Monday, May 2, 2016

Accountable Independent Readers ( even in Kindergarten and First Grade!)

Yes! I'm still alive, I know it has been way too long. I have been kept busy with the many kiddos at school and my two guys at home!  I wanted to stop by and show how I hold some of the youngest readers accountable during independent reading.
 I have found there are 3 things that must happen to create strong independent readers!
 1. Setting a purpose for your readers is so important, a purpose will help them have a stronger understanding of what they are reading. Newer readers need help setting a purpose.
 In my room our purpose is usually the comprehension skill that we are working on that week. I have small poster hanging up that we refer to before we begin independent reading.

 2. Every reader bust have a specific reading goal. Giving them a specified skill helps each individual student at his/her own level.
 My students goals are posted in an area where they can find them and see them to help hold students accountable. At any time you can ask a student in my room what their reading goal is and the will tell you! When giving students goal make them specific and manageable. A goal won't be "to work on sight words," but specifically naming what sight words they will be working on. I would pick no more than 3-4.
 3) Hold students accountable! It is very hard for students to read independently for over a few minutes. Students need a "job" to help keep them on track.
 Using their specific goals I will assign Word Hunts, these help students find a specific word or spelling pattern in books that they are reading.

 Another way to help students with their goals is to give them opportunities to talk about what they have read.
 Graphic Organizers help them to share their own thoughts about what they have read and a great way to assist their learning.

I hope I have given you a tip to two to help your little readers! How do you help your students become accountable readers?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Day Gifts

With Valentine's Day around the corner my son and I took this weekend to complete some "homemade" gifts and they came out really well! I wanted to share how to make these adorable heart shape crayons!
First, we took some old crayons (I had a new box waiting once we were done).

 Then we got pealing! This part took a bit, long enough that my little helper left me because his  fingers couldn't handle it anymore.
 As a side note if you just painted your nails do not do this project. This was the end result of my new manicure after this step.
 Once you pealed all the paper off your crayons use a knife to chop them up into little bits about 1/2inch long.
 Use a silicone ice cube tray (I found mine from amazon for about $5). Top off the ice cube tray with the crayon pieces and place on a baking tray. Set your oven for 250 degrees and leave the tray in for 15 minutes or until all the crayons are melted.
 Once all the crayons are liquid take them out of the oven and let them sit for an hour or more. You need the wax to be completely solid.
 After an hour passes you can pop the now heart shape crayons out of the tray. They have a really  cool marble look to them!
 I created a little gift tag and mini coloring pages to go with these adorable crayons! You can grab your copy HERE!

Our Kindergarten and First Grade teachers have been working hard to build sight word recognition. I came up with a fun EDITABLE game to help our  learners master their sight words. You can grab your copy by click on the image below.

Hope you have fun celebrating this 'lovely' holiday with your learners.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Letter Fun (with some Freebies!)

I have been pulling a few small groups a day to help our strugling Kinders reach grade level by the end of the year and they loved this letter sorting activity I did with them!
First I made this pocket chart letter sort. I had already placed a few letters in the chart and then we talked about what letters had curves, straight lines and both.

I then made this little anchor chart and put the letters of my name on sticky notes. (Yes, an O is missing and I have no clue where my little ones put it.)  The worked together so well trying to sort the letters out.

 Finally, I gave them their own sort and their own same strip. The Kinders cut the letters out and then sorted them on their own mat.

 They really loved these activities! If you would like a copy of the pocket chart or sorting mat click HERE. What activties do you like to do when helping learners with their letter recognition?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Unloving Ways

I recently came across this quote on pintrest and I really took it to heart. "The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways."
We have all experienced "that kid" once or twice, or a bit more in our teaching career. The one kid who can get under your skin more moments than not. The one kid who purposely does the opposite of EVERYTHING you ask. The one kid who you pray will be absent today. The one kid who can make you rethink your whole teaching career.

