Sunday, September 30, 2012

Florida Friends....

Will any of you be at the Kindergarten conference in Orlando at the end of November? I’ll be there and I would love to meet  any of my bloggy friends that will be there too! Meet up anyone?

* I had to add my Disney friends to the picture, because everyone knows Orlando is home of the most magical place on Earth!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We're Authors!!!

We did it!!! We made it through Lucy Caulkin's Launching Unit - can I get a hallelujah!!!!! We've set up our writer's workshop, established procedures, and we're all on the way to becoming fabulous authors! 
The kids learned all about revising when they picked out their best piece and fixed it up by adding more details and labels to the pictures and adding more words to make their meaning more clear. Then it was time to publish! If you're interested in the Writing Clip Chart, click HERE
On Friday we had our author's celebration and shared our fixed-up pieces with our classmates. They were so proud to share their pieces! I don't have pictures of all the kids (I teach writing to two classes and therefore have 36 writing students) but here's just a few sharing their awesome work! To present their work to the class the kids got to sit in my "big chair" as they call it, which they absolutely loved! 

It was a blast and the kids did such a great job being a respectful audience for their peers! 

We've been learning all about apples using my Johnny Appleseed mini-unit and I'll be posting about that sometime next week when we finish it up. 

I'm also already looking ahead to Columbus Day, I have a brand new Columbus Day mini-unit aligned to the Common Core: 

We've also finished up our Third Grade Common Core Checklist, so if you know a second grade teacher in need of that, send them our way! Fourth and Fifth grade will be up soon!

AND, I'm done with all my Reading Running Records, FLKRS and ECHOS! Can I get a holla from my Florida friends?? What a relief!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Assembling Little Books

I get lots of questions/comments on my little reader sets and how I fold them, or can I change them so they can be folded without cutting? I'm here with good news.... they can be folded, as is, with NO CUTTING involved! Follow these simple directions to fold them, and they will be much sturdier than if you cut them. I like my books to be sturdy enough to stay in my kids book boxes and be read over and over and over during read to self! 

1. Copy all the pages, and sort into piles by page (or have your copier do that for you!)

2. Take each page (you can do several at a time) and fold it so the wrong sides are together. 
3. You'll end up with one page on each side. 

4. If you folded several at once, separate them and stack them in a pile. Continue folding all the pages this way until you have a stack of each page. 
5. Take one of each page and stack them together. 
From the top it will look like this:
6. Then staple the pages together on the open end. 
7. Continue until all your books are done, and you've got sturdy little readers that will last all year! 

*The book in the pictures is just one of the eight stories in my Little Readers for August and September packs. If you are interested in my little readers you can find them there:

My Little Readers Set for December & January should be done in the next few weeks!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Popcorn 5 Senses

This week we wrapped up our 5 senses Science unit with a fun popcorn experience! Every year my students LOVE watching the popcorn maker churn out freshly popped kernels! 

We observed how it sounded while it was working. Once the machine had worked it's magic I gave each student a bowl full and we observed how it looks, smells, feels, and of course tastes! 

Then the students filled in their own observation sheet, drawing the body part associated with the sense, and a describing word. They did great! 

Afterwords, we compiled their answers, and used the most frequently used word for each to fill in our class chart. 

My kids have also been DEVOURING the science books we received from Donorschoose during read to self time. They LOVE them!!
We worked our way up to 8 minutes of Read to Self, and 6 minutes of Work on Writing this week. Next week we'll begin Read to Someone. I'm so happy with how the Daily 5 has been going so far!! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kindergarten Common Core

Is anyone else completely overwhelmed by the common core? Our district is just starting out and I feel like I'm drowning! Our district created a data entry system for report cards, and my co-team leader and I created a grade book, but I still feel like I'm grasping at straws trying to make sure everything gets covered multiple times. I'll go to grade a test and flip back through the standards twenty times trying to decide which standards the questions cover!

Have you guys seen this workbook for the kindergarten common core? Does anyone have it? It looks like a great resource for teachers. It's full of worksheets, assessments and such that are ALREADY LABELLED with the standards! No more trying to figure it out on your own!
I'm definitely thinking I'm going to have to try it out! That's half the battle.... trying to decide which questions cover which standards, and what if it covers multiple standards? Do you pick one? Mark both? I'd love to hear what other teachers think too!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Our First Few Weeks

We now have 2 1/2 weeks under our belt! The kids are doing awesome and we're starting to settle into a routine! Here's what we've been up to....

Daily 5
Love, Love, love, how this has been going! We've worked our way up to six minutes during read to self and on Monday I will introduce Work on Writing. We learned all about Independence during Read to Self and also how to choose good fit books, with the Two Sister's lesson on shoes. In the beginning my kids were just choosing books out of our community book buckets and then finding a seat around the room. My one rule is that they must choose a new seat each time so that their muscle memory isn't tied to any one spot. They have been practicing the three ways to read a book - read the words, read the pictures, and retell the story. Then our Donors Choose project came in and each kid got their own book box! We filled them with little books we've worked on in class ( from my pack and from Deanna Jump). After our lesson on good fit books the kids went through the book shelf and picked out a book or two that interest them to add to their box. 

Writer's Workshop
Our school uses Lucy Caulkins and we started by talking about writer's and all the things writer's write. Then we made it into an anchor chart to hang up. We read the book "The Best Story" which is an AWESOME book about writing from your heart. That lead to us making our heart maps. The kids drew all the things, people, places they love. This stays in their folder and they can always look back at it if they need inspiration for writing topics. We introduced the writing process and taught that brainstorming ideas like we did on our Heart maps is called Pre-Writing. We gave each child a clip with their name on it and let them stick it on the top of our writing clip chart on "Pre-Writing" as we move through the different stages, the kids will move their clips to stay accountable. I forgot to take pictures of the kids heart maps, but you can see my modeled example here. 

We did several activities to practice our names, including Rainbow names, and graphing the letters in our names. We also made our A my name is Alice portraits. These are all from Deanna Jump's Fun with Names pack

We've been using Kathleen Pedersen's Calendar pack and I am so in love with it! My projector was stolen over the summer so I am forced to use an old dinosaur overhead projector, but I will still rave about it!! Love how it covers so many math & Social Studies concepts all at once in an efficient way!

Science & Social Studies:
We've been learning about families, and also our five senses. Next week we'll be doing a fun five senses project with popcorn! :)

We've started numbers 0-5 which fall under Counting and Cardinality on the Common core. I don't have pictures since I don't teach math. (I teach two classes writing and my next door neighbor teaches two classes math)

Common Core:
Our district has officially switched over both Kindergarten and 1st Grade to the new common core standards, as well as a new report card. We were told we now need to have every single standard listed in our grade book with room to document four attempts at mastery. We knew there was no way that was all going to fit into our rinky-dink blue covered grade books they gave us, so my co-team leader and I set about making a grade book that would have space for the whole class, all the standards, and four attempts each. You can check out our Kindergarten pack here:

And our 1st Grade pack here

We'll soon be uploading 2nd - 5th grade as well since they'll be switching over in the coming years too. 

We also made a Kindergarten (1st grade on the way!) version that is about twice as long. This one has only one standard per page, and room for five attempts. (4 regular attempts, and an exceeds expectations assignment) You can check that one out HERE.

If your district does common core I would love to hear how you go about recording what is taught when, who master's what, and how it is reflected on your report card!!