Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reading on the Third Day of Kindergarten

I'm slowly but surely getting a few things accomplished in class. We haven't had time for math yet but hopefully it will come. On Wednesday we talked about our first popcorn word, "I." We made an interactive reading chart of "I am _______" and they filled in their names. I typed to a promethean flip chart and they came up to it and read their sentences. They were so proud of themselves when they read their sentence. Even one of my ELL students who hasn't spoken many words read his sentence. Today I turned chart into a pdf and then printed that page off so they could read their sentence for homework. I was reallye excited about this idea and it was so easy to do. I just went to print on the file menu on the promethean board and from there chose print to pdf. It didn't print it just turned into the pdf.
We also made Fran's sight word necklaces from her sight words that rock your room packet. I definitely learned a bit about how to do that with the kids. They needed to be cut out, hole punched and made into a necklace before giving them to the kids. At least at first. I forget how little they are.
You can check out the flip chart we've been working through this week. You can see all the pages we didn't get to yet. I've been a little ambitious with my planning. But better too much than too little! Here's to Friday! I'm going to need some rest this weekend.
Click Here Flipchart

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I survived!

So today was my first day with all my students and it was so much better than I was expecting. They did a wonderful job but I was exhasuted and they left at 12:30. I'm sure I'll be even more exhausted tomorrow when those that stay til 3 stay. (We technically have a half day kindergarten but most of the kids stay until 3.)
My biggest issue was trying to get everything done in the small amount of time I have with them. I really only have 3 hours to teach them and that is just not enough time to get everything in. Of course it'll get better as they become better at doing what is expected. I have several that don't seem to know how to hold a pencil so any great tips you have for teaching that would be appreciated.
Just wanted to share the finished product of our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees. I cut out the first letter of each child's name and they painted them on their first day. It turned out so cute.
That's about all energy I have for a post tonight! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Days of Kindergarten

Oh my. I just finished my first week at school. I only had 2 days with kids and only had 5 kids each day but I'm exhausted.  We have staggered enrollment for the first 3 days of school. I just caught up on all my blog stalking this morning and I was several days behind. Luckily other teachers out there are busy with school and not blogging too much. So far my little ones seem like they are going to be a great group of kids. I only have 5 girls out of my 16 kids and there are also 5 ELL students in the class. So movement is going to be essential. I meant to take some pictures of my room and the activities we did but it slipped my mind. I ended the year last year with first graders ready for second grade, so it is an adjustment to start the year with 4 and 5 year old kindergartners. The first day felt like it went awful to me and my critical self. But day 2, I started to get my kindergarten bearings.
We did some Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activities. We read the story and then went on a hunt for the letters throughout the school to meet the special area teachers and office staff. My kids loved this especially the ELL boys. They were so excited to find the letters and enjoyed helping with the story and saying "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom." We came back and they painted the first letter of their names. I know. What was I thinking painting the first day. They did pretty well and of course a couple of kids went home with paint on them including me.
I was most impressed with how well my kids did with my promethean board. We did some calendar activities on the board and they picked it up so quickly. They were able to move things and use the wand with just a little instruction from me. We played a little starfall (If you haven't checked that site out, it's the best. and they were old pros at the board by the time they left. If you have some kind of interactive whiteboard, I suggest getting on Starfall and letting your kids explore. It was a great way to teach them some skills on using the wand and pens that go with the board.
I have one more day of staggered enrollment and then Tuesday I'll have the whole class. Our system is still on a half day kindergarten so the kids have the option to leave at 12:30. The first 4 days of school they all have to leave at 12:30. Wednesday will be the true test. I will have all the kids and those that will stay til 3 will stay. I think most of mine will stay which is fine with me. I wish we had a full day kindergarten. I could get so much more accomplished with them.
I worked on my lesson plans today. I know it's an exciting way to spend a Saturday but my boyfriend was at a Boy Scout training. With our new evaluation system and common core standards, there are a few changes in how our lesson plans are suppose to be. They need to have the I can statements, standards, and differentiation plans. They took me a little longer to do than before and I didn't even include the differentiation plans this week. I'm not sure where they are yet to be able to differentiate. But I'm attaching my plans so you can check them out. I plan to use some Fran's sight words that rock activities this week to introduce our first sight word. I'm excited but a little nervous to dive into this year and all the curriculum and standards that I need to teach while ensuring that the kiddos love school and learning. So how's your start of the year going?
Lesson Plans

