July 27, 2014

Back to School Blues?

Back to School
is coming!
And I have a HUGE confession...
this is the first summer I haven't returned to my classroom to work in my room EVER.
Pray for me. Seriously.

I am presenting at a technology conference on Tuesday and I report BACK to work on Wednesday.
{Deep breaths... deep breaths.}

Why have I stayed away?
My two little girls have been priority number one.
It is hard to pay for a sitter for two little ones for no reason...
I want to be in my jammies with them and I want to take them to the pool.
Plus, the baby takes two naps a day. 
That really breaks up our day and creates time management challenges... 
plus that means she wakes up really early in the am.
{Yup... I do not sleep in ever.}

Secondly, I presented at two different conferences this summer
 and that is a lot of amazingly hard 
and outranguously fun work.
Any "baby free time" I got was at those two conferences.

Lastly, I have been taking care of your requests.
It has a whole new CLEAN look to it, new graphics, and new fonts.

 I also update on the Library Book Labels.


This pack has well over 140 labels and matching stickers that I know you are going to LOVE.

I dove into a book study
and cleaned up some audio files for my most favorite Sight Word Stations.
I can't wait to use these earlier in the school year this year.
I am also working on the 2nd grade list too.

And I created a new idea called QR Scan & Learn Sight Word Book

Then, my teaching assistant from last year call me
{on the first day of I Teach K}
with huge news.
She got a classroom of her own!
And she needed my help creating a bee themed classroom decor.
And I had to come through for her.
I mean, you work with me and tolerate my craziness for a full year, 
I think you deserve some classroom decorations from me.
Another TA of mine got her Owl set the year before too.
{At least you know why I made the things I make!}

And you guys can even grab this related Center Sign Freebie...

I have also dove deeper into Computer Center Sheets.

I created a Kindergarten ELA set

and I just finished a 1st Grade math set.

The best news is... 
My ENTIRE TpT Store is on sale for the next two says at 20% off.
All my gals at FL wanted to MAKE SURE you can get everything you need done for you classroom and get it all at a great price.

July 25, 2014

Mission: Sensory Table

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to improve my sensory table station.

I have always used sand, or a like product, 
and it has always been just a play station.
But this year I want to make this area a WOW.
Incorporate learning into the PLAY.

 Why haven't I made a better sensory table in the past 9 years?

Stupidly... should I even admit it?
It is all because our sensory table doesn't have a lid.
Isn't that the lamest reason ever???

So, a sweet blogging friend, Tiffani from Time for Kindergarten
told me about this website what shared this link showing us how to make a sensory table.
{It ended up costing about $40 a table, not $30.}
And I asked hubs to make it happen.

I came home on Saturday to see THIS in my living room.
He built my sensory table with a lid for me.

Then, I got really selfish and asked him to make me ANOTHER one.
{Because one is never enough...}
And he did.

Well, I couldn't be happier.
And either could our two girls.
In fact, they couldn't leave it alone.

 A Lakeshore delivery came.
{I mean, being a teacher's kid can be fun but sometimes it is just plain mean.
Here is a FUN and engaging activity that S, my 5 year old can't touch.}


So S
{who is dressed as Pocahontas with a necklace as a headband no less}
got to work I mean play.
 I gave her time to experiment with all the toys materials.
 Then, we pulled out the STEM question cards.

I propped one of them up and let her think about how to answer the question.
  Here she is working.
 This question asks her, "How can you make a sinking lily pad float?"
{There are two types of lily pads in this pack. Some sink and some float.}

S played to learn and discovered that is she put a sinking lily pad  
ON TOP of a starfish, 
it would float. 
Pretty smart.
She had to play to discover this.
Isn't this the ideal learning scenes we want at our sensory tables?
I wouldn't have thought of that solution.

 Of course, the baby couldn't stay away either...
so E joined in on the FUN.
Although she could barely see, her height didn't prohibit anything.

