Saturday, June 30, 2012

Daily 5 chapter 3

So I'm skipping chapter 2 of the Daily 5 book study since I was on my honeymoon while that was going on and I don't feel like going backwards. I'm linking up with Mrs. Freshwater's Class to share my thoughts on chapter 3. Check her blog out to see what others had to say.

So on to my thoughts on the chapter:
  • A Gathering Place : We have a gathering place in my classroom. It's just the carpet area in front of my promethean board. I use to have a rug but it got kind of gross. I'd love to have one of those rugs where they each have a square of color to sit on. (Maybe I'll work on a Donor's choose for one of those.) Currently I just put a piece of tape on the carpet and they know that's there spot. We have our morning meeting here and any whole group learning takes place there. I also do a lot of my small group phonics instruction in this spot too. 
  • Good fit/Appropriate books: Last year I introduced some of the Daily 5 concepts to my classroom. The first being the Read to Self component. I never got around to do the official good fit book lesson. We talked about different places we could get ideas for books. I partnered with my librarian at school and she gathered AR books for the kids that were our lowest levels. I also used our leveled readers that are part of our reading series. They were great because I knew my kids could read these leveled readers. I probably had too much control over this than I should have. I hope to do the shoe lesson for the good fit books. I think it's a great lesson. I also downloaded an i pick chart from the Teacher's Cauldron that I plan on using. (Well unless, I decided to make one of my own since I've changed my theme of my classroom. ) I loved the idea of including this in your newsletter so parents know how to help kids pick out good fit books. I definitely plan on doing that and think I might talk about it with parents at open house night. We have an open house about 2 to 3 weeks after school starts. I plan on revamping my classroom library this summer. (It's almost July and I haven't even thought about starting this project.) I would like for my books to be more accessible for the students. I asked parents about sending in books and I got some decent ones from a couple of parents but I don't think I was as proactive about it as I could have been. I plan on checking out our public library as well for checking out some books to use. In the past, I've always had baskets of books on the kids' tables from day one. I've found some of their favorite books to look at are board books that have colors, numbers, vocabulary. The Target dollar spot usually has these this time of year. These are especially good for ELL students because they work on vocabulary.
  • Book boxes: Last year I used ziplock bags for the first half of the semester, but they started to tear real easily and bigger picture books didn't fit well. I found some bags at the Dollar spot at Target and started collecting those. Then I found some Dollar Tree. The Target ones didn't hold up well at all while the Dollar Tree ones were still going strong at the end of the year. I thought about asking other teachers in the school and parents about donating tote bags they don't use anymore. I have my students keep their book bags under their backpacks on the hook. I saw this pin on pinterest where they used a coat rack to store the bags. I'm on the hunt for a cheap coat rack.
  • Anchor Charts: I have a love/hate relationship with anchor charts. I love all the cute ones I see on Pinterest and blogs but I just don't have the room to put them up in my classroom. I understand their importance for creating meaning. I currently make a lot of my charts on my promethean board and we review them as needed that way. I love the cute ones but I'm not that great of an artist so it works out for me to type them up on the computer. Maybe I'll do a little better this year with this piece.
  • Signal/check in: I don't have a great signal for stopping my students. I try turning off the lights but then I'm across the room reading with kids. So I think I'm going to investigate some chimes. I found some wooden chimes when cleaning out my things recently. So maybe I'll figure something out with them. I love this quote from the book " One of our goals is to help children become self reflective about their behaviors and learning." The check in piece is so important for this quote to be true. I think I made some improvement last year about checking in with my students and I hope to better next year. They truly understood last year, why were working on reading and building our stamina. It cracked me up because they loved using the word stamina. I really liked the Sisters idea to use thumbs up and thumbs to the side to check in with students. 
  • Model correct and incorrect: This part of this chapter changed how I was doing a lot of things. I realized that I was not modeling enough in any area in the classroom. I love the idea of modeling the correct way and the incorrect way. Although some of my students had a hard time with understanding what I meant when I wanted them to do the wrong thing. The other piece of this that I think is so important is the building muscle memory the correct way. I had never really thought about kids' muscle memory getting use to doing things incorrectly. I had 2 students that really struggled with read to self and doing it correctly. I stopped the class every time those students were off task at first. But then the rest of the students were doing so well, it was hard to stop the whole class for 2 students. I chose a spot for one of the students to sit at and that helped him. I also just had private conversations with those students. There were some language issues that were going on as well. But as they all got on track and we had met our goal of 15 minutes of stamina, I did stop the whole class if someone was off track. I think it helped. 
I think those are all my thoughts about this chapter. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts. Chris just asked me if I was writing a book over here, so I guess that is a hint to get off the computer. I will back tomorrow with a freebie or two for my new classroom theme, Super heroes. I'm super excited about it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Super Sleep

