sight wordsHi everyone! Elona invited me to be a guest blogger, and I jumped at the chance! My name is Heather Rice, and  I write sight word songs. What’s a sight word song? It’s a song that spells out a sight word. I began writing sight word songs to help my daughter Sarah, who has Autism and moderate mental impairment.

Sarah was really struggling to learn her sight words. She was so frustrated that she began to pick at her skin with anxiety the minute the sight word cards came out.  I knew I needed a different approach. But what else could I try? When I thought about it, it occurred to me that the one thing she was good at remembering were the words to songs!  That’s when I began writing songs to spell out sight words.

I write my songs to the tunes of well known children’s songs, like “Row, row, row, your boat.”  I keep each song short, and I repeat the spelling of the sight word. Also, all of songs have a “hook.” Either the song is funny, or it tells a story. (Actually, most of my songs do both).

To help Sarah learn the song, I began making Power Point slides and worksheets to go with each song. Each song uses clipart to illustrate the song, and a great deal of the clipart was ordered especially to fit the song. Each song comes with 3-5 worksheets. Every CD also comes with a Power Point presentation that includes a slide for each song. I don’t charge extra for either the worksheets or the power point presentation that comes with each CD.

I hope you’ll listen to the sample  Sight Word SongsI have three different CD’s available. One for pre-k. One for kindergarten, and one for Ist grade. Each CD is $15.00, and has between 20-23 songs on it. You can purchase a sight word CD at:
Thanks for listening!

Heather Rice


Comment by Elona Hartjes


Thanks for agreeing to be a guest writer on my blog.  

 Necessity is the mother of invention. Heather was inspired by necessity to create her sight word songs, Power Point  presentations, and the work sheets.  I’m delighted that Heather wrote me to tell me about her experience trying to teach her daughter sight words. the sight word songs she wrote, and the fact she is making her sight word songs  and supporting materials available to us  at the teachers- pay- teachers site. I believe in  differentiating instruction to honour students’ interests and strengths and that Heather’s CD’s and accompanying materials would be a valuable teaching tool to this end.

 I find Heather’s Sight Word Songs  very engaging. Just today, I heard an interview on the radio that talked about what a powerful teaching and learning tool songs can be for students of all ages. Using songs as an instructional tool is an excellent  way to differentiate instruction and honour a student’ s strengths.  In Sarah’s case, Heather honoured her daughter’s strength of remembering words to songs to help Sarah learn to read sight words.  I’m glad Heather has made her CD’s and support materials available to us at the teachers-pay-teachers online store. Teachers need to support one another.





I used to feel quite anxious about starting to teach classes in the new school year. I learned to prepare for the new school year by taking certain steps.  I’d like to share a post I wrote earlier about what I do to help me prepare for that first week of classes.


The first day of school is fast approaching, and I really need to start to  think about getting ready for it.  I’ve been teaching for a while so there have been many first days, and I’m pleased  to say ( actually I’m quite relieved to say ) that I’ve found steps to take that make that first day and that first week a success. That first week is so important because it sets the  tone for the rest of the semester.
I’m going to remind myself of what to do to have a successful first day and first week by reviewing the strategies I use for each step.  I invite you to review each step  with me, so just click on the link I’ve provided in each step.

Step 1- Reduce Stress

Just thinking about  the first day of school itself can be stressful,  but it needn’t be.      Here’s why.

Step 2- Think positively

Think positively. If you have a positive attitude you’ll believe and act as if all students will be successful in your class. If you have a positive attitude there are no losers in your classroom despite what you’ve might have heard. Students will live up to your expectations. Think and act as if students are trouble, believe me they won’t disappoint you. Here’s why.

Step 3- Remember the nine lessons your students taught you about classroom management

Your students will tell you by their behaviour what they like and don’t like all you have to do is ask them. Here’s what my students told me.

Step 4- Create the class rules or agreements collaboratively

Create the classroom agreements together and students are more likely to buy into them.  Here’s how I do that and the Slideshare Video I use to review our agreements.

Step 5- Remember respect in the classroom is a two way street

Step 6- Get your students   to tell you how they feel about different aspects of school

Remember respect is a two way street going from the teacher to the student and from the student to the teacher.  As much as I would like it to be, respect for teachers  isn’t always automatic.  It must be earned. Here’s what I do.

