Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Seuss Math Craft

If you've been following my blog for a while now, you know that I'm good at changing plans last minute, or having those last minute thoughts.  Perhaps you call it procrastination?  Okay, I'm a tad bit of a procrastinator (I did purchase First Grade Blue Skies Let's Celebrate Reading last night, but that's beside the point), AND that is so not the case this time.

My reading groups today (and this week) are all working on Dr. Seuss stories and writing and such.  We made a craft today to get our week started.  *I usually save the crafts for the end when I was in the classroom, but what a way to excite them on a Monday with a craft as the intro lesson! :) 
And yes, I took the time today to let them do a craft with me.  I am always afraid I'm going to offend someone, or make someone think I'm not working hard at my job---but fine motors, and the chatter that goes on while they are creating and working tells me a lot about a child.  Not to mention the excitement factor, the ownership---I don't have any regrets working on it with them during our reading block today.  If I can't celebrate Dr. Seuss and the stories that were created for the beginning reader, then why am I teaching elementary---and elementary reading at that? :)

Here's an example of the craft we made today.
 I found this cute little craft at School is a Happy Place

But I have this one little math intervention group too..and well, I just thought we had to have some crafty fun too.  We are working on coin identification, and we were going to sort coins anyway today, so we turned it into a hat foldable/book.  Whatever you want to call it. :)

We are still working on it, so they aren't completely finished.  
We will finish it tomorrow with the coins under the flap, and then cut out the whole hat. 

Here's what I did:
  •  I found the free template at atozteacherstuff
  •  I cut apart the hat strips to make traceable patterns.  The strips were made in both red and white.
  • I randomly typed the words quarter, dime, nickel, penny and the coin values (And added a box for the students to cut them out.)  To get the cent symbol when typing, hit ALT (hold it down) and then enter the numbers 0162.
  • I used free coin clip art from HERE
What students did
  •  Students cut the patterns.  Glued along the edge to create a flap.
  • Students had to match the word with it's value and glue them to its strip.
  • Students have to identify the coins and glue them.  Coins represented the front and back of each coin.   

I thought about this at lunch time, and with back to back classes, I didn't have much time to make it cutesy.  This was a fun way to get my math group to create a craft too.  They were as excited as I was.
I hope that you can use the idea as well! :)

Happy Seuss Week!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Random Ramblings of Me, Snow Week (and Freebies)

Where did my week go?  Last Friday, the 13th, was the last day I was even at my school.  You know, with us being off for President's day...then all the snow.  But even worse, I only had one group of kids on Friday because of Valentine's parties and other events that they were tending too. Needless to say Friday was a boring day, but I did get my plans made for the week (EVEN if I didn't get to use them this week!)

So where did my week go?  Some say they get bored being at home in this wintery days.  Not me.  I truly have enjoyed this little break.  Most years I would have worked worked worked on school things.  This week, not so much.  I sat down and tried, but then I get distracted.

Then I see that other teachers, other bloggers, in similar situations have been blogging, revamping products, creating new products---and I'm all over here like what do we have to watch on TV?  Who wants to play a game?   (Because dagnabbit, first and foremost I'm a mom and wife--and sometimes you need to be with family!)  I think that's why I've been a little lax in the blogging world.  Friends, this has been a fun journey.  I do enjoy blogging and creating work.  I still create things for my classroom and my groups weekly, but the time to blog disappears on me.  My priorities have shifted, as well as they should. I spent so much time blogging over the past few years, that I feel that I lost time.  That time was taken away from me, from  my husband--sometimes my children, but I usually did the blogging/creating when they were in bed. It is hard to keep up with it, and all the other responsibilities that life throws at me. 

PLUS, sometimes, I get, I don't want to say bored--but my attention goes elsewhere.  There's a saying about how you shouldn't half butt two things, you should whole butt one thing.  But my attention span is very much like a child, and I need new interests sometimes to get me out of slumps.  You know my baking (how I someday want that bakery!), TpT, blogging, volunteering for various activities, and now my new found love of Jamberry!!  OH YES!! Maybe that's where I've been lately too---I did become a consultant--PLEASE ASK if you're interested! (You can email me, FB me, or visit the site at AND of course, I have been focusing more on me, my health, and losing weight--and exercising.  So see, sometimes, life gets busy! Not to mention that I mentor year 1 teachers (to the best of my ability), try to manage a FB page for parents, and.....the list goes on.

BUT then, I have been off all week.  I see how everyone's going on with their life, routine, and creating/recreating.  They are dedicated, caring teachers---and here I begin to feel GUILTY. 
I thought, I'm the teacher that is doing NOTHING...everyone else is working on things for their classrooms, their students.  What kind of teacher am I?  I seriously felt very guilty that I've enjoyed this snow week.  That secretly I don't mind if there is another 1-2 more snow days before summer break. It gives me a chance to recoop, get in some more exercise, and spend quality time with my husband and kids. ;)

With all those ramblings said---I appreciate you listening to me! Allow me to present you a few freebies---this is what my students will be working on, should we ever go back. (Another 5-8" coming overnight)

First, my coworker/friend/Resident Educator and I are working on trying to do an inclusion model of D5.  This is what we've come up with for our Kindergarten group.
We are trying to give the two higher groups more time for buddy reading, while we focus more on word work activities for the lower groups.  We haven't had a FULL week with both of us implementing this routine, but it seems that it is working and will work well for us when we get into a full routine.

Here are a couple activities that my group of Ks will be working with. 
 Though this activity was created as a cut/paste for this week, I am planning on making a set similar, photocopy on various colored cardstock, and then using velcro for the activity.  This will provide them continuous reinforcement.  I will later add letters and beginning sounds.  My group of Ks are a low level group.  Some have missed 30-40 days of school (not counting what we have missed due to snow, holiday breaks).  I needed something that would provide reinforcement, and this would also be an activity that I could easily send home for extra practice.

The -at word family activity you see above will be a hit, I know it!  They enjoy the Read and Writes, but I want them to read the word and then to make sure they can read the word---draw the picture!  I am so excited to use this with them, and I hope to create a product with this (would you like that?) :)

 I am now working with two groups of first graders in reading. (The first semester I worked with students in reading in the AM, and math in the PM.  We have since switched that so that I can provide more reinforcement to our bubble kids.)  Here is an activity for them.  Some of the phonics refers to Wilson's language.  But it is a read and write the room.  Just as in the activity above, simply place the cards around the room.  I provide students with clipboards and they go around and will spell out each picture.  When they bring it back to me, I quickly check over their work, reteach/redirect/coach as needed, and allow them to try again.  Read and writes are always a hit--with all of my students (including my 3rd graders!)

Speaking of 3rd grade, we use a lot of Reading A-Z stories.  I create questions for them to respond to, we work in our notebooks, we write....they are growing and I'm proud.  I actually have a new group of 3rd graders, since our semesters switched, so we must be doing something right! :)

Here is one thing they will be working on.  They have enjoyed the interactive notebook pages, so we will focus on homophones/homonyms/homographs when we return to school.
 Students will glue the headers in their notebook, as well as their flaps.  They will only glue the top part of the flap.  Under the flap, they will have to create a sentence spelling the words correctly, and using both words within the sentence.  I will also allow them to do one on their own--draw and write.  They will be great! :)

This is just a small glimpse into my week.  We were to have taken the PARCC assessments this week, and some of my classes were cancelled so that I could help administer the test.  I think mother nature showed us this week just how she feels about the PARCC assessments.  ;)

I hope you enjoy the freebies, thanks for sticking around reading my randomness. Thank you to KG Fonts, Graphics from the Pond, Educlips, Melonheadz, Scrappin Doodles and Dots of Fun for my clipart addiction to make these resources. Should you want to use them for your students, you can get them all HERE on Google Drive.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Share (3rd Grade Guided Group)

Since life has been so busy, I thought I'd try to get back into the swing of blogging with a Sunday Share.  It has been a month or so since I've shared a freebie, so hopefully you're in for a treat! :)

First, if you don't use Reading A-Z, it is well worth the investment for several reasons.
One, if you're new to  guided groups/small group reading, it provides you with a guided reading lesson.  I know starting out as a teacher, I was never taught how to do guided reading in my college classes.  And though I feel during my student teaching (16 years ago--EEK), my cooperating teacher did to an extent, well things have changed and so have our expectations.  Having those plans are helpful.  Another reason Reading A-Z is so grand, my kiddos get a book IN THEIR HANDS.  This is a book that they have to keep at home to read again.  So many students don't have that unfortunately.
Ohh, and the amount of books, the variety of levels, the skills you can incorporate and the great variety of non-fiction/fiction...well that makes it pretty super too.  It's no secret that I'm hooked 
(and no, this isn't a paid's just pure honest me!)

With my third grade group, they are pretty good readers when just reading.  Very little phonetic errors, self corrections as they read, fluent even..BUT the problem lies in what was read.
They have a hard time comprehending.  I've found this has been a problem with many students.

Here's what I'm doing to try to make it meaningful.

First, we are working on non-fiction.  That seems to be the biggest job to tackle, and with state testing, the area that needs the most reinforcement.   I choose stories that are a bit below their reading range, in hopes of boosting comprehension.  This past week we worked on the story
We began with a K-W-L Chart.
Click image to grab a copy.
They seemed a bit confused when I gave them one.  They hadn't used one for a while.
I explained graphic organizers, and the purpose of them.
I told them that I wanted them to think of three things that they would like to know.

I also realized that vocabulary is difficult for them to comprehend.
I know that they enjoyed the Read and Write the Room activity from Christmas, 
so we worked on one again with vocab from this story. (You're never too old for a little read and write.)  We did this as a review after we had discussed the glossary, and meanings of the words.  
I also told them to USE the glossary to find their answers.  I want to teach them to go back and find their evidence, their answers, the definitions.  This is taking quite a bit of coaching for them to do.
*Click on the image to grab a copy*
Freebie from First Grade and Fabulous
Freebie from  First Grade and Fabulous

We also spent time discussing each section of the story.  Reviewing main idea and details.
I used a close-type activity in hopes of getting them to find their evidence. 
There are two pages per sheet as I made it into a booklet. 

The questions asked from the page above helped us to determine main idea and details of a chapter.
They were realizing that they remembered previous information and filling out the graphic organizer was becoming easier for them.
Reading Freebie

We then compared/contrasted.
Reading Freebie

All of these pages went into a little booklet with a cover sheet (just for added cuteness!)
(Plus it gives them something else to do during inside recess--they still like to color!)
Reading Freebie

Comprehension and monitoring for comprehension as they read are improving.

Another thing that we've used to help is Hot Dots.
That's right-they have a variety of skills.
 These are the ones I'm using right now.

I was lucky enough to be funded through Donor's Choose.  We have been working on the  main idea paragraphs from these.  This was a great intro lesson/review lesson to main idea and details.
The great thing about Hot Dots is they are self checking.  If a student made an incorrect response, we worked it out together.  Everyone was able to weigh in with their response and why it was a better choice.  They learn best when talking with each other too. 

I do want to add to my Hot Dots stash.

This is for a pack of 6--making them less than at the store.
Here are a few more I'm hoping to add to my list.


I hope you can use the freebies.  Thanks for following me! :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Random Thoughts of a Teacher

I sat down to blog this morning, something I've not done in over a month.  Something I've not done as regularly as I once often did.  It's not that I'm out of ideas.  I have tons that I want to share with you, and even though I don't always post pictures of what we're doing in class, I've made quite a few new things.  But as I sat down to blog, I quickly got back up and went to clean the kitchen.  Then I thought I needed to clean out the refrigerator.  Doing that made me realize that I needed to tidy up the living room, do the laundry...well, you get the idea.  It's like if you give a mom a cookbook. Yeah, that book is published in my head and is my daily life.  You go to the kitchen to make supper and realize all this other stuff needs done too.  OH for the love of Pete, why don't I remember it being like this when I was little? :)

Being a mom is by far my most important job role.  With two kids involved in activities, 4-H, karate, soccer, softball...then volunteer activities when we can.  Life gets busy, and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm SO thankful that I was blessed to be a mom...that I had that opportunity...regardless of how chaotic my life may become.

Moving on to school:  This year has been a roller coaster year.  It has been filled with ups and downs and a bundle of confused feelings.  First, I love my job.  I always wanted to retire from education as a reading teacher.   I'm finally in the position that I have patiently awaited.  I do love what I do...working with students who I feel I can and will make a difference with.  But this job also comes with a feeling of sadness.  It's a lonely job.  It's not that I don't work with a wonderful group of people because I do.  I just don't see anyone other than my little kiddos.  Sure, we meet and have TBTs, but there's no time to talk or catch up.  I am kind of on my own in my own little world.  No one to collaborate with (I'm the only primary reading teacher), no one to bounce ideas off of.  Even when we meet in our TBTs, I'm there to only listen and assist as needed for what is happening in the grade level.  I feel that the teachers are getting a tad stressed because we do have a lot of meetings.  And though those meetings can SOMETIMES be beneficial, our minds are constantly wandering.  We view it as lost time and think about how our time would be better suited in prepping for our next lesson.  I'm guilty of it.  So then I'm now realizing that those TBTs could seriously be MORE beneficial if I just turned the teacher mind off.   Easier said than done right?

The first thing on a teacher's mind in the morning is school, and then when school lets out, you wonder did you do enough?  This has always been a worry of mine.  Am I doing enough?  If nothing else, I am THERE.  That says a lot that I'm a caring person in their life.  Some are always going to have academic struggles, emotional battles with home life, and even others may struggle with clothing and food--so I'm there and I care!  That, to me, is A LOT.  Testing, grades-sure it is important.  But even more so the fact that I care about these kids MORE than growth measures will ever show is what made me want to be a teacher in the first place.

So this year,as I tackled on a new job--the job I've wanted for years--I thought hey, MAYBE life can slow down. I can create new things as I get to it.  Oh no.  This is one of the hardest, most rewarding jobs I've had.  The teacher before me left me big shoes to fill.  She was AMAZING.  She is assuring me I'm doing a good job and was glad that it was me that was able to take over the position.  She says that so many people would just take a position and consider it a cake job.  It's not.  Teaching K-3 reading and planning for those grade levels, on top of 1-2 math makes for a busy woman.  I'm the teacher who feels I have to have a game, some engaging connection with each lesson.  So, it does wear me down just a bit.  Then, we transfer our students out at the end of the semester if they are "caught up" or if others need to come in.  Right when you feel you're making a difference....isn't that the way it goes?

So there are many ideas, many resources, and many new things I've learned and want to share.  I guess I just don't know which grade level to post about as I'm all over the place with skills, subjects and grade levels. It has made blogging a tad hard this year..... I have learned one thing though---I've always been scared of 3rd grade---but it is becoming a fast favorite.  Yes, I still love first, and second---oh who am I kidding, I just love my job and all the little ones I'm encountering.

So if you've bared with me, please check back tomorrow.  I'm sharing an idea of how I do small group reading with my 3rd graders.  They are struggling with comprehension so we are working on close type readings using Reading A-Z books.  I will have some freebies for you then too!

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

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