Ok so the title should probably be super not sleeping. I was so tired earlier I went to bed and started reading a book. It was a James Patterson and I had to finish it before going to sleep. By the time I finished it, Chris was sound asleep and snoring. So my brain started working and of course that means I started thinking about school. I've been seeing so many cute themes all over people's blogs and have been thinking about what I wanted to do. Originally I was thinking of doing a Mo Willems theme but there have been so many copyright issues, I wasn't sure. Then I started thinking of some kind of Hawaiian theme because I'm now obsessed with everything Hawaii. (If you don't know why, read this post)  
But I have over 3/4 of my class are boys. I already know because I'm looping with my kinders. And boys are really not into flowers and such. I also read a pintersting post from Reading with Mrs. D, I think about a super hero theme. So I think that's what I'm going to do. My theme is going to be Ms. Kerri's Super Students or something like that. Once I thought of that my mind started whirling. So I thought if I came in the living room and blogged about it. Maybe I would be able to sleep. I don't want to do specific super heroes but I do want to have group names. Last year they were animals based off Eric Carle's book. I'm thinking maybe different adjectives. Like the Incredibles. I'm thinking one group could be the supers, one the awesomes, and then I'm at a loss for 2 more adjectives. I guess I could steal the incredibles and have that be one but I'm really trying to stay away from already in place super heroes. I'm sure Chris would help me come up with a couple more ideas but he's asleep. What ideas do you have? I'm also thinking some super hero props for a photo booth for the first day of school. I also searched from some super hero clip art and found some cute stuff at scrappin doodles. I'm pretty excited about this idea so I see some creating in my future. I'm wanting to make a placemat like Jennifer at Herding Kats in Kindergarten made. So check her wonderful ones out if you want to know what I'm talking about. I had some similar last year and loved it. I put them in page protectors with a hundreds chart and it was great. So hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow or today I'm not really sure what day it is anymore with some super hero freebies. I just downloaded my clipart and it's super cute. Now hopefully, I've brain dumped enough and I can go to sleep. If you have any ideas to help with my super hero theme, I would love some suggestions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Math Monday on Tuesday

So I've got my google reader down to 730. It was over 1000. There were so many blogs to catch up on, google reader wouldn't even tell me how many. I finally got Chris and I's bedroom cleaned and organized. Now to continue tackling the rest of the house. Chris moved the rest of his stuff in yesterday.
I'm trying to take a picture everyday of our first year of marriage. This was the picture from yesterday. We're slowly combining our lives. It's so weird to be living with a boy.
Anyway, now that the wedding and honeymoon are over, it is time to focus on some school projects. I have quite a bit of reading to do. I need to read chapters 1-6 of In Pictures and Words and then review Daily 5 chapter 2 and 3. I also need to continue reading Math workstations. But I did read chapter 3 before I went on my honeymoon so here are some thoughts on that chapter.
You can see my first post on Math Work Stations where I talk a little about chapter 3 and the need for modeling.
Diller recommends making a chart about what math stations look like, sound like, feel like. This reminds me of the tree maps we've made on other topics. This is also similar to the charts that we've made in Daily 5 about what students are doing and what teachers are doing during the different components. I think this would be a good chart to make when moving from the exploration stations to the more work stations. She also suggests posting this chart with digital pictures of kids actually doing the behaviors listed. I love using the kids' pictures in charts and books. I think they pay more attention to things that way.
Her suggested schedule is to have a minilesson (this is a lesson about math work stations not math concepts), math stations, and then sharing time. I like the idea of having a sharing time after you finish work stations for the days. In the back of her book, Diller provides questions to guide this time. I made a smaller version of them but I'm not sure about sharing them. Anyone have any ideas, if that would be ok or not?
Another idea in this chapter that I really liked was making I can charts with the students for each station. I've seen this in a lot of TPT items and DeeDee Wills has them in all her things she sells. We tried some of this last year but I really didn't utilize the I can chart to it's fullest potential. Some suggestions were to use a 4 x 5 index card and post on the lid of the tub or an 8 x11 paper and post in the area.
The last thing I really took from the chapter was the math talk cards. Kids need to be using the proper vocabulary while doing math. Diller suggests making these with the students and using illustrations to help explain the term. Of course there is modeling involved in using these math talk cards. This is something that I definitely want to try next year. Have you used math talk cards before? I've used math vocabulary cards that I put on my word wall. I have plans to finish a set of those to share with you guys, but I think the file is on my computer at school. This seemed like a good opportunity to review math concepts that you already have taught.  I think I've completed all my crazy, scattered thoughts on chapter 3. I'm so ready to start this next year. I made some cards to help with organization that I've shared before on my blog. It has numbers 1-8 and then some literacy station cards that are loosely based on daily 5.The frames are From the Pond Graphics. If you download them, leave me some comment love. I'd love to hear about how you do math stations in your class.  If I figure out whether I can share the questions I made, I'll share those and some headers for a math station anchor chart. I'll back tomorrow with thoughts on either Daily 5 or In Pictures and Words. Hopefully, I'm keeping my niece Sophie tomorrow and she keeps me busy.

