Monday, September 1, 2014

Just Roll with it!

Happy Labor Day!

I have been laboring today... ha!

My class LOVED these cubes in the past, so I wanted to make a few activities that would maximize them.  I also wanted it to be specific to my students' needs.
 I made these so you can put the letters, words, numbers, ten frames, tally marks that YOU want to focus on.  Then the response pages are editable, so you can do the same!
 Here they are!

Deanna and I also finished this unit today.  I contains 50 pages of daily language and math skills.  
It was also added it the bundle!
Both are currently discounted.

Enjoy the last few moments of your holiday weekend!  Ahhh!!!

You can find the 4" cubes on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peek at my Week: Week 3

We had a great week last week.

There are some things we did not get to (such is life in kindergarten), but we did accomplish a lot!

Here are some highlights!

The overhead station is a big deal.  I did have someone go a little crazy and scribble all over the white board (muscle twitch perhaps), so we regrouped and refocused.  If I want this station to be a "work" station and not a "free-for-all" station, I have to remember to review, review, review.

I did share with my class that I had to roll the overhead into the closet for a time-out last year and there was an audible gasp and panicked looks of horror from the crowd.  I love 5-6 year olds!
 The predictable sentences are going great.  I am keeping it simple with just one sentence.  This week we will add the response page.
 We are learning how to be great writing partners.
 Our math tool kits are a big hit!  We are zooming along in our math workshop.  
(Read more about math tool kits HERE and get my free resource to make your own.)
 Our writing station is popular with these kiddos!

So coming up this week... Here is a peek at our work station tubs.  
(click on the picture to find the source)





 These are products that I made last year, but I like to lay them out ahead of time to make sure I have all the pieces.


Our poem is ready!


 Here is our focus wall for next week.
Have a great week!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Writers Workshop: Week 2

Today we just completed our 9th day of writer's workshop.  I get a lot of questions about writer's workshop, so I thought I would answer some questions and show you where we are!

1.  How can you teach students to write when they don't know their letters and sounds?

I believe that students can compose even without words.  I want my students to know they have a story to tell.  When they come busting into your classroom to tell you about when they wrecked their bike at home, they have a story to tell.  After all... writing is just telling on paper!

If you look at stories like Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola, Good Dog Carl, by Alexandria Day, and No, David by David Shannon, you will notice rich stories that are told with little or no words.  The illustrations carry the story.

So my students begin to tell stories with pictures.  Over time, their transcription skills will develop and we will see letters and sounds.

2.  Do you tell the students what to write?

NEVER!

During writer's workshop, students self-select a topic to write about.  This is not journal prompt writing time.  This is not reading response writing time.  Writer's workshop is a time for students to write on the subject of THEIR choice.  I may suggest (as the year progresses) that they write in a certain genre, but I rarely insist that they do.  For example:  If we are knee-deep in an informational text writing unit, I may request a student write in that genre.  Generally, whenever I start a new genre study, the majority of my students just naturally start to write in that genre.

3.  How do you get them to sit and write?

I expect it.  I tell my students that the work we do in writers workshop is so important that nothing should distract us from it.
We start small and grow from there.  

4.  How often do you do writers workshop?

Everyday.  We rarely miss it.  So, yes... I give about 170 mini-lessons a year!


This week we focused on where writers get ideas and created an anchor chart.  I then modeled how I would use this chart (sorry not pictured) to create a new piece.


True story!  I broke my arm when I was in grade school... or as one of my kiddos pointed out "in the olden days."  I am not really sure how old he thinks I am!


This was modeling how you can write from a memory.  This was my memory of flying kites with the Perfect Son at the beach when he was little... sigh... (don't get me started... I miss that boy.)

Here are a few student samples to show you the progress we have made in just a short time.

8/22 We are at the beach 8/28  My mom and I are playing in the sprinklers.
 Her writing on the right is much more focused and clear.  She is even starting to write some sounds.  I am not in a hurry to have letters on the page.  I am more interested in having them work on telling their story and making the meaning clear to the reader.
8/22 I am outside.  8/29  I am in my house and it is raining outside.  You can see me in the window looking out.  I don't like the rain.
His writing has also improved in clarity.  He has written some letters at the top (on the 8/29 piece).  But they appear to be just random letters.  That is AWESOME!  He knows letters mean something!  That is progress too!

This leads up to a segment I like to call...  "I Spy Spidy!"  
It appears that Spiderman is a creeper in each of his drawings!  
NOTE:  I did not include them all!

Showing growth in writing takes time.  I have heard it compared to watching a tree grow.  You can't force it to grow.  However, I am confident if I provide the opportunity and nurture the process, growth will happen.

You can click here to learn more about writing with emergent writers.  I co-wrote writing curriculum with Deanna Jump and you can see it over at her store.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Beautiful Planner! Erin Condren Style

I was all types of excited when I got my Erin Condren teacher planner last week.

I just sort of stared at it for about a day!

 However, I did pick up the pen and started in!
I jotted down my conference schedule for this year.  Indiana anyone?
 Added stickers for the special dates. 
 As you may know, I do my lesson plans on the computer, but these pages are to use when I sit down with my coworkers to sketch out the week ahead.
 I love these stickers.  I am the one on my team that says, "Oh, that's due this week?"
 I have pockets in my planner to hold the custom stickers and a variety of other papers.
Even a note pad in the back so I will always have one handy!  Love! It!
Swoon!  

There a million (ok hyperbole much?) designs to drool over.  
Swing by Erin Condren now to check them out.

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