Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great Technology Resources

I found a great blog to share with you!

Check it out. You won't be sorry!

Here are some of my favorites that she shared:

Math practice -- all ages

Christmas activity

This site has a ton of fun games.

I really like this one for math.

This is a fun one, but it takes a little while to load.

I have been looking for things to spice up our every day routine. I love these! Have fun!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching

So... I had great aspirations at the beginning of the year. I was going to really jump into Whole Brain Teaching. Yeah, that didn't happen. The only part I really taught my students was the "Class -- Yes" technique. Which works great, by the way!

I am making a resolution today to make this a large part of my classroom from now on. If you don't know what I am talking about, you need to visit the website.

This is a perfect example. I posted about this before school started.  I think the main reason I have not jumped into this (aside from forgetting about it) is that I won't be able to use all of it. I am an all or nothing kind of girl. That is a good and bad thing. 

These are the aspects I am going to implement immediately:
You should go and register on his website. You can email him at for any questions. There are great, FREE resources to improve classroom behavior, writing, math speed, and reading speed. There are some great beginning sight word resources that every kindergarten and first grade teacher should know about. I am going to start using the Super Speed 100 with my class this week.

Let me know if you do this! I want to hear about how you work it in your classroom!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life Cubby

I was contacted by a website that is a great resource. Check out this video to see what it is all about.

Doesn't this just sound awesome?

Want to see something awesome????? Do you see my button???  =)

Click on the picture to go to the website.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Off Topic -- We are building a house!

So I need to focus on something other than school for a little while. I will be posting about our house periodically over the next few months as it is being built. We are super excited! Here is our floor plan:

We added:
-covered front porch
-study has glass french doors and a closet (so it can be a 4th bedroom if needed)
-2 archways (one in entry to kitchen and one at the doorway to bedrooms 2 and 3 and bath 2)
-brick fireplace
-double vanity in master bath
-garden tub and 5ft shower in master bath
-pendant lights hanging over the bar
-additional footage onto back porch slab
-upgraded front door (it's very pretty)

We will have tile and carpet. I have missed carpet.  =)

We will have a fenced yard, full sod and some landscaping, new kitchen appliances including washer and dryer. The windows are beautiful! Everything is energy efficient. So of course I have been planning for what I want to put in our new house. Guess what has been a great resource?

It is a blessing and a curse. Anyone who is on Pinterest know what I am talking about.

Here are a few of my favorite pins at the moment:

I am thinking this would be great on plastic containers as well.

Source: via Rebecca on Pinterest

Source: via Rebecca on Pinterest

Source: via Rebecca on Pinterest

I am so excited! I can't wait until all our permits are approved and they can start. We have been going out to see our lot, but they have not done much.

It is going to be great.

I am so thankful that I have this outlet to share my thoughts, be they creative, depressed, excited, etc.

Have a good evening!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

I have to say that my reading block is a great part of my day. The kids have individual reading time, then buddy reading or literature circles, and stations. I am pulling guided reading groups throughout this time. I love being able to spend this time with small groups of students. I love listening to them read and helping them to enjoy it.

This is the most routine part of our day. Here are my basic guided reading plans.
It also includes our online intervention tool -- iStation. I have another teacher who comes in to work with some of my students and I love her! We are required to keep a log of our guided reading time and turn them in every six weeks. This is the template I made.

Guided Reading Log

I am also happy to say that I have my kids read around the room during individual reading times. I made these "reading spot" signs and taped them to the floor. (Actually, I need to redo several. Chairs and little feet can cause a lot of damage.)

Reading Spot

The Bad

I am having some trouble loving teaching this year. I have a good class, so I don't think that is the problem. I just keep feeling beaten down by all the demands that are sometimes unrealistic. 

I have some issues with some of our assessments, because I don't think they are developmentally appropriate. I hate having to beat the kids down with reading passages, when we should just be focusing on reading with fluency and comprehension. Oh no... there has to be some mandated assessment that "measures" what they are learning. 

I am seeing a big discrepancy in the numbers. Not only do I feel like the worst teacher in the world when my class scores low, but then I have to find a way to share the low scores with my students. That is a tricky thing. I want them to take the assessments seriously (because they will be taking them throughout their academic career), but I don't want them to have a panic attack whenever we take it or feel horrible about their performance. Ugh.

I think the worst part about all of this is I can't do anything to change it. I am just the teacher.

The Ugly
We are really battling bad attitudes and disrespect at my school. Last year we implemented R-time. It is a really great resource for teachers to talk, model, and encourage practice of good manners.

Watch this video if you are interested. I think it is making a big difference for us. It helps us deal with the ugly issues of disrespect, bullying, bad manners, and making new friends. We do a lesson once a week, or as needed, on Monday mornings. I would encourage everyone to check it out!

