Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blogiversary winner, flash freebie, and some random questions

So I promised yesterday that there would be some educational value today, not sure how much I'm going to fulfill the promise. But first things, first. I have a winner of my giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So congratulations to Janine from Faithful in First.  
Next order of business is my flash freebie. I hope that you've enjoyed these flash freebies I've been offering this week in honor of my blogiversary. I've enjoyed giving them to you. I just am constantly amazed at the generosity of teachers out there in blogland. It means so much to have this supportive community in my life. I've been thinking a lot about why I blog and why I make things. I love this community. I love sharing my ideas and hoping that I'm helping someone along the way. I've gotten some really sweet comments from followers about how I've inspired them and they hope they can create things like I do. That means so much and makes me feel so good. I've been concerned here lately with my numbers. The number of people following me, the number of things that I've sold on TPT, the number of followers I have on TPT. This summer I have been a part of a wonderful Bible study.
It's a great Bible study for a group of women if you are looking for one. Most of the group of women are employed by the school system in some way. It's been nice to be a part of this group. I've made some new friends at church and also been forced to examine some things in my life. One of these, is why I do what I do. This past year, there were times that I felt like people didn't know about all I was doing and I got all upset about. This summer, I've been discouraged by my lack of sales on TPT. Well, yesterday, I realized my focus was all off. I needed to be focused on serving the Lord. If I focus on pleasing him, then I will be doing all the other things I want to do. Like help people and sharing what I love to do. So all that said to say, I'm going to start offering a flash freebie from my store once a week in hopes that I will help someone. I'm still going to try to offer freebies once or twice a week of things that are always free. I'm still going to try to sell things on TPT because I'm making things for my own classroom anyway and I gotta find a way to keep up with my habit of cute clip art and units. But I want my focus to be on helping other teachers and sharing what I've done in my classroom. I need to stop focusing on the numbers and remember that even if just one person reads my blog I've helped one person. Even if it's just a laugh for the day. Ok so now that I've rambled on. On to the flash freebie.
This flash freebie was available from 7/28 at 9:50 AM until 9:18 PM
Today's flash freebie is the Monster Mapping set. This contains a variety of story maps to use with students after reading a story or book. My kids enjoy these story maps and thinking maps mainly because of the monster graphics. The freebie will up for most of the day so be sure to check it out. I would love it if you would leave me some feedback and a comment.
Now the last part of this of this post, random questions.
I thought about starting a linky party to answer some questions about school. I enjoyed reading everyone's Tell me more posts and finding about people personally. Maybe that's just the nosy part of me. So I was curious about some school things. So here are some random questions I would love to hear your answer to:
  • Do you have a dress code at school for teachers? Can you wear jeans when you want to or flip flops? We don't have a very strict dress code at school. It's pretty casual. We can't wear flip flops though. I find myself not dressing very professionally. I go back and forth about it. I read Ron Clark's The End of Molasses Classes last summer and he talks about the importance of dressing professionally. I would like to dress more like a grown up but at the same time, I spend a lot of time on the floor with my kids and I seem to wind up with paint and other things all over me.(I've had mayonnaise in my hair and fruit roll up all over me before.) So I'm curious about others.
  • Do you do your lesson plans weekly or at a chunk at a time? I do my plans a week a time because I seem to need to make changes as I go. But it might be more effective to do it a chunk at a time. 
  • Do you use daily 5, literacy workstations, reading workshops or something else? I'm going to implement Daily 5 this coming school year but I've been reading a reading workshop book and I'm thinking of doing a combo. Just not sure how that will all work.
  • Do you number your students? I did this when I taught 3rd grade but I've never done it kindergarten or first. If you teach those grades and number your students, can they remember the number?
  • What do you do for spelling? I would love to try out words their way but I just don't have the money for the book. I might be able to get our librarian to order it but I'm not sure. So other than words their way, do you have any suggestions for differentiating spelling instruction? I read someone's blog post about taking their spelling from their writing. I'm interested in that but I need a little more information. 
  • If you've moved to common core this year, are you still teaching money in kindergarten and first grade? 
Ok so I think those are the only random questions you have. I hope you'll offer me your answers in comments or even blog about it. If you think it would be a good linky party let me know.


  1. We can only wear jeans on specified days (and we get sooo excited about it. Lol.). Yes, flip-flops as long as they are a little nicer or dressier...we are in Florida. I do plans in chunks, but I am science only. I want to incorporate daily 5 into my science lab this year. No, I don't number, but this year I want to. No spelling for me, but the classroom teachers come up with them. We are trying to plan our units using trade books and get away from basals. Yes, classroom teachers are using common core. My science standards stayed the same for now. :)

  2. We have a suggested dress code but I have seen just about everything! I know some people wear flip flops but I don't. I plan weekly, with some looking ahead. I do use Daily Five and I love it. I even use a variation of it for Math. I number my kids and they do remember it but I don't use it for everything the way you would with older kids. We don't do spelling. I don't think it is useful as my kids add to the words they spell correctly naturally by writing a lot as the year goes on. We started Common Core last year and no, we don't teach money or time or fractions or patterns (crazy!). We did slip a little in but not much. The other standards kept us pretty busy, though.

