Tuesday, November 29, 2011

cupcakes, christmas, and sight words, Oh My!

I have so many things to post about that I couldn't think of a clever title. My cupcake unit is finally posted to Teacher's notebook. So if you enjoyed the I have, who has cupcake edition, check out my unit. You can get there by clicking here. It's only $5.00. I haven't sold anything so I would be ecstatic if I did. Anyway, enough of my shameless self promotion. I have been using the activities in my own class this week and I've learned a few things. So if you do purchase my unit let me know. I have some pointers.
I'm so excited about Christmas. My boyfriend and I put my tree up yesterday and it is beautiful. I've always had an artificial tree but this year we got a real one. I've never been able to handle a real one on my own. I think I'm going to bring my old one into my class and set up. I saw this idea on pinterest about wrapping up books for everyday in December. I loved it and decided to adapt to meet my class needs. I took all my Christmas books home yesterday and plan to wrap one for each child. We have 16 days in December that we're in school but I have 18 kids. So a couple of days, we'll do two books. I might have to cheat a bit and pick out the one I wan them to unwrap on certain days. So to join in the Linky party on TBA (only a day late), here are some of my favorite Christmas books.

My favorites since childhood are The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Sweet Smell of Christmas. I can remember my aunt reading these stories to me as a kid. When teaching Christmas Around the world, I love the Tomie DePaola books. We usually read the legend of the Poinsetta and then make our own to go with it. Olive the Other Reindeer is a new classic. I stumbled on in a Scholastic book order one year. Olive looks a lot like my parent's dog, Ellie Mae. So it has become a new family favorite.
I'm linking up with TBA. Check others favorite Christmas books. 
The sight word part of this post is going to have to wait until tomorrow. I created a rainbow writing sight word sheet with a little Christmas clipart. Check back tomorrow to get your freebie.

Christmas Week

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cupcake Math Unit

I know that Christmas is just around the corner but I'm not quite ready to jump into a Christmas unit yet. In our reading series, we're doing the letter C. I plan to read the book If you give a Cat a Cupcake. That book along with some cute cupcake clipart from Scrappin Doodles inspired me to create my first real unit. I started it Wednesday and finished it today and have been trying to upload it to Teacher's Notebook. Not sure why it's not cooperating. But here's a freebie from the packet. I've finally gotten a license from Scrappin Doodles to offer some freebies on my blog.
Cupcake I have, Who has numbers 1-20 
 Leave me some comment love is you download it. I will hopefully have the whole unit up sometime this weekend. Still recovering from my stomach bug, Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Hope to have some more freebies from some other units I'm working on this week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving and the stomach virus

My Thanksgiving break started a little bit earlier than planned. We had school Monday, Tuesday, and then a half day today. I woke up at 4 yesterday with an awful stomach virus and was out yesterday and today. So I feel like a total failure in the teaching about Thanksgiving department. We were going to make turkeys yesterday and bracelets to go with Dr. Jean's Thanksgiving poem. I have no idea if any of this was done. Then today we were having a feast and I was suppose to make pilgrim hats for the kids. The ones that Tamera made with her kids out of fudge stripes and marshmallows. But alas, no luck. There was no way I could make anything with food. My fever broke at about 1 am today and I'm feeling a little better. I'm still pretty dehydrated and haven't eaten a bite. Hopefully I'll feel better by Turkey time tomorrow.
I have big plans to work on some activities over my break. Luckily, I have the best boyfriend in the world and he went by the school to pick up my laptop and reading teacher edition so I can do my lesson plans. So I've started a cupcake unit that I hope to have finished and posted to my teacher's notebook store and maybe some freebies before Monday. I've already got a few activities under my belt. My problem seems to be I have too many ideas and can't focus long enough on one to finish. So Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope no one else out there has the awful stomach virus I'm getting over. I'm so thankful for all of you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What I'm thankful for