Monday, August 15, 2011

A how to post

Today was our first official day back as teachers and my head kind of feels like it could explode. We are adopting a new model of teacher evaluation in Tennessee and it's pretty intense. I think it's called the TAP model if anyone out in the blogging world has any words of wisdom about it. I think it will be fine once we get use to it but it was a lot of information for a day.
So I'm going to impart a little information on you today. This is a post about how to make those cute little books that are all on one page like Fran Kramer over at Kindergarten Crayons makes. It probably isn't at all how she does her books but this is what I figured out using publisher. I have publisher on my school computers and you can do the same on word but it isn't quite as easy to do.

1. Choose a new document - blank print publication.
2. Go to Page setup under File menu. Choose landscape orientation.
3. On the left toolbox menu, choose the square option. Make a rectangle that is 5 and 1/2 inches long and 4 and 1/4 inches wide. Copy and paste this 3 times so you have four rectangles. You'll then arrange these so it divides your paper into four boxes. I do this to help me divide my page and it helps when rotating things later.
4. I start with the lower right corner as my title page and then work from there. I insert text and clipart that I want in each box.
5. When you finish getting the page how you want them, you're ready to rotate. I usually do the lower right, then the lower left, then upper left, and then last upper right.
6. Click every component in the upper left box while holding the shift button including the box itself. You should have the dots around each item. Once you have all objects selected you go into the arrange menu and chose the option group. This will make it so you move all these objects together.
7. At the top of the box when you select it, there should be a line with a green dot. You click that dot and rotate the whole box until it's upside down.

This is my first time writing out instructions on how to do one of these projects. So I would love some feedback on whether these were easy to understand.
I made a sight word book that was inspired by Fran Kramer and then I got the idea to make little books for each letter. So I'm offering both the publisher and the pdf of the book. My thinking was to have the students use a list of words brainstormed that start with the letter to create the book.
Pdf version of M book
Publisher version of M book

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Inspiration vs. Stealing

I've read several blog posts where people have created things and then someone else stole it and started selling it. It makes me really nervous about posting things that I've created. Not because I'm afraid something like this will happen to me but because I don't want anyone to think I've stolen their creations. I find myself inspired by the things I see online and want to try to create my own materials to use in my class. I have issues and don't always like to use what other people have done. It seems that I have this need to tweak it a bit. I have been very inspired by Fran at Kindergarten Crayons. She makes these really cool tiny books to practice sight words. Well I worked on this today and figured out how to do it. I'm really proud of myself for figuring out how to turn the pages around.(If anyone has publisher and wants to know how to flip the text, leave me a comment and I'll be glad to share) So here's my question, what is ethical to post? Would it be ok for me to post this little book that I made? I looked at Fran's and then created one with the sight words that we use. Is it ok if you aren't selling it or if it is based off something that they aren't selling? If you give complete credit to the person who created the original , is it ok? I'm very confused by all this. I don't want someone to think I was stealing. I love this community of blogging teachers and love that you can put your questions and ideas out there for other teachers to use. I have always thought the sign of a good teacher is someone who is willing to teach other teachers and to share what they know. When I was in college, I wrote a honors paper about good teaching practices in reading. There were so many amazing teachers that I observed and the best were the ones that dragged out all their materials to show me and copy for me. I want to be one of those teachers but I want to do it ethically. So some advice is needed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Last lazy day of summer

Today is my last real day of summer. Teacher workdays are Monday and Tuesday and School starts on Wednesday. I've been in and out of my classroom for the past few weeks but today I'm enjoying being lazy. Of course, the school is closed and I can't go in but it's good to have a day to be lazy. I've enjoyed my summer but am really excited to start a new year.
Yesterday we had a training about our promethean boards at school. There was a lot of information given and a lot of I had figured out on my own just playing around.  But I did learn a couple of really neat things. One being how to allow 2 kids to use the board at the same time. I'm super excited that my board has that built in already and can't wait to let the kids try it out. That information would've been great to know last year when my kids were all clamoring to us the board during free time. I also learned about creating profiles so kids don't have access to all the editing tools when using a flipchart. I'm pretty excited to try this trick out too. I am thinking about making some cheat sheets to help with these things if you're interested in seeing them, leave me a comment and I'll email them to you.

