Saturday, December 28, 2013

          Once again, it seems like I am running behind.  My father passed away the week before Christmas. He had been a life long smoker and finally it caught up with him.  I am just now starting to get caught up after being out of the classroom to be with him in the hospital and then for his funeral.  My dad was an awesome guy, and he will be greatly missed.  I feel very blessed for the time that I had with him, and knowing that I got to hold his hand in the end and know that he was comfortable, I feel very grateful.  My school was awesome to me and my family, and even though I would have liked a different outcome, I feel blessed to have such great friends and family.  
     Yesterday, I took the day (even though it is still Christmas break) and went into the classroom.  I needed to rearrange, and get things in order so when the kiddos get back from break, we can hit the ground running. :)  First couple of days I will finish up assessments for the report card.  In the Kindergarten classroom we are always doing summative assessments, but sometimes we need to do those formative assessments as well.  
     My classroom kiddos made a Christmas mouse ornament for their parents.  I ordered the kit from Oriental Trading.  My lesson plans for the first week back include a theme on Mittens, where students will work on ending sounds, rhyming, sound sorting, and lots of writing using mittens as a theme.  I have been busy working my Mitten themes into Math and Literacy centers. We will compare and contrast "The Mitten", by Jan Brett and "Move Over Rover." We will be counting and writing tally marks, practicing our adding, practicing not only counting by ones but also by tens and fives.  Next, we are going to go into Arctic Animals, and informational writing about informational text. Comparing animals, and building vocabulary.  Now that my classroom kiddos are gaining fluency in sounds and letters, I will add more sight words each week.  They have learned several, but still need to push some in that area, the big goal being that they become independent readers.   I like using thematic units that I get from DeeDee Wills and Deanna Jump from www.teacherspayteachers.com.  I love using their stuff and it is aligned to common core.  I also like using stuff from Printable princess and Julie Lee.  If you haven't seen their stuff, you might want to check it out.  Happy New Year!!! God Bless!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


     Wow!  The time has flown by.  I can't believe so much time has flown by since my last post.  I am so sorry.  I have been putting in a lot of time making sure my classroom kiddos get the very best from me that I can give them.  Here are a few things that have been keeping us busy in the classroom.  I had the students in the Kindergarten classrooms practice drawing our school mascot.  Then we passed them around to a few parents and staff, asking them to vote on their favorite.  We then picked the favorite one from each classroom, asked the kids to sign their names, afterward I scanned the pictures and signatures, and the t-shirt design idea and sent it to the printers  to make Kindergarten shirts.  They turned out really cute!  We have been busy with the fund raising for a field trip to the Dixie Stampede.  This is my fourth year to coordinate a trip to the Dixie Stampede for my students.  The show is an awesome adventure if you've never gone before and for a bunch of students from a low income school it is as they put it "the best day ever!"  One student as she was watching the Bethlehem nativity scene and the three camels came out (many of my students didn't know what a camel was) and the three Kings, then a dove flies across the arena and into the hands of an angel, she exclaims to my principal, "Wow, and I know exactly what that is, it's the tooth fairy!"  Precious.  I feel very blessed to work with such an awesome group of administrators, parents, and community members that they allow us to take this trip every year.  Students participated in a competition between the north and the south, elves served them lunch, they watched an awesome performer juggle, lots of wagon and horse tricks, a log cutting competition, and so much more.  
     Monday is Veterans Day and we will do an awesome community program to honor our community veterans.  My students made red, white, and blue star necklaces to wear and will recite a poem for the Veterans.  Students have been learning about veterans and writing thank you cards and using veterans as a writing prompt.  We've also been busy learning the alphabet, our sounds, rhyming, sorting by syllables, our colors, identifying key details in a text, how to ask and answer questions like who, why, what, when, etc, blending and segmenting to read cvc words, counting and writing to show how many, ways to make different numbers, been busy with reading and writing workshop activities, and all of the other standard objectives for common core.  We have been very busy and I am very proud of them and their progress.
 The template for the stars can be found at Enchantedlearning.com


