Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Classroom Library Linky Party


Amy, over at Literacy and Laughter, is hosting a linky party on classroom libraries.  Be sure to head over there to check out all of the other great photographs of how teachers organize their books in their libraries.

I love, love books!!  I try to pass that on to my students too.  If they know anything about me, they know that I read EVERY day, that I LOVE to read, and they know what I am reading at any given time.  The above two pictures of bookshelves are a wall of books for the students to read and check out.  I have them grouped into baskets.  Because I service such a range of grade levels (k-5), I have found I need to group the books according to reading levels.  If I were still in the classroom, I would group them by genre, authors, themes, etc...  I level the baskets with letters A-Z.  Most letters I have multiple baskets of for the students to choose from.  As students increase their reading skills, I adjust their baskets.  I also like to give them a range of baskets to choose from.  This gives them lots of books to be successful.

This photo shows my checkout system.  Each student has a pocket on the chart with their name.  Inside the pocket is a card (the colored cards-green, blue, purple, yellow) that has the basket letters each student is reading out of.  These cards stay in the chart all year.  That way the student doesn't have to try to remember what baskets they are in and their levels get switched quite a bit.  So that also saves my sanity!  Inside each book on my wall of books is a pocket with a check out card.  Students sign the card and date it, then stick it in their own pocket on the chart above.  That has been the easiest way that I have found for me to keep track of who has what book and for how long.  When they bring back the book, they get the card out of their pocket, it goes back into the book and since the book is labeled on the front with the same letter as the basket it goes it, they can put it right back where it belongs.  Just takes a bit of training at the beginning of the year, then they are good to go!

This one of the students' favorite places to read.  They love these chairs!  They can rock and read in them!
Here is another reading area for students.  They enjoy these chairs that sit up high!
This is our carpet area.  We meet here a lot when I read aloud to the students, work on the wipeoff board, or work on the pocket chart.  Students love to stretch out on this carpet to read.


This is my "blessed books" basket.  When I read books out loud, I place them in this basket for students to look at and read later.  It is a way of building up interest in the book, helping students become familiar with it, and then they can read it on their own or with a partner.

Thank you for visiting my classroom library and reading areas!  Don't forget to go to Literacy and Laughter and join in the linky party!



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Fun Night and An Honor


Thursday was our Spring Fun Night at our school.  We decorated and decorated!  We tried to make everything look like spring by using flowers, pinwheels, balloons, wooden grasshoppers.  Spring writing, flowers, and butterflies decorated the walls.


Families were able to come and enjoy a night of food and carnival fun for free!!  I think they really appreciated that!  We had so many games, gave out popcorn, and lots of kids got their faces painted.  Some were still wearing it the next day at school.  :)

Teachers had carnival games and prizes for the kids in their classrooms.  PAT had face painting (a big hit) and activities in the gym.  I helped serve up a meal of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, chips, and cookies.  It was truly a wonderful time of serving and visiting with the students and their families.  Good times were had by all!  And best of all, we were able to provide this for our community all for free!




And now for the honor part...I have had biggest (and totally unexpected) surprise!  I received word the other day that my little blog had been chosen as one of the top 25 blogs for educators.  I was speechless, humbled, excited, thrilled....I had to read the list a few times to be sure that my blog was truly listed there.  One of the great things about this surprise is several of my friends also made this list.  That just makes it more exciting when your friends get to share in the excitement with you!  Be sure to go to Education World and check out the other wonderful blogs that were chosen along with mine.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

King, Ing, and Pinterest



Just at the right time, I found this super cute king crown on Pinterest to help me teach "ing" this week.  Love when that happens that you just happen upon something that you need for right then!  This cute king crown and idea comes from Anita at Mrs. Bremer's Kindergarten.  It just worked so well for me this week!  
I took borrowed Anita's crown after having introduced the "ing" chunk on the whiteboard.  We also practiced sliding beginning sounds to the chunk to make new words.  Students then put on their thinking caps and wrote a sentence with the "ing" chunk and circled it.  For some reason, we just loved saying "iiinnnggg" over and over! 

I love whistling.