Also notice E's accessory?
She has this obsession with this blue necklace.
She wears it all the time, except when she sleeps of course.
She thinks it is pretty.
And it cracks us up so we let her.

Even though we have the STEM cards to help PROMPT our thinking and solutions,
S easily went into "discovery" mode.
She asked us to give her a plastic baggie so she could make all "those things" sink. 
But she discovered the baggie needed water in it to actually sink.

 And our floor was obviously getting wet, so we had to grab a towel
to hopefully avoid slips and falls.

I can say that I strongly feel this sensory table will be a hit with my kinders!

This year I am committed to making the best themed sensory tables 
I can to promote learning in my classroom.
I hope you will continue reading on my adventure this over this school year.

 Now, help me out.
What are YOUR favorite sensory tables I should try out this year?

July 19, 2014

Assess for Success with PLICKERS App

I have an awesome {easy} TECHIE way to assess my students...

Welcome to a FREE app called PLICKERS.
 It is an awesome way to assess quickly with only one smart device in your classroom.

Here is a video I made for you guys to SHOW you this app and 
how to USE it with your Kindergarten students successfully.

 But guys...
I have actually used this app in my classroom.
The first time we did it, it wasn't good....
So I made some changes to make it successful for littler learners.
Here is the breakdown of TIPS to make the use of this app successful in your classroom.
1. The app goes on your smart device for free. 
You want to make sure you have a device with a camera function 
because it uses the camera to "read" the Plickers.

2. You log in on a computer to website to get your paper clickers 
{hence the app name of plickers} like the ones shown in this picture.
Each sheet prints two plickers so you will need to cut them in half.

3. I ALWAYS print off the Plickers onto cardstock.

4. Here is my TOP TIP to make these cards successful in a kindergarten classroom.
LABEL the Plickers for your students.
In the computer site, you make a class list and assign each plicker to a student. 
Since each card has the number on it, it is easy to give the correct student their numbered Plicker.

I write my students name on the BACK of their Plicker 
AND I take colored markers and label their choices with the markers for A, B, C, and D.
The letter the student holds up is their answer. So they need to do it the correct way.
This allows the smart device reads their answer, 
hence why you have to label the Plickers with the colored marker.
I want my students to see their answer on the back of the card, 
which allows ME to see the correct front to scan and INSTANTLY get their answer,

5. Make a few extra cards and label them as LOST
If a student can't find their Plicker, you will make a note of it for your assessment records 
and allow them to borrow a lost card. Problem solving before you need it.

6. Premade questions save time!
You can enter in the ANSWER to any question ahead of time on your smart device. 
I love to take a few minutes to enter in the question and answer into my personal phone,
 the smart device I use. It makes it easier for me to focus on grabbing the data I want to use first.

 7. I use these question cards to assess my students. 
Did you notice how the colored letters from the student Plickers match the colored answers for the multiple choice question? 
That is on purpose because I want to get the right answer quickly and easily.  
I also make sure I am prepared to ask my students to answer questions in more than one way.
8. You can use card or project the question on your projector for larger display. 
I love using the projector and putting one question on each slide. 
These are just great ways to assess easily and for the whole class at one time.

9. Place students in an oval or a circle for assessing.
It makes scanning their Plickers easy and helps stop cheating, if that is an issue.

You CAN scan easily without using an oval or circle, because I have done both.
{But, lets face it... those who cheat will always cheat... 
and they are only cheating themselves. 
I don't think this app makes it easier or harder to cheat.}

This upcoming year, I have to assess my students twice a year to track their growth.
I made these packs of Assess for Success to help me do this.
Each pack contains directions, a pdf version of ALL the questions to print out and 
show your students to assess them.
AND an IMAGE version of each question so you can compose your own assessments 
easily on your computer's format. 

I practiced using the Plickers with my students this Spring using the Time to the Hour pack.
I also made an Initial Sounds Pack 
with multiple choice questions that are ready to go.