     I hope all is well with you and your classroom.  Happy Teaching!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Getting A New Year Started:
     My group of sweeties this year is a younger bunch, and it has taken a little more time to begin seeing appropriate behavior in the classroom, the story carpet, Centers, hallway, bus, etc.  And if you think about it there is just a lot of routine to learn for a little person.   I am seeing lots of improvement though, because we may be small but we are mighty.  We are getting the hang of it, and every day we just get better than the day before.  Having said that, it reminds me of a quote that says, "fear mediocrity." Sorry I don't know the author or I would give credit.   I think that is so true, not that we will always excel in everything that we do, but we will never get there if we just decide to settle."  Our students need us to set high expectations, because without them, they will never achieve all that they can.  So having said that, I've met with several parents already and talked about expectations and appropriate behavior and together we've been brainstorming ideas to help their child improve.  Everyone needs to be on the same page, and using the same language is very helpful as well.  Next, pray, seriously, its the most important thing to do for  school, parents, myself, and students, community in which we serve, etc.  God gets the glory for the awesome things that will happen in the classroom with my students.  :)  Next, some students may need individual behavior plans to help give them find the right focus and motivation.  Getting to know students has helped a lot.  Each child is different and has different things that motivate them to do their best, find out what that is for every child in the classroom.  Next, I've been using tiger tickets and having a Friday afternoon auction, where my kiddos can spend the tickets.  They love this!!!  It also has helped with the concept of more and less, and counting.  I have a special group of students who continually earn 5 yellows in a row and they are what I call, "my yellow paws!"  These are the students who help me with special tasks, like set a good example in the hallway and are my hallway monitors, Door monitor, Bathroom leader, etc.  This helps students see others being recognized for making the right choices and having the right behaviors.  (The goal is everyone being recognized and encouraged so they too, can be a yellow paw). I hadn't done this before, but it has worked with this group. These students wear a special little name tag that identifies them as a helper for a special job.  Lots of encouragement and praise for everyone (5 positive comments to every 1 is the rule).   I like mailing out brag letters to my parents, and putting student pictures in Newsletters bragging on them, etc.  Positive phone calls are good.  My class made a special book about hallway behavior, and it has pictures of students using the correct behaviors and they like for me to read it. I use a parent communication folder with a daily behavior sheet and notes that go home everyday as well.  I hope you got some ideas that you too, can use to help your students be successful!  We have the best job there is.  One that allows us to serve by allowing us to do small things with GREAT LOVE! God Bless!

Happy Teaching!

Friday, September 27, 2013

So... What's your Goliath?

I think for me just getting a new class settled in and getting procedures and routines taught has been a challenge this year.  That has really been my own personal Goliath. I have a class full of sweeties but the routines and procedures have not come easily to them.  I know I haven't been able to get on and blog like I have wanted.  I've just had to focus and keep pressing forward.  I hope your school year is settling down and going your way.  

We've all heard the story of David and Goliath and the stone.  Well, I want to tell a story about an awesome kiddo who just happens to fear loud noises.  We go into the gym every Friday for a You Matter assembly, and he just didn't want to go because of the loud noises and all of the people.  I let him sit out one week, but his parents felt like he needed to go.  They told him the story of David, Goliath and the stone.  They used the story to talk about courage and told him he could do it.  They even went on a walk and helped him find a worry stone, in which he kept in his pocket all day and when he would start to worry, he could rub it and say a little prayer for courage.  His mom said, "Mrs. Brown the assembly will be his Goliath."  He did very well, I am happy to say.  He did ask me if he could sit by me, and reminded me many times during the day that I had told him he could.  He was worried I would forget. :)  His mom was happy to hear that he had done it.  

So my question for you is.... What is your Goliath?  I hope this little boy's story might be an inspiration to you..... I know it was for me.  

Here's also some ideas that I used to help me get my Kindergartners started on the right path.  1.)  Social stories:  These were new to me.  But great to use with a whole class or a little person who struggles with behavior in a particular area.  You tell them a story about another student (someone made up, or a classroom character like a puppet or stuffed animal friend they are familiar with) Then you use it to tell how that person got ready for the hall, how he used his happy feet and his happy arms and how he walked quietly and then you say... "now are you ready to show me your happy feet, and happy arms and walk quietly?"  They really do work!  I 've also been using my digital camera to take pictures and made a class book about our hallway behavior and we made posters about bus safety, from the advice of Kindergartners.  "Ask the Kindergartners about bus safety... they will tell you.... and then they would recite the bus rules. "  We've practiced and practiced, and they get better and better.  I promise to blog more later.  Good night and may God bless your classroom abundantly!! 


Sunday, August 18, 2013


     This week in the classroom we are doing a phonological awareness activity to the rhyme, "Mary Wore Her Red Dress."  We are substituting color words and instead of Mary using the word Tiger.  I also have a tiger who will wear a red shirt and then use construction shirts to put over the red shirt as we substitute the color words.  The  words to the rhyme go like this:
"Tiger wore his red shirt, red shirt, red shirt."
"Tiger wore a red shirt, all day long."  
Then substitute the word red for other color words.  Worksheets are available at my Tpt store, to go with this activity.  The first color word on each sheet is traceable, and then the students practice writing the color word on the lines.  Great for beginning of the year of Kindergarten!!  So fun too!  We also will use this activity again orally, and change the beginning letter in each of the color words, for silly phoneme substituting, after the students are familiar with the rhyme.  For example, /b/ "Tiger wore his bed shirt, bed shirt, bed shirt.  Tiger wore his bed shirt all day long!  :)  Oh yeah!!!
     Here is the really cute worksheets to go along with the rhyme where the students practice writing the color words and color Tiger's shirt to match.  There is one worksheet for each of the ten basic colors.  God Bless!