I'm joining the linky party at What the Teacher Wants. I have so much to be thankful for I'm not even sure where to start.
1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?
  • for all my students. They make me laugh and smile everyday with their excitement about learning.
  • For the supportive community I live in. I'm so lucky to be a part of a school where the community is so supportive. 
  • My coworkers and adminstration
  • My promethean board and document camera. I don't know what I'd do with out these.
2. What person are you most thankful for?
  • I can't pick just one person. I'm so thankful for my parents. They are super supportive of everything I do and my class.
  • My sister who is my best friend who is always willing to help me and my students out
  • My boyfriend, Chris. I'm so thankful I finally found my other half. It took a long time to find him but it was worth the wait. He listens to me ramble on and on about school and blogging and lets me drag him around to different places so I can recreate what I saw on someone's blog. He's my number one supporter. 
  • My niece Sophie who amazes me with all she has learned and how smart she is.
See I said I couldn't pick just one.
3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
  • Rowdy in First Grade - Jennifer helped me so much by answering questions I had about all kinds of blogging related stuff.
  • Can Do Kinders - Pam has been so supportive and encouraging with my adventure in blogging.
  • Kinder Kraziness - She happened to list me as one of the blogs she's grateful for but I'm truly grateful for Laura. She's been such a help and encouragement.
Picking only three was very hard, but I tried to stick to it.

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
  • Pinterest - I can get sucked in for a long time on that site but I enjoy every second of it.
5. What are you most thankful for?
That I'm able to worship God in any way I want to and God loved me enough to send his son to die on the cross.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Sunshine Award

I was feeling stressed and tired when I woke up this morning. I didn't want to get out of bed. This week has been exhausting. Trying to finish report card assessments, report cards, a training day, parent conferences, a middle school basketball game, church. Just a lot going on and this time of year it just keeps getting busier. So what finally got me out of bed this morning was Lori from Cacheymama's email telling me she had awarded me the sunshine award. It was needed. I love doing this whole blogging thing. I feel more creative and more into teaching than I have in a long time. But I'm also running myself to death trying to do new things and constantly readjusting my thinking and teaching. So it feels nice to have some think my little blog is worthy of an award.
Here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

My answers to the questions:

  • Favorite color? Purple
  • Favorite animal? Butterfly Usually by the end of the 2 years with me, my girls in my class are obsessed with purple and butterflies. Their parents are driven crazy by it.
  • Favorite number? 9
  • Favorite drink? Diet Coke, coffee, Chai tea, peppermint mochas from Starbucks (I can't just pick one. I drink all day long something.) 
  • Facebook or Twitter? Both. I like Facebook for keeping up with what's going on in the life of those I love and care about. I like Twitter for amusement.
  • Your passion? Sharing Christ with others and helping youth to develop and grown in their relationship with God. Reading and teaching students to read. I love to learn and I want so much for my students to love to learn as well. I also love my family and friends. I would do anything for those that I love.
  • Giving or getting presents? I love getting the perfect present for someone.
  • Favorite day? Sundays - I love spending time with my church family and my boyfriend Chris and I usually get some quality time in on Sunday.
Now on to nominate other blogs. This is the hard part.
I tried to pick different blogs for this one than I did for the Blogs on Fire Award. There are so many wonderful  blogs out there by such wonderful teachers. These are ones that I've used a lot of ideas from or have been super helpful as I'm trying to explore this blogging world. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Problem Solving strategies