I was also working on some of my beginning of the year letters that I send home with the kids, including my  behavior letter. Because I'm changing my system this year, I had to rewrite my letter. I'm using the clip chart that is all over the blogging world. I realized that I still had some kinks to work out in the system. I'm not sure if kids can move back up the chart once they've moved down to the negative side of the chart. What are some of you that are using this same chart doing? I originally thought they could move from a negative behavior to more positive but I feel like that would be difficult for me to keep track of. Some other opinions would be very helpful.
I'll leave you with the beautiful popcorn poster my sister made for me.

We call our sight words, popcorn words. I plan to put this poster up on a board in front of the meeting area and writing center. I'm using Mrs. Miner's popcorn word set she has in her tpt store to get my template for popcorn kernels with the words on them.Go to her website to find it. I was excited to find someone who uses the same reading series and calls the sight words popcorn words too. Well I'm off to enjoy my last lazy day of summer!

Mrs.Miner's Monkey Business

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Classroom Update

My sister came yesterday to help me with a few projects in my room. She's super creative and I love any excuse to get her and my niece to come to Gatlinburg. The night before I made my tissue paper and canvas sign for the outside of my door. It turned out really cute but it was difficult to make. I used mod podge and the tissue paper tore easily when it was wet. But it looked really good when completed. I stapled gunned a ribbon to the top of the canvas and hung it up beside my door.

My sister's task was to make coconut trees for my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom display. We are reading this book the first week of school and I wanted to the coconut tree for my reading center. The first day of school the kids are going to decorate the first letter of the name and put it on the tree. I plan on keeping it up all year. She did an awesome job and it looks amazing.

I went to Wal-mart this morning to get a few things and ended up getting more things that I had planned including a new set of Sharpie Fine Point Markers. They had 80s glam colors and I just couldn't resist. Anyone else addicted to buying sharpies. I love them!

On a non class related note, my sweet niece is turning 1 tomorrow. I can't believe she's already a year old. As any good aunt would, I've been buying her books since before she was born. For her birthday, I made her a container full of magnetic letters, numbers and some blocks. I used all my crafty inspiration from other blogs to make it look cute with paint and stickers.

A week from tomorrow is the first day of school, I can't believe it's almost here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons it's back to school time

Over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, she's hosting a linky party for the top 10 reasons you know it's back to school time. I really enjoyed reading everyone's list and was thinking about what my top 10 was.

10. My fingers are stuck together from gluing things and there is marker smeared on my hands.

9. My allergies are acting up due to being back in my school and moving things around in the dust.

8. There are bruises on my legs from moving furniture.

7. I have to start wearing real clothes again instead of shorts, flip flops and t-shirts. I also have to dry my hair and put make up on.

6. My bank account no longer has any money in it.

5. I still seem to find a way to visit Target, Wal-mart, Staples, Dollar Tree and other craft stores to obtain the supplies I need.