Math Station Card

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back from vacation

I'm really not sure what to blog about. It's Monday so I should be blogging about Math for Math Monday. And I have notes on chapter 3 of Math Workstations and I have things left to share from the math workshop I went to a couple of weeks ago. But I'm still recovering from our long flight back. We left Hawaii at 9:15 on Saturday night and didn't get home Sunday at almost 10. Yesterday was my birthday and it didn't even feel like it. We were in 3 different airports. So when we got back into Gatlinburg we went to eat some pizza to celebrate. So last night was our first night in our home together. I'm still working on getting things cleaned up and organized and Chris is bringing a load of his stuff home today. So life is still a little crazy. So now that I've given you all my excuses as to why there is no Math monday today. It might have to be Math Tuesday. Plus there are 3 book studies for me to blog about and I'd like blog about my vacation to Hawaii. It was the most beautiful place I've ever been. I reached over 350 followers while I was gone. I hope to get a giveaway together this week to celebrate. I bought a couple of Hawaiian themed post it note pads to go with the giveaway.
So now that I've rambled on and on about not much of anything but I think I'll share some vacation pictures with you.
This is how I enjoy beach vacations. An umbrella and my kindle.

Chris rented a convertible Camero. Book em Danno was heard quite a bit.

We stayed 2 nights in Waikiki. This is diamond head and our view from the beach.
We went to Pearl Harbor. It was such a cool experience. We rode the boat over to the Arizona memorial.

We moved up to the North Shore for the rest of the week. This was our view from our hotel room. It was so gorgeous.

We spent a day at the Polynesian cultural center. It was so cool. I am feeling very inspired and there is a good possibility I have a unit coming up on Hawaii.
Chris took a surfing lesson. He also went swimming with the sharks the day before. I was afraid to take pictures with my phone on the boat because we were being tossed about so much. I didn't swim in the cage but you could see a ton of sharks from the boat. It was so cool.

We visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation. There was the most amazing pineapple ice cream.

This is one of my favorite pictures I took and then instagramed. While at the pineapple plantation, this lady told us about a spot on the beach where the sea turtles come up on the shore. It was so cool. When the wave would break, you could see half a dozen turtles swimming. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
This is us in the Seattle airport at about 7 in the morning.After flying all night from Hawaii.

In true teacher fashion, I came home with 5 books to use with my students. I got a cool book on Pearl Harbor and another book on airplanes. Then 2 books from the Polynesian cultural center and one on the pineapple plantation. These are a few of the books that I found. So expect some activities about Hawaii and Pearl Harbor. I am definitely enamored with Hawaii. I have some other ideas to incorporate some Hawaiian traditions. But for now, Maholo (Thank you) for reading my non school related post about my trip.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Teaching Those Letters!

Hi there!  It's Mary from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives.
I'm blogging for Kerri this morning while she is enjoying the last of her surprise honeymoon to Hawaii!  She's officially been a MRS. for 1 week now!  I met Kerri at the TN Bloggers Meet Up this past spring.  Here's a picture of us taken by her Mr.  Aren't we cute? :)

I wanted to share with you one of my absolute favorite ways to teach letters.  Have you ever heard of HeidiSongs? Heidi is wonderful!!
She has awesome songs for teaching sight words, math concepts, parts of a book, you name it.
I use her letter songs EVERY week in kindergarten!  They are super helpful and teach letter recognition, sounds, and letter formation for handwriting.  She has over 100 videos on her youtube channel that you can check out.  Here is one for the letter L:

Catchy, huh?  My 3 year old even knows the words to all of Heidi's letter songs. {She is a little obsessed with my DVD right now!}
Not only does Heidi have DVDs and CDs available but she also has other materials that are helpful for the classroom.  My kids love her pattern block activities.  Here's one that I keep available in my Word Word station year round:

Anyone else use Heidi's products?  I'm not affiliated in any way with HeidiSongs- just a fan. :)  I hope you will check out her site when you get a chance so you can see all that she has to offer.  Make sure to follow her blog too and download all her freebies!

Thanks to Kerri for letting me take over for the day.  I'd love for you to stop by my blog and say hi!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Best surprise ever!

Since January when we started wedding planning, Chris has told me that we're going to the Florida keys for our honeymoon. He sent me a link to the resort we were staying at and everything. Well Sunday at the airport he handed me our boarding passes and told me to check to make sure they were correct. The first one said Knoxville to Memphis. I thought ok kind of a weird layover but ok. Then the next one was Memphis to LA. I thought weird. Why would you go from LA to Florida. Then the last one was LA to Honolulu. I was shocked. This is my shocked face!
Chris had told my whole family about it and been planning a trip to Hawaii an I had no clue. I've been talking about our trip to the Keys for months. I had been there before so I was planning things to do and eat and my family was going right along with it. They were giving suggestions and everything.
So after being awake for over 24 hours we arrived in Waikiki for a few days. We are currently at the north shore at an amazing resort. This is my view from our room:
Anyway, I'll be back to blogging full force on Monday. While I've been gone I've reached over 350 followers. So I'm thinking a Hawaiian themed giveaway when I get back. Until then, aloha!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Post: The Secret Stories

Hi Everyone!
I am so excited to be here at MRS. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten today!

I'm Laura

and I blog over at

While Kerri is away on her fabulous honeymoon in Hawaii ( SO Jealous!), she has asked me to do a guest post today. So here I am =)

Today, I am going to introduce you to The Secret Stories.