I stapled the crowns to the sentence strips and then wound the sentence strips around their little heads to measure how big to make them.  One precious little one was so concerned about this step.  He told me in a rather serious voice that he hoped I didn't staple it to his head!  Oh my!  He was actually more concerned about how it would feel when he ripped it off his head than the thought of stapling it to him!  You just never know what they might think of!


Before reading our story, we went through and found "ing" chunks and highlighted them with Highlighter Tape.  Then we were ready and off we went reading!  Thank you Mrs. Bremer for the King of Ing at just the right time!






Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pick A Pinwheel- CVC Word Fun



It may be March, but here it is like May!  We have been so lucky with our weather.  These last few days have been close to 80 degrees- wonderful!  So who wouldn't enjoy some pinwheel fun right now?  These colorful pinwheels were found at everyone's favorite place to shop- Target!  Only a dollar each!  I saw these and knew they would be perfect for our cvc word learning.  My classes have been working on  breaking works into beginning sounds and chunks.  Then on to blending them back together. 
Here we have our all important pocket chart that we use ALL the time!  I put a chunk in the pocket chart and hand out beginning sound cards to the students.  When it is their turn to come up to the chart, I have the student be the teacher.  They show their letter, tell the class the name of their letter, and then the sound their letter makes.  Next the letter card goes in the chart, but separtated from the chunk.


Then I have the student practice saying the beginning sound and the chunk as they slide the beginning sound to the chunk to make a new word. 


Now, back to the pinwheels!  Since we have practiced so hard learning to break words and blend them back together, it is time to have some fun!  After finding the pinwheels, I found some Scrapbooking tabs for the chunks and sounds.  It took no time at all to stick the tabs on the pinwheels.  That in itself makes me happy!  Now students can practice at their tables in a fun and colorful way making cvc words.




And because I am all about transfer, after having fun blowing the pinwheels and blending the sounds into words, students will then choose 2 of their cvc words to write and illustrate on paper.  I like to know that the students really are understanding what they are building.  That is why I have them write the word and then illustrate it.  I can check for understanding that way.  A way of differentiating this is to have students who are ready not only label their picture, but write about it too.  Can't you just see how much fun they will have with these eye catching, twirling, spinning things? 

Jeannie from Kindergarten Lifestyle has so graciously chosen to share about my blog on her blog today!  I am so excited about this!  Please go check out her wonderful blog where you can find so many great and fun ideas.  Don't forget to follow her if you aren't already!  :)






Friday, March 16, 2012

Using Words You Know Freebie!


This Using Words You Know activity sheet goes with my previous post (just below) about word work. If you can use this activity sheet, click on the image above to download it.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Using Words You Know


I enjoy doing word work with my students and they benefit greatly from the practice.  One activity that I find very helpful and worthwhile doing is Using Words You know.  Have you used it?   We used colored paper this time.  It is amazing how motivating it is for the students when you change up the paper a bit! Take 3 words the students know and write them across the top of the paper. I like for students to write the chunks in red to help the chunk to stand out to them.  Then I call out other words that have the same chunk and spelling pattern and they write the new word in the column where it goes.  We say "if you can spell thing, you can spell bring"  to get them to transfer the  skill of using a word you already know to help you spell a new word.  Always trying to build on the knowledge they already have.  Then the next very important step is to write a new word, but not read it to them.  They must read the new word using the other words and chunks to help them.  You can see the space between the groups of words on the paper where we did this.  One group towards the top of the paper for helping us spell and then other words after the gap where we used the words to help us read new words.  It is all in the transfer of the skills!  Then last we use some of the words from our groups in a sentence.  The sentence can be silly or serious, but must make sense.  This is also a way to get in practice with capitals and end marks as I tell them they cannot read their sentence to me if the sentence is not written correctly.  It is amazing to me how students cannot seem to always remember to use capitalization or punctuation!  If we have time, they can do a quick sketch of their sentence.  Today though we did not have time.   This activity really builds the skill of using what you already know to spell and read other words.  And bonus, the kids think it is fun too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kinder-2nd Linky Party