Amongst your frustration it's incredibly difficult to step aside to think, "Why are they, they way they are?" I have taught in an urban district for the majority of my career. I have had kids that only eat when they are at school, lost a parent, don't have a bed, or have parents that are never around. Sadly, the list goes on and on of the obstacles kids must overcome. These are the kids who need the most love.

I am as guilty as the next teacher giving up too easily or making excuses for my students behavior. Year after year I become a stronger more reflective teacher, because that is what my students deserve.

There are reasons for kid's behavior and giving them LOVE is exactly what they need. Now I know you are wondering what can I do to give them the love they need? Unfortunately there is no magic solution and things don't happen over night. Here is what I find helps us make steps in the right direction:

Get to know the child From one on one time during lunch or a shared journal try to find out all you can about them. Kids are individuals and the more you know them, the better you will understand their needs.

Be Patient Everything takes time! You might make progress and then have a rough day or two and that's OK! Know when to revisit a situation when you and your student are in a calmer state. Kids can smell frustration.

Learn to forgive Every day is a new day. Do not hold grudges on kids from a previous day or days before. Give kids a chance to have great moments.

Know that you do not have all the answers No one has all the answers, seek help when you need it. If you are not having luck with one source, find another. Counselors, administrators or other teachers can often give you great insight.

Don't give up Keep asking. Keep searching. Every child is unique and your persistence will help give the child all they need.

So when you have a child asking for love in the most unloving ways please take a step back and remember that they are a child. They may not have all the skills we as adults have. They may have had more trauma in their short life then we could ever imagine. Find the strength to give them they love they need and deserve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gobble Gobble

Just stopping by to share some turkey goodies! These little turkeys are adorable and they come with 3 writing prompts to engage your little learners. I have added two versions of this little guy, one has lines so students can write what they are thankful for while the other is just showing off his true colors :)

turkey craft

turkey craft

The 3 prompts each have 2 versions as well. One prompt is a question while the other is a sentence starter.
turkey craft writingturkey craft writing
I added this little freebie from my pack for all my wonderful followers!
turkey craft writing freebie

If you think this is adorable as I do click the image below to visit my store and grab this turkey-iffic packet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkin Fun

I recently was a guest author on the Kinder Tribe Blog and share some pumpkin love that I wanted to share with all my followers! As much at I love my pumpkin coffee and pumpkin pie I love incorporating a pumpkin theme into my teaching! There are so many great books out there on pumpkins that it hard to pick just one as my favorite! 
Pumpkin Circle is a great book with wonderful pictures that describes the pumpkin life cycle.

In Literacy students bring so much knowledge to the class that they already have about pumpkins that we are able to activate our schema and then gain new knowledge from books we read! I love using sticky notes to invite students to share what they know and learned!

To bring some hands-on active learning we use our senses to explore pumpkins and the students love it! 

Once we explore a real pumpkin we write all of the adjectives we can think of about pumpkins.

Click here to grab these freebies.

In Math, we use large paper pumpkins and bean bags to create math problems and work with ten frames.

I hope this sparked some ideas of your own! What do you like to do with your kiddos in the fall?

 Hugs and Smiles,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This Year's 'Room'


I know I haven't posted in FOREVER! Things have just been so crazy with this new school year and family stuff that my blog had to take a back seat.  

This year I accepted a new position at my school and I have been one busy lady! I left the classroom and I am a teacher coach for Kindergarten and First Grade. I won't lie, I miss the classroom. Things are crazy, busy, new, and exciting-But I'm learning a whole lot. I LOVE helping teachers grow in their profession and I feel as if I can help more students in turn.

I do not have a classroom (obviously) but I have an ginormous office that I am working very hard to turn into a teacher resource center. It is still a work in progress but thought I would share pictures of my 'room' with you.

When you first walk in this is what you see!
 A little cozy spot for teachers to relax!
 This wall holds lot of our reading program information.
 Book and my desk area
 Another view.

 Showcase of books and thematic items teachers can use.
My door! I created my clip art look alike from the Build a Teacher Pack by MelonHeadz.

I hope your school year is going well!