Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stock your carts...It's time for a FLASH SALE!

Happy Saturday! 

I hope you have some fun plans for this great weekend. 
I do! We are off to the lake for a family camping trip!!
(I can hear the s'mores calling my name now!!)
I can't wait! My phone is charged and ready to be put into full picture mode!
Let's just hope the weather (and my toddler) cooperates! 

Now for some exciting news!!
Some of my bestie blogging buddies at Kinderland have joined together to bring you a summer flash sale! (Isn't this button the cutest thing ever??) 

That's right...who doesn't love to shop!?!
So hop on over to my TpT store, get your carts ready and stock up on some goodies! 
EVERYTHING in my shop will be 20% off for tomorrow only! 

Also be sure to visit Kindergarten Lifestyle to see all of my buddies that are hosting a sale too! Enjoy shopping and stocking up!! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five For Friday!

I'm linking up today with Doodle Bugs Teaching for...
Aghhh.... a Friday!  Isn't everyday in the summer sort of like a Friday?
At any rate, Friday's are still great!!

Here are my five random things from the week:

I finished a big classroom decor set that I am in love with!
Here are few pictures of what's included.

This past Sunday my family and I took a quick trip north to Kansas City! Our favorite baseball team were the visitors and we didn't want to miss them play! 
The kids had a great time and my husband and I really enjoyed the game!!
(Aren't summers just great for quick getaways!?!?)

Next up...this was the highlight of my week!
This proud (teacher) mama was in heaven listening to my baby girl read!!
She's going into 1st grade next year and is working so hard this summer on her reading!!
She's doing great and I love moments when the house is quiet and she is just reading---it really makes my heart smile!

Last night we had some CRAZY storms roll through!
They came in so quick that we barely had time to get inside.  My kids and I were playing in the backyard when all of the sudden there was a HUGE gust of wind and it took us all by surprise! The rain started immediately! The skies turned black and winds reached 90 mph---yes I said 90!! It was absolutely the craziest thing I've ever seen!
Look how black these clouds were!!
I made this picture to show you how serious I am! The picture of my kids was taken literally 2 minutes before the first huge gust of wind came...then the storm rolled in...and the last picture shows what our sky looked like about an hour after the storm was over! The sky was VERY orange and a rainbow appeared!! It was nuts I tell ya!

And lastly I have been doing some reading!
This is actually a really good book and I love following along and contributing to the book study! I hope you are reading along too and linking up with the girls at Freebielicious! 
Click here to read my post about chapter 2! 

That's some of the excitement from my week!
Happy Friday!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study- Chapter 2!

I hope you are still reading along with me and the gals at Freebielicious!
I'm really loving this book study!!
Today is chapter 2---all about assessments!
I was intrigued to read this chapter because, like most teachers, assessing just isn't fun! It's usually pretty boring, repetitive and let's just face it, I often feel like I could better use my time straight up teaching! 

The author starts chapter two by giving suggestions for different types of assessments. Some suggestions included letter identification, sight words, dictated sentences and writing samples.  

At my school, our kindergarten team gives incoming kindergartners an assessment a few days before school starts.  We ask that parents bring their child in for a 20 minute screening that allows us to really see what the child already knows (and this information is later used to help us divide out the classes evenly with all different learning levels)! We simply made up a  3-4 pages assessment where we ask all of the basics--- knowledge of capital and lowercase letters, letter sounds, syllables, sentence segmentation, rhyming words, if they can write their name, beginning sounds and of course, a bunch of math stuff too! We made up a simple scoring guide and get a percentage correct for literacy, a percentage correct for math (so that we can see each area independent) and then we combine them and get an overall percentage as well.  We feel like giving them the test ahead of time, gives us a chance to test the children without other peers around (less distraction) and it gives us teachers some pretty solid information on what they are coming into kindergarten already knowing!

A HUGE moment for me was when Dr. Richardson was discussing the dictated sentences. She says we should ask students to write a sentence we dictate to them--start out easier and then get harder. 
She says, 
"...the real benefit in this assessment is determining how the student processes and records sounds." HELLO--- Yes, it is--DUH!!! I love that. 
She continues, "does the student hear any vowel sounds, digraphs  blends, or endings? I actually learn a lot more about children if they misspell a word than if they already know how to write it.  That is why I include words kindergartners and first graders would not normally know how to spell."  
This is another DUH for me here!! I mean, seriously! We all know this but I guess I never really stopped to think about it in this way!
She finishes by saying, " will learn how the child forms letters and which letter formation you need to teach." 
I quote all of that to say that was a pretty powerful paragraph for me.  We do not assess with sentence dictation but now I am considering it! That paragraph was such a big ol' DUH for me! She's so right...we often get so happy when they can write a sentence correctly that we often forget that we can learn so much more when the student has to stop, think, stretch sounds and make sentences! 

The next big part of the chapter focuses on a running record---we all do this, all of the time, whether you realize you do it or not! A running record will tell you what skills you still need to teach or reteach.  It's a very valuable tool! The author reminds us that just because a child can read a given sentence does not mean they fully understand it! She says, "it is always a good idea to ask the student to retell after a running record to find out how much a student remembers."  I know for me, too often, if the student can read something, I say great and keep going.  I sometimes forget to ask if they really understand what they just read!!
Wait for it---here it comes---DUH!!! This is another big DUH moment for me!! Something so simple can really make a big difference and save you tons of time later on!

There are 6 main steps in a running record:
  1. Determine the accuracy level-- simply divide the number of words read correctly by the total number of words in a given selection and it will give you a percentage! 
  2. Analyze the errors-- is the student using semantics, syntax, or visual clues
  3. Analyze strategies-- does the student self monitor? does the student use cross- checking when figuring out words they don't know? does the student self-correct?
  4. Assess fluency-- figure out the WCPM (words correct per minute) by dividing the number of words read correctly by the total time it took to read the passage. I loved the reminder that the author gave here: "strategic readers often read slower if the reread to monitor or stop to figure out an unknown word"---that's a good thing to keep in mind! 
  5. Assess comprehension-- Insert my big "DUH" moment here!! 
  6. Select a focus for instruction-- Basically use what you have just learned from the running record to figure out what you need to focus on for your guided reading instruction!
This will definitely be a chapter in this book that I reference often when I return to the classroom in the fall and start implementing my guided reading!! 

I hope you enjoyed my ah-ha moments from this chapter and I hope you learned a little something too!
Be sure to link up here if you are reading along with us chapter by chapter! If you aren't linking up, be sure to interact by leaving comments on the post!

Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bright Colored Classroom Decor! (Win one now!!)


Late last night I finally finished a big classroom decor set I've been working on for a while now!
I absolutely love how all of the pieces turned out and the bright colors make me so giddy!!
I'm kinda bummed that my school does a "school wide" them (it will be ocean themed this coming year) otherwise this would be the set I would use myself!!  But I know it will look great up in someone's room!

Ir's called my 'Bright Classroom Decor' set and it includes 5 components!
Take a look what's included!!

Number posters: I have included these posters on two different backgrounds: mulit-colored or white (printer friendly)! Each number poster contains the number, number word and ten frame. 
ABC posters: Each poster contains a capital and lowercase letter as well as a picture that starts with that letter.
 Days of the week posters: I have included these posters on three different backgrounds. You may choose one background to display or mix it up between two or all three of them.
Months posters: I have included these posters as well. You may choose one background to display or mix it up between two or all three of them.
Word wall letters: I have included capital and lowercase for each letter. Vowels are in an alternate color. 
I hope you enjoy this bright colored pack of goodies!!

Be sure to check it out here in my TpT store!
Did I mention they are on sale for a limited time??? Get yours now!

Do you want a set for FREE? 
Simply leave you name and email and I'll pick one lucky winner! 
Good luck!! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bloglovin' Blog Hop!!

Have you jumped on the "Bloglovin' bandwagon" yet?
I have and yes, I'm lovin' it!!
From what I've figured out, it seems rather easy to set up, use and stalk follow all of my favorite blogs!!

Today I'm joining a great linky party hosed by Tori's Teacher Tips to find some new (to me) great blogs!
While you're there, be sure to check out her quick and easy tutorial on how to get started and some cool features!

Be sure to link up so that we all can follow each other!!

Be sure you are following me on bloglovin' too!
Look to the right -------->
and click on that cute bloglovin' button at the top of my page!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guided Reading Book Study- Chapter 1!

I'm so excited to be reading along with the girls at Freebielicious!
The book we are studying is The Next Step In Guided Reading!
So far, so good!  I hope you are reading along with them as well, and if you aren't, START! 
I promise, it's a quick and informative read!!

So today is first day of the study.....Chapter 1!