Several years ago, I was asked to attend a conference and report back with my opinions of this product and let my principal know if it was worth bringing in to our early grades.
I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know anything about the program.
When Katie Garner came out and started presenting, within the first 5 minutes of her speech, I was hooked. 

Here is what I learned that day.
Secret Stories are developed to help the student learn through visual, auditory and kinesthetic means.
They see a picture of two letters put together in a silly scene, while listening to the teacher tell the story and learning actions with their hands or bodies to help them remember those sounds.

We all know that our lovely English language is a bit screwy. Not everything is spelled out simply and phonetically. Unfortunately, the word "was" is not spelled "wuz" like it sounds!
This is a hard concept to teach our kiddos, but Secret Stories make it a little bit easier.

One of the best things Katie said during that presentation was that with Secret Stories there are no more teachers saying, "It just just just have to remember." 
This gives them a better way TO remember. It gives them a better answer to their WHY question.

Here is an example:
This is one of my favorites and it's funny to watch the kiddos when they get it and are sounding out their words by themselves. You'll see why after you hear read the story.
Usually students can figure out that sounds don't make sense on their own. You know when they do because that's usually the time that they ask you, "what letter makes this sound?" or "how do you spell this word?" When those questions start flowing, that's when you show them the story.

Student asks, "how do you spell the word bird?"
Teacher says, " well, you know the /b/ sound at the beginning and the /d/ sound at the end, so let's see if their is a secret to figuring out the middle sound."

I have all of my secrets posted on one of my walls. It looks overwhelming, but it's really not. 
I point to the poster with these three cars and say:
"er, ir and ur love love love to drive their cars, but they are horribly, terrible drivers. They have to slam on their brakes and say 'errrrrrrrrr'."
At this time, not only are you showing them the poster and telling them the story, but you are holding your hands like they are on a steering wheel and picking up your foot and slamming it on the brake and the students are doing the same thing!
They see it, they hear it, they do it, they know it!

So why is it funny to watch the kiddos...when they are left to writing or reading on their own, you can see what sounds they are working on because they are pointing at a word and the next thing you know, their hands are on that wheel and their foot is stomping the brake on the floor. They aren't yelling it out, they aren't going crazy...they are doing it silently to themselves. 
It's amazing!

The stories are shared on a need to know basis, there are even a couple of stories that I might not get to one year because they aren't ready for it yet. However, my next year we might go through all of them because some of my kiddos are ready for them.

If you still need some convincing of this program, you need to go check out her SITE. Visit the Secret Stories Effects to look at kinder or 1st grade writing samples. You can also view a video of kinder and first students reading and even competing in a spelling bee (no CVC words here!). Lastly, you can read teacher and administrator testimonials to this program.

I highly recommend The Secret Stories for your room. My testimonial, I moved to a new school this year and wasn't able to bring my stories with me. It was the first year, after 3, that I was not able to do it and y'all, there was a BIG difference in my kiddos. I even tried to incorporate the stories on my own, but it just wasn't the same without the posters to add the 3rd element of visual. If you can't afford it, ask your principal to look in to it for you. If he/she sees how well it works in your room, then your co-workers might buy in to the program as well.
It is well worth it!

Thanks for reading and I'd love for you to come and visit me over at Kinder Kraziness.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reading Groups-the Basics...with a Tiara!

Hi there! My name is Lacey from Wild about Teaching and I am so honored to be guest blogging for Kerri today!  I like to know a little about who is blogging when I read blogs so here I am:
I’m a Texas girl with a heart for young kiddos and kiddos with learning differences. J
And I love a good tiara!  Read on to see how that relates!

I’m going to share with you a few things I think are important for guided reading!
First, it’s key to have your materials handy and ready to go.  
I kept all of my materials for small groups (math and reading) on this bookshelf.  The stackable drawers on the middle shelf have some matching cards, magnetic letters, word work mats, etc.  The trays on the bottom shelf have the leveled readers for each group and any special materials that I might be using with only one group for that day/week.  On my easel I had a dry erase board.  I also posted reading strategies and fluency poster over the easel for easy visual.  Over on the left side of the middle shelf you can see my organizer for my plastic letters.  I used these for modeling. 

Where were the letters that my students use for word work you might ask? Well, my students had their own set of a-z plastic letters in their handy dandy crate seats that I made!!
I kept a white board, dry erase marker, sock, their a-z letters, a supply box with crayons, etc. and then also materials for math small groups in their crate seats.  The red tab at the back of the seat was for them to lift up the seat, get their materials and then take a seat!  They loved having this responsibility!

It’s also so important to have some kind of record-keeping system. 
I jot down anecdotal notes like crazy during guided reading!  My first year of teaching I struggled with the best way to keep track of it all.  I started with a sticky notes but quickly found that I needed more structure.   So then, I created a little document that became my best friend during guided reading time:

On the left hand side I would sort out my groups. The maximum number of groups I ever had was 5, but I usually stuck with 4.  I would write their names and the level they were working on currently.  Then as I met with each group I would jot down notes.  

