Sunday, January 18, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr.----Freebie!

January is the time of assessments, benchmarks, assessments, benchmarks, ugh...Does it ever end? 

So sometimes I feel as though I can't get any teaching done! Plus--we have off on MLK, Jr. day and the Tuesday and Wednesday following are teacher workdays (due to the end of the 9 weeks and report cards!). 

But despite all of the testing, I want to make sure I can at least touch base on why this day is so important and talk about MLK's dream and the legacy he left. With teaching kinders, I definitely have to put it on their level, but they get it.

Of course, while we are learning about MLK, Jr., we talk a lot about what his dream was. I talk to the kiddos I work with and explain that I wouldn't be able to be their teacher wayyy back when or even now if things had not changed because of leaders like MLK, Jr. (They are shocked about this...)

So we begin to discuss what his dream was and how things have changed and what else could change. I always ask the kiddos what their dreams might be because even in kindergarten they have one!

I thought about how some of my kiddos who struggle with writing could show their dream and of course that's to draw a picture. I created this little freebie for you that will allow for each student to depict their thoughts and dreams in writing or drawing. 



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting Organized for Guided Reading!

Hi everyone! It's Angie from The First Grade Scoop here.

With the new year, I always set organizational goals. I had a few tips to share with you to help get your anecdotal notes and plans organized for your guided reading groups!

A few years ago, inspired by Beth Newingham, I got together a guided reading binder. I use a big 3" one for my 27 students. (If you have fewer students, you might be able to use a smaller binder.)

Of course, I design a cute cover. :)

In the very front, just past the cover, I put any running records I'm currently administering or need to administer. This helps keep me on track! (Okay, so when I took this picture, I had just done this student's running record, and I filed it... More on that in a second.)

Then, I have a little binder pouch of extra documents. I put my running record forms and guided reading anecdotal labels in here.

There are my guided reading notes labels. I print them on Avery 5163 labels (although I get mine from Costco... MUCH cheaper as I go through a LOT during the year!). I take notes on these, rather than on paper, and I stick them in each student's section (you'll see that in a second).

I also include a copy of my guided reading schedule with my group names and the students' names. As you can see, I confer with Jesus (he's reading a significantly different level than the other students, so I need to meet with him one-on-one).

Next, I have binder tabs that separate my guided reading lesson plans by level. I teach first and haven't needed plans past an N, so I only have up to N here.

Then, I have my guided reading lesson plans. (More about those in a second.) I have plans for each book I use with students, then I reuse the plans, tweaking as necessary, each time I read the same book with a new group of students. They are a LIFESAVER!!!

Then, I have a log where I keep track of the books a group reads. This helps me make sure I'm reading an increasingly challenging range of books with my students. I also make group notes here, in an easily-accessible place. (Sorry, I can't get the picture to rotate for the life of me!)

In the back, I have a set of 1-31 tabs. I number my students and can reuse these tabs year to year. Each student has a section in this part of my binder, which contains...

... a sheet of cardstock with that child's anecdotal notes on them. After each guided reading group, I pull the child's note label and stick it on his/her cardstock. Looking at these sheets is a quick and easy way for me to figure out how a child is progressing, and with my notes sticking with the individual student and not the group, I can better track student progress as students move in and out of reading groups.

So, voila! It's not fancy, but it is extremely helpful for me in organizing my student anecdotal notes.

If you're interested in my guided reading lesson plans, you can check out the products below. They truly make my planning life so much easier!

See you next month!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's a New Year - Let's Learn About the Months!

Hello, Teaching Friends!

Happy New Year! I realize that I'm writing to you on one of the most exhausting and challenging days of the school year... it's probably pretty remarkable that you're here and reading! Isn't it ironic that just two weeks ago you were spending so much effort on bringing your students' energy level down a bit, and today you were likely the cheerleader who was trying desperately to bring their (and your own!) energy level up?

I think this is a natural time of year to do some calendar study, centering on the names and sequence of the months of the year. Here are a few of my favorite books and ideas for that!

Nancy White Carlstrom's Jesse Bear travels through the year with his mom and dad in this book, each month finding a different way to say, "I love you!".  I like the way this book helps children connect months with holidays that occur in them.

 Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice is an old favorite. 1962!!! If you were not yet born when this book was written (or your parents weren't, either), I won't mind if you don't remind me of that, thankyouverymuch. :)  Let's just call this book timeless, because the lyrical and totally fun expressions are still a delight, as we go through the months "sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice".  So much lovely playing with language! This is a great book to use now, but also to reintroduce at the beginning of each new month by writing each monthly poem on chart paper and providing a small copy for your students' poetry notebooks. There's soooo much opportunity for practicing fluent expression and phrasing while reading these little poems! You and your class will both enjoy Carole King performing this as a "sing-along" on YouTube.  I've linked to my favorite of several available versions - this one has the actual pages of the book on the screen - more opportunities to read! Yay!!

It's fun to practice the months with the traditional poem, "Apples, peaches, pears, and plums, tell me when your birthday comes." Get a little movement into it by having your kids stand up for their birthday month, or have fun with some kind of silly signal, like putting on an imaginary birthday hat or tossing imaginary confetti into the air. This is a great poem for reading from a chart in two groups. Group One reads, "January", Group Two reads "February", and back and forth for the rest of the months.

