Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 25 - 29

We're into the second week of school!  I over-planned a lot last week and we didn't finish it all!  Oh well.  That's what you want to do during the first week of school.

Reflection on last week

The only thing I didn't do in last week's plans was math.  Actually, I did do math, but I always forget that our math routines always take so much longer during the first few weeks.  We didn't get to the Addition & Subtract Word Problems until Friday and didn't get to any of our Number Sense Routines.

I have big plans for math this week.  I'm hoping we'll get to it all!

This week has a lot more packeted into it.  As always, click on the picture or this link to be taken to the PDF with clickable links.


Whole Group Reading Comprehension

This week, we're focusing on Story Structure.  I'll use one story from our reading program, Treasures, as well as two other read alouds.  With each one we'll determine the characters, setting, problem and solution.

Math

We will continue our Daily Math and Addition and Subtraction Word Problems.  We are starting our addition fact strategies, focusing on Count On and Plus 10 this week.

Writing

We're starting narratives this week!  We'll focus on choosing a small moment and drafting a writing piece using some tools in my Narrative Tools packet.

We're also going to start Work on Writing during Daily 5 time.  This morning I sat down and created the wall headers for all the students' choice.  I'll introduce a couple this week, but I'll be pulling resources from the linked packets.  Our Daily 5 Work on Writing time is separate from our Writer's Workshop time in the afternoon, but I didn't want to rework my template above!

Community Building

We're going to continue with our community building this week from the linked packets.  My main purpose is to be able to sit down and assess a few students throughout the week.  Overall, I've got a great group of kiddos, but there are a handful that are going to need some extra attention.

Want to see some more lessons?  Head on over to Mrs. Willis Kindergarten to see others' Peek at My Week Lessons.

Week One is Over!

I've met my kiddos.  They are AMAZING!  So different from last year's group of students.  I can already tell that we're going to have an AWESOME year together!  I only have one student who is super challenging, behavior-wise.  One other who has some coping issues, but it's manageable, I think.  Another who is super low academically, but we'll work on it!  Overall, a much different class than last year's group of students.

Last week, I posted a peek at my week.  Let me tell you . . . we did not do it all!

Here's a few glimpse of what we did get to this week and a few cool new toys we get to play with!



On the first day, students came into the classroom and colored their puzzle pieces.  My requirement is that they had to put their name on the piece and use lots of color.  On Friday, I broke the students into two teams and each team put together their puzzle.  This team did very well working together, except for one student, and was able to complete their puzzle.  The second team couldn't figure out how to get started and work together.  They needed a bit more hand holding and never did finish their puzzle.

The puzzle pieces come from my Community Building Puzzle packet.
I'm really working this year on positive reinforcement, instead of negative consequence.  I've gotten rid of our color card / clip system.  I even had my most challenging student ask at the end of the first day, "Do we have a behavior chart?". I said no, we've go something even better.  He asked what and I said he had to wait to find out.


Enter the Super Improver Team from Whole Brain Teaching.  I'm going to LOVE doing this over the year.  The wall cards are free here.  The stars I cut out from my Cameo.  Next year, I may just use paper and cut it into rectangles.  The stars were time consuming and a pain to cut out.  But, I LOVE the effect.  Students have seen the wall cards and the title, but not their stars, as I put them up Friday afternoon after they left.

I'm also leaving daily notes on students' desks.  I have a checklist and try to leave 4-5 notes a day, with the intention of leaving one note per student over the course of a week.  I may slow down as the year progresses, we'll see.


This is my student with poor coping skills.  When he was one of the few who didn't have a computer / iPad (we don't quite have enough), he was very disappointed.  But, he came around and played the math game (after he complained loudly about not knowing what to do and about it being boring!).  These are just things I know I need to set as goals for him.  There's definitely room for improvement!

I think the biggest challenge for the Super Improver Team is noticing my students who aren't as vocal or problematic.  They're quite and I spend so much more time with those who are louder that I forget to pay attention the others.  Any suggestions?  If you do WBT and the Super Improver's Wall, how to do you keep track of student goals / improvements?

Are you ready for some new toys?  Donor's Choose is now shipping for all the projects that got funded at the end of last year and during the summer.  On Friday, we received our new printer!  It came into excited open arms.  I have a ton more resources coming from DC over the next few weeks, so be prepared to see all the wonderful classroom items people have purchased for us!  If you don't know about Donor's Choose or don't use them yet.  What are you waiting for?  Go now.  Seriously.  It's an awesome resource.