Happy Teaching,

Shelley
 
Calendar Behavior Sheets
     I LOVE these!  In the Tiger Folder that I send home with my students every day, I include one of these.  The students learn to be responsible by coloring in their own paw print each day to reflect the type of day they had.  (This works well if you use a color card system of some type for classroom management).  Then the form goes home for parents to initial.  The parents initial that they saw it.  If the behavior was bad and I need parents to know the specifics, I just attach a note to the behavior sheet as well.  I use these as part of documentation.  Parents put it back in their child's tiger folder and then back to school it comes for another day.  I really do love these!  Here is a picture. 
     These are all ready for months August through May, 2013, and can be found at my TpT store.  Also, you get tiger name tags, tiger label cards, a tiger word wall topper, and a cover for the Tiger Folder I do for my Kindergartners.  Enjoy!  I would love to hear your comments and feedback.  
God Bless!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Open House
     It has been a very busy week.  We had Open House and then two days later had the first day of school!  My Kindergarten sweeties have arrived!  Here some pics from what I did for Open House to welcome my Kindergarten parents and kiddos.  I hope you enjoy them!  
     Here is a picture of the popcorn I sat out for everyone.  With it was a big card that said, "Thank You for Popping In!" You can't see it in the picture but there were paper bags and a big scoop for them to get a scoop of popcorn to take with them.  I always not only have this year's students but former students and their families stop in too.  This was just a little thank you for coming and "popping" in.  :)
     Our school theme is tigers for Tiger Pride.  Here is a picture of the balloons I passed out to my Kindergartners.  Note to self, try to have more balloons in the future for little brothers and sisters to have one too, especially little brothers and sisters. 
     Here is my hallway bulletin board.  The hats each have a student's name on them and the tiger says, "A Class To Roar About."  The safari pattern is mine, and I can send it to you if you let me know that you would like it.  I thought it turned out cute. 

     Here is the hallway ready for student work to be displayed.  I love doing this and have done it for years.  It is so easy.  I just run border over the corkboard strip that is hanging up in the hallway.  It really brightens up the hallway and wah-lah, the hallway is all set.  This year my teacher neighbors did the same thing and we all had the same border, so it really looked good! 
     Well, that's all for now.  Thank you for stopping in.  Just leave your email address in the comment box if you would like the safari hat printable for a project or bulletin board you are creating.  Have a super week! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

     Tiger Folder and Tiger Printables:
     I've been my posting my Tiger Printables for the last few weeks.  Well now, I am updating with all of the finished products.  These are what I will be using to begin the school year.  Here is a picture of my Tiger Folder that I use for parent communication.  With the Tiger Folder, parents get a copy of a daily behavior report, school information and forms, things like the school menu, newsletters or notes, etc.  I have used a classroom Tiger Folder for many years, and love it!  It's a great way to keep everything together so that everyone gets the latest communication and keeps things organized for students, parents, and of course, ME.  :)  

     The inside has both pockets labeled, one for things that need to be signed and/or returned to school.  The other for things that stay at home (need to be removed from the folder.)  Then there is a plastic pocket sheet that contains important information that parents may need to refer back to, for example, lunch menus, classroom activity schedules, home project information, etc.  Then there is a little plastic zipper pencil holder, but I label it for parents to use for money and notes that are going to school.  

     Here is a copy of the behavior sheet that goes home to parents everyday.  Several years ago I was only sending a behavior sheet home once a week (usually on Friday) and my parents asked that I do it everyday because if their child got in trouble earlier in the week, Friday was a little late to respond to it and I totally agree. So since then, my behavior sheet goes out daily so parents know immediately.  That seems to work better for everyone. Students color in the paw print to report on that day's behavior and it goes home for parents to initial in the box.  If students had a bad day behavior wise, the paw print will have the words, see note written on it and students will not color it in.  I then staple the note to the sheet for the parent.  I also have a parent note where I check off what the challenging behavior was and ask parents to sign.  When it is returned I drop it in the child's folder for documentation. Simple and consistent works best for me.  I have the behavior forms for months August through May and they will be uploaded to the Tpt store.  Just go to www.teacherspayteachers.com and type in Shelley Brown.  It will take you there.  Also available are the other Tiger Printables which now consist of a Word Wall topper in tigers, the Tiger Folder cover sheet, the behavior sheets, and name tags.  Enjoy!  Please comment!  I will be posting a freebie very soon, so be sure to check back in.  Have a super day and God Bless!

     At last!  Yes, my classroom is ready at last.  I am not sure we as teachers are really ever done, with nothing else to do, but my room is ready for my new class of Kindergarten kiddos.  We have Open House this week and the first day of school.  I am very excited (and a little nervous too.)  I've had several people look at my class list and then giggle and say things like, "rest up."  It is going to be great though.  New common core implementation, new teacher evaluations, and of course, all the new, great ideas I can't wait to try out and implement to make things better.  Well, here are photos of my finished classroom.  I hope you enjoy them!  I would love, your comments.  

     Before:  


Everything packed up for summer cleaning.  

     Now!
                                                      
     Desk area.  I like putting students in groups of two.  It is great for whole brain teaching techniques (talk to your neighbor, tell your neighbor, and partners for practice.)  I do let my students pick where they want to sit in the beginning of the school year.  That way they have the comfort of a buddy if they want.  Of course, how long they get to sit there depends on them  and how well it works out for everyone.  It helps my mommas with the transition to Kindergarten too.  It's hard to see but the word wall is up on the wall.  It took a lot of rearranging to make space for it, but I think I am really going to love having it to use every day with our lessons.  

