Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Currently!

Thank you Oh Boy 4th Grade for hosting this wonderful Linky! Stop by to see all of the wonderful things teachers are CURRENTLY doing, thinking and feeling about this wonderful Fall month. 

Here it goes!

Y'all we have got to be the biggest Houston-Native Rangers fans ever! It is ridiculous. It has been on our bucket list for YEARS to go to a Rangers game in Arlington. We see them all the time when the play the Astros... shame, I know. But, we finally went! Boot and all we made the trek!

With that being said, most of my Currently is just about the fact that I LOVE FALL. End of story. I love the cooler weather. I love the way the air feels. It is truly my favorite time of year. Personally I think that everything is just happier in the fall. Pumpkin EVERYTHING! I love it so much that I think that the first day of Fall should be a National Holiday. No one should have to work on that day. Even if you do live in Texas and there is not a lick of difference in the weather from the previous day. It is still a happier day, and everyone should be OFF. :) 

I am desperately needing to feel content lately. I feel with the CRAZINESS that is the start of school. It is hard to not want to keep up that pace, and constantly be thinking of what can be better and how you can better reach your kids. But sometimes the best thing you can do is be content in where you are and what you are accomplishing. Sometimes that is all the change you kiddos need. I just need to find that contentment. 
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Philippians 4:11

Praying Blessings on your Fall Season! :) 
Don't forget to check out all of the other awesome October Currently posts at Oh Boy 4th Grade!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back to School Centers!

Hi Friends! If you are anything like me, then the beginning of the year stresses you out TO THE MAX. The students are babies and have no knowledge of what school should be like. I have pre-assessments I have to do. I have the beginning of the year administrative things I have to do so all of the forms and paperwork are in the right place and filled out correctly. Between pre-assessments and paperwork, I need them to be contained and working as independently as possible. BUT they are not ready to be at my typical centers yet, but I want them to be getting in the routine of what typical centers in my class look like. So..... WHAT DO I DO??? 
I struggled with this for so long, then I realized that I just need to make my centers a basic and independent as possible and as engaging as possible so I can get what I need done, and they are still learning. 
So here is a look at what I do...

Literacy Centers: 
In my class we have a time called ELT(extended learning time). During this time, we have Intervention Teachers that come a pull some our kiddos to work on reading and math skills. So, during this time, I pull my Guided Reading groups and the rest of the kiddos are at Literacy Stations. I call this time Smart Time! 
I try and keep my groups to 2 and 3 students per center, because that creates a more controlled environment for me. It sounds like a lot of centers you need to prep, but I do have 3 centers that are technology based that require little to no prep. ipad, Computer, and SMARTboard. All I have to do for those is find some content based activities and they are mesmerized and on task the whole time!
Here are the other centers I have going right now: *If you click on the name of the center then it takes you to where you can find it!* 

A-Z Sequencing Cards. I do not know why I never thought to get this basic before. I was shocked at how many of my students were struggling with what order the letters go in. I love this because they can be super independent with it. If they do get stuck, they just have to look at the Word Wall and the Alphabet Line on my wall and they are good to go! 

Letter Play-doh Mats. Again SUPER simple for them. They think they are playing with play-doh, but they are really isolating and focusing on letter formation while building their fine motor skills. 

Sight Word Roll and Write. We learned graphing the first few days of school, and we do it every morning with the weather during our Morning Meeting. So, the are already independent at graphing on their own. I put a dice in there of the sight words that they all learned the previous week, so they are not getting stuck or confused or trying to identify a word they just learned. It is very simple. They roll the dice, identify the word shown, then graph the word by writing it in the correct box in the graph. They end up writing each sight word at least 15 times by the end of Smart time, so that works out great! 

Beginning Sound Match-Up. This one is a little more complicated. We are still getting the hang of beginning sounds right now. So, I have taken out the sounds that they are still struggling with as a whole. I also have this website up on an ipad, If they are struggling with a sound, then they click on that letter and it says the sound and gives them an example beginning sound. 

Right now that is the basics of my Literacy Centers. Now for the Math Centers! 

Math Centers:
Our district has moved to the Math Workshop Model this year, and I am so excited about it! I feel like the kids really learn more with short mini-lessons than long, large group lessons. So My Math time starts off with a short mini-lesson about whatever our unit is. Right now we are doing Numeracy 0-5. So this week we are talking about composing numbers. However, my stations are not for composing. My stations right now our manipulative and graphing based since that was the last unit we learned. I finally woke up and realized, that centers can not be what they are learning about right then and there, because they are not independent at those skills yet. 
So, I have my mini-lesson, then they go to stations. While they are in stations, I am pulling my guided math groups working on new skills. But, at their stations, they are working on things they have already done with me in small group during the previous unit. 

