Entries by Katie Garner

“….But NINE other people were doing it too!”

  “But NINE other people were doing it too!” As September draws to a close, that initial excitement over “going back to school” begins to wear off. Most students by now have become acclimated to their new routine and the increased learning and behavior expectations in their new classroom.  But for those who haven’t, the […]


The “SECRETS” to Guided Reading 101

The New SECRET STORIES® Guided Reader Series- In the Fall SECRET STORIES® READER- In the Fall I’m so excited about this that I couldn’t wait to share it! I sometimes feel like a broken record when I say that the SECRET STORIES® is not a program, but easily accessible, reading and writing tools to be used throughout the instructional […]

Social Studies Standards Posters for ANY State!

Common Core Made EASY!! Cutest EVER Common Core Social Studies Standard Posters (made to match the FREE Science Poster Sets!) FREE Pk-3rd Grade Common Core Science Posters This post is going to be short, but sweet!I just wanted to be sure and let everyone know that I have posted preview sets for the Common Core […]

Chit-Chatting About the Phonics “Secrets!”

Imagine you’re a beginning learner in Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade, and you’re told about the grown-up reading & writing “”secret”  al, and the sound they make when they get together in a word… A and L love balls! ALL balls…  Footballs, baseballs, basketballs, volleyballs…  ALL balls, ALL the time!! Armed with this new reading and writing tool, you naturally begin looking for […]

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The Brain Loves Novelty, So Spice-Up Your Phonics Instruction!

Brain Based Phonics Instruction: How to Take Advantage of the Brain’s Need for Novelty! I’m often asked why the Secret Stories® musical brainteaser exercises (on the CD that’s included with the class kits) don’t sound like actual “songs” (i.e. no musical/ instrumental accompaniment, repetitive lyrics, etc…). If you are already using the Secrets in your daily reading and writing […]


First Graders Offended By School News Article!… An Impromptu Exercise in Persuasive Writing

First Graders Offended By School News Article! Last month, I shared a post (here) written by first grade teacher, Renee McAnulty from Hesperia, California. Her candid description of the challenges she faced with her class at the beginning of the school year generated TONS of questions, comments, and emails from teachers with similar classroom situations […]

You Can’t Fight the Brain— It’s the Ultimate Pattern-Making Machine!

The Brain is the Ultimate Pattern-Making Machine!   In a previous post, I explained how to get the most brain-BANG for the buck when using Secret Stories® to sound-out unknown words and help learners to “think through” or pattern-out the most likely sound options. While that post focused on how to think like a doctor, this post will focus on […]

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Thinking Like a Word Doctor: Exceptions to the Phonics Rules

How To Teach Exceptions to Phonics Rules Did you know that if you had a fever and cough, it could be the plague, or pneumonia… or maybe just the flu? Actually, it could be a lot of things. Learn More About “Thinking Like a Word Doctor” Because doctors know that the plague is the least likely cause of your symptoms […]

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How I Doubled my DRA Scores by December with 24 Boys, 9 Girls… and 18 FAR Below First Grade Level!

So you know that moment when you get to meet that person who changed everything for you? Well, it happened to me! My name is Reneé McAnulty and I’m a proud first grade teacher at Cottonwood Elementary in Hesperia, California and this is my story… It all started with me nearly pulling every single hair […]