I should be working on report cards right now but I'm choosing to blog instead. I'm sure I'll pay for it later. There is so much going on right now. Report cards go out on Monday and I have conferences on Thursday and today I was out at a math training. I was not looking forward to going to the training because I have so much to get done and I had heard from a 4th grade teacher it wasn't great. But I'm so glad I went. It was really good. Susan O'Connell was the presenter. I didn't know anything about her but she has a book called Introduction to Problem Solving that we got a copy of. She offered a lot of strategies and practical ideas that I can take back to the classroom and use. That's my favorite kind of workshop. The biggest thing I took from her presentation was a method for teaching math. You pose a problem. Have the students think and talk with a partner then bring it back to the group. As you discuss the problem the key is in your questioning. These are good teaching strategies that I know. It helps to hear it again and see it in action.
She used some good literature to give context to the problems that you have the students explore. One of the suggestions was using the book If you give a Mouse a Cookie and have the students explore chocolate chips in a cookie. She posed a problem, then we explored some, came back together and created a chart, then offered some games to play to practice fluency. I loved this idea of tying in problem solving with literature. The wheels in my head are turning on how I can use this in the classroom with books that we're reading in class.
I'm still processing all that I learned but it has me questioning some things about my teaching. We adopted a new math textbook this year and there are lot of people complaining about it. We have so many new things going on: common core, new teacher evaluation and then this textbook. I try not to get tied up in a textbook. I try to use it as general guide and then go from there. Now that I've got these new problem solving ideas and strategies to think about, I think I'm going to find myself moving further from the textbook. I've already been thinking of tweaking things I have been doing with reading. I would like to incorporate some daily 5 but the only way to do that is to cut something out. My time is so limited in the class. I don't know much about daily 5 but I'm hoping to explore some over Christmas break. It will probably mean changing the literacy centers I've been working on. I try to be fluid and change what needs to be changed depending on my student's needs. The literacy centers are wearing me out a bit. I'll think that my kids are getting into a routine and we're making improvements and then they seem to forget everything they know. Maybe I just need to simplfy things and the Daily 5 seems to lend itself to that. Of course all I know of daily 5 is seeing other bloggers.
I have some questions for my blogging friends:
Do you deviate from your prescribed textbook or do you stick to it?
What's the best resource on Daily 5?
How do you balance it all? I would love to seem people's schedules if you're willing to share. I want my classroom to be a place where kids are exploring as they are learning. I want learning to be fun and meaningful.

Monday, November 14, 2011

After school tutoring?

So I had big plans to write this post on Sunday and a few more to get caught up for the week, but my sister called and told me my grandmother was visiting. So I spent the day in Knoxville with my grandmother, sister and adorable niece. I know I'm a little biased but my niece is definitely the cutest kid out there. She's 14 months old and I'm amazed at how much language she is acquiring. She's a little sponge. It also makes me see how those little ones I get in Kindergarten with no language really must never be talked to. Sophie is a lucky girl because my sister stays home with her and she has a kindergarten teacher aunt and a primary principal grammy. So she gets talked to and taught all the time. Anyway, back to my post (that I am writing at 7:23 in the morning instead of being at school because my car won't start and I'm waiting on my bf to come get me:( )
Friday for Veteran's day we had an inservice day. Those are really not my favorite. I would rather be teaching my kids. But my administration does try to provide us with professional development and time for collaboration. One of the things we were looking at Friday was our students who just missed being proficient on "the test" by a couple of questions and trying to target them to move them forward. This got me thinking of my kids that are on the cusp of getting it. They are almost reading but just need a little extra help that they don't seem to getting at home. Another topic of conversation for the day was our economically disadvantaged kids. (Such a great name right). These are the kids that seem to be struggling the most. Not that we needed a test to tell us that. I think most teachers know. It brought us to talking about language and how kids just don't seem to have the language they should. (which made me think of my brilliant niece :)) So all this talk got me thinking about doing some after school tutoring. I looked at my class and where they were and which ones could benefit from extra help. One group that stood out to me was my ELL kids. I have a few that are starting to put things together for reading and I think if they had a little extra help they might just get there. The other group that stood out were the ones that are so eager to learn but just need a little extra one on one time.
We don't have any kind of tutoring program at school. I was curious if anyone out there in my blogging friends did? I think eventually we're going to try to write grants for some funding for after school tutoring but until then I'd like to do some on my own. I would love to hear about any kind of programs others do. How do you help those kids that need just a little extra push?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ms. Kerri's Busy Kindergarten was sooo busy this week!

