December 15

Yellow Teaching Protocol

Hi All,

As you know, the school board made the decision for us to be in a modified yellow schedule beginning January 4th.  Students will be in person T-F and distance learning on Mondays.  The expectation is that Kinder students are provided with 2.5 hours worth of learning and 1st-5th are provided with 4 hours worth of learning opportunities on those distance learning days.   We support schools not sending devices over break, but we do encourage their use for distance learning when appropriate for Mondays after that.
For Monday the 4th…we will be very flexible….we would like teachers to have kids do a little something, like write a story about their break, play a math game, or whatever the teachers sees as something manageable but not overwhelming for that first day, following a 2 week break.  Please have teachers communicate to their families that Monday the 4th will just be a little work to get kids thinking about coming back to school and that the future Mondays will be more like regular school work!
I know some coaches have already been brainstorming ideas for distance learning days…go team!
Please refer back to our yellow guidance document and remind teachers that we are focusing on all subjects and standards again, we are social distancing as much as possible, keeping seating charts to help with contact tracing, etc.  Their assessments will need to occur during the T-F days as they will not have that half Monday for testing, that is the biggest difference for elementary in this modified yellow schedule!
There are not to be meetings scheduled by admin on Mondays….you can hold your teaming, RTI, etc. other days of the week.
Let me know if you have questions or if you want to have a group meeting this week to share ideas and/or concerns.
Teresa Jones
Director of Elementary Programs
Twin Falls School District



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December 15

Idaho Coaching Network PD Statewide Conference


Would you like to join the Idaho Coaching Network for its FIRST EVER statewide conference? The goals of this conference are to connect educators across the state, inspire you and your practice, and offer you rejuvenation in the education profession. You’ll leave with best practices and strategies you can implement in your classroom or school tomorrow. You’ll also have the chance to connect with other educators, reflect and grow professionally, and attend sessions that spark your interest and meet your students’ needs. At this conference, you’ll have the opportunity to

  • Select from a variety of interactive sessions around the topics of K-3 Literacy, K-12 Literacy, Writing, Content-Area Literacy, and Teacher Leadership and Resilience;
  • Engage in live sessions throughout the day and also have access to recorded sessions that you can watch on-demand following the conference; and
  • Connect with educational professionals in and beyond your region and across the state.


The conference will be Saturday, April 24th from 8:00-2:30 PT / 9:00-3:30 MT. We hope you will join us (and bring some friends) to this awesome experience.


Please take 1 minute to complete this survey to share your interest in the conference. We also invite you to forward this email to anyone you think would be interested in this experience.


We hope you are as excited as we are!

The Idaho Coaching Network Coaches

Karrie, Peggy, and Rhonda

Karrie Jayo
Idaho Coaching Network | ELA/Literacy | Region IV Representative
(208) 539-1456 |
“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”
Robert John Meehan
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December 15

Why English Isn’t Crazy and The Resources To Support It

Why English Isn’t Crazy and The Resources To Support It

Why English Isn't Crazy

As teachers of structured literacy, we soon discover that English is more logical than it appears at first, but that isn’t always the popular opinion out there. This article details several resources WHY English isn’t crazy.

Have you ever heard…

“Why is schwa a thing?”

“Who invented changing the y to I? Why’d they have to make it so complicated?”

“Why is English so hard?”

These are the types of comments I hear from my students during Orton-Gillingham lessons regularly. And, I understand their frustration. Sometimes, when there is a mystery that seems illogical, despite years of study, I have to go digging for answers myself. Many of the teachers our student’s encounter don’t have good answers for these complicated questions. It can certainly seem like English is weird or random.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

It’s been popular to bash English.

We’ve all seen and chuckled at the cartoons and coffee mugs. Many of us probably even have a personal collection. We’ve giggled at the old I Love Lucy scene where Ricky discovers the numerous possible pronunciations of ough. These cartoons or memes are humorous because there is an element of truth and English is a challenging language.

Our students can have a good laugh to lighten the mood. However, it is important to balance the pop culture humor of English as weird with the science of the language and the structure that can help our students successfully navigate the reading and writing of English.

Let’s empower our students!

One of your jobs as teachers of students with dyslexia is to help demystify these oddities. And doing so requires us to understand not only the history of English, but the ways in which English is more than just a phonemic language. In fact, English orthography is morphophonemic. Not only is the spelling of a word affected by the meaning of the word parts (the morphology) and by the sounds (the phonology), but also by the interaction between them. This occurs when spelling or pronunciation changes as a result of using a different form of a word. In turn, we need to help our students understand this history of English at least to the point that they understand that our language has layers from Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Greek.

As teachers of structured literacy, we soon discover that English is more logical that it appears at first. We need to spread the word that rather than unexplained nonsensical oddities, these are puzzles and we can help students figure out the pieces. When there is a mystery of something that appears weird, we can turn to the etymology and morphology of the word and often find answers. English has borrowed from many other languages. So, combining the predictable rules and patterns with knowledge about these languages of origin frequently connects the dots. In fact, when taking into consideration all of these different elements that contribute to spelling, somewhere upwards of 75 or 80% of our spelling are quite predictable. Some scholars contend that this number is even higher, closer to 96%.

Ultimately, we want to put a positive spin on the richness of our language that provides us with such a wide variety of ways to say something or describe an image. We want our students to embrace the richness and also to build a solid foundation based on predictable rules and patterns. That strong foundation will give them the tools to enjoy and experiment with the variety that our language has to offer. We want to encourage their curiosity as they raise good questions about English and its spelling. Hopefully, our students will begin to see themselves as scholars of language, “word nerds” that wear that mantle proudly because they understand the forces that have created English.


