Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Sweet Treat For You!

Halloween Owl 

 Just for you, my sweet followers, a 35% FLASH SALE only at my Teacher's Notebook store!!!  Sale starts now and ends Monday night!

Click the pic below to visit my store!

 Funny Candy Corn

I'm praying for ALL of you that have been affected by Sandy.  Stay safe, warm, and dry!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Random Cabin Fever Ramblings and FREEBIES!

October sure has been memorable here in PA the last two years!  The above picture was taken last October 29 after a rare autumn snow storm!  This year we are feeling Hurricane Sandy's wrath even though we are hundreds of miles from the coast.  Yikes!

So, I have been basically house bound since Friday.  I have been battling migraine headaches and my youngest has had the stomach bug since Friday night.  Then today, we all stayed in pj's all day as we had a "hurricane day"!  However, we are all feeling better, we have power (thus far), and are safe.  As my favorite cat would say, "It's all good!".

When I haven't been napping or baking, I have been working on a few new items.  I added this main idea graphic organizer to my Every Vote Counts packet.  It is aligned with the CCSS for identifying the key idea and details in informational text.  Click the picture below to grab a free copy from Google Drive.

I also created these sound mats to use with my kindergarten and first grade students.  If you are familiar with sound boxes, these are used in a similar way.  I use them to help my little ones develop phonemic awareness and to hear sounds in the beginning, middle, and end of words.  For instance, I will say the word "map".  Students have to place a marker (I use the flat decorative marbles) on the correct picture to show me where they hear the /p/ sound.  They would put the marble on the last pumpkin. These are also great for segmenting, blending and connecting sounds.  Laminate them or place in sheet protector.  Use an expo marker to write a word (one letter in each box) and have students push the marble from left to right.
Graphics: KPM Doodles and Scrappin Doodles
Click here to grab all three mats for FREE in my TpT store!

The wind is getting wild and I need to go batten down a few more hatches.  If you are in Sandy's path, I pray you stay safe!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Election Selection

Understanding our election process is difficult enough for older students (and adults!), but how does a teacher address this topic to young primary students?  We all know the answer is to bring it down to their level, make it relevant, and make it fun!

Although I do not teach my own class, I do try to sneak in a little seasonal and holiday themes as much as possible.  My obstacle is that I do not have more than 30 or so minutes with my reading groups and I have to make sure whatever I do supports students' learning goals.  With the exception of my one Corrective Reading group, I design my own reading and literacy intervention programs for K-2.  I begin with where my students are, their strengths, and where they need to be.  I integrate themes and materials from our Treasures reading series as well as from other sources.

 I worked with a second grade teacher this week who wanted to use a readinga-z text I found for her on the Presidential election.  Because she was able to borrow real, authentic voting booths that had to be returned last Friday, we did things a little backwards.  She wanted students to vote on a story character that would make the best mayor for their classroom!  Both characters were from tall tales:  one was Johnny Appleseed and the other was Dona Flor (a character from a story in the grade 2 Treasures series). 

 I designed various posters for the classroom and hallway as well as voter registration cards and ballots.  Then, I made a blank template for students to design campaign posters to try and convince their classmates as to the best candidate for the job.  The students worked with a buddy to design the poster and to write four reasons why he/she was the best person for the job. To do so, they had to revisit the text to search for endearing character traits.  They turned out really cute!

Unfortunately I was out on Friday (voting day)  and am anxiously awaiting to hear the results!

From there, I moved into first grade mode.  Now, with second grade, I co-teach and do more of a push-in for intervention and support.  With first grade, I pull out two groups a day.  I know the classroom teacher will read aloud several election theme picture books that will include some of my favorites:

 Grace for President (new jacket) 
 Duck for President (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards))
 Amelia Bedelia's First Vote

I wanted to use a leveled reader that would be appropriate for my firsties and maybe even my kinders, but could not find one.  So, I wrote my own book!

 This little printable book is 12 pages long including the cover page. It simply states the election process using kid language and is designed with line art for students to color after reading. My own son, my in-house "guinea pig" colored his book.  See pics above!

First grade will complete this as a shared reading and I will read aloud to kindergarten studentsI will use my vocabulary word wall cards to front load instruction and reinforce election vocabulary.

I will not have the time for students to use the poster templates and voting ballots, but their classroom teacher may!

I am excited to use this little book this week.  We have been learning about main ideas and details as well as summarizing, so we will complete a graphic organizer after reading.  I will share that with you next week!

There are many Election Day packets available for teachers.  Mine is simple, only 22 pages, and not a complete unit.  It was designed for my students' needs in a reading intervention setting.  If you are interested in this packet, you can see the listing here in my TpT store.
 Enjoy this last week of October... if you are in Sandy's path, stay safe and take good care!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sneak Peek

Do you remember Madeline Hunter's lesson plan format? (I am really dating myself!)  Back in the 1980's and into the 1990's we were required to use her lesson plan components.  For my administrators, the closure piece was the deal breaker when it came to evaluations. The entire lesson could be flawless, but if there was no closure activity, you were doomed. During my "closure", I like to give a preview, a "sneak peak", if you will, of what tomorrow will bring.  Sometimes I will place a book on the white board tray and see how long it takes one of my little sweet peas to notice it.  If they notice it early in the lesson, I defer all questions and discussion about the book until the end of the lesson.  Then, I capitalize on their interest and excitement to give a preview of tomorrow's lesson.  In my experience, I have found it to be a great motivator.  I used this technique when I had my own class and use it now with my small groups.  Of course, I do not use it every day.  It is in my "bag of tricks" and I pull it out when my students' interest needs a boost, or when I have something exciting to share with them.

Today, my students saw this when they entered my room for reading intervention:


I used window markers/paint to write three tricky lightning words that we have been reviewing.  These markers are SO, SO cool!  You can use them on any glass surface such of course, a window, or a mirror. Students noticed this right away and were so excited when I told them they would be using the markers on Thursday.  We will practice writing the words on the windows, and then I will have them read the words in context in a leveled reader.  FUN!!

As I was basking in their excitement, it made me think of how previewing a book (taking a picture walk) before reading can also motivate students to read, as well as getting their brains ready to read by activating prior knowledge. Today, my firsties finally got a chance to read Pumpkins In the Fall .  This nonfiction book boasts gorgeous photographs and prompted students to talk and share before reading about what they already know about how pumpkins grow, trips to the pumpkin patch, and carving pumpkins.

They read the book with their reading buddy and then made a list of facts/details they learned about pumpkins on large sticky notes.  On Thursday, they will share what they learned and we will reread the book.

It was a very productive day with my little pumpkins!  On a final note, I leave you with a preview of a little election unit I'm working on for my super readers.  Click the picture below to grab a FREE election day poster!

Graphics:  scrappindoodles.com

That's a wrap!  How's that for closure?!  :-)
Freebie Fridays

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Professional Development Ramblings

To me teaching is not only a science, but an art. 25+ years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate degree, the emphasis was on the science- the pedagogy.  Teaching in a cookie cutter manner never appealed to me.  As an English Ed major, I had a passion for classic literature, literary analysis, theater, and creative writing;  I sought, as most other novice teachers, to ignite a spark in my students. 

Teaching exclusively from a textbook was certainly not going to work for me.  It was too confining and not nearly creative enough.  Thank goodness I entered a teaching gig during the Whole Language heyday and worked in a school system that encouraged creative thinking, thematic teaching, and risk taking. Early on in my career, I realized I had a passion for curriculum and assessment. Writing curriculum, performance assessments and benchmark assessments at the county level with other literacy resource teachers was something I really enjoyed and now miss.

Having my hand on the pulse of education is important to me. Being aware and understanding the new CCSS standards is not enough. Knowing what current research suggests as best practice for instruction is a priority for me. My dream day:  having time to pour over and really read and reflect on my professional journals and piles of professional books.  I want the freedom to artistically design my curriculum, daily instruction, and intervention methods for my students.  However, I owe it to my students to do so in an informed manner using not only a research base, but my own professional judgement as an educator with twenty-four years experience.  I am blessed that I can achieve this and more in my current position at a private school.

Recently, I ran across this quote on -where else- Pinterest!

teach for tomorrow - Great quote from John Dewey.YES YES YES !!!!!!!!!

Even with our youngest students, we teach realistic goal setting and mapping out a plan and process to reach our goals.  Reflective learning not only applies to our students, but to us as 21st century educators.  To prepare our students for tomorrow, we are responsible for our own professional development in addition to that provided by our school and/or district.  For me, and I'm sure for you, I constantly evaluate my effectiveness, my strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests as a teacher.  Where are my students at this point in the year?  Where do they need to be, as per CCSS or our curriculum, or developmental milestones?  How can I help them to growWhat can they do to take responsibilty for their learning?  What has worked this week?  What has not worked? 

With this in mind, I am reflecting on the professional goals I set at the beginning of the year. I am required to submit them to my principal, but I would still do so if not required.  Not only do I have a passion for literacy and learning, but a desire to model what I teach:  learning is a journey that never ends and I am responsible for mapping out my itinerary.

So, what are my professional goals for this year?  My goals are fluid and are directed by my students' needs and interests.  Currently, these are my professional goals for the second marking period:
  • Continue to research best practices for teaching fluency using the works of Pinnell and Fountas and of course Rasinski 
  • Learn more about planning PLC meetings by reading  On Common Ground: The Power of Professional Learning Communities
  • Continue to revise a plan for implementing Daily 5, CAFE, and Whole Brain Teaching into my intervention groups. As a literacy coach, how will I share with my colleagues beyond the required PLC meetings?

 Yes, these are lofty goals, and I still must map out a plan, a process for how I will attain them. 

Do you set professional goals?  What is your #1 goal for this marking period or school year?  Do you have any recommendations for additional readings, workshops, webinars, etc. that would be beneficial?

 A bit heavy for a Sunday, so I leave you with this funny:

Say what?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Goin' To The Pumpkin Patch and A Chance For A FREEBIE!!

Month of October Owl

The month is almost over, and I'm finally headed to the pumpkin patch! Even though I have tons of product ideas swirling in my head and numerous blog posts to finish, I am celebrating surviving the first marking period with a family fun day at my local pumpkin festival!

To avoid burn-out and to spend some much-needed family time, I'm taking a little break this weekend so I can start the new marking period refreshed and ready to hit the ground running!

And because I appreciate you all so much, the first three followers to leave a comment with their fav fall activity, will receive my Pumpkin Patch Dolch Sight Word Phrases packet for FREE!  Don't forget to leave your email address!

Enjoy your weekend... take time to enjoy the beauty and blessings of the season.

 Kids with Fall Pumpkins


Friday, October 19, 2012

For Me, A BOO! and a FREEBIE For You!

One of the many things I love about the blogging community, besides the support, encouragement, friendship, inspiration, and professionalism, is the FUN!!  Speaking of FUN...
 I have been BOO-ed!!!!!! 


 Thank you to these fabulous bloggers for booing me!

Teach With Laughter

 Tori from Tori's Teaching Tips is hosting this very fun and clever linky party!!

 Here are the rules:

If you've been booed, copy and paste the above BOO-ed pic and these "rules" into your post.
1.  Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else),
or freebie(s) that you love!
3.  Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again:

And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
4.  Link up {here} so that others can find you and read about your October ideas!  And while you are there... check out the other great blogs!

My Favorite October Activities!

  • My Fall Festival Short Vowel packet!  I worked long and hard on this to help my intervention students have a fun way to review short vowels during our small group time.  You can also use the activities for literacy centers or working with words time!  75 pages of fall fun!

  • My Fall Theme Speech Therapy Packet for/k/ and /g/.  I created this for my five year old son who is in speech therapy.  Kid tested;  kid approved!
 The Three Friends and the Pumpkins (Scholastic SeeSaw Book Club)

  • I love, love this book by Tomie dePaola, one of my favorite authors!  The perfect read to self book for firsties!
Graphics by KPM Doodles and Scrappin Doodles
  •  And finally!  a FREEBIE for you!  Click the pic above to grab a simple phonemic awareness game with a fall theme I made for my kinders.  I just finished it yesterday and will be adding more activities and game cards to it soon.  Just add a die and game markers.  Students roll the die and advance that many spaces.  If they land on a letter, they say a word that begins (or ends) with that letter.  If they land on a picture, they say the beginning (or ending) sound and letter.  
I'm sharing the BOO! with these wonderful bloggers.  Make sure you check out their blogs!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guided Reading in Kindergarten

This year I'm teaching two kindergarten reading intervention groups.  One is in a push-in setting and the other is a pull-outMy sweet little kinders have amazed me with their passion for literacy.  Books excite them.  Highlighters excite them.  Expo markers and reading pointers excite them.  Stickers excite them.  I love and thrive on their contagious enthusiasm!  They beg for me to read to them!  Just this week, I snapped a few pictures as they were "shopping" for books for their take- home reading.  They take this choosing a "good fit" book very seriously!

In my reading groups, I use a variety of pre-decodable books from our Treasures reading series, readinga-z, Scholastic, projectable books, and ones that I make myself.  Many times, a kinder will want to take home a picture book for a parent to read to them, which, of course, I highly support.  However, I also think it is very important that they also  daily read  a book on their easy level.  I like to include printable books for them to take home, read, color, highlight sight words, and keep in their "Book Box" for rereading at home.  The printable/paper books I send home are usually ones that we have read together in small group.  The students are so eager to take the books home to read to their parents!

Last week, I wrote two new printable sight word books for them to use this week and next.  I wanted books that coordinated with a predictable book we read from Scholastic, the sight words they have learned thus far, and autumn.  

One book I wrote is "At the Zoo" and the other is "In the Fall".  They are both part of my Playdough/Tracing Mats for Sight Words packet.  

 "In the Fall" is a printable sight word book for emergent readers that I wrote for my little ones. I needed a book that would allow for extra practice using picture clues and initial letters.  The book also introduces students to plural nouns.

Written in a predictable pattern, this little book is perfect for beginner readers in kindergarten or first grade. Perfect for teaching one-to-one matching, using picture clues, initial letters/visual cues, and beginning cross checking behaviors.

The black and white clip art by Scrappin Doodles and KPM Doodles. Kids love to color the book after reading!

Target Sight words: we, see ,like
Book is 10 pages, including the cover!

 You can grab your FREE copy of "In the Fall" on Google Drive or in my TpT store.

Freebie Fridays

What books do you use for guided reading in kindergarten or first grade?  

Hang in there!  It's almost Friday!

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