Friday, June 29, 2012

Lovin' Summer and a Freebie :)

Hello friends, I hope you are having a great week :) I spent a few hours at school yesterday for the first time since I turned in my keys. My teaching buddy and I sorted out literally hundreds of big books into categories. We have her collection that she has compiled over 20 years of teaching, plus the leftovers from 5 former reading series, plus random piles that people have dropped off in my room over my first few years of teaching. It was A LOT of books. And up until now they have been just piled into the big book shelves, unorganized and mostly unused because we could never find what we needed. Well NO MORE people. We pulled them all out, sorted them, and reshelved them according to theme and time of year. I was so happy I almost cried hahaha.

After slaving away at school all day yesterday, today was much more relaxed. Slept in late, had a great lunch with a friend, and then an afternoon by the pool with my favorite kiddos. We did these awesome bubble snakes. SO. FUN.



In honor of my perfect summer day, I'm throwing a sale in my store today and tomorrow. I have lots of fun new stuff for back to school:








And there's lots more in my store...head on over and check it out :)

Finally, here's a little fall freebie for you :)

Apple Pumpkin Alphabet Book


Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Freebie Fridays

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sight word pack, a freebie, and I need some help!!

I'm excited that I finally finished my second sight word practice pack. Click on the picture to find them in my store




 I added a few new goodies like play-doh mats and rainbow writing centers. I have one more pack to go for my Treasures words and then I'm going to make an extra set of Kindergarten words that I might have missed (I've never used a different set of words so I'm not really familiar with all the different lists out there). That's where you come in. I'll send the whole set (1,2,3,4) to the first 2 people to comment and can give me 4 words that I absolutely HAVE to add in the last set. Don't forget to leave me your email address when you comment :)  Here's the list of words I'm already using.

the, see, like, to, go, have, we, can, is, play, are, for, you, what, and, this, little, said, here, was, she, he, has, look, with, my, me, where


And just for fun, here's a few pages of the rainbow writing center. Just add some dice and crayons and you are ready to go :)

Sight Word Freebie 2

In Pictures and In Words Book Study

I am linking up with Mrs Wills Kindergarten for her book study on "In Pictures and In Words"





I am so so so loving this book. My experience reading it so far has been excitement and "ah ha" moments, sprinkled with "why did I never think of that" and "WHAT THE HECK have I been doing all this time??" haha. This is why I love teaching blogs...I am ALWAYS learning.

I LOVE teaching math, and common core is starting to make me really excited about teaching reading as well, but teaching writing is probably my weakest area, which is ironic because I do consider myself a writer. But I have NEVER considered myself an illustrator. Maybe that's why my perspective on writing has always been so word-based.

Before I get started I have a few confessions:
-I am DEFINITELY guilty of teaching OUT of illustrations.
-The whole concept that illustrations can convey meaning much deeper than my students words could   makes absolute total sense, but completely blew my mind when I first read it.
-When I first started reading Deedee's blog and saw that she was having her kids compose books I was completely overwhelmed by the thought and kind of dismissed the idea.

Am I the only one that feels like they were completely missing the mark with writing instruction up until now?? OK that's enough confessions from me LOL. Here's some of my thoughts and reflections from some of the chapters. 

Chapter 1: Why Illustration Study Matters
I really texted my teaching partner before I had finished page 3 and told her our lives in teaching writing had just changed haha. The concept of making writing a form of playful exploration really resonated with me. The kids can "take on the roles" of author and illustrator by exploring the writing process and creating their own compositions. When I read this I immediately started thinking about common core. I have been totally immersed in the math side of CCSS and am now only starting to get ready for ELA, but I can already see how as students become writers as authors and illustrators; as they become communicators, they will become much more capable of recognizing and discussing things like author's purpose, tone ect. Brilliant!
I also really loved the examples of writing in this chapter. The flaps in the bat book were GREAT!

Chapter 2:
On thing that really struck me in this chapter was the idea about 2 kinds of work and writing being an open ended task - to just sit and create something from nothing rather than completing a task. I realized in reading this part that I have almost always approached writing activities as "scoop the poop" work (for lack of a better term haha). By that I mean, I would give a topic, and they would write a sentence and color a picture until we were all done. Ugh I cringe just thinking about it now...it's ok! We are moving onward and upward!!! :)

The other thing that stuck out to me in this chapter was this quote "The goal of writing instruction is for students to become proficient communicators" I think is really the foundation for this new kind of thinking about writing. This is why teaching INTO illustrations can be so powerful. It allows students to communicate ideas and thoughts so much better than if they were relying only on their ability to spell words. My kids this year came to me all across the board when it came to letter-sound knowledge. I love how teaching through illustration provides an equal entry point to the writing process for all my students.