4. My brain hasn't shut off since I started thinking about school.

3. Sleep no longer is possible. As soon as I wake up I start thinking about school and what I need to do.

2. My house is turned upside down with school projects and other school related items.

1. I keep having a back to school nightmare that is ridiculous and frightening.

Head over to Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits to see other people's top 10.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I spent the day yesterday doing some back to school shopping with my sister and almost one year old niece. It was tax free weekend here in Tennessee so I took advantage. My wonderful mom and boyfriend had given me some money to do a little clothes shopping for myself. I don't get paid again til Sept. 15 and my money is starting to dwindle. I'm sure you guys can relate. So I was very grateful for the kindness of my mom and boyfriend. We also hit up Target. We don't have a Target where I live so I have to go to Knoxville and I guess I waited too late. The dollar spot was pretty picked over. I did find some of the foam shapes. Our first unit in math is about sorting and classifying so I think I am going to use those for that purpose. I also found some of the board books about colors, shapes, and numbers. I'll put those in their beginning of the year book baskets. I put a basket of books at each table for the kids to read when they finish whatever they are working on. They seem to really like the board books at first. I was disappointed because the one about the sun was no longer there. I had seen a neat idea on someone's blog for that book. I of course had to buy the board books and some magnetic numbers I found for my niece too. I'm determined she's going to love to read and so far that's the case. Our next stop was a wonderful used bookstore. I had a lot of teacher books to trade in. I've been trying to clean things out. I taught 3rd grade for 3 years before moving back to my hometown and I'm still slowly weeding out my 3rd grade materials. So I had around $100 to spend at the bookstore. Mostly we found books I thought my niece needed. She got really excited about the books and at one point she had them all around her in her stroller and was in heaven. But I did find some good books for the classroom. I've got the bulk of my classroom library from this bookstore. It's amazing!
To go with the randomness of this post, I'm so excited about something I learned this morning on

She has step  by step directions for creating some of the documents she does on word. I was most excited because she has section about installing fonts. I don't know if you're like me and you've been seeing all the cool stuff on blogs and trying to create some yourself. I'm one of those people that likes to tweak stuff and make it my own. I had downloaded some fonts but had no idea how to install them. Well thanks to Ms. Patterson I now have a bunch of new fonts to use in my word programs and my promethean software. Woo Hoo! I'm not going to get any cleaning of my house done today at all. Oh well. I had several projects I planned on completing this weekend.
  • Making the letters for Making Words Kindergarten
  • Sign for outside my door. I got my canvas in my back to school shopping so I'll post a picture when I get it completed.
  • Promethean charts. I thought of some ways to improve of what I had already created. Can't wait.
Happy crafting this weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lamination woes!

I'm not really sure what I spent my day at school doing. Aside from a few kindergarten screenings, I really am not sure what I accomplished. I did get my bulletin board outside my classroom done. I loved the post over at clutter free classroom about ways to display students' work. Click her  button to see all the neat ways other teachers are displaying things in their rooms.

Clutter-Free Classroom

I'm using a combination of the ideas I've seen. Each student has their own space with a clothespin to pin up their work. I'm still unsure about how I'm going to identify their space. I loved the idea of the chalkboard tags but I'm running out of time. I'm thinking I'm going to put each child's picture on their clip. Any other creative but easy ideas I'm missing out on?
 Here's what it looks like so far. My theme is Ms. Kerri's Busy Kindergarten and my boyfriend came up with the title for this board. He's clever like that.
I also laminated my center signs, rule signs and behavior chart. Which apparently I'm not so good at laminated. I accidentally laminated 2 of rules signs together. I'm not sure how I managed to do that. I was able to peel them apart and now I'm going to have to laminate them again.
I've still got to figure out a few things like how to report my kids' behavior each day in the simplest way. One of the other teachers suggested using a color dot on a calendar to report it. I like this idea but I'm also thinking about having the student color their own square in a calendar but I'm not sure they'll be able to do that at the first of the year.
I'm also trying out centers again after a while and I'm not sure how to show my kids which centers they need to go to. I would love any suggestions for how you do this in your classroom.
I love hearing other people's ideas and suggestions.
On a side note, I'm pretty excited about my 15 followers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bloggy Happiness

I spent the day yesterday working in my room and it is finally starting to look like a classroom again. I would say most of my projects were blog inspired.
I created a graffiti bulletin board. This idea came from the blog Minds in Bloom. The butcher paper I put on it will change either weekly or every two weeks. There will be a topic on it and the kids can draw and write different things that have to do with the theme. I think the first one will be summer vacation.