Here's what I took away from Chapter 1:
  • There are 4 main reading approaches: 
  1. Read-aloud (whole group with an above grade level text)
  2. Shared reading (whole group with an on level text) 
  3. Guided reading (small group while the teacher coaches)
  4. Self-selected reading (individual with a good-fit book).  
  • Like most things in life, the key to doing something well is being PREPARED! (Just like in sports, you didn't walk onto the basketball court for your first game and expect to be superstar---you had to build your stamina to run and your endurance to last through the game.) The same theory applies to learning and working independently!  Students, especially my kinders, need time to practice working alone and they need to build their stamina to work while they stay focused!
  • Take time to teach students HOW to work by themselves! (Yes, it can be done...I've seen it in practice and yes, every year I'm working on it!! I have yet to 100% master it but I keep trying year after year!!)
The author says it takes about 6 weeks following this outline:
  1. Week 1: Let students work in small groups with activities they can do with little help from you! Watch how they play with each other and always praise for a job well done!
  2. Week 2: Start introducing a workstation to one team at a time while others continue with the original tub activities. Continue introducing that same workstation to the other teams in the following days.  Be sure to explain the station and give the students time to explore with it. The duration for the this activity should be 10 minutes!
  3. Week 3: Start your introduction of the 2nd workstation and make the duration 15 minutes long.  One of the teams is working on workstation one, you introduce station two to the next team and the other three teams are still working on those original tub activities.
  4. Week 4: Introduce another workstation and make the duration 20 minutes long! (At this point, three teams are working with real workstations and two teams are still working with tub activities.) 
  5. Week 5: Make the jump and add two more workstations this week! The teacher should still be introducing the station but one at a time.  So essentially, the teacher is introducing one workstation Monday, Tuesday and one rotation on Wednesday and the other station on one rotation on Wednesday then Thursday and Friday!  Students are now rotating with two stations, with each one lasting 10-15 minutes.  
  6. Week 6: All students are working with true workstations now--- no tubs needed! If possible, make each workstation time about 20 minutes long. 
***Important to remember: Have a class meeting to explain that students are not allowed to interrupt you when you are with small groups! (This is the REALLY hard part for me! I always give in!) The author suggest you giving the students a signal of some sort to alert them as to when they cannot interrupt you: hat, light or boa maybe???

In the following weeks, the goal should be to have students working independently for 60 minutes while you work with two to three groups! 

That all seems easy enough, right?!?  Sure does!! 

  • The author give four pages of ideas for some common literacy workstations.  Many of the ones listed are ones that are tried and true and teachers around the country love them!  They include book boxes, buddy reading, writing, readers theater, word study, read the room and a listening station! 
  • How to manage the workstations: A team task board or an individual task board-- both have their pro's but she does mention that the individual board seems to be more appealing since it lists individual tasks for each kid! 
  • Lastly, the author writes about reading notebooks! I do bits and pieces of this but I don't have it all together in one spot.  (I think that is something I will definitely change for next year!!) The notebook should have 5 parts: reading record, independent reading responses, guided reading notes, notes from whole-group lessons and new word lists! I know that I could modify this part for my kindergarten kiddos!!
I hope I made chapter 1 a little easier for you to understand! 
Be sure to link up with your blog post.  If you don't have a blog, be sure to join the discussion by comments on all of our posts! 

See you soon for chapter 2! 
Happy reading!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vacation From A-Z!

About a week ago now, I arrived back home from a 2 week vacation!
I know what you're thinking---a 2 week, that must have been nice!
Ummmm. yeah, something like that! 

What you don't know is that it was a two week vacation---with a husband, 2 kids, 2 HUGE suitcases, a golf club set, 2 plane rides and two, 6 hour car you see where I'm going with this???

While I love all of the things listed above (my husband and kids the most, of course) it dawned on me that vacations are a LOT OF WORK--bottom line! 

When did this happen?  
When did vacations go from being a luxury and relaxing experience to a stressful, mind-boggling hassle??? I'm pretty sure that was sometime around getting married and having kids....does anyone feel me on this??? Please tell me I'm not alone on this?!?!

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that we went on vacation and made tons of great memories but after arriving home, it dawned on me that I might need a vacation from my vacation! :)

Anywho, I thought it would be fun to run through an A-Z list of some of my experiences on this 2 week journey! 

A- Absolute blast: Even though my intro above may have sounded like I did not enjoy myself , I really did! In all seriousness, what is better than spending 2 whole weeks with your husband, kids and all of your extended family? It was a great time....tons of work or not, it was all worth it!
B- Breakfast: Nothing is better my mamma's cooking! A big Sunday breakfast is her speciality and she didn't disappoint!!! YUMMY!
C- Cousins: Since we are so far away from family, my kids rarely see their cousins. It was nice seeing my kids play and have so much fun with their cousins!
D- Delayed: As in our plane being delayed...4 times! We already had a night flight to go home so getting delayed multiple times made for one cranky mama...and 2 VERY cranky and antsy kids!
(These pictures were right before the cranky-ness began!)
E- ER: The first day of our trip we were in the ER! I know right...what kinda luck is that?!? My son's eye started to swell and it was very red.  We weren't sure what was going on with it, but the doctor gave us some meds and it was all good after a few days!
F- Frog: I love frogs--I've never been afraid of them at all!  But let me set a scene for ya---there I was, shaving my legs in the shower one morning.  I turn around to rinse out the razor and to my surprise a frog was climbing out of the drain!!!! I'm not even kidding!!  I immediately went into panic mode---I'm not sure I've ever seen a creature crawl up from a drain!! I instantly started screaming for my husband and then his sister! When they finally arrived, they found me wrapped up in the shower curtain, standing in the back of the tub against a wall!  I tired getting out what was going on but I just keep high-pitch screaming.  They found this very hysterical and proceeded to laugh their butts off.  My husband finally composed himself enough to grab the frog and release him outside!  WHEW---that was not fun! :/

G- Grandparents: It was so awesome seeing my kids with their grandparents.  There is just something about seeing your parents with your kids--- watching them make memories together makes me smile! And on this trip, I got to see my grandmother and my husband got to see his too!  We made sure to snap plenty of pictures of our kids with their great-grandparents!
(I love this one if my son who is helping his great-grandmother out of the pizza place! How sweet!!)
H- Home: Visiting my childhood home is always bittersweet.  It's nice to be home but it just doesn't feel the same.  Some things have changed but yet so many things have changed..all for the good of course!
I- Ice Cream: With so many kids around, the grandparents had plenty of ice cream on hand--and my kids loved it!!
J- Jabbering jaws: As in talking a lot! This trip my son started talking---a lot! He started saying longer sentences (4-6 words in them) and he is just about 2! It was kind of cool to see the quick progression of his speaking skills! (I guess you notice these things when you're a teacher!) 
K- Kids, kids, kids: My brother has 2 kids and my husband's sister has 4 kids.  No matter which house we were at, there were kids everywhere, all of the time! Kids always equal yelling, screaming and tons of playing so there was never a dull moment! 
L- Laughs: We were fortunate to meet up with a lot of old friends during this vacation!  My husband and I had tons of reminiscing with them and tons of laughs.  Sometimes we went to bed saying our cheeks hurt from smiling and laugh with old friends! 
M- Mini putt-putt: My daughter and my niece had a great time putt-putting!
N- Nephew: I got to see my new baby nephew   He is about 2 months old now and looking great! (He was born about 8 weeks early!) Babies are just so sweet and so precious with all of their little cooing sounds!
O- Ocean: It was my daughters second time visiting the ocean and my sons first time!  They loved it!!
P- Pool: We made sure to get lots of swimming in at our family's houses where we stayed.
Q- Quiet: Something we didn't get much of--- but I did capture this sweet picture! Notice the hand holding!! :) 
R- Rowdy: Rowdy is the best word to describe what the house seemed like most of the trip!  At my sister-in-laws house, there was a total of 6 kids in the house at one time! At my brothers house, there were 4 kids total! Needless to say, the kids were always jacked up and very loud! 
S- Snake: One night while visiting my brother at his house, the kids were outside playing when my daughter ran inside yelling about a snake!  Sure enough, they found this! Ummm, no thanks when it comes so snakes!
T- Tropical storm: 3/4 of the way through our trip, we made our way back to GA from FL.  It was a 6 hour drive and yes, it was the day the tropical storm was moving up the east coast of the United States.  We literally drove all 6 hours, in the rain, with the wipers on full blast!
(This is a picture of a red dot indicating where we were at in our drive north and the bottom one is a picture of what we could see!)
U- Unique: One of the most unique things I saw on vacation was my sister-in-laws next door neighbors house!  Take a look!! It is covered in vines.  Yes, people still live there and it's only on the walls.  While at first I thought "that's cool", I later started thinking, don't they have more bugs? Or will the vines start to want to grow inside the house or through the walls?  Very unique decor to say the least!
V- Vehicle charging station: I thought this was pretty cool.  We stopped at a Kohl's in Florida and I saw this sign and pump! Do people still have smart cars?? How neat!!
W- Water: When we were in GA and couldn't get to the beach, the kids needed some kind of water to play in! My parents got a pretty nice little blow up pool to play in and the kids loved it! It was just the right height for my son to easily get in and out of! (We also went to the neighbors house and used their in-ground pool! I swear my kids were turning into fish!)
X, Y, Z- I got nothing! lol...

I hope you got a glimpse of how tiring, but rewarding, our trip back home was!
I know my kids made tons of great memories and I have tons of pictures to prove it!!
Family time is the best kind of time!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Freebie Time!!

Happy Sunday!
Yes, it's a happy one since I don't have to wake up to an alarm tomorrow and then get ready for work--this teacher is on summer break....and loving it!!

Good news for you.... 

I just added a "fan freebie" tab to my facebook page!
It's loaded and ready for you to pick up a bright colored freebie!

Go up to my Facebook tab (to the top right of this page) or click here to go directly to my Facebook page!  

Make sure you follow me to grab the freebie!
I plan on changing it often so be sure to keep checking back.
My facebook page is where I'm always doing giveaways and chatting with you---so you should totally be visiting me often there anyways!!

Okay, so go now! 

If you have time, I'd love to know what you think! 
Have a great week!!