Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Reading and other projects

So I've been awake since 3:30 this morning. At about 4:30, I decided to just get up. I think my brain is full and I need to dump some of it out. What better way to solve that problem than blogging. First I need to thank Lacey at Wild about Teaching for helping out my dear friend Teri with her blog button. I knew if I put it out there she needed help someone would come through for her. This is why I love blogging.
So go check Lacey out and give her some love if you don't know her.

Wild about Teaching!
In my craziness that is the end of the school year, I've seen a ton of fun linky parties out there. I haven't had time to link up with any of them, but being awake at 4:30 there is no time like the present. I have several projects that I want to work on with my teaching this summer and have several professional books to read to help me with that. So I'm linking up with Clutter Free Classroom's Summer Reading party.

The biggest thing I want to work on this summer to have set up next year is math work stations and differentiating my math instruction. So of course I've got Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations book to read. I also have this book Math for All that has been on my shelves for a few years. I haven't had time to read it so I'm hoping this summer will be the time.

I'm also participating in 2 of the book studies going on. I slowly started implementing Daily 5 in my room last year. I hope to blend that with my literacy stations this year a little more. 

Eventually I would like to read the Cafe book as well but I'm not sure that's on the schedule for the summer. My second big project to work on for the school year is my writing instruction. I don't know that I will be able to implement quite what I want to next year if I'm going to focus on Math but I think adding a little here and there will be good. So I plan to participate in the book study Mrs. Wills is hosting for the book In Pictures and Words.
I also hope to read a lot of non professional fiction books. Books full of mystery. Books full of other people's lives. Books full of futuristic societies. I love to read and in the summer I can sometimes find myself reading several books a week. 
Summer hasn't officially started for me yet. I still have a day and half of work time at school. But it's already shaping up to be a busy summer.  I'm going to keep my almost 2 year old niece, Sophie, once a week. I'm starting to teach a class at church on Wednesday nights for 1st and 2nd graders. Then the month of July, I'm going to be tutoring some of my students. I have 6 signed up. We'll see how it actually pans out when July rolls around. And there is the the business of getting married and being a wife. That happens in 17 days or so.
I am also trying to plan a workshop type thing for my school sharing some of the things I've learned through blogging. It is just an idea in my head right now. With our new evaluation system, to get a good score on some of the professional rubric you need to lead things. So I've been turning this idea over in my head. I would love to share the things that I've learned and it would help with getting a higher score in my evaluation.
I'm excited about all that is going on.What are you reading? Check out Clutter Free Classroom's Party. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A little Help From My friends

This is going to be a quick post asking for some help. A fellow teacher at school has started a blog. 5th Grade Tomfoolery is the name of her blog. I planned on promoting her blog once the craziness of school was over. But she needs some help now. She's trying to set up a button. She's been playing with the html but hasn't had any luck. I can't seem to help her. My button was set up by Alicia at Dreamlike Magic. So if you are good at html and you could help, please leave a comment with your email address for me to pass along. Or better yet go visit my friend Terri and help her out. Here's a link to her blog.
On another note, I'm super excited to be a part of the 15 days of K at Mrs. Lirrette's Learning Detectives. Be sure to check out all the guest blogs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

School's out for Summer!

Well, almost. Today was my last day with my kids. At least until August. I'll be teaching my same class for first grade next year.
I feel like I've dropped off the blogging radar. I have over 600 posts in my google reader and I haven't posted anything worthy of sharing. But today I have a few things to share and I hope to get back on a blogging schedule by this weekend. I am suppose to guest blog later this week. I hope my brain is working by then.
I've been seeing all kinds of cute end of the year gifts out there in blog land. I've never really done any end of the year gifts for my kids. I usually take them to the Donut Friar. I teach in downtown Gatlinburg, TN. If you ever come visit, you need to go to the Village. It has some of the best stores and shops in town. I worked at a shop there in high school and in college. We can walk there from the school. So Friday we walked over and the kids got donuts.

This bird was literally begging my kids for pieces of their donuts. It was funny and one of my kids insisted I take a picture.
Well, this weekend I decided I would do a gift for my parent volunteers and then decided I would also make something for my kids.
For my parent volunteers, I bagged up a sugar cookie bar and added a cute ribbon. I also made them a picture frame and added a picture of their child on the first day of school.
I added a tag I downloaded from The Teacher Wife that said it was a treat to have your help this year. I had some time to kill on Sunday while Chris was at the jail. He's a Gideon and does a church service at the jail once a month. There is a big lots really close. I shopped around in there and found some little cups. I ended up taking those and writing the kid's name and then "Kindergarten was all good." I added a cool straw, bubbles, a notepad and a pencil. They seemed to like them.
We had an end of the year party today. The kids enjoyed playing some games stacking cups and then using a straw to blow the cup across the table. It was a great way to end the school year. It usually isn't that sad since I'll have them again, but one of boys who I'll miss dearly is changing schools next year. I was sad to say goodbye to him.
So I've finally finished some of my clutter free classroom challenge. I usually don't clean stuff out very well at the end of the school year. It usually happens in the summer when I'm getting ready to go back. But this year, I cleaned out 2 of my cabinets and some files before the end of the year. Well I was going to share a couple of pictures but my computer is not cooperating. Oh well. Maybe I'll do a before and after post later this week. I'm getting so excited about summer. I still have 2 and a half days to get through before I'm truly free. I getting to keep my niece one day a week for the summer and I'm super excited. I hope to try some fun learning things with her. She's only 1 and a half but she's a little sponge. How's your summer shaping up?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The end is near

I have been having the hardest time finding time to blog lately. I'm worn out. We have been going non stop for the past few weeks. Tuesday was Kindergarten Graduation. I am so proud of my kids. They did a wonderful job. I'd have cried if I had to say goodbye to my kids. But I'll have them next year for First grade. They sang this song with our music teacher about being ready for their future. It was a tear jerker. The best thing was that several of my boys were decked out in their suits. They were pretty cute. Another boy looked at me and said, "________ is adorable!" It was so cute.
I've been cleaning and organizing my room. I plan to show some before and after pictures. I took the pictures back in January for the Clutter Free Classroom challenge. I'm finally starting to make some headway on this project. I'm pretty proud of my progress. Of course I need to take pictures before I start shoving things in the cabinents that are normally on bookshelves. I usually don't clean well at the end of the school year. I usually have to spend a week or so before school starts organizing. So hopefully, I'll just have stuff to put away and not regorganize things.
I've also been busy assessing and report carding with my students. I'm really proud of the progress they have made. I have 6 ELL students in my room and 4 out 6 of them are counting to 100 and by 10s. Then they all knew almost all their letters, sounds and popcorn words. They've really amazed me with all their progress they've made this year. I have 6 out 17 students who I can hand 1st grade or higher books to them and they can read them and take an AR test on them. I think part of their wonderful progress my kids have made is due to all I've learned from blogging this year. I have challenged my students and myself this year in ways that I never have before. While I'm very much ready for summer and all it has to offer, I am also excited to take my kids on to first grade and see how much further we can go. I would love to say thank you to all my followers for their support with a freebie but it's going to have to wait unitl either this weekend or next week when school is done. So for now my thanks will have to do. Thanks for supporting me and challenging me this year. I am a much happier and better teacher than I have been in a long time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 more days!

I promise I haven't dropped off the planet. I feel like I have though. I haven't blogged since Thursday and I have over 400 posts to read in google reader. I feel like I've been going non stop since Thursday afternoon. Chris and I went with some boy scouts camping in Damascus, VA. He is a scout master. They have a big festival there called Trail days. They've been the past 6 years. This was my second time to go. Last year we had awful weather. We ride the Virginia Creeper trail while there. I hadn't biked in a long time when we went last year and I fell a lot. But this year, I did a lot better and we had great weather. It was a really fun trip. As soon as we got back, we showered and headed to our niece Kaley's first birthday party. She was such a cutie and it was  great party. Today was field day at school. We have to walk to a park to get there. It's a pretty good walk up hill on a pretty busy road. But we made it. It was a good day. I'm completely worn out though. I'm smelly, sunburned and still sore from bike riding and walking up the hill. Plus my house is a wreck and I need to  buy groceries. Enough whining. It's just that time of the year.
Tomorrow night is our Kindergarten graduation program. We're doing a tribute to Dr. Jean. Our line up is as follows:
We're walking in to Going on a Bear Hunt.
Pizza Hut - environmental print
Who let the letters out?
Macarana Math - counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s
5 Little Monkeys
Banana dance
May there always be sunshine.
It's going to be really cute. We need to finish up our paper plate graduation faces so we can get those up as well. I was talking to some other teachers at schools in the county and they've done away with kindergarten graduation. What does your school do?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Bucket List Linky

So I've decided to join the fun of the Summer Bucket List Linky party.