Step 6- Get students to tell me how they feel about different aspects of school

It’s good to get students to reflect about different aspects of school in and out of the classroom.  The information that I get from these questionnaires help me better understand my students and informs my interactions with them.  I ask these questions.

Step 7-  Realize that a students emotional state will affect a student’s learning and behaviour

Realize that the emotional state of a student can thwart learning.  Consider this.

Given that school is about to start up again, I thought it useful to repost this article about using 21st century students’ expectations to inform our teaching practices.

Usually during the summer break after I’ve been away from the craziness of the June classroom for a while, a good long while, I begin to reflect on my teaching practice for the previous year. Usually this reflection includes reflecting on expectations, mine and my students. I want to be sure my expectations are reasonable given the nature of the changing 21st century classroom and students. I’ve taught for 30 years so some things have really changed and some haven’t. Today, I’m reflecting on things my students have told me they expect from teachers that really have nothing to do with cell phones, ipads, tablets etc or the 21st century. Students have told me they would like teachers to

  • not abuse their power and order students around as if they control their lives;
  • respect students personal lives and not bug them about personal things that are none of their business;
  • not yell at students because that just makes them mad and not want to listen;
  • not talk about themselves all the time and show that they’re smarter than students are because students find it discouraging;
  • not treat students like they don’t know anything;
  • have respect for students no matter what they’ve have done before;
  • listen to both sides of the story;
  • be equally fair to all students;
  • try to help all students have the best results in class;
  • give less homework because it is hard to do homework by themselves if they cannot ask the teacher;
  • give more free time in class to do homework;
  • give less homework because it is boring and takes away from time with family and friends;
  • let students eat in class because sometimes they are hungry in class and can’t stay awake in class;
  • not give homework before the holidays;
  • let students listen to music while working in class;
  • let students watch videos in class and not have to write about them;
  • to want students to pass their classes;
  • to be helpful, respectful, and fun to be around.

Basically students want teachers to respect them, but then of course teachers want students to respect them, too. Respect is a two way street that is constantly under construction. My students’ expectations help inform my teaching practice and enables me to create an inviting classroom where my students and I can do our best.

You might want to ask your students to tell you what they expect from teachers. I found students are not shy about revealing their expectations. The expectations also make good starting points for discussions.

j0433160When I was a student,  I loved being in the drama club and playing volleyball and basketball on the junior and senior  teams at my high school.  I wasn’t a star by any means, but I was a member of the drama club  and a member of the team which was important at that time.  Those extracurricular activities made my life almost bearable during my teen years. I wanted school to be more than just the 3 rs. I didn’t just want to be in a classroom living in my head during my school years.  I longed to be part of something more than a class.  eEtracurricular activities enabled me to satisfy my longing to part of something more than a class. When I became a teacher, I decided I would participate in extracurricular activities to enable students to benefit from extra curricular activities much  the way I had benefited all those years ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized that as a  teacher I was still  benefiting from participating in extra curricular activities. I recognize students participate in extracurricular activities for many reasons,  not just the reasons I had for participating . Extra curricular activities are important for students in many ways.

I’ll be honest here. Participating in extra curricular activities is important for me as a teacher because participating in extracurricular  activities  would often help make my classrooms more bearable .  Over the years some of my classes have been very challenging- to say the least. Many of my academically at risk students  were disengaged from school.  They were only at school because the law said they had to be at school.  I felt really great when I got to see students who were disengaged from the classroom become more and more engaged in the classroom because they were  began participating in extracurricular activities such as  basketball, football or yes even the knitting club.   I’ll admit  I got to see my academically at risk students in a different more positive light during extracurricular activities and my students got to see me in a different light too that resulted in a more positive  student/teacher relationship.  That is a very good thing.

When I think of school and the student body, I think of classrooms as the head of the student body and extracurricular activities as the heart of the student body.We need to balance the head and the heart of the student body.  Life is not only lived in the head, but it is also lived  in the heart.   Students’ school experience and yes even teachers’ school experience needs to  include developing and satisfying the needs of their heads and hearts,  and  when teachers are told not to participate in extracurricular activities for political reasons, students and teachers suffer.


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