Here's a center idea for practicing the months, and I'll bet you have some leftover styro cups from your holiday entertaining to get you started! Label the rim of each of 12 cups with a month of the year. Your students will love stacking, unstacking, restacking... you can even make this activity self-correcting by numbering the back of each rim. For more fun, make several sets - your kiddos will have fun racing each other in reassembling the towers.

Here's another way to use your cups.  Partners can do some mixing and switching, and challenge each other to identify the missing months.

Here's another easy-prep activity for practicing the names of the months. All you'll need is an egg carton and...

... the "eggs", which you'll find, along with two more activities, like this game ...

...  in this free download! Just click here or on the cover, and enjoy!
Today is the last day of the Happy New Year Blog Hop! Hurry on over to my blog to collect  five winter freebies for math and literacy, and then follow the links to find more freebies and deals from some terrific bloggers!
Happy Teaching! See you again in February!



Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter FREEBIES; A Linky, A Hop, & A Give-Away Plus More!

First, here are some GREAT FREEBIES:

The first one is a winter journal writing page that comes with... wait for it... yes, a built-in rubric!
I have used these with kindergarten to 3rd grade students.  
Click the image to grab this FREEBIE.
If you like this, there is one more freebie in the preview of the Seasonal Journal Writing Pages.
This set also comes with a writing page that has a generic rubric created with cute pencils:
Click on the image above to see the set and grab another FREEBIE in the preview.

And here is a FREE template so your students can build a snowman.  I gave this template to my students along with 15 cents.  They had to "buy" the the rest of the things to build a snowman.  This makes a great bulletin board that will last through January.  Each snowman cost 15 cents and every one was different!  You can get the full directions on how to teach this lesson by CLICKING HERE.
Click the image above to download your snowman FREEBIE.

The Secret Is Out...

... there is an amazing Pinterest Linky Party going on.  
to see the 3 best pins from some amazing bloggers.  
Click the image to get to the Linky Party before the snowmen melt!

And there is still a little bit of time left to enter for a 
$60 Target Gift Card 
AND a $60 TPT Gift Certificate
AND there are 25 more FREEBIES just waiting for you at 
The Hop runs through Jan. 4, so hurry!

Click the image to get to the hop in a flash!

Here is the "More" I promised:

Those who know me know that I'm a huge fan of ESGI.  I can't imagine what it must be like to test students without their amazing web site.  My students actually beg to be tested!  

Here is my winter gift to you:  Not only will you get a FREE 60 day trial by visiting their site, but here is a $40 off promo code to use if you decide to subscribe for a year!  

The code is
and you just use it during check-out.

You can use the tests they have already on their site, or you can even create your own!  I have written T.K. tests for their site and other amazing teachers like Heidi, from Heidi's Songs, Deedee Wills, Jayne Gammons, Cathy Crane, Crystal Radke have also written special tests.  You can check them all out by clicking here.

I'm So Excited...

... about my new blog design!  Have you seen it?  Kassie, from Designs by Kassie, is simply amazing!  She is delightful to work with and has so many cute fonts and graphics to choose from.  If you are ever in need of a blog designer, I highly recommend her!  You can see her work by CLICKING HERE.
You can grab this button for your blog by clicking it and grabbing my code.


I'll be presenting at the California Kindergarten Association's PK1 Pre-Conference and their Regular Conference from Jan. 16-18 in Santa Clara, CA.  If you are attending, be sure to sign up for the Blogger Fiesta.  You won't want to miss the great food, great bloggers, and the goodie bag of FREEBIES that you'll get!
Click the image for more info.

Click the image for more info.
I'll also be presenting at the So California Kindergarten Conference from Feb. 27-28 in Pasadena, CA.  We are also having a Blogger Bash that you won't want to miss.  Great food, great bloggers, and great FREEBIES plus a raffle!

That's it for this month!  
Remember to check out my:

And I'll see you all on February 4th!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

3 Easy Assessment Tips

Many of us are returning back to the classroom on Monday, and there is always so much to be done!  If your school is like mine, we spend some time finding out what our students have learned throughout the year.

 Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be working with students to find out their reading levels and see how they have grown as readers throughout the year.  As the reading specialist, I will be assessing many of the students in the school, and I don't know all of them.  So, I will be prepared!

Here are a few tips for helping students feel more comfortable in an assessment situation.

Make a Comfortable Setting

One of the easiest things to do is to make the testing place comfortable.  This includes the right lighting, comfortable chairs, and a clean area.  I work with students in grades K-6, and my chairs are kind of small.  I will take my fifth and sixth grade students into a room where the chairs are more their size, so they can be comfortable!

Build Rapport

We are a pretty small school, so I know many of the students pretty well, and they know me.  If I don't know a student very well, I ask questions about their favorite books to read or their favorite Christmas gift while heading to the assessment are.  This helps them to feel more comfortable with me before we get started.

Be Prepared

Nothing is worse than going into an assessment situation and not having everything ready to go!  Make sure you have all of the materials ready to go for both you and the students.  Everyone will be more confident in what they are doing and ready for the best assessment results.

How do you help your students be ready for assessments?