Monday, January 30, 2012

I've been tagged and other random things

I've been MIA from the blog world this past weekend. I was with my church on a youth retreat and didn't have time to get on the computer. Meanwhile, I got tagged twice. So I guess I better post on that. Also, I am slowly attending the kindergarten Expo. It's awesome and I'm enjoying it so far. I love Hadar's rules and routines and have started Crystal's writing workshop. It was just what I needed.
Anyway, here are the rules:
These are the Rules
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

10 Fun Facts about me: (I know you're suppose to pick 12 but I ran out of things to say)
1. I'm getting involved in boy scouts because my fiance is a troop leader.
2. I love working with youth at church especially with girls in middle and high school.
3. I read really really fast. When I go to the beach, I usually read a book a day.
4. I'm not a pet person and my fiance is a vet.
5. My sister is my best friend and I love my niece Sophie to pieces.
6. I always wanted to be a famous writer and blogging is a good outlet for this. Even though I'm not actually famous.
7. I am getting married June 16.
8. I swam on the high school swim team which is where I met my fiance. But he's two years younger and it wasn't until a little over a year ago we reconnected and started dating.
9. I just got an iphone and I love it. I feel like I jumped on a bandwagon with it but a little late.
10. A couple of years ago I helped one of my best friends move to California. We took an awesome cross country trip that was definitely in my top 10 favorite things I've done.

Here are Laura from Kinder Kraziness's questions:
1. How many grades have you taught? 3 I taught 3rd and now I loop between first and kindergarten.
2. How many years have you taught? This is my 9th year
3. What's your favorite hobby? Blogging or reading
4. What's your favorite restaurant? Mellow Mushroom
5. What's your favorite television show? My all time favorite is Friends
6. What is your favorite movie? I don't really have one. If I had to pick, I'd say When Harry Met Sally
7. What is your favorite app? Pinterest. It's super addictive to have on my phone.
8. What is your favorite subject to teach? Reading
9. Do you like roller coasters? sometimes
10. Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
11. What's your favorite season? Fall
12. How many siblings do you have? 1 sister, and a brother in law; Soon to be a sister in law and another brother in law

Jennifer at Rowdy in First also tagged me so here are her questions:
1. Are you married and do you have kids? I'm getting married on June 16th. No kids but I can't wait to be a mom.
2. What is your favorite children's book or series? I love Harry Potter!
3. If you didn't live in your current city where would you like to live? Somewhere out west like Denver
4. Do you have any fun vacations planned? Going on a honeymoon to the Keys
5. If you won a million dollars in the lottery today where would you shop first? to get a new car.
6. What was the last movie you saw? In the theaters - Sherlock Holmes. Currently my fiance and I are working our way through the Star Wars series. We just finished Episode 4.
7. What theme do you have in your classroom? Kind of Eric Carle. We're the busy kindergarteners. One group is ladybugs, one is caterpillars, one is spiders and one is fireflies.
8. At the end of a long day what do you do to unwind? read or run
9. What meal do you crave the most during a tough week? french fries from Chick fila . I guess that's not really a meal.
10. What was your New Year resolution? To start working out more, get organized and spend quiet time
11. What's on your classroom wish list? an Ipad
12. What candy would you like to secretly stash in your desk drawer? resees peanut butter cups
Ok I know I'm breaking some rules but I'm going to have to post my 12 questions and 12 tagged bloggers later. I should be spending the kid's rest time getting ready for my evaluation tomorrow. So back to work I go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading update

I appreciate the comments on my last post about scheduling issues. There were some good suggestions and I'm always open for more ideas. I try not to be too rigid in the way I do things so I'm open to finding the way to best meet my students' needs. One of the suggestions was about integrating my daily 5 and my literacy centers. That's my ultimate goal but I'm not sure how to transition into that. Right now we're only up to 8 minutes of read to self so I haven't been working with any students. I finally have literacy centers working for me and my students trained. So I'm not sure how to combine them. I think it would work if I didn't do some math and art in literacy centers. But that's the only way I can get some math centers in and some of the art projects in. So I'm still turning this all over in my head. I guess I want the best of both worlds and that isn't always possible.
Daily 5 is progressing pretty well with my kids. I've only introduced read to self. As I understood from reading the book, that's the way the sisters recommend it. Did any of introduce more than one at a time? All my students but two are reading to self with no problem. We haven't shopped for books yet or discussed i pick. I've just been letting them pick books from the library that are on the lowest AR level. The two that aren't I'm not sure what to do about. We would be at 10 minutes by now if it wasn't for these students. They won't read. They just flip through their books and don't even try to read the words or the pictures. They are two of my ELL students and I think they understand what they are suppose to do. At first I stopped us when they started flipping through the books. We modeled the bad behavior and the correct behavior. Then I just let them flip through the books as long as they were occupied the whole time. Yesterday they were finished in no time and they were just staring around the room. So I stopped us. The rest of the kids are getting frustrated because they can do the read to self. I would love some input or suggestions on what to do. I have talked to both students individually during read to self time and after. I hate for two students to prevent the rest from success.
I wanted to update about 2 of the things I've tried from Tim Rasinksi. The first was fluency practice with a poem. They are doing pretty well with this. Friday was the first opportunity we had for some of the students to read the poem to the class. They did awesome. I had a couple that could actually read it, some who had memorized it but it was ok. Then I had a couple that couldn't read it but were content to track the words and repeat after me. I think it was a valid experience for all of them. The other thing was the mining for interesting words. The kids seem to be noticing words more as we read. I finally made a poster to post them on and I think after a week on the interesting word wall they will move to our word wall. I'd love to post some pictures but my camera is still mia but I did get an iphone last night so hopefully I can post some that way.
This isn't the most exciting post but it's a peek at what we're doing for reading. Friday is the 100th day of school so check back to see all the fun we had.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A hodge podge of a post

I don't know that I have anything really to blog about. I'm participating in the clutter free classroom's challenge but I didn't actually get rid of any clutter this week. This week's challenge was to begin the purge. I don't know what happened this week but it got away from me. I started cleaning one of my counters. But I didn't actually get rid of anything. I did put some things away that were left over from Christmas. I still have a lot of work to do on it. I planned to take some pictures but I can't seem to locate my camera. That's another problem in of itself. I'm hoping it's just fallen out of my purse and is my car somewhere. So my plan is to finish that counter and the shelves above it this week. Maybe if I work on a little bit everyday I can get it done. So I didn't link up with the clutter challenge this week. Hopefully next week I can do better.
I'm feeling a little discouraged because I didn't work on much this week but yet was there late  everyday. I am ready for next week kind of. I realize that the 100th day is Friday and I"m not really ready. I've asked the kids to send in t-shirts so we can make 100 day shirts. But so far on 2 kids have sent them in. I need to gather some ideas for the day. It has definitely snuck up on me. We have only had 1 snow day this year which is unusual.
I am really struggling to get everything in everyday. I wanted to start Daily 5 this semester and I wanted to work on implementing a writer's workshop type time. While Daily 5 is going pretty well, we're up to 6 minutes on Monday, writing is not going as well. We have written a little bit more since we've been back but I'm having a hard time fitting it into my schedule. It is really hard to accomplish all that I need to in 3 hours. I've already blogged about how discouraged I am with my math instruction. We start a unit on measurement this week and I think I could do a lot of great stuff with it. But it's just a matter of finding the time. So here's my schedule as I put on paper:
8:00-8:20 - Table work time, bathroom break, attendance, lunch count
8:20-8:50 - Calendar and morning meeting. We review a lot during this time and I think it's important
8:50- 9:00 - Phonemic Awareness - we work on our poem of the week
9:00-9:25 - Whole Group Reading, snack
9:25-9:45 - Phonics
9:45-10:05 - Literacy center time and reading group time
10:05-10:15 - Sight word work
10:15 -10:30 - Writing time or daily 5 time
10:30 - Bathroom break and then math
10:50 - Lunch
After lunch the kids have specials and then some of them go home at 12:30.
This is what my schedule looks like when I write it down. But in reality at about 10:50 I realize that I only have about 5 minutes to try to teach math.
I would love to have some input on how I can fit things into my schedule. I've tried some different things with my morning work. On Tuesdays that's usually our sight word practice. I have 16 students in my class right now and 6 of them get pulled out for ELL from 9:15-10:15. It leaves me with 10 students. I've considered just having my phonics lesson as part of my reading group time to give me a little more time. But I also use that time for assessment. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year's Resolutions Update

I posted my New Year's Resolutions right before New Year's. I've since adopted a OLW (one little word) but I'm still working on the New Year's resolutions. So I thought I'd update on how I'm doing and I'd be curious to see how other people are doing. We're 18 days into the new year.
These were my personal resolutions:

1. To start running again and get healthy. My mom and I are joining Weight Watchers in January and I miss running a lot. So I'm not setting a weight loss goal but just trying to get healthy. My stomach has hated me the past few weeks with all the junk I've been eating.
2. To get organized and clean. I have pinned a ton of things on pinterest about cleaning schedules and being organized and I really need to get on it. I've lived by myself for the past 8 years and now that my boyfriend spends a lot of time at my house I need to do a better job of keeping things clean.
3. To have quiet time in the mornings - I was doing really well with reading my Bible and praying every morning before school until the last week of school. I just need to get back in the habit. It's the best way for me to start my day.

So far I'm doing pretty terrible at keeping these resolutions. I haven't run once since the new year started. I have been 6 days without a diet coke. That's part of me trying to be healthy. I've been adding lime to my water and that seems to help me drink more. I haven't given up my coffee because that would just be crazy. I started weigh watchers last night so I'm on the right track. On the organizing front, I'm doing ok. I downloaded a clutter free calendar and have only done like 4 days worth of tasks. I just need to take it one day at a time. I haven't kept anything about the quiet time in the mornings. I've got to get back on track with this. It is important for setting the tone for my day. I've been feeling pretty stressed out with wedding planning and school. So I know I need to do this.

These were my professional goals:
1. I want to start Daily 5 this semester. I downloaded the book on my brand new kindle on Christmas day and I'm almost half way through it. I plan on introducing a little at a time in hopes of having the structures in place when I have my kids in first grade next year. 
2. Working on writing workshop type of structure in my class as well. I have been slowly adding in more writing in my class and I hope that this will tie in with Daily 5 as well. 
3. Tailoring lessons and groups more to my students' needs rather than trying to do what is always expected of me. I want to really use the common core to guide my instruction and where my students are at.

I have been working on implementing Daily 5 and I feel like it's slow but a good start. The kids seem to be getting the reasons behind practicing to read. I've got some plans in place for working on writing but I feel like I stink at teaching writing. I hope to post about writing later this week. I'm working on the last resolution of using common core and what my students need. I planned my math for this upcoming week with this in mind. I'm still working on number rather than fraction and ordinal numbers. 

My blogging resolutions:
1. To blog 3 or 4 times a week.
2. To offer a freebie once a week
3. To create a unit for Teacher's notebook every 6 weeks ( I have not been successful with Teacher's notebook so far but I need to finance my addiction to buying stuff.)
I've been successful with all these resolutions so far. I can definitely look at my posts and see that school has started back in full swing. But I'm still posting regularly and have offered a freebie each week. I was really excited to see one of the freebies I made on pinterest last week. It definitely made my day. I just posted a unit on Teacher's Notebook this week and have another in the works. So I feel like these resolutions have been successful. 
How are your resolutions going?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Say Yes to the Dress

Disclaimer: This post will have absolutely nothing to do with teaching.
I'm getting married on June 16 and have only been engaged less than a month. I want a super small wedding with just immediate family only. So it works out to be about 14 people (that includes me and Chris and our 2 nieces under 2.) Well I thought it would be easy to find a place to get married. Originally we were planning to go to the beach but then my parents made an offer that couldn't be turned down. They offered to pay for our honeymoon to the Keys if we just go married somewhere around home. So we thought about it and decided that getting married in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would be good because we spend a lot of time there. We first thought about a place we like to camp but that idea was kind of shot down. As I was looking at places on Friday, every place I looked was booked on the day we wanted to get married. I finally found something that I thought would work except it was really expensive for what you were getting (which was nothing but a place and some tables and chairs.) and it was booked on our day. Well Saturday that idea was shot down as well. I was really really discouraged and in quite a funk on Saturday.  But Chris being the wonderful guy he is wouldn't let me have a bad attitude. Sunday we set about finding a place and we did. We're getting married at The Buckhorn Inn. It's a b and b that is beautiful and surprisingly enough was about the same cost as getting married somewhere in the National Park with catering. And better yet they had the date we wanted. So yesterday, we went dress shopping. I'll be real honest. I was not super excited about it. I need to lose some weight before the wedding and I wanted a short dress. I was really worried that I wouldn't find what I wanted and with the wedding 5 months away I didn't have a lot of time.
This is the bed and breakfast from the back.

This is going to be the view from where we're getting married.

My mom, sister and future mother in law went with me and it ended up being a great experience. The first place we went to they were really nice and I felt like I was on "Say Yes to the Dress." I tried on the long, more traditional dresses and they were pretty but not for me. I tried on a dress that I liked but it didn't feel real bridal. Which could be because it was a bridesmaid dress. The next place we went to, the lady that greeted us wasn't very nice but the girl that helped us was. I've watched a lot of Say yest to the Dress. I should've learned that you don't try on dresses that you can't afford. They had 2 short dresses and I tried them both on. The last one I tried on was so pretty. It had a sweetheart neckline and laced us and was made of 100% silk. Yeah it was $2300 and I just couldn't fathom spending that much on a dress. So we left it behind. But no worries, the last place we went to they had a great selection of short dresses and I found the dress. It's beautiful and special and not what I thought I wanted at all. It's a short dress but long in the back and covered in lace and beads. If you saw my pictures on my A day in my shoes post then you saw what I was thinking. But I love it and it makes me feel  bridal. I said yes to the dress and don't feel guilty about the price either.
Anyway, thanks for sticking with me on this post. I know it's not teaching related but I feel like my friends in blogland are on this journey with me. Plus I was thought of Kristin at Teeny Tiny Teacher and her posts on The Bachelor and figured I could go for a non teaching post. Back to school today. I think I can, I think I can.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A day in my shoes

Over at Adventures of  a 6th grade teacher, Miss Klohn is having a her first linky party about a day in your shoes. I thought it sounded fun so I'm joining the party.
A day in my shoes .  .  .
5:20 - My alarm goes off and I hit snooze a couple of times.
5:45 - I finally get up. I fix myself a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer. I check email and blog stalk a little bit. Until I realize I need to get off my rear and get ready for school.
6:15 - I take a shower and get ready for school. I fix my lunch and sometimes my finace's lunch too. (If we forgot to fix him a lunch the night before.)
7:00 - I leave my house and head to school. I only have like a 10 minute drive to work. It's not even enough time for my car to warm up if I don't start it before I leave.
7:15 - Turn on my computers and promethean board. Get the music going for the day. Try to finish things up so I'm ready for the day. Sometimes I go by the library and talk to the librarian about books and other random things instead of doing my work.
7:50 - The bell rings and the kids come in from the cafeteria or the library. I stand at the door and try to get them all to say Good Morning. They work on some morning work at their table. It can be handwriting practice, a little book to make, popcorn word practice or math journals.
8:00 - Announcements, pledge of allegiance and moment of silence. The students continue to work on their morning work while I do attendance and lunch count. My assistant usually checks all their notebooks. The kids also take their bathroom break and answer the morning yes/no question.
Here's an example of some sight word practice we might do. It's rainbow writing for words.
Click here to access this file.  The graphics are from KPM Doodles and Scrappin Doodles.

8:20 - Start Morning meeting and calendar time. This last about 20 minutes depending on what math activities we do. Then we sing a silly song.
8:50 - Phonemic awareness activity - We do an activity with a poem everyday and practice reading it.
9:00 - Whole group reading
9:15 - Snack. My ELL students leave at this time for an hour. So I lose a 3rd of my class. I just realized now that I've lost 2 kids last week the ELL kids are like more than a third of my class now. Plus some kids leave for speech.
9:20 - Word work - we go over all the letters and sounds. Then we use our different strategies to work on words.
9:40 - Literacy center time. The students do 2 rounds of centers and I try to meet with groups and students. Lately I've been just assessing a lot. But report cards are done.
10:00 - Writing time. I'm trying to work more on my writing time and giving it a more workshop feel.
10:15 - My ELL students come back. We do popcorn word practice and then we've been practicing daily 5. Right now we're still working on 3 minutes.
10:30 - Bathroom Break and then math time
10:55 - Lunch - We stay in the cafeteria with the kids. So this time is spent telling them to be quiet, sit on their bottoms, and congratulating them for eating all their lunch. Somehow, I started giving them high fives for finishing their lunch or most of it. Or sometimes just trying something new.
11:15 - Leave lunch and take bathroom break
11:25 - 12:25 - Special Area time for the kids. I eat my lunch during this time and usually run around like crazy trying to do anything that has to be done before the kids come back from specials. I get the kids ready to go home that leave at 12:30.
12:25 - Pick up the kids and take my kids that leave at 12:30 and my fellow teacher's kid that goes home. Take them out to the front of the school. (I have 4 kids that leave at 12:30.)
Come back in and go outside to play if the weather is nice. When the weather isn't nice, we watch a video. My kids are big fans of Kenny the Shark or sometimes we do the Adventure to Fitness.
1:15 - Rest time. I read a couple of chapters out of Junie B. Jones and then the kids rest. I should spend this time lesson planning and etc. But I usually spend some time blog stalking right about now. I also finish my lunch during this time.
We're reading them in order and this is the one we're on. I love Junie B. and so do my kids. This is my only time to get a good read aloud in.

2:00 - Kids get up and have a snack. Then they have some free center time. I try to pull my ELL kids for a reading group and phonic lesson that they missed. I read with other kids. We usually play a game.
2:50 - We go down the ramp to meet the other kindergarten kids. I take kids out to the bus and have bus duty until 3:05. I don't really mind bus duty but I've had several battles with the 8th grade kids giving me attitude. I'm pretty sure they think I'm the devil. And I'm ok with that.
I go back in my room and usually chat a bit before getting to work. And by getting to work I mean staring at my room and trying to figure out what I need to do for the next day and the next week. I waste a lot of time. Sometimes I just give up and take something home and some times I just stay. I usually don't leave school til around 4:30.
I go home and read or watch tv until Chris calls. When he calls and tells me his on his way home, I start dinner.We eat dinner and spend some time cuddled up on the couch. Since we're newly engaged, we're pretty mushy and gushy. I usually fall asleep and he wakes me up to tell me to go to bed. I go to bed and he locks the house up and goes on to his home.
This is Chris and me to a tee. We are goofy and have a lot of fun together.

That's my typical day. It's really not super exciting. But life in kindergarten is never dull. It just seems dull when you read about it.
Today on the other hand is not a typical day. It's MLK day and that means no school. I'm going wedding dress shopping today with my mom, sister, and future mother in law. My 18 month old niece Sophie was going to go but we decided they dress shop people would probably hate us if we had a my wild niece running around.

See she's a wild woman. This is one of my favorite pictures of her. Ok for reading through a day in the life of boring old me. I'm leaving you with a couple of pictures of dresses I like that I pinned on pinterest.

Wish me luck today. My wedding date is June 16 so I need to find a dress soon.

Thanks for reading all about a Day in My shoes. Check out Adventures in 6th grade to see what it's like in everyone else's shoes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is Reading?

I blog a lot about reading and teaching reading. I think reading is one of the most important things we teach kids. It can give them so much and take them so many places. This past week a fellow teacher was talking about her kids and how they were just memorizing the text in books. She was upset because they weren't using any of their strategies for figuring out words. They weren't blending words, segmenting words, or clapping out syllables. I heard say over and over that this wasn't reading and this wasn't how she operated. This got me thinking about reading and what it really is. We reread texts in my room. In fact for their homework this past week, they were to read the same poem every night. I plan on using this for homework for a while now. I had my students read books over and over in first grade and I think it improved their reading greatly. In fact this fluency practice was exactly what I just was sent by the school to a workshop to learn more about. I think there's a place for all these skills. Kids need to reread texts and be comfortable with this reading so they become confident. Once they are confident, they are more willing to sound words out and do all those other behaviors good readers do. So then it gets me thinking about my Daily 5 practice. If it doesn't do kids any good to practice reading books over and over what are my kids that aren't really reading yet getting out of it.  I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post. I just had the question "What is reading?" in my head all week. I've always thought that reading was a combination of fluency, comprehension and word attack skills. As we read when we're older, we don't think about the words that we read. It is all internalized.
What do you think reading really is?
For listening to my rambling about reading and what it is, I'm giving you a copy of our reading homework for the next week. I found the poem in a book all about poems and finger plays.
Click here to download homework from google docs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Plan for my clutter

Well it's week two of the clutter free classroom challenge. I didn't remove one bit of my clutter this week and the great part is that according to this challenge, I didn't have to. I just had to come up with a plan. I'm great at coming up with plans. It's the carrying out the plan that I'm not always successful at. I love making lists and planning things. I found this great calendar for decluttering your house on pinterest. I copied January, February, and March in a calendar and I've yet to do one thing. It has small tasks for each day. I got behind and then trying to catch up wast too hard. Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle some of my clutter in my room. That's my bedroom not my classroom. I don't have to tackle that clutter yet. Although I don't know what the challenge is next week.
So here are my rules for things to get rid of:
  • I haven't used it in kindergarten or first grade. I teach kindergarten one year and then first the next so if I haven't used it last time I was in one grade or the other. I can get rid of it.
  • I have more of said item than I can use in a loop. I have a plethora of sharpies and pens that I've had since my first year teaching. They were donated to the school I was at then. I've moved them more than once. I use them but I have an excessive amount of them.
  • It is damaged or broken. 
Those are really all I've got. I like having the paper copy of something I'm going to use. It is easier for me to have it in a file when I want to copy it then to have to print it off again. I also have a shelf of things that the kids have given me over the years. I like this shelf. It reminds me of why I do what I do and it makes me smile. Plus the kids like to see it.
The things that I don't need anymore are either going to be donated, recycled or I'm going to take the teacher books to a used bookstore.
I haven't really gathered any materials to help me purge and organize. But I did make a list of the places I want to work on. I had thought I would try to take an afternoon a week or every two weeks and tackle one of these places. This week I saw lots of places I should have probably taken pictures of to show some of my clutter. I'm definitely more aware of it than I was before.
If you want to join the fun of the clutter free classroom project, check it out here.

    Clutter-Free Classroom

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    First Snow Day!

    Today is our first snow day of the year. Where I live, we get out a lot for snow. Usually by this time we've been out several days. But our winter has been really mild. I live in the mountains so it doesn't take a lot of snow to get us out of school. But I didn't get to sleep in. I still got up around 6 like I usually do. I've been catching up on my blog stalking and pinning. I can tell I'm back in school because I just don't seem to have time to blog like I want to. I've seen several linky parties I'd like to participate in and have a few ideas to blog about. So maybe I'll spend some of my day writing some posts to schedule to publish. I've got to go into school and get my external hard drive to finish working on my valentine's day packet and my lesson plans for the week.
    Report cards were suppose to go out today. I'm glad I got all my assessments done and the report cards done so I don't have to worry about that. When doing our math assessments, I noticed a few areas that some of my kids still need to work on. They don't seem to have a great concept of number still. I'm really struggling with figuring out common core and our new math series. The unit I should be on in math is about fractions and ordinal numbers. This isn't in common core. At least not that I can see. I've looked and looked through them. And after doing assessments I think we need to work more on our numbers 11-20 and composing and decomposing those numbers. I also have some kids that need to work on one to one correspondence still. My math instruction seems to be suffering this year and I need to get a handle on it. I've focused so much on reading and writing that my time seems to get away from me. Then I'm left with like 20 minutes or so to teach math. I do review a lot of math concepts during morning meeting so maybe I need to add more in there. I also have a couple of math centers in my center rotation. I'd love to do math stations but I just don't have the time in my schedule. Because about 5 of my students leave at 12:30 I can't teach new concepts after this time. I guess that doesn't mean that I can't do some math stations then. Now that I've rambled on about where I'm at in math, I'd love to hear your take on it. Those of you that have adopted common core what are you doing about concepts that aren't included in common core but seem important. Like fractions, patterns, calendar, ordinal numbers. I would love to hear what you do in your class with math.
    I also have a freebie for you for practicing writing numbers. There are five documents included in this freebie. Different way to practice the numbers and a blank one for differentiation. This meets this common core standard:
    • K.CC.3. Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).

    Click here to get this file.
    Please leave me some comment love if you download this document. I'd love to hear about your math.

    Freebie Fridays

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Reading Update

    We've now been back in school for three days and I've started implementing some new things in my class. The first new thing is Daily 5. The first day was wonderful and magical. The kids read for the whole 3 minutes with no problems at all. Yesterday and Today not so much. We've only made it like a minute in a half. It's really only one or two kids that are struggling with reading the whole time. They seem to understand why we're practicing reading and are buying into it. We'll just keep practicing.
    Another new thing that I've started is the bucket filling. This is going really well. I haven't made my bucket yet for class bucket filling. I've got way too many things going on right now. But we've been discussing it everyday and using the language. It seems to be affecting the way they are treating each other. They are being kinder to each other and all I have to do is say are you being a bucket filler or a bucket dipper. I've been proud of them. Then again it's only 3 days in. We'll see if we keep it up.
    I've mentioned several times about the fluency and phonics workshop I went to before break with Tim Rasinksi. Dr. Jean mentioned me in her blog yesterday which was unbelievable. I also found out that she's coming to Knoxville in April and I'm determined to go. She said she'd love to give me a hug and sing a new song with me. Made my day! Anyway, we haven't tried out our song books yet. I've got them all made but they haven't made it to the carpet area yet. But I've been working on some other fluency and vocabulary ideas.
    The first is our poem and fluency routine. We are working on the poem Five Little Fishes. I read it yesterday and then they echoed me in reading it. They took the poem home for homework for the week. Monday night they had to read the poem with their parents and then illustrate it. Tonight's homework was to find all the letter f in the poem. We reread the poem today where our student of the day tracked it. Then we looked for our sight words. I've been telling them that we're learning to be good readers and practicing. I also told them that on Friday they will have the opportunity to read the poem to the class. I'm excited to see how many of them try to do this.
    Click Here to get the sheet.

    The next idea that  I got from Rasinksi is using word walls that the kids create themselves. He calls it harvesting words. When you read books with the kids, you have them look for words that interest them. So yesterday we read our book for the week, "Animal Babies: An ABC book." I told the kids to listen for words that they thought were interesting. We read about half the book and they I asked them what they thought. This was a mistake. They didn't really understand what I was talking about. They just named different animals. So then we talked about how we were looking for interesting words that maybe they didn't know what they were. So we stopped after a couple of pages this time and they came up with a few words. I wrote nightingale, snug, quills, and herd . I want to make a poster that says interesting words that we can use each week. But right now they are just written on the board. Today we talked about what the words meant and read them. Then when we reread the book they added two more words; cria and kits. They were into looking for interesting words. My plan was to have the students use the words in sentences today but the day got away from me. So tomorrow we'll try this. This seemed to get the kids thinking about words. They also were on the look out for these words as we read the book. We're studying about animals this week so we should get some good vocabulary in. What do you do for vocabulary building in your class? I loved the discussion that followed my last post on fluency and Rasinski. I'd love to keep the discussion going.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    January Currently

    I had big plans of things to post this week but so far I just don't have time. But when I saw the currently linky party from Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade, I had to join in. It will tide me over until I have time to post more.
    I've been thinking a lot about the OLW and couldn't quite think of one for me but last night when driving home it hit me. Change. I'm getting married in June and things are going to change. It's a good change but it's change none the less. I have to change some things about myself too. I have to get more organized at home and be more mindful of living with someone. I've been living by myself for 8 years now.
    Anyway, join the fun at Oh' Boy 4th Grade. Plus you get entered in a contest.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Giveaway Results and other stuff

    I celebrated reaching 100 followers right before the new year with a giveaway. Here are the results:

    So congrats to Julia at Loving and Learning In Pre-K. Be sure to leave me your email so I can get you goodies to you.
    So over the break, I made this great schedule of how I was going to start posting on my blog. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm not that good at sticking to schedules. I like to post when I've got an idea. Here lately my brain has been full of ideas to post about. I had planned on getting ahead on posting and have some scheduled ones done this weekend. Plus I'm working on a word work valentine's day packet, and I have several things to make for school for this week. But my weekend is half way over and I've gotten nothing done yet. Friday night, we went out to eat with my sister and brother in law to celebrate our engagement. Yesterday morning, Chris and I went hiking with his aunt and then we had a surprise birthday party for Chris's grandmother yesterday. Today I'm off to a bridal show with my friend Sarah, who is also engaged.  So maybe I'll get my stuff together eventually.
    Friday was our first day back and my kids did so well. I think they got smarter over the break. They were very excited to be back. It was cute. When I told them I was getting married, one of the girl's response was "That's cute." Then another little boy wanted to know if I had two beds in my house. It was pretty funny. 
    I read the book How Full is  Your Bucket?. They really responded well to the book and the idea of being bucket fillers. I tried to use the language as the day went on. One of the kids said that his bucket was kind of empty so all the kids started giving him and other kids compliments. It was cute. I need to decorate our bucket I was going to use and find something to fill it with. It's always something I need to make. 
    The other new thing we started on Friday was Daily 5. I introduced Read to Self. We talked about why we need to practice reading. One of my kiddos that's really smart, said he wanted to read like his Dad reads. It was cute and exactly what I wanting them to say. They practiced for 3 minutes and they did awesome. There was only one student who looked like he could have been a little off task. I know according to the sisters you're suppose to stop a soon as someone is off task. But I honestly couldn't tell if he was off task or not. He's an interesting child. Next week we're going to keep practicing and modeling. I'm not sure if I'm going to add a minute on Monday or not. It'll depend on their moods. We're also starting our centers back up. I'd hoped to post about them and offer you a freebie or two. But that will have to wait for another day.
    Hope you're enjoying the last of your weekend. I should probably start on breakfast and get ready for church or something.

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Clutter Free Classroom Challenge Linky Party

    Does anyone else ever feel like that I have way too much to post about? I have so many ideas in my head that I want to post and then there are all kinds of great linky parties out there. I thought I was pretty organized in my classroom and my home was really what needed some help. But when I returned to school on Thursday and saw the mess I left my room, I changed my thinking some. Then the kids came back on Friday and I started taking pictures I realized I had a huge mess to deal with. So here are my pictures:
    This is my file cabinet for first grade. Instead of filing things away last year I just stacked. Then I didn't want to deal with filing it at the end of the year so I crammed it in a drawer. I've been trying really hard not to do that in Kindergarten this year.
     These are my shelves. They are fairly well organized but I still have some things to get rid of and it definitely isn't pretty to look at.

     Here's my reading group table but it ends up being a catch all. By the end of the day I have piles everywhere. I definitely need a system for this.

    This is my storage cabinet that I knew I really needed to work on. It's where I store all my things the students bring in and then a bunch of other stuff. I'm actually not even sure what is in there. I'm hoping my playing cards and some other games are in there because I haven't seen those at all this year.

    Here's another picture of the cabinet. You can really see the clutter in this one.

    This area is where I keep all my resources for the week but it needs some serious help. I get so frustrated trying to find things and keep it clean.

      This is my desk area. I have way too much stuff crammed on my desk. It needs some help big time. I'll clean it off and then it's cluttered again in no time.

    So here are my before pictures. I can't wait to tackle some of these areas.
     Check out the other classrooms participating in the linky party here.

    Clutter Free Classroom

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Friday Randomness

    I really hate coming up with titles. I can't ever think of anything clever or funny and that's what I'm going for.Yesterday was our first day back for teachers and then today is the first day back for students. I got absolutely nothing done. It was a work day and I all did was talk. We spent a good part of the morning talking about my engagement and my fellow Kindergarten teacher, Sarah's engagement. It was good but I still have a ton of things to do to get ready for next week. I am about as ready as you can be for a one day week. I had to get up early this morning to create something for the kids to do for morning work. I couldn't find anything that I liked or that suited my mood. So I used some clip art from KPMdoodles and created this letter matching activity.
    Click here to download from Google Docs
    It's a super simple activity but a review of some of the letters we've already talked about. I'm guessing review is going to be a must today. I plan on reading about bucket filling, talking about New Year's goals, and playing a number game (No idea what number game that's going to be yet). I'm hoping it will be a laid back kind of day which means chaos will probably ensue. But I am excited about seeing my kiddos.
    My second random thing of the day is I got an email to review a program from K5 learning. It's a math and reading program for home use. I've never done anything like this before and I thought I might give it a try. This is what their website says:
    K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. 

    So I'm going to give this a try. I hope to take some pictures of my areas of my classroom that need help to participate in Clutter Free Classroom's challenge. You can read about it here.  So I might break the rules and post twice today but more likely I'll post in the morning.

    And one more random thing. I use Google Reader to keep up with my blog stalking. Here lately it won't update completely. Every few days I'll have a ton of old posts that I have never seen before. It's kind of weird. Anyone else having that problem.

    Ok I lied I have one more thing or two. My giveaway ends tomorrow. You can win a lanyard of your choice of colors, some hand cream (all hand made) and my cupcake unit. Check it out here. And I'm having a sale in my Teacher's Notebook store. I have finally sold my first item which I was super excited about. Apparently I'm saving for a honeymoon. (At least that's what Chris tried to tell me last night.) That's probably not a bad idea.

    This is really the last bit of randomness. I enjoyed the comments on my Dr. Jean and fluency post. If you have any other fluency ideas, I'd love to keep this discussion going.
    Happy Friday to all those who have had full weeks. I guess it's happy Monday and Friday all rolled into one for me.

    Freebie Fridays

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Kiss your brain!

         Last week I joined the linky party at Clutter Free Classroom about how I spent my winter break. (You can check that post out here.) I blogged about a song book that I made using the Dr. Jean songs we sing every morning. I attended a workshop by Tim Rasinski right before break and he was a big fan of singing everyday. But he said the kids needed to see the words for it to be reading. So I got the idea to create a song book. Camille at The Open Door suggested that I just email Dr. Jean and ask her if it would be ok to share it on my blog. So I left Dr. Jean a comment on her blog and with my email address saying I wanted to contact her. She emailed me that day and gave me her email address.(Thanks for the suggestion Camille) I was so excited to get an email from THE DR. JEAN! I'm going to back up and give you a history of my love of all things Dr. Jean. When I did my internship (year long student teaching) in first grade, my mentoring teacher was all about Dr. Jean. I think she had attended a workshop led by her. This was the beginning of my love of all Dr. Jean. When I taught 3rd grade, I didn't use her music as much but in kindergarten and first grade I use them all the time. I love Dr. Jean's blog as well and all her other ideas. I've been dying to meet her and this past fall she was in Tennessee for a conference but I couldn't get the money to go. Hopefully this summer I'll have another opportunity. Ok back to my story at hand. So I emailed Dr. Jean my song book and my reason for creating it. And she emailed me back the very same day. The subject line read Kiss your Brain. She told me my songbook was adorable and that when I posted about it on my blog to let her know so she could link up. I was so excited that I texted Chris all about it (He does such a great job of understanding all my crazy kindergarten teaching blogging self) and called my sister to tell her. I was dying to blog about it but I already had posts planned for the next few days. (The emailing occurred on Monday but this won't post until Thurs.) I'm super excited to share my song book I created and even more excited that Dr. Jean emailed me and was a nice as I would have thought she'd be.
        I 've been wanting to share some of the ideas that I learned about from Tim Rasinski. The workshop was all about fluency and word study. It gave me a ton of ideas and was very developmentally friendly. So I'm going to try sharing an idea a week and how I'm going to use it my classroom.
           I spent a lot of time last year when I was teaching first grade, working on fluency with my class. It was nice to here that it was a research based method I was using without even knowing it. I can also see some places that I can improve in. Mostly about the sources that I'm using to practice fluency. Rasinksi talked a lot about reader's theater and having kids perform things they are reading. I really like this idea. I don't think my kinders are ready for Reader's Theater but I can see using Nursery Rhymes to work on fluency. This was the routine he suggested for working on fluency:
    Monday - Introduce material and read it to the kids
    Tuesday - Choral reading of material
    Wednesday - Read on their own
    Thursday - Dress Rehearsal
    Friday - Perform
    Right now I do phonemic awareness activity everyday using poetry. Right before Christmas break, we worked on one poem for the whole week doing different activities with it. I got the idea for what I was doing everyday from Leslie at Kindergarten works (You can read all about her wonderful strategies here. If you haven't read her routines on poetry, you should. ).I think I add in the reading on their own, and performing the poem. I'm thinking maybe part of their homework might be to work on a poem every night at home. I could start out with nursery rhymes because kids don't have as much exposure to them anymore. One of other strategies that Rasinksi talks about is having kids read along with recording readings. I'm exploring what I could do with that. I have 6 out 18 kids in my class are ELL and this strategy is suppose to be good for ELL kids. I'm not sure how to make this accessible to my students. I'm thinking if they have access to the internet then maybe on my website or some kind of podcast.
    So this is a long rambling post. For sticking it out with me you can download my song book from google docs.
    Click here to download the file

    Please leave me a comment if you download. I love comments and the diaglogue created by blogging. I would love to hear your thoughts on fluency instruction. I'll give an update on how these strategies are working and an new strategy next week.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Teacher's Notebook Sale and Freebie

    I finally finished my Letter Detective packet and posted it to Teacher's Notebook. It took me forever to get it done for some reason. I've been working on it for months. In honor of finishing the packet and updating my packets that were already up, I'm having a 20% sale. So check it out. And here's a freebie to try out my letter detective unit.
    Click here to go to this item in my Teacher's Notebook Store.
    Click here to get this freebie.
    Please leave me a comment if you download this item and use it. It's nice to know someone out there is getting something out of my creations.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Supportive Bloggers

    Little Miss Kindergarten is hosting a really cool linky party about recognizing supportive bloggers. I have said over and over how much I've gained since I've started blogging. Part of what I've gained is becoming part of this incredibly supportive community. I've always thought the best teachers are those who share with other teachers. Some of my experiences since teaching have involved more teachers in competition rather than encouraging and supporting each other. I think the new evaluation system that has been put in place by Tennessee only encourages more competition. I've had a teacher come up to me and shake her chest in my face and tell me what she got on her evaluation. Not only was that completely unprofessional, it was unnecessary. It didn't help that she's someone I have to work with and I don't think she works well with others. I started a prayer group this fall to try to encourage positivity and a system of support at school. Blogging has really helped me stay upbeat and positive this year.
    I love this linky party and I have to participate. It's hard to just choose just one or even two. But I've narrowed it down.
    Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade has been super helpful to me. She offered to answer any questions I had about starting a Teacher's Notebook store.

    Laura at Kinder Kraziness. She has a Someone New Sunday feature every week and featured me. She's a fellow Tennessean and is super helpful with any questions I have. She also leaves great comments.

    The third blogger that has been so encouraging is Pam from Can do Kinders. She was one of my first followers and she leaves me encouraging comments all the time. She also offers great freebies on her blog.

    Can Do Kinders  

    If you haven't checked these three bloggers out, you should. They have great blogs and their very encouraging. Thanks Little Miss Kindergarten for hosting this party. Great idea!
     Check out other bloggers support system here.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Versatile Blogger Award

    This winter break has been so wonderful and a big part of that wonderfulness is my blogging. I have had the time to get on the computer everyday and keep up with bloggers and comment. I've found tons of new blogs out there and have a whole folder full of ideas for winter activities. To top it off, I've started contributing to a new blog The Best Endings, made some new blogging friends, and got an email from Dr. Jean. (I'm such a dork but I love that woman. So it completely made my day when she responded to one of my comments with an email.) And now Michelle at Inspired by Kindergarten has awarded me The Versatile Blogger award.
    I'm so grateful and excited about how my blog has taken off. I've reached over 100 followers and feel like I'm part of a wonderful community that improves my teaching everyday.
    Here are the rules of this award:
    1.  Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to them.
    2. Tell 7 things about yourself (see below)
    3. Pass this on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know they've received an award!
    Thanks to Michelle. I appreciate this so much. Check her blog out.

    Here are 7 things about me:
    I have such a hard time coming up with things about myself. I can't believe anyone would want to hear these things. 
    1. I'm starting to plan a wedding for June at the beach to my love. I'm also excited to be going through this whole wedding planning and being engaged with Sarah. Sarah is the one of the other kindergarten teachers I teach with. We started at our school together and we're really close.
    2. I 'm addicted to pinterest. Who isn't these days? I love doing crafts and pinterest is perfect for feeding this hobby.
    3. I love crime and mysteries in tv show form or book form. This worries my fiance a bit. He isn't as into the whole murder and mayem like I am.
    4. I started a girls ministry at the church I used to go with. I still have really close relationships with those girls. I'm looking to do something similar at my new church. I think girls need time together to grow in their relationships with Christ, themselves and each other.
    5. I'm afraid I would make the worst housewife ever. I'm a good cook but a terrible housekeeper. Chris cleaned up my porch and storage closet yesterday and commented that now this part of the house looks like an adult lives there. Unlike my bedroom and guest room that are disaster areas.
    6. Reading is my passion. I love to read and love to teach reading. I give books to every child I'm close with. I give them toys too but I think books are so important. My nieces (Sophie is my sister's and Kaley is chris's sisters.) get books from me all the time. I just want to make sure they love reading like I do.
    7. I do a variety of crafts. I crochet and make jewelry pretty consistently. I also have sewn some and want to start more. I also use scrapbook paper for a variety of purposes.

    Yay! I finally came up with 7 things. 
    Here's the even harder part. Naming blogs.
    I'm trying to award all the new blogs that I've found and love. 

    teachers bag of tricks 
    Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten

    Kindergarten Rocks

    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

    Ok so this is just a list of 10 but you get the idea. There are so many good blogs out there. So check out some of these that I nominated.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    How I Spent my Winter Vacation

    I had this whole post written yesterday and I thought saved and scheduled to post this morning. But when I looked this morning, it was no where to be found. No idea what happened to it. So here I am on New Year's morning writing it again and watching Mad Men on AMC. I should probably be doing something more productive like showering and getting ready for church or making breakfast but this is much more enjoyable.
    Over my Winter vacation, I haven't really been that productive. At least not quite like I planned. I've blogged a lot thanks to all the great linky parties out there. I reached over 100 followers before the new year and am having a giveaway. (Check it out here. It's open until Jan. 7) I've become a contributor to another wonderful blog, The Best Endings. It's all about books and reading. I'm so excited about this venture. Check the button out on my sidebar. If you like to read, it's a a great blog to check out. I've already downloaded a sample of a book recommended and will probably get the book. I've been reading The Daily 5 and some other books on my new Kindle. I am enjoying Daily 5 and can't wait to implement some of this in my classroom. I'm still looking for some answers to some questions. So if you're willing to help, please let me know. Holly at Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade has some great posts about Daily 5 on her blog. So I've read some of those.
    I've downloaded some clip art to use in some packets but I haven't made the packets yet. I did update my items on Teacher's Notebook. Hadar from Miss Kindergarten suggested that I show some pictures of what is in the packet so I've fixed those. I've worked a little bit on a letter detective packet. I hope to have it finished and some freebies to offer by tomorrow. I also made a song book to go with the songs we sing everyday. I went to an amazing fluency and phonics workshop right before break and this was my interpretation of on of his ideas. I would love to share it but I'm not sure if I should. They are all Dr. Jean song lyrics that I got from her website. Does anyone know if it would be ok to share?

    I've spent a lot of time with my fiance and family. I'm still getting used to using fiance. We got engaged the Friday before Christmas and I am so excited and happy. We're planning to get married in June at the beach. I haven't really started wedding planning yet. I've also gotten to spend a lot of time with my niece Sophie. I love her to pieces and she's always learning a new word or song. It's so much fun.
    Here she is pointing out my eye. It's one of her favorite things to do.I'm going to miss not seeing her every couple of days. I still have a few more days of break. I don't go back until Thursday and the kids don't come back til Friday. So I have more day of fun planned with my beautiful niece. I also have one more day of shopping planned with my mom. And a birthday party for my fiance planned tonight.
    I could have written a post about the things I should have done or need to do. I still need to do my lesson plans. I still need to make my flipcharts for the next few weeks. I still need to write Thank you cards. I still need to put clothes away and clean my room.I still need to clean up and organize all my craft supplies that are now all over my guest room. I did a lot of crafting for presents and now I need to get stuff put back away. So good thing I have a few more days of break left. How did you spend your break? Link up with Clutter Free Classroom.