Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Secret Stories® Classroom Kits vs. the Supplemental "Digital" Resources on TpT


Hi there!
Secret Stories® Subscribers— Check your inbox for 2 FREE DOWNLOAD WINDOWS just posted!
For those who are not signed up to receive the Secret Stories® Newsletter & Freebies, just go to www.TheSecretStories.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the subscriber box, or if you're reading this on my blog, you will see the subscription box in the right side column (It will look like the picture, below). After signing up, you should receive the newsletter within just a couple of minutes! 

Given the big TpT Sale, now seemed like the perfect time to post this commonly asked question about how the Secret Stories® Classroom Kits are different from the digital Secret Stories® products listed for sale on TpT, as many of you have probably wondered this, as well....

Dear Katie,
I am totally in L-O-V-E with my recently purchased kit of "The Secret Stories!" My K-5 intervention reading groups are absolutely reaping amazing rewards with this resource! I really wish that I had had it years ago. Okay, enough gushing... Here's my question:
Since I do have the classroom kit, which TpT resources would you recommend to supplement it? I am about to purchase the Guided Reader books available here, as well as "Sneaky Y's Secret!" Are there any others supplements that I might like to consider? 
Ideally, I'd love to see all supplements listed in one place—here or on your website/blog—so that I don't replicate parts of the full kit, but can purchase all of the additions to it. 
Thanks so much for any advice you can offer! :-)

So just in case you've been wondering the same thing, here's the scoop—
First and foremost, it's important to know that everything needed to successfully implement the Secret Stories® IS included in the classroom kits— the book, all of the posters and the musical practice CD, and that the complete classroom kits are only sold in hardcopy format on the Secret Stories® website. And if you're wondering what the difference between the three different kits— OriginalFun & Funky and Space Savers— it's simply the look and size of the posters. There are also some hardcopy supplements that teachers who use and love the Secret Stories® often get, which are the Dual-Use Placards (for hands-on manipulative use anywhere in the classroom) and the Porta-Pics (for portable use both at home as well as in the classroom). The only other important point here that I would like to make is that if you are a primary grade teacher (preK-2), go for the larger posters (as opposed to the space-savers) as your kids will be using referencing them constantly, and from everywhere in the classroom! For this reason, easy visual access is a must!
Secret Stories® "Fun & Funky" Classroom Kit
So now let's talk about the Secret Stories® on TpT...
All of the Secret Stories® digital products on TpT are supplemental resources that serve one or more of three purposes:
1. Flexibility of size options of the core Secret Stories® graphics for multi-purpose use and reproducibility, via the digital format.  Whether you already have the classroom kit and want the added flexibility of owning these core pieces in a digital format, or if you've never tried the Secrets, but would like to test out some bits and pieces in your classroom— the following TPT products are ideal:
                                               FREE Secret Stories® Sampling
FREE Secret Stories Mini-Pack 
And....
FYI—The "Headband Packs listed in #3 also offer the smaller size options and are ideal for home-sharing, although they are not listed in this section, as their primary purpose is to provide practice both decoding and encoding by turning the kids into manipulatives! Similarly, the Mini-Mats (in #2) and Sneaky Y's® Secret w/ Reading Puppet (#3) are also ideal for reproducible "home-sharing!")
2. A "ready-to-use" and "sound-accurate" alternative to a traditional classroom alphabet anchors. All too often when I visit classrooms, I see alphabet trains (or whatever you want to call the above-board alphabet display) that contain picture sound cues that are either completely inaccurate or that identify the least most-likely sound option (i.e. an orange or an oyster for the letter o, a xylophone for the letter x, etc...) The following products were created to solve this problem, as well as a couple of others!
Each set has the Secrets for the individual letter sound secrets (i.e. Superhero & Short & Lazy Vowel sounds, Sneaky Y® and QU) already embedded, along with accurate picture prompts for each sound a letter can make by itself (i.e. hard and soft G and C, 3 sounds of Y, etc...)  They also make for ideal references when singing the the Secret Stories® Better Alphabet Song— which teachers kids ALL of the possible sounds that the letters can make by themselves AND in the most likely order! And the vertical-display option is a life-saver when trying to keep up with thefast-paced Letter Runs while pointing to each letter as you sing its sound/sounds! (And the mini-mats are also ideal for home practice and use!)
3. Provide for authentic, targeted practice of the Secret Stories® phonics patterns and sounds. In addition to enhancing learners' visual acuity to more quickly recognize the Secret Stores® patterns in text, the following products help learners to both see and understand how the Secrets can be applied to text to help them read and/or write words. These TpT products include: 
FREE Math Anchor Poster Set
FREE "Write Like They Read" Zoo Keeper Pack
And the Secret Stories® Guided Readers— 
Additionally, all of the Common Core Poster Sets (including the FREE Literacy Posters for PreK-3rd!) also contain Secret Stories® graphic references, where applicable, and the Science Sets are FREE, so be sure to check those out, as well! 


FREE Common Core Posters for Literacy!
FREE Science Posters for PK-3rd! (Click link and search for grade level needed)

I hope this helps to clarify the differences between the actual Secret Stories® Classroom Kits and the digital supplements that are offered on TpT! And now for some freebies!!!
And don't forget while doing your last-minute shopping tonight on TpT to download the free goodies that I've put in the "Free Download Window," as they'll be gone one the sale ends! You will see the links for them in your newsletter (see top of post if you missed this!)
Until Next Time,
Katie Garner :-)

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Friday, May 5, 2017

The "Head-Bop" Trick for Fickle Vowels!

"The Secret Stories are the life-blood of our classroom. They are always in view, always in our whole group and small group conversations. We couldn't read words without them. They are our best friends. They are the tools the students are taking with them to the next grade!"
Kids who know the Secret Stories® are able to understand WHY the letters make the sounds that they do.  For example, they know that the Superhero Vowels® have a power that no other letter in the alphabet has—they can "SAY THEIR NAMES!" (like "i" in hike or "a" in hate) But when they don't want to be recognized, they will hide in their "short and lazy" sound disguises (like "i" in hit or "a" in hat).  
Secret Stories Superhero Vowel® I 
(and his "short & lazy" sound disguise!)  
Kids who know the Secrets also know the "triggers" for determining which of these two sounds (long or short) a vowel's most likely to make— Mommy E® and the Babysitter Vowels®.  (Click here to see how, or click directly on the clip from the Secret Stories® YouTube Channel, below.)
But what about words in which the vowel still can't seem to make up its mind whether to say its name OR to be short and lazy?  Words like: again, nothing, brother, another, etc...


Such dilemmas require a good Word Doctor and some "out-of-the-box" thinking... and the main criteria for thinking "out of the box" is to know what's IN it! And that's what the Secret Stories® do. They equip learners with everything IN the box when it comes to the letters and the sounds they make so that they are more easily able to think outside of it! (Click here for more on how to get kids to think outside the box when working with unfamiliar text.)
Luckily, Tara Settle's first graders (of the blog, Settle On In) and her wonderful team Word Doctors were able to easily think "outside the box" because they know what's IN it! And while doing so, they developed this cutting-edge, diagnostic tool that all Word Doctors should have under their belts when working with text! It's technical name is the "Head-Bop" trick, and it works like this...
Whenever a vowel just can't make up its mind whether to say its name or just be short and lazy in a word (despite Mommy E® and/or a Babysitter Vowel® sitting nearby) it will stop and think about it, while saying—"Uhhhhh?" (which is promoted by a "bop on the head!!)  

Again, nothing, brother, another, above, etc... are a snap to read with this little trick for prompting the "next-most likely" sound for vowels not doing what they should!  This is a handy tool for Word Doctors to keep up their sleeve when working with unfamiliar text, so be sure to share it with and watch how fast it's put it to use! 
For more Word Doctor tricks, click here
And speaking of sharing, I also want to share the words that Tara sent along with this little trick, as they perfectly sum up what I hope the Secret Stories® will become in every classroom in which they are used.... "The Secret Stories are the life-blood of our classroom. They are always in view, always in our whole group and small group conversations. We can't read words without them. They are our best friends. They are the tools the students are taking with them to the next grade!"

Thanks so much to Tara and her wonderful Word Doctors!

And on another note....

Summertime is almost here!

Did you know that the summer is jam-packed with some of the most awesome teacher conferences?  It's true! And one of the best one of all is the International Literacy Association Conference in Orlando on July 15-17! 

For those who have never been, it's an incredible experience.  And for those who have, well you know how hard it can sometimes be to squeeze into the sessions that you reeeeeeallllly want to see— even just to sit on the floor, which teachers are usually more than happy to do! 

Unfortunately, those pesky fire marshals don't like floor-sitters too much, and will often ask them to leave, which is why I personally prefer to take cover underneath a nearby table cloth (and out of fire marshal view) if it's a session that I really want to hear and it's full.  Otherwise, I'll just hang outside of the session room door and strain to listen, which is a lot less fun! 

But for those planning to attend my session at ILA, I have great news! It's going to be in a BIG session room!!!  So, unlike last year, it's highly unlikely that you'll have to resort to hiding under a table cloth to get in!  If you would like session details or information on registering, click here.


Another great one is the National Charter School Conference on June 11-14 in  Washington, D.C., but don't let the name fool you, as this conference is great for ALL educators, not just those who work with charter schools. It's a big as ILA, but includes all subject areas, not just reading. And the best part (for me, anyway) is that my sessions are two and a half hours long instead of one...and there is a repeat for those unable to get into the first one, which means that once again, the chances of having your view obstructed by a table cloth is minimal! For more information on this conference, you can click here.


And while this one isn't a national conference, I want to mention it for all of my PK-2 teaching friends out there in South Dakota, as I'll be in Beresford for the South Dakota Kindergarten Academy June 19-22 for two 2-day workshops! (The first 2-day session is already full and the other is almost capped, so register now if you want to go!) You can obtain more information here, including how to get college credit for attending through the University of South Dakota.

And for those who just can't get away this summer, no worries! The National Title I Association brings the speakers to you with their Video On Demand series! There are so many amazing sessions, most all of which are FREE to watch!
You can view the highlights from my featured presentation at this year's 2017 National Title I here, or by clicking directly on the video, below.  The full-length presentation is available as part of Title I's subscription series, but you can view it free in its entirety here, along withlots of other video clips from conferences, school and district PD Workshopsvideo blogs and more on the Secret Stories® Youtube Channel.


That's all for now! 
So until next time... HAPPY "ALMOST" SUMMER!
Katie :-)

PS View the original "Head-Bop" post on the Secret Stories® Facebook and join the conversation!