This is the library area.  They are hard to see but the curtains are purple and yellow, and I have yellow and purple pompoms hanging from the ceiling.  I had seen several classrooms with them on Pinterest, and loved the look.  I didn't do enough that it would be a distraction, but they look fun and cheery giving the classroom a spot of bright color.  

     My back wall bulletin board.  It says Tigers over the closets that are used for storage of materials.  I hope your classroom is all ready and you have a great start to a great school year.  I would love to hear your questions and comments.   God bless!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

  
 Free!  You will want to make sure you get your copy.  Zoo phoneme segmenting puzzle cards. These will help students learn the phonemic awareness skill of segmenting and blending phonemes using a hands-on approach.  For your copy, go to teacherspayteachers.com  Then type in Shelley Brown in the search and you will find it there as a free download.  Please enjoy.  I would also love your feedback.   If you like these, check out the ant food phoneme puzzle card set. These make a great literacy center.  They are also so cute and fun!  I look forward to hearing from you.  God Bless!
Please leave a comment! :)

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

     Grrrrreatt!  These are great!!!!  With PBIS our school is going with a tiger, and/or jungle theme.  We are the Tigers too!  SO, I've been busy planning my classroom decor around our school colors and a tiger theme.  Check this out, I love how they turned out.  


This will be the notebook cover and the cover to my Professional Development folder and my students' Tiger Folders.  I love it!



 Nameplates for desks!  So cute!!


My Word wall topper, and I have started reorganizing my whole classroom so that I can have an interactive word wall in my classroom this year.  The last two years I have had one in the hallway and that just didn't work out as well as I would have hoped.  So this year, I am fixing that!  It is hard to see, but the tiger is trimmed in purple paw prints.  I love it!  It is also available at my TpT store for only $1.50.  God bless and happy teaching!

Sincerely,

Shelley Brown 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Phoneme Segmenting Puzzles


     They are here!!!  Finally they have been added to my Tpt store.  If you do not have these in your classroom, you will want them.  I love my set and my Kindergartners do too!  The printables come in both black and white, and a color version.  I know for me, ink is expensive and sometimes I would rather just color it myself than spend the extra money for colored ink.  The puzzles come in cards with dotted lines to show you where to cut.  You just print them out on card stock, color if needed, or use the color version.  Then cut out on the lines and laminate.  Students will then use the puzzles to segment the sounds in the word puzzles.  Each puzzle has the same amount of pieces as sounds.  For example, the apple puzzle has three pieces, one for each sound in the word.  Students will say /a//p//l/, and then blend the word back together as they touch each piece of the puzzle, saying each sound, and then say apple, and count the sounds saying 3.  I love these.  These really help the student who struggles to hear the different sounds in the words and gives them a little structure, or a starting point.  If they understand that each puzzle has the same number of sounds, then they already know that apple has 3 sounds, and then can focus on identifying the three sounds they hear.  They can also begin with the puzzle with only two sounds, and gradually move up as they get better with the skill.  Also, there is an assessment sheet called, "How Many Sounds, " attached.  I love this to quickly assess student progress with the skill, or to quickly see if they can transfer their new knowledge of the skill without the cards (the structure) and allows for them to quickly mentally practice what they were doing before with the puzzles.  This page can also be laminated or reproduced to also use as an extended activity or another center. Easily differentiated for students who are at different learning levels. I would recommend that you sandwich sized baggies to keep each separate puzzle in so students do not get them mixed up.  I just teach my students how to use them, and put them away before they get out a different one, and so far that has worked well.   I love mine and hope you love yours too!  Also, aren't they cute?  I would love to hear some feedback!!  I am making other themes, and they will be available soon.  God bless and happy teaching!!

Sincerely,


Shelley

Sunday, July 14, 2013




         Finally, some of my summer projects are ready.  I've opened a TPT store and I am very excited.  Here is one of the games, and there is actually many ways to use it.  Suggestions on how to play the game and how to easily differentiate to meet the needs of all of your students using the game is all ready and comes with the download.  The game includes numbers 1-10 and then 11-20.  You can make up enough for every student to have a game board, or play partners, or for small groups.  This makes an awesome workstation activity or to do for morning work as they are waiting for the bell.  Just download and copy on card stock, and then laminate for durability.  Good luck and happy teaching!  I have a lot more ant themed activities coming.  I will be using the ant themed activities at the beginning of the school year to teach common core objectives and all the activities will go along with an ant farm. With the ant themed activities and games I have made up, I will be using the ant them to teach with literature that is fiction, informational text, and poetry. I have made up printables for reader's theatre, and shared reading.  I have games to practice letter recognition, lots of stuff.  Also, a must have are the phonemic segmenting cards. A must for every classroom! All of this will be up and ready very soon, so be sure to check back in for more ideas.  I also have a free down load for some printable worksheets that  go with the ant theme to look for words that begin with an a like in ant, or have n in the middle, or to find words that have a t at the end.  Also, located at my Tpt store, and that is a freebie!  Actually, I will have several freebies!  So be sure not to miss out!