Our school is also trying to use more and more technology.  We have a ton of it, but don't necessarily integrate it into daily instruction, beyond students using specific apps for practice / review.

This past summer, we got ceiling mounted projectors and I can use my iPad as a document camera (I'll talk more later about a few apps useful for this).  My principal ordered two toys for me to experiment with:



 These two iPad stands come from ProComputing Products.  I generally don't like a stationary place in the front of the room that houses all the tech equipment. I pulled this desk and stand together on Friday.  I'm not sure I'll keep it that way, but it is effective as a stationary place.

I love the mobile one, but the base is a bit inconvenient when writing on things.  I can work around it by placing a whiteboard or other hard surface underneath.  I like the mobile one because I can plop it down on a student desk without having the student move.  So fast and convenient!

I actually like both stands, but for different purposes!  We'll see which one I end up using more.

Overall, my kiddos did an amazing job during the first week.  We learned our WBT rules, we practiced how to do Teach-Okay and Switch.  We did some community building.  We got to know each other.  Success!

So, how was your first week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - When - Thursday


Here's a look at our daily schedule and when we do things each day.  I did a post on our schedule last year.  The post is located here.  It gives a little explanation to some of the components on this chart.  Partway through the year, I redesigned our afternoons to look like the version below.


This was our daily schedule for last year.

This year will be slightly different during the afternoons.  Since I'm also doing Whole Brain Teaching, I'm going to change things around a little bit.  I'll added in Oral Writing to our afternoons and the Genius Ladder, probably in the mornings.  I also want to have a dedicated phonics / word study time, but struggle with where to add it in!  Maybe I'll do it sometime in the afternoon and switch it out with the Language time slot.

I also am not sure that the computer and library times are set yet, so things may switch with those, too!  I may also add in some math stations in the afternoon.  We don't spend nearly enough time on Math and the end of the day is always so difficult for students to focus.  I'm thinking having some partner / station work might be the answer to their restlessness.

Compared to other parts of the country, it really seems like we don't have a long school day at all!

The beginning of the school year is definitely a bit different than the rest of the year, but once we get into a routine, this is how our week generally goes.

As you can see, my schedule is still somewhat up in the air, at least for the afternoons.  I want to meet my kiddos, see where they're at, and see how our day "falls together" before I commit to doing any one thing a certain way.

What's your schedule look like?  Visit Blog Hoppin' to see some more sample schedules!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TpT Boost Sale

TpT is having another BTS sale on Wednesday, August 20, only.

That happens to be our first day of school!  I gotta do my shopping before the kiddos come tomorrow so I won't forget!

Wish me luck with 22 new students.  Last year was a difficult year, so I'm super excited about this year and all the potential with a new group of kiddos!

I hope all your years are starting off well!

Back to School - Where - Tuesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Tuesday link up describing where I teach.


I have a tab above that described my classroom last year.  It's much the same, with a few small changes this year.  There's much more detail in the tab above, but here are a few newer pictures.


This is my whole room!  I made the mistake of standing at the door when taking the panoramic shot, so half the photo is a wall, but you get the idea of what you see when you walk in the room!

I tend to leave a lot of blank spaces to be filled in throughout the year.


This wall is next to the door as you walk in.  It's our bathroom chart, job board, and Super Improvers wall.


This is our carpet area and one of my teaching walls.  I don't use an easel, but pin chart paper to the wall.  I love having a large flat surface to teach on.  I use both sides, but generally sit on the right side.  The pocket carts on the right are our Daily 5 choice boards.  We're starting with one rotation: Read to Self.  On the left is our Math Stations chart.


Moving down the wall . . . this is our writing genre display board.  I've since changed it to say, "Write a Narrative".  I display all our writing anchor charts on here as well as a few other writing helpers.

Next to it is our bucket filler chart, which will be filled with cups and around it with anchor charts about bucket filling.


The top part are our writing goals and our ST Math Progress Chart (computerized math program).  Below are our QR codes for Listen to Reading.


This used to be where I had our computers.  We no longer have classroom desktop computers.  Instead, we received some Chromebooks.  The beauty of those is that they're mobile, which means I can use this space for a Work on Writing Station!  That will be on the right.  On the left is our Math Wall.


I LOVE this corner.  It's a little disorganized, still.  It's our reading corner, and, of course, balance ball storage area.  Students have their mailboxes on the left and math manipulative next to it.  As you can see, I'm in the process of filling book boxes for Read to Self.