Jeannie, over at Kindergarten Lifestyle, has a great linky party going on!  There are so many great kindergarten through second grade blogs that she is putting them all together so we can find each other.  Just click on the picture above and it will take you right to her blog so you can link up and follow all the great blogs out there!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reflecting on the Year So Far

Reading Journals



I have my students write in reading journals in response to what they have read through out the year.  This example is of our kindergarten journal.  We take 2 covers, add some paper between them, and bind them with plastic binding combs.  Works beautifully! I had chosen a monster theme this year for the nametags on the front.   I was doing lesson plans and thinking about how I needed to adjust again what kind of activities and learning we need to do because these little guys are ready for the next step!  That is just one of the great things about kinders:  it is easy to see how far they have come in such a short amount of time. 


This sweet little guy started out the year being able to write his name (I have partially covered) and then added some random letters to his picture.  He was missing some key parts to his self-portrait.  :)
Later he was working on sorting and matching up capital and lower case letters. 
 Here he was rebuilding a sentence from a predictable chart that went with one of our books.  More body parts added this time too!

This was practice with questions and tracking a word multiple times.  Some of my little ones need extra practice tracking one word written multple times.  And my kinders LOVE questions- they see that question mark and know they get to answer something!
These last two are stretching out words and forming thoughts about our reading on our own.   The last picture says She has flippers.  We read a book about Princess Pig who was at the beach.  These struggling readers have learned so much in short amount of time.  I love looking at their progression of learning that you can see when keeping journals or portfolios.  We've come a long way baby!




Friday, March 9, 2012

Currently Reading...Book Talk Freebie



My students are very interested in what I am reading at any given time.  They know that I love to read, that I read every day, and that I think reading is so important.  So we have lots of good dialogue on what book I am on now and what it is about.  Which leads to good teaching points:  what genre is it, did someone recommend this book to me, even what page I am on now.  I try to transfer to the students that adults talk to each other about books that they read and LOVE.  So I got an idea from Eliterate Librarian on Pinterest and made a poster about what I am currently reading.  They ask for updates on what is happening now in the book, what page I have gotten to, and if I have left it up too long, they want to know if I am even still on that book.


Students have their own currently reading papers that they fill out and staple to the board so we can all see who is reading what.  We have discussed that this is a good way to see what books others are enjoying and get ideas of what to read next.  When they are done with their book, they simply take it down, fill out another paper and staple it up. 



If you click on the poster above, you can download the Your Teacher is Currently Reading... for free.  I hope it sparks lots of book talk conversations with your students!!!





Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gratitude

I am just so thankful for all of the wonderful bloggers out there!  In the short amount of time that I have been blogging, I have seen so much kindness from everyone from sharing great teaching ideas, to sharing freebies, to the giving of awards.  These ladies have been so nice to pass on some awards to me and I am just so grateful to them!!   The first award is the Top 10 Award and the other award shared with me is the Lovely Blog Award.  Thank you ladies for all you do!!









Please go check out these ladies and their blogs and enjoy the wonderful ideas that they have!





Friday, March 2, 2012

Seusstastical Party!



Whew!!  What a exhausting fun time today!  We were very busy today celebrating Dr. Seuss.  Which if you were not aware, he not only is a famous author, but he is apparently one of my kindergartner's doctors!!!  The things my kindergartners say just crack me up sometimes.  Kindergarten and first grade got to make these wonderful Dr. Seuss hats.  Good times were had trying to get those pesky white stripes glued and onto the hats.  Gallons of glue were used and still some of us had trouble getting them to stick where we wanted them!  I think we all wore some of the glue home. 




Second graders got to make and eat Cat in the Hat hats.  Felt kind of guilty for sugaring up these little guys and then sending them back to their classroom teachers  for them to deal with the sugar high that was bound to happen!




Dr. Seuss stickers and bookmarks were also a highlight.  At least these shouldn't disrupt the classroom like the hats or sugar highs might!



We enjoyed Dr. Seuss books and story mapped The Cat in the Hat.  Kindergarten through third grade wrote on raindrops what they would do if they were home on a rainy day to keep from begin bored.  Cute answers!  One first grader wrote that she would clean the house.  I am sure her mom must LOVE rainy days!!  Take a look at our pictures of our map, wall and raindrops.