Some of the things included in these notes were:
-who was absent/out of the classroom
-word work focus
-skills practiced (sight words, letter recognition, letter sounds, reading strategies, etc.)
-leveled book that was read as a new read
-leveled book that was read as a familiar read
-any notes about students who struggled and what area they struggled in
-any notes about students who were not challenged so that I could later consider rearranging groups

At the end of the week I would review my notes and make changes as needed and plan for the next week.  This little document helped me see the overview of my groups while also allowing me to remind myself that “Johnny” struggled with “X, Y or Z.”  It was helpful for me to see it all in one place!

Another crazy important aspect of this time in my classroom was what my other 17 kiddos were doing while I was reading with the 5 at my table! 
My first year of teaching I used simple literacy centers.  While this was successful, I found that the students were bored easily and I was having to redirect them often.  The next year I tried the Daily Five system.  OH. MY. WORD.  LOVED IT!!  I started from day 1 and we started with read to self and slowly built up to all five aspects.  The kiddos loved it but I can promise you I loved it more!  They were engaged and really owning their work.  Cannot say enough great things about this structure!  If you’re interested, check out the sisters’ book:
{Click the picture for more info} 

And one last fun thing…I wore a tiara while I was doing reading groups! 
Something similar to this:
This was my signal that students could not interrupt. J  My kinder kiddos got a huge kick out of this.  There was a TON of modeling done!  We practiced what to do and what not to do while I was wearing the tiara.  And I made sure they knew that if someone was sick or hurt they could always interrupt me!  Once we got going, you could hear them whisper to their friends “Ms. Yates has her tiara on…you have to wait until we switch to ask her!”  Now, I had oodles of kiddos who knew every step to every Daily Five centers and they knew they could ask their friends, so they weren't left high and dry!  But this allowed me to teach reading uninterrupted. And..I’m not going to lie, wearing a tiara is fun J

Hope you enjoyed this post {and that it wasn’t too long!} and find some of the items helpful!  I’d love for you to come on over and visit me at my blog:

Thanks so much again Kerri and congratulations!!! J

Monday, June 18, 2012

Math Monday

For Math Monday this week, I'm going to look at a couple of chapters of Math Work Stations: Developing Learning You can count on, K-2.
I know that last summer there was a book study on this book. I hadn't discovered blogging until this book study was well under way so I didn't have the chance to participate in it. So this summer, I'm having my own independent book study on my blog. So I'm going to share some of my thoughts and notes about some of the chapters.
Chapter 1 is a introduction chapter that discusses what a math work station is and how it compares to traditional centers. This is really similar to Debbie Diller's ideas in her Literacy work stations. These are not activities done in isolation of what you are doing in class. You've introduced the materials and activities in class and the kids have had the opportunity to explore with them already. I love the opportunities for differentiated math instruction and helping students really think about math and math concepts. I didn't take a ton of notes about this chapter because I felt like I was pretty comfortable with these ideas already.
Chapter 2 is about Organizing and managing math materials. This is where I need a little work. Some of my materials are organized but they aren't labeled well. Diller gives 3 steps to help with this process.
1. Sort your stuff and stay put while you sort.
2. Purge things you don't use for teaching. (I need to do this big time.)
3. Put what you'll keep in containers and place them in a storage area.
4. Maintain the storage system.
So in July when I plan to return to my classroom, this will be one of first tasks to complete. I found some great math labels for free at Joyful Learning in KC.  I liked these because they had pictures on them.
The next task I plan to work on when I return to my classroom is setting up a math corner. Diller talks about how we set up library corners and places for reading but don't do the same for math. I seem to keep running into this idea over and over. That we need to set the same expectations and strategies for math that we do for reading. In this corner, I want to put materials to explore and use, white boards, and books. Does anyone else have a math corner set up in their room? I would love to see some pictures of one.
I also need to make some math mats. This could simply just be construction paper laminated so they have an area to use manipulatives on. I'm not sure what I want to use. I probably need to take stock of what I have before creating anything new.
Chapter 3 is about Getting Started with Math Work Stations. This is where I took  the most notes. The biggest thing I got from this chapter was Model, Model, Model. "Assume nothing, model everything" is a quote that I took from this chapter that I need to keep in mind the most. I think this is one of the things I've struggled with in the past. I don't model enough period. I don't model enough in reading, writing and even math. Since I've been reading Debbie Diller's books and blogging, I've been more conscious of this need. I think I did better last year than I have in the past but I still need to work on.
I really liked the idea that she shares about allowing for exploration stations for the first week or two (this is for first grade). I always try to give my students a chance to explore with a manipulative before we use but I love the idea of only exploring for a week or two. They are allowed to explore with a partner and hopefully will discover a little math along the way. Do you do this in your class? What manipulatives do you use?
I have quite a few more notes about chapter 3 but I want to make a few freebies to go along with them so it will have to wait until the next math Monday.
I'm currently on my honeymoon but I have guest bloggers lined up for the next few days. So be sure to check back and see what they have to say.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crafty Sunday

While you're reading this post, I'm hopefully on my way to the Keys. I'm looking forward to the beach, sun, some fruity drinks and reading my kindle and doing all this with my new husband. For this weeks crafty post, I wanted to share with you the jewelry that I made for all the women who were at the wedding. We had a very small ceremony with close family only. My sister stood with me and Chris's sister stood with him.

