Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky fun - wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writing Wednesday

Look at me two days in a row with posts that have the day of the week in them and alliteration. I have blogged several times this year about how writing is not my strongest area of teaching. I am working on it this year though and I think blogging about it will help me. If you haven't check out Tammy at Forever in First you should. She has these posts on Saturdays called Saturday Sayings. A lot of them have to do with writing. They give me a lot to think about and inspire me to continue to work on my writing instruction. If you click on her blog title it will take you to this past Saturdays saying post. Tammy is a great bloggy friend. I can always count on a comment of encouragement from her on my blog. Thanks friend!
So as part of my journey to becoming a better writing teacher, here's what we've been doing lately.
I think Daily 5 has helped me to be more intentional with my writing time. I'm not implementing Daily 5 with all the choice that the sisters recommend. We've been working on the same choice at the same time and I try to give choice within the block of time. This is just what is working for me. One of the best parts of having this routine established is that my kids can have time to work on their writing even when I have a sub. I had a sub last week and they were able to continue to work on their writing. I have the greatest assistant and she knows our routines so it helps. She was able to give students the materials they need. As I'm typing this, I realize that I'm keeping control over the materials and should probably work on giving up some of that control. That will be a goal for the week. So far we've been working on narrative pieces. I have some students who do really well with these. They brainstorm and sketch out their ideas and then I give them a book to work on the actually writing. We check in at the beginning and end of each session which I really like. This gives me a chance to see what they are working on and they get use to talking about their writing as a craft. I can also make plans for who wants to share the next day and who I need to meet with. My minilessons are still in need of work. I make these plans and then I don't seem to follow through. I think I need some better resources for mentor texts for teaching about different elements of writing. I would love to hear what you use. My kids that seem to be struggling with sketching out an idea for a story and then turning that into a book are using a sheet that I got from Crystal at Kreative in Kinder. She is a writing workshop guru. The sheet I've been using has three boxes marked beginning, middle and end. It is helping some of kids that need a little more structure.
This week we're starting to work on informational writing. My kids love to read non fiction and they especially love to read books about animals. Our reading series last week and the next week are all about animals, so I'm going to use this opportunity to talk about non fiction writing. I really want them to have choice in their writing so they can make it their own. I'm modeling and using texts about Bats this week to try to get them thinking about non fiction writing. With the emphasis on the common core, non fiction definitely is getting a larger role in my class.
Monday we brainstormed a list of different non fiction topics. They were mostly animals except for the one student who named our PE teacher. Tuesday we picked a topic. I showed them how to make their own bubble map of facts that they knew about the animal. Some of them came up with some really good facts. Then some had to be debunked. One of the boys thought that alligators lived in the sewer. Today I gave them a book about the animal that they had chosen so they could add to their bubble map. My assistant and I have been trying to get them to think about facts rather than opinions or made up facts. Tomorrow I'm going to let them do the writing. This is the most controlled I've been about the order that they are on. But I'm hoping that once we do this together that they will follow this pattern when they want to write non fiction on their own.
What are some good mentor texts to teach about writing? How do you introduce informational writing?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Technology Tuesday