Happy teaching!


Shelley



 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


      Summer Time Excitement


      I trust you are having an awesome summer.  I hope so anyway!  This has been a very important summer for my family.  Our youngest graduated from high school in May and is leaving to go away to college very soon.  With her being our youngest it makes it so much harder and even though you raise them to be independent and go after their dreams, we are going to miss her, and are not looking forward to an empty house without our kiddos.  Life is about change though, right?  We just have to embrace it.  I've been busy with some summer tutoring, lots of family have been down to visit this summer and we have thoroughly enjoyed that.  I've actually spent quite a bit of time in my classroom this summer. I just keep finding a need to go back, maybe you do that too?  I've been working to get all of my books grouped and arranged so that my Kindergartners will have easy access. I want to arrange them in a way that makes them easily available and yet also addresses the interests and needs of my students. Right now I am thinking all the Arthur books are together, all the bug nonfiction are together, all the dinosaurs, etc.  Also I want them to be grouped so that I can easily teach using different genres, and easily pull a book to focus on meeting the goal of 50% of the read-alouds being fiction and 50% of the read-alouds being informational text.  I received some new books at the end of last year, and I wanted time to read them and start developing text specific questions and activities to go with them.  It's important that questions are not all of a generic nature, but specific to the text and really allow for discussion, allowing students to really think about the story, what they have read, vocabulary, and meaning.
    This summer I have also spent time developing activities to help my students master the common core standards. I am sure you have too.   I am excited about what I've come up with and look forward to sharing it with you very soon.  I am excited, mostly because there are so many different ways to use it to meet the specific needs of students.  That is what I love about creating my own stuff.  The store bought materials can be great, but when I make it myself it is so much more flexible and allows for easy differentiating.  
     Enjoy your summer and remember to take time to take care of you!!  August will be here before we know it.  I plan to go back into the classroom on July 23rd, to get my room ready.  Check back to see what I am planning for classroom design this year.  I am hoping it turns out great!  I would also love to see what you are doing in your classroom.  In the mean time, maybe I'll catch you on the river!!



Happy teaching!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Summer Tutoring

     Writing seems to be the key.  With my students that I tutor with, it seems like they always need more writing practice.  By writing they get a chance to practice their letters and sounds, their sight word writing practice, blending and segmenting words, getting their thoughts down on paper, vocabulary usage, letter formation, and writing mechanics.  Here is the summer journal I made to encourage my students to write about their summer school experiences, building on their experiences makes the learning meaningful and gives them a purpose for writing.  Happy Journaling!!!  Are you summer journaling too? 



Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


        The end of the year is often Crazy, but this year even more so than I  ever remember.  
          Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever you do, do well" That is my prayer as I finish up the school year strong.  I want to make these last few weeks for my Kindergartners the very best they can be.  I finished with most of my DRA testing on Friday.  I am very proud of my classroom kiddos.  They did AWESOME!!! They did better than I expected, and I knew they would do well. Not only are they readers, but they love to read.  They love books and reading seems to be their favorite past time.  I love it!! The ultimate goal. I am getting ready to invite my parents in for a final conference, Aimsweb testing is next week, grade card assessing this week, my classroom needs to be packed up by the last day of school, preparing for an awards assembly, a field trip to the zoo, and it just goes on and on.  I just want to finish up strong and do my job very well. This is when we show just how much of a heart we have for our profession.  :)
      This week I've had my kindergartners and 16 Sixth graders in class, as well.  I've enjoyed having them this week.  So many of them I had as Kindergartners.  I've been pairing up Kindergartners with sixth graders for reading practice and extra math skill practice. It's been fun to watch the bigger students talk so nicely to the Kindergartners offering encouragement, and support as they work with them one and one.  I think it's been great for both classes.  I know my Kindergartners love reading to them.  My first class of Kindergartners are now seniors this year.  One of them caught me the other day and reminded me that I had promised to come to their graduation to cheer them on, if they would just stay in school and do their very best.  So I have a graduation to go to for my former students.  A deal is a deal!!!  So very proud of them too!  Hope you finish up the school year strong.  Best wishes!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, March 30, 2013




Superheroes

     I love this time of year.  In the classroom you get to see a whole year of growth.  Students have mastered their letters and sounds, they are decoding, and identifying sounds in the beginning, middle, and end, they are rhyming, they are recognizing sight words, and able to write.  I love it, and they are so excited about all they can do!  They are READING!!  I could go on and on, but I want to tell you about a project my classroom kiddos did.  We've been talking about opposites, and I really wanted to give them a chance to get creative and really challenge them to use all of their new skills.  I have a lot of cartoon lovers and superhero enthusiasts.  So.....  I asked them to create two superhero puppets and they had to have the opposite powers of each other.  Then they took their puppets and created a story about them.  By this time, we've written a few books already and they like to read their creations to the class.  The criteria for the project:  They had to have a Cover and it had to contain a title, they had to acknowledge themselves as the author and illustrator and tell what they did in that role.  They had to write their story giving it structure, tall letters tall and short letters short, with spaces in between.  They did an awesome job!!  I will post pics later, when I can borrow a camera.  Then when the products were finished, they shared them, reading them to their peers.  They were all really good!  We had characters like Mr. Thin and Ms. Thick, Ice and Fire, Tough and Weak,, Tall and Short, Fast and Slow, etc.  It was really cool to see to, how some of the kids not only had their heroes with opposite powers but they also included other opposite elements to the stories as well.  So much of a students success depends on making the curriculum relevant and giving a student purpose in their daily activities.  Watching students collaborate, create, and spark ideas off of each other, sharing in discussions, and participating, all excited about their ideas and just beginning to understand all of the things that are now possible to them with their new developed skills!  My job rocks!!!