These are the bracelets I made for our sisters and nieces. Both our sisters' have little girls. If you read my blog, you know all about sweet Sophie and Kaley. They were our flower girls. (I'm sure I'll have a funny story or two about them in the wedding. But since I'm writing this ahead of time I don't know what they'll do.)
Then for my mom, aunt, and grandmother, Chris's grandmother and great aunt, I made bracelets like these.
Here they are all packaged and ready to go.

31 helped me with my packaging and gifts for my two sisters. I love making jewelry and had a ton of fun making these for all the important women in my life. Remember to keep checking back this week. I have a math post up next with information about Math Work stations. Then the rest of the week will be some fantastic guest bloggers. Thanks friends for helping me out.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Going to the Chapel

Today is my wedding day. I'm so excited to be marrying my best friend, Chris. We have the best time together and I can't wait to see what the future holds. (Just so you know, I scheduled this post ahead of time.) Here are a couple of our engagement pictures:

We're headed on our honeymoon tomorrow to the keys and I can't wait. I have some guest bloggers lined up and a couple more post scheduled so hopefully you won't forget about me while I'm gone. I'd like to say I won't be thinking about my blog or school stuff for a week but my brain never seems to shut off.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daily 5 thoughts and a bloggy get together

First things first, Natalie from Teachery Tidbits is coming to my hometown to visit. (I live in a touristy area so it isn't all that strange.)
We are planning a lunch get together on July 5th at 12 at Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg. We would love it if you would join us. I know that a Thursday isn't the normal day for a get together but when you live in a tourist town the weekend is a little crazy. The restaurant is a local favorite and there is parking. Parking can be an issue in this town I love. There is also talk of later in the month having a Dollywood day. So look for information about that if you can't make it on July 5th. Please let me know if you plan to come. So I can alert the restaurant of how many people will be there. If you don't hear from me for a week or so it's because I'm MIA on my honeymoon. I don't plan on getting on any blogs while I'm on my honeymoon so starting Saturday I will probably not be around. You can also let Natalie know if you plan on coming. You don't have to have a blog. Blog stalkers are welcome.
So there are several Daily 5 book studies going on right now. I was having trouble deciding whether to join in on the Kindergarten one or the first grade one. I think I've decided to go with first grade since that's the grade I'll be in next year. Switching back and forth can give you a little identity crisis. So here are my answers to the questions posed by Mel D at Seusstastic Classroom.
 1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it
This past year, I tried out some of the Daily 5 after Christmas.I had spend the first semester of school teaching my students to use literacy centers. We had developed routines that worked for the first time since I started teaching almost 8 years ago. So trying to figure out how to both was way too difficult. By the end of the year, my literacy centers became more like the structure of Daily 5. I had a listen to reading, word work, writing, read to someone center. I also had a computer center and an ipod center. This really worked well for me. I think one of things that really helped this finally come together for me was reading Debbie Diller and Daily 5 and finally getting that what I hadn't been doing all these years was the modeling piece. I finally understood that it took a lot of modeling to get the behaviors that I wanted. So I guess that my classroom is a mixture of the two classrooms. I did find myself scrambling trying to get centers together but I tried to make them more about reading and writing and less about producing something.
2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 
I try to give my students lots of practice with reading and writing. I probably focus more on the reading piece than the writing piece. After reading most of Daily 5 and the Book Whisperer, I really challenged myself to have my student read more. Writing is a different story. But that's a goal for this upcoming year.
3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
The biggest challenge for me is letting students have more of a choice or control over what they are doing. I have a hard time letting go of the control piece and I don't always trust my students to make the right choice. But I need to work on that. I need to work on giving up some of the control and allow the students more choice. I try to give them some choices in their center that they were at. They can choose their books they read. They can choose the books they listen to. But that's probably as far as it goes. 

I guess I'm still trying to make sense of all this myself and where I see my classroom next year. I'm leaning right now towards a mix of literacy centers and daily 5. But maybe it's my desire to have control that is keeping me from going full force for Daily 5. I'm looking forward to continuing on in this study to hopefully wrap my  brain around it all.
Looking forward to the next chapter. If you want to join the fun, check out Mel D's blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reading and other random thoughts

I spent Monday with my niece Sophie. It was interesting. She's pretty funny. It really amazes me to see how kids learn. I know that I watch kids learn things everyday at school but seeing Sophie develop and learn is so amazing. She loves the Llama Llama books. She asked to read Llama today so we sat in a chair and read Llama Llama and she wanted to read Pete the Cat. The greatest part was when she took the book and read it to me. It was so cool to see how she knows to hold the book and to say things at different pages. I made a video of her reading to me. I think I have it uploaded to work. She's a mess.