My goal is to take pictures of my students at literacy stations this week and share them this weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Teachers are Overpaid - Study that looks at numbers not real life

Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers
Jason Richwine, Ph.D. and Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D
Nov. 1, 2011

The newest study on our profession.

Click HERE to watch a video of the authors presenting their findings.

Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers 19282337242

Can I just say that I am tired of being society's doormat? I am tired of hearing that teachers and schools are the reason things are going downhill. We are not the cause of the problem. We are working as hard as we can to improve the lives of the students we teach. We want all our kids to be successful and happy. We want them to have long, productive lives.

I am not saying that I am under paid. I wish I made more, but I am satisfied with my salary. I work an average of 50-60 hours a week, not including what I do on weekends. That adds up to more than my contract hours. My students are always on my mind. I dream about school. I am always on the lookout for things I can use or ideas I can put to use for my students.

I don't do this for recognition or fame. I do not receive either at school. We usually just hear about what we need to do better. I do this because I believe in kids. I want to teach them. I want to be around them. I want to show them love and give them a positive role model.

I sat down a few weeks ago and made a list of most of my responsibilities.
The Responsibilities of a Teacher

I don't want to be attacked for something I love. I give everything I have to my students and then some. It hurts to hear the things people are saying. I am sorry that the course work for educators is not as difficult as other majors. That doesn't mean that I didn't study and work hard during college. I went to class, participated, read the material, studied, wrote papers, completed projects, went to schools, completed my student teaching and graduated with a 4.00. That doesn't matter now, but I am still proud of it. It enrages me to hear people scoff at my college degree like I didn't work for it or like I am not paying for it through student loans.

You can not understand how difficult the job of a teacher is unless you are in the classroom with us. I wish all the politicians, law makers, administrators, etc. would spend time in classrooms every year. Not in a dog and pony show as a special visit. A real classroom in the regular day to day routine. Come and see what we really do all the time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gotta Love Landforms

***This template is not my creation, therefore I can't share it. If you are interested, go to AIMS and purchase it. ***
I think it is worth $1!

I really love the landform unit. First we discuss the different landforms, look at pictures, and watch videos.

Next we make a flipbook that showcases a few of the landforms. We talk about the kinds of animals that can be found in and around each landform. As we discuss the animals, we look at some of the creature features from National Geographic.

Finally, we make a 3D model of landforms. We make flags to label our landforms. They stick their flags into their clay landforms before they dry. The next day we painted them. The kids were so excited and happy to do this project. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gotta Love Stations

I started doing literacy stations last year in my classroom and I love it. The kids love it and they are learning. Here is how I have my guided reading block set up:

20 minutes - individual reading time
20 minutes - reading buddies
20 minutes - literacy stations
I am pulling guided reading groups the entire time.

At the beginning of the year I had grand plans of rotating the kids. That didn't work too well. Some kids were at literacy stations while others were supposed to be reading. Let's just say that very little reading was being done. So I switched it back to how I was doing it last year.

I like it this way because for the first 20 minutes (ish) things are quiet. I know that if they are talking, they are not reading. Then they get to work with a buddy and talk about their books, which they really love to do and it is so good for them to do. Finally, they get to go to stations. This is their favorite time of day. :)

My stations:

  • 5 Computers: iStation, Garage Band for fluency practice, Starfall, Tumblebooks
  • 3 Laptops: same as above
  • 3 iPods: literacy and math apps
  • Big Books
  • Class journals
  • 3 eReaders
  • writing on their white boards
  • Promethean board

I am also happy to say that I got to see Debbie Diller at a workshop two weeks ago. She was great. I love her practical ideas. I have been teaching the kids some games that I am going to put in math work stations. I have some kids who really need some small group time, so I am very excited about doing about a 15-20 minute small group(s) and math work stations in the afternoons. I am hoping to get that started as early as next week.

Right now I am working on getting the board set up, rounding up the last of the supplies that I will need, and teaching the last few games.

I will take some pictures of my literacy stations tomorrow and post them. I will start to blog more often! We have been working like crazy, but I am finally feeling like I have a good hold on things. We are halfway through our 2nd Six Weeks and the fall is zipping by!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homework Troubles

Can I just say that I am not a fan of homework? It is always a headache. I hated dealing with homework last year, so I made some adjustments for this year. Here is how homework works in my classroom:

Homework Journal

The kids copy their homework into their journals. We only do homework 3 days a week. Tuesdays is usually responding to a writing prompt and then drawing a picture. Wednesday is spelling practice. Thursday is math practice. It is never more than a page. This way their homework is all in one place and I don't have to make any copies. 

Notecard Clipboard

I give each child a check mark if they have completed their homework. They only get credit if it is completely finished and returned the next day. I do not take late homework.

Lottery Tickets

Each student who has a check mark for all three days gets to choose a scratch off ticket on Friday. They really like doing this. I think it is partly because they never know what they are going to get.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So Encouraging!

Thank you so much for nominating me for this awesome award. I am so glad that a few people are able to use my ideas and materials. I love the blogging world.

The Teaching Thief

After accepting this honor there are some things you are requested to do.
1.  Thank the person (people) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
2.  Share 7 things about you.
3.  Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.

Here are a 7 things about me:

  1. My husband is a youth minister and he loves it. I have been amazed this past year as I watched the Lord work in him.
  2. I have an amazing family. My little sister is a senior at the University of Texas this year. One of my sisters-in-law is a senior at Oklahoma Christian University and the other is a sophomore at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.
  3. We are building a house starting next month!!!!
  4. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Largely because of the wonderful fall scents at Bath and Body Works. I am kinda addicted.
  5. I want an iPad so bad it hurts.
  6. I hope to go on an Alaskan cruise at some point in my life.
  7. I love the Lord.
And now for 15 amazing blogs!

Create Teach Share

Creating & Teaching

Visit Sunny Days

Wiggins World

The Caffeinated Teacher

Thank you so much for nominating me!

Garage Band for Fluency

So I am excited to start focusing on fluency this week. Last year I used Aviary, but it was a hassle to get online and to the correct screen for each student. I am excited to use Garage Band for many reasons:

  1. It is on each student's dock when they log in.
  2. They can save their work to their desktop, and hopefully by the 5th six weeks they can turn it in by putting their saved file in our class dropbox.
  3. It has great editing tools.
  4. I don't have to log them in or out.
Here is how you do it:

They will click on Voice and then Choose at the bottom.

They will type their name into the Save As window and make sure it is going to save to their desktop.

Then click create.

They will choose male or female and then use the buttons at the bottom to record their voices.

I am going to start working with small groups to show them the process.

Word Reading

One thing I loved last year was the powerpoints I made for word reading practice. I am realizing that we need to do that more this year. I really saw an increase in their ability to recognize words because they saw them so often. Anyway... here is what mine will look like this year.
1.5 Word Reading

My powerpoints coincide with Reading Street from Scott Foresman. The kids will be seeing them in our guided reading books, weekly story, and spelling words. If you want the powerpoint file leave me a comment with your email address. The powerpoint has animations. It starts with a blank page and then one you click in each word.

Have fun!

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Ambitious Goal

The year is in full swing and I have finished a round of testing. I used the DRA2 to determine my students reading levels, the ISIP to determine their reading strengths and weaknesses, and we have had our first math universal screener.

Using all this data I have my guided reading groups. I started them today. It is going to be quite a juggling act because of the range of reading levels. I was hoping to not have more than 3 or 4 reading groups, but it looks like I will have 6 again this year.

For those of you who don't use DRA, here are the levels.
On level for 2nd grade starts at 16 and ends at 28.
Here is the break down of my class:

Level 6: one student
Level 8: two students
Level 10: two students
Level 12: two students
Level 14: two students
Level 16: four students
Level 18: four students
Level 20: two students
Level 24: one student
Level 38: one student
Level 40: two students

So here is how I broke down the groups:

Group 1: Level 6 and Level 8

Group 2: Level 10

Group 3: Level 12 and Level 14

Group 4: Level 16

Group 5: Level 18, Level 20, Level 24

Group 6: Level 38 and Level 40

I think that I will be able to merge the groups more as the year progresses. I just want to be able to work with the emerging readers and be able to cater to their specific needs. I think this small grouping approach will help with that.

I will meet with Groups 1, 2, and 3 every day during the week. They need the most intensive instruction. Groups 4 and 5 will meet with me 3 days a week. Group 6 will meet with me 1 or 2 days a week. I am going to assign them a longer chapter book to read together.

In addition to guided reading groups, I will also have interventions for spelling, reading, and math.

I have nine students who are really struggling with spelling, so I have devised a plan that will be put into practice this week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they will arrive in the morning and go to the computer to practice with one of these two websites:

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they will practice the words with my top spellers. I have taken my top 5 spellers and assigned them one or two students to work with. They will practice on their white boards. I am hoping that the interaction with classmates will encourage them to learn the words.

In addition to guided reading every day, I am going to be pulling small groups during PE three days a week. I am on a crusade to have all my students reading on grade level as soon as possible! Plus, my lowest readers can't finish our classwork on their own because they can't read the words. I need to fix that ASAP.

Monday: Level 6 and Level 8
Tuesday: Level 12 and Level 14
Wednesday: Level 10 with me and Levels 6 and 8 on the computer with our intervention program.

We are lucky to have a retired teacher who comes to the school and works with small groups once a week. I will be sending her 6 students. Plus, the small group time spent in class.

All of this is pretty overwhelming for me right now, but I know it is what I need to do. Let me know if you have any suggestions!