Fluency Tracker {Progress Monitoring Goal Setting}

I had used a goal tracking bulletin board for many years to keep track of our fluency goals. When I redid my room, I unfortunately didn’t have the space for it anymore. For the last couple of years I wasn’t able to keep track of our goals in a visible way. I noticed that my kids were not as excited about reaching or setting their goals as they used to be so I decided that it was time to bring it back. I am so glad I did. My class absolutely loves this data wall!

PS. No one is on the bottom. That was an extra clip and I left it in the "Getting Ready" section so it's ready for a new student.

If if look close up, you can see that each circle has a goal level. 

I have the kids put their clips on the chart according to their beginning of the year scores. As soon as I start progress monitoring, the kids can move their clips up to show their progression. My students LOVE this. You can add the student names on clips or use numbers. I chose to use numbers.  I assign them randomly. The kids then move the clips when they have read to you and met their goal. The clips are placed in their 10’s spot. So let’s say a child reads 67 wpm. She will place her clip on the 60 wpm circle. 

One way to assemble this chart (the way I chose due to spacing) is to have it go up vertically. To do so, I grabbed some thick ribbon from Joann’s and I hot glued the circles on there. Another way is to have it going horizontally. You can staple the cards up and then have ribbon or string for the kids to hang up their clips. That is how I used to display my old trackers.

The clips I am using came from Target in the dollar spot. They usually bring them back every summer. You can also find super similar ones at Joann’s. Good ol’ regular tan clothes pins work just as well! I used those for years and the kids were just as excited about reaching their goals.

I decided to include this goal tracker in my progress monitoring resource kit you can see below.

If you would like to learn more about this progress monitoring kit, I have a blog post all about that! Click HERE to read it.

If you just need the fluency tracker on it's own, you can pick up a copy below!


Here are some questions that I have received from teachers from my campus about how I use this tracker:

  • Do all students have to be on the tracker? 

    • No, I always ask each child if he/she wants to be on the tracker. In the eight years that I had one of these in my room, I never had a child say no. My kids have loved seeing their growth on our chart. I do suggest to ask just to be sure though. 

  • Do the kids clip down if their score went down? 

    • Yes, I they do. I remind the children that part of success involves ups and downs. MOST times when children have gone down, I’ll ask them if they have been reading and they tell me that they haven’t been practicing. They see a direct correlation with their progress monitoring score and their practice at home. I find this very useful. I treat the subject pretty matter of fact. I don’t get upset or mad at them. I ask the child to think about what they can do to change the result next time. I think if it’s approached with anger or shame, it would be a missed opportunity for reflection and growth. The point of this tracker is to celebrate success, not to ruin a child’s day! If you think it would be harmful to move them down, then you don’t have to. These are your students and you know them best. 

  • How often do you move clips? 

    • We move the clips every time we have new progress monitoring scores. I like to test my kids at least twice a month. The more consistently you use this system, the better the results. 

  • Do you give any incentives for reaching the higher numbers?

    • I do. The BIG goal for my kid’s is always to get to 100 words per minute. When this happens, they are officially part of the “100” club. If your goal is different, you can call it that number club instead. The 100 club gets to eat lunch with me at least once per month. Sometimes I bring cookies for them or another small treat. It’s a big deal to them. 

  • Who moves the clips? 

    • The kids move the clips. This is so important! The kids love to see the physical movement from one number to the next.

Just for fun, you can see my old fluency tree HERE :-) 

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Prepping for a Sub QUICKLY

I shared a picture recently on Instagram and I had TONS of questions wondering how I prep for a sub in less than 30 minutes.

I'd love to share any tips I have because I remember spending HOURS on plans that most times didn't get followed.

Before reading please know that my district doesn't have very many subs that are experienced teachers. We once in a while get lucky and are assigned a retired teacher, but that isn't often. I learned to keep things as simple as possible but with as many details as needed to get my kids where they needed to be safely. You should also know that I don't ever leave anything new that a sub would have to teach. I learned the hard way that a sub isn't always the best person to leave in charge of introducing new content. My first year I left new math lessons to do because I was out of town for a few days due to a family emergency. When I came back half my class hadn't learned the new content and half the class learned the concepts incorrectly. I was left to undo the damage.

Now, let's get started!