I have had the idea to do a post about technology once a week and I've noticed several other bloggers out there do a technology Tuesday post. So I'm trying it out this week. If I know myself I won't necessarily keep up with it, but I'm going to try. (It might help that I'm sitting in the library on a Saturday getting several posts written ahead of time. I seriously need internet at my house. My husband called about it but was calling the wrong cable company and got frustrated. So now we're back to square one) Anyway.
I love using technology in my classroom. When technology works it is the best thing ever, when it doesn't I'm ready to pull my hair out. Last week, we had a training that we were required to go to about the program Imagine Learning. Our county bought it about 5 years ago for use with our ELL students. We were trained 5 years ago and I tried using it some with the couple of ELL students I had. What I remembered of the program didn't impress me. It was hard to get out of once the kids started and I could never remember the short cut button. I couldn't help the kids if they didn't know something because some it was in Spanish. And it was a very basic program working on letters, sounds, and vocabulary. So I was pretty unhappy when I got a note in my box outlining the guidelines that we were required to follow to use this program. Our students were required to be on the program 4 days a week for 30 minutes. Well, I have 2 computers in my classroom and 6 ELL students. I couldn't figure out how I was going to do this and I didn't want to do it. What I remember was a terrible program. So I was working on an attitude change for the upcoming training. Well one thing that helped my attitude change was a brand new computer bought for me from the county. Although I currently don't have my old one hooked up anymore because I need another drop installed in my room. I was starting to think 3 computers would make these demands a little more manageable. Plus who doesn't want a brand new computer. So on the day of the training, I had prayed and tried to pray my bad attitude away. I was pleasantly surprised. They had made some updates to the program and we were trained very well. There are things for my kids to do that will challenge them beyond just letter recognition. Plus our concerns about the time they were asking of us, were listened to and addressed. So Thursday morning I was ready to put some of my kids on this computer program and to use it whole group for my evaluation.
Well remember my when technology works it's great and when it doesn't I want to pull my hair out. The brand new computer, didn't take any headphones that I had. The headphone worked fine on my other computers but not on this one. Then my Promethean board wands and pens no longer worked with my board. So come evaluation time I was a little stressed. My evaluation worked out pretty well despite the issues with my board.
Anyway, not really sure why I'm telling you this story. I guess I just needed to share. Anyone out there have any experiences with the program Imagine Learning? I would love to hear from some real teachers about how they are using the program or what their experiences are.
I do have a website that I want to share. It's shutterfly. I'm sure that most of you have seen the site and maybe even used it to share pictures or make photo books. Have you tried using it for your classroom? They have a share site feature that is great. I wanted a way to share my pictures that I had taken in the classroom with parents. My computer teacher set this site up for our class. It's great because you invite parents to join the site and then they can see the pictures, add their own pictures (if you give them permission) and order their own books. I updated the site quite a bit when I first started the site and then I fell behind like we do as teachers with too much on their plates. But I was talking to a parent and she asked me about it. This family is originally from India and still have a lot of family there. She told me that her family enjoys looking at the site and being able to keep up with what her son is doing in school. Well that humbled me a little bit, so I try to be good about uploading pictures on the site. Sometimes it isn't super user friendly and I'll upload pictures multiple times. Some other features of the site are that you can keep a calendar. I try to update that once a month and put important events on the calendar. It will email reminders to all the members the day before the event. There is also a place to have volunteer sign ups. I haven't used that feature yet but I'm thinking about using it for our next party. You can see when the members have accessed the account. Some of my parents have never looked at it. But I know that I'm doing whatever I can to share what is going on with my parents. Even if no one else is looking at it, at least I know that some families are able to share with relatives across the ocean. To be able to share with their relatives, I had to approve the person to be a part of the site. If you haven't checked out Shutterfly Share and you are looking for a way to share with parents. It's  a good website.
What do you do to share pictures and events with parents?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Monday

I really want to start offering freebies more consistently so I'm trying to link up with either manic Monday or Freebie Friday. I would love to offer a freebie and give you some great ideas about what is going on in my class. But it has been a Monday and I'm exhausted. So I'll make this short and sweet.
We've been working on nouns last week and this week. I thought they had a good handle on what were nouns and what weren't. But after grading their reading/language test for the week, I discovered they did not. So more practice is needed. I made a sort today that just has different words on cards. The words are nouns, adjectives and verbs. I didn't put any pictures with the words because I was making the activity quickly and I didn't want to have to search through clipart. I tried to focus on words I thought they would know. Today when we had a few minutes before lining up, I showed a card and they read the word and then told if it was noun or not. Tomorrow we're going to do a whole group sort with them. Then probably move it to a word work activity. If you think it is something you would use, please download it. I just ask that you leave me a little comment love.

I'm linking up with Classroom Freebies Manic Monday Post.Be sure to hop over there and see what other freebies can be found. Remember that I'm having a giveaway until Thursday. Check out this post to see what it's all about.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Books Linky

I know Thanksgiving is a little over a month away but I love Thanksgiving books and when I saw this linky I knew I had to participate. Plus I'm already thinking about thanksgiving. I'm having surgery on my knee the Friday before Thanksgiving so I'll be out of school the week of Thanksgiving and most of the week afterwards. I'm looking for good units and activities that will be easy for a sub to do while I'm out. I'm a little bummed that I'll be missing this holiday with my students. I missed it last year because of a stomach virus. I think that might be worse to have a stomach virus on Thanksgiving rather than just being on crutches. Anyway, here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving books.
This one is my all time favorite. I think because I grew up with my aunt reading this story to my sister and I every Thanksgiving. I would like to continue the tradition and read this story to my niece, Sophie. She's two this year so I think we'll be reading it come Thanksgiving day. Although I think she's going to be disappointed that I won't be able to run with her like I usually do.
Here's another good one. There is one Night Before Thanksgiving where the farmer ends up shooting the turkey. This is not that book. My kids always seem to enjoy this book.
This is another good one. I love all these books and the kids always enjoy reading them. They are great books for text to text connections. I'm hoping this year to find a good first grade unit for this book and this be what my kids do with the substitute.
This last one is another favorite. My aunt bought it for me when I was teaching 3rd grade ELL. My mostly Spanish speaking students loved this book. It's a great story about family which is what I think Thanksgiving is all about.
As I was on Amazon looking for pictures of the books, I saw so many great Thanksgiving books. It makes me wish I was going to be there to teach it this year. I had to stop myself from buying some new books. Of course I always have to stop myself from buying new books when I'm Amazon. I'm currenly trying to stock my kindle so I have plenty to read while I'm having my surgery. Leave me a comment with a good adult book to read while I'm out recovering. I'll do the random number generator and pick a winner on Thursday and that person can have an item of their choice from my TPT store.
Be sure to check out First Grade Found Me to see what other people's favorite Thanksgiving books are.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I've been BOOed!- sharing the love and fall activities