I also love this wall!  It's another teaching wall.  Each of the whiteboards slides and reveals storage space behind them.  There's a ton of space!  I generally put my agenda on the left and other static things on the right.


This is my guided reading table and teaching corner.  I don't have a traditional desk, but this area serves that purpose.  It's a mess.  And, normally, my blinds are open, but because I wasn't in the room most of the day, I didn't want to open / close them.


Here's the counter with the cubbies.  Students will store their book boxes on the left and school supplies are on the right.

As I said, much of it is the same as last year.  I'll come back later and show you specific pieces, like our new Work on Writing area, as I get them more established.  This year, I'm not doing a lot before school starts, in terms of set up.  We'll see what happens in the next few weeks! 

Go link up with Blog Hoppin' and show me your digs!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School - Who - Monday

I'm going to try to link up each day this week with Blog Hoppin's Back to School Link Up.


Today's all about me!  I recently did a Meet the Teacher post.  The information here will be slightly different.  You can also find out more information in the About tab above.

Here's our family.  I have a loving husband and two boys.  My husband fully supports my teaching and work with TpT.  He stays home with our boys and helps out a ton at home with all the little things that I can't do working full-time.  I have loved that the my boys have their dad at home.  It's such a blessing for them to develop that deep father / son relationship.


Here are my boys.  This is Liam, who is four.  He's got one more year of preschool before Kindergarten.  I don't know how he got so big!  I asked him the other day if he was excited about school starting again and he said, "not really".  Asking what he meant, he said he didn't like the "other school".  Inquiring a bit further, like you have to do with all children, he said that he didn't want to go to Kindergarten because there are no toys.  He's definitely all boy!

He's at a play-based preschool that's pretty unstructured.  It's perfect for him and he gets to play a lot. That's what preschool and early childhood should be . . . learning through play.


This is Oliver (Ollie) and his grandfather.  He's two (Ollie that is).  I'm amazed at his language skills everyday.  He's very verbal, but I can't get him to sit still and listen to me read a book!  We'll see where that takes us in the years to come.


A bit about my teaching

This is my 16th year of teaching.  I can't believe it's been that long!  I started teaching in fifth grade, moved down to fourth grade, then third grade.  I was out of the classroom for four years doing teacher professional development and coaching, mainly helping teachers with their English learners.  

When we decided to start a family, I decided that going back to the classroom would be good to have a more predictable schedule.  It's been hard to figure out how to balance family and work.  Teaching is all consuming.  There's so much I can do at home and I do.  It kinda takes over everything.

When I went back into the classroom, I decided to start at Kinder.  There was an opening at a school that I knew I wanted to teach at.  I used to say that Kinder students scared me because they were so little!  I can no longer say that!  Actually, I have had a lot of training in early reading strategies, but hadn't really implemented them with students, since I'd always taught 3-5.  I wanted to get some experience with the smaller kiddos.  I spent three years in Kinder, was moved to a 1/2 combo, and have taught second grade for the past several years.  

People often ask me which is my favorite grade level.  I don't have a definite answer.  Each grade has it's own perks and it's own pluses and minuses.  Each has also been good for the stage of life I was in.  

Other info

I love to read.  I used to sew and knit.  I still have the skills, but family and work is kinda consuming, so there's little time for crafty things.  I love to travel, although that's been on hold for the past couple years.  My husband and I enjoy doing short-term missions trips, mainly building trips.  We "hooked up" in Romania on a missions trip.  What else????

Do you have any questions for me that I didn't answer?  I can't think of anything, but if you do, leave a comment below!

Want to go check out some other blogs?  Head on over to Blog Hoppin' and the linky happening each day this week.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 18 - 22

Have you started school yet?  We start this week.  THIS WEEK, people!  Okay, I think I'm ready.  In reality, I didn't have that much set-up to do since I was able to stay in the same room and I'm able to leave almost everything where it was.  Yeah!

I'm going to try my best this year to link up with Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten and her Peek at My Week linky each week.  I loved reading everyone's visual plans last year and finding a bunch of new resources to add to my repertoire.

I worked on a template for the visual plans that I think will work for me.  So much of our day is routine.  I try to routine-ize everything so that most of what I do can be "plug and play".  I'll get more into what I do in our day during the Blog Hoppin' BTS Linkies this week.  Since we have such good routine, I struggled with how to create the template.  Here's what I came up with (click on the picture to access the PDF with clickable links):


The first day is going to be a lot of establishing routines.  In fact, our entire morning before recess is Whole Brain Teaching Routines and establishing Daily 5.

