Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Classroom Update

2 weeks from today my summer will be officially over. I can't believe it. Summer has flown by. I know some of you have already started back to school. I have been working in my room a couple of days a week for the past few weeks. Our building is closed today and tomorrow and then next week I won't be able to get into my room. So it makes me a little nervous. I don't know why. I've gotten a lot done. Next week we have a Staff Retreat for 2 days and then Wednesday we're leaving for a last hurrah before school starts. My family is heading to Charleston. I'm so excited. We haven't been on a family vacation in over 6 years and I can't wait to hit the beach with my sweet niece. Plus I love the Charleston area. It will be a great way to end the summer. (I have brought some projects to work on. I need to sort through my math manipulatives that came with our math series so I can actually use them.)
Anyway, I worked for a while yesterday and got some things put on the walls which always makes me feel like the classroom is coming together.
This is my Monday Made it. I made the pennant banner that is hanging at the top. I followed the tutorial on Abby's blog The Inspired Apple. (check out her instructions here.) I used scrapbook paper to cut out the letters and then ribbon from Walmart around the side. I know it's crooked but it's ok. I am in love with this board. I still need to add the clothespins. I haven't found the mini die cuts that I want to put on them yet. I might go look for them today. I want a shoe or something.

I finally got some of my Rainbow Bright Classroom Signs up. I love the brightness.
Looking at these pictures I see how dirty my white boards are. I should probably clean them before school starts.
I'm planning on implementing some Whole Brain Teaching Strategies this year. So I started with the rules. I had gotten these from A Year of Many Firsts.
I'm trying to do a Pete the Cat kind of theme in my room. I had the greatest suggestion from a facebook fan to be Ms. Kerri's Cool Cats. I love it since I think Pete is a cool cat. I plan on starting the year with Pete Rocking his school shoes. Chris made me this Pete 2 years ago and I found the perfect place for him above my calendar with a speech bubble.
I used a speech bubble clipart from Little Red Hen. I think I'll change what he says depending on what we're doing in class. I laminated it so I could write on it with dry erase markers.
Last thing I worked was some labels for my word work drawers. I used super cute frames from Ashley Hughes.  I have a few more to make so check back for a freebie in the next few days.

So that's what I was working on yesterday. When do you go back to school? Have you been working in your room? I would love for you to leave a comment.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reading Outreach and a Freebie

So I have been MIA all week long. We had Vacation Bible School this past week and I was exhausted from it. Our church does something a little different and we create all our own materials. We don't use a prepackaged theme but create it all. Chris and our Pastor come up with the theme. This year it was "A Tennessee Hillbilly in King David's Court." I'm amazed by my husband's creativity. He writes skits for all the nights. This year King David was "The King" like Elvis. It was hilarious and so much fun. I worked in the nursery. This was my third year there and it wore me out. My sister in law and I decided next year we were doing something different. Like crafts. We were tired of saying no don't hit and share over and over. So between that and working in my room I just didn't have the energy for the blogging. I can only imagine what it's going to be like when school starts.
I am on the board of our local library and this summer along with another teaching friend, Cassie, we've been working on a summer reading program. It started out as a program to bring books out in the community to the kids that live in hotels that have been turned into weekly rentals. (I live in a tourist town.) These motels aren't the greatest places to live and these kids don't have access to books in their home. Most of them are living in a one room with no kitchen and not enough beds. But as we went out in the community to talk to people and get the word out, we found that there weren't as many kids living in this motels this summer. They  closed down one of the larger motels and a lot of the kids moved. So the first week we went out we had no kids. The second week we went out we had no volunteers. But the third week, we tried something a little different. One of our stops was an apartment complex where some of our ELL students live. We talked to their parents and we had 5 kids come down. (Which was really good because we had 7 volunteers.) This seemed to be the direction we should be moving.
 So this week we changed our locations up some. We went to this location above and then added another apartment complex. We had 3 more kids this week. The best thing that has happened was one of the boys told us he didn't like to read before. But reading with us has changed that. It made my heart smile! I know that whatever we did this was worth it.
We're hoping to adapt some and be able to do something when school starts back. We have one more week with this program and I'm excited to see what will happen.
Before starting the reading program, we held a training session with all the volunteers. We modeled a way that we wanted the volunteers to read with the students. It was adapted from Richard Allington's book What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. 
I made a book mark with the prompts on it. I think that I'm going to use it if/when I have volunteers come in the classroom to read with students. I thought I would share it in case someone else wanted to use it. 