I keep apologizing for not blogging regularly and I still don't seem to be doing better. So maybe I'll quit apologizing. I did get one good post in this week. So I'm happy with that. I actually blogged about something that was useful. Anyway, I was booed twice this week. And they both had different rules.
I was booed by Natalie over at Teachery Tidbits.  I had the privilege of meeting Natalie over the summer when her family was visiting my town of Gatlinburg. We sat and talked for hours. It was great. As part of this boo party, Natalie gave me an item from her store. I got her Fall Fun Math Centers. I mean to print them out on Friday but my printer decided not to cooperate. So Monday morning I'll be printing these out and putting them in math work stations. They are perfect for what we are working on now. I know that I should follow the rules and boo a few more bloggers. But I just don't have the patience for finding some more bloggers. I was also booed by Jenny over at One Berry Blog. This party is all about sharing some Halloween resources. I thought I would share a couple of packets that my friends have been kind enough to share with me lately or that I bought on TPT. So here goes:
One activity that I recently bought was Abby from the Inspired Apple's Candy Corn bandit. I can't wait to use this with my kids. Last year was the first year that we weren't allowed to dress up for Halloween and have a party. I felt so bad for my kiddos so we had some fun anyway. This year I plan to do these activities. It will keep them moving and engaged all day long.Check it out by clicking on the title. She still has it for sale as I'm typing this on Saturday morning.

This awesome unit is from Caitlin Clabby at Kindergarten Smiles. It is her All About Bats! unit. It is awesome. It has so many great bat activities. My favorites are the labeling and bubble maps about Bats. I plan to use these next week when introducing writing information pieces. Next year when I'm back in kindergarten, we will be doing all these activities the week of Halloween. Check it out by clicking on the title.
This next unit is from Jennifer at Herding Kats in Kindergarten. It's her Fall Addition and Numbers Fun unit.  It has tons of great fall math activities that are perfect for where my class is right now. I printed off the addition matching activity and the graphing activity on Friday to get laminated for my upcoming math work stations. My kids are struggling with graphing and I love Jennifer's activity. She has a fall picture that the kids find and graph different items from. Then they answer questions on it. My kids are going to have a blast with this next week. Check it out by clicking on the title.
Those are just a few of the great Fall activities that are out there. Be sure to check these out!
Do you get to celebrate Halloween at school? If so how do you celebrate? I would love to hear about it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reading Groups and some freebies

I feel like I've been searching the whole time I've been teaching for the best ways to do guided reading or small group reading. Last year I felt like I had a pretty good handle on it because I would read with students individually. This year, I'm striving again to figure out what I want this part of my day to look like. I read a couple of interesting blog posts last week about what guided reading really was and how it had no place in the common core. I then read a response to that on another blog. (I'm sorry that I have no idea which blogs it was I was reading. I do most of my blog reading on my phone which is kind of a pain) This got me thinking. I have been planning on posting about my reading groups for a few weeks now and I was planning on calling it guided reading. I'm not really sure it's guided reading in the definition sense. I'm reading with students and working on word skills or comprehension skills depending on the day and the group. I haven't mastered the scheduling part of this or the planning part of this. I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants on most days. I have an idea of where all my students are and what they need to work on. I make notes as I'm reading and working with them. But I don't sit down when I do my lesson plans and plan out small group lessons. I probably should. I'd really like to but I just can't get a handle on things this year. I have felt like I'm behind since day one.

Anyway, I had a few things I did want to share that I'm doing that are working well. One is these dry erase circles I bought at big lots over the summer. I put them on my reading group table and the kids love writing on them.