I have 9 more school days until my summer begins. The kids only have 7 more days. Right now I'm working on organizing my room so I'll be ready for the school year to start. I usually just cram everything somewhere and then organize later. But I'm trying something new this year. (Hey that might be a good post. I could finally get some of that organizing done from the Clutter Free Classroom challenge.) Anyway, here are some things I plan to do this summer.
1. Get my house organized and things cleaned out. I'm getting married on June 16 (I know I know. You've heard that before from me) so one of my big projects will be to get the house together. We're going to have a yard sale at some point.
2.My biggest class project I want to work in revamping my classroom library. I want to make it more friendly and more accessible for the kids. I also would like to catalog all my books using an app that I can no longer remember what it is called.
3. Make some of the fun sweets and recipes I've got pinned on pinterest.
4. Get back to running and zumba. With school wrapping up and all the craziness that goes with that, I've gotten out of the habit of exercising.
5. Make a retelling rope for class. Have you seen this idea? So cute.
6. Read Debbie Diller's Math Stations book and get ready to implement these ideas.
7. Craft
8. Spend quality time with my nieces.
9. Make some units for TPT and TN. I've been making a list this year and I haven't gotten to most of them. 

So that's probably quite a bit to put on my bucket list but I love summer and the possibility that it holds. What do you plan on doing this summer? You should link up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Randomness and a freebie

I have no idea what I'm going to blog about today. I just knew I wanted to share a freebie for Manic Monday on Classroom Freebies. It isn't that I don't have things to blog about. I'm just not in the best mental state right now. I'm a little overwhelmed by the end of the year stuff and the fact that my wedding is less than 5 weeks away. I know I'm not the only one who is overwhelmed right now. We have 10 more days of school. I'm trying to keep things as normal as possible but it's hard to do with kindergarten graduation practice and having to turn in all library items. And the fact that my kids are acting like they have lost their minds. I woke up this morning determined to have a good attitude and to have a good day. So here are 5 great things:
1. Summer is less than 3 weeks away.
2. I'm marrying my best friend in less than 5 weeks.
3. I finally have my voice back.
4. I already did the last school newsletter article for Kindergarten last week. One less thing on my to do list.
5. My kids have made huge progress since the beginning of the year. I think Daily 5 has changed my teaching for good.
Thanks for listening to me go on about negative things. I try not to but sometimes I need to let it all out. One more questions, I loved the discussion last week about math and common core. I have about 2 week left and I'm trying to figure out what to focus on in math. I haven't touched time and it's not part of common core. I'll have my kids again next year. I  can't decide if I want to touch on time a little or review addition and subtraction. What do you think?
Here's a completely unrelated freebie.
Rainbow Sight Words

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Technology Thursday on Saturday

So it's not Thursday. I started this post yesterday but didn't get very far with it. I just couldn't get my thoughts together. I even deleted what I had written. Here's an update on how the ipods are going in my classroom. They are definitely my kids favorite center. They want to play them during free center time as well. I've been really lenient and letting them have free reign with the apps they are using. All the apps are educational of some kind. They are obsessed with the math games. I am still trying to figure out how to share with you guys the different apps that they are working on. (Ok, so now it's Saturday and I still haven't finished this post.)
Their favorite math game seems to be the rocket math. You can check it out here.  I have a very boy heavy class so they seem to love anything to do with space or superheroes. In this app you answer math questions to make your rocket go. I had a hard time navigating it when I was playing with it but my students seem to be having no problem with it. It amazes me how easy they find technology.
An app that we're just starting to explore a little is the Doodle Buddy App. I'm pretty sure this one is free. I saw a review on it on someone's blog. Don't remember whose it was though. Whoops. I used this one this week during my tutoring time. I tutor 2 afternoons a week 2 different sets of kids.  We are working a lot on making words, blending them, and writing sentences. After using the white boards, I decided to break out the ipod. I wrote a message to my student. He had to read it and then he had write me a message back.
This was the first message I wrote. I used sight words and then tried to use cvc words with sounds they needed to work on. Then he wrote a message back to me. It was good practice for this student. He needs a lot of help writing sentences. Then we tried to build some words with it.  The first afternoon this worked out great. The next afternoon I tried it out with my other student I tutor. It didn't work out so great. He struggled with writing on the screen. I see some potential ideas of ways to use this with my small groups and activities for the kids to use together.
One of my projects this summer is going to be to make some I can charts to go with this center and some kind of screen shot similar to what Erica Boher made for computer centers.
What apps do you students like? How do you use technology in your classroom?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What we're reading Wednesday

