Sunday, July 31, 2016

Back to School Sale and Giveaway

The TPT Back to School sale is coming Monday and Tuesday August 1 and 2!  I always struggle to decide what I "need" right now and what can wait.  I tend to spend more on my classroom at back to school time rather than later in the year, so I try to spread my TPT spending accordingly.  I also usually end up kicking myself in a couple weeks when I want to use something that has been on my wish list and I didn't buy it when it was on sale.

To help you if you have this same problem, I'm going to share a few of my kids' favorite things and give you a chance to win a $10 TPT gift certificate so you can spend a little that isn't your own money!

My students love my fill-in-the-blank books.  This is how I share some of the theme information that we work on.  Have students fill in some of the key words related to the topic helps them retain more of the information.  Topics include: insects, human body/senses, seasons, space, motion, feelings and animal characteristics.

The most popular fill-in book is My Amazing Body which includes 2 books: one about body systems and the other about the 5 senses.
I created a bundle of all these books if you are interested in multiple topics.

If you are looking for solid shapes, I have a mini packet with solid shapes activities for young kids.

You can enter the giveaway for the $10 gift certificate below.  The giveaway will end at midnight Tuesday morning so you will still have Tuesday to shop during the sale.  Happy shopping!
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Teach 1st 2016: Day 4

The last day of I Teach 1st has come and gone.  I had an eventful 36 hours trying to leave Vegas after the conference, so please excuse the time it took to get this post written!

I attended a Guided Reading session with Tara West Thursday morning.  My biggest take-away from this session was the 5 minute whole group lesson she does at the beginning of her guided reading time.  This is something that everyone might need a mini lesson on (and maybe review for a few) so you don't spend time in your small group teaching on it.  I think, for me, this would be most valuable at the beginning of the year to practice things like one-to-one tracking, turning pages, book orientation, etc.

I also liked her "warm up" activities that she uses when her students come to the table. You can see some of these below.  My favorite is "sound around the circle" which you can see an example of below the wording on the slide.

The second session I attended was about incorporating STEM activities.  I don't have experience with STEM, but after attending the session, realized that I have done some activities that with a little tweaking would be STEM.  I liked the STEM characteristics shared in the slide below.
Throughout the session, she shared children's literature and different STEM activities that could be done relating to that book.  I think it is important to connect things for students as much as possible, so I though this was great!  At the end of the session, we got into groups and brainstormed books and activities to go with the book.

The final session of my day was back with Dan St. Romain about getting rid of clip charts.  We use the clip chart throughout our district, so it going away is not likely for me, but I learned some things I can try for behavior.

Dan talked about the importance of teaching life skills to our young students.  The more he spoke, the more I realized how much I could incorporate these more into my day  He talked about how punishment is generally not effective with behavior problems.  Behavior is generally a skill deficit and should be treated as such.  Just like you'd do intervention for an academic skill deficit, the same should be done for a behavior skill deficit. Students aren't being punished, they just need more practice with the skill.

It was a fantastic week of learning!  Thanks so much for following along with me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Teach 1st 2016: Day 3

Today was an exciting day as I knew Mary from Sharing Kindergarten would be presenting.  I always learn something new in her sessions, so I was excited to attend 2 this morning.

The first session I attended was about technology.  She is a rockstar with technology, so I knew I'd get some ideas that I can incorporate into my classroom.  She shared the app "Good Reader" where you can open a PDF and the kids can write on it on their iPads.  Mary uses it for her phonics study and adds novelty to activities that might otherwise be monotonous.

A second idea I liked was how she makes Plickers more accessible to her students.  She adds the letters to the backs of the cards so students don't have to look at the front to find the letter then turn it around for her to see the answer.  She noticed that it caused some confusion and incorrect answers when students actually knew the answer but didn't hold up the correct side.  I haven't used Plickers because I thought I would be difficult for my students to manage the card, but this seems make it very accessible to K kiddos!

The next session I attended was about Science and Social Studies instruction. I've seen Mary's Print and Play packs when they post, but have never really looked at them.  I loved some of the great ideas in these!  She didn't promote these as part of the workshops, but instead, offered suggestions of how to do the activities cheap/free.  One example is living and nonliving.  She had a sheet where living things were colored one color and nonliving a different color. It was suggested that you take a magazine picture and circle living/nonliving in different colors.

I love how she incorporated literature into the suggestions for some topics such as Tops and Bottoms for plants.  I already use Tops and Bottoms but I love news ideas that I can add/change/adapt for things I am already doing!

The first session I attended this afternoon was about iPad apps.  One that I liked was Tell About This. In the app, you choose a picture, then you can record yourself talking about a prompt relating to the picture.  I could see this helpful in students using vocabulary and especially at the beginning of the year when writing can be more of a struggle.

My final session of the day was with Katie Mense from Little Warriors about fitting it all in. I loved this quote that she shared!