It makes doing word work and responding to a story really easy. Here's a couple of pictures of my students responding to a story.
Another thing that I'm enjoying is these notebooks that I made. I don't remember whose blog I saw this idea on this summer but it was genius. I have four notebooks (usually this is enough for everyone to have one.) In the notebook there are pencil pouches with dry erase markers, sentence strip dry erase boards from target, fluency practice, sight word practice and my word work activities. It is so nice to have everything at my fingertips and to be able to add to it.
I made the fluency pages that focus on our phonics and spelling pattern for the week. I offered them as freebie a while back. I am offering the next unit this post (at the end). These are based on the spelling pattern for treasures for first grade and this is unit 2. I also have some sight word phrases I got from Sally at Elementary Matters this summer. The last page is my making words activities from my falling for words pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. Which if you go check it out right now, it is a flash freebie. You will be able to download it for free until in the morning. (Check that out here.)  
(This item is no longer free. It was a freebie from Oct. 16 at 5:04 to Oct. 17 at 7:14 am)

Here are a couple of pictures from my notebook:

If the flash freebie wasn't enough freebies for you, here's the fluency freebie.

Click here for this freebie.
If you download either one of my freebies, I would love it if you would follow me here and on Teachers Pay Teachers. I would love it even more if you left me some comment and feedback love. What are you doing for reading groups? Are you weighing in on the guided reading has no place in the common core? I would love to hear what's going on in your classroom.

Freebie Fridays

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Promethean Board Ideas

First up I need to announce the winners of my giveaways.
Day 1 giveaway winner was Cathy Irwin.
Day 2 Giveaway winner was Kirra.
Day 3 giveaway winner was Mrs. B. I've sent emails to all of you so hopefully you will receive all your goodies soon.

I have had a really hard time getting back into blogging since school started. It has been so hard to  balance everything. On top of school, I feel like Chris and I are so busy all the time. He's a boy scout leader and a youth leader. I help with the youth and also teach a class on Wednesday nights. We just started a Sunday school class for young adults. I'm really not sure how we're going to balance everything when we decide to start a family. Then on top of all this I've had jury duty and dealing with my knee issues. It looks like I'm going to have surgery the week before Thanksgiving on my ACL. We went yesterday to get a second opinion and although I'm still not going to be able to run, I feel a lot more positive about it all. I'll be out of school at least a week and on crutches probably close to 6 weeks. They gave me the crutches last night and I'm suppose to be practicing with them.( I got tired of being at school and just stopped this post yesterday afternoon.)
This is Wednesday now. This is my third go on writing this post. I'm determine to get it written today. I haven't been blogging like I would like. I like to blog about ideas and things that are going on in my classroom. I don't think I've done that much lately. But I was happy to see that pictures from my blog are being pinned and I'm getting some traffic on some older posts. So I've tried to revamp some of those posts and ideas. I reblogged about apple week activities on Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten blog on Monday. You can check that out here. I offered a freebie so you might want to head over there when you finish reading this post.
Another topic that gets a lot of traffic on my blog is my promethean board posts.  I love my board. I don't know how I ever taught without it. I use it for everything. Last year when I was in kindergarten I created a chart to go with every letter. I have a couple to share with you if you are interested.
Flipchart on the letter A
Flipchart on the letter M
Flipchart for the letter P
Flipchart for the letter S
Flipchart for the letter T
I also use my promethean board to do calendar each day. This is my kindergarten one you can check out.
Calendar flipchart for Kindergarten In first grade I do things a little different. So I'll have to post again and share some of my resources for first grade.
Here's a flipchart that I use for literacy centers. They are pages taken from my letter charts for the week.
Center flipchart

Hopefully this will help someone out. I'm always getting emailed about my flipcharts and now you can get all of them from this post. I'll be back next week with a post on first grade flipcharts.
I hope to be back later this week with some information about reading groups.
Let me know if these flipcharts help you out any.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Product Swap Fall Edition