I'm starting WBT for the first time this year. I dabbled in it a bit last year, but only got a taste of the potential that it offers.  I'm super excited to be started it fresh with a new group of kiddos.

I've been doing Daily 5 for a number of years now.  I love how it sets up independence and expectations.  I actually use the same process to set up expectations for other classroom / school related behaviors, too.  We do A LOT of practice the first few weeks of school!

Onto the things that I *think* are meaningful enough for you to possibly do in your own rooms.

Whole Group Reading Comprehension

Every day we do a read aloud and usually do some sort of comprehension focus with it.  Sometimes if we're reading a chapter book, the comprehension focus may be over a period of days, rather than in one day.  This week, we're going to read several Kevin Henkes books and do some of the activities from Hollie Griffith's Author Study.  We're not doing a full author study on Kevin Henkes nor reading all his books, but just a few that are great beginning of the year reads about friendship, staring a school year, and worrying.

Math

My math time is all about routine.  There are several things that we do, pretty much all year long.  Those include my Daily Math pages.  Each student has a page in their personal whiteboards.  Each day, we choose a new number and fill out the page.  In the packet are several different versions of each page, usually with different number lines on them.


There's pages for Number Sense (0-99, 100 - 1000), Addition & Subtraction Strategies, and Time and Money.  We use them almost every day throughout the year, changing it as we move onto higher numbers or other concepts.  On the first day, I model how to do it after that we have a "Daily Math" job card that rotates through each student.

We also do a word problem each day.  I have math journals for my students.  Last year, it was just plain paper sandwiched in between construction paper.  This year, I want to do interactive notebooks, so I've merged my math journal with my math interactive notebook and am using a composition book.  My Addition & Subtraction Word Problems are grouped by problem type.  We start with the easier, join result unknown problems and moved onto more difficult problems as the year progresses.

Here are a few examples of student work:



Totally just realized that there's an error in the problem (papers vs. pencils)!  But, it's still a good example of student thinking!


There are blank spaces in each problem.  Before I give students numbers for the problem, we talk about the situation in the problem.  We identify what the action is (if any) and decide what the start, change, and result is and what is unknown, what they need to figure out.  I do introduce that vocabulary to my students, so that they can "read" word problems and understand the situation in them.  Students are supposed to write an equation, show how they solved the problem and write an explanation.  I can totally see students' thinking in the first two examples.  The third one is getting there, but needs some explanation.

Anyway, we start this on the first day of school and do a problem each day.  As the year progresses, I change the numbers to two-digit numbers.

Also for math are two books that have some routines and instruction.  The first, Number Sense Routines, has some great routines for whole group math thinking.  I start our year off with a counting circle.  I also do a lot of number talks from this book throughout the year.  I generally alternate between the two routines.

Finally, I start the year off with addition and subtraction facts.  Last spring, I read through Basic Math Facts.  It has an awesome scope and sequence for teaching math facts.  I'm pretty much going through it, spending a little less time on "counting on" and more time on the more complicated strategies.

Writing

We do Writer's Workshop in our district.  Last year, our principal bought us the new Common Core Lucy Caulkin's Units of Study.  I found them a bit hard to implement with our population, so I decided to use the structure of Writer's Workshop, but change A LOT.  For the first few weeks, I'm all about establishing a routine and getting students writing.  Our district does Narrative first, so I'll move into focusing on that in another week or so, but for now, it's just about writing and putting your pencil to the paper.

Community Building

I will change out this row as the year progresses and we get into more Social Studies and Science content.  I tend to alternate between Social Studies or Science, doing each for a couple weeks at at time.  We have such a short time for those content areas!  For now, though, it's all about community building.

Lindsey's We're Back for Seconds has some perfect activities that fit in with our school rules and expectations.  We're going to work through several of the actives in that packet for the next several weeks.

Also Miss DeCarbo's Think, Talk, Teach! is going to help us implement our WBT Oral Writing routine in the afternoons.  Oral Writing has got to be one of my favorite WBT routines.  That along with the Genius Ladder.  I'm looking forward to seeing what my students can do with their writing this year!

Is this all we do each day?  Ugh . . . no.  We do much more than what's here, but for the most part, these take a majority of our day.



