Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Dr. Seuss Costume!

(This may be the shortest blog post I have ever written.  Here it goes!)
I promised I would share photos of my costume for Dr. Seuss Day this year.  It may have taken me a few weeks, but I am keeping my promise!  :)
"The Cat in the Hat" socks are from Target.

"One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" boxer shorts and red leggings are from Target.

"Green Eggs and Ham" earrings I bought from a shop on Etsy.

"The Cat in the Hat" costume and accessories were a gift from my mama!
Okay, one more random thing that warms my heart...I just have to share.
I work with a group of 5th grade boys.  I truly enjoy each and every one of them.  They are definitely my most difficult group, but they really are great kids.
One of them in particular challenges my thinking and my way of teaching  He is known throughout our entire school for his undesirable and defiant behavior and low academic levels.  Yet he is an extremely insightful and intelligent student - despite what others will claim.
Recently I learned that he has an interest in building, fixing, and flying airplanes, jets, and helicopters when he is older.  (Ambitious, right!?)  Well, wouldn't ya know it?!  My sister-in-law was in the Navy where she worked on airplanes.  You better believe we hopped on the computer that very minute and started a conversation with her via e-mail.  The two of them have been e-mailing back and forth almost every day now for the last couple of weeks.  He has more and more questions to ask each day - I am getting the impression he is giving this all quite a bit of thought outside of our ESL time together - and she is so graciously taking the time to answer all his questions.  Thank you, my dear SIL!  <3
Anyway, my point... when my 5th grader wrote in his journal last week (which, by the way, he usually HATES to do), this is what he very willingly wrote: 

"I would like to be in the Navy because it would be fun and exciting."
YES!  Now I cannot predict this child's future, but maybe...just maybe...if this will give him something to hold on to...something to work for...then our time spent discussing it was totally worth it.
Okay, so this blog post was not as quick as I was expecting.  Haha!
Thanks for stopping by!  :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Final "Five for Friday" in this Freezing February!

(Yay, for alliteration!  Haha!)

Thank goodness for the last minute or I wouldn't get anything done around here!  J/K  I am usually on top of things, but I have been a bogus blogger these days.  Anyway, I am happy to squeeze in a post for the month of February!
Here are some snippets of random things going on in our ESL classroom:

Every time I walked passed our "Wemberly Worried" craftivities in the hallway, I reminded myself that they had been up there TOO LONG (since early September!) and we needed a change of scene.  We finally made that happen on Valentine's Day.

 We read the oh-so-cute picture book, "Love, Splat" by Rob Scotton.

Then, these first graders got to work on tracing the templates...

...and cutting out the pieces.

Next, they assembled their very own "Splats" or "Kittens"...

...and glued all the pieces together.

Of course, there was a writing piece involved (and, surprisingly, I only heard one or two grumbles my students).  We talked and wrote about what love means to us.

"Love is when my mom gives me a hug."  <3

"Love is when my mom makes pizza."  Haha!  :)

This one was my favorite by far!  "Love is when my mom goes to the gas station.  I go pay for the gas."  It is the little things in life!

I have a group of extremely hard-working 4th and 5th graders that I am fortunate to see daily.  Seriously...great kids.  Anyway, I wanted to give them an opportunity to kind of take a break from all their hard work (and before we plunge into our next focus = research).  So, in order to wrap up our fairytale study, these kids collaboratively created a "What are the elements of a fairytale?" poster and...

 ...completed these craftivities:  "If I had a magic wand..."  They also had the option of finishing this prompt:  "If I had a fairy godmother.." but no one chose it.  They told me it was because magic wands have more options and fairy godmothers are limited.  Haha!  If you all say so!  :)

Oh, and I do not have a photo for this but - we had a great time writing our own fairytales today.  We used what I referred to as a "Build-a-Fairytale" strategy.  Each student had their own sheet of loose leaf paper.  I set the timer for one minute and they started their fairytales.  Then, they passed the papers to the person on their right and that new person wrote for another minute.  This process continued, BUT the person writing could only read what the person before them wrote.  (Does that make sense?)  We covered up the rest of the writing just by folding the paper.  The fairytales were quite funny and I think the kids really enjoyed this!

Can you take a guess at what our 4K kiddos were learning about??  Yep, you got it - living and nonliving!  This anchor chart really helped them grasp the differences between living and nonliving.

Here is a close-up shot, so you can read the questions we used to drive our discussion about each object.

Do you have students who demonstrate very little self-motivation?  Do you find yourself just "going with it" whenever they DO show some interest?  I do with my group of 5th grade boys!!  We are currently working on persuasive writing and I am trying to make it motivating and interesting, but it is a challenge because - in the end - my boys still have to do something they do not want to do = write.

So when one of my boys asked if they could write on the whiteboards, you better believe my answer was "YES!  And you can even pick the color of your marker."

Messy?  Yes, but they showed an understanding of persuasive writing by stating their opinion, giving three reasons, and then restating their opinion.  Mission accomplished. 

Ladies and is coming!  Dr. Seuss Day will be here before we know it!  Stay tuned in order to check out my awesome costume this year.  If you missed my Dr. Seuss Day blog post from last year, be sure to check it out HERE!

As always, thank you for stopping by!  :)  Oh, and be sure to stop by the linky party at Doodle Bugs Teaching to swee what other awesome teachers are up to!

Monday, January 27, 2014


It is SO COLD here in Wisconsin!  School was cancelled today AND tomorrow, due to the dangerously low temperatures and wind chill.  That will be four cancellations (just caused by low temperatures) in total for this school year!  Part of me is bummed because we have to make up these days during our breaks.  But the other part of me is ExCiTeD because I get to work on some things that I want to work on!  In comes a FREEBIE for you!

Click below to snag 'em:
Are you a teacher in a Project-Based Learning classroom?  Do you want visitors to know exactly what your students are doing and learning when they enter your room?  If so, I suggest you create a focus wall for your PBL projects.  At a glance, anyone who visits your classroom will understand WHAT the activities are that your students are engaged in and WHY they are working on those particular activities.
I plan to put these PBL Focus Wall cards on black butcher paper or black fabric, as that particular color will really help the cards "pop" off the wall.
If you use these in your own classroom, it would just make my day if you took a picture of them on your wall and e-mailed the picture to me!
Do you have a Project-Based Learning Focus Wall in your classroom?  Are there elements on your wall that I am missing?  Do you have pictures to share?  I would love to see them!  (I was not able to find many online.)
P.S.  My sweet hubby reminded me this evening that the month of January is almost over and I had not yet written a blog post for this month (one of my New Years Resolutions).  Isn't he the best?!  <3
Thanks for stopping by!  :)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Two Quick Tips for Those Who Teach Our Little Ones!

Ahh!  Winter.  The time of year that many preschool and primary teachers dread... at least those of us who must battle broken zippers, dirty slush tracked into our classrooms, and the rat race of getting a group of little ones dressed for the cold and out the door on time for dismissal.  (On second thought - do I really want to go back into a Kindergarten homeroom?  Haha!  Just kidding.)

Anywho - here are two quick tips to help with the insanity:

1 - Bundle-Up Buddies:  I have my students choose one partner to assist when it is time to bundle-up.  They are taught to focus on one another and then line up.  This really speeds up the process; you can even make it a race of sorts.

I highly recommend allowing the students to CHOOSE their own partners.  The first time I did this, I assigned them partners based on my observations:  one student who was able to dress themselves quickly, paired with one student who struggled to get the job done in a timely manner.  Welllll - the buddy system goes down the drain if they are not truly motivated to help their (assigned) buddy.  So then, what's the point?  Just let them choose.  For those little ones that still struggle or dawdle, that is where you come in (or your educational assistant, if you are lucky enough to have one).

2 - "Put the banana in the monkey's mouth." - Ha!  Do you have students who say, "I can't do it!" when it comes to zipping their coats?  (I am sure you do.)  Turn it into a game.  You know that little metal, skinny piece on the zipper?  Well, that is the "banana."  The open part on the bottom of the zipper is the "mouth."  (Do these parts have names?)  Anyway, most students eat this idea up.  Give it a try!

(This is totally not my picture, by the way.  I take no credit for it; I snagged it from my BFF - Google.)

Hey, do you have any other tips to help our little ones get out the door faster?!  I would love to hear what you have to share!  As always, thanks for stopping by!  :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Freebie that Kinder Teachers Will NOT Want to Miss!

Happy Holidays!  I guess you could say that I am "in the spirit" because I have a goodie to share with all you awesome Kindergarten teachers out there.  I think you are going to LOVE it!

Is your school district using Standards-Based Grading?  Or are they (and you) moving in that direction?  Well, our school district is doing just that and I want to be prepared for the change.  So - I created this bad boy!

Kindergarten ELA Standards-Based Gradebook

All you need to do is print, 3-hole punch the papers, insert them in a binder, and then you are ready to go!

The anchors are organized by color.  I also inserted page dividers with tabs between the anchors. 

I will be keeping this binder within arms reach at all times.  Anytime that I observe a student demonstrating that he/she has met a standard, I will:
- locate that particular page / standard in my binder,
- write the date,
- write a brief activity description,
- and then check which student met that standard.

I still have not yet decided on a coding system.  This will likely depend on what my school district decides.

I even included a binder insert to give it that "cutesy" look.  :)

Click on the link below if you want to snag this great FREEBIE:

This is my first time attempting to share a file publicly via Google Drive, so please let me know if you have any trouble.

(By the way...I tried again and again to upload this document on Teachers Pay Teachers, but it!  I was going insane!  I followed all the rules (PDF, max file size under 200mb, no punctuation in the file name, etc.) and yet it would not upload!  I continually received an error messaging stating, "Please upload a supported product file."  Grrr!  Anyway, if you have any insight, it would be much appreciated.  Thanks!)

Keep your eye open for a Kindergarten MATH Standards-Based Gradebook in the upcoming months!

Well, I guess that is it for now.  I hope you are able to use the freebie and that you find it useful!  If you like it, I would love to hear how you plan to use it in your classroom.  :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five for Friday and a Freebie!

Hip, hip, hooray!  It's Friday!  :)
(So I started this blog post...hmmm...let's see...LAST MONTH!  And I am just now getting around to finishing it.  So sad...especially since I have now failed my New Years Resolution of blogging at least once a month.  *sigh*)
I am linking up for one of the coolest linky parties around!  (I looooove the flexibility.)
Kevin Henkes Author Study
It can be extremely challenging as a support teacher to "glue" everything together when I only see small groups for 30 minutes a day...sometimes not even 5 days a week with early release, professional development, absent students, testing, assemblies - you know what it is like.  Something I am trying this year with my 2nd graders is an author study each month - errrr...well, that was the goal.  Our first author study took longer than that.  We started with the one and only:  Kevin Henkes!  (Did you know he is from Racine, Wisconsin?!  That is where I teach!)
One of the books we read was "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse."  We also read "Chrysanthemum" and "Wemberly Worried."  The students used writing and illustrations to show the characters, setting, problem, solution, and lesson.

I created mini reading response sheets.  If you would like to snag this FREEBIE, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

(Here is our in-progress anchor chart; you can see the headings in this picture.)
(And here is our completed anchor chart!)

After we read "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse," the kids played a Reading Comprehension board game as one of their extension activities.  I found this free resource online, but I am not sure where / who it came from.  If it is you, please let me know, so I can give credit where it is due.  Thanks!  :)
We focused on 3 vocabulary words in "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse," as you can see in the picture above.
While we read "Wemberly Worried," the students jotted down (on a graphic organizer) things that Wemberly worried about in the story.  Then, the students made a text-to-self connection by writing about what makes them worry in their own lives.  As always, they presented their finished product in the "Share Chair" (above).

"I worry about my brother getting sick."

"I worry about never getting to see my Grandna Feliz."

"I worry about my baby brother at Virginia because he went to Virginia with my dad."

"I worry about my sister getting sick because I do not want to get sick."
"I worry about my mom because she has diabetes."  *awwww*
Cuddle Up and Read Day
Our Student Council hosted a school-wide event: "Cuddle Up and Read Day!"  Students wore their pajamas, brought their stuffed animals and blankies to school, and cuddled up to read.  What fun!  (I even brought along some laundry baskets for some kiddos to sit in while reading, but I ran out of time during my ELA block.  Bummer.)

Morning Message
Like I said...I started this blog post last month (Ha!) so this picture is old by now, but still worth sharing, I suppose.
I push into a First Grade room every morning and teach whole group for 40 minutes.  Every Monday, we have Morning Meeting which inlcludes are Morning Message.  We focus on high frequency words during this time.  It is sloppy, but it gets the job done.  During this time, we practice signing (like sign language) and spelling the words, using the words orally in complete sentences, writing the words, and finding the words in the message.  It is an interactive activity, so the students do all the high-frequency word work.

Parallel Lines
Have you ever heard of using parallel lines as a sharing / building language strategy?  I like this strategy and I use it fairly often because it is effective and easy-to-implement.  Here is how I do it:
1 - Split the class in half and ask them to sit knees-to-knees and eyes-to-eyes with their assigned partner.
2 - Give one row of students a small ball or bean bag.  This is a visual reminder of who is the speaker. 
3 - Set the timer for 30 seconds (or one minute, or whatever works for your class) and instruct the students to talk about the given topic or question.  We have MANY English language learners in our school, so I more often than not write a sentence prompt on the whiteboard for them to follow (example - "I think the boy should...because..." or "A _____ is an example of a sphere" etc.) can skip the timer all together and just have the kids hold up their balls when they are done speaking (like in the picture above).
4 - When the timer goes off, remind the students to pass the ball to their partner.  Reset the timer and the student who was the listener now becomes the speaker.  They are also given time to speak about the topic.
5 - When the timer goes off a second time, ask only ONE row to stand (and it has to be the same row every time).  The student at the top of the line, goes to the end and everyone in that line shifts down one person.  Now everyone has a new partner and the activity can be repeated again!
One of my Kindergarten students (who is now in 2nd grade) recently joined our ESL group.  Whenever I have a kiddo join me, they get to decorate their very own binder that will hold all of the work they do in ESL.  They will take their binders home at the end of the school year, which is totally exciting for most of them.  Anyway, this is how she chose to decorate her binder.  What a sweetie pie!
Our school celebrated Halloween last Friday by having our annual costume parade.  I found a mini-me!  (This little lady was also one of my Kindergarten students a few years back.  I sure wish I could sure their adorable faces.)
Woo hoo!  I made it through the rest of this blog post without falling asleep at my kitchen table!  Go me!  Hahaha.  :)  Enjoy your weekend folks!  Thanks for stopping by!