June 20, 2014

Summer Stock Up!

It might be summer break, but let's face it... What teacher actually takes the summer off, totally free of any thought of school?  I know I have been so busy creating materials for my classroom, thinking about how I will change instruction for next year, and cutting out lamination (yes, the dreaded lamination).  

As we enter the month of July and the beginning of school is starting to creep into our minds, some of my blogging buddies and I have organized a HUGE Summer Stock-Up weekend full of must-have items for Back to School.  Here, you will find awesome products for Guided Reading, Guided Math, Classroom Decor, Posters, Behavior Management, Get-to-Know-You Activities, Classroom Organization, and Interactive Notebooks.  Seriously... We have everything you need for your classroom!

I am excited to share the products I will be featuring this weekend!

Of all of the subjects to teach, I think math is my favorite.  Now, if you had asked me my favorite subject to teach at the beginning of my career, it would NOT have been math! :)  Over the years, I have seen my math instruction evolve from me standing in front of my kids doing a monotonous worksheet to teach the skill to a fun, engaging time where kids are using math. 

I've always done calendar time as part of my math routine.  Over the years, I have seen my calendar time go from a teacher-centered time to a student-centered time.  In my daily jobs, I have a calendar helper.  After the first few weeks of school, that student leads calendar time each day.  It is amazing to see how these students "get" math during their time as calendar helper. 

This is my calendar wall.  I have started calling it my math focus wall, because it's so much more than calendar.  Excuse the items that are misplaced... This picture was taken after I painted my wall last summer!  From left, you will see my calendar.  Here, the students practice counting and patterning.  My calendar cards always show some kind of pattern.  We then do the coded date and tally the date.  We go over the days in school and review place value.  We then sing the months of the year and days of the week (not really math related, but goes right along!).  We review shapes (both 2D and 3D) and play a little game I like to call "What real items are these shapes?".  We review colors and play a game called "What real items are these colors?".  We do the weather of the day, then graph any birthdays or lost teeth.  We always end with number of the day.  We review the number by writing the number, writing it in written form, tallying it, showing it in ten frames, and drawing a picture of it.

Here is a picture of one of my students leading calendar time.  I literally sit back and watch and lend support when needed.  It's a beautiful thing.

If you are needing a great book to read about how to transform your math instruction, I highly recommend reading Guided Math by Laney Sammons.  This is an easy read that will make you excited to teach math!

If you are wanting to get your hands on a wonderful calendar set for your classroom, click the link above to check out my colorful calendar pack that includes everything you need!
If you ask me, behavior management is one of the most difficult things to do as a teacher.  In my early years of teaching, my school used a stoplight method for behavior management.  A couple of years ago, I was introduced (thank you, Pinterest) to the clip chart.  What I love about the clip chart is that students have the opportunity to move up, promoting positive behavior, and make the day better if they break a rule.  

I know there is some talk against clip charts out there.  I realize it's not perfect.  I realize that it's still not a one size fits all method of behavior management.  It's not going to fix the problems some of our precious students face each day.  That's where we, as teachers, have to learn the difference between mountains and molehills.  I have handed out about 25x more positive behavior marks than negative.  Maybe it's because I believe in giving lots of chances (they are 5, after all...).  Maybe it's because things don't really phase me.  Maybe it's because I'm too much of a softy for these sweet kids.  Whatever it is, it works in my classroom.

I created a clip chart that is color-coded.  Along with that, my students have a daily behavior chart for the month that goes home each night.  My students have binders, but you could easily add this to your students' folders.  At the end of each day, I mark on the sheet whatever color they have ended on.  If they have earned a reward, I give them that reward.  Our school has a little store where students can cash in Caught Being Good tickets each week.  My little ones live for this!  

This pack includes all that you need to start this behavior management system in your classroom!

Isn't it cute?!?!  Simply hot glue some pretty ribbon, assign each student a clothespin, and it's ready to go!

I send this letter home with my students at the beginning of the school year.  When parents understand your behavior management system, they are almost always on board.

Here is an example of the daily behavior chart.  I run it through the copier and have it hole punch it, and it's ready to go!  Parents initial each night, and students get a sticker after I check it the next morning.  I give a sticker (as long as I know the parents have acknowledged the mark) even if it wasn't a good mark the previous day.  It's a new day, right?  My kids love decorating their folders/binders with these stickers!  You would think I had given them a million dollars. :)

This may not really be a poster, but to me, these are so valuable to my classroom organization.  I always struggled with how to keep my classroom library organized.  I have so.many.books.  It's not even funny.  I want to make sure I have enough out for my students, but they don't need EVERYTHING out for their choosing.