I would describe my classroom as "organized chaos" when it comes to my materials.  I start off really well, and I generally know where everything is, but sometimes it gets a little out of control.  The "paper trail" in my life can become overwhelming.  I thought the way she labeled this literature organizer/mailbox was great.  I think it would keep me organized and make the kids a little more independent.  I currently empty their folders for them, but this would free up some time in my morning as well!

Tomorrow is my final day here.  I'm looking forward to a few session before heading out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Teach 1st! 2016: Day 2

Another day of learning here in Las Vegas is complete.  I attended 3 sessions and presented 1 yesterday.

I started off with a session by Renee Cooley about using theme days in the classroom.  She had so many fun ideas for using the  novelty of theme learning to engage kids.  She talked about using theme days to either kick off or wrap up a unit of study.  I'm looking forward to giving a few things a try next year.  One of them that i really want to try is the school-wide post office she does.  I'm not sure that I can do school-wide, but I'm thinking possibly my floor.

My second session was with Brittany Banister about research with kindergarten kids.  She talked about different sources kids can access for research and some project-based things she has done with her students.  We worked in small groups to do a project of creating a habitat for the ducks from the story Make Way for Ducklings.  I loved the idea of connecting literature and a project and will give those a try this year.

The last session I attended today was with Dr. Bill DeMeo about reaching traumatized students.  Students with trauma are becoming more and more prevalent in our classrooms, and this session shared some strategies for building trust with students and reducing their stress.  We talked about deep breathing.  A couple activities I thought would be helpful in my classroom were blowing the biggest bubble (takes slow breathing) and practicing blowing out candles as it encourages deep breathing.

I presented on high-ability during the last session of the day.  I had a great little group of attendees.  Thanks for letting me share with you!

Last night was the blogger meet up.  No pictures, but lots of fun and met some new people!  Off to day 3 I go!

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Teach 1st 2016: Day 1

I had a great first day at I Teach 1st!  I attended the keynote and 3 sessions today.

The keynote session was Dr. Debbie Silver.  I read her book Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers 2 years ago and really enjoyed it.  It is about modifying what you do to meet the need of your kiddos.  Today, she was engaging, funny and worked to remind us of the joy of teaching.  She had me laughing and relating throughout.

My first session of the morning was with Laureen Reynolds about shared research projects. She shared some insight on the Common Core standards in this area and a few ideas that I am excited to try with my kiddos!  The ideas were ones that she has used successfully with students.  She also talked about short term and long term projects, which I never gave much thought to the duration of my projects.

The first idea that I thought my kiddos could absolutely do is a graphic organizer to share their research.  We used graphic organizers to organize our research but never as the actual "product" of our research.  Why not?!?  If information can be found in different places, why can't the products be varied too!

Another idea she gave was to make an A-Z book about a particular topic.  She mentioned that her favorite topics were her school/community/state.  I think my kiddos would love making an A-Z book about our school, so I'm hoping to give it a try this year.

My second session today was with Eliza Thomas about "Ten-ness".  The session focused on games that can be played to practice making 10.  I'm hoping to incorporate more math games next year, so this session was great.  

While I liked the games she shared, and I will absolutely use them, I think my favorite thing was she talked about how to write easy, visual directions for the kids to be independent.  When we wrote our directions, we practice in this way.  I love the idea of making it as easy for me and as user friendly as possible to make the kids independent.  

My final session today was a half day session with Dan St. Romain.  I attended one of his sessions last year and knew I needed more. He spoke about behavior management.

I ended up buying his first set of 10 lessons about social-emotional development.  I have known that social-emotional development is important, but I realize that I need to spend even more time on this.  Students need to have the opportunity to try to work out their differences without my interference.  They rely, many times, on adults or adults step in and solve it for them rather than letting students try to work it out.  I'm very excited to intentionally incorporate these ideas in my room.

One idea he shared was showing students appropriate behavior through puzzles.  He took pictures of students making positive choices and cut them in half to make a puzzle. These puzzles were then part of a center where students could put them together while reinforcing positive behavior choices.

I also loved the picture book suggestions he gave to teach different social-emotional skills.  I had not heard of many of them, so I'm looking forward to checking those out as well.

I'll be back with more learning soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Back for More

You’ve been hearing crickets if you’ve visited my little blog here in the last couple months.  I took an unexpected break during the last month or so of school and this summer.  Ideas weren’t flowing and others things took priority.  School has not been at the top of my list this summer as it has been many past summers, and it was a welcome and relaxing change!

I just arrived in Vegas for SDE’s “I Teach” National Conferences.  On the way, I made good use of my time and read Reading Wellness, Lessons in Independence and Proficiency by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris.  Adventures in Literacy Land will be hosting a book study on the book next week, so be head over there and check it out.

This book was just long enough to get me excited about the conference and get my head back into “school mode”.  I got a couple ideas that I can’t wait to try in my classroom and look forward to building on that with my learning this week.

I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you this week!