Chapter 3:
Writing and illustrating as a parallel process.This highlights my first thing that I want to change about my writing- to teach my students to compose a whole piece that communicates and idea. Again, there is so much freedom in the idea that even my lowest students can communicate their thoughts through their illustrations and that they can do it with such deeper meaning than if they were just relying on their ability to transcribe words.

Chapter4: I loved the idea of letting the students see pictures of illustrators and authors to help them connect the idea that they are real people. In chapter 3 she talks about how readers can't see the process that a writer went through, they only see the end result. But within the context of an illustration study students can start to derive ideas about the process because they have had their own experiences of being IN the process.

Chapter 5:
If someone had said to me 3 days ago "you are going to teach Kindergartners about author's tone in text" I would have laughed out loud. But this whole section highlights the brilliance in Ray's approach to writing and the value having children become the author's of their own books. Tone can so easily be conveyed through illustrations, and as our students take on the role of author and illustrator, they can more easily understand and recognize tone because they utilize it. Again, hello common core!! LOVE IT.


I am just itching to get back into my classroom and pour through all my books with new eyes and see what gems I have waiting for me. I did start thinking about this book a lot as I was reading. I absolutely LOVED Harrold and the Purple Crayon as a child. I would "read" it over and over. There is so much in this book that could be used in an illustration study.




I am so happy that I decided to participate in this book study and eagerly awaiting what other great ideas are still to come :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Look what I found!

Hi friends! I have been MIA for a while...my weekend getaway in the mountains was just perfect. Lots of hiking and relaxing and soaking in that mountain air.

I am enjoying a happy mix of relaxed summer brain and planning for August...I have lots of half finished resources on my computer and in my head haha. Today I found THIS little gem at Walmart and snagged it right away!!



The cards have numerals, number words, dice, fingers, and tallies. (I might have to make a set of colored 5 frames to slip in the deck...hmmm stay tuned for that...)
The actual game says 8 and up but I can already think of a bunch of ways I can use these cards! And the game comes with 3 decks! I love finding great stuff like this :)

Click here to find the game on Amazon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

100 followers!

I am so excited that my little blog has made it to 100 followers! I love doing giveaways, but 100 seems like a big milestone so I'm excited about this one. I'm going to try out this whole rafflecopter thing. It's pretty straight forward, with extra entries for blogging about the giveaway :) Shopping sprees are my favorite so I'm going to pick 2 winners and let them choose any 2 items from my store. I'll announce the winners on Sunday!

I'm headed to the glorious NC mountains in a few days for my first mini-vacay of the summer. Hope you all have a nice relaxing week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Literacy Rotations- This is gonna be a long one...

I was talking with a friend about today about how I did literacy centers this year so I decided I would share with all of you as well. In my tiny 2 year career, I have gone through many MANY different methods of doing center time, but this method really worked for me this year and I think I will stay with it for a while. One of my teammates actually came up with this idea and I ran with it. It might seem a little overwhelming so stick with me...there are freebies to help at the end!

Here's the basics:
3 days of rotations
8 groups
9 stations

I broke my kids up into 8 groups (Since I have 18 kids this made for nice little groups - much better than the days when I had 4-5 UGH). Each week we had 9 stations. Each day of rotations the kids went to 3 stations and the teacher table. This is my favorite part of this method - I saw ALL my kids every day that we rotated.

I broke up the activities in the stations to that basically the kids had a "fun" station (playdoh mats, matchups/puzzles/games, computers, listening, leap pads, letter of the week craftivity, sight word craftivity, ect) then more of a "work" center (Center activities that I made or found on TPT/letter of the week sound and handwriting worksheets, ect). These stations usually had some sort of product so the kids had some accountability. Then the teacher table, and then another "work" station. So on any given day the kids had 2 center activities to complete, time with me, and more of a fun (but educational!!) station.