  3. We were told to "dress to impress" by our new principal which freaked us all out because we had been very causal before. Well, it only took a few months before we realized that as long as it was neat and clean, she wasn't going to say anything so we slipped back into our jean wearing ways. I too read the Ron Clark book, but I'm also worried about parents thinking I'm trying to lord it over them by dressing too nicely - since it's such a poor neighborhood. There actually have been a few complaints about teacher/principal being "too good for them" because they were dressed in business suits etc. So I want to remain accessible to my parents!

    I do my lesson plans every weekend - I can't chunk them because then I don't know what the kids will pick up quick or what we'll need to spend more time on - so one week at a time works for me!

    I don't number my kids. I don't see the need for it in my classroom. I generally don't even have a line order. My teaching partner gives numbers and has a specific line up order and honestly, it seems like way too much wasted time and effort - it takes her 5 minutes to line up her kids and they still fuss about their place in line or try to race ahead of each other, so I don't see how it solved any problems!

    We are doing CC full time this year (only certain teachers did it in K last year)and as far as I know there's no money, time or patterns. However, we don't have universal pre-k here so I know I'll have to teach all the pre-k skills as well so I probably won't have time for time or money!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  4. I have a uniform for school! It's pretty much a white button down blouse, navy pants, navy/black closed toe shoes, and a pin of our school emblem.

    Weekly lesson plans..with sometimes looking ahead during school breaks.

    I will implement Daily 5 this upcoming year.

    I will number my students for certain items.

    Our school is implementing Common Core for all Kindergarten this upcoming year.

  5. I am so excited to have won your amazing giveaway! My email is blowing up, LOL.

    I have always started off the school year dressing for success, but then I veer off when things start getting down and dirty. We all have polo shirts made in different colors with our school emblem, so most of us end up wearing them with khakis or dress pants. I class it up with cute flats!

    I plan for a chunk at a time (reading theme, math, science, ss chapter or theme) and then I add or delete as the weeks come up. I try to have my team plan together, so we are all on the same page, but it doesn't always work since our students are at different levels.

    I started a variation of Daily 5 last year, but had 36 students, so I had to let rotations go. This year I am back to 18, so I will use the Daily 5 with fidelity.

    My students are numbered for paper collection, line order, seating in the cafeteria, and field trips.

    We implemented Common Core last year in K and 1. I am on the state's team of "experts" (I use this term loosely) and I am currently working with the state to create formative assessments in ELA. I also work with CPALMS to review resources that will be placed on the website. In fact, I leave tomorrow for a week long retreat with CPALMS, where we will be trained extensively in the CCSS review process.

    Faithful in First

  6. I have felt just like you! I worried about numbers and wondered how people could have so many followers, sales, etc. I try to just not worry about it...sometimes it still bugs me though, lol.
    Here's my answers...
    1. We have "Jeans for Joy" Day every Friday. We pay a dollar to wear jeans and the money is donated to various causes throughout the year. We can wear flip-flop style sandals but nobody wears what I would call a true flip-flop, like the rubbery kind. :) I try to wear 'dress' clothes but at the same time it's hard because I am always stained up with something, ha. I buy a lot of my work clothes at the 'New to You' store so then I don't worry as much about what I might wear
    2. We have the curriculum planned for the year broken into months/weeks as a grade level. I write plans by the week...and make ahead activities and games by the month.
    3. I use Daily 5 and literacy stations. Actually I use what benefits my students as each year they are different. (I am a cross categorical Intervention Specialist and co-teach with an awesome K teacher).
    4. I number students for data only so if I have something on my clipboard I am not breaking any confidentiality rules if another adult sees it...they only see the objective being worked on.
    5. We do a lot of work with words and word families but not spelling per say.
    6. We moved to common core last year and a new math curriculum this year. We spend very little time in K teaching coins, but that said, one free choice activity I always have is a store or restaurant so the children play and count with coins.
    I think your blog is awesome, and you should just keep 'doing what you are doing'. :)
    :) Nancy
    Joy of Kindergarten

  7. 1. We are also very lucky and have very casual dress code. As a special ed teacher (k-5 self contained) I am on the floor and often have students who put their hands and feet all over the staff so we are always sticky or dusty.
    2. I cannot plan for more than a week at a time. I often have to make changes to my plans daily.
    4. As for numbering my students, I always assign numbers and by the end of the first week, I am still learning their numbers, but the class has everyone's number memorized. It really makes many tasks so much easier with numbers, especially lining up. We always line up in number order so there isn't any fighting about someone "cutting". I do choose a line leader every day so everyone has the opportunity to be first at lunch!
    5. I do not do spelling tests. I teach a phonics rule/word family every week along with a few sight words (depends on the level of the student) and I expect those words to be spelled correctly every time they use the word.
    6. We have moved to Common Core, but I usually do not teach money to my K-1 because they are not developmentally ready for that skill.


  8. We have a dress professionally kind of dress code - so it's all over the place depending on the teacher.

    I teach at an IB school so we have 6 six-week units that we teach. However, we still do ELA and Math so that's really planned out for the year since it's basically a lesson a day... at least that's how we've been doing it.