 But, I want to offer this pack, Assess for Success Time to the Hour
 to you for free for you guys to try it out for yourselves.
 {This pack is a Facebook FREEBIE since so many of you guys have been asking me for one.
I am only offering this to Facebook Followers.
You can purchase this pack to TpT if you are not a Facebook Follower.

A sweet blogging friend of mine has also posted about this app...
head {here} to read her post as well.

What questions do you have about using this app?

July 18, 2014

The Daily 5 Book Study {Chapter 9}

Hello Daily 5 fans!
Now that the FL gals are back from Vegas, we are ready to proceed with our book study.
This week we are diving into...
Sadly this is the last chapter of the book and hence the last chapter in our book study.

This chapter discusses ways to ultize parent volunteers, guests, new students,
and those challenging students we all have.
{Aren't those the "friends" we all worry about when we talk about using this structure!?}

They suggest ways to work with students who disrupt the flow of the classroom which building stamina in very specific ways. 
Level 1: Reflection
Level 2: Extra Support
Level 3: In Class Modification
Level 4: Gradual Release of Class Modification

I will not tell you all the details about this elements because I think they wrote it so clear and exact that you really need to read their words to see how to handle our needy friends using this structure.

I will also add that I was doing these steps in my classroom myself,
so I was glad to read that these are the ways they also suggest to help support students
in using their structure successfully.

I loved one thing they said...
on page 142, 
"Children will rise to the expectations we set for them."

The last part of the book details how to handle subs, new students, and even gives and
AWESOME sample letter to send to paretns explaining The Daily 5.
I know I am going to use their sample letter and make it my own to share with parents to help them gain understanding about the structure we are using.
I loved this chapter because The Sisters kept it real.
Real Students can sometimes have Real Problems conforming to systems.

I was thinking about the Level 1:Reflection section.
 It is for the teacher to SELF reflect on how he/she set the students up for success or not.

Level 2: Extra Support suggests sitting a child out of recess to practice
 some Daily 5 elements that they are struggling with in the regular classroom.
 I have also made a {as in one time, one single student}
sit out at recess for a small amount of time to practice Read to Self.
I hated doing it but this student's behaviors were not acceptable to myself or even himself.

We had to force this student to THINK about why he was going the wrong behaviors
 and allow him to make the choice to do the correct behaviors. 
I am more than happy to say that using recess to practice our stamina ONE TIME was all it took...
he did so much better from that day forward. 

I also like how the sisters discussed behaviors a student CAN and CAN NOT control.
We, as teachers, have to determine between these two behaviors and work with that student where they are. Let's face it- we teach REAL students who may not have self control.

The Level 3: In Class Modifcation are real life things we do to support our students.
Reading rugs, offices, and even laundry baskets can help with boundaries.
Giving student kinestic materials can also aid.
 Teachers have been sharing these tips and more on Pinterest for years, but this book does a great job of collecting all those "teacher tips" that actually work and sharing them.

Level 4: Gradual Release is another way you teach students then pull away support as they grow,
 but give them more support as they need it.

I am a HUGE fan of this.
I support my students and pull it away slowly and then return the support as they need it.
By March, I provide almost NO additional support for any students...
they have it.
Smooth sailing through May... AND
since all our grade levels use Daily 5,
 I have set my students up for success for future years.

One way I support my students is with cross off sheets.

These sheets allow my students to track where they have been or where they have to go easily.
Using them isn't the modification...
but some students struggle with self selected choices.
For those students who don't finish their station or work, 
I modify their cross off sheet and TELL them where to go.
After a few weeks of this, I change their sheet to where they have to go first, 
then they can chose a station, then I choose, etc.
If that works, we leave it for a few weeks.
If not, I go back to making their choices.

After a few successful weeks of a combination of choices, 
I start them off at a station, then they choose.

As you can see I tamper off the help as they grow and change.

Check out my other Daily 5 Book Study Chapters by clicking on the chapters below.