For a four day week, we packed a lot in. I'm not even sure how we had time to do all we did. In our reading series, we read the book Duck on a Bike by David Shannon. I love this book and so did my kids. We read it Monday and Tuesday and practice retelling. This was the first time we've done retelling with partners. I was really proud of how well they did. I modeled it using the document camera and one of the students helped me. We then wrote our own sentences about other vehicles duck could be on and the sentence I see duck on a __________.

Here are some of the student's work. (I remembered to take pictures this week.)

We continued with our David Shannon author study by reading No, David and David Goes to School. Then we talked about character and did a character map of David. Mostly my students came up with all the negative behaviors of David and decided that they didn't want to be like David at all. I had planned on having them draw their own pictures of David and writing a sentence to describe his character but we just ran out of time.
Here's our chart we made. My drawing skills are definitely improving. :)
Inspired by the mentors, Fran at Kindergarten Crayons is doing in her class, I talked to one of my friends in fourth grade. She and I decided to give it a try. So Wednesday was our first try at reading buddies. They came in to read to my kids and then my students picked a book that they wanted to read. It was really neat because several of the fourth graders were students from my first loop. It was so cool to see how far they've come with their reading. My first loop, I had a Hispanic girl who really didn't make a ton of progress but most of it was due to language issues. She's super sweet and she's always come back and told me how she was doing. Well I have a student this year who reminds me of this former student. They were paired up together and it was so neat to see my former student teaching. To me it was definitely worth the effort. I'm hoping that my fourth grade teacher friend thought the same thing. We haven't had a chance to talk about it and where we see it going.

I had originally planned on reading the book Alice the Fairy by David Shannon and comparing the characters but I decided at the last minute (Wednesday afternoon) to do some Veteran's Day activities. I bought Kim Adsit's pack and went to town planning some activities for Thursday since we had inservice on Friday. I couldn't find any books for such a short notice but I did find a video on United Streaming that did the job. We watched that and talked a little bit about the military and Veteran's day. Then we labeled a hero, did a brace map on the American Flag and made our own flag. I had planned to have the kids write thank you letters and to do a tree map about soldiers. But we had a program and ran out of time. I'm still going to have them write thank you notes and draw pictures. The teacher next door to me has 4 daughters and 2 are serving overseas and 1 just recently got out of the military. She plans to send a package to her daughter in Kuwait and we're going to send our letters with her. If you haven't checked out Kim Adsit's packet, you should. It was well worth the $4 or so that I spent. I still have a few activities I want to do this week with them. The ordinal numbers and spinner activity look good. We'll see if I can find time to do them. We're also starting our farm unit this week. It fits well with our reading series theme for the week about food and where it comes from. I bought DeAnna Jump's unit and I'm super excited about doing some of the activities.

We were very busy this week and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. I haven't even thought about what Thanksgiving activities I want to do. There are so many good ideas out there and packs I'm interested in. I don't even know where to start. What's your got to do Thanksgiving activity you're planning? Maybe that will give me some ideas.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What I'm loving Wednesday!

Last week, I shared a top 10 list of what I loved about blogging. 10 was a little ambitious and I think I might have just said the same thing over and over. So this week I'm sharing my top 5 ideas that I've gotten from other blogs that I use and love.
1. Math Journals from Mrs. Wills. I've blogged about these several times before. They are my favorite. My students like them and they don't take a lot of time. I also can reinforce skills we're working on already and stretch some of my higher kids with a little higher order thinking. We're already writing addition problems and using that vocabulary this year. I don't know that I've ever introduced it so early. But it makes sense presented in this format.
2.Fran at Kindergarten Crayons Sight words to Rock your room packet. Not only do I use her activities but they've inspired me to create some of my own that are very similar to her stuff. I haven't offered it on my blog because I feel like some of it is a direct copy of her stuff.
3. Ms. Miner's Popcorn word packet. She uses the same reading series so our words are the same and we call them popcorn words too. Love this resource.
4. Carpet Bags from Kindergals. I call mine gear bags but I love this idea. It works so well for the class. I just tell them to get their gear bags and then they can get their materials out from there. I think it makes things run smoother and more efficiently.
5. There isn't one source for all the thinking maps that I'm using now. But I credit blogging with the great ideas, I've gotten for thinking maps and graphic organizers. I've been using the tree maps a lot with a variety of subjects. I think it's helped my kids think about different topics and organize their information.
So those are my top 5 favorite ideas or products I've gotten from blogging. What is the best idea you've seen that you use?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Peek at my centers this week!

