Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A wild hair

After blog stalking all summer and then starting my own blog, I have seen so many great things going on in classrooms and have changed a lot of the things that I'm doing. I am seeing a lot of success from these changes. The biggest thing I've implemented this year is slowly introducing Daily 5. I've really focused on just Read to self since January. My kids have built up their stamina to 15 minutes. They could probably go a little longer but that's about all I have time for. Last week I took them to the library to allow them to pick out 2 books for their book bags. We discussed a little bit about how to choose a book. I hope to introduce the IPICK chart this coming week. Today I introduced my kids to read to someone. It needs some work but they seemed to be excited about it and doing what they were suppose to be doing. My ultimate goal is to be able to fully implement Daily 5 next year when I have my kids for first grade.
I've been doing literacy centers this year but I get overwhelmed trying to fit it all in and trying to figure out what they are going to do each week. I really want my instruction to be more small group and less whole group. I want to implement math stations as well. So last week I got a wild hair that I would rework all that I've been doing this year.  I'm starting small.
This week my students only have 5 centers to go to. They are stamping, reading, computer, games, and writing. I then added a 15 minute block of time for math stations. I had every intention of starting this on Monday but it just didn't happen. I couldn't get my mind around what I want to do before leaving school on Friday and then Monday I couldn't get up early enough to get it going. So today, Wednesday we did some math stations for the first time. The kids loved having that time to practice some math. (I need to add a disclaimer. I haven't read the Debbie Diller book yet. It's been on my list for a while but I just haven't had the time. Hoping to get to it this summer.) When we finished our time, we discussed what kind of math we were practicing so they realized that it wasn't just about playing games. This is going to be a slow process of getting it all together and implementing it. But with the goal of having it ready to go by the time we start First grade and starting the school year with Daily 5 and math workstations, I think it's manageable.

So I created some new signs for my centers and math stations. The frames are from Graphics from the Pond. I've included numbers 1-8 and then some for literacy stations. I wanted them to be a little more uniform. If you can use them, please leave me some comment love. Math Station Card Have you ever completely changed things in the middle of the year or really almost at the end of the year? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Make it Monday

So I didn't do anything this weekend school or blogging related. I had every intention of getting caught up on blog stalking and had a whole list of blog posts I was going to write and had a couple of centers I was going to make. I did none of it. Saturday I spent the day with my mom and sister shopping and taking care of some wedding stuff. Then Sunday I spent the day with Chris just enjoying being together. I think sometimes you just need to do that. I've been working so hard on school stuff that I'm getting a little burned out. I need Spring break to get here badly. 2 more weeks and I'll be on a break. If only my brain would get that memo. While I was trying to nap yesterday, I kept thinking about how I was reworking my schedule and centers and math instruction. That's an upcoming post.
Last week, I decided I was going to start posting on Sundays a craft project. Well I didn't post it last Sunday and didn't get to it yesterday, so maybe I'll try Make It Mondays. And post on Mondays.
The month of March has been busy with birthdays in my family and Chris's family. My mom's is on the 16th and his sister's is on the 19th. I was inspired by Pinterest to make some cards for the occasions. We were headed to JoAnn's anyway. Here are the cards I made:
 I found some letter size card stock in solid colors on sale for $1.99 a packet. Each packet had 50 sheets in it.
I got pastels, white and black, and brighter colors. It was completely by accident that I found this paper. At our JoAnn's the sale stuff is shoved on shelves in the back.
I already had a ton of buttons, ribbons and rhinestones from other projects. I used my hot glue gun to glue on the ribbon and buttons on each card. Then I used photo tape to layer the scrapbook paper. I'm not completely satisfied with my handwritten Happy Birthdays but I don't have a printer at home. It was fun playing with my leftover craft supplies and seeing what I can make. They didn't take long to make and I think it was a little more personal than a store bought card.
Be sure to check back next week. I tried out a new craft and I'm mostly pleased with the results.
 What are you crafting lately? Comment and let me know what craft projects you're working on.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What is Not Wrong!

I'm linking up with Carried Away in Kindergarten for her What's not wrong? linky party. This is one of my favorite posts of the week. Midweek is a good time to stop and reflect about what is good in our lives. So here my 5 things that are not wrong.
1. Zumba is not wrong. Last week I went to zumba class for the first time and loved. It was so much fun and I got a good workout. I returned this week and have decided to make it a weekly thing on Mondays. It's nice to do something different rather than running.
2. Birthdays are not wrong. Sunday we celebrated my mother's birthday with my family. My niece was hilarious sticking her finger in the cake before it was cut. Then Monday was future sister in law's birthday. We celebrated with her family Tuesday night. I made chicken and dumplins, apples and a chocolate cake. It was the first time one of the nieces has been to my house since they're mobile. My house needs some child proofing big time.
3. Shoe shopping for my wedding is not wrong. Saturday my mom and sister and I are going to do some shopping for the wedding. I need to pick up my dress (That story actually is wrong but I won't go into it today.) Get shoes, makeup and Chris's clothing for the wedding. Less than 3 months away!
4. DeeDee Will's Math journals are not wrong. If you haven't checked out her math journals, you should. They are the best. My kids are doing so well with a variety of math skills because of these journals. Click here to see a post she did in October about them.
5. TPT Credits are not wrong. Have you seen where you can redeem your points on TPT for products now? It's pretty awesome. I've traded my points into for 2 or 3 products already.

Anyway, what is not wrong your life this week? Link up and check it out. I would love to hear what is going great for you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

K-2 Linky Party

I am so late to this party. I kept meaning to link up but then I didn't. I'm trying to get in the habit of posting more so I thought this would be a great start to a post. I'm linking up with Kindergarten Lifestyle. Check out the party and all the great blogs. I can't keep up with all the blogs I follow now. My google reader continually has between 200 and 300 blogs to read. I try to catch up on the weekends but it just doesn't help. I am wondering, how do other teachers keep up with all the ideas they see on blogs? Do you have some great method for keeping track of different ideas? I need some help with this. I find so many good things and it has changed the way I teach but I just can't keep up with it all. I was just reading a blog post over at Under the Alphabet Tree about how blogging has changed her teaching. It got me thinking about how it has changed my teaching.
I think the biggest way is I expect more out of kids than I ever did before. Curriculum and standard wise we've been expected to have our kids reading by the end of the school. This is the first time I feel like I"m doing a good job with that. My students are excelling. I've implemented Daily 5 to some extent and they are loving read to self. The word attack strategies with the animals have helped my students a ton too. It has given me different ways to approach the skills they need. I'm also a lot more reflective on my teaching that I was before. Blogging about my teaching and lessons, helps me reflect on it in a different and more meaningful way.
That's my thought for the day. We still have rest time and my kids are currently resting. Today was the first day I thought to give them their book bags from Read to Self to read during this time. They have been so good. Don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.
Be sure to check out the party and to leave me some comment love. Tell me how you keep track of good ideas or how blogging has  changed your teaching.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cooperative learning lesson and freebie

Aren't my titles so creative? I've always struggled with coming up with cute and clever titles for things. This week and last we've been studying plants. It's part of our reading series and it works great for this time of year. I don't like to toot my own horn but we did this great lesson on plants and working in groups. Our book that we read for the week was called Seed Secrets. I tried to find a picture of it on Amazon but I couldn't. Any book about seeds and plants would work. We discussed the parts of the plants and the ways seeds travel that we learned about from the book. As a class we made a list of important words with this topic. I gave each group a large piece of white paper and they had to draw a plant on their paper and then label it. I told them they needed to take turns drawing the picture and working together. I circled around the room and for the most part they were sharing the pencil. They worked for maybe 8 minutes this day. The next day we read From Seed to Plants by Gail Gibbons.
 After reading this book, we discussed what plants needed to grow and they added that to their pictures. They were labeling everything they drew. We reviewed how seeds traveled and how pollen travels. This information was also gained from the books we read. The third day they finished adding all the things we knew about plants to their pictures and coloring them. I made a rubric for the students to use when going over their pictures. They had a checklist to make sure they had done everything that was required. At the bottom of the page, they added up their check marks and colored in the stars to match.
Click here to get your copy of the rubric.

They then presented their pictures to the class. It was a great informal assessment for me to see what all they had learned about plants. They did a great job explaining their pictures and their thinking. Here are some pictures to show how their pictures turned out.

What are ways you have your students work cooperatively?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crafty Sunday!