Play-doh mats. Again simple and easy peasy for them. They are working on number formation, word formation, ten frame filling as well as fine motor skills. 

Cube Pattern Cards. Most of my kiddos were in Pre-K last year, so they learned all about patterning then. So, they rocked this center. They match up the cubes, identify the pattern and the continue the pattern with more cubes. 

Roll and Graph My Colors. This was an activity they did with me at small group when we were introducing graphing. So, they have done it and love it. They are independent at it, so they are well managed and contained. 

Bear Counter Cards. This is a center they have never actually done with me. But, we have worked with Bear Counters a TON so far. So they are familiar with the manipulative. I love this center because it works on one-to-one correspondence, counting, as well as number and number word formation. Anytime I hand them a dry-erase marker, they are hooked

SMARTboard. This is one of my SMARTboard activities I have them do. I wanted to share because this resource is THE BOMB.COM! They love it, and are completely engaged. Even my low babies can do this game sucessfully! Go to: click on LEARNING GAMES and go to town! It is fantastic! 

I hope this was interesting and helpful for you. Especially if you are like me, a STRESSFUL SALLY at the beginning of the year. I hope you are because then I know that I am normal :) hehe

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five For Friday: September 11th

Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching for the wonderful Five for Friday and giving me a push to get off my lazy bum and actually blog! 

So, this happened this week. I don't even have a cool story to tell from it. I was walking... and this big mean hole jumped out and got in my way and BAM... broken foot. 
Crutches+Teaching Kindergarten=Olympic Training
 But, thanks to a sweet co-worker, I am borrowing a knee scooter, and it has made everything so much more do-able and pleasant!  

I am a HUGE fan and advocate for Whole Brain Teaching! If you do not know what it is. click the link, google it, youtube search it, and then do it. It will change your life! Part of WBT is the Scoreboard Game. Students receive happy points or frowny points in return for procedures executed correctly or poorly. In Kindergarten, I have found that the "Happy Face/Sad Face" model works for about 2 weeks, then they get bored. I have found that if I make it personal for them, then they really take more ownership of it. Each Monday I ask them what they want our Happy Side to be. This week, they chose Minions. It was too funny all week when I would say, "Minions get a point! One Second Dance Party!" I just kept picturing a group of minions having a dance party and cheering all at once. I love how creative the little Kinder brain can be :) 

This week was the first week we were INDEPENDENT on our Morning Work! HALLELUJAH! That 15 minutes to get the day started is precious, and actually getting to take advantage of it and prep and take care of folders and notes while they work independently is priceless! The Morning Work we are currently using is my Back to School Workbook you can find in my TPT store.

During Writer's Workshop this week our big focus was "Turtle Talking" or stretching out sounds of tricky words to spell them. This is by far my favorite Launching Writer's Workshop lesson for the unit! It is so fun to see them make the connection and build their own confidence and start spelling words they never thought they could. I use the Mentor Text: The Tortoise and the Hare to teach them how turtles move through life slowly and that is not a bad thing. Sometimes it can help us, especially when we are trying to write a story!

They crawl around the room like turtles and sound out different animal words that would normally be hard for them, and I write the letters they say they hear. I got a kick out of PANDU!

This verse has been my anthem this week. God has been throwing a lot at Jordan and I lately. The start of school, fertility treatments, finances, and this lovely broken foot of mine has got us really anxious lately. But, after this whole foot thing the Lord really showed himself to me with this verse. There is no reason we need to carry our anxieties and fears on our own, there is a God that is willing and waiting to carry them for me. And that is pretty cool.

God Bless Y'all! Have a WONDERFUL weekend! And don't forget to stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching to check out all of the other great 5 for Fridays! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Classroom Reveal!

As probably any teacher reading this can relate to, my classroom set up and design changes CONSTANTLY! There is just something about figuring out a new way to make your classroom more functional that is exciting. But, here is a look at what my classroom looks like currently!   