Are you interested in what seeing a whole lot of other great plans?  Go check them out on Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten Blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 25 - 29

We're into the second week of school!  I over-planned a lot last week and we didn't finish it all!  Oh well.  That's what you want to do during the first week of school.

Reflection on last week

The only thing I didn't do in last week's plans was math.  Actually, I did do math, but I always forget that our math routines always take so much longer during the first few weeks.  We didn't get to the Addition & Subtract Word Problems until Friday and didn't get to any of our Number Sense Routines.

I have big plans for math this week.  I'm hoping we'll get to it all!

This week has a lot more packeted into it.  As always, click on the picture or this link to be taken to the PDF with clickable links.


Whole Group Reading Comprehension

This week, we're focusing on Story Structure.  I'll use one story from our reading program, Treasures, as well as two other read alouds.  With each one we'll determine the characters, setting, problem and solution.

Math

We will continue our Daily Math and Addition and Subtraction Word Problems.  We are starting our addition fact strategies, focusing on Count On and Plus 10 this week.

Writing

We're starting narratives this week!  We'll focus on choosing a small moment and drafting a writing piece using some tools in my Narrative Tools packet.

We're also going to start Work on Writing during Daily 5 time.  This morning I sat down and created the wall headers for all the students' choice.  I'll introduce a couple this week, but I'll be pulling resources from the linked packets.  Our Daily 5 Work on Writing time is separate from our Writer's Workshop time in the afternoon, but I didn't want to rework my template above!

Community Building

We're going to continue with our community building this week from the linked packets.  My main purpose is to be able to sit down and assess a few students throughout the week.  Overall, I've got a great group of kiddos, but there are a handful that are going to need some extra attention.

Want to see some more lessons?  Head on over to Mrs. Willis Kindergarten to see others' Peek at My Week Lessons.

Week One is Over!

I've met my kiddos.  They are AMAZING!  So different from last year's group of students.  I can already tell that we're going to have an AWESOME year together!  I only have one student who is super challenging, behavior-wise.  One other who has some coping issues, but it's manageable, I think.  Another who is super low academically, but we'll work on it!  Overall, a much different class than last year's group of students.

Last week, I posted a peek at my week.  Let me tell you . . . we did not do it all!

Here's a few glimpse of what we did get to this week and a few cool new toys we get to play with!



On the first day, students came into the classroom and colored their puzzle pieces.  My requirement is that they had to put their name on the piece and use lots of color.  On Friday, I broke the students into two teams and each team put together their puzzle.  This team did very well working together, except for one student, and was able to complete their puzzle.  The second team couldn't figure out how to get started and work together.  They needed a bit more hand holding and never did finish their puzzle.

The puzzle pieces come from my Community Building Puzzle packet.
I'm really working this year on positive reinforcement, instead of negative consequence.  I've gotten rid of our color card / clip system.  I even had my most challenging student ask at the end of the first day, "Do we have a behavior chart?". I said no, we've go something even better.  He asked what and I said he had to wait to find out.


Enter the Super Improver Team from Whole Brain Teaching.  I'm going to LOVE doing this over the year.  The wall cards are free here.  The stars I cut out from my Cameo.  Next year, I may just use paper and cut it into rectangles.  The stars were time consuming and a pain to cut out.  But, I LOVE the effect.  Students have seen the wall cards and the title, but not their stars, as I put them up Friday afternoon after they left.

I'm also leaving daily notes on students' desks.  I have a checklist and try to leave 4-5 notes a day, with the intention of leaving one note per student over the course of a week.  I may slow down as the year progresses, we'll see.


This is my student with poor coping skills.  When he was one of the few who didn't have a computer / iPad (we don't quite have enough), he was very disappointed.  But, he came around and played the math game (after he complained loudly about not knowing what to do and about it being boring!).  These are just things I know I need to set as goals for him.  There's definitely room for improvement!

I think the biggest challenge for the Super Improver Team is noticing my students who aren't as vocal or problematic.  They're quite and I spend so much more time with those who are louder that I forget to pay attention the others.  Any suggestions?  If you do WBT and the Super Improver's Wall, how to do you keep track of student goals / improvements?

Are you ready for some new toys?  Donor's Choose is now shipping for all the projects that got funded at the end of last year and during the summer.  On Friday, we received our new printer!  It came into excited open arms.  I have a ton more resources coming from DC over the next few weeks, so be prepared to see all the wonderful classroom items people have purchased for us!  If you don't know about Donor's Choose or don't use them yet.  What are you waiting for?  Go now.  Seriously.  It's an awesome resource.