Last week was the first time, I had my students go to two different centers a day. It went much better than I anticipated. The goal is to have 16 centers and only have to change things up every two weeks. I only do centers 4 times a week. Fridays we usually do different kinds of centers or science activities. Currently I have about 10 centers going and I'm about to add 2 more. I have been trying to add them a little at a time. So here's what we're doing this week with a few freebies thrown in there.
1. Play dough center - I've been having the students make different letters and words. I have a recording sheet in a previous post but I'm noticing I need to change it up a bit. So this rotation, I'm going to add some cookie cutter letters and have them make their popcorn words that way. We'll see how it goes. You can click here for a copy of the recording sheet I made. You could use this if you use letter tiles or some other way for students to make words.
2. Stamping center - I've updated it using new sight words and some color word sheets from Work Smart Not Hard in Kindergarten. 
3. Math Game - Right now they are just working on using counters to make different combinations of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. They shake the counters and then draw it on a whiteboard. Eventually I'll add a recording sheet but right now they are still exploring.
4. Math Exploration - They are going to be making a number book from Fran at Kindergarten Crayons. I found it this summer and can't find the exact post. She has awesome things if you haven't checked her out. The kids will use bingo counters to make the numbers in ten frames.
5. Promethean Board - They do a center of flip charts that we've already worked on as a class.
6. Computer - They can go to www.starfall.com or another game we have a license with.
7.Reading corner - Surprisingly enough my kids love to go to this center and I have nothing too special over there. I have some pointers they can use to find words they know and big books we've read. This week we have Mo Willems books and David Shannon books. Last week we were working on Mo Willems and this week it's David Shannon.
8. Listening center - I'm using an old ipod and they can listen to two different stories. I'm wanting to add a recording sheet element but I haven't had a chance yet.
9. Write the room - I created a sheet for the kids to use to record different words they find around the room. The get to use clipboards and wear silly glasses so they are happy. I would share the sheet but I haven't bought the license with scrappindoodles yet but when I do I'll be sharing it.
10.Art center - They are creating an i with scraps of paper and glueing them down.
11. Writing center - We are working on a class book to go with Don't let the Pigeon drive the bus. I made a sheet for the kids to add to and draw another vehicle. I also made a picture dictionary of transportation words.  Class book for Pigeon and Vehicle words
My last center was going to be a science center but it hasn't all come together yet. I have a "brain" in a jar they were going to draw and observe. I might still be able to get it together but we haven't modeled using the recording form yet and I usually like to model first.
That's the plan for this week in my classroom and my centers. Check back later this week to see how they went and maybe I'll remember to take some pictures.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This crazy week in Ms. Kerri's Class

Somehow or another I survived Halloween. It was almost like it wasn't Halloween at Monday. This was the first year I didn't have a party. We weren't allowed to have one and in the past we've had big parties where the kids wore their costumes and we paraded around town. We read Stellaluna and completed a chart about what bats have, are, and can. They are doing so well with these charts. Then they made bats and wrote a sentence using our chart. I was really proud of how well they did.
The rest of the week we attempted to have a regular week. I wasn't completely successful with that. But we did an author study of Mo Willems. It was a lot of fun. I love his books. We read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, Elephants cannot Dance, and Knufflebunny. They loved them. They were perfect for working on some writing. I got the idea from Herding Kats in Kindergarten. We watched a video of Mo Willems talking about his writing process and then the kids drew their own pigoen. The directions were really easy to follow and they later added a speech bubble. We're going to continue working on some writing associated with these books next week in the writing center. I'm made some sheets where they can choose something else for the Pigeon to either drive or find. If you check back next week, I should have the sheets posted. They are on my computer at school.
This week we tried out our 2 rotations of centers and I worked with 2 groups. It worked out much better than I thought. I think because we've practiced so much with just one center they were more prepared for 2. They transtioned well and even seem to be able to find their next center on their own. I added a write the room center. The kids were so excited to walk around the room and find the words we have all around. it was pretty cute.
So that was my week. I mean to snap some pictures before I left school this afternoon but we were celebrating the upcoming marriage of a fellow teacher and I got too excited and forgot.
Check out what other people did in their class this week by going to the weekly linky party at Clutter Free Classroom.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I love about Blogging Wednesday!

