Friday, June 28, 2013
It's sad to see google reader go. I loved loved the search feature! But come Monday it is a thing of the past. Like so many others in the blogging world, I too have started using bloglovin. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Lots of changes coming over this summer. Ones that I am super excited about! I am getting a new blog look, starting several new features, and revamping some of my TPT and TN products.

Let's start with blogs and blog designs. I am working with the WONDERFUL team at Honey Bunches Blog designs . I am so excited and can not wait until it's finished. But the new blog got me to thinking about my classroom. It's been the same forever and honestly, I'm tired of it. When I started teaching umpteen years ago I had a cute bears and bees theme. EVERYTHING was bees or bears and red gingham. Cute! Then I changed over a few years ago to a zoo theme. I made a lot of my items using KPM Doodles clip art. Very cute! But now I'm tired of that! I kind of think I'm tired of looking so "baby-ish", not that we really looked baby. I think you get what I mean. The teachers I teach with are AWESOME! There are 4 of us and they all have super cute rooms!! My neighbor does an amazing Hollywood design! So awesome! And across the way we have a super cute zebra print and pink room. I worried that the boys wouldn't like it but either they didn't notice the pink or it wasn't a big deal. And her neighbor has a construction theme! Hard hats, caution tape, and tools everywhere!

Then there is me... a half hearted zoo. It's not cute. It's not complete. It's kind of well tired. So I've been looking and NOTHING is getting me excited! NOTHING! UGH! I know that I like bright colors and the rainbow chevron is something that I love, but a theme it does not make. I guess I'm worried that my kinders will feel slighted (or maybe its more the parents) if my room isn't themed. At least I've got time to figure that part out. ;)

Now about the blog features that I am working on. I love Elsie's blog called a beautiful mess. I was thinking about how she plans her blog... what she shares seems so effortless. I am betting it because she has a plan. Me, I've not had a plan. I've posted when and whatever was on my mind. I don't want to change that but I do want to have some regularity to my blog. So here is the general plan. Tuesdays are going to be math days. Right now the posts are mostly about the book study number sense but during the school year I want them to be more about what is happening mathematically in my room. Thursdays will be literacy days. I LOVE what my writing instruction has become because of the Little Rock Writing Project. I also am going to include new products and random thoughts but I think that having a plan will help me stay focused.

Now for a request. I am looking to add a few people who blog to be "product testers". The details are this.... while I am in production of a new product I would need to be able to send you a working copy for you to give me feedback on. This would have to stay private, that is no blogging about it...yet. That is the second part of the deal. Once the product goes up on TPT or TN I would need for you to blog about it and pin it to pintrest.  If you are interested please email me at, I won't be pulling names from the comments below.

Are you ready for this....

Monday, June 24, 2013
I had to go to Office Depot today to get some photo paper and guess what?!?!?!? They were putting out school supplies! My jaw hit the floor... ALREADY? The gal working the section said that they will start running specials in July. Then it hit me that July is NEXT week! Yep one month is almost gone... and soon it will time to start stalking Target dollar spot!

Talking, Drawing, Writing chapter two The drawing and writing book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013
Chapter two is all about the drawing and writing book. It is full of lessons, much like chapter one was. In this chapter I was really impressed with the time taken to build up the drawing and writing book that the children will be using. I also found it interesting that the teacher had the students to build their work caddies. I use community supplies but I haven't ever had the children build the table caddies. I think this year I am going to do more of this in the first week. I had planned to have the children use travel soap dishes to hold their crayons....
I used these to hold my station crayons. A pack of 24 will fit...with no extra room. 

Tis year we are going to keep 11crayons in the box (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, brown, white, grey, and pink. Maybe a light blue too. I had planned on giving the sorting assignment to my student teacher but now I'm thinking that I will have the kids do it. 

Tis quote really stood out because it speaks to the importance for drawing out the introduction process of the drawing and writing book.  The rereading of stories is something that I struggled t teach last year. I almost think that I waited too long to introduce the idea. In the mindset of my students using drawing to tell a story then I should be teaching the idea to reread a story by looking at the pictures and deciding what is still needed. All of my kinders could have done this if I had modeled it for them. How wonderful is this going to be to teach rereading stories! Although I felt that I did a lot of teaching children to draw I see now that I did not do enough! We will be doing more this year. I am going t wait later to introduce labeling and writing words. I might even do it as a incidental type thing as I model writing, just to see who picks up that's kill naturally or wait to see who is already doing that with the people in their pictures.  Oh gosh am I excited about teaching writing this year!!!
This screams to me! It's what I've said over and over in PLC meetings. I think that there are two types of literacy teachers, those who believe that you read to write or the other track is you teach writing to learn to read. I'm the second. And this quote speaks to why I am that way. A child who can write, stretch sounds to put on a page and can read the words back is a child that can read books. There is very little that I need to do instruction wise. I believe that segmenting is a harder skill than blending. I am surprised by the words that my kinders tried to spell. Oh did they make me happy! 

On my here is a HUGE idea! Not only do words tell do pictures and voices! Thi is so powerful. Children start out seeing themselves as story tellers. They are valued members  of the literacy club because they too can tell stories! Then we start talking to them art putting those stories on paper so that others can "read" the story without them there to interpret the story.  Then at some point we are going to start adding words to these picture stories.