I also worked on my behavior chart. That was definitely inspired by the blogging community. I'm using the clip chart with the positive spin on it. I'm pretty excited about trying this out this year. I'm also using the rules that were posted on The Polka Dot Patch blog. I printed them, added them to cutesy card stock and now just need to laminate and post. I'm super excited to be trying something new this year. I think it's important to change things up so that you don't get bored.

I still have some projects left to work on but luckily I have about 2 weeks before the first student arrives in my room. My brain is a little full today because we had our first day of a staff retreat. It was overwhelming discussing all the new things coming up this year. New math series. New common core standards. New evaluation system. I'm really trying to be as positive as possible this year. This blogging community has really helped me be excited about trying new things and the upcoming school year. But how do you cope with all the negativity you can find in a school? How do you handle the other teachers that aren't excited about the school year? I would love to hear your ideas about how to stay upbeat and positive.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Promethean Ideas

Mrs. Miner is having a Promethean Linky party on her blog so I thought I would join in the fun. I've had my board for a little over a year now. I got it at the end of the year 2 school years ago and am super excited to start a whole loop with it. I love my board. Like I might marry it if I thought I could. I use it for everything and when it's down I'm in big trouble. It got sick (that's how my kids put it) a couple of times last year and I was really annoyed. I start the day off using it to determine if my kids are here or not. Two years ago my kinders had a difficult time recognizing their names so I created a pocket chart where they had to just put their name on it when they got there, then I turned it into a graph where they started just sorting by boys and girls and then I moved into yes/no questions. In first grade, (I loop) the started the year out with a yes/no question on my board. I usually try to incorporate our theme for the week and the sight words we're working on in the question. This is part of our morning meeting routine. We go over the chart and analyze the graph. It turned out to be a great way to teach less than, greater than or equal to. So this year for kindergarten, we're starting the day off just putting our names under our favorite color. I'm sure the first few weeks, we'll have to do it together but my experience with the board has shown that they pick up the technology stuff sooooooo fast. They were deleting things when they messed up and choosing the undo button all the time. We have our morning message and calendar time also on the flip chart. My kindergarten one needs a little work still but I love doing it that way. I still have a calendar up that the kids can use as a reference. But using the board, I could create activities that fit what we needed to work on. In first grade, we practiced patterns, number patterns, had a number of the day where the students wrote addition and subtraction sentences to go with it, time, and so much more. I have no idea how to post these activities on my blog but if you are interested, I could email them to you. So just comment and leave me your email address. The possibilities are really endless with what you could do on the board.
We use the Treasures Reading Series which comes with a cd-rom that has all the paper resources and the teacher edition book on it. I have downloaded the teaching  chart and workbooks on to my laptop. Now I can just pull up the resources I need on my board and then use the desktop annotate function and be able to use all the promethean tools on the chart. I love this because all the students can see it and interact with the charts and it makes teaching how to do workbook pages and worksheets so much easier. We have adopted a new math series and I've heard that it was made for interactive white boards. So I'm super excited to be able to use it. I've also created a flip chart to go with each week of the first unit of our reading series. I haven't gone on because I wanted to try out how they were going to work before creating more. I used the different tools that are part of the program to embed the sound the letter says. I just recorded myself saying the sounds (I use the spaulding program which has motions to go with the sounds and teaches all the sounds a letter says at one time) and when you click on the picture clue you hear me.
I also plan on it being a literacy center this year. I'll probably just start out letting them play games and on starfall with it. Last year, they were good about taking turns and understanding that they could use the wand or the pen but not both. They also know if they argue about something then they will not get to use the material anymore so arguing usually only happens once.
I could talk about the board forever probably. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm actually pretty good on the board. So if you have any questions, I would be glad to try to help you with them. I love technology and finding ways to incorporate it in my class. I also just like to play around on it and try to figure out stuff. Hopefully, I gave you a few ideas and if you would like to see any of my flip charts I would be glad to attempt to email them to you.
Here's the link back to Mrs. Miner's blog for more great ideas.
Mrs.Miner's Monkey Business