Our school is also trying to use more and more technology.  We have a ton of it, but don't necessarily integrate it into daily instruction, beyond students using specific apps for practice / review.

This past summer, we got ceiling mounted projectors and I can use my iPad as a document camera (I'll talk more later about a few apps useful for this).  My principal ordered two toys for me to experiment with:



 These two iPad stands come from ProComputing Products.  I generally don't like a stationary place in the front of the room that houses all the tech equipment. I pulled this desk and stand together on Friday.  I'm not sure I'll keep it that way, but it is effective as a stationary place.

I love the mobile one, but the base is a bit inconvenient when writing on things.  I can work around it by placing a whiteboard or other hard surface underneath.  I like the mobile one because I can plop it down on a student desk without having the student move.  So fast and convenient!

I actually like both stands, but for different purposes!  We'll see which one I end up using more.

Overall, my kiddos did an amazing job during the first week.  We learned our WBT rules, we practiced how to do Teach-Okay and Switch.  We did some community building.  We got to know each other.  Success!

So, how was your first week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - When - Thursday


Here's a look at our daily schedule and when we do things each day.  I did a post on our schedule last year.  The post is located here.  It gives a little explanation to some of the components on this chart.  Partway through the year, I redesigned our afternoons to look like the version below.


This was our daily schedule for last year.

This year will be slightly different during the afternoons.  Since I'm also doing Whole Brain Teaching, I'm going to change things around a little bit.  I'll added in Oral Writing to our afternoons and the Genius Ladder, probably in the mornings.  I also want to have a dedicated phonics / word study time, but struggle with where to add it in!  Maybe I'll do it sometime in the afternoon and switch it out with the Language time slot.

I also am not sure that the computer and library times are set yet, so things may switch with those, too!  I may also add in some math stations in the afternoon.  We don't spend nearly enough time on Math and the end of the day is always so difficult for students to focus.  I'm thinking having some partner / station work might be the answer to their restlessness.

Compared to other parts of the country, it really seems like we don't have a long school day at all!

The beginning of the school year is definitely a bit different than the rest of the year, but once we get into a routine, this is how our week generally goes.

As you can see, my schedule is still somewhat up in the air, at least for the afternoons.  I want to meet my kiddos, see where they're at, and see how our day "falls together" before I commit to doing any one thing a certain way.

What's your schedule look like?  Visit Blog Hoppin' to see some more sample schedules!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TpT Boost Sale

TpT is having another BTS sale on Wednesday, August 20, only.

That happens to be our first day of school!  I gotta do my shopping before the kiddos come tomorrow so I won't forget!

Wish me luck with 22 new students.  Last year was a difficult year, so I'm super excited about this year and all the potential with a new group of kiddos!

I hope all your years are starting off well!

Back to School - Where - Tuesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Tuesday link up describing where I teach.


I have a tab above that described my classroom last year.  It's much the same, with a few small changes this year.  There's much more detail in the tab above, but here are a few newer pictures.


This is my whole room!  I made the mistake of standing at the door when taking the panoramic shot, so half the photo is a wall, but you get the idea of what you see when you walk in the room!

I tend to leave a lot of blank spaces to be filled in throughout the year.


This wall is next to the door as you walk in.  It's our bathroom chart, job board, and Super Improvers wall.


This is our carpet area and one of my teaching walls.  I don't use an easel, but pin chart paper to the wall.  I love having a large flat surface to teach on.  I use both sides, but generally sit on the right side.  The pocket carts on the right are our Daily 5 choice boards.  We're starting with one rotation: Read to Self.  On the left is our Math Stations chart.


Moving down the wall . . . this is our writing genre display board.  I've since changed it to say, "Write a Narrative".  I display all our writing anchor charts on here as well as a few other writing helpers.

Next to it is our bucket filler chart, which will be filled with cups and around it with anchor charts about bucket filling.


The top part are our writing goals and our ST Math Progress Chart (computerized math program).  Below are our QR codes for Listen to Reading.


This used to be where I had our computers.  We no longer have classroom desktop computers.  Instead, we received some Chromebooks.  The beauty of those is that they're mobile, which means I can use this space for a Work on Writing Station!  That will be on the right.  On the left is our Math Wall.


I LOVE this corner.  It's a little disorganized, still.  It's our reading corner, and, of course, balance ball storage area.  Students have their mailboxes on the left and math manipulative next to it.  As you can see, I'm in the process of filling book boxes for Read to Self.


