Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Currently Time!

It's time for my favorite party of the month. Farley's Currently party. It's always so fun to see what everyone is currently up to and I always love to see what the last question will be. It's not even July and I think I'm already late to the party.

The hubby is at boy scout camp this week so I'm able to watch some trashy tv. I usually don't get to watch a lot of trashy tv. Our tv is usually on the history, discovery, or animal planet channels. It is nice to get to watch one of my guilty pleasures.
One of my favorite parts of summer is that I get to spend Mondays with my niece. She's two and half and we have so much fun together. Her imagination is really active and she loves books. We read a lot of Pete the Cat and watch the videos on youtube. 
I keep saying I'm going to get back on track with healthy eating but so far I haven't been that successful. I was keeping track of my food on fitnesspal and doing pretty well. I had lost almost 10 pounds. So i'ts time to get back to it.
I have been wanting a printer for a while. I got some birthday money that I'm thinking about spending on one. But I'm not sure which one to get. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. 
I had big plans of going through each room in my house and getting it organized and getting rid of things. So far I haven't done any of it. And now it's the beginning of July so I need to get on it. 
My advice for blogging or creating is to be yourself. I love reading blogs where I get to know the person and see a peek into their lives whether it is their classroom or home. I try to be myself in my blog and I try to create things I use. Speaking of being yourself in blogging, I'm working on a new blog that focuses on my personal life and faith life. As soon as I get it up and going I'll let you know about it. I'm excited about this new venture!
Be sure to check out the party over at Farley's and link up.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

End of the month Sale and New stuff

I had plans of posting yesterday but it just didn't happen. I spent the day with my niece. I took her to Dollywood which was lots of fun but took all my energy. She had a blast. It was her first time to go and she loved the rides. She was quite the daredevil! Here's a picture of us on the carousel.

Chris is headed to scout camp tomorrow so today's post is going to be quick. 
First thing is I posted a new classroom sign unit to TPT this past week, Rainbow Bright. It is bright and colorful and editable. It's my first try at an editable pack. I love it. I can't wait to get it printed out and use it my classroom. 

It will be on sale tomorrow for 20% off. I'm joining some of my kinderland friends in throwing an end of the month sale. 

So be sure to check the sale out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guided Reading Chapter 2

I am excited to be linking up again this week with the ladies at Freeblicious for Chapter 2 of
The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader

I am loving this book. I feel like it is the book I have needed to read. I have read through chapter 4 already and I did that on the beach. This chapter is all about assessment and grouping.
This is one of the biggest ideas that hit me in this chapter. 
The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader
e="clear: both; text-align: center;">

What do you do for assessments?

I think we are over assessed in schools these days with assessments that don't actually benefit our instruction. At least a lot of the mandated assessments don't. We do a pre assessment before kids enter kindergarten and I'm not sure how beneficial it is. It is used to determine classes but I honestly don't look at it when I'm working on my own instruction. I'll start out with finding out who already knows their name. That will be one of our first activities we do. 
We do a staggered enrollment so the first week we'll only have all the kids about 2 days. So the next week is when I'll start doing an alphavet assessment. I use this paper that one of my fellow teachers had in her files that has shapes, numbers, and letters on it. It looks a lot like this assessment I found on pinterest.
This assessment can be found on My Not So Elementary Life's TPT store. (
In the past this has really been all the assessing I've done. But after reading this chapter I think I'm going to add a few more components to my assessing. The first thing is a sight word list. I'll be taking the first 10 words that we learn in our reading series. We are adopting Journeys this year so that will be a new list of words. If I have kids that can do all this, then I will move on to dictated sentences and writing assessment. Honestly I probably won't be doing an running records until before Christmas. When I taught in Nashville, we were required to do a lot of reading assessments including running records. As of now, I don't have a good running record resource. So I'll be looking into the new reading series and see what I can use there.

How will you use this information to group your students?
While I plan on assessing the students in the first few weeks of school, I don't plan on starting groups until after the first 6 weeks when we have gotten settled into our workstation and read to self routines. I will have students that don't know a lot of letters start working with my assistant or a volunteer on tracing the alphabet. (This is an idea Richardson talks a lot about in the next chapter.) I will use the information to group my students. I hope to not have too many groups and the groups will be flexible. 

Richardson spend a lot of this chapter explaining how to analyze the information you gain from the assessments. I'll be in kindergarten in the fall so I don't see having to do too many running records, but as the year progresses I'll have to reassess. I will definitely be consulting this book while working through this piece. 

This was the other point that Richardson made that really stuck with me about students' instructional, frustration and independent reading materials.
Be sure to head over to Mary at Sharing Kindergarten and check out the rest of the posts. I can't wait to post all about chapter 3,. It is my favorite so far.
Sharing Kindergarten

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Classroom Management 10 Pin Party

We got back from the beach on Saturday and I had big plans to join this party on Sunday. But it didn't happen. Chris and I spent the evening out at the lake with his family. It was so nice and relaxing. Then yesterday was my birthday and I spent the whole day with one of my favorite girls, my niece. Mondays are my day with her and it was perfect to spend the day with her. She was so sweet. Randomly through the day she would throw her arms around me and then wish me a happy birthday. It was a great way to spend my day but I was exhausted. She didn't take a nap which meant I didn't get my nap. I have to leave my house by 6:30 to get to my sister's before she goes to work which is earlier than I get up to go to school. But now I'm rested up and ready to get some things done today. I'm joining Just Reed for her Ten Pin Linky this week all about classroom management. (I think this was actually last week's party but I'm a little late)
 1. The first pin is about whole brain teaching. While I was on vacation, I read the book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. I am hooked on the idea and I can't wait to get things going for next year.
2. Here's another whole brain resource. This pin takes you to a blog that has a ton of examples of WBT in action. It is also an honest look at implementing the strategies.
3. Timers on a bracelet. I love this idea. I am terrible about keeping up with time. I have been using my iphone for timing things but I don't always keep it right by me. So I love this idea. I need to implement this next year. (I'm loving these parties because it reminds me of what I want to do next year.)
4. No name board. This is on my summer to do list. I hate all the papers I get with no name on it. I would love to have a place to hang them. I had planned on going to hobby lobby to get the supplies yesterday but my niece wouldn't have it. 
5. Homework Bingo - The class that I just had was great about turning in their homework. I didn't have to bribe them or anything. But the group I had before was not like this at all. So I love to have a few ideas in my pocket for how to motivate kids to get their homework turned in.

6.Part of Whole Brain Teaching is the Class/Yes responses. I like that but I think it would be fun to change it up sometimes. So here's a pin with different call and responses.

7. I love this idea for keeping track of who might need help on a concept later. I don't know if this is exactly how I would do it in my classroom, but I like the idea.

8. Ron Clark is one of my favorite teachers. I love his ideas on classroom management. I love this idea of buttons that was inspired by him. They are a great reward for students who do well.Plus they can be reused. 

9. I got these coupons from Melissa Dillard last year but I haven't printed them out. That is definitely a must for next year. I love these ideas and they aren't a treasure box.

10. My last pin is another Whole Brain teaching resource. It comes from a friend of mine, Melissa from Transitional Kindergarten. 
Transitional Kinder with Mrs.O
She has tons of ideas and resources for WBT. This is a powerpoint that is perfect for introducing the WBT concepts and the best part is it's fre. 

So those are my 10 pins all about classroom management. I hope to share more about WBT as I get into it. I would love to hear about your experiences using it. Be sure to head over to the party at Just Reed and see what others have pinned.
Just Reed!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Talk Thursday at the Beach

Chris and I have been on vacation this week. We are in North Carolina. I had never been to the beach in North Carolina but this is where Chris grew up going. It's beautiful and not that crowded which is really nice. This has been a view all week.
To me being at the beach means spending some quality time with my kindle. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm a voracious reader. I have read 6 books in the 5 days  we've been here. Pre kindle, I would have to have a bag just for the books I bring with me on a trip. Now I have a kindle full of books ready to read and access to more. So I thought I would link up with Reading Toward the Stars for her Book Talk Thursday party. (I know I'm blogging on vacation, but I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep. So that's a good way to spend a few minutes.)
I'm going to share 2 different books I've read. The first is a young adult dystopian novel. Divergent.
I had bought this a while ago on my kindle when it was a daily deal but I just got around to reading it. My friend, Cassie was at the beach last week and she highly recommended it. The book starts out with the main character Beatrice going to take her tests to see what faction she should belong in. Her world is divided into 5 factions that value different virtues. The faction she currently belongs to is the one that values selflessness. Beatrice struggles with selflessness and when she takes her test her results are inconclusive. The story follows her decision of which faction to join and the effects that it has. I loved this book.Beatrice is a very likable and relatable character. I have found myself thinking about the characters and the factions since I finished the book earlier in the week. I think today I'm going to start the sequel, Insurgent. If you liked Hunger Games and Matched, you will like this book too.
The second book I wanted to share with you is the perfect summer read, The Heist by Janet Evanovich.

I am a huge Janet Evanovich fan. I love her Stephanie Plum books and most of the other ones she writes. They are a good easy read that is entertaining. This book just came out Tuesday and I had pre-ordered it. Another feature I love about my kindle. I can have books the day they came out and not have to leave my house. This book starts out with Kate O'Hare, an FBI agent, on the trail of a con man Nick Fox. She captures him eventually but he gets away. This book is funny, fun, and a great beach read.
So those are my recommendations this week, I would love to hear about what you are reading or your thoughts on these. Be sure to head over to Reading Towards the Stars and join the party.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study Chapter 1

I am so excited to be participating in this book study on the book 
The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader
I was really excited because I was able to get the book on my kindle. I love reading professional development books on my kindle because it is so much more portable and it's also a lot cheaper. The downside is it is hard to flip through the book and find something quickly and I can't share it like I could a paper book. (Although I have discovered I can share The Book Whisperer and Growing Readers with a friend of mine.) As a side note, there are lot of forms and such in this book. I did discover that you can get a pdf download of the forms through the scholastic. I just opened the book on the kindle cloud reader on my computer and then clicked where it said get a pdf download. I was very happy.
I don't think guided reading is one of my strengths. I'm good at reading with the kids and working on things with them, but I'm not always good at being really intentional about my groups and planning. This is something I really want to work on. Especially because we've been given a framework to work on this year that involves tiers of RTI. Guided reading to me fits this perfectly.I'm excited to read this book because it gives practical information and actual lessons to follow.
Richardson starts in the introduction by giving the four elements of guided reading:

  • analyzing reading assessments to id an instructional focus
  • prompting students to use reading strategies when they encounter difficulties
  • teaching skills that are necessary and appropriate for the reading stage
  • utilizing guiding writing to support and accelerate the reading process
I think I'm pretty good at analyzing data to figure out what I need to teach. I need to focus on my planning of lessons and then executing the lessons. I seem to do a better job at the executing in kindergarten than I do in first grade.

The first chapter is all about preparing for guiding reading. I really like that Richardson emphasizes that students need to learn to work together, read together and laugh and play together.I found this past year that my students really struggled with what it means to work together. I hope that if I start this from the beginning I'll be able to foster an environment that is conducive to that. (Any suggestions for building teamwork would be appreciated.)
Richardson includes a great chart in this chapter that outlines the different approaches of reading and the grouping, text level, how text is read, and purpose. I plan to print this out and include it in my lesson planning notebook.  The approaches to reading are shared, read aloud, small group and independent. Each approach has a place in the classroom. We should be doing a balance of all 4.
The meat of this chapter is about setting up independent learning activities. Last year in first grade, I tried a daily 5 approach, but in kindergarten I really like using literacy stations. I like the 6 week routine that Richardson lays out for introducing literacy stations. She has a very gradual introduction and recommends using tub activities like puzzles, math manipulatives, clay, legos, block, and art projects. Set a time for 10 minutes and have the students work on one of the tubs. Set back and observe and then meet with the students afterwards. You do this each day for a week with each group using a different tub. The next week you introduce one station activity to a group and the rest of the groups work on the tub activities. By week 3 you introduce a new work station activity and lengthen the time to 15 minutes. So now you have 2 workstation activities going on and the rest of the groups are using the tubs. Week 4 you introduce another activity and extend the time to 20 minutes. By week 5, students are working from 25-30 minutes and you add 2 new workstations.Students will also rotate through 2 workstations during the period. By week 6 you have all students working in work stations and don't use the tubs anymore. Richardson suggests starting groups this week, but I personally would probably wait until the next week. Then this gives the students time to be working on workstations and I can observe.
One of the biggest points, she makes in this chapter to establish the routine that students can't interrupt you while you are meeting with a group. She suggests wearing some kind of silly hat that will help the kids see that they shouldn't intrupt you. I used to wear a crown and should probably find something else along those lines.
Richardson finishes up this chapter with a lot of suggestions about managing literacy stations and things that the stations could be. I thought I'd finish this post up with a few pins from pinterest that related to this.
This pin shows a neat way to manage the groups. You use a file folder, velcro and paper. Then you can move the names around without having to start a new sheet.

I'm thinking I'm going to use this method for showing the kids not to bother me during groups. I have some lights like this already and it's a fun reminder.

These are the big ideas that I took from this chapter. Be sure to head over to Kreative in Kinder for the party and check out what other people had to say about the book.
Kreative in Kinder

Monday, June 17, 2013

Schedule spotlight series linky: Calendar time

I'm joining the party over at Castles and Crayons again this week for her schedule spotlight series.

This week the focus is on calendar. I did a post 2 years ago about my calendar routine. I'll be honest. I'm revamping this post a bit. (I'm on vacation and I was told I couldn't do any blogging while I was gone.)

I use my promethean board for morning meeting/calendar time. I love love love my morning meeting and calendar time with the kids. I think I love it so much because I use a flipchart that I'm really proud of. It is a combination of different ideas and trail and error and searching promethean planet for things that work for my kids. I love it because I can adapt to fit whatever my kids need. All I have to do is add another page.
When I first started teaching kindergarten, I wrote my morning message on a small white board and did my calendar time on a bulletin board. I had a good routine with them. I keep my students for two years. I have them in kindergarten and then first grade and by half way through first grade I was tired of my morning message and my kids didn't seem to need it. But by using my board, I don't get bored or tired of it. I love it!
Here's my morning meeting routine:
When they first come in they see a chart that has their routine for the morning. I use pictures of what they are suppose to do and the words. I saw this idea on Mrs. Wills blog and just adapted it to fit my needs (At lease I think that's where I saw it. I can't find it now). The students can see what they need to do. As they are working on their morning work at their table, they answer a question on the board. I started this year with their favorite color. They moved their name underneath a square of their favorite color. I started these graphs to help them recognize their names. The next one they do is if they are boys or girls. This starts to get them used to the yes/no format we use the rest of the year and they can "read" it themselves. Then they have a yes/no question they answer everyday. I use their popcorn words and different themes and concepts we're working on. I also use a lot of graphing and math concepts with this chart.
When morning meeting starts, we start with a Dr. Jean song I've embedded in my chart. Then we go over our rules which I got from The Polka Dot Patch.
Here's a list of the next slides:
  • Morning message (I enjoy playing around with the backgrounds depending on the season and holdiays) I also try to include skills that we are working. We might brainstorm words that have our phonics rule, answer questions about science or social studies, or answer some math problems.
  • Calendar
  • Days of the week (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Days we've been in school hundreds chart
  • A tens and ones base 10 chart to show how many days we've been in school
  • Months of the year (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Weather (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Season
  • Temperature
  • Patterns with shapes
  • Number patterns
  • 10 frame activity. Students make a number using the 10 frame. We start small and eventually build up to multiple 10 frames.
  • In first grade, I add a page for a number of the day. They have to come up with an addition or subtraction problem that equals the number.
  • In first grade, I also include review questions from different test resources
 . If you download my chart, I put notes in each slide to let you know what I do there. I love doing my morning meeting this way because we practice so many skills in math and in reading and writing. I try to include questions in my morning message and my question of the day that review our science and social studies themes.
I don't have the activeinspire software on this computer so I can't share any pictures. You have to have the activeinspire software to use this chart, but check it out here.
Here's my flipchart for download in google docs.
Be sure to head over to Castles and Crayons and join the party.

Castles and Crayons

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Classroom Decor Pin Party

Surprise! Surprise! I found another linky party to join. Summertime=linky party fun! I start out the summer hoping to spend the month of June relaxing and not thinking about school. But it just doesn't happen. My brain will not stop. Pinterest, facebook, and blogging don't help my brain turn off. But I think I have had the best school years in the past two years since I've discovered all this. And I love it! I love the planning of a new year and getting a new crop of kids. It's like a fresh start every August. I guess I'm a weirdo for enjoying this so much.
So I'm joining the party over at Just Reed.

So here are some of my favorite classroom decor ideas from pinterest.
1. I love this idea of making a wreath with the kids hand prints. Then the kids have a part in the decorating of the classroom. This would make a great first day project.
2, I love  this idea for displaying birthdays. I wanted to do this a few years ago and just didn't. But I think it would be great for number sense and getting the kids to connect the dates to their birthday.

3. I have seen this idea floating around pinterest and really would love to do it this year. I keep my kids for two years so I think this would be a neat keepsake for my classes.

4. I am thinking about changing up my rules for this coming up school year. I love this way of displaying the rules. I like that they are more like expectations than rules. 
5. I made curtains for my first classroom but haven't used them in forever. I would love to hang some curtains again. Especially because we need to be able to cover our windows if we go in a lockdown. But I haven't been able to figure out how to hang them. This idea is perfect.

6. I love subway art for my class. I had 3 or 4 posters with them up last year. I love this one and need to add it to my collection. I think they are colorful and great reminders for the kids and me.
7. This is a great use of space. My whiteboards are not magnetic so it would be nice to have a magnetic surface for the kids to have some word work areas. It's just an oil drip pan. 

8. I'm reading the book The Next Step in Guided Reading this summer and partcipating in the book study. This is an area that I haven't been as organized as I would like to be. I need to work on planning ahead and then following through with the plan. I love this idea of organizing all the materials in one basket for each group and color coding them. I'm big on the color coding this summer.
9. Here's another a color coding idea that I love. I have my word work and math station materials organized in drawers. Currently my word work stuff isn't even labeled. But I love the idea of color coding things so the materials get back into the right place. 
10.Last but not least is this writing center pin. I have loved this set up for a while but I haven't gotten the stuff together to make one. I guess I need to start hitting some thrift stores or yard sales for the perfect table. 
So those are some of my favorite classroom decor pins. Going through all my pins helped me to get some ideas of projects to work on this summer. What are you working on this summer? Be sure to head over to Just Reed and check the party out
Just Reed!