I have about 2 weeks before I got back to work officially. We have a staff retreat week after this coming week and then I go to the beach for one last hurrah. Then it's school time. So much to do in the next few weeks. One thing I need to catch up on is my Next Step in Guided Reading book reading. I've gotten behind. Hopefully I'll be back with a post soon. I hope to have some Monday Made its at least and some classroom pictures. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Monday Made it (Yeah it's Tuesday)

Last week was the first time I linked up with Tara for Monday Made it and now I'm on a roll. I don't know if it is just the end of summer is near so I better get my craft on or what. This week I worked on a couple of projects.
First project is a K to take first day of pictures with. I've seen this on several blogs and pinterest and I think it's super cute. I made a picture frame for last year's first day of school picture. Since I keep my kids for 2 years I like the idea of doing something different.

My colors in my classroom are all over the place. I'm trying to go with bright colors more than primary colors. 
The next project is a can to put my box tops in. This is such an unnecessary project but I ate the last of my almonds and thought this is the perfect container for something. 
I thought it turned out cute. (I know cute is not that important but I like cute. Makes me happy.)
The last project is a little something for some of my friends at school. I still have one more to make. One of my fellow k/1 teachers is a guy and I couldn't decide whether he would like it or not. But I found some boy scrapbook paper so I think it will be manly enough. I just need to add the post it notes. I got those yesterday at Target but they are still in the car. 

So those are my Monday made its for the week. Chris and I went to JoAnn's on Friday night. (I know we're wild and crazy) I got some fabric for a couple more projects. I'm pretty excited about. So I'll be back next week with some new projects. I haven't busted out my sewing machine in a while so hopefully it will go well. If not, I'll still post. 
I'm headed for a little more back to school shopping with a teacher friend. We have to have partners in crime. Yesterday my partner in crime was my sweet niece. She was very helpful. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not. I didn't say a word and she knew that I was putting stuff in the cart for school. She would say is that for your class? So cute. 
Be sure to head over to Tara's blog to check out the other Monday Made its!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sensory Fun! (+ a freebie)

This coming school year I will be starting my fourth k/1 loop. Which means I'll be starting my fourth year in Kindergarten (It will be my 10th year teaching which is completely crazy to me.). I have had a sand table in my room each year in kindergarten and I haven't used it once. It grosses me out for some reason. It has a nice cover so I've always just used it as a table. But I read this post over at Pre K and Sharing by Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten and I started to think of ways that I could incorporate it into my class. Click her to go to that post.  So after that post I started a pinterest board all dedicated to Sensory learning. Check it out here.  My friend Mary from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives also has a couple of good posts about sensory activities here. 
One of my biggest challenges was figuring out what I was going to replace the sand with. There is something about sand that I'm just not a fan of. Plus this sand hasn't been played with or anything for who knows how long. After seeing some other people use rice. This is what I decided on. But I can't do just ordinary white rice. I had to make it rainbow and fun. So yesterday after keeping my niece all morning I headed to Dollar General to get some supplies. I decided to try out the kool aid dying method. It thought I would have more choices in colors. Unfortunately the dollar general only had a few flavors to choose from.

I headed to the grocery store this morning and got a few more packets of kool aid to dye the rest of the rice. I wasn't crazy about the yellow. I used the whole pack of kool aid for it and it isn't too vibrant. but I think it will look good all mixed together. I had posted on my facebook page that I was getting ready to do this and I had a few questions. 
The rice dried pretty well and none of the color rubbed off on my hands. Now the red bag in the last picture was an experiment. I put a whole packet of kool aid in it and only had a little rice left. The dye was pretty strong in this one and some of this dye rubbed off on my hands. I don't think it will be an issue once it dries.
The colors are not that bright but I like them. I don't know if I had used food coloring gel if it would have been different. I don't have access to much more than what my local grocery store has. Cost wise I think kool aid was the way to go. I got each pack for 20 cents so all my colors for a $1.00. I also really like that the rice smells nice. 

One of my projects this week is to empty the sand out and get this rice into the table. I'm thinking I might need another 5lb bag but we will see. For the kids' first experience with this table, I'm going to put some letters in with the rice. I'm thinking I'll use magnetic letters, foam letters and these letter cards that I've made. I found this great letter clipart from Dancing Crayons. Here's a freebie for you to use in your own sensory tub. 

Included is upper and lowercase letters and an I can poster to display with the literacy station. 
I would love to hear about your sensory tub activities and if you download this freebie. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Classroom Update and a freebie

This is going to be a quick post. I have to go to physical therapy in 30 minutes. I'm no longer required to go to therapy for my knee but I'm trying to keep my knee strong. Also, I might be a weirdo because I really like going to PT. It makes me feel better and I love my therapist! They are seriously the best. I've been going for 8 months so they are my friends too. Anyway, I went to my classroom for the first time yesterday. I was a little scared as to what I was going to be walking into because we had new floors installed. Our principal made it sound like our things could be damaged in the process. But overall it wasn't too bad. I took some before and after pictures to share with you.

 I couldn't move the heavy stuff so while waiting for the custodians to come help me I worked on bulletin boards. You know. They are important. Last year my colors were black, red, and blue. I loved my room last year. But it wasn't very kindergarten. (Which was the idea because I was in first grade) This year I'm doing some brighter colors. So I changed out the fabric and borders.

This board still needs a little work. It's going to have pictures of the kids' and their families on it. I was inspired by Jeannie over at Kindergarten Lifestyle (Check her post out here. She has a freebie.) Here are a couple more pictures of the work I got done yesterday. I was pretty pleased with it. It looks more like a classroom now.

I needed a new rug and I really didn't want to have to spend a ton of money on it. (Well, Chris wasn't crazy about me spending $80 or more) So I found this one at Big lots for $16. I'm thinking I'm going to write a PTA grant for a nice rug sometime this year.
One last thing before I go, I had a reader ask me to share the guided reading slides I had made for my posts about The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.

I plan on printing these out and putting them in my guided reading notebook as a reminder of what I  read and learned from this study. If you download it, I would love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday Made it!

This is my first time all summer to link up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made it. I finally made it to Hobby Lobby to get a few supplies. It was a trip for sure. I took my almost  3 year old niece. She was a little wild. She kept pretending to eat the fake grapes that are apparently all over Hobby Lobby. I would tell her to come on and her response would be just one more grape. But we needed to get supplies for my craft projects and supplies to make bead bracelets for her.
My first project is one for the house. I've been wanting to make a burlap wreath for a while. I saw this pin on pinterest that had burlap and chevron. So I finally found the burlap ribbon that I needed.

I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I cut the burlap into strips and then looped it through the wire frame. I eventually had it the way I wanted. Then I painted the B. Here's the final product. It needs something. I'm thinking some chevron ribbon all around it would pull it together.
My next project was one for the classroom. I had seen a pin of a no name board and decided I wanted to make my own. I already had wooden letters and clothespins. I'm waiting to figure out where I'm going to hang it before adding a ribbon or something to hang it up with.
I'm hoping this will help with the annoyance of no name papers. I'm sure that I won't be putting this to use until a little later in the school year since I have kindergarten.
Those are my Monday Made its. Be sure to head over to Tara's blog and see what else people made. I love looking at all the projects.
I'm heading to school today for the first time and I'm a little nervous about what I will see when I get there. Everything was moved out of my room on the last day of school and new floors were installed. I hope that all my stuff was returned.
I had a reader ask for my guided reading slides so they could download them. I hope to make them available tomorrow. Last night my hubby was on the computer writing skits for next week's VBS at church. We only have one computer. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Next Step in Guided Reading Chapter 4

I'm joining the ladies over at Freeblicious for the next installment of the book study for The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader. (Seriously if you haven't gotten this book yet, You need to. It's awesome)
This chapter is all about Early guided reading. This group is mostly what first grade is all about. But it can also include your higher kinders and lower second graders. I'm really wishing I had read this book last year when I was floundering around with my guided reading groups.
This quote is one that really stuck in my mind while reading this chapter.

Asking students if things make sense is so important for them to be able to comprehend the story. I'm thinking I might print this slide out and put it in my guided reading notebook. (In fact I'll probably print all these slides out for that purpose.)
Here's the gist of what you do during a two day lesson that last about 20 minutes each day. 
The first day:
Day 2 begins much like day 1 with sight word review, reading and prompting and teaching a strategy. This part needs to only last about 10 minutes. The bulk of this lesson should be guided writing. 

I love this structure for guided writing. It is so important for kids to write with guidance. I was at least doing this part right in my groups last year.
I want to leave you with this quote from Richardson.

Be sure to head over to Maria's blog Kinder-Craze and check out what everyone else had to say about this chapter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Journeys reading Series - A linky Party

This coming school year, my school system is adopting a new reading series. It is time although I liked the older series. Probably just because I was familiar with it. But it's time for something new. Something that meets the common core standards and is a little more vigorous. Our system looked at three different series. Wonders, Journeys and Reading Street. I was lucky enough to get to review all three series as part of a group at my school. One of my fellow first grade teachers was on the county committee. I really liked Reading Street the best out these series. But the county decided on Journeys.
It was my second choice so I'm ok with it. Luckily my principal is of the opinion that our instruction isn't driven by the textbook but by the standards and the students. So I have some freedom to deviate if needed. But I like using the reading series for sight words and phonics skills. My first year in kindergarten (6 years ago) we adopted the reading series Treasures. After using it for a year, I realized I needed a better way to organize what we were doing. I created a document that helped me with planning. It was like an overview of all the units. It made planning easier and it made sharing with our special area and ELL teachers a lot easier. So the last day of school, I found myself on the online portal of Journeys creating this document and recording all the sight words for the series. This helped me to start thinking about what I needed for the upcoming school year.
I knew this series was much more vigorous than what I was used to but it shocked me to see the amount of sight words the kids are expected to learn this year. For the first 2 units it is one word a week, much like what I was use to. The third unit it goes up to 2 words a week. But the 4-6 units, the kids are expected to know 6 words a week. To me that seems like a lot but I'll be jumping in with 2 feet. I have a freebie for you to help you wrap your mind around all the sight words.

Along with this freebie, I've created a couple of items for Teachers Pay teachers that use the words and letter order from Journeys. I would love for you to check them out. 

This is 15 weeks worth of homework using the sight words and letter order, I am so excited about this unit. I have been using fluency homework for the past 2 years. I usually throw it together the week before. So I'm excited to have it done for the first semester. If you check it out on TPT, download the preview. It has a freebie of the first week. The first week is all about their name. 
The second product I have that uses Journeys is a word work packet. 
I'm excited about this unit too. It has activities for the whole year. So I have word work stations done for the year. That's exciting to me!

I also thought I would share a few of my friends products too. There are a lot of great resources on TPT for Journeys. 

So those are the resources I've found so far. I would love to see what you've found or what you're working on. Please link up with your post all about Journeys.