So, we have these fantastic trapezoid tables. For the first couple of years, I set up the tables in the obvious hexagon shape. However, it has turned out to be pretty cumbersome to walk around and help kids at each table without completely turning my back to the rest of the class as well with being able to work with more than one kiddo at once. This set up came to me as I was redoing my classroom last spring. I just started playing with the tables, and this is what came of it. It really facilitates an easy way to reach multiple students at once. I found that while conferring in Writer's Workshop, I was able to talk to and meet with more kids because they were right next to me. PLUS, it is really hard to get out of my peripheral vision in this set up ;)

The classroom library is right under the reading wall where I hang all of our anchor charts that we make during Reader's Workshop. I have two IKEA shelves on either side of a triangle bookshelf. The triangle shelf in the middle is where I display the theme books that apply to whatever Season, Social Studies Unit or Holiday is upon us. I have a cute sign that says "What is on the shelf?" where I display what books are on the shelf at that time. 

On one shelf is my "Just Right Bookshelf" where all of our leveled books are housed. The bins on this shelf are Serilite Mini-Crates from Wal-Mart. 


On the other shelf is my "Choice Bookshelf" where all of the theme books are. Unfortunately I have a book problem, and all of my theme books do not fit on there. The bins on this shelf are from Really Good Stuff. 

This is where I display all of our writing anchor charts we make during Writer's Workshop. It is right next to where our word wall and all of the posters for reference are.  I keep two clip boards and a bin on the ground for students to go to during center time if they want to get some extra stories in! 

The Alphabet Picture Cards and Word Wall Headers are from Stephanie Rhodes at Definitely Elementary. I had the pleasure of teaching with Stephanie last year, and we immediately bonded over our mutual OCD personalities and love of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee and Washi Tape. On the right side of the word wall is my Seasonal Word Wall. You can find a whole year worth of seasonal word walls at my store here. This is really nice to have because the students do not have to waste time being stuck on the spelling of words. Lord knows when October rolls around, the all LOVE to write about pumpkins. Bless their little hearts, that is hard to spell! So, they just look that the seasonal word wall and BOOM, pumpkin. 

Since this is where I spend a good portion of my afternoon with guided reading groups and guided math groups, I had to put a lot of thought into where this table goes and what goes by it. It is in the corner of my room so I can keep an eye on the rest of my room, but is removed enough so that we can focus on the fun we are having. I have a math manipulatives shelf behind me so that I can easily grab whatever I need when doing guided math groups. The carpet and stools are both from IKEA. That bee hat hanging on the seasonal word wall is my "Busy Bee" hat. My kiddos know that when I am wearing that hat, it means I am being a busy bee and they need to use their brains to solve their problems. Except for emergencies of course. :P

This is where I display my classroom jobs. The goal is that every student has a job each week. Y'all. This is a GAME CHANGER. Amy Groesbeck knew what she was doing when she made this. They take ownership of their job and it really helps my classroom run smoothly. I never have to worry about having enough pencils or closing the door, because I have someone to do that. 

This is where I store all of my Mentor Texts in these great Sterilite bins. It makes it so easy when we start a new unit. Just grab the box, and GO! 

On the left side, I display my birthday babies! I will take pictures of them and tape them up there once school starts. On the right side is my version of a Focus Wall. I have what our goal or focus is in each subject area posted up here. These Objectives Headers are from the incredible Learning in Wonderland. 

Excuse the crazy glare. There was not a place in my room that I could get my phone not to pick up on the glare from the lamination. At training this past year, the presenter suggested compartmentalizing your classroom, so that students can find information easier. Also, our brains store information in a compartmentalized fashion. It is like if we had a file cabinet in our brain called Math. We would have different folders of reference for Geometry, Algebra, Addition, etc. So, I am trying this approach this year. It was very hard to come up with a wall big enough to fit all of this. We will see if it works! The Number Domino Posters are again from the incredible Stephanie Rhodes and the Shape posters and Number Line shown are in my store here and here

Carpet area, meeting carpet, circle time, whatever you call it. This is our meeting area. If we are doing anything whole group, this is where we are. Gathered around the SMARTboard.

I have tried everything under the sun for seating on the carpet. Carpet squares, duct tape, bath mats. Everything short of buying an expensive carpet. Then, sit spots. DONE. They are fantastic. They have a single spot they know to go to. There are no boundaries they feel like they have to stay in. They feel more in control, but really I am :) They are also removable, so if I need a blank carpet space for anything, I just take them up, and put them back when I need them again. Best of all, they do not hold a candle to those crazy expensive carpets. 

Finally, the calendar area. Now, because of technology being so wonderful, I do most of my calendar activities on the SMARTboard. However, I think it is very important to still have it displayed in the classroom. This calendar set can be found in my store here. There is much much more in the product on TPT than shown here. I use velcro to make everything functional, removable, and usable daily. 

That's all folks! This is my classroom! I am sure it will change a ridiculous amount of times this year. Lord have mercy, I have a problem!  I will try and post when it does.