I am so excited to be partcipating in the product swap hosted by Mrs. Standford's Class. I participated over the summer and had a blast. This time I was partnered up with Michelle from Just Wild about Teaching.
Just Wild About Teaching
I looked over her store for something I could use with my class before the swap had to be posted about. I found the perfect item her September 11th packet. (You can click here to get to her TPT store and this item.) I had every intention of doing this packet with my kids the week of September 11th but the school system had different plans. We had to do standardized testing the week of September 11th and I just didn't have time to get the packet done. But I've got everything ready and we're going to do some of the activities for Veteran's Day. This packet is perfect for any patriotic unit of study.
 Here's what I did from the packet and have ready to complete with my kids:
I took the pledge sheet on the right and shrunk it so I could fit two on a page. This will be the poem that will go in the students' poetry notebooks the week of Veteran's day. This is the perfect opportunity for us to examine and memorize the pledge.
 The next activity we're going to complete is a hat. I colored mine using the templates that Michelle provides in the pack. We can't copy on construciton paper at my school. I think when I do this with the kids I'm going to have them cut out the stripes and the base of the hat using construction paper. Her example in the pack looked all glittery too, so I'll probably give the kids a little bling on the hat.
I think I'll add a writing component talking about the symbols of the united states. Michelle includes several different writing papers to choose from. These are the two that I plan on using. The first talks about a hero. I think this one is perfect for Veteran's day.
The second we're going to use is an acrostic poem about America. I think this would be a great challenge for some of my students.
One of my favorite activities involves a listening quiz. I plan to do that with my kids for sure.
There are a variety of other pages too. There are several more writing templates, a word search, another craftivity that is a heart shape wreath made out of stars, and some information about September 11th. If you are looking for a patriotic unit for September 11th or any time America is being studied, you need to check out Michelle's.
Be sure to hop over to Michelle's blog and see what item from my store she blogged about.

Thanks Michelle for sharing such a great item and Jessica for organizing this. Be sure to check out Jessica's blog to check out the other items people are blogging about.

Friday, October 5, 2012

500 Follower Giveaway day 3

Well, I hoped to be back today with something actual to blog about other than just my giveaway. But last night was parent teacher conferences and I was behind on my lesson planning and other things. So this is going to be short and sweet.
Today is the last day of my giveaway. You have until Monday to enter all three giveaways. Thanks to all my great bloggy friends that gave me lots of things to giveaway. Here's what you can win today:

  • 2 Items from my TPT store of your choice
  • Fall is Here pack from Lanier's Lions

Here's the rafflecopter to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 I'll be back tomorrow with my item from the product swap. I can't wait to see all the great stuff people swapped.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Writing and 500 followers Giveaway day 2

Last week I blogged about struggling with teaching writing. I don't feel like this is my strongest area. But I also don't feel like I can devote as much time to overhauling my instruction in this area this year. I'm working on implementing Daily 5 and math work stations. But for the past few weeks, I've been trying to change things. I have one student who I believe is gifted. He's so stinkin smart. He likes to write stories and they are like books. So I got the idea of giving him 2 pieces of paper and folding them hamburger style to make a book. This inspired the other kids to want to make books too. So slowly we're making books. I made them sketch out their ideas on a paper with labels and then adding sentences. They they told me when they were ready to start the book. In the middle of all this, I decided to purchase Deanna Jump and Deedee Will's writing workshop unit 1. The biggest thing I took from that this week was to have the kids share something. I started the week by reading a Mo Willems book. We're crazy about Mo in my class and he's our author of the month. We read Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. We talked about how the illustrations can show parts of the story. We also talked about how books tell stories and don't just name things. Then they went back to their story and worked some more. At the end of the time, I had them tell me what their story was about. I have some pretty creative kids in my class this year. By listening to them talk, I wrote on the board, the names of students I needed to meet with the next day. The next day I shared some of my own writing. I wrote the beginning of a story about a camping trip. I also included some sentences about what I wanted for Christmas. This led us to talking about making sure only important information was included in our story. This time when we shared, they told me something about the beginning, middle or end of their story. I had 3 students who were finished with this story. I put their names on the board to share the next day. So Wednesday, I started out our writing time letting the three kids share their stories. It was magical. They were listening so intently and then we practiced giving compliments and telling why we liked the story. I think this inspired some of the other kids to finish their stories and to add more details to it. Then the three that shared started new stories. They started sketching out their ideas. So slowly, I'm making progress with my writing. I wanted to share one of my student's stories. This is the one that just amazes me.
This is the cover of the book. The story is called Super Max vs. Robot
" Back at the hideout of super max Jack and Robot were out there doing evil. Lets go said super max. Out into action they went. "

 "Yes yes three days three days yes said robot. we only have three days. So lets go get grony goblin. Just then a zoom! came up the road. Super Max is coming soon he said. "
"Wish went super max's sord as he striked robot down. and with robot back in jail. The city was saved thanks to super max. "

 This was the back. What I loved the most was that he put a barcode on the lower right corner like a real book.
I'm going to try blogging once a week about writing. I hope that they will help me to grow in teaching writing.
Now on to the day 2 of the giveaway.
Here's what you can win today:
  • Fire Safety Math and Literacy centers from My Not So Elementary Life

  • My (Not So) Elementary Life

You have until Monday October 8th to enter. Check out the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway