Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guided Reading

Do you do guided reading in your classroom? I really love my guided reading time every day. This year I am looking for ways to expand and improve.

I am going to have three or four groups. I enjoy this small group time so much with my students.  If I could I would have five or six groups, but there just isn't enough time for that.

How do you structure this group time? What do your kids do when they get to your table? Do you use different books every day? These are the questions I need to answer for this coming year.

Each group gets about twenty minutes. I want my students to come to my table and start reading immediately. So I need to have small books ready for each group that correspond with their levels. Then we will work on strategies. Last year I don't think I used enough books. I focused on one book for too long. This year I want to really watch that.

My principal requires that we keep Guided Reading Logs to document what we work on with each student. Here is the form I made. It really works for me.
Guided Reading Log

This year I am going to really focus on higher level questioning. So I have made some things to help me with that. I thought I would share them.

Blooms Stems

I am going to keep this in view during guided reading so I can refer to it. Hopefully I will get to the point where I just ask questions from the stems automatically.

I have made these tic tac toe boards and I am not sure how I am going to use them. My thoughts right now center around them seeing how many points they can get. I will require they do at least 3 activities but encourage them to do more to get more points. Still now sure where they will fit in. Any ideas?
Blooms Tictactow

The last thing I want to share is a poster I made for our new DRA levels. I am thinking about relabeling my library and that is going to be a major job. We will see. I can't get into my room until August, so I am not sure if I want to take on that job yet. We are moving from Rigby levels to DRA and it is going to be a big change.

DRA Reading Levels Poster

AHHHHH! 100 Followers!

I am so excited!! This is awesome!

Sadly, I don't have anything special to share or give away.

Thank you for showing interest. It is an awesome feeling.

I hope to have some more things to share soon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Information Packet for Parents

I wanted to spruce up what I give to parents at the beginning of the year. I don't want it to be overwhelming, but there is quite a bit of information that I want to pass along. I wanted to share this even though it won't apply to other classrooms. Give me some feedback if I should change anything.

I want the first page to be something they can keep all year with important contact information on it.

Gen Info Packet

Awesome Tool

Thank you Jen at Runde's Room for showing me Tagxedo!

This is what I made.

I am a fan of Wordle and this is Wordle times 5!

Classroom Jobs

Go check out the linky party! Click on the button the check it out!

I am a big believer in classroom jobs. I like my students to help me keep the class running smoothly. I expect my kids to be independent and jobs help them to feel more confident.

I have many jobs to choose from and I do let my kids choose. We change jobs every 2 weeks. I will lay them all out on a table and call the kids over a few at a time to choose a new job. Usually, I will look at our clip chart, start at the top, and work my way down. This year I am going to keep a record of who the last 5 kids to be called are each time. That way I can make sure they are near the top the next time.

I also let up to 2 students take the week off. Sometimes, especially at the end of the year, they have done all the jobs and are not the interested. I understand that and I would rather a student who is more interested in that job take it.

This is what my job chart looks like:

I number my students, so the board is in number order.

Then you see our morning center cards which we do the 5th and 6th six weeks.

Last you see the job cards.

I printed all these on index cards.

The number and center cards are printed on large index cards.

I wanted the job cards to be smaller, so I printed two per card and cut them apart.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transition Linky Party

Little Miss Kindergarten and Learning Ahoy! is hosting a linky party about classroom transitions and music in the classroom.

This year I am changing how I do things. When I taught Pre-k we did a lot of songs and things like that. I changed to 2nd last year and I thought the songs I used in Pre-K were way to young. I have found the solution. Things work so much better with music. Everyone is more upbeat, smiling, and energetic when there is music playing. You are thinking, well duh. I know.

After a summer staff development day with Rich Allen, I decided I had to step up my game when it came to music in my classroom. A major way I am going to use it is to transition.

Beginning of the Day Playlist

  • What's New Pussycat
  • Baby Elephant Walk
  • Peaceful Easy Feeling
  • Wishing and Hoping
  • Party in the USA
  • That'll Be the Day
  • Build Me Up Buttercup
Transition Playlist

  • 100 Years
  • Suddenly I See
  • I Was Here
  • This is Your LIfe
  • Never Grow Up
  • Stand By Me (lining up?)
  • Taking Care of Business (cleaning up?)
  • Don't Stop
  • Don't Stop Believin
  • I Like to Move It Move It
  • Shake Your Groove Thing
Fun Playlist

  • Do Wah Diddy
  • The Twist
  • Shake, Rattle and Roll
  • YMCA
  • Funkytown
  • Party in the USA
  • Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
  • Chorus Hallelujah
  • Celebration
  • Lollipop
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Calming Playlist

  • Moonlight Sonata
  • Outdoor sounds
  • Claire di Lune
  • Josh Groban songs
  • Vivaldi's Spring
End of the Day Playlist
  • Who Let the Dogs Out
  • Hit the Road Jack
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand
  • Something to Talk About
  • Chorus Hallelujah
  • Don't Stop Believin
  • Celebration
  • Play That Funky Music
I am really excited! I have the songs all organized into playlists in iTunes. I just need my new dock and iPod. What do you think about these songs?

Back to School Shopping List

Since I will be getting some grant money on our first staff development day, I don't want to buy too much right now. Which is difficult. Only teachers really understand this. Every time we go to any store, but especially Wal-Mart and Target, we have our eyes open for useful things for our classrooms. Both a good and bad thing.
 I have a secret obsession with crayons. They are wonderful.
You can never have too many!
 We ran out of notebook paper last year, so I will be stocking up at back to school sales this year.

Folders are always needed. Student lose theirs or they get torn up. I also saw an amazing post to turn folders in "holders" for things like flashcards. Check it out here! 

I am constantly adding to my classroom library, so I will be hitting garage sales and Half Price Books pretty soon!
 I label student's desk with name plates. (Like most teachers.)

This is the most inexpensive iPod dock I can find. It is a JBL on stage Micro ii and I found it on Amazon for less than $50. I am in the process of getting an iPod Touch to integrate music into my room. I am very excited about this!
Give one of these to my students and they go to town. I ask them to clean to tops of their desks every now and then to help get rid of germs. They love it. They clean inside, under, the legs their chairs, and some of the kids even did the floor around their desk! It made me laugh. They are also good for all those little spills or gross moments in the room. I am in a portable so I don't have easy access to a restroom for water or paper towels. These come in handy!

I have the kids wash their hands with soap every time we go to the restroom, but I like to keep this in the room for after blowing your nose, sneezing, messy glue projects, and to use before lunch.

I prefer to use the fine tip markers with the kids. I like to put papers we are working on in small group in a page protector and let the kids fill it in that way. I use less copies and they are a little more engaged because they are using markers. The fine tips are better for that kind of work.

My team is really going to be focusing on Interactive Journaling this year. I am going to buy a class set of these for our Science Journals. The workshop presenters say these are the best. I am going to give them a try and then I can see if we should add them to our school supply list for next year.

This is what we asked for on the supply list. We will be decorating the fronts and using them every day. We will have a morning work journal, homework journal, Promethean journal (still working on that name), math journal and a science journal. I am really working on limiting my copies this year.

What have I forgotten? I know I will buy hundreds of pencils. Is there anything that I left off that you would die without? Let me know!! I love to see comments!

Organizing Computer Files

I don't have anything earth shattering or even very interesting, but I can't resist a linky party!

Extra Special Teaching has invited us to link up and show how we organize our computer files.
This is what my files look like on my home computer.
This is inside the Math folder.
Inside the Reading Folder
So nothing special, but I think it is very organized. Sometimes I forget what I name things so I have to use the search in the top right hand corner. ☺

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekly Newsletter

My principal has us send home a newsletter every week. I really enjoyed creating mine. I have tweaked it a little since last year. This is a great way to communicate with parents. I am not sure if all my parents read it, but I did get some good feedback from a few!