I made these book bin labels last summer.  They work very well in my classroom.  I have baskets that have holes in them, which make it easy to label.  Simply laminate the cards, hole punch the corners, and attach to the baskets with a book ring.  Easy peasy. :)

Now, onto how I choose the books for students to have access to...  I leave certain books out all year: alphabet, decodables, math, poetry, favorite characters, and magazines.  I rotate seasonal books every three weeks.  For example, I have baskets labeled The Gingerbread Man, Polar Express (trains), and holidays for the month of December.  In March, I will have Dr. Seuss, St. Patrick's Day, and weather. When they are not out for student access, I store them behind the curtains of my cubbies.

In the shelves below the curtain, I store my math stations and math manipulatives, organized by table.  That's for another post, though. :)

Conveniently, I have 12 cubbies on the top shelf.  You can guess how I organize my seasonal books... :)

These labels are seriously wonderful.  I hope you check them out!

I think I am most excited about this product!  

If you're like me, you like things in your classroom to match.  Last summer when I painted my classroom, I had lots of things that semi-coordinated, but not nearly what I wanted it to be. 

Along came my friend, Jena.  She is an amazing music teacher at my school, but she is also extremely talented with digital creations.  She created a bundle of digital papers and accents that matched my room perfectly.  Of course, I had to take the opportunity to create all of my class decor from scratch! :)

I am bundling all of these products into one large product so that you can be all matchy-matchy too. :)  

You can also purchase almost everything individually if you want.  I have linked the products to my TPT that are available individually.

Included in this file are the following:
*Reading strategies posters (EXCLUSIVE TO THIS SET)
*Transportation organizer (EXCLUSIVE TO THIS SET)
*Writing office folder template

I'm sure as school gets closer, I will add more to this file.  I am so proud of these products, and I hope they can be useful in your classroom!

Now, head on over to Facebook to see all of the wonderful back to school products we are offering to you this weekend!  You won't be sorry!

June 19, 2014

Guided Math Book Study--Chapter 4

Welcome back!  This chapter was all about using guided math in the whole class setting.  It was probably my favorite chapter so far!

In this chapter, Sammons discusses the advantages and challenges of whole-group instruction.   She visits the history of education, noting that whole-group instruction has been around since the beginning of time. :)  There is definitely a place for whole-group instruction, but using this method is appropriate in a handful of scenarios:
*teaching mini lessons
*activating strategies
*reading math-related literature
*setting the stage for Math Workshop
*conducting a Math Huddle
*practice and review

When thinking about my own math routine, I felt the need to reflect upon my own math block.  

I feel as if I follow the structure Sammons describes, but the part that intrigued me the most was the Math Huddle.  My current schedule doesn't allow much time for student reflection.  I will definitely be adding that component into my math block!

During my whole-group time, I always try to find time to incorporate technology.  We use the apps DoodleBuddy and PicCollage A LOT in our practice time.  For example, when we studied addition and subtraction, I would have my students open DoodleBuddy, draw a picture depicting an addition/subtraction problem, and then share it with the class.  When studying measurement, we took pictures of items in our art boxes, opened PicCollage, and made a collage of the items from shortest to longest.  

Example of the measurement practice.

While I'm not a proponent of a teacher lecturing for a solid hour, I do think it's necessary when teaching new skills to students.  This chapter perfectly described how whole-group instruction should occur in a classroom.

When looking at my schedule, quite a bit of my math block does consist of whole-group instruction; however, I feel as if it's a good balance.  I do tend to lean more toward whole-group instruction when introducing a new concept, but I think that's justifiable.  

As stated above, I tend to lean more on whole-group instruction when introducing a new concept.  I'm not sure how you can get around it in kindergarten.  So much of what they learn is 100% fresh material.  Seeing the growth my students make in 180 days proves that whole-group instruction is effective, but there has to be plenty of time for other methods as well.

My friends and I have another great giveaway for you!  Enter below!

Now check out what everyone else has to say about chapter 4!  You won't be sorry!

June 16, 2014

Educents Bundle for the Whole Year!

As you know by now, I love getting my hands on valuable resources for my classroom.  You may not know that I also LOVE a good deal.  Like, super big love a good deal.

 I have teamed up with Educents with some instant downloads for you. It includes a full years worth of activities for your kindergarten classroom.  It is so exciting because it's stuff for now, in a few months from now, and all the way through the end of the school year!  Check it out below!  

My products included will surely be loved by your students!  

First is my Let's Give Thanks unit.  This is one of my favorite units in my store.  It's loaded with station activities and lots of other valuable resources for your classroom.

My second product is another favorite of mine.  My Whatever the Weather unit is crammed packed with learning activities all about weather.  Your kids will love it!

Here are the other FANTASTIC items available in this pack:

For a limited time it is $24.99 from Educents which is about 75% off!  
18 instant downloads with over 1300 pages of materials you can use all year!

You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below!