I also love this wall!  It's another teaching wall.  Each of the whiteboards slides and reveals storage space behind them.  There's a ton of space!  I generally put my agenda on the left and other static things on the right.


This is my guided reading table and teaching corner.  I don't have a traditional desk, but this area serves that purpose.  It's a mess.  And, normally, my blinds are open, but because I wasn't in the room most of the day, I didn't want to open / close them.


Here's the counter with the cubbies.  Students will store their book boxes on the left and school supplies are on the right.

As I said, much of it is the same as last year.  I'll come back later and show you specific pieces, like our new Work on Writing area, as I get them more established.  This year, I'm not doing a lot before school starts, in terms of set up.  We'll see what happens in the next few weeks! 

Go link up with Blog Hoppin' and show me your digs!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School - Who - Monday

I'm going to try to link up each day this week with Blog Hoppin's Back to School Link Up.


Today's all about me!  I recently did a Meet the Teacher post.  The information here will be slightly different.  You can also find out more information in the About tab above.

Here's our family.  I have a loving husband and two boys.  My husband fully supports my teaching and work with TpT.  He stays home with our boys and helps out a ton at home with all the little things that I can't do working full-time.  I have loved that the my boys have their dad at home.  It's such a blessing for them to develop that deep father / son relationship.


Here are my boys.  This is Liam, who is four.  He's got one more year of preschool before Kindergarten.  I don't know how he got so big!  I asked him the other day if he was excited about school starting again and he said, "not really".  Asking what he meant, he said he didn't like the "other school".  Inquiring a bit further, like you have to do with all children, he said that he didn't want to go to Kindergarten because there are no toys.  He's definitely all boy!

He's at a play-based preschool that's pretty unstructured.  It's perfect for him and he gets to play a lot. That's what preschool and early childhood should be . . . learning through play.


This is Oliver (Ollie) and his grandfather.  He's two (Ollie that is).  I'm amazed at his language skills everyday.  He's very verbal, but I can't get him to sit still and listen to me read a book!  We'll see where that takes us in the years to come.


A bit about my teaching

This is my 16th year of teaching.  I can't believe it's been that long!  I started teaching in fifth grade, moved down to fourth grade, then third grade.  I was out of the classroom for four years doing teacher professional development and coaching, mainly helping teachers with their English learners.  

When we decided to start a family, I decided that going back to the classroom would be good to have a more predictable schedule.  It's been hard to figure out how to balance family and work.  Teaching is all consuming.  There's so much I can do at home and I do.  It kinda takes over everything.

When I went back into the classroom, I decided to start at Kinder.  There was an opening at a school that I knew I wanted to teach at.  I used to say that Kinder students scared me because they were so little!  I can no longer say that!  Actually, I have had a lot of training in early reading strategies, but hadn't really implemented them with students, since I'd always taught 3-5.  I wanted to get some experience with the smaller kiddos.  I spent three years in Kinder, was moved to a 1/2 combo, and have taught second grade for the past several years.  

People often ask me which is my favorite grade level.  I don't have a definite answer.  Each grade has it's own perks and it's own pluses and minuses.  Each has also been good for the stage of life I was in.  

Other info

I love to read.  I used to sew and knit.  I still have the skills, but family and work is kinda consuming, so there's little time for crafty things.  I love to travel, although that's been on hold for the past couple years.  My husband and I enjoy doing short-term missions trips, mainly building trips.  We "hooked up" in Romania on a missions trip.  What else????

Do you have any questions for me that I didn't answer?  I can't think of anything, but if you do, leave a comment below!

Want to go check out some other blogs?  Head on over to Blog Hoppin' and the linky happening each day this week.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 18 - 22

Have you started school yet?  We start this week.  THIS WEEK, people!  Okay, I think I'm ready.  In reality, I didn't have that much set-up to do since I was able to stay in the same room and I'm able to leave almost everything where it was.  Yeah!

I'm going to try my best this year to link up with Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten and her Peek at My Week linky each week.  I loved reading everyone's visual plans last year and finding a bunch of new resources to add to my repertoire.

I worked on a template for the visual plans that I think will work for me.  So much of our day is routine.  I try to routine-ize everything so that most of what I do can be "plug and play".  I'll get more into what I do in our day during the Blog Hoppin' BTS Linkies this week.  Since we have such good routine, I struggled with how to create the template.  Here's what I came up with (click on the picture to access the PDF with clickable links):


The first day is going to be a lot of establishing routines.  In fact, our entire morning before recess is Whole Brain Teaching Routines and establishing Daily 5.