So far I'm sticking to my scheduling ideas. Although I did mean to post about reading yesterday and just ran out of time. I can't imagine how that happened. It could of been that we were planning kindergarten graduation which is 2 week away.
Anyway, this week my kids and I are reading Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.
(By the way, when I just got the picture from Amazon, I saw that there is a new Pete the Cat Christmas book coming out in September. I will need to pre order that one.
I fell in love with Pete the Cat this summer on Fran's blog Kindergarten Crayons and had to buy the book. My kids fell in love with him and it has escaleted since then. When I told my kids, I had a surprise for them and that it was a new Pete the Cat. They were so excited. They wanted me to read it right then. We had a blast reading it the first day. We had to read it twice. (That was yesterday) Today we reread the story and then worked on retelling the story. I had them help me retell the story by memory. Then I showed them a retelling bracelet I had made. I've seen this idea on Kindergarten Crayons and from Dr. Jean. I took a pipe cleaner and put a yellow, red, green, a different shade of green, blue, white and black bead on it. Then I used the beads to remind me of the different events in the story. Here's what they stood for:
yellow - Pete put on his favorite shirt with four groovy buttons. I moved that bead over so there were four in the middle.
Red - a button that pops off
Green - another button that pops off
Light green - another button that pops off
Blue - the last button that popped off
As we talked about each of these beads, we talked about how many buttons there were left and sang the song.
White - belly button
Black - the lesson we can learn. Things will come and things will go. But do we cry? Goodness no!
I let a couple of kids come up and retell the story using the bracelet and then they got to make their own bracelet. Then they retold the story to a partner. I think we probably need a little more practice with that. I meant to take a picture of it but it just didn't happen. Maybe I'll add some pictures tomorrow.
But tomorrow is my last evaluation for the year. I try not to put on a show when I have people in the room. So I'm planning on just doing my usual reading lesson. We're going to retell the story using our bracelets and then compare it to Pete the Cat:I love my white shoes. I hope to use the label Venn diagram that I talked about in my math post. I bought the Pete the Cat pack from Blues Skies First Grade and she has a venn diagram and a couple of pages I'm going to use. (I wasn't able to use the venn diagram from her pack) Here are a couple of pictures of our work.

It should be a pretty good lesson. It's something I would do normally. I just hope I have a voice. I've been dealing with a sinus infection and my voice has been really scratchy today. I'm at home now trying to rest my voice. So what do you do to retell stories in your class? Is your class Pete the Cat crazy? I loved the discussion that was in the comments on my math post. Keep the comments coming.
Here are the response sheets I used in my lesson. I differentiated them. My kids that are good writers got the blank lines and then the ones that need a little more assistance got the ones with prompts. They did a great job on it. 
Pete the Cat Writing Response
Freebie Fridays

Monday, May 7, 2012

Math Monday

Yay! I'm actually going to try to stick to the rough schedule I made last week. Friday when I was home sick, I made a rough outline of posts I was going to make this week. So here I go. First up is math Monday. Such a clever name I know. Anyway, on to my math post.
We have adopted common core in my school system already this year. It has been an interesting year full of new things. We have new standards and a new evaluation system and I have brand new kids. (I loop so every other year I have new kids.)Oh yeah and a new math series that I'm not really crazy about. I tried to give it a chance but it just doesn't work for me. So it's been a year.
I've tried to follow common core standards this year like we're suppose to. But there are quite a few things that seem important to me that are not in the ccss. Like money. Apparently they don't show up until 2nd grade. At least that's the word on the street. I just can't understand this. I can't possible not teach money. So I've been teaching money. I've at least been introducing it and talking about it. Some of the fun stuff we've doing with money. We compared nickels and pennies using labels. I let one student hold a penny and one held a nickel. Then we labeled them and then put the labels into a Venn diagram. (This is not my original idea. But I loved it. You can find the original idea at Forever in First.) The kids loved this. I think tomorrow we're going to compare a quarter and a dime or a quarter and a dollar. Not sure yet. Probably a quarter and a dime. I don't have enough dollars to go around. We've also been playing a trading game with money. I have on my to do list to create some sheets to go with this game. Eventually I hope to have a  mini money unit on TPT. Tomorrow we're sorting money. We're going to sort big money as a class. Then they are going to sort small money with a partner and then they'll do a sheet where they sort on their own. We'll see how it goes. Until then, you can check out this sorting sheet I made. The clipart is from the 3AM teacher. I love her money unit. If you download, leave me some love.

Coin Sorting Sheet
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
On another note, I'm throwing a sale in my TPT store. You can get 20% off from me until May 10th.Then an extra 10% off from TPT when you use the code until May 8th. So come check my store out. Click here to go to my store.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for the May Currently linky party. When I started seeing everyone posting their currently, all I could think was it was May already. Check out the linky here. If you haven't ever participated in this linky you should. It's tons of fun.

