porta-Pics are also popular for individual use, both at school and at home, assuming that the little ones don't try and "eat" them! ;-)

The winner for 3-5 (and up, as needed) is..... The "Space-Savers" Kit! These are most popular with resource room teachers (due to the smaller sized rooms) and with upper-grade level teachers who may have fewer students needing to reference them. Additionally, the Porta-Pics are equally popular for these groups for their portability (departmentalization, pull-out, home-reference, etc...) 

You can find more info (as well as pictures) on both the Placards and the Porta-Pics, further below.
So, you've laminated all of your Secret Stories® posters and are finally ready to hang them on your classroom wall...

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters
Secret Stories® Posters Ready to Hang!

But which wall? 
In what groupings?? 
Is there any particular order???

Is there a "right" way to hang the Secret Stories® posters?
This is the most frequently asked question that I receive during preschool weeks, especially when I visit schools for 'back-to-school' in-service and professional development and teachers are setting up their classrooms. 

The short answer is NO... not really. But there are tips and tricks to ensure that you (and your students) get the most "bang-for-the-buck" with regard to easy visual access, both for reading and writing, across the entire instructional day!

So here are some Must-Do's....

1.  Hang ALL of them up! (Do NOT wait to "teach" them first!) 
Never wait to display a Secret until you have "taught" it first, as doing so defeats the whole purpose of using Secret Stories®, which is to accelerate access to the code, not limit it! Besides, the Secrets are not taught, they are "given," and without any expectations, much like food that's laid out on a buffet. Because Secrets are embedded into already social and emotional story-frameworks, kids will remember them, talk about them, and then suddenly begin using them to read and write words. This will happen years before their formal introduction as "phonics skills" on a traditional core reading scope and sequence.... IF they are all up and ready to share with learners, as needed!

Secrets unlock the sounds in words that kids can't read, and equip them with the letters they need to write words in the stories they want to tell. It is learners' encounters with text throughout the course of the instructional day (and across all subject areas) that most often dictate which Secrets they need. For this reason, all of the Secrets must be up and ready to go, as you never know what's looming just around the corner of your instructional day!

Additionally, having all of the posters up requires learners to visually scan through all the Secrets they don't know in order to find the ones that they do. This continual scanning process serves to increase learners' visual acuity so as to recognize patterns in text— even those in Secrets that haven't yet been told! 
Kindergartners Stalking the Secret Stories® "Wall of Phonics Secrets!"
Students "Stalking" the Secret Stories® Wall!
And finally (and most importantly) hanging all of the posters up on Day 1 allows learners to begin driving their own instruction, as the letters in words they cannot read are the same letters that are in the Secret posters on the wall, thereby prompting them to ask for the Secret! By taking advantage of these teachable moments as they occur throughout the instructional day, we can foster learners'  "need-to-know" as the driving force behind their instruction and teach reading with the brain-in-mind!  

2. Hang the Superhero Vowels®Sneaky Y® and qu posters above (or in place of) their "counterparts" in your regular alphabet display. 
I recommend hanging all of the posters together on one wall (which I like to call the "Wall of Secrets!") with the exception of the Superhero Vowels®Sneaky Y® posters, which should be hung just above (or even in place of) their "like-letters" over your existing alphabet train (or whatever alphabet display is mounted above the main front board in your classroom.)

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters— Superhero Vowels®

The purpose of this is to draw learners' attention to their alternative sounds, as unlike most Secrets, which explain what letters do when they get together, these letters have their own individual Secrets! This allows for easier sound reference when singing The Better Alphabet Songwhich is the means through which learners acquire the individual letters and sounds using muscle memory in just two weeks to two months. (Note that the qu is somewhat of an exception to this, as it's actually two letters, but it's important for learners to see and understand that q won't make any sound unless it's with u, and that together they make ONE sound which is "kwa." I actually used a permanent marker to write in the letter u after the q on my alphabet train, and referred to it only as "qu".....it was like the imaginary letter "elemeno," but IT was REAL—Lol!)

Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet Vertical Anchor
QU from Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Vertical Anchor (full size shown, below)
Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet Vertical Anchor
Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Vertical Anchor (full-size)
for use with the BETTER Alphabet Song for Individual Letter Sound Mastery in 2 wks.- 2mos!
And on a side note, be sure that the picture cues on your existing alphabet train are accurate!  This means that the picture cue for the sound of the letter o is NOT an orange or an oyster, as o by itself can only make its long or short sound, as in oak or ox. Likewise, the letter should not be depicted with a picture of a xylophone or an x-ray (as is actually shown in the classroom alphabet picture, above) as those are its least likely sounds, with "ks" (as in box and ox) being the most likely.
All too often, the publisher's priority is finding a "pretty picture," rather than one that actually depicts the most likely sound of the letter.  a letter's most likely sound! Additionally, it's also important to depict sound cues for both the hard and soft sounds of both c and g (cat/circus and goat/giraffe) with picture cues for both. For all of these reasons, I created the Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Alphabet Mini-Mats (in digital format only.) Not only are the Superhero Vowels®, Sneaky Y® and qu graphics already built-in, but its vertical display option makes singing those "lightening-fast" Letter Runs a whole lot easier! 
Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet
Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet 
 with Vertical AND Horizontal Posting Options!
Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Song—
Individual Letter Sound Mastery in 2 weeks to 2 months

Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet
(Vertical or Horizontal Format Options)
Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet
Secret Stories® Better Alphabet (hard and soft C) 

Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet
Secret Stories® Better Alphabet (hard and soft G)

The Secret Stories® Letter Run Song
(w/the BETTER Vertical & Horizontal Alphabet Train) 

Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet

Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet Mini-Mat
Secret Stories® BETTER Alphabet Mini-Mats for Individual Student Use 
Secret Stories® Phonics BETTER Alphabet Mini-Mat

3. When hanging the "Original" posters, be sure to create a visual barrier between the Secrets!
Unlike the "Fun & Funky" Posters and the Space-Saver Posters which both have a yellow border that separates them visually when hung together on the wall, the "Original" Secret Stories® Posters were designed to be "cut-down" clustered together to take up less space and still be large enough to see from anywhere in the primary classroom. 
Secret Stories® Phonics Posters— "Fun & Funky"
Secret Stories® "Fun & Funky" Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters— "Space Savers"
Secret Stories® "Space-Saver" Posters
Secret Stories® Phonics Posters— "Original"
Secret Stories "Original" Posters
Secret Stories® Phonics Posters— "Original"
"Original" Secret Stories® Posters "Cut-Down"

With no definitive border, the letter patterns on the original posters (when cut down) can appear to "run together" on the wall, which is why I recommend mounting them on a brightly colored backing (as explained in the Secret Stories® book) so as to provide a visual border between each one. I prefer bright yellow, although you can view several options in classroom pictures further down, below.

Kindergartners Stalking the Secret Stories® Phonics  "Wall of Secrets!"

4. Ensure easy visual access from everywhere in the classroom they will need them!

I can tell you from personal experience that this is much easier said than done (as most of my classroom assistants who were tasked with moving all of the posters around to various locations in our classroom can attest!) Finding the perfect place in the classroom where students can easily access the posters, as needed during guided group, circle/calendar time, whole group activities, independent writing at their seats, etc...was quite the challenge. My students were constantly jumping to find the Secret sound they needed (when reading) or the Secret pattern they needed (when writing) and it drove me craaaaaazzzzzy! I think it can be especially difficult in kindergarten and first grade classrooms where there are so many learning nooks & crannies, as this makes easy visual access to ANYTHING virtually impossible (aside from possibly, the ceiling!) I finally did settle on a good spot where they remained indefinitely, but each new classroom and grade level posed a new challenge, so don't settle.... be creative! And don't be afraid to try a different spot if the current one isn't ideal....just be sure to bring your assistant a big, frothy Starbucks coffee when making the move! 

Also, keep in mind that the Dual-Use Placards and Porta-Pics both offer easy solutions to this problem, as well providing the Secrets in a hands-on "manipulative" format for use by teachers and students around the classroom, as needed. 