So I probably need a better title for these posts. I have always loved being crafty. I have had a bad habit in the past of taking up a craft and then giving it up. But over the years, crocheting has been the one that has stuck. I've also taken up jewelery making and sewing at some point. I have a sewing machine that I haven't used in 5 years. But with pinterest I've become interest in a few other kinds of crafting. I want to share the projects I've been working on and considered starting a new blog to document them. But I know I'm not going to be able to keep up with another blog. So I'm going to do a post a week on a craft project I've completed. I hope that my followers will forgive me for the post a week that has nothing to do with teaching. I hope that some other teachers out there are into crafting too. I also hope that by doing a post a week, I'll be inspired to try out some new crafts and to finish some old ones. I've been inspired by the blog Little Lovelies to try my hand at embroidery. She's spent the last week sharing some how to posts with little projects. I'm super excited to try making a heart with my fiance and I's initials. Another craft I want to finish is quilting. I started a baby quilt 5 years ago and have never finished it. Chris's mom's side of the family all quilts so I'm hoping I can get a little tutoring in that area. So that's where I'm headed.
This week I want to share a super cute wreath I made. I have been pinning pictures of wreaths on pinterest like crazy but wasn't sure which one I wanted to make. I loved the felt ones I was seeing on blogs and pinned but that would involved me buying a lot of stuff. I found a really cute yarn one in my crochet magazine. It was christmas colors but I could see it in spring colors. I bought a styrofoam wreath at Hobby Lobby back in February but I hadn't figure out what I wanted to do with it until last week. I looked in my spare bedroom and saw this bright yellow yarn.It inspired me to work on the wreath. I wrapped the wreath in the yellow yarn. I couldn't find any clear directions on this stiep so I improvised. I hot glued the end of the yarn and started wrapping. I put a thin line of hot glue on the wreath and tried to keep the wrapping tight. The next step was to make the flowers. I had never made flowers the way suggested by the magazine but they were fairly easy. I did the flowers in hot pink, lime, and orange. I hot glued those to the wreath as well and then added hot pink ribbon to hang the wreath.
what do you think? It makes me so happy to see it on my door.
So it's no longer Sunday when I'm getting this posted but oh well.Next week I'll be showing you some birthday cards I made inspired by pinterest.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is Not Wrong!

I love Mrs. Davis at Carried Away in Kindergarten's linky party for What is Not Wrong! It's great to be able to focus on the positives in my life instead of dwelling on negatives. I think sometimes as teachers we get caught up in all the bad things that are going on.
1. The weather is not wrong. It has been in the 70s and sunny since Saturday and I'm loving it. I've been out running and enjoying spring.
2. That as of tomorrow there are only 3 months until I'm getting married and I become Mrs. Dr. B!
3. Being an aunt is not wrong. I'm super lucky to be the aunt to 2 little girls who are so stinkin cute and funny. My sister has an 18 month old and Chris's sister has a 10 month old. Last week I got to spend a day with Sophie and then Tuesday we hung out with Kaley. They are so much fun. I love being KK!
4.  My kids reading and excited about books is not wrong. I started Daily 5 in January and while the only component we do regularly is Read to Self, I'm seeing huge growth with my students. They are really reading and sounding out the words. They can tell you why it's important to read and what we're working on with practicing and building up stamina. It's awesome!
5. Getting my grant for an ipod touch in the classroom is not wrong. I applied for a PTA grant back in the beginning of February. I found out yesterday it was approved and I can't wait to get the ipod touch centers going.
Come link up with Carried Away in Kindergarten to celebrate was is not wrong! Be sure to remember Mrs. Davis in your prayers and thoughts as she helps take care of her dad during his treatments for his Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tutoring and Intervention

I've been at a loss here lately about what to write about it. I started this blog to share what was going on in my classroom and other ideas that I had. I feel like lately I haven't been sharing a lot of ideas. It's been more about what we're doing. I enjoy reading about others' classrooms and the things they have going on. So I'm going to try a few posts where I share how I do something. 
At the beginning of February, I started after school tutoring with 4 of my kids. I meet with 2 on one afternoon and 2 on the other for about 30 minutes. I'm starting to see some improvement in them. I thought I would share what we do when we met.
The first group that meets has two students that are almost where they need to be. They started out just saying the sounds in words but not quite at the blending stage. They know their sounds and most of their sight words.
Here's our typical session:
1. We make words using word cards. We've worked on short a words first and now have moved onto short e and short i. I use the book Making words for kindergarten for word lists. I made a word mat and some word cards for valentine's day. We're still using those. (I have them for sale in my Teacher's Notebook store and will have a buggy for words unit up soon. )
Here are a couple of pictures of the kids using the mats. I laminated the word cards but just put the mats in page protectors. Then the word cards go in a ziplock baggie and I can keep it all together.  After a week or two and one of the students was still struggling a bit, I started bribing them with m and ms. Whoever blends the letters and gets the word fastest gets a m and m. It works miracles. They are getting it because they have to do it fast.
2. The next thing we do is use the words that we just built in sentence. These two can do a pretty good job of making up sentences. They use popcorn words and the words we built to write sentences on their white boards. 
 I use this time to talk a little about mechanics. Like putting a space between words, capital letters and periods. It gives them a chance to use the sounds they were working on rather than just reading it. One of these students was really struggling with writing. Well more like he just wouldn't do it. But now when he has to write in class, I don't have to pull it out of him as much. The other student is ELL so it's great for his language.
3. We then read a book together. Our reading series cam with a set of decodable books so I use those during this time. Usually this is a book they haven't read before. I saw on someone's blog and I don't remember where I read this but the idea of having one point to the words while the other one reads. I tried it last week and it worked so well. It kept them both engaged. They struggled with being engaged while the other was reading and I really wanted to hear one at a time read.
4. Last we play a game of some sort. We've played Bingo, hangman, and a hammer game that I made. My kids love the hammer game. These games also review sight words and cvc words that we've been working on. I have the hammer game in my Teacher's Notebook store. It has sight words, short a words, short e words and short i words. I'm working on a spring themed one called Splat that uses a fly swatter.
The second group that I meet with is a little below where I want them to be. They still need practice with sight words and sounds in context. We do similar activities to the group that meets the day before.
Instead of building all cvc words we work on building and reading sight words. One of these students has some language issues so instead of making up random sentences. I give them a sentence frame and they add their own part to use the sight word in a sentence. It wasn't until I was working with them one on one that I really noticed the difficulty they had with making up sentences. After talking to our wonderful speech therapist, she gave me some suggestions for working with sentence frames. (Side note: we have the best speech pathologist. She works on skills we're working on with her therapy and always has great suggestions.) We still read a book and play a game. I'm trying to incorporate a little bit of blending with them but they still struggle with sounds so we're working our way slowly through short a words.
I wish I had some kind of freebie for you but I'm not quite done with my packets yet. I hope to have some short e and short i bingo games ready soon.
Does anyone else do any after school tutoring? What do you do in your intervention time? I'm always looking for new ideas and I hope this helps someone. I would love to hear about your small groups.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

12 on the 12

I love the idea of taking 12 pictures to show our day. So I took my pictures yesterday but didn't have time to post them. I've been in a little bit of a blogging slump. I have things to write about but I can't seem to get them written. So I'm hoping that this fun linky party will get my creative juices going again.
1. Happy smiley face stickers that I used for my kids math journals.
2. I found out that I've got approved to go see Dr. Jean in April. My principal is going to pay for it and I'm super excited.
3. Counted box tops for the PTA
4. My back counter that needed to be cleaned off yesterday. (the before picture)
5. I spent a good part of the afternoon getting centers together for the week with a St. Patrick's day theme.
6. All my junk. My brand new bag that says Mrs. B. That'll be my married name. I'm so excited.
7. Had to take a trip to the grocery store.
8. My wreath I made this weekend. It makes me so happy to see on my door.
9. I went to a Zumba class for the first time last night. I had a blast and will definitely be back.
10. Sweet potato fries as part of dinner.
11. Presents for my sweet nieces.
12. Went to bed reading my kindle. I finished I've got your Number by Sophie Kinsella. It was a good one if you like her books.

This was fun. Be sure to check out the other 12 in 12 on Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Currently March

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her currently linky party. I had all the great intentions of getting ahead with some scheduled posts this weekend and it just didn't happen. So I'm trying to post here and there during the week. I just know how to make time for everything.
It was really hard to think of three words with the letter h. Come check out the party at Farley's and link up. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bloggy Love

In the past week I've been awarded the Top 10 blogging award and the Lovely Blogger Award.
Miss S. from Just Teaching . . . Kindergarten awarded me the Top 10 Blogging Award. So thanks Miss S. I appreciate it a ton. If you haven't checked her blog, you should.
Just Teaching...Kindergarten I'm suppose to pass this along to 10 more blogs that haven't received this award yet. That's so much harder than I thought it would be. To figure out who I was going to nominate for any award, I usually look at my starred items to see who I've been starring a lot lately. So first up is:

Joyful Learning in KC 
She has a ton of Eric Carle ideas that I'm dying to use. I'm planning on doing some Eric Carle when we study insects in the Spring. 
Carried Away In Kindergarten
I love her What is Not Wrong posts and yoga information. Check her out. 
Kindergarten at Heart
She's someone I've recently started following and has super fun freebies.
They had wonderful freebies for Dr. Seuss week. It was like they were reading my mind on what I needed. I also love their monthly and seasonal word list they do. 

Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten

Mrs. Ricca is so incredible generous with her freebies. She has an entire St. Patrick's day unit on her blog currently you can download for free. 
I know that I've only named 5 of the top 10 bloggers but I had a hard time finding people who hadn't been awarded it. Hopefully I'll have a chance to come back and award 5 more sometime.
I was also awarded the Lovely Blogger Award by Laura at KinderKraziness, Kelly at Kindergarten Kel, and Michelle at Inspired by Kindergarten awarded me the Lovely Blogger Award. Thanks to these wonderful ladies. You should check out their lovely blogs if you haven't. I've now been working on this post for 2 days and I need to start getting ready for work today so I'm going to have to award my lovely bloggers at another time. I follow so many lovely bloggers it's going to be hard to choose. 
I have a couple more things to say about bloggy love. I love getting comments and feedback. I love the dialogue that is created through blogging. I have to admit that up until just recently I'm not sure I commented enough. I think was afraid to comment while I was stalking blogs. But since the new year, one of my resolutions is to make the effort to comment a lot more. I try to comment on anyone's blog who I download a freebie from and then anyone else I have a random thought to go with. So I want to encourage you to comment. This isn't a plug to get you to comment on my blog but maybe on someone's blog that you like but have been a little shy about commenting on. Just go for it.
One last thing, one of the fifth grade teachers at my school left me the sweetest present in my mail box on Friday. She knows I'm into this whole teaching blog thing. 

Aren't they adorable? Lots of bloggy love to Teri for thinking of me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What a seusstastic week!

Oh my gosh. We had so much fun this week with Dr. Seuss. It was a busy week though and I didn't have time to post all week when I had tons to share. I've got to start scheduling some posts on the weekend. Here's what we did this week: Monday we read The Cat in the Hat and made our own Things. I was inspired by a pin I had pinned and could never find the original source. I like to do art projects with writing usually but this one was just an art project. I know there is a lot of debate about doing art for the sake of art. But I think it ties into listening and following directions. I gave my students the colors of construction paper they needed and then they had to follow my directions to cut it correctly. They all turned out differently. I forgot to take a picture of all of them completed, but here's a picture of my example. 
Tuesday we read Green Eggs and Ham. We played a fun rhyming game that I got from Preschool Printables. We also completed the freebie that Jennifer from Blue Skies in First Grade posted from her labeling packet.
Wednesday we read Horton Hears a Who and completed text to self connections about how we were good friends. We started the book If I Ran the Zoo on Wednesday and then finished it on Thursday. It was not a book I planned to read but we needed a time filler. On Thursday we finished the book and then they drew their own animals for the zoo. They did a good job with being creative and coming up with different animals than your usual zoo animals.
Friday was The Lorax day. We read the Lorax and then made our own mustaches. I have pictures but my computer is not cooperating with me and let me upload the pictures from my camera. I loved the mustaches that I had seen on Pinterest and other blogs. I had them write a sentence about what they could do to help the environment. They loved the mustaches. Then they made Lorax backgrounds and added truffula trees with straws and Easter grass. They turned out really cute. I had planned on making those blue jello with the red gummy fish I had seen on pinterest for the kids as a snack. But I couldn't find any gummy fish. So I made strawberry jello and bought some cool whip. We had cat in the hat parfaits. They were yummy but I didn't get a picture of them.

One of the other teacher's mom came dressed as the Cat in the Hat and read to the kids. And then the afternoon got crazy. We were sent back to our classrooms to practice tornado drills and were not allowed to leave the room. Luckily the storms blew over us without a lot happening. Other than some terrified kindergartners because they kept hearing the word tornado over and over. They were so hyped up on thinking something bad was going to happen that one of my students when it was time to go home asked me "Is there really a missile coming to the school?" I had no idea what he was talking about. He then said she said that on the intercom. Turns out he heard the assistant principal say the word mission and thought she said missile. It was a little crazy.
I have received two awards this week and I hope to post about them tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have a few freebies for you. I love doing literacy bags with my kids. The next few weeks we're going to be doing a Dr. Seuss literacy bag. Here's the information I'm sending with the bag. Even if you don't use the bag idea, you can use the sheet to have your students write about their favorite Dr. Seuss book. The graphics are from the 3 AM teacher. I'm also giving you my homework from last week as a freebie. The graphics are from 3 AM teacher and scrappin doodles. I used part of One Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Two Fish as their reading homework.   If you download these let me know and leave me a comment on how you spent your week. I think we're going to continue a few more Dr. Seuss activities next week in  centers and our homework.
Dr. Seuss Literacy Bag
One Fish, Red Fish Homework
Freebie Fridays