Ok I better get off the computer and get some stuff done today. We had a shower last week and I still have all our presents out on the table. We have another shower tomorrow so I should probably get this stuff put away. Plus since I've been sick my house is a hot mess and there is laundry piled up. Oh the joys of being a grown up. Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Technology Thursday

Like my title? I keep saying that I'm not going to do a schedule but then I get ideas for one. So I'm loosely going to each week try have one post about technology, one about math, one about a craft and one about reading and then some wild card posts thrown in there. . The days that I posts these will probably vary. But maybe that will keep me blogging a little more regularly.
So I started this blog yesterday while my kids were napping and had plans on finishing it after school. But I've been fighting some kind of sinus infection and am pretty sure I ran a fever all day yesterday. So I tutored and then came home. I'm home today sick. I hate taking days off. To make it even worse there was no sub to be found. Thankfully my fellow kindergarten teachers were understanding and they told me to stay home even though it meant they were going to have to split my class.
Anyway, on the technology part of this post.
Back in February (maybe) I applied for a grant from our PTA. I really wanted to get an i pad for my classroom but the grants were for $500. And if I get an i pad I want all the covers and such to keep it protected from my kids. I got an i phone in January and haven't needed my i pod touch that I won this summer at a tech conference. I decided to write my grant for another i pod touch, a case and an i tunes gift card. My grant was approved and a couple of weeks ago I bought my i pod touch and everything to go with it. I decided to get the otter box cover for both the i pods. It was a good move even though it was kind of costly. I got them from Walmart. When I got home I realized that one of cases was for an older generation of i pod. They didn't have anymore in stock at Walmart so I looked on Amazon. They were cheaper there by almost $20.
I had been pinning different lists of apps to use in the classroom for a while now. I didn't want to overwhelm the kids with a lot of apps so I just started with 4 different ones. There is a Curious George one that is free that the kids love. It was one of the top rated apps on the itunes store. The one I really wanted to share with you is based on the Bob books. If you aren't familiar with these books, you can check them out here. They are good for early reading. They have simple text with words kids can sound out. The app is much like the books. They click on words of the text and they have to build the word, then the program sounds the words out for them. Check this link out to see the app.  It's $1.99 and I think it's worth it. While tutoring on Wednesday, I let one of the boys use this app while I read with the other one. One of my ELL students was so into this app. He was stretching out each sound as the app did.
I've been really impressed with how my students have responded to have the ipods. They haven't argued about them and they are actually remembering to turn them off. I have just let them explore with the games on there right now. I would like to eventually tell them what I want them playing but I think they need time to explore first. I hope to post about these once a week. Do you have ipods in your class? What kinds of activities do you do with them? What apps are your favorites?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A little of this and a little of that

I've thought about having a schedule to my blog like some of my friends do. But I can never seem to think of what the schedule should be. I'm a little more hodge podge than a schedule allows. I tried to do Make it Monday but I haven't been crafty lately. I think I'll get back on that as it gets closer to summer time. Wedding stuff is starting to take over. I'm getting married in 47 days. Chris and I are trying to get things cleaned out and organized so we can merge our lives. This past weekend I cleaned out the linen closet and then we both worked on my storage closet. He's got it all organized like it's his garage. Then Sunday he brought all his camping gear over. So half my living room is full of camping stuff. Then we had a shower that day so the other half is full of shower stuff. It is really exciting and I can't wait to be Mrs. B. But I'm not sure I have enough hours in the day to get things done. Especially with this sinus infection I seem to be getting. My voice is all raspy and scratchy. (Which one of my students told me he liked yesterday) I need to clean out things from my kitchen to make room for the new stuff. I've lived on my own for the past 9 years so I have a ton of stuff. Plus I need to start on my thank you cards. We have another shower on Sunday at our church. It's all very exciting but a little overwhelming. School and blogging seem to be taking a back burner. I have over 400 blog posts to read on my google reader. My head is about to explode with ideas for posts and activities. Kindergarten graduation is in need of planning. My kids still have lots to learn. I'm just feeling the pressure. So I thought I'd share a couple of engagement pictures and then something school related.

These were taken by our wonderful art teacher at school. Her blog can be found at here Moments Captured Beautifully by Mandy.   
She's wonderful.
I'm sharing a little poem that I wrote with the help of Chris about Tree Frogs in case your interested. It is really not good at all. But I needed something for the kids to practice reading and I wanted it to be about the rain forest. It's our reading homework for the week. If you can use it, leave a little love please.

Reading Homework - Apr