Here are some wonderful resources to turn to when you are seeking the whys and hows of the English language.

In order to help expand your own knowledge of the underlying structure of English as you become your student’s coach in this quest to demystify English.


Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide
This book, and its sister website, are a fabulous resource not only for teachers, but for parents or anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of English. Although there is a curriculum by the same name, this book also stands alone. Containing not only simply answers to pressing questions, but incorporating up to date brain research as well, this is a book for every Structured Literacy teacher’s bookshelf.

English Isn’t Crazy by Diana Hanbury King
Diana Hanbury King was an amazing powerhouse of knowledge about teaching struggling readers. Her career spanned more decades than I have been alive, and we are lucky that she shared her expertise and knowledge in a number of books. This volume is fairly brief and very reader friendly. The focus is more on building an understanding in the teacher or parent rather than translating that knowledge into instructional practice. A worthwhile read for certain.

Dyslexia and Spelling: Making Sense of it All by Kelley Sandman-Hurley

This is a new book, written from a dyslexia specific perspective about analyzing student spelling and teaching English orthography through a structured word inquiry lens.

Speech to Print by Louisa Moats
This highly regarded must read for teachers is getting an update. The 2nd edition is on the way and incorporates the latest scientific research on literacy instruction.

Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto- I actually keep a copy of this book handy for all of my Orton-Gillingham lessons. Look up the history of words in this comprehensive dictionary.

Children’s Books

Children LOVE learning about the history of English! When they have a reason why, they kind of get a little smarty pants thing going on. How awesome is that for children who struggle with reading?

Here are two recommendations.

How Our Alphabet Grew by William Duggan-This is a children’s book that is out of print, but you can still find used copies online!

Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet by Don Robb- This is another excellent children’s book with fun illustrations!


The two sites below offer a comprehensive search engine and resources to find etymological reasons for the way words are spelled. Whenever I have someone ask me about a word that seemingly is irregular or a “rule breaker”, I tell them, “Go to the history!”


So, while my student may still shake her fist at her arch-nemesis, schwa, we can enjoy the humor and explore her questions together, knowing that this journey of learning is an ongoing one with more to learn and explore all the time.

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December 8

Bridges Updates and New Resources

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December 7

Fun ways to incorporate technology and literacy

I love comic strips because they can provide a fun introduction to a serious topic, can be used to illustrate concepts, and be used to tell all kinds of stories. Thanks to many online tools for making comics, you don’t have to be an artist in order to create a great comic. Canva is the latest tool to enter that category.

Last week Canva introduced a slew of new comic strip creation templates and tools. Here’s a video overview of how those work. Of course, you could also use Storyboard That, Pixton, Make Beliefs Comix, or even Google Slide to make comics (here’s how). Whichever tool you choose to use, you can use these ideas to incorporate comic creation into your classroom.

Fan Fiction

Rather than writing another book report, have students write an alternate ending to a favorite book in comic form. Pixton EDU has some content packs about books that are commonly taught in elementary school and middle school.

Comic Strips as Timelines

Have students illustrate a timeline of an event or series of events. Rather than simply writing summaries of key events have students create illustrations of the events. Each frame of the comic should be dated to take the place of what would otherwise be a hashmark on a timeline.

Create Your Own Digital Greeting Cards

Many kids find enjoyment in making their own cards instead of just affixing their signatures to a store-bought card. As I highlighted in this video, Canva has lots of templates for creating comics to use as digital cards.

Vocabulary Illustrations

This is a spin on an idea that Stephanie Krisulevic shared on my blog a few years ago. Students create comics to illustrate key vocabulary terms. In Stephanie’s example her students created illustrations about literary elements.

Illustrate Original Stories

A few years ago at a conference in Connecticut I heard The New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth say, “the nice thing about drawing aliens is that no one can tell you it’s wrong.” He was talking about giving kids confidence to try their hands at illustrating stories. When kids create comics of their own stories no one can tell them the story is “wrong” or the characters “don’t look right.”

These were last week’s most popular posts on

1. City Walks – Hear and See Cities Around the World

2. Twelve Free Apps for Math Instruction

3. Write on PDFs in Google Classroom – Good Tool for Math

4. Three G Suite/ Google Workspaces Updates to Note

5. Inexpensive Equipment to Improve Online Meetings

6. Dozens of Bell Ringers to Start Your Social Studies Lessons

7. Three Ways to Create Online Forms to Collect Samples of Your Students’ Work

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December 4

Istations Cycle Descriptors-Useful for understanding priority report, intervention purposes, and problem solving

In case you forgot about this handy document (because I sure did) here is the Istations Cycle Descriptors.  Scroll down the page to see what is in each cycle to help your students in areas that they continue to struggle in or move them along the continuum.  If you are wondering what I mean by cycle in Istations please let me know and I would gladly show you how to use this document cohesively with the priority report and how it pertains to what cycle your student/students are on.  This is a very handy tool, enjoy!


Happy teaching!

Istations Cycle Descriptors

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December 2

TFSD November In-Service Recordings

Here are all the recordings for the in-service for November 23rd and November 24th.  There are lots of great information and resources you can reference for future endeavors.  I have also included it in the Harrison Staff Shared Drive under the Instructional Coach Folder and the Perrine Shared Drive under the Instructional Coach Resource Folder.  Enjoy!


Happy teaching!

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