So here's a typical center rotations schedule

1. CVC word work center
2. Leap pads
3. Scrambled sentences
TEACHER
4. Roll and write sight word activity
5. Playdoh mats - building sight words
6. Letter of the week sound/handwriting practice
TEACHER
7. Beginning/ending sounds center
8. Computers (starfall, or other software)
9. Read, stamp, and write sight words activity
TEACHER



If I made "fun" stuff at 2, 5, and 8 it was the perfect pattern of work, fun, work, teacher, work, fun, work, teacher ect...

Each student gets a "map" and a center work folder for the week.





(You can download a set at the bottom of the post) The folder is just a 12x18 piece of paper folded in half and stapled to make an envelope/pocket with the map stapled on the front. When the students are cleaning up their center, they place their work in the folder and I come around with a marker or stamp. If they were quiet and on task during that station, they get a happy face or fun stamp. If they were not on task or caused trouble they usually get a sad face in that square. Then everyone checks their map to see where to go next and when I say "go" they move to the next station at the same time and get to work. We do a LOT of routines and explanations at the start of the year about HOW to rotate from one station to the next and how we STAY at our station until it is time to rotate. They are usually pretty good about this.

At the end of the day we usually had a time for "developmental centers" and I would quickly scan through the center folders and those who had been off task had to use that time to complete their work from the day. For some students it worked better to keep them back from rotating to the fun center with the rest of their group during rotations and make them stay and complete their work right then. It's no fun to watch your friends play on computers while you sit and do the work they already finished. Either way, I ALWAYS check center work.

For early finishers during rotations I usually have books at the stations or they can color a picture on the back of one of their sheets in their center folder. At the end of the week when the maps are all full, I send the whole folder home.

It might seem like a lot to manage and plan for but I really really LOVED rotating this way this year. Here's why:

I saw ALL my kids every day.
The small groups made it much easier to manage
They were all engaged in a variety of activities while I did small group
They rotated often enough that I didn't have long stretches of time where they had to occupy themselves.
There was a LOT of learning that went on over the course of a week.
Only having 3 rotation days took a lot of the pressure off when we had weird schedules or short weeks.

Once we got the procedures down, we could go through a whole days' rotation in just over an hour. They knew they were expected to stay on task, and clean and rotate QUICK. Strict, clear, expectations went a LONG way with this. (Also, it took me a few weeks to actually SIT at my teacher table with my groups while we were learning how to act and rotate).

Maybe this is interesting/inspirational to you, maybe you are ready to lock up and send me off to the loony bin. I just wanted to share what worked for me and my kiddos this year :)

The first download is a set of rotation maps. The second one is basically a visual of how the rotations go. I originally made that document to help me remember what kids were coming to my table, when, and where they were going, but I really didn't use it at all once I knew what was going on. BUT it does serve as a good visual aid for anyone who does not live inside my head haha.

Group Rotation Maps

Rotation Layout

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Freebie Fridays

Monday, June 4, 2012

Already thinking about August...

Like so many of you, I have only been on summer break for 1 week and my brain is already thinking about next year. I honestly think it's mostly from allowing myself to relax. I will be out tanning or in the middle of the great book I am reading (Fall of Giants by Ken Follet in case you are wondering) and POP into my head will come an idea out of nowhere that of course I have to hop on my computer and start messing with. But the beauty is that I have the time to do it! I don't care what anyone says, summer is wonderful and teachers deserve every minute of it!!

I am finally, officially packed away in my classroom. Lights off, keys turned in, done. It's a strange feeling to end the year and leave all my stuff...this is a new (welcome) experience for me :)

I'm going to try to settle into a more regular blogging schedule, but at the moment I honestly have nothing more to say...it's that relaxed brain of mine haha. Anyway, here's some of the stuff I have been working on getting ready for next year.

I am making sight word practice packs and I just finished the first one. We use Treasures at my school (for the next year anyway) so I am using that word list and going through the sequence of the year. I will probably add some other commonly used sight words that I might have missed in the last pack.







Click here to find the sight word pack in my store.

I also made a pack of number sequence puzzles. We used puzzles like these during my dino unit and the kids loved them! I have to admit I was a little excited about breaking out the fall clip art...I'm a little obsessed with fall (even though I live in sunny, GREEN, Florida!!).




Click here
to find the number puzzles in my store.

Here's a freebie for you to celebrate Monday. These are some of the practice pages from my Sight Word Practice Pack.

Sight Word Pack Freebie

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday