Monday, May 25, 2015

What worked last year? Part 1: Math Journals

My students loved their journals last year AND we had a few!
Using different colored duct tape help my students quickly find the journal they needed.

Math journals literally took just minutes each day.  

This is how journaling time goes in my room:

I say,  "Friends, take out your math journals."  I had a piece of duct tape (green) along the spine of their math journals, so they could quickly find them. Students then opened it up to the "next blank page."

Then I  read the prompt.  The moment I was done reading it, they started drawing.  I encouraged them to look at their neighbors and collaborate.

Meanwhile, I started cutting the prompts out.  As I  cut, I also offered words of encouragement and clarification and moved about the room.   I dropped the paper prompt in the lid of their crayon box and kept moving.  The STUDENTS glued them in.  EASY!!! {I like easy.}

Question I get a lot... "Why don't you print them on labels?"  I simply don't because I am cheap.  I print the ENTIRE months worth of prompts (25 of them) on plain paper.  Close to ZERO prep needed here folks.   Then each day, I selected one... I DO NOT cut them ahead of time.  We don't have 25 school days each month, so at the end of the month I have no problem recycling 5 or 6 pages of plain paper.  Labels?... I might cry.

Also,  I can "cut and drop" those prompts way faster than I could peel and stick 20 labels on individual journals.
By the time I have made it around the room dropping the prompts off at their desk, I was ready to start checking their responses. 

Here are a few from this year.

This was at the very beginning of the year.  You can tell that we are still working on numeral formation.

You can find these math prompts by clicking the image below.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Looking Ahead

Today was my last day in Missouri.  I completed the check out process with my administration.  Then I cried big tears as I hugged my team mates and coworkers good-bye. 
 As I waited for my turn, I had a few minutes to browse my new planner!  Oh! My!  So pretty!

My other planner ended in July, so I needed one for this upcoming school year!  I will be working with teachers next year .  I was once voted "Most Likely to be Confused" when I taught in San Diego, so I need my plans written out in black and white... or blue and white...or red and white. 
 There are many view options!  I need that!
 And I love this section.   Don't you feel like you are in meetings all year long?   I love the clear place to put my "action steps."   AKA:  "You better get this done Deedee!"
So HELLO SUMMER!   I am half way to Colorado!

You can check out all of these great planners by clicking HERE.
You can find them as a digital download by clicking HERE.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Peek at my Week - Space

Last week we wrapped up our DRA testing.  This is always tough for me.  It is where I have that real reflective moment.  Historically, my students soar through the decoding process, but when they begin to interact with the text things appear a little disorganized.  NOT! THIS! YEAR!  Oh!  My!  Goodness!
 My students easily retold the events in the story WITH details and with LITTLE PROMPTING!  
Like EVERY! ONE! of THEM!  Seriously!  When asked to make connections and to discuss their favorite part... no problem-o.

I didn't have to say under my breath... "No, Get Your Umbrella is not about the cat!"  They knew what was important to pay attention to and what was considered an insignificant detail in the text.  
Can I get a hallelujah? 
I have been using our Guiding Readers units since January!  What a huge improvement I have seen! 
Each week, my students retell the story... this is one of their favorite things to do.

First we co-create the retelling strip.  Then partners take turns retelling the story.
Then each student completes a retelling task.
 Each week they are asked to make connections.  This is from January's unit.
"Peter likes to build a snowman.  I do too.  Willow does too.
I like when he gave him a good slap on the back because it was funny.

Because of these units, my students are ACTIVELY participating in the texts we read.  They are on the look-out for new words.  We use a little hand signal (like someone is flicking on a light) when they hear an unfamiliar word.  I! Love! It!

You can see all of the Guiding Readers units HERE.   
You can find the year long plan for Kindergarten HERE.
You can find the year long plan for 1st Grade HERE.

In other news...

It is our final FULL-ISH week of school and I need something with TONS of student engagement so we can all make it through with a smile!  Energy is high for students at the end of the year... but not so much for the teachers.  Can you relate?

So we will be exploring SPACE!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The importance of vision tutoring and vision services!!!

Our school offers vision tutoring.  

What is it?  Why do we offer it?

It has been explained to me this way...children in our world today look at screens and there is less "tummy time" when they are babies. This can inhibit the development of tracking and scanning abilities.   As you know, these are necessary skills!   A student can have 20/20 vision, but their ability to process what their eyes are seeing is an entirely different issue.  So, students must learn how to use their eyes, just as they learn to use any other part of their body.  Eyes are muscles that need to be developed in order for students to be successful.

Some things to look for if a student has not been tested for a visual impairment or vision tutoring services are:
Student has a hard time focusing on tasks
Light gazing
Eyes may jerk (continuously) side to side or up and down when student tries to focus on something
 Unwilling to make eye contact
  Holding things very close or very far from view
 Rubbing of the eyes
Tilting of the head when looking at something
 Tiring of the eyes while reading
  Student reaches frustration when reading quite often
 Laying their head down when reading
 Moving their head excessively while reading and looking from left to right

Our kindergarteners are screened each December.  Those students who show the need are offered tutoring at our school.  Then they are re-screened at the end of the year.  Their growth is phenomenal!   Some students do continue to receive tutoring during their first grade and second grade year, but most students progress enough that they are released at the end of the year.

Our tutor is AUH-MAZING!
She takes a small corner of my room and guides the students through exercises that help... plus they are fun!  My kiddos LOVE it!

Not everyone is lucky to have a vision tutor.   Mrs. Powell has put together some activities that you can do in your own classroom!  She explains EXACTLY how to set up the lessons and what you need to watch for as the students conduct them.  Students who are in need of vision tutoring have bad habits that you will want to correct.

You can check them out HERE!

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