I am wondering if this will be something we continue this year. Our paper usage is going to be closely monitored and we are not sure what restrictions we are going to have this year. Will we still make these copies to send home or will we simply post it on our website?

Newsletter Week 1

Book Whisperer Chapter 1

Link up with our book discussion at Thinking of Teaching.
Wordle: Loving Books

I think this book is going to change things in my classroom. It's kind of weird to think, but we as teachers seem to be rule followers. Not all of us, but for the most part I think we are. I love that Donalyn Miller is giving us permission (backing it with research) to share our love for reading by letting our students read. So simple, but we are pressed from all sides to get the kids achieving at specific levels by specific times and so much gets lost.

I am a reader. My parents read to me since I was a baby. One of our family memories that we laugh at is about reading. I have always had allergies and itched my nose. I do it quite often according to family and friends, but I don't really notice it. You need to know that to understand the story. My Mom, Dad, little sister  and I were in my parents bed and I was reading everyone a book. I was about 6 and my sister was about 3, I think. I kept dropping one side of the book to itch my nose. I guess that bothered my sister because the next time I needed to itch, I guess I made a funny face or something, she reached over and did it for me. I just kept right on reading! My parents love that story. So do I.  :)

I read a lot. I am blessed to have a husband who is also a reader. His parents still laugh about the time his mom came in on us in their living room. I was at one end of the couch reading my book and he was at the other reading his book. Our feet were touching in the middle. We were teenagers. I get jealous of him because he can remember every part of a book after the first read. Although, I think it is better to be like me because after 6 months or so I can reread a book and enjoy it a lot because I have forgot the exact ending.

Anyway, back to The Book Whisperer. I really connected to her stories of being a life-long reader. I want to pass that on to my students. I have to say that I have had the "Wake-Up Call" (pg. 11). I prepared so much and for so long and things kind of fell flat. It is good to hear her say that she has moved on and is making it her own. Just like her, I read the books, go to workshops, and do research online. I wanted to make my classroom and teaching style mimic other teachers. Better teachers. More experienced teachers. But I have found that it doesn't work because I am not a carbon copy of those people. I have to take what I learn and adapt it to fit my personality and my class.

I think the best part of chapter 1 was learning about Donalyn Miller and identifying with her. She is a teacher just like me. I am at the beginning of the journey. She is going to show me what worked for her and I will be able to adapt it to work for me and my students.

Literacy Stations

Last year was my first year in 2nd grade, my building, and my school district. I had taught for two years previously, but this was a huge change! My literacy block went through several changes throughout the year and I was really happy with the stations we had at the end of the year.


I am changing things up.  :)

I am keeping most of the same stations. I am going to try rotations. Dum dum dum! This kind of scares me. I think that once we get a routine established it will be great. My plan is to have 3 groups. One at my guided reading table, one at stations, and one doing individual reading.

We will see how it evolves over the year. Here is what our choice board will look like. Kids are assigned a number at the beginning of the year for organizational purposes. They will drag their number (I have a Promethean board) to the box under their group's number in the station they want to go to. I love that they will have plenty of choices. I let them choose at the beginning of the day. The kids who are on task get to choose first, so it also helps in that respect.

I know it looks really busy, but when you break it down into the 3 groups, it isn't too bad. :/ I am being optimistic at this point that I won't have more than 22 kids, but I can always add more numbers if I need to. I love that my stations are all technology based except for 3. The kids are so much more engaged when they are using technology!

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Homework plan for this year

The paper situation at school this next year is going to be interesting. Our building went through way too much paper last year, so we are going to be closely watched this year. I don't know what the expectations are going to be yet, but I have been thinking about ways to limit my copies.

Last year homework took so much time and copies. I felt like we were wasting so much paper! So this year I am going to do a homework journal. I have put together activities for the first semester. I am such a planner, so this might be a little bit of overkill since I don't know if it will work.  :/

Basically this is my plan right now:
Mondays - writing
Tuesdays - math
Wednesday - spelling (We will glue a spelling tic tac toe board in the front cover every six weeks.)
Thursday - math

I am going to have the kids decorate their journals. I am hoping this will encourage them to keep up with them. We will see...

Anyway, I have high hopes for this. Here is what I have so far if anyone is interested.  :)

Homework Journal

Math Monday Blog Hop #12

So this is my first submission for Math Mondays. I L.O.V.E. teaching math. If I could, I would teach math all day. 

I really like to use books by Stuart J. Murphy. They are fantastic. I am working on gathering them all!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Take-Home Readers Linky Party

Time 4 Kindergarten is having a Linky Party!

I have to admit that I dropped the ball when it came to take home readers. My school provides a bag for all students. They are bank bags with our school name on it . Durable and can hold several books. We have plenty of books available, but I had a hard time remembering to get them from the Title 1 library.

I am going to come up with a schedule to hand out the books this year. Not quite sure what it will look like at the moment.

I used these 2 papers to keep the kids accountable. Not sure if I will continue this after I have finished The Book Whisperer.

I made this first one and found the second on the internet from Mrs. Stamp.
Weekly Reading

Reading Clocks New

Friday, June 24, 2011

Everyday Flipchart for a New Year

I am very excited about the flipchart (for my Promethean board) that I have made for this next year. I have patterned it after the ipod screen. You click on an icon and it will take you to the corresponding page. I am in the process of making separate flipcharts for phonics, spelling, word reading, word wall words, and fry's phrases. That way I just have to copy and paste them in to be ready for the week!

Here are some pictures. I can't post it because it is a specific file type. If you would like me to email it to you, just ask!

My Resources

I just wanted to share some of the websites I have bookmarked on my computer.

Guided Reading Lesson Plans from Warsaw Community Schools

I am going to use this technique this year!

I have learned so much from the great teachers
on this website!

My Wish List Linky Party

I L.O.V.E. linky parties! They are awesome.

Ms. Roper at Really Roper is hosting a party about our wish list for our classrooms. It makes me thing of the Sound of Music: "bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things!"

I am very blessed to have access to a great many resources already, but these are things I would love to have in my classroom.
I would love to have these durable book boxes for the kids
independent reading books.
I love using white boards because it means less paper
and the kids get really excited to use them! I love this!

My kids and I really like the Magic Tree House series. I would love to have
the entire series and several class sets!

Carpet squares or small rugs for the kids to get out during reading time.
I have them scattered around the room and it would be more
comfortable for them on the floor.

I would love to have a few digital cameras to work with in my room.
I think we could do some fun stuff!

We have a class set of these, so I am lucky to have access to at least a few.
I would LOVE to have some in my room for us to use. There are so many
ways to use these that are productive and engaging!

This is my biggest wish. The textbook companies are coming out with apps that are AMAZING!
I have seen a fewand I was blown away. Beautifully made and great teaching tools. 

Getting ready to dive into The Book Whisperer

Thinking of Teaching is hosting a read along of The Book Whisperer and I am joining in! These are the same questions she asked the author, Donalyn Miller.

Go check our Donalyn Miller's blog, too!