This is my own take on what I love Wednesdays. I was thinking this morning about how much I love blogging and how much it is improving my teaching. So I decided to make a list and a linky party to see what others love about it as well.
1. I am a lot more creative in my teaching. I see wonderful ideas out in blog land and I'm inspired to try them and to come up with some of my own. Also, I've been inspired to start my own teacher's notebook store. While I don't have a ton going yet, I have lots of ideas in the works and cooking.
2. It helps me remember why I'm a teacher. I love to teach kids, adults anyone. It's nice to be sharing my resources and ideas with others who appreciate it.
3. I've made lots of new teaching friends. I have a whole new support system when I have issues and problems to get information from.
4. I'm growing a ton professionally and my students are really gaining from it. In trying some new things, I'm stretching my students more than I have in the past and they are meeting the challenge.
5. You can win things. :)
6. I'm learning more about my abilities artistically. I think my drawing has improved because I've been stretched to do more drawing with my students. I also am making new things on the computer and learning a lot more about technology.
7. I'm a nerd and I love to learn new things. Blogging feeds into that.
8. I have found a lot of new books to read for myself and for the kids. Remember #7 I'm a nerd.
9. It gives me an outlet for writing.
10. I'm a better more excited teacher because of blogging.

What has blogging done for you? Link up with your list of what you love about blogging.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blog on Fire Award

It was such a nice day after Halloween treat to get a comment from Laura at Kinder Kraziness saying she had awarded me the Blog on Fire award. This is my first award as a blogger and it means a lot. I'm really loving this experience of blogging about my class and teaching. I feel like I'm growing so much as a teacher and that I've gone back to my roots in teaching. I'm excited again about what I'm doing and am loving trying to find new things to do.
So the rules of the award is to tell 7 things about yourself and then award 7 more bloggers.
1. I tried out for Jeopardy my last year in college. I didn't make it on or even past the first round but it was fun anyway.
2. I have the sweetest niece in the world. She's 14 months old and I love her sooo much. I love teaching her new things.
3. I love to watch crime shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS, The Closer and I also like kind of trashy shows like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Jerseylicious.
4. My favorite show of all time is Friends and I have all 10 seasons on DVD.
5. I love to read and read just about anything. I read so much that I sometimes don't know if I've read the book until about half way through it.
6. I love food and cooking.
7. I want to write a book one day. I have lots of ideas about what it would be on so who knows.

Now to award the other blogs:
Kreative in Kinder

This is one of my favorite blogs. She has the best ideas and is so generous with all she has.

Mrs. Wills has so many wonderful resources. I have been using her math journals. My kids love them and they are learning so much from them. I also love her weekly posts about her math stations and centers. They inspire me so much.
Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business

I love Mrs. Miner's directed drawing activities and her sight word packet keeps me going. She's also super generous with her wonderful resources as well.
Can Do Kinders

I just love Pam. She always has great ideas and resources. Plus she leaves me great comments.
First Grade Blue Skies

Jennifer is full of wonderful ideas and has been so helpful as I've been trying out new things in this blogging world.
The Very Busy Kindergarten
Sue was one of the first blogs I discovered and she has inspired me so much.

I love Leslie at Kindergarten Works. She is so inspiring and organized and I've gained a lot from reading her blog.
I'm super excited to get this award and it was so hard to just pick 7 blogs to award it to. I love so many blogs. My google reader has like 140 blogs I follow.
Hope you survived your day after Halloween.