1. Copies

My biggest time saver is the fact that I don't have to copy for subs. My secret weapons are these bins:

As you all know, throughout the weeks teachers end up with copies that we meant to use but we just didn't get to because we ran out of time. I used to throw those out, but I realized I could save these and use them for sub plans. I place those copies in this bottom drawer here labeled Extras.  Once I have a full drawer, I switch them over into my Sub Bin that you can see below:

Link for Labels HERE

So most of the work is already done because of these bins! When I know I'm going to be out, I take a look over them and make sure that there is a varied choice of activities in there. So let's say I have plenty of resources for reading and writing, I might have to copy a quick math activity to mix things up. But it's usually no more than one or two things I will need to copy. If I don't have any time to copy, I ask my team if they have any math papers (or any other subject needed) left over and I'll use those.

2. Skeleton Plan

The next thing that saves me time is having my sub plans in my Google Drive.

Some ideas to include in your plans:
  • Where to pick up the children in the morning
  • How to enter the room
  • How to pass out breakfast (if you have breakfast in the classroom)
  • How to line up
  • Line leaders 
  • Helpers: students that know where everything is in your room, and how to work everything in your room; such as your document camera (if you want the sub using it) how to turn the projectors on and off, using Go-Noodle, etc. 
  • Packing up for dismissal
  • Resource pull out times
  • Behavior management (clip chart and how it works)
  • Emergency procedures (fire drill, lockdown)
  • What to do if there are behavior issues
  • Who to contact for help (numbers for the secretaries, team lead, trusted teacher that could help out.)

Most of the details are all done and filled in. I might have to touch them up to update our current specials class for the day and any current info about class jobs. I love having these plans saved in a Google Doc because they are available to me anywhere. When I first started teaching, I would write up these plans every single time I had to be gone. It would take me an hour just to write everything up again and I would forget crucial info! After a couple of years, I got smarter and started up a template in a Word Doc, but then I would lose that file in my computer or I ended up with 15 copies titled Sub Plans. Every time I was out I would have to spend so much time looking through every version of this file to update it. With Google Drive, I just have it as one document and there is no chance of me losing my plans. 

Want to save yourself even more time? My friend Nicki @thesprinkletoppedteacher has a great solution! She created some plans that you can customize to make them fit your exact needs. They are ready to go in Google Slides ready for you to make your own! Plus, they are beautiful! Click on the image below to check them out:

3. Paperless Activities  

One of my best things to include on these plans are paperless activities.  These activities don't require any copies at all and fill the day without wasting instructional time.

  • Book Bins: One of my favorite paperless activities is independent reading. We use our book bins for that. I leave instructions for the sub to have the kids read on their own for a certain amount of time and then read with a partner for another length of time. 
  • Computer Lab: Our school purchased two programs the kids can use in the labs. Our class goes twice a week. If I know I'll be out, and it's not my lab day, I'll ask my friend next door if we can switch days. That's 45 minutes that my kids will get meaningful content without me having to prep for it. I do leave explicit directions to have the sub walk around so that the kids are on task the whole time.
  • Journal Writing: We do journal writing every day. My kids know our routine. That is another 45 minutes of drawing, writing, and sharing time that is easy for anyone to implement. 
  • Read alouds: I leave plenty of books for the sub to read throughout the day. Something I have learned over the past 12 years is that kids love read alouds and they especially love them when a guest is there to read to them. 

As you can see, those activities right there take up a lot of time and are things that you'd want the kids to do whether you are there or not. Best of all, they don't require any planning or copies. 

Flexible Work Stack

I try to mix up those paperless activities from above with some seat work. As a newer teacher, I would painstakingly write out my plans detail by detail telling the sub which worksheet to do next only to come back and see that nothing was done as I intended. Now I schedule the seat work time in chunks. I write in about 40 minutes of seat work between the paperless activities. My directions are simple, I just say "Choose something from the work stack." I was wondering how subs would like that so I asked for feedback. The feedback I got was great! The subs said that they liked the freedom to chose what to do depending on how they saw the kids working. They enjoyed it. Some subs completed the work stack in the order that I left it in and some subs had fun with it and chose the activities that they wanted to complete with the kids. Since implementing these flexible plans, my subs have left great feedback saying how much they enjoyed subbing in my class and we often times have repeat subs because of this. 

What if I don't have time to plan at all?

As long as you haven't been tossing your unused copies, that drawer should have plenty of stuff for a day. My friend next door can take out the stack and leave it ready for the sub. I then email or invite my friend on my Google Drive plans and she can print them out for me. (I always have a copy in there anyway but if I need to make some changes, I can just send them through a link.) If you have no copies in there, ask your team if they have anything to share. I can guarantee that each teacher will have one or two activities they can provide for your sub.

Getting the skeleton plans done is the most time consuming thing when you first start out. Once you have that, you will have very minor things to change or touch up. So now, if I had to be out without any notice at all, it would take me a minute to pull everything out and another couple of minutes check the plans over (checking for helpers and any slight changes) and print that copy.

I then set everything up on my table ready to go. A few years ago I saw teachers leaving a diagram on their tables directing the sub on where everything was. I decided to give it a try this time and I loved it. I left a question on my feedback form asking if the sub liked it and found it useful. She replied "this is beautifully organized! I look forward to subbing for you again!"

Getting the actual sub stuff ready takes about 5-10 minutes. I then spend another 10-20 minutes tidying up and putting things away that I risk going missing. Things such as Scholastic book order money from my kids, locking up our tablets and Chromebooks, or expensive items that could get damaged and I would have to replace. I want to clarify that it's not that I don't trust the sub with our things. It's that sometimes subs have left my room unlocked overnight and on occasion, things have gone missing.

To Recap:
  • Save work you didn't get to
  • Create skeleton plans you can edit quickly
  • Leave flexible work + paperless activities
  • Leave everything your sub will need where it is easy to find
  • Put stuff away that you don't want going missing

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any questions!

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A Classroom Management Game Changer!

For the first five years of my teaching career, I hit the rules HARD during the first few weeks of school and then kind of forgot about them as the year continued.

As the years passed by, I realized the importance of hitting the rules often THROUGHOUT the year. We now review the rules every day while referring to our class posters. My kids also have hand signals for each of them. I try to have the kids say them three times per day but no less than once per day. 

When I began to do this, it transformed my classroom management. By the end of the second week my kids know the rules so well that when they see someone breaking a rule, they correct the behavior. Talk about a timer saver for me!

I use these presentations to introduce and go over our rules:

These slides go over our rules explicitly. This is important. If the kids don't know or understand the rules, they legitimately cannot follow them. When my students know and understand the rules, they are much more likely to follow them. 

I use this slideshow a lot during the first month of school and right after every long break. I'll also go over them when I see that we need a touch up on management (crazy times of the year like Halloween). 

For daily use, we refer to these posters:

They are placed in the front of the classroom where we can all refer to them easily. As I said earlier, we refer to these every day. I make sure to go over them at the beginning of our day. It's super quick. The kids helped me make up hand gestures for each of them. Ideally, we will go over them each time we return to the classroom like after specials, lunch, and recess. The kids know that this is part of our daily routine. 

When I correct behavior (or better yet, when the kids help me correct behavior) I try not to use an accusatory tone. I just use a reminder such as "class, what's rule number 1?" All the kids say it and no one has to get scolded. My kids get super good about doing this too. If they see a friend breaking a rule, they call their friend's attention and say something like "Andy, rule number 3." They say the rule together and the situation is taken care of. Most of the time, my kids take care of these small situations. It's a direct result of the class knowing the rules so well. 

If you would like to get a set of my PowerPoint slideshow, just click below:
Classroom rules for the primary classroom
This presentation has completely editable text so you can customize as needed for your kids! 

If you'd like a set of my posters, those are available here:
Classroom rules for the primary classroom

These posters have editable text as well :-) 

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Trofast in the Classroom

I'm a big fan of Ikea furniture in the classroom. A few years ago I picked up some Trofast shelves and they have been well worth the cost. Each year I told myself I would label them and each year the summer would go by without me doing so. I knew I loved them before they were labeled but my love grew for them 10 fold afterward!

Now that they are labeled, I have am able to find everything so quickly! Best of all, my kids are able to easily find what they need. If one of my kids runs out of glue, they toss out the old bottle and grab a new one for themselves. If they need a rekenrek during our math block, they go and grab one. No waiting for me to go get it for them from the cabinets. It's added a whole new level of independence and helps our day run smoothly. I think my favorite moment was when a new student joined our class and the kids at her table gathered all the supplies she was going to need to put into her pencil box from these bins! #proudteachermoment

They seriously have transformed my classroom! If you are looking for some labels for your drawers, they are available in my shop. Just click on the image below:

As of now, there are over 90 labels included. I asked teachers via IG what labels they'd like to see and I included those. If you have any more suggestions, please email me and I'll add them to the file. This resource also includes a blank template that you can use to create even more labels! 

Are you looking for the shelves? Click on the image below to purchase them from Ikea.

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