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood?
     My favorite series were Nancy Drew, Babysitter's Little Sister, Babysitter's Club, American Girl, and the Little House on the Prairie books. I loved reading as a kid. I have wonderful memories of going to the library in the summers for the summer reading club!
2) What is your favourite book (or series) now?
     I love Pride and Prejudice, the Harry Potter series, books by Francine Rivers (especially the Mark of the Lion series), Hunger Games, and most recently the Mortal Instruments series.
3) What is your opinion of e-readers?
     I want a Nook so bad! I use Sony ereaders in my classroom and the kids love them. I don't think I will ever completely change over because there is just something special about holding a new, thick book in your hands knowing you are going to eat it up page by page.
4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."
     On Sundays I like to go to church, eat with family, and relax. My husband is our youth minister and he leads singing quite a bit. My father-in-law is our preacher. Sundays are great days!
5) Describe yourself in 5 words!
     Wife, teacher, lover of technology
6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?
     PAPERBACK! I hate reading hardcover books because they are difficult to hold. I know, such a big deal! I will buy hardcovers on occasion, like when I just have to read the book as soon as it is available or I see it.  :)
7) Coffee or Tea?
     Sweet tea is amazing.
Click to read the review on Amazon
and to preview the book.
I am looking forward to this book read along. It should be great! Plus, I really think this book is going to inspire me and in turn help my students this year.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This year I really want to amp up my writing program. At the end of last year I started using a new process that another teacher taught my grade level.



It really made a difference in their thinking process. I plan on using this again.

Last year I had the kids write from a prompt in their journals every morning. After they put up their backpacks and folders they would get out their journals and write. It was a great way to quietly and calmly begin the day. The last 2 six weeks I had the kids doing centers in the morning and they loved that. So this year I want to make the writing more fun until we do centers in the spring.

I used Google Image search and found pictures for them to write about. I want it to be an inspiration and a way to encourage them to make connections and write. I am hoping this will let them be more creative than the prompts. I want the pictures to be a jumping off point.

Here is a copy of the pictures I will be using. By the way, I really love Scribd!

Photo Prompts

Spelling Dictionary and Fluency Poems

I am posting like crazy! I just wanted to share what I have been working on!

I am so proud of my Spelling Dictionary! This is a resource for my students to keep all year. We will be recording our spelling words and word wall words in our dictionaries every week. First we will turn to the back, date our list, and add our words. Then we will put them on the right page in alphabetical order. I want this to be a reference tool for the week during spelling practice and during writing time. This is not my original idea, I saw something like it on a blog somewhere! I thought it was a wonderful idea and adapted it for my room. Here it is if you are interested!
Spelling Dictionary

I am also going to be doing a lot of fluency activities this coming year. I plan on having a fluency folder with fresh reads that we do every morning, but I wanted to tie in poetry this year. (I had fluency folders last year.) So I looked around on the internet and found one poem for every week in the year. Some go with the holidays and some are "educational." I plan on doing these every Monday and the kids  will keep them in their fluency folders. Please take and use them if you want!

Fluency Poems to Print

The last thing I want to share right now is my data page for each student. I think this is going to be a good resource even if it will be a pain to keep up with. I really like data and looking at how my students are growing. This last year, I wished for a central location for my student's grades and testing data. I created this to help. Just ignore the first page!

Testing Data and Grades

Getting Organized

At the end of the year I realized that I was missing or had misplaced important pieces of paper. You know, those papers that we all get at the beginning of the year and forget about because they aren't needed much during the year. Those same papers become super important the last few weeks of school.

Lesson learned. Check!

This was my first year with this district and school, so I wasn't quite aware of the strenuous end of year checks. I am being proactive for next year. I will have a folder for all those important documents! I also made a few.

I also realized I needed a central call log for when I talked with parents. I usually jot something down and put it in their folders, but I need something else. I don't know if I will use the one I made or find another online.

Documentation Pages

What kinds of things do you make sure you keep handy?

I have been having trouble with google docs and embedding, so I hope you can access these. Let me know if you can't!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Student Toolkit


I am trying something new this year. It seemed like my kids needed certain papers for reference throughout the year, so I came up with this Student Toolkit. I am planning on using a 1 inch binder and page protectors to hold the pages.

I will be giving them the pages as they are relevant to what we are learning. They will not be getting the entire resource at once. This is where they will keep their Spelling Dictionary as well.

I am still playing around with what I am going to include, but this is what I have so far.

I am sure I will add to it during the year depending on the needs of my students.

Cover Page

Merged Document

Does anyone use something similar to this? Any suggestions?