Our Super Hero Puppets!!!!  Here are just a few!!!


Happy Teaching!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rhyming

     Ever had a student who just couldn't rhyme? It's such an important skill because research shows a correlation between rhyming and reading. So you work with that child and you work with that child, you try picture matching, you try explaining orally what is alike and different in different words, you read Dr. Seuss, you try sorts, etc. But they just aren't able to get it.  I felt like I was banging my head against the wall, and was just not getting anywhere with some of my kinesthetic learners.  Well.... try this, it worked for me and my little kiddos.  Teach it like you are teaching onset and rime comparing two words to begin with, (you can use more words later and even try which word doesn't rhyme as an activity for another day after experiencing success with two words.) and use your hands.  The left hand is the onset of the first word, and the right hand is the rime of the first word.  Then repeat for the second word, left hand is the onset and right hand is the rime.  Then you can have them refer to their right hand to see if both words had the same ending.  I have had my non-rhymers practice this strategy.  Then for the assessment I had them demonstrate the strategy using the onset and rime activity and then look at words to circle the part of the word that was the same.  For example, if they thought map and cap rhyme, they would refer to their right hand and feel/and listen to see if there was a similarity.  If yes, then they look at the words and circle the part that is the same.  With cap and map they would circle the -ap word part.  Finally, SUCCESS!!!  That's right, they now get rhyming!!  This way you are taking the skill and also showing them how it relates to text, allowing them to make that connection.  Then you can have them start finding rhyming words in a sentence, and taking an ending and make new rhyming words by changing the beginning sound.  Think about it, we've all used the strategy of the hand under the chin for syllable counting to help our students discriminate with the difference between syllable counting and counting sounds in words, so they don't confuse the two.  Now here is a strategy for the kinesthetic learner as well.  Hope you will try it!!  I love it with the group I have this year and look forward to trying with other groups as well.  


Happy Teaching!!!


Friday, February 22, 2013


                                           INSIDE OUTSIDE CIRCLE

          We are having a couple of snow days here, due to ice.  Yes, that is right, ice.  Luckily though, we haven't lost electricity.   So I am having one of those slow mornings where I stay in my jammies.  They are warm and cozy and I have orange slices and cinnamon brewing on the stove and the smell is wonderful.  Now I want to talk to you about a favorite classroom strategy. This strategy is called Inside and Outside Circle.  You have probably heard of it. If not, you need to, you will be glad you did.  I have been using it for a couple of years now and was trying to remember where I learned about it.  I think my mom told me about it a few years ago, from a workshop she had attended. My mom has taught Kindergarten, First grade, and Second grade and has been a powerful resource for me over the years, and as usual mom knows best.  Imagine my surprise when I was doing research for this blog and learned that this strategy activity has been talked about as being very powerful and helpful with students. I mean, I knew I loved it, but so cool when you find out others do too.  I always like that feeling. I learned for this blog that it is a Kagan strategy and you can learn more about how to use it in your classroom and about Mr. Kagan, the author of this strategy at http://wvde.state.wv.us.  You can also go there to learn when and where it was published. Here is how I use it in my classroom.  





1.)  I first divide students up into two groups by saying, you're a one, you're a two, you're a one, you're a two, until everyone is either a one or a two.  

2.)  I then show all the students the task cards.  These are cards that the ones will use to ask the twos a question or it can be a series of flash cards.   The cool thing about Inside Outside Circle is that you can use it for EVERYTHING!  Some examples are story questions to assess for understanding, for those cards you might have the question, "Who are the characters in the story?"  or "How did the story end?"  Was there a problem in the story and if so, how was it solved? etc.  Or flash cards for letter/sound correspondence, or sight words, math numbers, math problems, fluency sentences, etc.  Also, it can be used for any grade.  Make up your task cards ahead of time, these already need to be made up. These are just on notecard or a piece of paper or card stock if you want to use them over and over again.  Then ask the whole class, the questions, reading the cards, so they know what questions to ask when it is their turn to be a one and show them how use the cards.  For example you might say, "The one of your team is going to use these task cards and flash it to you.  You will need to read the letter and tell them it's name and sound, a word that begins with that sound or maybe it is a picture and they need to tell you a word that rhymes with it, etc.  