I want to make an anchor chart (that looks better than this quick sketch) that deals with the idea of rereading.  Maybe even include some procedure type things like have a neighbor read the story back to you. I'm still knocking around this idea. 


Number Sense Chapter 2

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our district really supports CGI math and expects all teachers to use it in their rooms. In my training for CGI I watched a teacher working with a group of children subtilizing. I have to admit that I did not understand at all why this was being used. I just didn't get it. And sadly no one explained to us why this teacher was using this in her room. I get it now. This activity that seemed to be play really had so much meaning that would have been great to understand. 

This quote was from the section where the kids were skip counting around the circle. I am so excited about this idea. This practice that appears to be a game is meaningful practice. It gives the teacher the ability to differentiate for all of their students through the questions that they ask. Think about this with our youngest learners, or our ELL students. These children are still working to Put everything together. A simple count around the circle by ones gives the teacher the opportunity to see where a child's understanding stops working. And at the same time enrich the above grade level student by asking what number would Susan have if we keep counting. One of the common core standards has us counting forward from any number (K.CC.2- count forward beginning at any given number within the known sequence instead of having to begin at 1). How cool is count around the circle for this activity!!!

And you know the kinders will love this because it feels like play. I think this will be something I start the first day of school with...counting to 20. I expect that there will be plenty of children who will not get this and will benefit from the counting practice..

This is just a part of the math goal that I have for this year. To creat routines that are comfortable and predictable so that my students will want to take chances and grow I their number sense. I also thought that it was important to remember to listen to the children. These routines are not just for routine sake... These are learning experiences and if you change the numbers thinking that they should get this and yet they don't, listen! The kids are saying that they have memorized a sequence of numbers but they really don't have the skills needed and should be given more practice with that counting sequence. 

I really am enjoying this book and a shocked at how importInt this is not to have been discussed in any of the math training that. I have been too. 

Teaching social skills in a CCSS world

Saturday, June 15, 2013
Some days I get so frustrated because my district has removed every traditional way of teaching social skills from the kinder classroom. House keeping... nope. Dramatic play... nope. Puppet theaters... nope.  It makes me crazy! But I haven't totally removed all of those things... I still do retelling with "dress up" or "puppets"', only you would be hard pressed to see it if you just walked into to my room.

So what is a teacher to do when all of those wonderfully developmentally appropriate activities are removed from the classroom... well she gets creative! One of the very first group projects I do is what does the perfect friend look like or what does a bucket filler look like. We divide up into groups and each child has a job to do. One child will trace the body outline of another child. Then one child decides what the face will look like. One decides on the clothes, another on the shoes... see where we are going?

I love this activity because it "feels" like play to the children but gives me so much information on how the students interact. After we finish this activity I point out things that I noticed while walking around like "Jamal, I noticed that you didn't have the colors that you wanted to create the shoes. I wonder how your friends felt when you asked to have the crayon bucket passed to you." Usually someone from that group will raise their hand and share how they felt. I also point out different problem solving skills that the kids might already know. I made this set of cards to help the kids remember what their job is.

This is what the full set looks like. I added arms and legs because I do use these cards for other activities where the group is the "body part" and the color is the job. 
These are up on TPT as a free file. I ask that you share a happy thought or two about the product. Click on the picture above to snag this for your self!

Ikea scores!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
As we drove into the RV park on Sunday I spotted the beloved blue and yellow sign. IKEA! Never occurred to me to stop and see if there was one near where we were going to be. Today I got the chance to venture over. I have several things from IKEA that I've gotten from teacher friends who live near one or if we happen to visit somewhere that has one, like here. 

I love these bath mats that we use for our front carpet. I read the story The Goat in the Rug and we talk about how important it is to take care of our personal rug and space. I do not use the black ones. Just the pink, red, blue, and green.  They stack nicely into one corner or our meeting area so that we can do whole group art projects. So much easier on clean up when you sweep a hard floor.  

I also have these drawers. Only my drawers are white and green. This is where I store center activities. Each tub has a letter or number on it. This summer I am going to add so locking wheels to it so that I don't have to unload it each summer. Yep at our school if there aren't wheels it has to be packed. So I bet you are wondering what I got this trip.... 

These guys are for hanging student work. I already have one but needed two more. I got the white ones. 

These frames just spoke to me.  They are double sided. Not sure what I'm going to do with all 5, I got a white one too, but I know that one will be on my table with graphics that show when I'm available or not. I'm thinking work station or progress monitoring times... Not regular class times. 

These are like my other shelves. I'm going to put wheels on them too. I'm thinking that the shortest section will be for folders... This year the kids are going to do most of the folders to take some of the pressure off me. I got pink, white,  and green tubs.  Not sure I will put a pink one in that shortest section. So can not wait to set up mu room!!! 

But the biggest score was this.....
Yep it's the little spice rack that has been all over Pinterest. I picked up several to have around my room. I envision using one or two as my listening center. I see one holding the book they are to listen too and the head phones. And maybe one per table group for listening logs. I mentioned that I got several right?!?

I'm also working on several things for TPT... More math journal prompts, some cute calendar pieces to go along with the Calendar Math series ( sorry calendar math folks but some of the pieces are SO boring!) and some anchor charts to go along with what I'm learning in my summer reading. 

Summer Reading and the Triple Track

Sunday, June 9, 2013

So here are my summer reading books...well some of it anyway. I know that there are book studies on Number Sense Routines and Talking, Drawing, Writing. The guided reading book was recommended to me to read. So I'm working on reading these and it hits me that I am reading all three at the same time. And I start wondering if I am the only one who reads multiplayer books at the same time, or do you read them one at a time. Do you keep a reflection log/notebook or write in the margins? How do you process the new material? How do you get this new learning read for your classroom? 

I bet you are wondering why I'm asking, right? Well the reason has to do with my newest roll as a facilitator for Arkansas A+. I tend to read several things at the same time because I get board with my brain only thinking on one subject at a time. In A+ we talk about a triple track of learning. 
The chart shows the three roles that we move through as we teachers learn. The first track is that of a student... Or better yet someone who is new to the content. In this role we are learning new vocabulary or learning new definitions to known vocabulary. Just think about Common Core State Standards. We have all taught from standards but now we are learning new vocabulary or definition to old vocabulary. The middle track is that of classroom connections. What things can you walk away from this training or book study and use today. What things can you adapt to use or create so that you can use this training or book study in your room.  The third track deals with sustainability of the training. That is what things are you going to share or pass on. What kind of resource can you be to others and what kind of resources do you need. As we learn or grow ourselves as teachers we are given the opportunity to attend PD or be part of book studies. I believe that what you make of these studies or PD classes directly effects you ability to implement the new learning and sustain what you started. So that got me to thinking about the new teacher evaluation system Arkansas is going to (TESS). Professional growth is going to be a huge part of that new evaluation, as is providing evidence to support the teachers new learning.   

So I began to ponder if I should be reading one book at a time, even though I have limited time and my brain likes the changes in subjects. And would blogging be something that could support my attempts at growth and be used as evidence. Or should I use something like the triple track thinking and a reflection journal.  Should all pd attempts be personal and doing what works best or should schools, districts, and state departments of education dictate how PD should look and be documented?


Talking, Drawing, and Writing book study

Friday, June 7, 2013
I actually bought this book last summer but never got to it and boy am I glad that I didn't! I needed this past year to just practice being a better writing teacher. I needed to watch children grow. I needed to practice bing comfortable with my new idea of writing. Now I know I can do this thing that frustrated me for so long! At times I am so surprised that my kindred ever learned to write... So glad that they learn and grow and develop even if I fail. So this year was huge for me! I felt like a champ because my children saw themselves as authors. Other left my room loving that they could put their ideas on paper. Im afraid that if I had read this book that I would have missed seeing this transformation in myself. After a year of growth I do see areas that need to be rethought, fine tuned, grown more. I love how chapter one talkers about storytelling and how very important it is in our young writers. I feel that this is easliy added to what I have started... Teaching children that they are authors will become something greater... All my kinders are storytellers and writing the story in words is just one way they can tell the story. 

Chapt one end with the story of a parent who can not read and felt that they wouldn't be able to help their child. The teacher reselling this story had completed a presentation that included storytelling. The parent saw storytelling as a way that he could help his child. What an awesome moment!! I find that most of my parents struggle with how to help their child and teaching the parents to tell their child his personal stories would be HUGE! I know my personal know- where my name came from, why we spent a week at the Beth every summer, why my grandmother made me still at all these "old people's" homes. These stories define my childhood as well as much of who I am. 

As I write this post I am drawn to a child from my room this last year. Jose is first generation American. His father I never met, but his mother spoke very little English and sadly my Spanish could start world wars it's so bad. But this mom was amazing. She wanted to help but the language was a huge barrier. But they have stories to tell. Family stories, important history, meanings of names or traditions. When we were writing Jose talked about his family. They were so important to him. While I failed him by not drawing this oral story telling out more, I intuitively knew enough to value these stories. I am excited to engage my future students in story telling of their personal history. 

Chapter one was amazingly easy to read. It actually felt like a friend talking to me about their expertness. I TRUELY love reading books written this way. I hope that the other two books I'm reading this summer are as wonderful! 


End of the Year....

Sunday, June 2, 2013
I am still in shock that the year is finally over. There are SO many wonderful things that happened this year that I NEVER want to forget. I had some of the most amazing littles!! The giggles we shared touched my heart. We worked hard and we played hard. In the end we are ever changed because of all we did together.

I have a full summer planned. I want to read several books to help me in teaching. I also will be doing some training with Arkansas A+. I am very excited about that training and becoming a fellow. I also plan to take some time to "relearn" how to relax. Many things did I learn this year and one of those was that I need to make sure that I spend time relaxing. I tend not to let go of things, which makes me a great teacher but also makes me very tired at the end of a school year.

Oh and I have hired a blog designer to help me "brand" myself in this digital world!! I can not wait to see what the gals at Honey Bunch Blog Design come up with!

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