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!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Quick Tip for Any Teacher...

... who is fortunate enough to have their own work laptop... with a clear case.
Place a sheet of colorful and fun scrapbook paper behind the clear case on your laptop!  :)
We are very lucky in our school district because EVERY teacher (homeroom, special education, ESL, Title 1...everyone) receives their own Mac laptop - to use for work purposes only, obviously.  LOTS of teachers in our school district put fun scrapbook paper behind our clear cases.  I love the look AND, at a glance, you know exactly which Mac is yours when you are at meetings and trainings.
Like I said, many teachers in our school district do this, but recently I got to thinking, "Do other teachers do this, too?"  How do you personalize your laptop?
Thank you for stopping by!  I hope you have a wonderful and productive week full of learning and fun!  :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Start on my Monday Made It and a FREEBIE!

Happy Monday Sunday everyone!  I have a simple project to share with you.
(Haha!  I just noticed my son in this picture.  Oh well!)
Next year, when I (hopefully) get into my new classroom, I am determined to create a beautiful, cheerful, and organized learning environment that my students are happy to walk into everyday and that I can be proud of.  The organized part is easy-peasy for me - organization is in my blood.  BUT - the hard part is making it beautiful.  I see all these aMaZiNg classrooms on your blogs and I want that so badly, but I do not know how you afford it!
One thing I have been doing lately is taking inexpensive, free, and previously owned items (in this case, I used veggie cans and baby food containers) and spray painting them so they match the color theme I plan to go with next year.  Then, I wrapped some fun washi tape around them.

I liked the washi tape, but the expressions tape was kind of see-through.  I do not think I will buy that again.  I am going to hot glue some ribbon on my next round of spray painted goodies.

If you have any ideas on how to create a beautiful classroom on a budget, please do share!  I would love to hear how you all do it!
Do not forget to swing by Tara's linky party on her awesome blog, 4th Grade Frolics, to see what other teachers have created.
On a different note...
I bet many of you have been incorporating name activities into your ELA and Math units during this "back to school" time, right?  Well, that is why I thought you might be able to use this FREEBIE that I created.  If you would like to snag it, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE!  I really do read and appreciate your feedback!!
I have never met a child that does not like to talk about him or herself and most kids (at least the little ones) are pretty proud of their names.  So this activity is sure to interest your kiddos!  Have fun with it!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week!  :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Peek At My Week and a FREEBIE!

Happy September!  I cannot lie though...September is like the official close to summer in my mind and that makes me sad.  But - I have these exciting things to look forward to this week!
I am linking up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her new (well, second week) and totally fun linky party!  I somewhat recently discovered Jennifer's blog and I have been having a blast reading her posts, particularly because she lives just minutes away from the small town where I grew up (and about 45 minutes from where I currently live).  I really enjoy seeing pictures of familiar places on other teachers' blogs.  What fun!
Anyway, here we go...
I mentioned in my previous blog post that my sweet hubby is taking me to go see my favorite band, Collective Soul, tonight down in Illinois for an early birthday present.  I am just a teeny, weeny bit excited to put on this t-shirt and rock with these handsome dudes.

My FIRST ever student teacher will be joining me on Tuesday!  I have stocked up here and there on little teacher-related gifts to eventually pass on to a future student teacher.  Well - now I finally get to share them!  I plan to give her one small gift and a teaching tip once a week for the 10 weeks she is with me.

I have always wanted to teach our district targets through author studies because there is so much you can do.  Well that is exactly what I will be doing with my small group of 2nd graders this year.  Yay!  We are starting with Kevin Henkes in September because 1) many of his books are great for back to school and 2) he grew up in Racine, WI which is where I teach!
At the end of each author study (so monthly), the students will get to select a cumulative project to complete, which will be my summative assessment of the author study.  If you are able to use these Author Study Choice Boards (there are two) in your classroom, please visit my TPT store to snag this FREEBIE!
I pull two small groups (all BOYS again this year) of 5th graders every other day.  Their homeroom teacher asked me to focus on Writing this year.  No problem!  I love to teach Writing.  I especially LOVE Figurative Language, so that is the unit I will be starting with with these guys.
I did a Figurative Language unit with some high level 4th grade students last year and this was one of their favorite activities:
1 - First, we listened to the song "Everything At Once" by Lenka.  (I warn you - this song will get stuck in your head.  But it was great because my students were singing it all the time!)  This song is just packed with similes!
2 - Then, we completed a Cloze Exercise.  I gave them a copy of the lyrics with some of the words missing; the students listened to the song again (and again) and filled in the missing words.
3 - Finally, we located and discussed all of the similes in the song.  Lots of fun, I tell ya!
I am looking forward to do this activity again with my 5th graders this year!

Friday will be my LAST birthday in my 20's.  How is that possible!?  *sigh*  Well, I guess I am going to enjoy each of those 365 days.  Anyway, my favorite cereal is Reese's Puffs, so I will be making these yummy muffins for my students as my birthday treat to them!
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to link up with Jennifer!  :)