3.)  I then ask my students who are the ones to get their chairs and they place them in a circle facing out.  Then I ask the twos to sit on the floor in front of the ones, facing in so that the ones are facing the twos and the twos are facing the ones. (Students are facing each other).  If you have an odd number it is okay, there will just be two students who are both numbered two facing the student numbered one at that spot.  (See the above diagram as an example. The green are the ones in the chairs.  The twos are represented by the blue.)

4.)  Now each  student who is a one has one student at his/her feet and they ask that student the question or show them the flash card (whatever you are practicing/or assessing, depending on your purpose)  If letters, then student one (in the chair) shows the student numbered two (sitting on the floor at his/her feet) the letter and student two then tells the letter name and/or sound it makes, etc.  If math equations, then they would show the student on the floor the card with the equation and then the student numbered two(who is on the floor) would answer it and tell how they got their answer.  They stay there for a few minutes then you the teacher will give a word to let the twos know it is time to move. (This is the group that is sitting on the floor facing the students in the chairs).  There are different ways to do this part.  I have the row of twos all move to the right one person, and then they start over with new questions or flash cards from the next student who is a one. So again the two is on the floor but this time facing the student who is a one that was one chair to the right of their last partner.  They slowly move around the circle. They are the outside circle facing the inside circle.   I use the word, "right" to let students know when it is time to move.  We do this until we have made a complete circle and every child has visited with every person.  All twos have met up and answered questions for all of the ones.  

5.)  Then you can say switch, and the student in the chair switches with the person in front of them on the floor and the student on the floor takes the chair and the task question cards.  Then resume play.  


     This is a great way to make sure everyone is learning, to assess how much they have learned, what their weak areas are, and to reinforce skills that are being worked on in the classroom.  Everyone is actively involved and engaged.  Also, students are learning social skills and social relationships as everyone partners up with the job as a one or a two.  Everyone works with everyone else.  (Always a big plus in the Kindergarten classroom!)  I hope it doesn't sound too complicated.  It is actually really easy.  For more information you can visit the West Virginia Department of Education at http://wvde.state.wv.us They talk about this strategy.  They use it a little different than I, but that's the cool thing about a great idea, it is adaptable and can meet the needs of so many.  
You can also differentiate this activity very easily by switching out cards for  different skill levels or by being very selective as to who gets which partner and with what set of cards they practice, meeting the needs of all of your students, even if they aren't all at the same place in their learning.  For example, maybe a few students really need to work on letter sound skills and the others need to work on sight words. Or you could have two circles going at once and each work on different skills. I also like using this for missing number or what letter comes before or what letter comes.  
Happy Teaching!!


Monday, February 18, 2013

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day!!  Can we say "great?"  It was great.  
My school celebrated Valentines Day on Thursday instead of changing it to Friday.  We had the parties right at the end of the day.  The students had Froggy Valentine bags to put their valentines in.  I got them from Oriental Trading.  They were really cute!!  My kiddos were really excited about them and for the party.  We played a Love Bug number game.  I took pink, red, and white hearts and put numbers on them 1-31 and then I took a construction paper love bug that I made and hid it behind a heart with a number.  The kiddos would call out a number to practice their number identification skills and of course see if they could find the missing Love Bug.  We had a great time!  I will get pictures up soon.  Thank you for understanding this is a work in progress and for being patient.    My digital camera was stolen from my classroom and I have not been able to replace it yet.  Thank you for stopping in!!!  Hope your week is very blessed!  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

       This week in the classroom, we tackled our addresses.  With Valentines Day coming up I asked my students to make a very special family valentine for someone that lives in their house, usually a mom or dad or both, sometimes they make it for the whole family or a grandparent if they are the guardian.  They were very EXCITED!!!  A lot of love went into those valentines.  Then yesterday, we took our valentines to the Post Office,  prior to going each student recited his or her address and then wrote their address on the envelope and added the stamp,  they were then ready for the mail.  Since we were learning about our addresses it was a good time to extend our learning to our community and community workers, with this week's emphasis being on mail carriers.  Also, lucky for us our Post Office is just right up the road, a 5 minute ride by bus.  We read some nonfiction books about mail carriers and the Post Office.  My little guys also practiced their motor skills with cutting and gluing to make a mail carrier hat of their very own to wear on our little outing.  The template for these can be found at makinglearningfun.com .  Now we are anxious for the arrival of those special valentines!!!  I think we learned a lot and by adding the trip to the Post Office, the mail carrier information,  students gained an extra purpose for learning his/her address,  gained community knowledge and expanded our vocabularies, and added an extra element of fun and excitement.  It always amazes me how many of my students have never actually been inside a Post Office until we go!!  Happy teaching!! 

