Following Multi-Step Directions


These activities are designed to help learners attend to more than one direction at a time. While they are British-speaking teachers, the activities are too compelling to ignore.




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Make a Sentence

Sentence formation activities (especially in game format) help learners in more ways than one:

    1. They help learners lengthen their sentences by adding antecedents (“Due to the rainstorm”).
    2. They help learners  lengthen their sentences by adding more descriptive words.
    3. They help learners see a sentence as a complete thought.
    4. They build working memory, as you hold one phrase in mind while searching for a phrase to add to it.
    5. They build expressive language by helping learners practice it.

Here are some games to try: - Play at Level 3 if you’re in Grade 3 (or about to be in Grade 3) - Do Kung-Fu Sentences, Hard, Turn Music Off

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I’m retiring, but the blog stays.

I’m losing my class…Not figuratively. After teaching for 13 years in Pittsford and 29 years at Harley, I’m stepping out. I have four grandchildren who would still think a full-time Bompa would be fun, and I have a great sidekick/wife, Pam, who’d like to adventure with me. Trips are more easily taken when you don’t have to spend $2000 on school vacations for two economy seats to Boise ($700 off-peak). My already-retired friends in Old Forge, TN, NC, and FL want to show us the good life, and we’ve put them off for long enough.

I’ll never completely leave Harley; I plan to volunteer, consult, and do some video. I plan to keep my blues garage band (we practice once a week), and keep my job with as Buffalo Bills Analyst and editor. I plan to consult with Geneseo about an apprenticeship model for student teachers. I’m making a book pile, too!

I intend to keep my blog going until I run out of ideas. My mind still wakes me up at 3:30 am pretty often, so that won’t be soon.

Love, Dean

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When working with 4-7-year-olds, I try to do three things in a 30-minute session, and time concepts aren’t great yet. They need to see what’s happening. It allays anxiety, lays it out spatially, and helps build a better concept of time. The “First”, “Next”, “Last” cards, with a representation of what we’ll be doing first, next, and last that day help do that. Pictures of the three tasks would also work, and the pictures could live in the child’s folder for quick setup.



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Relaxation For Better Sleep

I don’t sleep well because I don’t take the time to relax my brain before bed. I seem to do the exact opposite, surfing through Twitter like I’ll find something.

When I think back to vacations where I have been the most relaxed, it’s when I’m at the ocean. The repetitive rolling of the waves is like God’s calming breath. Here is the ocean, my new favorite go-to-sleep sound, and 11 hours is long enough for all night!

Here is a second ocean one, also 11 hours long.


Delta Waves are supposed to help sleep as well. Here are two that have delta waves:


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Irregular verbs can really make a teacher feel out of sorts. If you have a student who says “She sitted in my seat”, then you’re at risk for this irregularity. Here are some websites I’ve found that may be just what the doctor ordered! Feel better soon!



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Online Kindergarten Phonics games

I’ve been looking for online computer phonics games for a student lately. My criteria are that they have to be American, not British (their short a is not our short a, and so on), kids don’t have to wade through lots of screens before getting down to work, they can’t be too pedantic, and that they are reasonably fun. Most are free. They can have “free play” limits, but can’t be expensive. Here’s what I have so far:

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Make a Book Webtools – build a pop-up book, with page turns. - Photo Story 3 (from Microsoft) – for story telling. Slightly complicated to download, as you need to download something else as well.

Collaborative Webtools - the new, better Etherpad. No need to save after you’ve added your comments; just exit. – conferencing site, cross-platform collaborations. This could be happening during a faculty meeting with 5 groups all adding details, brainstorms, etc. to 5 topics –all at once. – backchannel you can tweet on during a meeting. Add questions, comments “live”

Search Webtools – searches vetted by a human being visual search engine - a search engine experience— visual with audio that is read to you, 2 million entries already (beta) – Boolean search engine – use “AND” “NOT” “OR” in a visual way – very thorough searches – try “conversion table”

Don’t Steal” Webtools – cited for use by the end user, free pictures videos and music, not “stolen” – free songs that are similar to a real artist, a specific genre, specific theme, or a specific mood. (free not stolen) – royalty-free sound effects. Just type the sound you’re looking for (F-16, snare drum). Click the play buttons to test them out and find the right one. Click download to download that sound.

Screencast/Presentation/ Collaboration Webtools - with account you get a free screencast account as well– store pix, videos: 2gB for free, you can make public or passworded (making Jing acct gets you a screencast account —use USB headset from Logitech. In Jing by TechSmith, use SHIFT click to select aspect ratio. Jing Pro is $15/yr. for webcam, tidier sized files, no logos. 5 minute limit to free and pro. Make chapters. Can embed video in your WebPages. Train – $69 document camera that uses USB and is excellent (captures pix or video in 1600 x 1200) – I’ve ordered one to try out. – create zooming presentations on an infinite canvas instead of PowerPoints. Phenomenal for end of book projects, showing a concept map, slide show, doing an “About Me” or VIP, etc. – timeliner web based – multimedia—ANY music, PDF’s, Word docs, pix, etc.—use as portfolio, biography timelines, schema for whole unit - cool way to organize today’s websites – will do 9 – free, safe, fun a la YouTube – will host all your videos, can have the look and feel of your website – Sample of Amherst NY’s video site – Check out Ask MrZ show

Visual Communicator ($68 through BOCES) – Paste text into the window and it makes an MP3 audio of it for your website, your Word document, etc. –If you have a child’s or author’s book text, have it read to kids. Female voice is better. – web-based video editor—publish to website, record movies, text, SFX, on their servers for free. Mov and wmv files don’t work. Will try avi’s. - Schools who will do videoconferences with you - Opportunities to collaborate with another classroom on various subjects

Graphics Webtools – photo shop for the rest of us, access from anywhere, use for Lines of Symmetry, Fractions, Will turn pic into sphere! – you give out URL to kids and collaborate, even real time, with no login

YouTube Webtools - Be able to save a Youtube video you’ve found for classroom use. Handy “KeepIt” button you drag to your toolbar and click the button when you’re watching a video you want to show to class. - create a “room” in which you and up to 50 students can watch the same Youtube or Vimeo at once. - Chop up a Youtube video to just the part you want. Useful for “How would you end this?” Writing assignments.

Assessment / Formative Eval Webtools - transform homework into a formative assessment tool - does grammar check, plagiarism detection, etc.

Miscellany Make a poll of up to 12 questions for 100 respondents or less - Make your own “poster” blog – pix for phonological awareness activ’s – get, for instance, all CVC words, then choose print flashcards at bottom of list – PDF writer

Where To Find New Webtools – new webtools put up here every day: “explore, share, contribute” – the Clearinghouse tab is a good place to find new stuff. Upgrade 1 thing every 2 weeks in your curriculum! “Cut-Upgrade-Create” – tons of them

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by Dean Kindig, The Harley School, Rochester NY

If reading is sort of tough for you, why not read better books, recommended by kids like you who have trouble reading fast or reading perfectly? I have added to this list each time a kid in my class or summer camp has recommended a cool book.

If your child has a book or series that was their favorite, contact me with the title and I’ll add it.  If your child didn’t like one of these, let me know and I’ll delete it! Click on any book to see it in Barnes and Noble:

Dave Barry
Geronimo Stilton
Suzanne Collins
Rick Riordan
Dan Guttman
John D. Fitzgerald
by Jeff Smith
Gary Paulsen
Garth Nix
Jeff Stone
Pseudonymous Bosch
Brian Jacques
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (Book 1= The Lightning Thief)
Rick Riordan
David Klass
Erin Hunter
Will Hobbs
Jack Gantos
T.A. Barron
Ken Oppel
Rodman Philbrick
Wayside School Is Falling Down, Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Louis Sachar
Iain Lawrence
Anthony Horowitz
Bruce Coville
Ruth Stiles Gannett
Harry Allard. Illustrated by James Marshall
Graham Salisbury


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Ways To Ask For Help


By the time you get to third and fourth grade, you aren’t supposed to be perfect and know everything. But you ought to get better at asking for the kind of help you need. “I need help” was okay when you were younger, but now you need to be specific about how the teacher or friend or parent can help you.


• It’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t worry about other people judging you.

• Think of what might happen if you don’t get help. Think what might happen if you did get help!

• Decide what the problem is and what kind of help you need.

• Who can you ask for help? Choose someone you trust and who will know how to help you.

• Think about what you’ll say when you ask for help (the words you might use are listed on the next page). Do it.

• Remember, getting help when you need it is part of being responsible to yourself.



Here are some words you can use when asking for help:

 “It’s difficult to…

  • …sound out the words in this paragraph.”
  • …sound out the words in this paragraph.”
  • …figure out what these directions mean.”
  • …know whether to add or subtract on number 7.”
  • …see this in my mind.”


“I’ll need…

  • …some extra time to do all the writing on this.”
  • …a few more examples, please.”
  • …one more example on the board, thanks.”
  • …to know which of these three things I should do first.”


“I could use…

  • …a buddy to help with the reading.”
  • …some feedback on how I’m doing.”
  • …a quieter place to work.”
  • …a bead board or some counting things to figure this out.”


“I’d like to know…

  • …the date this should be done.”
  • …when you wouldn’t use this strategy.”
  • …did you mean that (insert what you thought the teacher said here)?”


Other Good Starting Phrases When Asking for Help:

  • “Did you say that…”
  • “If I understand what you’re saying, then…”
  • “If I heard you right, then…”
  • “Could you rephrase that?”
  • “Is there are way to draw that?”


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