I'm starting WBT for the first time this year. I dabbled in it a bit last year, but only got a taste of the potential that it offers.  I'm super excited to be started it fresh with a new group of kiddos.

I've been doing Daily 5 for a number of years now.  I love how it sets up independence and expectations.  I actually use the same process to set up expectations for other classroom / school related behaviors, too.  We do A LOT of practice the first few weeks of school!

Onto the things that I *think* are meaningful enough for you to possibly do in your own rooms.

Whole Group Reading Comprehension

Every day we do a read aloud and usually do some sort of comprehension focus with it.  Sometimes if we're reading a chapter book, the comprehension focus may be over a period of days, rather than in one day.  This week, we're going to read several Kevin Henkes books and do some of the activities from Hollie Griffith's Author Study.  We're not doing a full author study on Kevin Henkes nor reading all his books, but just a few that are great beginning of the year reads about friendship, staring a school year, and worrying.

Math

My math time is all about routine.  There are several things that we do, pretty much all year long.  Those include my Daily Math pages.  Each student has a page in their personal whiteboards.  Each day, we choose a new number and fill out the page.  In the packet are several different versions of each page, usually with different number lines on them.


There's pages for Number Sense (0-99, 100 - 1000), Addition & Subtraction Strategies, and Time and Money.  We use them almost every day throughout the year, changing it as we move onto higher numbers or other concepts.  On the first day, I model how to do it after that we have a "Daily Math" job card that rotates through each student.

We also do a word problem each day.  I have math journals for my students.  Last year, it was just plain paper sandwiched in between construction paper.  This year, I want to do interactive notebooks, so I've merged my math journal with my math interactive notebook and am using a composition book.  My Addition & Subtraction Word Problems are grouped by problem type.  We start with the easier, join result unknown problems and moved onto more difficult problems as the year progresses.

Here are a few examples of student work:



Totally just realized that there's an error in the problem (papers vs. pencils)!  But, it's still a good example of student thinking!


There are blank spaces in each problem.  Before I give students numbers for the problem, we talk about the situation in the problem.  We identify what the action is (if any) and decide what the start, change, and result is and what is unknown, what they need to figure out.  I do introduce that vocabulary to my students, so that they can "read" word problems and understand the situation in them.  Students are supposed to write an equation, show how they solved the problem and write an explanation.  I can totally see students' thinking in the first two examples.  The third one is getting there, but needs some explanation.

Anyway, we start this on the first day of school and do a problem each day.  As the year progresses, I change the numbers to two-digit numbers.

Also for math are two books that have some routines and instruction.  The first, Number Sense Routines, has some great routines for whole group math thinking.  I start our year off with a counting circle.  I also do a lot of number talks from this book throughout the year.  I generally alternate between the two routines.

Finally, I start the year off with addition and subtraction facts.  Last spring, I read through Basic Math Facts.  It has an awesome scope and sequence for teaching math facts.  I'm pretty much going through it, spending a little less time on "counting on" and more time on the more complicated strategies.

Writing

We do Writer's Workshop in our district.  Last year, our principal bought us the new Common Core Lucy Caulkin's Units of Study.  I found them a bit hard to implement with our population, so I decided to use the structure of Writer's Workshop, but change A LOT.  For the first few weeks, I'm all about establishing a routine and getting students writing.  Our district does Narrative first, so I'll move into focusing on that in another week or so, but for now, it's just about writing and putting your pencil to the paper.

Community Building

I will change out this row as the year progresses and we get into more Social Studies and Science content.  I tend to alternate between Social Studies or Science, doing each for a couple weeks at at time.  We have such a short time for those content areas!  For now, though, it's all about community building.

Lindsey's We're Back for Seconds has some perfect activities that fit in with our school rules and expectations.  We're going to work through several of the actives in that packet for the next several weeks.

Also Miss DeCarbo's Think, Talk, Teach! is going to help us implement our WBT Oral Writing routine in the afternoons.  Oral Writing has got to be one of my favorite WBT routines.  That along with the Genius Ladder.  I'm looking forward to seeing what my students can do with their writing this year!

Is this all we do each day?  Ugh . . . no.  We do much more than what's here, but for the most part, these take a majority of our day.



Are you interested in what seeing a whole lot of other great plans?  Go check them out on Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten Blog.