A little extra:  I find it helpful that when having students write their addresses on the envelopes (which they did an awesome job at, I might add, the writing was truly their best and it was BEAUTIFUL!) it helps to make 3 lines for them with a ruler edge.  That way the first line they focus on the persons name (yes they are coping it on to the paper) then they recite their street address and copy it on to the envelope, and then they recite their city and state and copy it to the line and then below the line is the zip code.  Then we read it back again together and they will continue to recite and practice writing until they can do it independently. :)  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Wow!  It was an awesome week in the classroom.  We celebrated the 100th Day of school and it is always one of my favorite days.  I love being able to share this day every year with every class! This year we did  a lot of the same activities that I hear others talking about.  We did the Hershey Kiss Number Scavenger Hunt, we sorted Fruit Loops into groups of tens and made necklaces, wrote about what we would do with a 100 dollars.   We found numbers in a Hidden Picture, counted to see how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop.   Zero the Hero and his sidekick Squiggy came to visit us and passed out pencils.  Zero counts with the boys and girls and has they jump for every 10.  We did activities like those all day and the Grand Finale was a parade through the Elementary School.  We did at the end of the day as the classes were headed to an assembly giving them an escort so we wouldn't disturb the learning going on any more than we absolutely had too.  My students took little card stock squares (in bright colors) and wrote their numbers to 100 and then taped them to their clothing.  The parade brings relevance and purpose to writing the numbers.  They had funny hats and were all dressed up in their numbers.  They had a great time getting covered in numbers and getting ready for the parade.  We sang a song about the 100th Day and paraded through the halls.  I have wonderful administrators who let us do this and understand the importance.  My kids love it!  I get comments like "Best Day Ever!" "I can't wait to tell my mom what I did today!"  and "They loved me!"  "Can we do this again tomorrow?" They really shine and that is so important.  A few years ago I was at Wal-Mart a few days before school was to start.  There was this boy there that was about 14 years old.  He was very thin and looked like he needed some work done on his teeth from the dentist, and he really looked malnourished.   He had selected two $8 shirts that he wanted for school.  He was begging his parents to get them for him and there was such longing and need in his eyes.  I was changed that day by that little boy.   The Lord used a simple trip to Wal-Mart to change me completely.   I stood around and watched because one way or another that boy was going to have those shirts.  His eyes spoke of such need for acceptance and all his hopes for the school year.  The $8 shirts were only $8 shirts, but for him it was so much more, it was about hope for the school year and  a need to belong.  That boy changed me that day.  To this day I cry when I think of that boy.  I am happy to say, he was able to purchase the two shirts.  I still pray for him and hope he is doing well.  But that boy made me realize just how much every child needs to feel like they belong and how important it is that every child feel accepted and get those moments to shine.  Then of course, they come to us at the beginning of the school year for Kindergarten thinking I am going to be the faster, and the smartest, and everyone is going to totally approve of everything I say and do, and then reality sets in and soon they realize not everyone can be the fastest or the smartest.  But you know what,  you can be YOU and YOU are awesome just as you are.   For me, that is what the 100th Day Parade is all about.  That moment when we walk into someone's classroom and they clap and encourage them.  They love it!!  It is also important that they feel that acceptance every day!!!


Monday, January 21, 2013

     So looking forward to this week in the classroom.  We will be celebrating the 100th Day of School and honestly, it is one of my favorite days.  So much fun, and then to think about all the learning and exploring we will be doing!  It doesn't get much better than that.  I have plans for Zero the Hero to come and visit with his sidekick.  The students will cut up colorful pieces of card stock and write numbers on them 1 to 100 and then tape them to their clothing.  We will color crowns, and then sing a 100th Day song as we march along with instruments at the end of the day for a parade.  We only do this at the very end of the day so we won't be disturbing classes and we ask teachers to leave their doors open if they want us to march through their classrooms or they can leave the doors shut and we will do our best to go by very quietly.  We also make cereal necklaces by counting by 10's and we will have a number scavenger hunt with chocolate kisses.  I do that every year.  We will count licks to see how many it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop.  Remember the owl on the commercial so many years ago?  I feel just like him. :) We will write about being 100 years old and find 100 sight words.  Make 100th Day Posters.  We will see how long 100 cubes are compared to 100 paperclips, etc.  Fun, fun, fun!!!
     Next I want to quickly talk about something that has really helped my students over the past two years.  I heard some teachers talking about some students they were concerned about, and let's face it with the middle of January being here, our time is quickly coming about to make academic changes.  I am not a teacher who will usually promote a program, I really feel like it is every teacher who makes the difference in his or her classroom with student achievement.  However, there is one that I have to say good things about just because I've seen wonderful results with my students, and that is why we are all teachers.  We want to help our students and I want to help you help your students. This is a super program and it has worked wonders in my classroom and it is PALS:  Peer Assisted Learning Strategies.  They have a manual for reading and math.  Reading is where I see the biggest success with my students.  With each lesson there is a teacher directed part and then it is followed up with a peer mediated part.  We do this for 30 minutes every other day.  We alternate our 30 minutes of morning between PALS reading and PALS math.  I had several who had to leave for interventions while the rest of the class did PALS, but then when they came back we would be doing Centers. I used Center time for them to make sure they too, got their daily dose of PALS (in reading) and all but one has now tested completely out of interventions.  So very exciting!!  To check out the program you can find it at kc.vanderbilt.edu/PALS.  With PALS the children practice letter-sound correspondence, decoding, sight words, and phonological awareness.  Maybe you can get your school to purchase it for you. Hope it works for you too!  
Happy Teaching!!