The New Normal: Teaching Via Zoom (long a patterns)

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This is our new normal. This is my new normal. I used to wake up, get dressed, and drive to work. I now wake up, read a book while drinking coffee, put on yoga pants, a t-shirt, and my old sweater, and come downstairs to my table to start remote teaching. There is no choosing which of my favorite spring dresses I will wear, or which strappy sandals match because the yoga pants I own are on repeat mode. Wear, wash, repeat. And so when I videotaped the long a pattern lesson I wondered if I should perhaps style my hair (hair that needs a major haircut and conditioning treatment). But then I figured, my first graders won’t care what I look like, they’ll probably just be happy to see me because that’s how little kids are. They love their teachers and they love school. And they love being with their friends building, coloring, climbing, running, and in my classroom, rainbow looming.

I videotaped the lesson and noted all the funky wrinkles around my eyes, my chin, and mouth. I wanted to delete the video but then I realized how ridiculous I was being. My students are wanting more teacher time. They also need to learn these essential spelling patterns to better their reading and writing skills. Besides, my hair was dirty and I braided my hair which was a perfect tie in to the teaching of long a patterns. The word braid has the “ai” pattern and makes the long a sound. Fancy that!

I’m sharing some activities in case you as a teacher/parent are looking for ideas. I don’t have any materials here at my house so I’m making them up as I go. Students were directed to read books and be on a word hunt for these long a patterns. Then they write them on a chart. They are also going to be writing sentences using this word list.

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Another activity is making words. This is what we are doing this week. Not sure if it will work via zoom but I’m going to give it a try.

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Kids cut the letters out and then move them around as the teacher gives directions.  After each word, kids finger spell the word and then write it down. We want to make sure students feel successful after an activity. Teacher is to have a white board or sample proving guidance for kids who need the extra support. Remember, there are many ways of learning and “just right” means different things for different learners.

Can you find the letter o and t to make “ot”.

What word do you make if you add the letter “c” in front?   (cot)

Now remove the letter “c” and find the letter to make the word “dot”.

What do you notice about these words?

ot, cot, dot


Repeat steps for the following onset and rime:

at, cat, rat


During the third phase of making words kids will add the magic e / non syllabic e to make the long a sound. You can talk about this, finger spelling, and having kids notice how it sounds in their mouth.


ate, rate, crate


Lastly, my favorite part of this activity and the kids love it too! Using all of the letters can you guess the mystery word?

….think time….


…more think time…


Any guesses?


d e c o r a t e

What do you like to decorate? On the other side of your paper, write and tell me all about it.


I hope these activities are helpful in some way. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. You can also change the activity to fit different spelling / phonics patterns based on your own students’ learning needs.

Happy zooming and happy teaching. And in case no one has told you, you are doing an amazing job. KISS YOUR BRAIN!




Stay At Home Easter 2020

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Today I celebrated a different kind of Easter. My sister and her family were not here. My step daughter was not here. My mom didn’t cook. My best friend and my godchildren did not come over to play. My brother in law didn’t make his famous salad. And we didn’t gather together to watch the kids hunt for eggs. This year I stayed home in accordance to the Safer at Home Order because of the coronavirus pandemic.

I was sad because I wanted to get my two year old daughter an Easter basket. To my surprise my best friend from college mailed one with her name engraved on it. My  childhood best friend mailed a unicorn basket filled with goodies. This afternoon my sister called and said, “Open the garage, I’m dropping off an Easter basket for my beautiful niece.” And then my sister in law left a little beach wagon filled with Easter treats on the doorstep. I wanted so badly to hug my loved ones tightly, but a distant hand wave was all I could do.

In the morning, as my two year old was coloring with her new crayons and coloring book she caught me intently watching her. She asked, “Mama, are you OK?” I smiled and nodded yes. Then I asked how she was doing. She answered, “I’m happy Mama.” Surprised by her comment, I prayed, “May you live a happy life.”

Moved by this exchange I remembered that my friend had gifted me a book of daily wisdoms. I looked at my cell phone and noted the date, April 12, 2020. I then opened the book to find the corresponding date. The passage read: In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death. – PROVERBS 12:28

I read and reread this a few times trying to figure out how it relates to my life. I then proceeded to read Ernest Holmes’ interpretation of this verse. I read and reread this a few times as well and sat with the last section.

God’s Love always embraces us, His Wisdom is always within us, and His Joy is ours to share. Abundance is everywhere.

That’s the kind of slow, different, and yet blessed kind of Easter I had. My daughter was gifted with packages wrapped up in lots of love and abundance.

How am I doing? Sleepy, stuffed, and happy.