    This year I am planning to implement Daily 5 and Math stations, so planning is going to be a little different. I have 2 new team members to work with so we haven't even begun planning yet... (scary)

    I've always numbered students according to last name. It is their cubbie number and they write it after their name on all papers, etc. My daily helper it the first in line and then we line up numerically after, so it takes care of racing to line and it helps with counting beginning at various numbers and counting on. We don't always line up by number, but we do for lunch because of the cafeteria's request. Other times they line up by table, or color row, or numerically. They always know "their" number and everyone else learns each other's number.

    We begin spelling tests the last 8 weeks of school, well not including the last week. We give them a list of 8 high frequency words and a sentence. We tell them we are practicing for first grade. Mostly they are words that they learned to spell using Heidi's Songs and they enjoy it. They feel very "grown-up".

    Common Core - we are working on it this next school year. In CA it doesn't take effect until 2014, so we are watching everyone else scramble and we are methodically going through the standards, checking to see how things have changed and then we will begin to look at what will change for students. We have always done money during calendar time counting it, naming it, using it to "buy" stuff etc. and will continue to do so. The kids love the money songs and it's so easy for them to understand and count by 1's, 5's, 10's and sometimes 25's.

  9. Hey Kerri: being much older, I remember when my teachers wore only dresses; pants were saved for the rare field trip or "outside" day. As you know, I like to "dress" but my job is much different from yours. I would say that on days when you feel the need to be a little dressier, wear a cute apron. And cute flats always "amp up" the outfit! I love reading your blog and seing what you pin on Pinterest. It sounds like you've been rejuvenated during the summer. Keep up the good work!

  10. Hi Kerri,
    1. At my school we are allowed to wear flip-flops whenever we want but jeans are only on Fridays and we have to wear a school shirt with them. Majority of the teachers at my school dress professionally including my K team on a daily basis. I love going to consignment stores so my clothes aren't expensive so if something gets on them I'm not heartbroken...unless the outfit was an awesome find!
    2. Most of the time I only plan for one week at a time. In the past, I've been know to plan for each unit but I'm like you and change my mind about something.
    3. I'm starting Daily 5 this year too so I'm really no help there. I expect it will take a while before my K's start making their own choices though.
    4. No, I don't number my kids. I have four tables in my room (red, green, blue, and yellow). My book bag hooks are color coded so you hang your stuff up depending on which table you sit at. My kids' supply baskets are located in a color coded cubby and each table has a colored coded tub with books, work folders, hand sanitizer and extra pencils. A lot of the upper grades number their kids but it's never appealed to me.
    5. At the beginning of the year, I always use our sight words for my spelling list. Later in the year, the list will reflect the phonics rules we are learning. I differentiate by giving my low kids an actual list to study while my average to high kids have to apply their phonics rule to the words I call out.
    6. Money is something I with defiantly keep teaching! I'm not going to stress out about it like I have in the past and I'll probably wait until closer to the end of the year to begin.

    I hope my answers helped.

    Lanier's Kindergarten Lions

  11. "This summer, I've been discouraged by my lack of sales on TPT. Well, yesterday, I realized my focus was all off. I needed to be focused on serving the Lord."

    Thank you for this important reminder......I have struggled with this as well...

    Tales From a Traveling Teacher

  12. New blog design? I really like it!
    *I try to look semi-professional but spend a lot of time on the floor too, so it's hard to justify buying really nice clothes.
    *I still haven't worked out the best planning system - if I plan a whole week out in detail I inevitable change a ton...I'm best when planning a couple days at a time, but with a goal for the week in mind. Make sense?
    *I use the Daily 5 and adjust it to meet my needs. I really like it!
    *I do use numbers - with the second graders it was great. They had them memorized way before me, and would help me out! I am definitely going to keep using them even in my 1/2 class!
    *Sorry I can't help with spelling - WTW is great! Have you thought about asking the district to buy the books? Our district will sometimes do that.
    *As a second grade teacher I'm hoping K and 1st won't give up on money. At the end of 2nd they're expected to solve word problems...I think it will be important if the kids have some background knowledge from their time in K and 1!
    Mrs. Castro's Class

  13. 1. We have been really lucky in the past because our principal was super laid back and didn't really care about how we dressed. We have a new principal this year, and I hear that he is really strict about this so we'll see!

    2. My team plans our units out with a rough outline but I do more detailed plans weekly. Of course, I have to be flexible when they aren't getting it or if they get it quickly and we can move on.

    3. We are going to do a readers workshop/Daily 5 combo this year. My schedule will look a little something like this... 10 minute mini-lesson, 20 minutes of independent reading (read to self) using the strategy taught in the mini-lesson, 10 minutes of share (How did you use the strategy? What did you learn about yourself as a reader today?), 30 minutes of Daily 5 rotations/guided reading groups (2 rotations of 15 minutes each)

    4. I don't number my students.

    5. I've never done spelling in the past but I think we will this year. We are going to teach 2-3 sight words a week and then after spring break, we will put these words into spelling lists each week.

    6. I will still teach money-- at least the basics. Recognizing and naming the coins and knowing how much each one is worth.