I wish I could show this video to all my incoming kindergarteners parents before they have their children. My sister and brother in law have read to Sophie since she was born. I think they've already read her Harry Potter. She has had the routine of reading before bed since she was born. So she knows how the books work. We are lucky enough where we live to have a program where she gets sent a new book each month. It's the Dolly's Imagination Library program. You can find out more information by going to their website. The great thing is the books they send are good books. Llama Llama Red Pajama came from the Imagination Library. It doesn't hurt that Sophie has an aunt who teaches kindergarten and first grade and a grandmother who is a principal of a primary school. She's going to like books and reading whether she does or not. Watching her grow and develop, just makes it more obvious to me what a difference it can make for a child to be read to at home and these very early learning experiences are so important. We play with letters, blocks, play doh and explore things. I try to talk to her about colors, numbers, letters, and shapes. This past year my kindergartners really struggled with their verbal skills and oral language development. I had one student who was an ELL student but he wasn't speaking English or Spanish. He was just speaking jibberish at the beginning of the year. When I talked to his mom, she said he had watched a cartoon for a lot of his early life that didn't use words on it. He lived in Honduras with family while she was in the United States working. But by the end of the year he was speaking in English complete sentences and telling me about things. It was amazing to see the progress he made and that sometimes his language development was a lot like Sophie's. I'm even more excited to get the chance to see how far we can go with this student  next year in first grade.
Ok so I guess I've rambled along enough about things that I'm sure you agree with.
I'm pretty excited about all the upcoming Daily 5 book studies. I'm not really sure which to partcipate in. I just finished Kindergarten and implemented some of the Daily 5 but next year I'll be a first grade teacher. Maybe I'll do a hybrid of both. I'm feeling a little loss of identity between kindergarten and first grade.
Wedding update: Chris and I got out wedding license today and I tried on my dress and everything. Chris's aunt put my sleeves on my dress and I picked it up last week. They don't fit. I need them taken in a bit. Good thing I tried the dress on today. Hopefully she can take care of it tomorrow.  I spent a good part of my day cleaning out from under the bed and organizing my closet more. So hopefully we'll be ready to move beds around and get our new mattress. I'll be back tomorrow with more about Daily 5.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Math Monday - Counting and place value

Here's my schedule I'm going to try to stick to:
Sunday - Crafty Post
Monday - Math post - I have things to share from my workshop that I went to and I'm reading Math Work Stations.
Wednesday - Book study post. I'm going to participate in a Daily 5 book study and the In Pictures and Words.
I would like for another day to be a technology kind of post and one day to be a reading post. So we'll see what actually get done.  But maybe this will help me keep some posts going as I go on my honeymoon next week and get ready for my wedding this week. I am working on some guest bloggers for my honeymoon week.
 I was suppose to go to another workshop tomorrow but I just think I have too much to do this week for the wedding. Chris and I bought a new mattress on Saturday and it's been delivered on Wednesday. I still need to clean out from under the beds and get ready to move all the beds around. We're moving my full bed into the guest room and setting up Chris's queen bed in our bedroom. I also have to finish the closets. Chris needs to get all his stuff out of Grandmother's house as soon as possible. I can't believe I only have 5 more days before I get married. Ahh!
Anyway, on to math for this post. I went to a workshop last week called "Building an Understanding of Numbers K-2.". The presenter was John SanGiovanni and he had a ton of ideas. They were things that you could take back to the classroom and use.  I thought I'd take a few math posts and share some of his ideas with some freebies.
Here are some of the counting ideas that he suggested:
  • Count on 2 more - use number cards 0-9. Turn over one number card. Place that many cubes in the first circle. The idea is to get them to put the number in their head and then count 2 more. So they can put the 2 more in the second circle. Then they fill out the number sentence at the bottom.
  • Math Games - Count on 2 More

  • How Many Stars? - Have the students make an estimation of how many stars they can draw in a minute. Then give them a minute to draw stars.Then there are a variety of counting activities you can do with this. You can have them count how many they made or they could count how many they made in their groups. We had to count the total number at our table using only the math our students had. So we made groups of 10s and then used our fingers to keep track of our groups of 10. He also suggested doing this over a period of time and then graphing the different numbers.
  • Making 10 - Spin a 1-9 spinner. Use a ten frame and put that many counters into the frame. Count to see how many are needed to make 10. Record the number using a number pair or a number sentence. 
  • Math Games - Making 10
  • Make it and Find It - Using a 100s  chart and place value dice. (I think you could use any dice that had numbers 1-10 on it and then one with 0-9 on it. We used these really cool place value dice that he said you could order from Amazon. I plan to check it out)
  • Find the number on a hundreds chart and place a marker on it. A variation of this game would be to play the game with a partner and try to get 4 in a row. There are a ton more variation of these games. But Chris is about to be asleep on the couch and I want to go cuddle with him. Only 4 more days until we'll be married. I'll be back next Monday with some more math games. Well I will if I can get the post scheduled before the wedding.  I'm linking up with Classroom Freebies Manic Monday.
    Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    Crafty Sunday

    So I'm back at trying to have some kind of schedule for my blog. I think it will help while I'm out of town on my honeymoon and give me some kind of rhythm to my posting. I went through some of my pins on pinterest and made a new board of projects I want to complete this summer. I made a new board, Summer projects. I was going to link up to it so you could see what they were but pinterest is not cooperating with me. Ok so if you want to see this board, follow this link. I wanted to make a menu to post on the wall but Chris wanted me to wait until we figured out where it was going to go before I bought a frame. The old time pottery just opened back up in Pigeon Forge. That place is trouble. Chris and I went there to find a few things for the wedding. We're having a sand ceremony so we needed some vases to put the sand in. Anyway, today we were at Big Lots looking for a mattress. (We did buy a mattress but not at Big Lots. We found a great deal on a memory foam one at a local mattress store.) I found a frame to use for a menu board. I found a place I wanted to put it. So here's my pinterest inspiration:

    I also found some cool scrapbook paper at Big Lots. They have everything there. I'm not sure that I should have ventured there. So here's what mine looks like:

    Doing this project made me wish even more that I had a silhouette or a cricut. But since I don't, I used a stencil to make the letters and then cut them out. I used scrapbooking double sided tape to adhere the letters. It didn't take me too long to create. I can't wait to get it hung up and start using it.
    Check back tomorrow for a math idea or two from this workshop that I went to last week.

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    Brain Overload

    It is only the first week of Summer. How did my brain get so full already? It could be I have a lot going on. Yesterday I went and picked up Chris from his backpacking trip. He took me to get my hair done and then we did a few wedding things. We're in the home stretch with wedding plans. We need to get all the little details set. Like music. I have no idea what I want to walk into and what I want us to walk out to. Any suggestions? I don't really want to do the traditional here comes the bride. But I do think I want some kind of instrumental music.
    Then Wednesday I went to a workshop so I didn't give myself much of a break before I started thinking about next year. I am wanting to do some long range planning. I want to look at which math standards I want to teach during the different months. I also am planning some author/book studies for each month. Once I get some of this settled, I think I can start making some units to go along with them.
    So far these are the authors I'm thinking of:
    • Laura Numeroff to start the school year off
    •  Bill Peet - My fiance loved his books when he was a kids so I'm working on a collection of those.
    • Kevin Henkes
    • Eric Carle
    • Mo Willems 
    • Splat the Cat books
    • SkippyJon Jones
    That's as far as I've gotten. Do you have any suggestions for author/book studies we could do?
    So my brain is on overload trying to process all this information. I'm hoping if I start dumping it out and organizing some things it will get better. I got a ton of ideas from this workshop I went to earlier in the week. I'm thinking of doing a workshop Wednesday post each week and share an idea or two that I learn. I'm going to another workshop on Tuesday that I think is about differentiated instruction. Or I might just stick to my subject areas I was posting before the end of school got crazy.
    I love blogging for so many reasons. One of the reasons I love it is it keeps me excited about my job. It gives me access to people who are excited about their job. It makes me feel a lot less dorky that I'm already thinking about what I want to do next year and the summer has barely started. Sometimes, I feel like the only person who is still excited about school. I feel like I'm surrounded by negativity. I thought maybe I was just needing a break from some people that I work with but then at this workshop I was at last week, I was sitting with people from another school and it was the same thing. It is so refreshing to read blogs and make friends with people who are not afraid to try something new or work a little harder so their kids succeed. Anyway, this post is all over the place. I would love to hear what you're thinking. What do you do when your brain is on overload? I'm working on dumping mine out slowly and hopefully will have some freebies when I get finished. I'm working on a table now to help organize some long range planning.
    Last but not least, I haven't heard from anyone about a bloggy get together during July in the Gatlinburg area. I would love to meet some new friends or maybe see some old friends. Leave me some love if you are interested.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Tennessee Bloggy Meet up

    So, I saw on Natalie from Teachery Tidbits that she was going to be in my area in July. This got me thinking about the possibility of a meet up. The Tennessee bloggers met up in April in Nashville and we've been talking about having another one. Well, she's going to be in Gatlinburg,TN July 3rd - 8th. So, is anyone else interested in meeting up during this time? If you are interested, please email me at or leave me a comment with your email and interest. I'm super excited to meet up with some bloggy buddies. We had so much fun when we met up in April.
    Today was my third day of summer break and I've been so busy. Yesterday I spent the morning partcipating in a Art in the Park activity. I'm lucky enough to live next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a school we have a special relationship with the park. Each year from Kindergarten to 8th grade the students get to go on 3 field trips to the park. They combine science and social studies along with our units and standards we have to meet. We have someone who has the background in education and with the national park that works at our school organizing and running these field trips. She also does a lot of volunteer opportunities and a few activities in the summer. Yesterday, we went to the park and worked on photography and sketching.Our art teacher (who is also the photographer for my wedding) led the workshop. It was fun to play with my camera and see what I could do.  I was fascinated by the light around this one tree. So I played with different settings on my camera, I had never played with. Our park person, showed me smilebox so I made one of my pictures I took yesterday. I thought I would share. Some of them were not half bad. I enjoy taking pictures but don't think I'm all that great at it. I'd love to try my hand at some editing them but I don't even know where to start.

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    Today I spent the day at a Math training. There were so many great ideas and I have tons to share about it. I need a couple of days to create some things to go with what I learned. I think it will fit in perfectly with some math work stations. Tonight I'm off to teach a first and second grade class at church. I'm excited but a little nervous. I haven't worked with anyone at church but the youth and I've never been in charge. I'm sure it will be fun.
    Anyway, what are you up to? Remember if you are interested in a get together in July, email me or leave me your contact information.