Secret Stories® Phonics— "Porta-Pics"
Secret Stories® Porta-Pics for Individual Student Reference and Home Use
Secret Stories® Phonics Porta-Pics for Portable Reference and Home Use

Secret Stories® Phonics — "Dual-Use Placards"
Secret Stories® Dual-Use Placards for Hands-On "Manipulative" Use
Secret Stories® Phonics Secret AU?AW

There are also "cut-apart" cards in the back section of the Secret Stories® book that can be used when students are working in very small groups or outside of the classroom, one-on-one with a volunteer.  
FREE Secret Stories® Phonics Guided Reading Group Pack
FREE Gum Ball Groups Pack
And should you happen to have an extra set of Secret Stories® posters lying around (after upgrading to Secret Stories® Version 2.0 or "inheriting" an extra set from another teacher) you can use them to make something that your kids will absolutely LOVE LOVED LOVE.... a class "big book" of Secret Stories® that kids can take home and share with their parents on a rotating basis, or even as a special reward! Just re-mount them (if cut-down) on large construction paper and re-laminate the pages, and then bind them together into a book. Voile! A Secret Stories® Class Big Book— the perfect way to help educate your parents on what the Secrets are and how they work!  

Extra posters sets are sometimes also ordered by schools to post in common areas where kids tend to congregate.... in the hallways, on the wall by the cafeteria line, behind the check-out desk in the media center, the front office wall, etc..., as it's a great way to spur conversation between students about "who knows which Secrets," as well as help to educate the parents on what they are, as kids love to share all of the Secrets they know when walking with them around the school. It also helps to further enhance learners' visual acuity for pattern-recognition in text. 

Secret Stories® Phonics Parent Night

Below are some classroom pictures of the Secret Stories® posters that show different ways to display each version. And I want to give special thanks to all of the awesome teachers who have offered us this sneak-peek into their classrooms by sending in pics! 

And I would LOVE to add your classroom pictures to the mix, so please share it with me on Instagram @TheSecretStories hashtag— #SecretStoriesPosters and #SecretStoriesTribe! You can also post them directly to the Secret Stories® Face Book Page or email it to me at Kate@KatieGarner.com.

Secret Stories® Phonics "Secrets!"

Secret Stories Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters


Secret Stories® Phonics Poster— AR

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters


Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters with Student Names
Love this idea of putting students' names on their "Secret Story!"

And finally, check out these miniature Secret Stories® posters in this adorable "Peep" Classroom, created by Mrs. Mac's Munchkins!

Secret Stories® Phonics Posters — The "Peep" Version!

And to bring this "Posting Posters-Post" to a close, I just had to share an AMAZING "Secret Stories® door transformation that added a whole new level of excitement to the first day of school for some very lucky first graders! It was created by Brandon McAnulty, the husband of Renee McAnulty. You can read more about Mrs. Mac and her famous first-grade munchkins, here!

Secret Stories® Phonics Door

And here are some close-up pics....
Secret Stories® Phonics Door

Secret Stories® Phonics Door


Secret Stories® Phonics Door

Secret Stories® Phonics Door

Secret Stories® Phonics Door


Secret Stories® Phonics Door

HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!!

And if you're just getting started with the Secrets, here's a quick vlog 
for some good tips, tricks and how-to's!


Until Next Time,
Katie Garner :-)
Katie Garner Education Speaker and Literacy Consultant

Never Miss a Secret! Subscribe to the Newsletter!



Katie Garner Secret Stories LinkedIN pageSecret Stories BlogSecret Stories Facebook PageSecret Stories Youtube PageSecret Stories TwitterSecret Stories PinterestSecret Stories Instagram
Secret Stories Banner
Secret Stories® Makes Phonics Make SENSE!
Secret Stories® Phonics
Try a "taste" of the Secrets with YOUR class 
and see the difference they make!
Click to Download the FREE Secret Stories® Mini-Sample Poster Pack!

Katie Garner Education Keynote Speaker and Secret Stories® Phonics Author
For a list of upcoming conferences, or for information on scheduling a school or district professional development workshop, click here. 

Katie Garner Secret Stories Linkedin pageSecret Stories BlogSecret Stories Facebook PageSecret Stories Youtube PageSecret Stories TwitterSecret Stories PinterestSecret Stories Instagram

Secret Stories® Phonics — Cracking the Reading Code with the Brain in Mind!
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